Smitten Kitchen: A Book Revew (and not about Knitting!)

I'm off for a week of filming at Craftsy and schmoozing (and yarn squeezing) at TNNA so I decided to go out on a limb and share a book review with you that's not about knitting!  It's on my second favorite subject... FOOD!  Over the holidays my in-laws gifted me the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perlman.  I've followed her blog for years and some of her recipes are family favorites.  We make her granola bars every time we go on a road trip, her Shakshuka is a brunch stand-by, and her pumpkin muffins have become my daughter's signature baked good.  I'm going to tell you that her cook book has not disappointed us yet!  Over the holidays I worked my way through it making many of the recipes in a week's time.

My Favorites?
A Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Review!
Spicy Brittled Peanuts, pages 286-287 
Mod: I used Ground Chipotle Powder instead of Cayenne... yum!
A Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Review!
Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans, pages 67-68
Mods: I used cranberries and tamari almonds, as they were in the cupboard!
I did notice a theme in the book... it seems that Deb likes her caramelized onions as much as I do. At least one to two meals a week seem to start with them in our house, so her recipes taste just like home!  She also is a wiz at combining sweet, salty and spicy, and really, how can you go wrong with that?
A Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Review!
Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette, pages 99-100
Paired with a Gruner Verliner

I love her writing style, it's laugh out loud, no-nonsense, and informative all at once. A favorite quote from the peanut recipe "...the sugar will seize up a bit, making the peanuts look grainy and crusty, and it will be harder to stir them- you'll be convinced that it's gone irreversibly south, cursing me under your breath, but fear not, keep stirring..." 

Next for us to try are the potato crisps, rosemary gruyere and sea salt crisps (think grown-up cheez-its), pistachio masala lamb chops with cucumber mint raita (I've not cooked lamb before, but I think I'm ready!) and marbled pumpkin gingersnap tart.  Mmmmm, are you hungry yet?

Have you tried any new recipes/cookbooks this winter? I'm always on the lookout!


Video Tutorial: Binding Off with Beads!

I've another video tutorial for you this week, this time on working a beaded lace bind off! This bind-off is worked with beads that are pre-strung on your yarn. The technique is show both knitwise and purlwise. I use this bind off on Clarus, Trapeze and Selata Shawls and it is one of my favorites! You can use it on the edge of any top down shawl or scarf to add a little bit of bling and weight.

It's easy to calculate how many beads you will need, If you work with a bead every other stitch, divide the number of stitches you are binding off by two, and string on that many beads. If every third stitch, then divide the total number of stitches by 3! You'll want to swatch and see if you like the bind off with size 6 or 8 beads, that depends on the size yarn you are working with!

Disclaimer: this video was made at my kitchen table, with minimal equipment and lighting... Enjoy!!!!


Patternworks Kit Club with yours truly!

I've had a little secret up my sleeve... and it's finally time to share it with you! Last spring Patternworks asked me to do an exclusive Bi-Monthly Knit Jewelry Kit Club with them.

The Club runs every other month for one year, and has 6 shipments.  Designs range from necklaces, and bracelets to earrings and maybe another accessory goodie!  These are brand new patterns... ones that have never been seen before and I am in LOVE with them!  The first two (January and March's shipments) have been released to give you an idea of what is in store should you sign up.... want to see?

January's Kit:  Cheerio


Cheerio is a short row shaped necklace that incorporates three kinds of beads, Czech Glass Donuts (aka Cheerios), size 8 seed beads, and matte triangular seed beads.  I found the cheerios when I was in Canada last spring and played with them all summer long to find the perfect way to incorporate them into a necklace.... the teens that work with me decided that this design is decidedly tribal, and we love it!

Cheerio- Close Up

March's Kit: Stereo Cuff


Stereo Cuff is a new style of jewelry for me, one that plays even more with color.  The fabric of the cuff is more bead than yarn, and I love the end result.  It has a substance and weight that feels just perfect on the wrist.  Beads are prestrung and then just slipped up in between stitches.  This is not a new technique for my designs, but definitely a new look!

Stereo- Close Up

Video tutorials are included in both of these patterns for any techniques that you haven't yet tried.... so don't be worried that these new patterns will be too tricksy.... they won't be!

These designs and kits are exclusive to Patternworks for a limited time and supplies are finite... the only way to get them NOW is sign up for the club!  Go here to read all the details, and sign up! If you have any questions feel free to ask them here, that way every one can benefit from the answers!

Now that the cat is out of the bag I get to wear these two designs... WOOT!


My weekend: Vogue Knitting Live NYC!

What a crazy weekend, we knitter's took over times square... or at least the Marriot Marquis right in the heart of it! 

It was quite the whirlwind, I taught over 100 knitter's how to incorporate beads into their knitting, spent time with old friends, made new friends, ate great food, and laughed late into the night. Of course I didn't take as many pics as I would have liked, but here are a few:
Times Square at night... taken with my phone and Instagram'd, like a good tourist!
Morning view from my hotel room!
Concentrating in my Knitting Jewelry class
These knitter's didn't have any fun at all....
Advanced Lace with beads students hard at work!
Jill's new yarn, Mohonk... I am dying to knit a seamless yoke sweater out of this, but not until the book knitting is done!
I ate AMAZING meals at Maya, Marseilles (so good I ate here twice!), and even had a maple bacon cookie from SCHMACKary's (that was REALLY good for breakfast).  I might have even done a little shopping for some new clothes at Uniqlo for my Craftsy shoot.

This country mouse loves having a weekend in the city... I am thrilled that I'll be teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle in April!  Vogue really puts on a wonderful organized event and the knitters that came to it even better : )!

I've a few other things to share:
  • The winner of the Knit with Me Giveaway is Dvora Geller, CONGRATS!  I loved hearing what everyone wanted to knit from Gudrun's gorgeous book!  Thanks for taking the time to look at it and share.
  • The 1st Quarter KAL is going strong in my Ravelry Group... I listed prizes last week and some of them are pretty drool worthy!  If you've been wanting to win a set of Chiaogoo Bamboo Interchangeable Needles, you might want to participate : ).
  • I've got an exciting project releasing later this week... stop back in for the big reveal


Knit With Me: Blog Tour and Giveaway!

I just had to pinch myself yesterday.... it was my "work" to sit down with this lovely book and a cup of tea to peruse it's pages and write a review to share with you.  Most of you know I am writing a book myself, and so when I crack open a newly published book I am looking at it with a whole new set of eyes.  I'm studying photographs, model choices, technique sections, abbreviation lists AND the patterns.  There is so much that goes into writing an excellent knitting book, and I have to say Knit with Me by Gudrun Johnston, is a STUNNING collection.
The premise of Knit with Me is two fold, on one hand it's a collection of patterns that could be worn by either a mother or daughter, but it's also designed to encourage the next generation to knit with us.  That means that there are projects of multiple skill levels and sizes.  Knit with Me contains 7 sweater patterns, and 6 accessories.

Gudrun partnered with Quince and Co to work on this book, which is a fabulous way for an independent designer to have support when taking on a project of this scope.  Their yarns work wonderfully with her designs as they have a stitch definition that doesn't hide Gudrun's extraordinary design details. (Confession: I haven't knit with their yarns yet... but I have plans! )

One thing that really stands out in this book is the use of multiple models.  There are three different sets of mothers and daughters shown wearing the garments.  This means there are different body types and personalities which helps show the patterns wide range of appeal.  Also, the photography by Carrie Bostick Hoge is GORGEOUS... flipping through this book, looking at the pictures, smelling that new book smell, is almost enough, except that I want to knit a sweater for me NOW!

Which one you wonder?  Well, it's a tie between Ambrosia and Brock... see?  They are both so different, and yet each would fit into my wardrobe perfectly!
One reason Gudrun asked me to review the book is she knows I have a teenage girl too! Mine, though, hasn't really taken to knitting, she's more of a amigurumi, duct tape, chain maille maker : )!  I could see her rocking Hampshire, and if I made a Brock in Black I'm pretty sure she would steal it in a heartbeat!
So, want a chance to win a hardcopy of this lovely book?  Leave a comment sharing which pattern(s) in Knit with Me you might be dying to knit.... I'd love to hear which those are!  I'll leave comments open through January 21st, and chose a winner on the 22nd!  Don't forget to leave a way to get in touch with you!

Also, are you looking forward to a weekend of Knitting with Gudrun and myself?  Two retreats were announced this week that we will both be teaching at!  If you are on the West Coast, we'll be at Vogue Knitting Live Seattle April 5 - 7. For those on the east coast we'll both be at the Yarn Cupboard Retreat in Syracuse NY April 19 - 21.


A 2013 First Quarter KAL!

Since I know many of you are waiting until my next Mystery KAL and Craftsy class are released I thought we should have a little fun together! Did you know that I have 104 designs listed on Ravelry? This means there might be a little something you feel like knitting that I’ve designed between now and the next release!  So, I've decided to run a KAL in my Ravelry group... want to hear more?

  • Anyone can participate, but you must be a member of my group to win any prize(s).
  • Entry is automatic, simply by posting in the KAL thread. This can be an update on a project, a finished project, or the start of a new project!
  • Chatter is encouraged, though if you have a specific pattern question it might be a good idea to ask in that pattern’s thread.
  • Please post photos… especially amusing photos! (You know that necklace you just knit might look awfully nice on your cat) It’s not mandatory, but it’s wonderful to get to actually see photos of your projects.
  • Weekly draw for something knitting related…….whether it’s a jewelry kit, or a gift certificate toward my Etsy or Ravelry shop, or something……..and it is for ANY post within the week of that particular draw (done randomly on number generator).
  • Monthly Prize for all posts related to FINISHED projects based on Nelkin Designs patterns. These projects must have been finished within the month you are posting them for. These prizes will be BIGGER…
You can be in both weekly and monthly draws, so if you win a weekly draw you can still enter the monthly draw. Monthly draw winner MUST have posted a photo of their finished project.
Just post away about what you’re working on, and you might just win something!!! :-)

The KAL will run for January, February AND March.
The first random weekly draw will be on Monday, January 14.

So, what are you waiting for... head on over to my Ravelry group and let us know which of my designs you are working on!

Also, yarnies and knitting related goody makers... I am soliciting donations for the weekly and monthly prizes.  Anyone interested in donating?  Drop me a line if you are!


New Knit Jewelry Kits!

I'm thrilled to introduce you to my two new jewelry kits... both of these designs are familiar to you, but I've put a new twist on them!

First off, Mudra Cuff in Cotton!  I realized it was time to introduce some plant fibers in my jewelry line and spent time this summer testing different cotton and tencel yarns to find the perfect one.  The one I chose in the end was one of my favorite weaving yarns back when I did that sort of thing.  The mercerized perle cotton wears like iron and has a wonderful sheen so the colors just glisten in it!
Mudra Cuff Cotton Kit
For this version of Mudra I changed the middle accent bead to a larger 4mm Czech crystal bicone. Watching the light get caught and reflected on these accent beads is a new favorite past time!  (ok, that might be pushing it a little!)
Mudra Cuff Cotton Kit- Colors
This new Mudra kit is available in 6 different colors.  I'm equally smitten with them all.  

Next there is Soutache Set. Soutache, originally released in Creative Knitting Jan 2012, is constructed with 4 strands of beaded I-cord that have been braided together and attached with snap clasps. I wore the set at TNNA last June and was asked constantly if it was available as a kit... it was pretty obvious that it would be the next release! Soutache lends itself well to a kit as it uses 4 different colors of size 8 beads.
Soutache Set Kit
When looking at yarns I decided to choose a new favorite, Shibui Staccato, a lovely wool/silk fingering yarn. I LOVE the colors that Staccato is available in and I felt like a hand-dye would distract from the rest of the design. There is enough yarn, bead and clasps included in the kit to make up both the necklace and the cuff.
Soutache Set Kit- Colors

These new kits are shipping to LYS's this week, and are available in my Etsy shop now!


Video Tutorial: Attaching the Clasp to Mudra

Well, lots of you asked for it, so I finally made a video tutorial for attaching the clasp to the Mudra Cuff and Necklace.

I've got some new kits releasing later this week, and this tutorial just might come in handy : )!

Disclaimer: this video was made at my kitchener table, with minimal equipment and lighting... Enjoy!!!!