Introducing the Tributary Shawl

I'm pleased to introduce the Tributary - part of Quince and Co's Piper Week and the third in my Songbird series of shawls inspired by music.

"God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound

And this island shall be shackled to her waters
Here we vow never to change
Here we will stand at last for something
With no desire to pretend"

- The Low Anthem

Inspired by lyrics from the Rhode Island-based folk band The Low Anthem, this traditional triangle shawl plays with closure and openness, with the body knit in Stockinette st for the first third, before opening up into a wide lace border.  The strong lines of double yarn-overs both open up the fabric, evoking bars, and the final pattern has a feather-like texture, the connection the two lace patterns giving the shawl a feeling of downward motion, and falling feathers.

The pattern is available for $6.50 USD from the following online shops:

MsCleaver.com   ||   Quince & Co.   ||      Ravelry

 

If you knit it and participate in social media, use #quincetributary to share and/or tag me @mscleaver !  

I'd love to see your version!!!


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Colorwork Cravings

It's rare these days that I get to knit something from someone else's pattern, but whenever I do, it's such a joy that I kick myself for not doing it more often.

Case in point, my most recently finished knit - the Ebba pullover by Diana Walla.

I had eyed the pattern back when it came out in September 2015 (how time flies!) and then I had some time this winter with no knitting deadlines and thought- you know what, let's do it! 

So I went to my LYS - picked up some colors, swatched, went back to LYS to exchange a color when the first combo didn't work out, swatched again, cut my first steek, and then merrily knitted for a month. I completely enjoyed knitting this and I love the finished project. Wearing it twice a week until it's too warm is totally acceptable, right? 

But more than anything, I love that it re-triggered that colorwork-loving portion in my brain. Back in the day, I had a lot of fun designing some colorwork pieces like Zoetrope, but then for one reason or another, I stopped. But  I'm inspired now, and I maybe bought a crazy amount of yarn because I do nothing in halves, apparently, so more colorwork to come!!


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Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Quick Buttercream Frosting

Life can be intense sometimes. Flavors can be intense. While I love 70% dark chocolate with sea salt caramel as much as the next person, some days, I just don't want intense. 

Some days I just want something easy to make and easy to eat.

These chocolate chip cupcakes hit on both marks. The simple cake base receives a punch of sweetness from mini chocolate chips and a few tablespoons of orange juice in both the batter and frosting keep it bright, without tasting overly citrus-y. The frosting is so easy, you'll wonder why you ever popped open a can. 

As for being easy to eat? Let's just say that most times in my household, I end up eating the majority of my bakes because the rest of my family isn't all that into dessert. These cupcakes, however, were devoured two at a time and didn't last the weekend. :D

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Quick Buttercream Frosting

Makes 20-24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the muffin cups.

Cake

  • 2 1/3 cup cake flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/3 cup cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperture)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Slightly less than 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Measure out lemon and orange juice into a liquid measuring cup and add milk until total liquid is 1 cup. Set aside.

Using a wooden spoon or mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add vanilla to mixture. 

In a separate bowl or sifter, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If using bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

Starting and ending with the flour mixture, add flour and milk to egg/sugar mixture in alternating portions, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next.

Add chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Scoop batter into prepared pans, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Clean up any drips and place pans in the center of the oven and bake from 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the top of the cake springs backs when touched.

After about  five minutes, remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • up to 1 Tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave and allow to cool. Mix together powdered sugar, butter and salt until well-combined. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, milk and orange juice. Mix until well combined, adding additional milk or orange juice until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes. 

See the bottom of this post for a print-friendly button!!


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December is for Dabbling

For Christmas, I gave Mr. Cleaver a skein of sock yarn. 

"I am supposed to learn to knit?" He asked, eyebrow raised.

"No," I replied, "This gift is two-fold. 1) Sometime this year you'll get a new pair of socks and 2) I didn't try to knit them before Christmas."

As creatives and makers, it's easy to get overwhelmed with a desire to try to make our holidays as handmade as possible. I've definitely stayed up far too late many a December trying to finish a gift or two before that deadline on the 24th. 

In 2016, my creative life was ruled by deadlines more than ever before, and it was incredibly stressful. So when I had a month of no deadlines and over two weeks of vacation from my day job planned, I decided that I wasn't going to give myself any new deadlines. 

So I gave my husband a skein of yarn for Christmas and I didn't make my daughter a thing. And I'm okay with that. 

Instead, I decided to play. 

I spun yarn for the first time since LMC was born. I baked my way through a 5 pound bag of flour with whatever inspiration struck my fancy. I needle-felted, and needle-felted some more. I wet-felted a pair of slippers for the first time. I was able to sew for the first time in months. I crocheted snowflakes and learned how to steek. I picked out yarn for a sweater, for me, from someone else's pattern and have knit most of it. I made snowmen and ice skated and took naps with my daughter. 

It was like summer camp in the winter and it was glorious. 

I want to make this a new holiday tradition for myself. December is for dabbling. It's the best gift I could receive. 


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Gingerbread Cake and Glühwein

I love baking for the Holidays.  There's just something about the flavors of winter I find so appealing , the combination of nutmeg and cinnamon and citrus. The depth of molasses and wine. That's why this pairing is perfect combination for any winter gathering, and since there's a lot of overlap in ingredients, they're easy to make together. 

Gingerbread Cake with Orange Glaze

Serves 8-12

Gingerbread is an obvious choice for the holidays, but this take on the classic has a soft and light crumb, and isn't overly dense or spicy, as I find some gingerbread to be. The cake is best when the spices are allowed to meld for a bit, so make the day ahead, if possible. For a spicier cake, increase the amount of ginger, or replace powdered with fresh. You may also increase the amount of molasses, as desired.

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1½ sticks ( 1¼ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs + 2 egg yolks, at room temperature

For the Glaze:

  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbl milk
  • 2 Tbl orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour or spray a 10-cup Bundt pan (I find Pam with Flour works the best for those tricky Bundt pans). 

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth using a wooden spoon or mixer. Add brown sugar and cream until light and fluffy, making sure butter is fully integrated and there are no visible chunks. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, mixing in completely before adding the next egg.

In a separate bowl, shift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a small bowl or cup, mix together room temperature coffee with the molasses.

Add the 1/3 of the flour to the egg/butter mix, then 1/2 the molasses, 1/3 of the flour, the remaining molasses, then the remaining flour. Mix until just combined. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and snap against the counter to remove any large bubbles. Smooth out the top with a rubber spatula.  Place in center of oven an bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 

Let cake cool in pan for about 7 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack. Let cake cool completely, transfer to serving plate, and then glaze.

To make glaze: mix all ingredients, adding liquid slowly until desired consistency is achieved. Pour over cooled Bundt cake, making sure to allow glaze to drip down both sides. Scoop extra glaze out of cake center and re-drizzle as desired.

Glühwein, or German Mulled Wine, is perhaps less familiar, but a wonderful addition to winter gatherings. I discovered Glühwein when searching for mulled wine recipes, and then immediately emailed a German friend for her take on the tradition. I've merged her recipe with some I found online, but mulled wine is something that is easy to vary to meet your own tastes. Throughout my wine-mulling process, I kept running to Mr. Cleaver with a hot mug and saying "taste this." We quickly ran through the batch at my knitting group's annual Christmas fête, so I think my test-taster served me well.

Glühwein - German Mulled Wine

  • 1.5 L dry red wine
  • 2 1/3 cup orange juice (juiced oranges + pre-made orange jucie)
  • 2/3 cup brandy
  • 4-5 oranges, peeled (see instructions below) and juiced
  • 1 lemon, peeled and juiced
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 20 cloves
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • up to 1/3 cup sugar, to taste

Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel all citrus into wide strips, avoiding as much of the bitter white pith as possible. Juice all fruit, making up the difference with pre-made orange juice as needed.  Reserve some peels for garnish.

Combine wine, juice, remaining peels, and spices in a heavy covered stockpot. Bring pot to a low simmer. Add Brandy and continue to simmer. Add sugar to taste. 

Serve hot, not warm.

What are your favorite holiday recipes? Share links below!!


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Introducing the Cresting Waves Shawl

I was honored when Beatrice Perron Dahlen invited me to contribute to her MAINE knits book, a celebration of sea, farm and wild in Maine. It's really a thrill to be represented alongside some of my Maine knitting friends and peers, like Carrie Bostick Hoge, Bristol Ivy, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Beatrice Perron Dahlen, Alicia Plummer, Leila Raabe, Elizabeth Smith, and Kristen TenDyke.  

My contribution is the Cresting Waves shawl, knit in String Theory Yarn. As the name indicates, I went with the sea as my inspiration and came up with this simple shawl.  As shown, the shawl only uses 1 skein/345 yards of fingering weight yarn, making it the perfect project for that special skein. Instructions are also provided for making deeper versions for a more generous shawl. 

The lace border is worked first, then stitches are picked up along the edge for the body, which is worked in short rows. It's a great project for those nervous about tackling lace, because if you mess up a lace row, it's only about 20 stitches to pull back. You can read more about my thoughts on knitting, Maine and this design over on Bea's blog - Thread and Ladle. You can also pre-order the book on the site, which will ship in January. I've had a chance to see a proof of the whole book, and it really is lovely, filled with great patterns and beautiful photography. 

If you'd like, you can also give the pattern some love, or queue it up on Ravelry, where Bea will be releasing a preview of each of the patterns over the coming days. 

More to come on the book in January, including information about a launch party! :) 


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Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2016 Sale

Gift-A-Long Sale!!
For the second year, I'm participating in the Indie Design gift-a-long on Ravelry. The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 6 week long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by hundreds of independent designers.

From November 22nd at 8pm (US-EST) through November 30th at 11:59 pm (US-EST) I, along with many 334 other indie designers will be discounting between 5 - 20 of our patterns 25% for this event with the code giftalong2016. The code is good both in my Ms. Cleaver and Ravelry shops. 

In addition to the giftalong patterns, I'll also be discounting all kits in my shop by 10% for same period (Nov 22-30).

You can find all 20 of my discounted patterns above, or here:   

Ms. Cleaver Creations    ||    Ravelry

While the knit-a-long portion (with numerous prizes!) of the Gift-A-Long is ongoing, the sale ends tomorrow, so I've curated some of my favorite offerings from other designers to consider in the following Pinterest board, a few of which I'll be snagging myself. :) 

Happy Holiday Knitting!!


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Tutorial: Knitting an afterthought leg (or thumb or heel)

Afterthoughtlegtutorial (1).png

I like to knit my stuffed animals as seamlessly as possible. Seams can be weak spots, particularly when being pulled and dragged about by little hands. So I've designed all my stuffed animals with seamless appendages. They're set up the same way you would do an afterthought heel on a sock, or an afterthought thumb on a mitten, but if you haven't done it before, it can be a bit fiddly. So let's walk through it together, shall we? 

Want to knit a cuddly and strong seamless friend of your own? I'll be selling Bradac kits this Saturday (11/19) at Knitwit yarn shop in Portland or check out my toy designs below!


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