Rhinebeck Sweater

For years now I have wanted to go to Rhinebeck, or the New York Sheep & Wool festival held in the Rhinebeck Valley in New York in the fall.  Late last year Ana and (sadly blogless) Beth and I decided that 2016 was the year.

In our flurry of preparations, we have each been talking about knitting a sweater for the event for months now. The “Rhinebeck sweater” is a ritual that many festival attendees create each year.  I spent some time trying to decide what kind of sweater I would want to wear at Rhinebeck (I’m hoping the weather cooperates – some years it is hot and others it is snowy!).  Frankly, I wanted it to be a sweater of the “magnum opus” variety. That is, I wanted to knit something spectacular to wear there.  So I perused Ravelry and came up with something I really thought would be a good fit for me. Cables? Check. Tunic length,  meaning excessive yardage? Check. Overall cozy New England feel? Check. Good for use in Kansas winter? Check.  I selected Dallas by Amy Miller.

Dallas by Amy Miller, pattern available via Ravelry (photo: Amy Miller)

Next it was time to ponder yarn choices.  The pattern called for Plucky Primo Worsted which was a little out of my budget. I debated whether I wanted my yarn to be buttery soft, but with potential for pilling (thank you Yarn Harlot for making me realize I was making yarn noises!), or a bit hardier but eliciting a fewer oohs and ahhs.  I also wanted to buy a color I didn’t already have in my wardrobe.  I ended up deciding to use Cascade 220 in a fabulous green shade called Irlande.

Then I set about swatching for my sweater. I don’t always take the time to swatch carefully before knitting (I know… I know…) but I really wanted this sweater to be a success.  As I knit the swatch, however, I found that I wasn’t completely excited about the sweater.  I don’t know whether it was the seed stitch in the cable, or the suggested positive ease of 4-9 inches, but I wasn’t feeling this sweater.

So I had a little heart to heart with myself (and some text messages with a friend).  I went through the pattern search on Ravelry again.  I looked for my cables, and my extra yardage, and my “New England feel but good for Kansas weather” sweater. And I re-swatched. And I’m happier with my second choice – Ardara by Carol Feller.

Ardara by Carol Feller – pattern available via Ravelry (photo: Carol Feller)

So now I wait for the swatches to dry and I contemplate all the possibilities for my Rhinebeck sweater. I guess I’d better get to knitting pretty soon, right?

 

The Corner of Knit & Tea: Episode 101, Ready to Travel for Yarn

Welcome to episode 101! I’m feeling better and have lots to show you today.  Also I announce the winners of the 100th episode giveaway!

Please come and join the Ravelry group.

You can also find me on Ravelry as FluffykTwitter, Instagram as Fluffykira, and in my shop The Stashbuckler: Adventures in Yarrrrrrrrn.

Tea:

Knitting:

Spinning:

 

America’s Working Tea Plantation

In the past, I have mentioned that I subscribe to The Salt, a food newsletter from NPR, and often find inspiration in their Tea Tuesday posts.

This week the post was about America’s only commercial tea plantation, the Charleston Tea Plantation, owned by the Bigelow Tea Company. Check out the article here!

The “Green Giant” mechanical tea harvester; photo credit: The Salt

 

Drink Me: Colorado Prickly Pear Tea

Last week when we were in Garden of the Gods, I found a package of Colorado Prickly Pear Tea and picked it up to try. The package is scant on details – there are no ingredients and I can’t figure out who the manufacturer of the tea is because it’s all under the Garden of the Gods labeling. A pack of a dozen teabags was $4.99.

Apparently the prickly pear cacti produce a pear shaped, red fruit which is sweet in taste. It is picked, de-thorned, and then dried for infusion into teas. I believe the variety I picked up is infused into black tea.

When I first opened the package it had a pleasantly sweet and fruity aroma. I only let it steep for a few minutes, and I probably need to let it steep longer, but the flavor was quite mild. It had just a hint of a sweet fruity note to it, but otherwise tasted like a smooth ceylon tea.

If you’re interested in trying this delicacy I found another variety available from Maya Tea, an Arizona tea company that makes the most of the abundance of prickly pear cacti in the area.

Colorado 2016

Last week my husband and I took a week off and went to Colorado.  The real purpose was so that he could do the Run the Rockies Half Marathon Trail Run, but we planned a week full of sightseeing while he acclimated to the elevation.

We started off in Colorado Springs.  The first day we went to the The Broadmoor Seven Falls.   It was a short walk up to the falls, although with the elevation I found it to be a good workout.

The thing I noticed the most was the smell – the whole area smelled of pine and forest and greenery. It was really picturesque despite being a tourist attraction.

And finally we reached the falls themselves:

After a short rest, we headed back to down the hill and off in search of lunch. We ended up at The Golden Bee which is a 19th century English pub at The Broadmoor, a 5-star, 5-diamond hotel. The fixtures in the pub itself, including the bar, were transferred panel by panel from the UK.

The afternoon forecast was for rain so we opted for an indoor activity; we went and visited Patsy’s Candies and took a tour of the chocolate factory.

That evening we had dinner with my college roommate and her husband (she’s also a knitter!)

The second day, which happened to be our anniversary, we explored Garden of the Gods. The park was beautiful and so unexpected – I had never seen red rock amid lush trees.

After wandering around the park, Wes indulged me in a little yarn tourism. On the advice of my roomie, we visited Ewe and Me, a little yarn boutique up by Garden of the Gods. I ended up purchasing 2 skeins of beautiful yarn from a local dyer, Spruce Dragon and I found the shop charming. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, it definitely deserves a visit!

The rest of the vacation actually yielded very little in terms of sightseeing and photos.  On Wednesday morning we headed up to Frisco, a little ski town outside of Breckenridge.  There we spent several days acclimating to Frisco’s 9,000 foot elevation, eating, and wandering around the little town.  On Saturday Wes ran his half marathon and then we headed home.

The trip also included quite a bit of knitting and I picked up a new tea to try – stay tuned for Friday’s post for a review!

Teaccessories: Jennie the Potter

I have posted about the wonderful Jennie the Potter and her fabulous handmade mugs before.  I have a small collection, which is quite impressive given how coveted they are.  Jennie vends at all sorts of knitting festivals and the lines for her wares often begin the moment the event opens.  I managed to purchase one for myself once, a few years ago, when I visited Maryland Sheep and Wool. The others I have acquired have been gifts or the once in a blue moon shop update.

Well it must have been a blue moon this week, because this beauty came to live with me today.

 

The Corner of Knit & Tea: Episode 100, A big milestone!

Welcome to episode 100! Today I filmed the first part of the podcast on our vacation in Colorado, and I show you the knits and a little stash enhancement.  Then I come home and talk about the 100th episode giveaways!

Please come and join the Ravelry group.

You can also find me on Ravelry as FluffykTwitter, Instagram as Fluffykira, and in my shop The Stashbuckler: Adventures in Yarrrrrrrrn.

Knitting:

Stash Enhancement:

Extras:

  • Don’t forget to check out the 100th episode giveaway thread for a chance to win prizes. You must be a member of the group!

Drink Me: Arbor Teas, Holy Basil

Last week I wrote about an order I placed with Arbor Teas.  Another tea I decided to try (having never heard of it before) is Holy Basil.

From the website, Holy Basil is organic Indian Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi.

Holy Basil is available in a variety of sizes: sample for $3.95, 1.5oz for $3.95 and 4oz for $6.50.

When I opened the package all I smelled was something like cloves. It was spicy and earthy.  As it brewed this smell only intensified.  The taste was definitely of cloves, but also of other flavors.  Arbor Teas suggests flavors of mint, lemons, cardamom, rosemary and nutmeg.  I added just a touch of sugar and it was dark and spicy, just as I would expect a masala chai to be.  This is decaffeinated however.  I really did like this one, and can imagine enjoying it quite a bit on cold winter days.

Drink Me: Arbor Teas, Organic Plum Oolong

Last week I decided to place an order with Arbor Teas. I was especially delighted that Arbor Teas offers sample sizes, which means I can buy several small selections to try.  The first one I was excited about trying is the Organic Plum Oolong.

From the website, Organic Plum Oolong contains organic Chinese oolong tea, organic Indian black tea, organic schizandra berries, organic rosehips, organic hibiscus, organic currants, organic osthmanthus flowers, and natural plum flavor.

Organic Plum Oolong is available in a variety of sizes: sample for $3.50, 3oz for $12.50 and 9oz for $29.95.

When I first opened the package I got sort of a spicy berry aroma.  As the tea brewed I got more of the oolong and black tea aromas.  I really like oolong teas because they tend to be very smooth and mellow, but still contain a very full tea flavor. The tea itself was very light and sweet; I tasted the berries and the hibiscus. There was also a smokey overtone which I assume is from the Indian black tea. I enjoyed this blend, although I didn’t get as much of the plum I was wanting.

Knit Me: Briggs & Little Durasport

A few months ago I was contacted by the nice people over at Stitchcraft Marketing to see if I would be interested in knitting something out of Briggs & Little yarns.  Briggs & Little is Canada’s oldest mill.  This year it is celebrating the centennial of ownership by the Briggs & Little families and the mill has actually been in production for over 150 years.  Briggs & Little produces premium grade 100% domestic wool that is milled, carded, dyed and spun at their factory in York Mills, New Brunswick, Canada.  I looked at some of their lighter weight yarns for summer and chose to try their Durasport, in the Denim colorway.

Durasport is a sport weight single that is 80% wool and 20% nylon and comes in 430yd/4oz skeins.  Briggs & Little generously sent me two skeins, one of which I gave away on the podcast just last week. The yarn was lovely and tweedy and just slightly rustic, so I set out to find a simple pattern that would let the yarn shine. I ended up selecting a very little known pattern called Xale Anita by Carmen Gama. It is a garter stitch crescent shawl with a simple lace edging.

I had to make a few modifications to the pattern so that I didn’t run out of yarn, but overall I thought the pattern and yarn were well matched.

I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn. It was sturdy and a bit rustic, like I said, but it really knit up into a lovely drapey shawl. The yarn softened just a bit when washed in wool wash, and blocked out beautifully. I think this would be a wonderful shawl on a cool night, or for extra warmth on a winter day. If you have sensitive skin you might want to wear it over other clothing, but I think many people will find it wearable as is.

I look forward to trying other Briggs & Little yarns; perhaps a colorwork sweater is in my future?

A special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and the folks at  Briggs & Little  who sent me the yarn (retail: $13.00) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

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