2.22.2014

Things You Need: Green Gables Knits by Joanna Johnson

https://www.etsy.com/listing/161950270/green-gables-knits-signed
Joanna hits it out of the park with patterns inspired by L.M. Montgomery's classic books.

My friend Joanna (of Phoebe's Sweater fame) decided last year to publish a sweet little book based around Anne of Green Gables. As a child of the 80s, I have a long and storied history with not only the 6 books, but also the made-for-TV movies. At my house, the Megan Follows movies reigned supreme; I generally preferred Anne of Avonlea to Green Gables, but both were watched overandoverandover with much love. Naturally, when I first heard from Joanna that she was planning a Green Gables book, I expressed so much enthusiasm over the idea that I was one of the first to receive a signed, bound copy.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/161950270/green-gables-knits-signed
The gorgeous photos alone are worth the cost of the book; mine is sitting on the coffee table!

I've been envious of natural redheads for as long as I can remember. Anne played a big part in creating this obsession, and I was always confounded that she was wishing away her beautiful auburn locks in exchange for Diana's raven ones. Since I wear the same raven curls as Diana, I was immediately drawn to the Diana's Hat pattern in the book. I reached for my needles and whipped one up in an afternoon and a half.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/dianas-hat
Leftover silk & llama yarn from my Fisherman Twist sweater make up the bottom portion...

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/dianas-hathttp://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/dianas-hat
...while blue alpaca adorns the crown.

I really enjoyed knitting this simple pattern, and am quite delighted with the results. The size is just right to accommodate my curls without being too large, and the extra-large circumference of the brim rests just perfectly on your head without giving you "hat hair" when the hat is removed.

If you're an Anne fan, like me, or just a fan of beautiful, wonderfully photographed knits, this book is a must have. And best of all, you can purchased a signed copy directly from Joanna for just $14.95.

Well done, Joanna! I'm hoping you'll consider a sequel...perhaps some knits inspired by Anne's days and acquaintances as a schoolteacher in Avonlea?

1.19.2014

Now available: Mashrabiya Vest and Lonicera Cowl!

I've just released two patterns as digital downloads! My Mashrabiya Vest & Shawl was part of a Woolgirl club last year, and is one of those great versatile pieces that can be worn in a myriad of ways. It uses just 2 skeins of fingering weight yarn, and measures a whopping 80" long and 18" wide!

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mashrabiya-vest--shawl 
it's a shawl! it's a vest! it's a scarf! it's a tee! it's mashrabiya!

The Lonicera Cowl was inspired by one of my favorite plant groups, honeysuckle. It comes in four sizes and you have your choice of using the fingering weight yarn doubled or singled, either one or two skeins. This was part of an Indigodragonfly club last year, and I'm excited to be able to share it with you now!

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lonicera-cowl
the smallest size is perfect for around the neck; larger sizes can be worn over the shoulders

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lonicera-cowl
this stitch pattern came from an antique knitting book
 
Best of all, I'm running a promotion for these two patterns now through the end of January. When you purchase either one of these patterns, you can get any other pattern of mine, absolutely FREE with the coupon code, "LimitedTimeOffer"! Just put at least 2 Sexy Knitter patterns in your cart, enter the coupon code, and the second pattern will automatically be deducted from your total. Pretty cool, right?

Find Mashrabiya Vest & Shawl here.

Find Lonicera Cowl here.

11.22.2013

Recipe: Carthay Circle House Biscuits

If you've arrived here through a Google search, well, you already know what you're in for. California Adventure's Carthay Circle Restaurant's House Biscuits are the stuff of legend, and if you've not been lucky enough to have them in person, I'll just say this: Get ready for the best bread you've ever had. Yeah, I said it. Hot, doughy, crisp-on-the-outside, full-of-melty-cheese-and-bacon-on-the-inside, these are beyond good. Doc and I visited the Carthay Circle Restaurant last year as part of my 30th birthday bash, and being a bread lover I couldn't resist ordering a round of these as a starter. At $12 a basket (a basket containing perhaps 8 rolls), they are worth every penny. If you ever find yourself at California Adventure, you MUST make a reservation at Carthay Circle and order these rolls. You simply must. However, in the meantime, I'm going to tell you how to enjoy them at home, because after more than a year of experimenting, I believe I've finally nailed it. You can thank Craftsy for the recipe, because they're having a recipe contest right now that gave me the incentive to finally get this posted. You can join in, too! Here's the submission page. Also, you should check out Craftsy's free Pizza Making Class; they'll teach you how to make regular and gluten free varieties! If pizza doesn't float your boat, check out any of Crafty's other food classes - they're all 25% off during November. Now, down to business.

Carthay Circle House Biscuits Copycat Recipe

Yield: 16 rolls (serves 4 adults or less - trust me)

Ingredients

For the bread:
Starter
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Dough
6 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 heaping tablespoons vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
Starter

For the Filling:
4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and trimmed
8 oz Cracker Barrel Sharp White Cheddar, grated
12 slices nacho jalapeño peppers
1/4 cup jalapeño juice
Bacon grease from cooked bacon

For the Butter:
1 stick salted butter, softened
1/4 cup Smucker's Simply Fruit, Apricot
1 tablespoon honey

Oh, and you'll need a deep fryer filled with vegetable oil and a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop...

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship...


To make the starter, combine the warm water and yeast in a bowl until yeast has fully dissolved. Add the flour. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

BACON!!!!!!

While the starter is working, you can make your filling. Grate the cheese and set that aside in a large bowl; cook the bacon until extra crispy, trimming the excess fat when cool. Let the bacon grease cool down a bit while you combine the bacon, jalapeño slices and jalapeño juice in the food processor (I used my Magic Bullet). Pulse until you have a rather chunky paste, like so:

It really is just like magic...

Combine this mixture with the cheese and slightly cooled bacon grease. You don't have to go crazy with the bacon grease, just whatever sort of slops out of the pan is fine. Once your mixture is evenly coated with all the goodies, pop it in the fridge - it'll be easier to work with later.

Awwww, yeah.

You probably still have time to make your apricot honey butter before your starter's done, so throw all those ingredients in a bowl and blend them up with your mixer. It's really important that all of these ingredients be at room temperature when you try to mix them, or the butter will try to bead up on you. You want nice, fluffy butter.

 
Sweet, salty goodness.

Now then, you're ready to finish the bread dough. Combine the water, honey, and yeast; stir to dissolve the yeast, then add the shortening, salt, and starter. You'll have something that looks like this:

And it will smell heavenly.

 Mix in the flour, either by hand or in a stand mixture, kneading until the dough is fully developed.

This dough is good on its own, too, by the way. We like to use it as bread bowls for soup.

Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Now comes the fun part! Separate your dough into 16 even pieces. I like to start with 4, then break each one of those down into 4. SO much easier than eyeballing 16ths! Flatten each small piece into about a 3-4" square. With your cookie scoop, scoop out a firmly-packed ball of filling into the middle of your flattened dough. Wrap the dough around the filling, pressing dough firmly to close (I like to use a dumpling method, but whatever works for you). Roll your filled dough back into a ball-like shape. When all your dough bits are filled, place them into the freezer for an hour or until fully frozen. At this point, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe container and leave them until you're ready to eat (this is an excellent way to stockpile these for when cravings hit, and trust me, they're going to).

I feel an Oliver-esque chorus of "Food, Glorious Food" coming on...

While your dough balls are in the freezer, preheat your fryer to 360ºF. Depending on the size of your fryer, you'll probably be frying the rolls in batches of 4-6. I have one of these, and generally put in 4 at a time. You want them to have some room, because they will puff up a bit once they hit the hot oil. Let them cook in the oil for 3 1/2 minutes. When they come out of the fryer, toss them on a paper towel to soak up any residue oil that might be hiding in the nooks and crannies.

Golden brown crust, nicely crisp. So unassuming...

If you let your friends and family have at the first batch before you're finished frying the rest, be prepared to start fending people off with your butter knife. Yes, they're really THAT GOOD. Never, ever take these to a party unless you want to be asked to bring them to Every Single Party Forever After. Think I'm overselling them a bit? Wait 'til you try them.

Delicious, ooey-gooey amazingness.

Break one open, slather with apricot honey butter, and try not to think about how much you'd like to be queuing up for Radiator Springs Racers when you're finished. Enjoy!


******************
Online Bread Making Class

11.18.2013

Style Your Knits: Fisherman Twist

It's been awhile since I did one of these, but I've been stockpiling photos for weeks. These kinds of posts are going to start happening more regularly around here, as I intend to start sneaking my blog ever-closer towards being a knitwear-themed style blog. But more on that later! For now, let's just get to the eye candy, shall we?

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twist

I picked up Carol Feller's pattern, Fisherman Twist, at a print-pattern sale at my LYS. I happened to have a bag of Adagio, a wonderful llama/silk blend from Skacel that's sadly been discontinued, that I thought would be just perfect for this pattern. Turns out, I was right!

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twisthttp://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twist

I'm very happy with how this sweater turned out. After a full wet blocking, the thing grew into a giant mess, so I lightly felted it in a very hot dryer and it turned into just the perfect size for me. (And bonus, when you lightly felt llama & silk it turns into an amazingly scrumptious fabric!) I styled it up by pairing it with a one-shoulder chiffon maxi dress, tights, wedge cowboy boots, a long necklace, and a large envelope clutch. It would be wonderful with jeans, too, but y'all know that's not how I roll. ;)

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twisthttp://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twist

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twist

So here's the rundown, style-blog style:

Pattern: Fisherman Twist by Carol Feller
Yarn: Skacel Collection, Inc. Adagio (discontinued)
Dress: Eric Daman for Charlotte Russe, thrifted (similar)
Boots: Old Navy, thrifted (similar)
Snake Ring: Vintage, thrifted (similar)
Necklace: Handmade by me (similar)
Envelope Clutch: eBay (available here in multiple colors)
Nails: Sienna from Julep (here; also, read my blog post on how to get Julep for FREE!)

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/TheSexyKnitter/fisherman-twist

This sweater-over-a-maxi style is great for an environment where you don't know what the weather will be like...because even without the sweater, you still look perfectly put together! Would you ever wear a sweater over a dress? Let me know in the comments!

Get the knitting pattern from Carol Feller for $5.95 on Ravelry here. Click any of the photos above to see my project on Ravelry.

11.05.2013

Vogue Knitting Live: Chicago 2013

I just got home from a weekend in Chicago with my friend Joslyn, and we had such an amazing time at Vogue Knitting Live! We decided to skip taking any classes in favor of spreading out our spending money between the market, Michigan Avenue shopping, and high-end dining experiences. What fun we had! Here's a little visual recap (click each photo for a larger version):

 
knitting on the train - joslyn is making a westport shawl

the fiber factor runway show - old favorites & accessories from challenge 6

none of the contestants tried to stab me. i considered this a success.

hijinks on the show floor

shopping splurges on michigan ave - spent WAY too much on these fab shoes!