A quilt for the baby

I am blessed with a man who is willing to try anything and is good at just about everything he tries. As far as Mike is concerned, so long as there are Youtube videos, her can probably figure it out.

So it was no surprise that when he started sewing clothes for my step-daughter Gabbi last year, he was a much better sewist than I am right out of the box. (His attention to detail is and patience are a lot greater than mine as well.) This week, he decided he wants to make a quilt for our baby’s nursery and this is the one he selected:

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I’m super excited, because I love this quilt and it fits in perfectly with out son-to-be’s room, but there is no way I could possibly have the patience to cut out all those fiddly coast lines! Lucky for me, I don’t have to.

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Mike did task me with picking out the fabric I wanted for the continents. It was much more difficult to put seven prints together than I thought it would be, though. I originally tried using fabrics that sort of represented each continent (i.e. stars/stripes on North America, bold pinks and reds for Asia) but it the fabrics were fighting with each other and it looked too noisy.

 I’ve pulled together five options from our own fabric stash and the local fabric shop. I like them all in different ways but I would love to hear what you think.

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First up is dots of different sizes and colors.

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Next, the blues.

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This one is all bold prints. mostly from the latest Denyse Schmidt collection.

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This is an even bolder collection that I put together from what we have on hand, but it needs to be filled out more.

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Finally, the plaids. I love the gentle colors in this grouping but I think it is too pale to go with the rest of his nursery.

Keep in mind that the water background will be either white or a pale, pale blue.

Help me out, readers! Which collection do you like best with the pattern? Or should I scrap these and start over?

 

Modern Country Knits is Here!

Modern Country Knits

It’s hard to believe it’s really here! Putting together and publishing a book seems to take forever until you are holding a copy in your hands. Then it all seems to have happened at lightening speed. I shot most to the images for this book in January/February, practically yesterday.

The real star of this book, though, are the designs. We hired some amazing designers to give us their take on Modern County knits and they really delivered. I’m posting some of my favorite images below but honestly? Every pattern is the book is something I would want to make and wear. In fact, I insisted on it, because no one wants to buy a book with one or two great patterns in it.

(I’m putting in links to Ravelry so you can heart and queue your faves!)

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This is the Pella Pullover by Carolyn Noyes. It’s knit in Findley DK ( a Merino/silk blend, so it’s warm as the dickens, but light.)

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This sleepy lamb was so comfortable in Shay’s arms that she couldn’t keep her eyes open.

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I adore the mini cables in the Paducah Pullover by Bonnie Franz.

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The Cloud croft Pullover by Galina Carroll wins the prize for “garment everyone on the shoot wanted to swipe”. It’s made with Herriot Great, our 100% baby alpaca bulky yarn, so it knits up fast.

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The Mattatuck Tee by Tabetha Hedrick. I’ve worked with Tabetha a lot and she always brings something so fresh to her designs. (In case you’re wondering, we took about 400 shots to get the horse to cooperate. He was our only diva model.)

Mattatuck Tee

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County Line Vest by Theresa Schabes. Knitted plaid, y’all. It’s so cool.

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The River Falls Cardigan by Susan Adkins is so delicate and feminine. It’s made with Zooey ( a cotton/linen blend) so this model is freezing in this pic!

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Decorah Cardigan by Zahra Jade Knott. This card uses Findley and Findley DK. Again, warm but light.

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Maryville Cardigan by Lois S. Young is a super fun Fair Isle.

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In addition to the new patterns, we’ve included 10 of Juniper Moon Farm’s most popular patterns that are no longer available in booklets. And the most popular of all is Darlington Dress (formerly called Hattie) by Caroline Fryar. My friend Caro Sheridan took this picture and it’s everything knitwear photography should be.

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Abilene Stole by Yoko Hatta is a work of art.

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The Williston Hat by Nadia Elgawarsha. Not only is the hat super cute, it was so much fun shooting our model Maddie with Cini, our beloved Maremma.

This is just a taste of what’s in the book, believe it or not. You can see all the projects in the book right here.

And, if you live in Pennsylvania, you can get your very own signed copy of Modern Country Knits and see all of these gorgeous garments in person this weekend! I’m doing two book signing at two wonderful local yarn store.

  • I will be at KNIT in Newtown, PA on November 22, starting at 10 a.m., signing books and showing off the trunk show. This is a little GEM of a shop, and the women who run the place are amazingly helpful. KNIT is located at 10 S. State Street in Newtown PA in Bucks County. For more details, give them a call at (267) 685-0794
  • Sunday, November 23 I will be hosted  by Purls of Wisdom in Phoenixville, PA from 4-6 p.m.  This event is being held off-site at the Kimberton Inn, and you must get a ticket in advance by calling 610 933 5010. They are also doing a small dinner with me after the main event that should be really fun! Details on the Purls of Wisdom site. 

Stranded Colorwork Sourcebook Winner!

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Oh my goodness! I completely forgot to pick a winner in our book giveaway! In my defense, Mike worked from home yesterday and today is a holiday, so he’s home again, and it just felt like one extended weekend around here. I am so sorry.

 

The winner, chosen at random, is…

 

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Carolyn, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I will get this out ASAP.

And to the 109 people who didn’t win, please do add this lovely book to your holiday wish list. It really is a treasure and there is simply nothing like it on the market today.

The Cure for What Ails You

With cold season upon us, I thought it was a good time to re-post this recipe. Enjoy!

A few months ago, my friend Jerry told me that he always keeps a jar of his special cold remedy on hand- honey with lemons and ginger- so when he gets sick he can stir it into tea or hot water. I had an abundance of honey on hand from our own hives, so I decided to give it a try. I had no idea I would be needing it so soon!

Honey Ginger Lemon

Jerry was a little sketchy with the details, so I just sliced up one Meyer lemon (that’s what I had on hand; a regular lemon will work just fine) and a small knob of ginger, about the size of my thumb. You can use less ginger if you aren’t a fan. Put the lemon and ginger in a jar and cover with honey.

Cold Relief

I keep mine in the refrigerator and it seems to get better the longer you infuse it. I don’t know that it’s actually making my cold better but adding a dollop to my hot tea is certainly making my throat feel better! I call it Wonder Honey!

Wouldn’t it be lovely to keep a few small jars of Wonder Honey on hand to gift to friends with colds?

The Gnocchi Update

** Susan here! A few weeks ago we posted about the dogs of Juniper Moon Farm and several of you asked for a Gnocchi update. I am pleased as punch to let my (other) friend Amy bring you up to speed on his adventures.  (Other) Amy lives in the same town as the farm with her husband (other) Paul. We met them when Amy came to Shepherding Camp a few years ago. They are just lovely and perhaps the only people I would have even considered allowing to adopt sweet Gnocchi.**

 

 

Remember that sweet little dumpling of a puppy who was the runt of Lucy’s litter?

 

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Well, Gnocchi’s all grown up now and guarding a flock of his own.

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In August we were so fortunate to adopt Gnocchi for a livestock guardian dog at our little farm. It only took a Ziploc full of cheese, ½ lb of sliced ham, and 2 fresh eggs to bribe Gnocchi to get in the back of my Subaru to ride from Juniper Moon Farm to his new home 20 minutes away at Sweet Gum Farm. That, and a lot of TLC and patience from me, Amy Karasz and her daughters Oona and Neve. Leashes and cars were new to Gnocchi, but he was such a good sport. He settled right in and now watches over 3 wool sheep, 3 dairy goats, and 7 chickens.

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Gnocchi spends his days lounging in the grass or the barn with the sheep and goats. He greets me every morning and evening with the most adorable bouncing happy-dance. He is super snuggly and eager for a scratch behind the ears. Whenever I pet one of the sheep or goats, I can almost guarantee he’ll insert his head between them and my hand to get attention for himself. But if he hears one leaf rustling in the woods, he’s off– always on duty! At night he patrols the pasture, and I’m reassured when I hear his deep WOOF in the darkness.   I’m thankful he didn’t inherit his mother’s wanderlust. He’s never once tried to go over the fence.

 

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Gnocchi also gets along well with our other two dogs, Gus and Maggie. Gus is a border collie, and as you’d expect, too obsessed with fetching and herding to pay much attention to anything else. But Gnocchi’s especially enchanted with Maggie, a 7 year old mutt. He would sniff her butt all day if he could. I guess he likes older women.

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I adore this big white teddy bear of a dog. And I sleep easier at night knowing he’s out there watching over our livestock.

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Happy Wovember, Everyone!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the greatest month of the year- WOVEMBER! Wovember is the project of one of my very favorite people, a friend that I haven’t met in person yet, Felicity Ford.

Here is how Wovember is described by it’s creator:

“The idea is to show our collective appreciation of WOOL by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and celebrating WOOL and its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. We hope that through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of WHAT MAKES WOOL DIFFERENT, and jointly create a force for WOOL APPRECIATION strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed.”

As knitters and sheep enthusiast, you will undoubtably want to visit the Wovember website every day this month for amazing photography and thoughtful, well-researched articles about  sheep, knitting traditions, cottage wool industries and so much more.  Where most of what you can find on the internet barely skims the surface, the folks at Wovember dig deep into their subject matter and what they publish is one a whole other level of wool scholarship.

This Wovember is an extra special one for Felicity because it also marks the publication of her book, KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook.

 

Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford

Can I tell you a secret? I have been agonizing over how I could possibly write a review of this book that would begin to do it justice. I feared that my writing skills weren’t up to the task because this book is important. It’s also lovely and sublime and everything I hoped it would be. I caused myself all manner of anxiety over writing about it because it is a book that is worthy of more than the few cursory sentences that my pregnancy-addled brain can manage this week.

Well, lucky for all of us, the amazing Ms Ysolda Teague has written a review of Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook that is worthy of Felicity’s book. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and pop over to Ysolda’s blog to read it. (You should be reading Ysolda’s blog on the regular anyhow. She is one of the smartest young women I’ve ever met and I admire the hell out of her. I have also had the pleasure of watching her knit– it was like watching a master paint a portrait.)

Then come back here because, in addition to my own copy of Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, I ordered a copy to give away to one of you.

To put your name in the hat, just leave a comment on this blog post between now and Friday morning at 10 a.m. EST. One will will be chosen at random and I will announce the lucky duck here on Friday.

If you cannot wait to get your hands on a copy of Stranded Colourwork or you just aren’t feeling lucky, please do order a copy for yourself. Don’t be put off by the fact that it ships from the U.K.– mine arrived in just a couple of days.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

Every once in a while, I get a great idea.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

I am not a huge bagel person (they are just so big and ready and full of calories! Plus I aways have a blood sugar crash about 2 hours after eating one.) But Michael knows about my obsession with pumpkin so a few weeks ago, he returned from Einstein Bros with a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese for me. The bagel was pretty good but the cream cheese was AMAZING! I’ve have a few more pumpkin bagels in the intervening weeks, but only as a vehicle for the delicious pumpkin cream cheese. And then one day it hit me.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing would be incredible.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

Yesterday I made several batches of cinnamon rolls and whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

I made the cinnamon rolls in lined muffin tins, because I prefer the way they look when they are baked this way.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing was so good and so easy!

1  6-oz tub of Pumpkin Cream Cheese

1 stick unsalted butter

2 cups powered sugar

1/3- 1/2 can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Cream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of your electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until it’s all incorporated, then add the pumpkin. I wanted to make pipe-able icing for my cinnamon rolls, so I needed it to be on the thin side. Therefore I used 1/2 can of pumpkin. But if you are icing cupcakes, you’ll want it to be thicker so you should use less pumpkin.

Enjoy!

Probably something you would like…

 

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Still need a Halloween costume? These downloadable and printable masks designed by Wintercroft are amazing! (Thank you, Elizabeth S. for sending me these!)

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Um, how great is this Alexander McQueen cabled skull sweater? For $1000 bucks and some change it could be yours! Or you could chart something similar and make it yourself.

What’s making you happy this Halloween week?

Stuffed and Roasted Pumpkin

You know, there are times when- in spite of all your good intentions and planning- outside event conspire to bite you in the ass.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I had planned to make and serve my new recipe for Stuffed and Roasted Pumpkin on Tuesday, and then blog about it on Wednesday. But Tuesday got a way from me a bit and by the time I started preparing my mise en place together, it became obvious that it was too dark in my tiny kitchen to take photographs with natural light. FOILED!

I decided to put the project off a day so that we could have good pictures for the blog. And woke up Wednesday morning to a gloomy gray, cloud-covered sky. That lasted the whole damned day. FOILED AGAIN! This time, I decided to soldier on.

The thing about a recipe such as this one is that you don’t really need a recipe. All you really need is the idea– then you can run with it and make it your own.  It’s sort of like Thanksgiving stuffing. You find a version you like and then you tweak it to make it your own.

So here’s my version of a Stuffed and Roasted pumpkin.

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Step 1: There is really no way around this. You are going to have to cut the top off your pumpkin Jack O’Lantern-style (reserving the lid) and clean it out. There is not much i this world I hate as much as cleaning out pumpkin guts. That feeling of the pumpkin juice drying on your forearms is just too much to be bear.  But it must be bourn, I guess, if you want to eat a stuffed pumpkin. Scrape out all the seeds and stringy stuff- I find it helps to think really hard about something else while you’re doing it.

Rinse the pumpkin inside and out and then pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Assemble your stuffing ingredients. You will need bread (preferably day-old) cut into one inch cubes. I use a round Italian loaf from Harris Teeter, La Brea Bakery brand, I think. I actually cubed my bread the night before because the drier your bread is, the most deliciousness it will absorb.

Pretty much everything else is optional, depending on our taste. For this stuffing I used:

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1 large Honey Crisp apples, diced

1/4 pound of gruyere cheese, cubed

6 ounces of pancetta, died and browned

a handful of dried cranberries

four or five sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped

one minced garlic clove

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Throw everything in a large bowl along with your bread crumbs and mix well. I used my hands because, after spending half an hour elbow deep in a pumpkin, I was up for anything.

I DID NOT add salt to the stuffing mixture. There was plenty of salt in the pancetta and the gryuere to season the whole recipe, but I did add a few twists of fresh ground black pepper.

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Step 3: Stuff everything into your pumpkin. You can really cram it in there, sense there are no food safety issues here as there are with stuffing a turkey. Fuller is better.

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Step 4: You’ll need to add some kind of liquid to your stuffing at this point. I used one pint of heavy cream, because that’s what Dorie Greenspan used, and what my friend Sean used when he made a version of this last weekend. Sean referred to the results as a savory bread pudding stuffed in a pumpkin, and that was the result I was going for here. You could also use 1 1/2 -2 cups chicken stock here, or even vegetable stock. You want to add enough liquid to moisten the stuffing very well, but you don’t want it to be soupy.

Step 5: Pop the reserved pumpkin top back on and roast the pumpkin on a baking sheet at 350 for two hours, removing the cap for the last ten minutes to allow a bit of the liquid to evaporate. You wan the pumpkin to be fork-tender but not collapsing when it is done.

Now, by this point in my cooking process, my kitchen was almost completely dark. I couldn’t even get a bad picture with every light in the kitchen on. So I am going to rather shamelessly swipe my friend Sean’s picture of his version of this recipe so you can see what this thing will look like when it comes out of the oven. We used very different kinds of pumpkins but the idea is the same.

Stuffed and Roasted Pumpkin

Now here’s the fun part. Doris Greenspan says that you can either use a big spoon to stir everything together, scraping the pumpkin from the side and mixing it into the pumpkin like I did (delicious but not so pretty) or you can slice the pumpkin the way Sean did. Sean is a braver man than me.

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Obviously, Sean’s way makes for a much better presentation. Who could be unimpressed by this?

My friend Susie made another version of this recipe and posted it on her blog.  She is the former editor of the only cooking magazine that matters, Fine Cooking Magazine, and is a much better planner than I, as all her photos are lovely and taken long before sundown. Also, she and I used the same kind of pumpkin– the Long Island Cheese pumpkin, and you should pop over there just to see how mine would have looked if I had been born more organized.

The Stuffed and Roasted pumpkin was absolutely delicious. My family was skeptical until they tasted it– it is positively ambrosial! The combination of the salty pancetta and the sweet apples was sublime. And the gruyere! Oh my Lord, the gruyere!

This would make a great Thanksgiving side dish, although I encourage you to try it at least once before then as a confidence booster.

Probably something you would like… Halloween Edition 2014

[So I had planned to have my new stuffed pumpkin recipe posted today, but I got kind of a late start with dinner yesterday and quickly realized it was way too dark to take good food pictures. So my family had take-out Thai and you are getting a PSYWL post today. But come back tomorrow-- I'll be starting dinner early today and those pumpkin pics will be glorious!]

 

eyeball cookies

Eyeball Cookies. Because EYEBALL COOKIES.

Garlic Soup

I originally wrote this Garlic Soup recipe for Valentine’s Day but it’s also probably your best defense against vampires on Halloween. BONUS: It’s delicious and you will want to eat it every day of winter.

Halloween for Preggos

Guess what this pregnant lady is going to be for Halloween? Yup, I finally got to order this t-shirt that I blogged about so many Halloweens ago. (I blogged about this two years ago. I NEVER thought I would be the pregnant lady who actually gets to wear it. Life is nothing if not unexpected.)

Pumpkin-Dream-Cake

Every year, I say I am going to make Pumpkin Dream Cake. This is the year, dammit!

I never remember to soften the butter when baking. This is pure genius.

Unplugged Wedding Photography

Okay, this article is actually infuriating but  I want you to read it anyway. Please don’t be this wedding guest. Pretty please.

If you are the easily queasy type, DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO. For everyone else, check out this crazy relative of the star fish called the Basket Star.  So creepy but I can’t stop watching!

How to Properly Construct a Sandwich

As everyone who knows me knows, I hate sandwiches. When someone is trying to give you a sandwich they are cheating you out of eating something good. (Ironically, most of my pregnancy cravings have been for sandwiches. I am becoming that which I loathe the most!) This article about proper sandwich construction should be must-reading for everyone who has ever championed those soggy excuses for a meal.

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