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Friday Roundup: Soup and Marshmallows

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What I’m Knitting:

So remember I told you I’d have the bulky vest done this week? I got the whole thing finished a few days ago. It looked a little big around the shoulders and a little small around the armholes, but I talked myself into letting it go. I wove in all my ends… and then those problems nagged at me so much I couldn’t bring myself to block it. After an agonizing couple of evenings spent picking out all the ends, ripping out, and reknitting, it’s almost done. Again.

So instead of a picture of anything I’m working on, please enjoy this stock photo of knitting.

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What I’m Cooking:

I was pretty terrible about taking pictures of my food this week. I need to cultivate the habit, because my first instinct when I sit down with a delicious plate of food in front of me is to eat it immediately. But I managed a few soup pics!

This one is a dilly dumpling stew from my favorite cookbook, Isa Does It. It’s the first time I’ve made a soup with dumplings. It was so cool to just plop the dough on top of the stew and have it steam cook through without any interference from me. The soup itself was good, but next time I’ll use less dill.

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Here’s what it looked like in the pot–cool, eh?

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I also managed to get a pic of this delicious broccoli “cheddar” soup. The cheesy taste comes from a combo of cashew cream and nutritional yeast. It was amazing, and as a bonus, I got to whip out my sadly underused immersion blender.

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What I’m Reading:

I got this book a few days ago and devoured it:

Mr. Kiss and Tell book

This is the second book in the series that continues where the Veronica Mars TV show (and recent movie) left off. It was great, just as good as the first one! I love the way the authors capture the characters’ personalities perfectly. I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait a while for another installment. Marshmallows (fans of V. Mars) unite!

Friday Roundup #3

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What I’m Knitting

I finished the secret bulky vest, yay! Now I just need to block it and sew on buttons, and then it’s time to schedule a photo shoot with my little model. We may have to sponge him off first.

Ronan Messy FaceI also took a few hours today to do my biannual needles, leftover yarn, WIPs, and notions roundup. This is the haul from the three different locations in my house where I usually knit (note kitty helper):

Knitting roundupWhat I’m Cooking:

Pad Thai with tofu: I’ve made this dish several times now and it gets more delicious every time. One of my favorites.

Pad Thai

Chickpea curry: This one was just okay. Not a huge fan, so I probably won’t make it again. I’m still on the hunt for a good vegan curry recipe.

Chickpea curry

Vegan mini omelets: This is the second time I’ve made these, and they were just as good this time. This recipe uses garbanzo flour and tofu with some carefully chosen spices to stand in for the eggs. I added a bunch of veggies (which I’m going to incorporate better next time). I want to try one of these in a breakfast sandwich, mmmm….Mini omelets

Lentil-A-Roni: This recipe uses lentils, pasta, and creamy sauce to mimic junky Chef Boyardee canned food, and it does a pretty good job! I added spinach because I’m apparently incapable of cooking anything without adding some extra greens.
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What I’m Reading:

I finished The Winter of the Robots last night and am currently between books. But I just placed an order with Barnes and Noble and should have a couple more winging their way to me in the next few days (free express member shipping, baby!).

Friday Roundup #2

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What I’m Knitting:

Stuff I can’t show here. But I’m on the home stretch with the bulky baby vest, and working madly on swatching for some new designs. Stay tuned–hopefully I’ll have stuff I can show off here in a little while.

In the meantime, let me distract you with…

What I’m Cooking:

I went a little nuts with the cooking and baking this week. Not pictured: a very tasty quinoa, lentil, and kale stew; butternut squash pasta; creamy tomato pasta.

First up, vegan enchilada casserole. I thought this was just okay, and not really worth the hour plus it took to make it. My husband seemed to really like it, though. The “cream” on top is made from soaked cashews:

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These carrot cake pancakes are AWESOME. The cookbook says they’re perfect when you really want carrot cake, but it’s morning and you can’t justify it. They really are. Not too difficult, either–the most annoying part is grating the carrot.
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Banana nut muffins, which I make fairly often because we somehow always seem to have overripe bananas:

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And my favorite for the week: vegan eggplant “parmesan”! This recipe just has you sprinkle breadcrumbs between layers of eggplant, sauce, and dairy-free cheese. SO GOOD. I don’t think I’ll ever do the labor-intensive coating each slice thing again.

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What I’m Reading:

I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After, so it’s back to middle grade! I picked this fun-looking book up at the library:

robotslargeBattle robots in an abandoned junkyard? Sign me up.

 

The Great Blog Reboot of 2015

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Hello out there! Blog posts have been rare around here since my son was born back in July, but I miss blogging regularly and interacting with other bloggers and crafters. So I made a resolution (about a week late, but hey…) to get back to regular blogging in 2015.

Here’s how I’m going to do it: every Friday, I’ll post a weekly update like the one below. To solve my ever-present problem of working on secret knitting projects that I’m not allowed to blog about, I’m branching out a bit. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here on the blog before, but my household is about 90% vegan (no meat or dairy products). Another one of my resolutions is to cook healthy meals instead of eating mostly frozen and pre-made entrees, so I’ll be sharing new recipes I’m trying. It should be fun!

I’m also going to be sharing books I’m reading, since I’m still working on getting books published and it’s important to keep reading in the genre that I’m writing. I’m hoping a weekly check-in will motivate me to plow through some titles on my to-read list.

Without further ado, here’s my first new post! :-)

What I’m Knitting

I’m working on secret projects. Quelle surprise. But there are a lot of them this time. I’m doing a baby/child collection for a yarn company which is going to include two hats, two sets of mittens, a scarf, and a vest. The yarn is hand-dyed and scrumptious. I can’t wait to show these off. I have all the samples knit except the vest, which is in progress. Bulky yarn + hand-dyed goodness = fun to knit.

Here’s a teeny little preview of one of the hats (really just an excuse to show off my adorable son):

Aureate sneak peek

What I’m Cooking

Here’s something that probably won’t surprise you: cooking interesting, healthy vegan meals day after day is hard. But I got this amazing new cookbook as a Christmas present:

Isa Does ItThis is the absolute best cookbook I’ve ever had, vegan or not. I’ve made something like 15 recipes from it since Christmas, and everything has been good. When does that ever happen?

I used to use internet recipes much more than cookbooks, but there’s something oddly satisfying about flipping to a recipe in a big, thick cookbook and consulting it as you go. Maybe that’s just me.

I didn’t think to take pictures of anything I made last week, so my foray into the world of food photography will have to wait until next week.

What I’m Reading

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

isla-and-the-happily-ever-after-196x300This is kind of cheating, because I’m writing middle grade fiction (for ages 8-12), so I really shouldn’t be reading young adult. But I gave myself permission to cheat. I loved this author’s first two books (Anna and the French Kiss & Lola and the Boy Next Door), so I have high hopes for this one.

Interview with Designer Gillian Grimm of Birch Hollow Cottage!

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I have another fun interview with a fellow Indie Design Gift-A-Long designer today! Gillian has some adorable patterns in her Ravelry shop, and I’ve already seen several pop up in the KAL/CAL threads in the Gift-A-Long Ravelry group. I asked her a few questions about her design background and inspirations.

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Triona Murphy: What inspired you to start designing?
Gillian Grimm: I’ve always been a tinkerer when it comes to patterns, in both sewing and knitting. I spent several years making adjustments to existing patterns to better suit my needs and that led to designing things from scratch. Once I started down that road there was no going back :)

TM: Your mitten patterns for kids are adorable! I especially like the Gnome Mittens and Little Hedgehog Mittens. What inspired you to start making them? Which one is your favorite?

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GG: Well thank you! My animal mittens were inspired both by the creatures that lived in the woods around us and also characters from children’s books. I was especially inspired by Jan Brett’s The Mitten and some of her other picture books for my first round of animal mittens and I have some new picture book inspired mittens in the works that I hope to release during the GAL! I also draw inspiration from my children and their friends. I’m always looking for ways to create items that they will wear and love and have fun with!

TM: The name Birch Hollow is very evocative. Do you really live near birch trees, or are they just favorites of yours?
GG: Birch Hollow Cottage is, indeed, a real place. Until this spring we lived high up in the mountains in Vermont in a house surrounded by birch and maple trees, plenty of wild animals and two creeks. It was the perfect place to curl up in front of the wood stove with piles of wool and knit and dream away. We’re now living in an old house in Portland, Oregon, which we also love, although I’m not sure anyplace will every compare to our time in the Birch Hollow. :)

TM: Are you planning to participate in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make?
GG: Definitely! We try to make Christmas each year as much about handmade and homemade gifts as we can. I’ll be picking out some hat and scarf patterns to make as gifts but I’m also on the hunt for a great sweater pattern that I can make for myself in the new year.

TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
GG: I’ll be releasing most of my animal mittens in adult sizes as well as introducing some more animals into the group. I’ve also got some fun hat projects in the works, plus I’d like to branch out more in the shawl area. I’ve got lots of sketches and ideas and I can’t wait to get knitting.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Gillian as much as I did! As for my own GAL knitting, I finished a present for my son’s first Christmas. Stay tuned for that soon!

Interview with Designer Tabi Ferguson!

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As part of the Gift-A-Long 2014 festivities (check out the Ravelry group if you haven’t already!), I got the chance to interview designer/spinner/yarnie Tabi Ferguson. See below to find out more about her designs and her yarns!

Triona Murphy: What inspired you to start designing?
Tabi Ferguson: With my first design, Link and Link Cowl. I wanted  a lace motif that included circles but there wasn’t anything in the stitch dictionaries that worked, so I decided to design my own. Now I try to create new motifs in every design I do based on a sketch. I also wanted to design based on the yarns I carry. Each yarn has different characteristics: elasticity (or not), bloom (or not), loft (or not), relative durability, etc. Some designs work better with some yarns.
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TM: Besides being a designer, you’re also a spinner and an indie dyer. How do the three activities compare? Do you find one more difficult than the others?
TF: They all have their fun aspects and their challenges.  I’d say designing is the most challenging but it keeps the mind sharp. Sometimes it’s not the motif that’s the most challenging. I recently designed a sock pattern with a new cable/circle/texture motif that only took a day or so to get charted. The challenge was figuring out how to work it into a sock shape. Let’s just say I have even more respect for sweater designers now!
Spinning is meditation. If I go too long without spinning, I get a little cranky :-) I went almost immediately to spinning luxury fibres, so for the last year  I’ve been concentrating on spinning fleeces. Spinning silk is such perfection, that It’s been a fun change imagining the personalities of each individual sheep based on the characteristics of their locks and spinning to that.

 

Dyeing is relatively instant gratification. Though it takes longer to dye silk because of the extra time needed for soaking, when I’m standing over the dyepots I imagine all the cool things people will knit and spin with the outcome…. which is dry the next day! The challenge is you don’t always have full controll when you’re dyeing so sometimes you have to let go of the colour idea you had in mind and just let things flow. Colour is highly subjective and someone will love it. I also really enjoy seeing the colour combinations customers choose, it gives one fresh eyes!

 

TM: From your design catalogue, it looks like you gravitate toward fingering and laceweight yarns. Do you have any plans to work in other weights in the future, or have you found your sweet spot?
TF: I carry mostly lace and fingering yarns because luxury fibres are very fine and, unless they’re multiple plies, they work best in those weights. But….
It’s funny that you ask that! This fall I brought out a new 50/50 Silk/Yak 4ply and 100% Yak 3ply series in…..Sport/DK! specifically because I wanted to design something luxury for guys. Ok, my guy :-) I also wanted to see if the natural brown yak took the dye with the same intensity as the natural buffalo. The results are exactly what I wanted. Anyway, I threw together a double-sided Fair Isle scarf design from the natural yak and a handspun similar to the Silk/Yak but A) I’ve now worn it more than ‘the guy’ has (oops) and B) I’ve had a few requests for the pattern, so I’d better get knitting one for myself so I can figure out what I did! I did manage to get a neckwarmer version of my Ceylon Cowldone up in one skein of Silk/Yak for the Woodstock Fleece Festival.

 

TM: Are you planning to participate in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make?
TF: I’m a little late starting my Holiday knitting, but a pair of fingerless gloves has been requested by mom and the guy really needs a toque, so I’ll be checking out the GAL for those designs!

 

TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
TF: I have a new side-to-side and triangular shawl design based on the design I did for the PLY Magazine Silk issue but using my new Multi-Ply Silk. I think another Fair Isle design similar to the Clouds of Luxury, mixing and matching different luxury yarns. The Ceylon Series or the Link series may get another addition. I enjoy exploring different interpretations and trying new shapes.
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Thanks for being on the blog today, Tabi! If you want to check out her designs, they’re available on Ravelry here. There’s still plenty of time to knit up one of her designs as a gift or for yourself and be entered to win fabulous prizes in the Gift-A-Long!

Updates!

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Whew, lots of stuff happening around chez Triona Designs recently. I’ve released two more patterns:

Bubblicious Hat:

Bubblicious

Nolan Vest, which comes with instructions for v-neck and scoop neck as well as two different colorwork placements:
Nolan green

Nolan Brown

 

I’ve also been hard at work on several secret designs for yarn companies. Some of them are even for adults! Here’s a sneak peek of one that should be released this spring:

Avelina peek

 

And last but certainly not least, I’m participating in the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long on Ravelry for the second year in a row!

GAL logo

 

If you’re not familiar with the event, check out the Ravelry group here for all the info. The fun starts this Thursday at 8 pm EST and goes all the way to the end of the year.

The prizes are killer this year (I personally donated some yarny goodness, but I saw at least a dozen things I’d love in the prize list!). I’m going to pick out a pattern or two that I’d like to make and jump into the knitalong fun.

I have several interviews scheduled with fellow Gift-A-Long indie designers coming up. Watch this space!

New Pattern Release: Ronan Cardigan!

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Now that my baby model has arrived, I’m working my way through pattern releases!

You may remember seeing the Ronan Cardigan sample a few months ago. Doesn’t it look better with my handsome model?

Ronan back

Ronan frontThe pattern is available to purchase on Ravelry here.

Here are the specs:

SIZES
0-3 mo (6-12 mo, 1-2 yrs, 2-4 yrs, 4-6 yrs, 6-8 yrs)

Actual Finished Measurements:
Chest: 16.75 (18.25, 21, 22.5, 24.75, 26.25)”, or 42.5 (46.5, 53.5, 57, 63, 66.5) cm

Length from bottom hem to top of neckband: 9.75 (10.25, 12.75, 15.25, 17.75, 20.25)”, or 25 (26, 32.5, 38.5, 45, 51.5) cm

Shown in 0-3 month size.

MATERIALS NEEDED
Yarn:
Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted (100% merino; 210yds/192m per 100g skein); color Emerald; 2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 4) skeins

Recommended needles:
US #7 / 4.5 mm circular needle, 16-32” long (depending on size being worked)
US #7 / 4.5 mm double-pointed needles, set of 4 or 5
US #8 / 5.0 mm circular needle, 16-32” long (depending on size being worked)
US #8 / 5.0 mm double-pointed needles, set of 4 or 5

Notions:
4 stitch markers; cable needle; smooth waste yarn; yarn needle; 4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 6) buttons, 3/4”/20 mm in diameter

GAUGE
19 sts/28 rows = 4 inches/10 cm in reverse stockinette stitch on larger needles.

Burnished Pattern Book Winner!

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The random number generator has spoken:

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Comment #5 is Katinka, who said:

“I usually want to knit all the things, all the time, but one specific fall goal is a red sweater. I just **need** a red sweater — it’s my happy color.
Love your cardi coat! Enjoy the time with your little guy — he’s about to get into a really fun stage of interacting back, if he’s not already.”

Congratulations, Katinka! Send me your address in an email to triona@trionadesigns.com, or a Ravelry PM to otismurph, and I’ll get the pattern book sent out to you!

New Pattern Release and Contest!

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Boy, people aren’t kidding when they say babies are a lot of work, haha. I’ve been working hard to keep up with my knit design work, and I’m afraid my poor blog has suffered. But I’m resurfacing to show off a new design!

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for your chance to win a copy of the pattern book that includes this design.

This is Roundstone Coat, from the Knit Picks Fall 2014 collection, Burnished:

Roundstone backIt’s designed in bulky wool for a toasty outer layer, perfect for fall outings.

Roundstone Front

The bold cable pattern is my favorite part of this coat. It’s challenging enough to keep your interest, but easy enough to be fun:

Roundstone detail

Here are the pattern details:

Available for purchase on the Knit Picks website here.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
S (M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X)

35 (39.5, 43, 47.5, 52, 56.5, 59)” finished bust measurement; garment is meant to be worn with 2-3” of positive ease.

YARN
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky (100% wool; 137 yards/100g): Masala 24681, 9 (10, 11, 11, 12, 13, 14) skeins.

NEEDLES
US 10 (6.0mm) 24-32” circular needle, or size to obtain gauge
US 9 (5.5mm) circular needle, at least 47” in length

NOTIONS
Yarn Needle, Stitch Markers (at least 6 should be the removable type or safety pins), Cable needle, Stitch holders or Waste Yarn, 6 buttons, 1” to 1.25” in diameter

GAUGE
14 sts and 21 rows = 4” over St st, blocked.

Knit Picks generously provided me with an extra copy of the pattern booklet that includes the Roundstone Coat. The collection, Burnished, is gorgeous. There are at least half a dozen sweaters I want to make immediately!

Burnished KPFor a chance to win the collection, leave a comment by the end of the day this Thursday, September 25th and tell me what you’re planning to knit this fall. On Friday, I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner. (Contest is open to everyone, so international entries are welcome!)

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