Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tipsy Tuesday: Civil Unrest

This beverage was discovered at a recent work event, when we had a partial bottle of raspberry vodka, and needed a mixer. That cocktail was about 1/3 vodka, 2/3 lemon-lime soda, with a squeeze of lime. Surprisingly refreshing. (I'm sure it'd knock you on your ass if you drank them like I wanted to.)

The above illustration is for a permutation that I've been in love with for ages. It really is refreshing, since the alcohol content is negligible. That's a pint glass with a shot of raspberry liqueur (any will do, but use Chambord if you're feeling fancy), filled with lemon-lime soda. The liqueur gives a light raspberry flavor to the soda, without giving it any boozy kick. I don't usually bother with the lime.

Want a boozy kick? Add a shot of vodka.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Totally Manic


There's a short circuit in my brain somewhere. I normally consider the idea of knitting a blanket ludicrous... I mean, why spend all that time and money on a large, worsted weight item that is never going to be finished anyway?

Somehow, though, knitting a blanket in tiny squares of sock yarn seemed totally reasonable.

And I'm making two.

Above, you see the "colorwash" blankie (so called for the group that fuels my madness: BlankieMania) as it stood a couple of months ago; it hasn't changed much, since I motivate myself to work on it afresh by disallowing myself to work on it the moment I feel ennui or have something else I should be doing. I was inspired by this one, choosing each new square color by matching it to the two squares it grows out of. (There is no seaming in this project: I pick up stitches from the squares below, and ends are woven in as I go.)

The other one is random, with a black border between each square, to give the eyes a break. It's still in the too-small-to-photograph stage.

Uh, yeah, and my other blanket project (that's right, blanket #3) is also garter stitch, knit on the bias out of handspun Romney (this is why it's obvious there's an error in my wiring).

Thursday, November 03, 2011

FO: The Dark Dance


Another knit from a favorite designer, this shawl was an absolute delight. That's actually not emphatic enough, but you get the idea. Birgit Freyer's designs exemplify German design at its pinnacle: her patterns (like German cars and German architecture) are graceful, complicated, and intuitive. There are almost no written instructions, because the charts tell you everything you need to know. (The bits which you need to have written instructions for come in five different languages!)

This shawl is Flamenco, my first Birgit knit. I purchased several patterns from her over a year ago, but waited 'til now to make one up, and I don't know why I waited so long; Birgit creates beautiful motifs, wielding an impressive control of yarn overs. Other lace patterns seem poorly designed after knitting one of her patterns. Really: when she wants to introduce a centered yarn over into a motif, she has you work a double increase. That may not seem like much until you are in the process of knitting one of her patterns, and the design appears under your needles as if by magic.


My addiction to beaded knitting extended even to this piece, although I knew the knitting would be a pleasure by itself. (That's why it's an addiction: I know I don't need it, but I want it.) I went over the charts before I started, and placed them wherever it looked like they'd be pretty. I placed predominantly on plain stitches, but in retrospect, putting beads on decreases would have looked great and given me a little more space to add beads in. (Still looks pretty, though, whatever improvements I might have made.) Beading lace makes the whole project much slower; by the end, I was glad to have some bead-free right-side rows.


Pattern: Flamenco by Birgit Freyer
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Cashmere Lace in Boreal, an exclusive Lace Club colorway. I used 1.7 skeins.
Beads: Silver-lined gold (it's quite a light gold) AB finish, size 6.
Mods: I worked 5 repeats of the pattern (Birgit calls for 4 or 5 repeats, but I wanted more than a half-circle), and added beads.

This shawl ended up as a birthday gift to our former manager at work, who has been back in the city for a month, in the middle of his year-long national roadtrip. The muted purples suit him really well (they were too muted for me), and the large size means he'll have plenty of toasty cashmere around his neck next month, when he's in New York.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tipsy Tuesday: Victoriana

While cocktail mixing has always been of interest to me, I have never been one to use exact measurements or fancy equipment, being much happier eyeballing quantities and using a spoon to stir. 

In light of this, my drink inventions have previously been kept under wraps, since I couldn't bring myself to pin down how much of X ingredient goes into Y drink. 

Here, with the help of an image, we have my "recipe" for a Victoriana:

Earl Grey vodka. I steep my own, but any tea-infused alcohol would be fine, I'm sure. 
Honey syrup. I use a 1:1 honey-to-water ratio, but some honey-loving bartenders use 2:1 or 3:1. Pour hot water into a container, pour in honey, stir until dissolved. Refrigerate.
Lemon. Lemon is a traditional accessory for Earl Grey tea, so might as well use some here. I use an 1/8 wedge. (Add a bunch of lemon juice, and you've got a booze Palmer.)
Soda. I like plain soda water, to keep the tea flavor topmost, but using tonic or other lightly scented fizzy waters would work.

Pour vodka, syrup (to taste... I admit I'm a sweet fiend), and soda over ice in a mug or low glass. Stir. Squeeze lemon.


PS. If you want to make your own Earl Grey vodka, it's really easy: using the vodka of your choice, insert Earl Grey tea bags (or loose tea in a tea ball or fine cheesecloth). Let it steep until the vodka is dark, around 24 hours. Remove tea bags, store your new Earl Grey vodka with the rest of your booze.