Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rib On!

While ribbing is (for me) never much fun I am pretty stoked about being halfway through with the ribbing for two sleeves on the needles. The last bit of Lexical!

Rib ON!

Monday, July 27, 2009

How is it even possible?

MONDAY DAWNETH.......... I have to admit it shocked even me, how did it get to be Monday? For that matter did you know that it was AUGUST the end of this week? Unbelievable to me somehow.

My weekend flew by, Saturday's bride was lovely but the day was insanity and there was no knitting bride (which makes me sad). I thought I'd be out by 6 but ended up getting home at 11:30 that night. My dogs were far crankier than I was!

A crazy week ahead------------- Lexical is almost ready to make the armhole shaping decreases! Knitting and pacing has proven to be an invaluable skill, thank heavens for hands-free phones!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Plot Thickens

On a recent foray scouting dress forms (that I want REALLY badly)---- I went to one of the sewing chains "super stores". Dress forms were on sale, I'd heard the store was fab, and I happened to need to replenish my zipper supply. It took me 35 minutes to drive there and at the other end of the strip was an office supply store as well. As always, this company runs on ink and we'd run out so I ran in there first. The electricity spluttered and sputtered----- and with a bzzzaaapppppp, was gone. Dangit. Luckily I had cash on me (which never happens) and I paid for my ink cartridge and got a hand written receipt and headed off for the fabric store. An employee at the office store assured me that because they were on the 'new' end of the mall that they would not be affected.

He was wrong. They were without power and not allowing customers inside the store. Not wanting to throw away 35 minutes of time and fuel I decided to wait it out. Besides, I could HEAR the on sale dress forms inside calling my name. I cleaned out my purse. I made a couple of phone calls, I organized my files going to the studio. All in all I waited about 15 minutes, not too bad. Then the doors opened, yay.

Sadly this particular store is super only in the way that it has more crap than a normal sized store. More super square footage of super crap I don't need or want. Besides zippers, they had those in every size and color I needed.

The dress forms? Only in size small. I am not a size small. AND they were not even a good color. I would like my dress form to look nice when standing in the corner waiting on me.

They were having a bang up sale on buttons, and I bought quite a few. I need buttons for Lexical and had been in a real quandary. That cardigan is dressier than some but I didn't want the buttons to be too-too. I'd tried out quite a few and they always left me lacking. It is almost time to be knitting my buttonholes so the clock had run out. I was delighted to find the offerings above. One on sale and the other on clearance. While I love the plain braid detail buttons they were too plain agains the black knitted fabric. The other button is fabulous------ dressy enough while keeping it contemporary and stylish. Love them!

The stack of fabric grows on the shelf, waiting for the moment to come to put garments together. See the gold yarn that I thought might not be the right shade? Upon further consideration, seeing it play with it's friends, I think it might be wonderful. Could be a boxy vest in my future...............

And to thicken the plot I bought patterns today from Vogue. Three of them, my favorite is pictured above, I'm crazy about the pants, very contemporary and sort of M*iyake inspired. I think they will be flattering and I love the layered top as well. I'll make the first pair in charcoal gray ponte........................ or so I think at this point.

The hot weather has returned so thoughts of fall are once again sort of pushed to the background. Sigh.

Friday, July 24, 2009

That Saturday Knitting Thing

By now everyone knows where to find me on most given Saturdays, knitting in tow and wrangling brides. Even my brides know I'll have my knitting and they need to pony up, be bloody cheerful about it and strut their stuff. It matters of course very little if they knit or not. As you know, most don't [quite sadly enough].

Last weeks bride who is cleverly modeling the first Lexical front, now off the needles and waiting it's companion side is close friends with an earlier bride. That earlier bride was boffo when it came to being one who knits in white.

See? I told you, she was brilliant! She told her friend about being the KB (and who would not I ask you???) and threw down the gauntlet, or sticks as they might be.

So Bride B (who is adorable and I love her) had her turn. Image 1 shows her at one of the local city parks here that just opened downtown. The locations were not the same so I'm not sure if you can even judge fairly.

The location she picked to model Lexical was next to this crazy iron bird wearing shoes (loved it)--- and in the next series of pics she carried on a birdly knit conversation.

The bird seems unimpressed. Her dress is lovely isn't it? The beading was gorgeous on the bodice!

Exhibit A above. Lovely!

We wrapped up the KB photos with this one, a little on the odd side but it's all good and as always I appreciate the fact that my brides love me and cooperate with this now longstanding Knitting Contessa tradition.

I'm not sure it is fair at all to judge or make comparisons with her friend------- no winners will be declared nor chosen. But still.................... what do you think?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lexical & Cupcakes

Lexical is moving along nicely---- the first front just came off the needles. Unblocked it looks more than a bit odd, especially without the finishing work done on the pocket. The second front is perking along with about 4 inches on it, good stuff starts happening at 6".

I'm still trying to find the RIGHT golden color-------- gotta be perfect, I know it must be out there. I came home with this lonely ball of yarn today and I think it is a couple of shades too the bright side. On I search.

Lastly, cupcakes. Coconut cupcakes to be honest. They were DIVINE! Blog friend Ivonne from food blog "Creampuffs in Venice" inspired me. She gets me in trouble a lot actually and these cupcakes screamed BAKE ME!!!!! The recipe follows from Bon Appétit, you know it is going to be delish. I ate 2 when they came out of the oven. One for dinner and one for dessert so it worked out just fine! Ignore the amount of butter in this recipe for your own sanity and then make them. They're that good!

Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Bon Appétit | April 2009 by Abigail Johnson Dodge

Yield: Makes 18

The secret to these moist cupcakes? Reduced coconut milk.


Reduced coconut milk:

  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk* (preferably organic)


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)


For reduced coconut milk:
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.

Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using a small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.) Sprinkle with coconut. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight containers; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Color Board Work: Fall 2009

I don't know whether it is the cooler (decidedly un-summer like) temps of late or the fact that I have not been knitting summer but FALL------ I'm thinking fall forward.

The work has begun in earnest on the color board for Fall 2009, a task I always enjoy. I have been known to totally ignore my color hopes as well but this year I'm carefully planning and think I have found a palette that I not only like a lot but that looks good on me and works well with what I currently have.

Purple------ notice please the NEW Eggplant yarn from Webs, their delicious Northhampton Bulky that will become (I think) another Nimbus.
Black-------- gotta have basic black
Merlot-------- as in my current and waiting Nimbus
Charcoal gray-yummy, classic and wonderful
and the spark?
Goldenrod----- I found this soft scarf last week and thought it might be a great catalyst to make all of the colors pop and it does! And, I found the coolest pin EVER that will tie it all together!

Making a color board is lots of fun. I find accurate swatches of fabric (you can get freebies from the fabric store if you are not a sewer) or you can go to the paint store and use nice big color chips. Either are then mounted on a piece of foam core (or whatever you like, I just find poster board a bit flimsy). I also cut out styles I love, jewelry that looks great, pics of shoes, accessories, etc. I already have a few things I've pulled out of catalogs and magazines and have a dress in a cool boule shape that is calling to me from the B*urda pattern book! Arrange it and hang it somewhere you will see it as you think about fashion to come. When I'm done with my board I photograph it and have it printed as a 5x7 and tuck that into my handy dandy little ideas folder that travels with me.

Perhaps it is all just a crazy notion but having a board does help you shop smarter when it comes to anything new. For me, I know what colors I'm working towards. While my color board is not done yet (It usually doesn't finish until that nice big fat Fall issue of V*ogue is out) I'm in the process. I'll be less apt to just grab something that appeals on a whim if it doesn't fit into the current story. Knitting wise it is great to know that you are knitting for something that will be worn a lot because it works well with what you'll be wearing. Remind me of this when I must have something chartreuse!

Are you thinking about the coming fall and making knitterly plans?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

love that pocket!

As I head out the door this gorgeous Saturday morning ready to whip today's bride into shape (hee)............ I have my knitting bag at the ready, hoping that a row or two might happen while doing the inevitable waiting that always comes along. (I never knit during the ceremony when I am generally not working---- but I'd sure love to!)

Lexical is almost ready to begin the slight increases at the waist of the first front section. I'm still in love with the knit and the best part? Has to be the little inserted pocket-------- cute as pie and so slick to do. It's hard to tell from the photo, sorry----- but because of the self facing, it does roll while in progress.

Crazy July weather today, about 15 degrees below normal but who in the world is complaining, a true and unexpected delight. (No doubt the bride today will love it, when you are wearing pounds of satin and fluffy layers and your man is encased in a stuffy black tux--- well it is a good thing).

Hope your weekend will be fantastic!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One down............ & apologies to THE Norah Gaughan

the back of Lexical came off the needles late last night----------yay! I had forgotten that the decreases on a raglan sleeve do seem to go on forever! I'll be casting on for a front later today, the front of a sweater always seems to zip right along after working the back.

On a related note my deep apologies to THE Norah Gaughan........... sigh. In a wild and harried moment of what was I thinking, on my way to knit with the ladies last night (wonderful as always), I grabbed NG Volume I, some yarn an needles, shoved them into my bag and dashed out the door. After my first cup of coffee and some chit chat I cast on for Astrid. Sigh. I've always loved this fabulous scarf comprised of those interesting Norah shapes. Well, apparently I'm an idiot (which perhaps comes as no surprise to some)

I brought the wrong sized needles (noticing it after I was into the second row)===== and I have to admit, starting row 1 with a yo just wrinkled my brain in a way that wasn't happening for me. With the help of fellow knitters I moved stitches, wiggled position----- and it still made me crazy. Finding out that in my super haste I had not only brought the wrong dpn's but had knit with them------ well it was just too much. Time to move on. I'll regroup, after all this scarf is completely fabulous!! I'm knitting it in a go with anything gray.

Did I mention I bought new yarn the other day? Uh huh----------- we'll talk about that later. I seriously don't know when or how I'll get it all done.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

7 Come 11

It's a week of 'lucky' numbers! With 456789 coming earlier this week, Saturday brings 7/11 and I'm feeling lucky!

7 Come 11 indeed----- NO bride to wrangle today as I cleverly do not have myself included in the contract (yay), a morning that brought a gorgeous clean house----- an afternoon to catch up on a few things and KNIT on Lexical. Best of all? Dinner with friends this evening at a great Ethiopian restaurant.

c'mon baby, mama needs new shoes...........................

Friday, July 10, 2009

I only want to be with knit

In the spirit of the approaching all star break........... I'm ready for one as well. Studio life and brides in general seem to have worn me out kind of early in the season. I've been digging deep for energy and a bit of The Pep by listening to 60's on 6 (love me my XM) and find the old Dusty Springfield tune "I Only Want To Be With Y*ou" stuck in my head as if looped.

I only wanna be with knit. Just for a day even---------- I dream of Long and Langourous hours drinking something fruity and knitting. I have managed about 8 inches on the back of Lexical, and it is a delightful knit indeed. The bottom looks a bit curly due to the fact that there is a turning row where the bottom two inches will make that lovely facing. The second slight bit of waist shaping has been completed although it is almost too slight to detect at this point.

Hana says that she is tired of wearing her Fourth of July dress, she is already bored with this couture fashion, could she change please?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cute No Knit

An overdue bride photo--------------- she was lovely inside and out, why can't more be like her? She is very obviously NOT a knitter but good natured about holding the project du jour. Yes, that is the Arch in the background, we were downtown on 'the Landing'.

Her gown was absolutely lovely and suited her perfectly! She's holding the swatch for Lexical, Berroco Lustra. Both are beautiful! :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

glam gowns & giant sweater

I admit it, I am a total sucker for bridal gowns. The good, the bad and the ugly! One of my guilty pleasures is to enjoy the annual wedding drama otherwise known as Today Throws a Wedding. I watch with fervor, vote with intent and sit back and wait. This year my second place couple was the winner.......... but they'll be fab regardless. Once the couple is chosen to marry on national morning television the excitement (for me) builds as the audience gets to vote on the gown the tux, the ring and even the honeymoon. Today was gown day and ohmygoodness what fantastic gowns they were. I confess to taking some weird pride in KNOWING my wedding gowns after all! This year the gowns were chosen for a petite and athletic bride, and all were yummily perfect. Check 'em out............

I voted for the last gown, the Anne Barge---- one of my favorite designers. I used to think she lived my life after all. From a young girl she always wanted to design gowns for brides and started her incredible career at Pr*iscilla of Boston when she just showed up at a local trunk show with an armload of sketches. I love it when that works out! From there she has had a shining career of world-wide influence and gorgeous gowns.

***On a non-glam note, Alexi the cabled cardi is together. I am NOT a happy knitter. The coat, which has been otherwise known as a boat cover on frequent occasions------ ends up being exactly that. Let's say it is wearable only when changing up the initial idea. I am not sure if I will ever wear it but youknowwho is chomping for it. AS A JACKET/COAT!!!!!! Yes indeedy, it is the length of a 'car coat' if you remember that sort of thing. Oversized and big. It is a LOT of cabledness let me tell you. I'm searching out leather toggles to close the fronts and will more than likely add some shaping by running the side seams through the sewing machine. Blasphemy to many but blitters--------- I have almost 7 months of my life in that bad girl! Enough seed stitch to turn me away for quite some time! The very best news is that it is all but DONE! I'll post photos when I've found good toggles.

Now................. finishing up the intarsia bag??? Or just continuing to knit the happy Lexical? The chicken for the moment is residing in the sewing room, still sporting double points where the tail should be!

Friday, July 3, 2009


A weekend off, no ladies in white and not a lot of work! It doesn't happen very often around here and I'm going to enjoy it to the fullest

As promised, Nimbus photos:

The color is still wonky----------- but isn't she glorious? I think I'd love to knit her again in chocolate or black.

Love the shawl collar a LOT. Remember I had such a hard time finding a great button for her--- I found this great pin instead. The actual closure is a snap, the pin sits on the surface. I think it looks great, wonderfully unique and sort of vintage and modern at the same time.

With the cabled cardi, Alexi, off the needles it was time to swatch for Lexical. The yarn is yummy with the very soft sheen. Because it is not 'spun' it can be a little splitty but doesn't take much time to get into the groove with.

A very soft haze without being too furry----- and that nice soft shine. Swatching was a delight since the pattern uses pocket linings, they made perfect (and USEABLE) swatches! Gauge was bang on using 7's.

The 7's are still in use finishing up that seed stitch collar for Alexi, with luck over the weekend I'll enter final push.

For the moment I'm just delighted to do holiday things that don't involve brides! For all my American blitters, have a wonderful 4th of July!