Indie Design Gift Along 2018 - My 24 Top Picks

It's Gift-Along Time again! 

Every year a growing group of independent knitwear designs band together on Ravelry to host a knit-along to kick start your holiday gift knitting! 

This year there are 349 designers from 30 countries and 6 continents, with over 20,000 patterns eligible for the giftalong's 2,000+ prizes.

From now until midnight EST on Nov 29, over 6,000 of those patterns are 25% off with the code giftalong2018

But 6,000 patterns is a lot to look through, so I thought I’d highlight some of my personal favorites from the offerings -and hopefully introduce you to some wonderful new-to-you designers..

Clicking on any photo above will take you to a Ravelry bundle of my favorites where you can peruse and purchase any of the designs. (Note: not all patterns shown are on sale, but all are eligible for the KAL and prizes in the gift-along).

I've got 18 patterns in the sale,  specifically chosen for their gift-ability.  Not on Ravelry? The same patterns on MsCleaver.com are also 25% off for the same time/same code.

Happy gifting!!

Pattern Links

(all attributions for collages work clockwise from top left)

Shawls & Cowls

  1. Sand Ripples Shawl by Stephannie Tallent

  2. Chance Cove by Allison O’Mahony

  3. Trailing Leaves Cowl by Sandra Nesbitt

  4. Rugby Shawl by knottygnome crafts

  5. Shh! Wrap by Jennifer Weissman

  6. Majestic Shawl by Gabrielle Vézina

Feet & Hands

  1. Leighton House Handwarmers by Ella Austin

  2. Moving Forward by Tisserin Coquet

  3. Card Game Mitts by Knitwise Design

  4. Flower Garland - Blomsterkrans by Aud Bergo

  5. Zippertooth Mitts by Clare Lakewood

  6. Falling Petals Socks by Rachel Gibbs

Sweaters & Tops

  1. Juniper by Ash Alberg

  2. Mount Pleasant by Megan Nodecker

  3. Wild Grass by Asja Janeczek

  4. Valerian by Tonia Barry

  5. Nest Pullover by Solène Le Roux

  6. Winter Woods Pullover by Knitwise Design

Hats

  1. Midterm Tam by Virginia Sattler-Reimer

  2. Tracery by handmade by SMINÉ

  3. Bramble Birds by Sara Huntington Burch

  4. Taupe by AbbyeKnits

  5. Great Ocean Road Beanie by Georgie Nicolson

  6. CCC Hat by M K Nance



 

 

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Introducing STORYTIME

Opening the Book on the Storytime Collection

My mother was an elementary school librarian, so my childhood was filled with all sorts of children's literature modern and classic. The Storytime Collection draws it’s inspiration from some of my favorite pieces of classic children's literature and might include some of your favorites too! 

The collection, which includes a sweater, gloves, two embroidery designs and a sewing pattern, is available as kits, pattern bundles and stand-alone patterns and has projects suitable for beginners to more advanced makers.

Goldenbook Cardigan

The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, Poky Little Puppy – since the first Little Golden Book was released in 1942, these titles and many more have become classics read by multiple generations.

Inspired by the iconic spine of Little Golden Books, a long band of colorwork forms a statement collar on an open-front cardigan. Knit from the top-down, the pattern uses the contiguous method to form a well-fitting one-piece yoke and is finished with clean folded hems and deep pockets. The pattern is available in bust sizes up to 56.5"/143.5 cm and includes helpful fit tips throughout the pattern to get the best fit for your body. 

Can be purchased as bundle with the Turning Leaf Gloves.

Turning Leaf Gloves

In the early days of publishing, a sheet of paper with printing on both pages/sides was commonly referred to as a leaf - a less popular usage now, but one that lives on in phrases like “to turn a new leaf, ”loose-leaf” paper, and the French word feuille. The Turning Leaf gloves were inspired by the gilded leaves of hefty leather-covered tomes (be they the Bible or The Wonderful Land of Oz), this inspiration reflected in graceful pleats that shape the hands of these vintage-style gloves.

Gloves are worked from the cuff to the fingers. The cuff is worked flat, with the hand and fingers worked in the round.

Can be purchased as bundle with the Goldenbook Cardigan.

Little Readers Embroidery & Ms. Marian Pillow

Is there anything better than cozying up with a good book?

The Little Readers are vintage-inspired designs that use a single color to create a strong outline, a technique known as redwork (or bluework, depending on the color). The paired-down design is a great introductory project for beginning embroiderers and would make a wonderful gift for the book-lover in your life.

Named for The Music Man’s Marian The Librarian, the Ms. Marian Pillow turns your hoop art into cozy and beautiful home decor. Mitered corners and a checkerboard band increase the elegance of the design, which is suitable for intermediate sewists.

Instructions are included for a standard envelope pillowcase and a tote-able reading pillow with book pocket. The sewing pattern includes template/pattern for both Boy and Girl Little Reader embroideries and is a perfect companion to any of my 6” hoop designs or kits. Not into embroidery? Use the center panel to display an 7” square quilt block or panel of a favorite fabric.

The Ms. Marian Pillow Kit provides you with all the materials (minus pillowform) to make one beautifully embroidered, library-themed pillowcase. You can choose to sew it up as a standard envelope-back pillow, or (my favorite) as a tote-able reading pillow with book pocket.



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German Sunken Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

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A friend (who really knows the the way to this girl’s heart) gifted me with Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking for my birthday back in July. The summer was so full (and hot) that I rarely turned on the oven, but now that Fall is in full swing (and I’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off on Netflix), I was itching to get back to baking and trying some new recipes!

Having done our traditional apple picking trip a few weeks back, I’m up to my eyeballs in apples, even after having made two pies, but Classic German Baking was ready for me with three different Apfelkuchen recipes. I fully intend to try all three in the coming weeks, but based on what was in my pantry/fridge, I went with the Versunkener Apfelkuchen first, which also happens to be the simplest of the three. And since the recipe declared it “great for people baking with small children” I asked Little Miss Cleaver to help out. (The smiley face was all LMC’s idea and execution).

The high egg and butter content makes the cake-crumb similar to that of a pound cake and the batter is lightly flavored with lemon-zest, making it a bright alternative to the cinnamon and nutmeg-heavy desserts typical of fall and making it suitable as a spring and summer dessert too. The raw sugar sprinkled on the top before baking gives the top a pleasing crunch. I didn’t have any cream on hand to make whipped cream, but it would be nice finish to this simple, but pleasing dessert.

To print, see button at bottom of post.

German Sunken Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

Easy enough to whip together on a weekday and fun to make with kids, this classic German cake combines apples and lemon zest under a raw sugar crust for a bright and delicious dessert.

  • 3 medium apples

  • 1 medium lemon, scrubbed

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar

  • 9 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (130g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 eggs, room temperature

  • 11/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 Tablespoons demerara (raw) sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9” round cake pan (or springform pan) with an oil-based spread (like Crisco or baking spray) and line the bottom of the pan with parchment.

Peel the apples, then core and slice into 8ths (I use a corer/slicer to make quick work of this).

Zest the lemon into a bowl with the butter and sugar. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half. Strain any seeds and set the juice aside.

Using a sturdy wooden spoon or mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add vanilla extract and one egg, mixing until fully combined. Add remaining eggs one at a time, fully combining each egg before adding the next.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the lemon juice and flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apple slices with the core side down in a circle around the edge of the pan, pressing down slightly, so each slice is secured in place. Take the remaining apples and place in the center. Sprinkle the top of the cake generously with demerara sugar.

Place pan in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing pan. The cake should be firm enough that it should be easy to move without disturbing the apples.

Enjoy at room temperature with some lightly sweetened whipped cream.


Adapted from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss


German Sunken Apple Cake Versunkener Apfelkuchen

Serves 8 Ingredients: 3 medium apples 1 medium lemon 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar 9 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (130g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and at room temperature 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 eggs, room temperature 1 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 Tablespoons demerara (raw) sugar


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FO Roundup - Into Fall 2018

One of the most fun parts of being a designer is seeing how others interpret your designs.

We’re in October already, leaves are starting to change color, which means we are entering peak knitwear season! Instead of the most recent FOs this go round, I thought I’d share some of my favorite of your autumnal knits.

Click on any image to visit the maker's Instagram or Ravelry page!

I LOVE seeing your makes! Tag me @mscleaver on Instagram, or if it's on Ravelry, I'll see it. :) 


 Leading Bird Shawl by Mindful Folk in her own yarn!

Leading Bird Shawl by Mindful Folk in her own yarn!

 Cormac by Fullosheep ( pattern available via Interweave )

Cormac by Fullosheep (pattern available via Interweave)

 Marketa Mitts by Irr-Saukh ( pattern available via Interweave )

Marketa Mitts by Irr-Saukh (pattern available via Interweave)

 Hemingway (Men's) by karencampandknit ( pattern available via Twist Collective ).

Hemingway (Men's) by karencampandknit (pattern available via Twist Collective).

 Madalynn by Wolfcreeker

Madalynn by Wolfcreeker

 Breakwater by Kahlefam

Breakwater by Kahlefam

 A Two-Color Dolan Beret knit by Frances 75

A Two-Color Dolan Beret knit by Frances 75

 Honeymaker by Shortrounds

Honeymaker by Shortrounds


Want to make one of your own? Grab the patterns below!


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STORYTIME - Coming Soon!

If I’ve been quiet around here, it’s because I’ve been busy! Busy with work. Busy with transitioning Little Miss Cleaver into Kindergarten and busy with pulling together the pieces of my next collection - STORYTIME.

STORYTIME is inspired by some of my favorite classic children’s books, including Little Golden Books and The Wizard of OZ series. The collection will include two new knitting patterns (one adult sweater, one accessory), two new embroidery patterns/kits and a sewing pattern/kit perfect for spotlighting your favorite embroidery.

After a lot of time sketching and developing ideas, I’m finishing up samples and getting patterns written and reviewed. There’s still a lot of work left to to (it’s a lot to pull together for one person!), but I expect to release the collection in October.

Until then, you can follow my progress on Instagram and if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get to know about the collection release early with a special subscriber-only discount!

Back to stitching for me!


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Garlic Scape Pesto and Asparagus Summer Spaetzle

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I've written before about my burgeoning love of German food, so it should be no surprise that Spätzle/Spaetzle was become a popular dinner in the Cleaver household. 

I'll admit that I've yet to find a way of making Spätzle that doesn't make a huge mess (the noodle dough is super sticky!), but I find the end result worth it. The recipe makes a generous amount of noodles (four adult-sized portions) and can be easily doubled. 

Not in garlic scape season? Try substituting in chives, wild garlic leaves, spring/baby garlic or basically anything in the edible allium family like scallions, shallots, or leeks. No fresh asparagus around? Substitute with frozen*, or try green beans, sugar or snow peas, broccoli stems - anything green with a snap. 

*Frozen veggies beat out of season veggies any day in my book. 

Garlic Scape Pesto and Asparagus Summer Spätzle

This bright and delicious combination of German-style spätzle noodles, asparagus, and fresh pesto stands as a light summer meal on its own, or pairs beautifully with sausage, chicken or pork (especially Schnitzel!) for a heartier meal.

Spätzle Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • pinch of salt

Garlic Scape Pesto 

  • 6-8 garlic scapes
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus some for the pan
  • salt to taste

Note: The pesto can be made in advance, if desired.

Vegetables

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces, (about 2-2.5 cups)

Note: There are several methods to "pressing" Spätzle into it's shape. There's a Spätzle press if you have one (I don't). You can also use a potato ricer on the largest holes, "cutting" it from a board, squeezing it from a bag, or my most frequently used method, using a spatula to press it through a large-holed colander.

On/next to your stovetop, prepare the following: a large pot of water set to a rolling boil, a large frying pan oiled with approximately a 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (don't heat it yet), and a large bowl filled with ice water.

Make dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine dough ingredients and let sit for about 15 minutes.

Make pesto (can be done in advance and refrigerated): In food processor, combine scapes and walnuts, pulsing until finely chopped. Add cheese and pulse to mix. Slowly add olive oil until desired consistency is achieved. Add salt to taste.

Using the method of your choice, press dough into the pot of boiling water in batches. Once the noodles begin to float (about 2 minutes) removed with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water. Make the rest of the noodles in the same fashion. Drain the noodles. 

Heat frying pan. If using frozen vegetables, saute them lightly first, then add the drained noodles. If using fresh vegetables, add both noodles and vegetables to the frying pan at the same time. Fry the noodles until golden brown, adding extra oil if it starts sticking to pan. Add the pesto and mix until well distributed. Remove from heat and transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with additional shredded cheese.  

Enjoy!

Adapted from What's for Lunch, Honey? 

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Garlic Scape Pesto and Asparagus Summer Spatzle

Serves 4 Ingredients: 2 cups flour 4 eggs 1/2 cup milk salt to taste 6-8 garlic scapes 1/4 cup walnuts 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 1/4 cup olive oil 1 bunch asparagus
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Got Moxie?

While browsing at my local yarn shop earlier this year, I came upon three colors of Juniper Moon Farm's Zooey piled together in a cubby and thought- what perfect New England colors for summer! When I got it home and placed my purchase next to some Moxie packaging, I realized that it was the perfect Maine summer colors. And so, inspired by the colors of Moxie soda, the official soft drink of Maine, the Moxie shawl is the perfect knit to both make and wear at the beach – whether your beach is in Maine or lands beyond.

Moxie is a traditional top-down triangle shawl that uses a mosaic knitting technique for the colorwork bands. Mosaic knitting creates patterns by using slipped stitches that pull up a strand of color from the row below,  which means you're only dealing with one color in each row and getting a graphic "pop" with little complication. Worked in garter stitch, the shawl is a quick and cozy knit. 

The Moxie pattern can be found in GRAIN - the current issue of Taproot Magazine, available via subscription, their online shop, and at a variety of bookstores and stockists. 

A very special thanks to my testers and to Aimee Chapman for some short-notice modeling! 


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Cherries, Chickadees, and Ms. Billingsley

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We're already halfway through August, which means that I've already got holiday crafting on the brain (not that I'll start on it for months yet, but I'm thinking about it...). For those of you who are a bit more forward-planning, my 2018 holiday design, Chickadee and Pine is now available, along with all my other wintery-woodland designs, to get a kick-start on that crafting. 

I've also got something else new that I'm super excited to share with you - my first sewing pattern! The Ms. Billingsley Apron (named for June Cleaver herself, Barbara Billingsley) is the answer to the question "but what do I do with the embroidery after I've finished it?"

Designed to fit any of my 6" hoop designs, the easy-to-sew, but elegantly finished Ms. Billingsley apron can also be used to show off a single quilt block or panel of a favorite fabric. You can find the pattern as a downloadable PDF (complete with Bowl of Cherries template), or I've assembled some kits featuring the sample fabrics shown above paired with a Bowl of Cherries complete embroidery kit


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Introducing Nerio

Meet Nerio, my latest (and 21st*!) release with Quince & Co. yarns. These quick-knit socks feature a deceptively simple lace pattern reminiscent of dragon scales. Toe-up construction with an afterthought heel keep the knitting flowing so these little beauties will practically hop (or should I say fly?)  off your needles. 

Nerio can be purchased as an individual pattern ($5.50 USD ) or as part of the five-pattern Tern 2018 collection ($18.00) from the following sources:

Ravelry | Ms. Cleaver | Quince & Co.

*And the third to be styled with that skirt!


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Being Comfortable - Part II

Wherein I talk about body image, mental health and making your own clothes, one year later...

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