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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Lazy River Embroidery Collection

Is it possible to be nostalgic for a life you've never lived?

My idea of the perfect summer, for better or worse seems to be heavily colored by Country Time Lemonade commercials and reruns of the Andy Griffith Show that both played in heavy rotation during summer mornings in the late 1980s - I think summer should be swimming holes and floating docks in lakes and, yes, inner-tubing (with real tire inner tubes) down a lazy river. 

I can only recall actually inner-tubing on a real river (instead of, say, at Raging Waters) once - but I wouldn't mind kicking off my sandals, and going for a long float down a shady river. Until that opportunity pops, up I'll content myself with this trio of stitched ladies acting as my proxy. 

Want to stitch up your own lazy summer? Pick your favorite floating beauty or stitch up all three for a summery triptych - each kit comes with a range of five hair tones (silver, blonde, red, light brown, and black) and three skins tones (light, medium, and dark) to personalize your hoop art. 

 

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Kohlrabi, Apple, and  Walnut Slaw

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This year I signed up for a farmshare (or Community Supported Agriculture) from Crystal Spring Farm, which means I get a box of farm fresh goodies once a week, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It's definitely upped my family's veggie intake and introduced us to some new flavors, as I've vowed to try everything that comes in the box, whether I recognize it or not.

My first new-to-me veggie was kohlrabi - an unusual-looking member of the broccoli family. There are a number of ways to try it ( I'll be trying roasted as fries with a future batch), but so far my family is loving this Kohlrabi, Apple and Walnut slaw, which is a sweet and crisp companion to your summer meals and is a great pairing with pork of all kinds.

Kohlrabi, Apple, and Walnut Slaw

serves 8 (can be easily halved)

Ingredients

  • 2 Kohrabi, greens removed 

  • 2 firm apples (here I used a Gala and a Golden Delicious)

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 1 bunch (6-8) red spring onions/scallions (you can use green scallion, the red just adds an additional punch of color)

  • 1/2 cup sunflower or walnut oil

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

Chop unpeeled kohlrabi and apples into matchsticks. With the apple, it helps to cut thin slices from the outside of the apple to the center, using the core as a handle. Finely mince scallions.

Set aside a small amount of walnuts and scallions. Combine remaining kohlrabi, apples, walnuts, scallions and fluids in a large mixing bowl and toss to coat. Put in fridge and let rest to deepen flavors. Sprinkle reserved nut and scallions on top before serving cold.

Adapted from Vicky at Things I Made Today on Food 52. 

To print, see button at bottom of post.

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Kohrabi, Apple, and Walnut Slaw

Serves 8 Ingredients: 2 kohlrabi 2 firm apples 1 cup walnuts 1/2 cup sunflower or walnut oil 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1 bunch spring onions or scallions
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Knitting Colorwork: Tips & Tricks

I love knitting colorwork. But, for the uninitiated, colorwork can be quite intimidating. How you choose the right colors? Why does it make my gauge all weird and pucker-y??  What do I do with all these ends?!!

Today, I'll be sharing some tips and tricks for success with colorwork. This isn't a be-all, end-all guide, but it should help get you starting on or improving your colorwork skills.

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Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe

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In the past few years, I've had the good fortune to becoming friends with a handful of lovely German women (yay for the Internet!), and, as a result, have become increasingly interested German culture, politics and cuisine. I'm sure my family could do less with me talking about proportional representation in the Bundestag, but they put up with it if I make them Schnitzel, Spätzle, or the all-around favorite, Pretzels (or Brezeln).

Like most yeasted bread products, these need to be kneaded and have time to rise, but if you have the time (and aren't near a German bakery where you can just get them easy-peasy) they're totally worth it. Also, the boiling + bake method that gives pretzels their unique texture it quick and fun to do!

[NB: These are a little underdone in the photos. Proper pretzels should be a more uniform golden brown like the top one in the trio above, but I was in a hurry to get these on the table for supper.  Don't try to blog your dinner before you eat it folks. ] 

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe

Dough

Makes 6 Pretzels (can be doubled) 

  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 packet quick-rise yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold butter, diced into small pieces.

Cooking Water

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lager or pale ale 

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Let still until mixture becomes foamy. Using a dough whisk or sturdy wooden spoon, add the flour, salt and butter, stirring until the mixture becomes shaggy. It's okay if not all the butter is worked in yet, the kneading will take care of that.

Roll up your sleeves and turn out your dough onto a floured work surface. Vigorously knead your dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Return the dough to a clean bowl and cover with a damp towel, letting it rise until doubled in size. (You can do this overnight in the fridge, or on a warm spot on your counter). 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all cooking water ingredients in a large pot and set to boil. 

Roll out the dough into a long rectangle and cut it into 6 long strips, about an 1" wide each. 

Roll/stretch each strip until it forms a coil about 34" long (I measure them by the length between my fingertips and shoulder joint). Form each coil into a "U", twist the tops, and the press the ends down onto the bottom of the U. 

Line a large baking sheet with parchment and reduce cooking water to a simmer. Boil pretzels one at a time by lowering it gently into the water with a slotted spoon. Remove the spoon and let pretzel cook for about 30 seconds. The pretzel will float to the top as it cooks.  remove pretzel with spoon and place on prepared baking sheet. [NB: The cooking water will form a foam as you cook the pretzels, just scoop it off as needed.]

Sprinkle the pretzels with your salt of choice. 

Bake the pretzels for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Let them get nice and golden brown (see note in post).

Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm with mustard and enjoy with the rest of that beer!

Adapted from Olivia's Cuisine

To print, see button at bottom of post.

 

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Homemade Soft Pretzels

Serves 6 Ingredients: 1 cup warm (not hot) water 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar 1 packet quick-rise yeast (1/4 oz) 3 1/4 cups bread flour 1 Tablespoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold butter, diced into small pieces. 8 cups water 1/2 cup baking soda 1/4 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 cup lager or pale ale 
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FO Roundup - Spring 2018

One of the most fun parts of being a designer is seeing how others interpret your designs. Spring is in the air, which means there's a lot more linen and short sleeves popping up on the internet - here are a few of my favorite finished objects (FOs) of late. Click on any image to visit the maker's Instagram or Ravelry page!

Want to share your knits with me? Tag me @mscleaver on Instagram, or if it's on Ravelry, I'll see it. :) 

 Ripley knit by SkinnyHookerCreations 

Ripley knit by SkinnyHookerCreations 

 Reed knit by Chrisstrickt

Reed knit by Chrisstrickt

 Atlee knit by Beeweefibers

Atlee knit by Beeweefibers

 Atlee knit bu Todoknits

Atlee knit bu Todoknits

 Dal knit by Decosphere and clevery adapted to a men's sweater

Dal knit by Decosphere and clevery adapted to a men's sweater

 Summer Rain knit by Carie May

Summer Rain knit by Carie May

 Summer Rain knit by Carie May

Summer Rain knit by Carie May


 Toulouse knit by Bad Apple Betty

Toulouse knit by Bad Apple Betty


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


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Embroidery 201: Coloring Your Embroidery

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Try Embroidery

I often describe doing embroidery as "Coloring with Thread" and more specifically, to think about working satin stitch as coloring with a very sharp colored pencil.  Turning that one it's head, today I'm going to talk about how to color your embroidery with colored pencils, crayons, and watercolors.

All the coloring implements used in this tutorial are your basic Crayola crayons, colored pencils, and watercolors, which I borrowed from my five year old (like you do). The techniques will work with whatever materials you have on have, but I chose to use the Crayola products because they're inexpensive and widely available - all of which is to say, you don't need fancy art supplies to make these techniques work. 

 Skin tones in colored pencil makes the suits "pop"

Skin tones in colored pencil makes the suits "pop"

 Skin tone in satin stitch makes a bolder statement

Skin tone in satin stitch makes a bolder statement

If embroidery is like coloring, why would you want to color your embroidery? 

A reasonable question.

One of the great things about embroidery is that is provides a fabulous texture and dimension to your work, but that texture isn't always want you want. For me, this usually happens in regards to skin and backgrounds.  I don't want a heavily textured background, because I want my primary image to "pop." I don't always want to stitch in the skin tone, because it can make the skin look "lumpy". 

Other times, it may just be that your hoop needs a bit more color, and you don't fill like satin stitching inches of sky or dirt. Either way, it's a good technique to have in your toolbox. 

A few things to keep in mind when using any of the three techniques below:

  • Test your color on a corner of your fabric - it may not look the same as on paper.
  • Just because the crayon/pencil/marker/etc says it's washable, doesn't mean that it's totally washable. Once you start coloring, you're probably committed, so keep that in mind and test first.
  • It's  easier to color your fabric before you do the stitching. I'm terrible at following this tip, but it is true.  And if worse comes to worse, you can always cover up a color you don't like with stitching, rather than having to pull out stitching because your watercolors bled. 

 

Crayon

  • Crayons give a nice soft color and are easy to blend and build to darker colors.
  • The higher the amount of pigment the better - avoid waxy crayons.  
  • Crayons will pick up on any texture under them including the texture of the fabric. You can use this to your advantage - if, for example, you want a wood grain texture, place your fabric on top of a piece of plywood. If you don't want additional texture, make sure to work on a smooth surface.

Colored Pencils

  • This is my personal favorite, easy to do, hard to screw up. 
  • The fine point of a pencil makes it easier to do detail work, especially if you've already stitched your piece.
  • It won't pick up texture as much as crayon, but tends to create stroke lines. 
  • Build in layers to get darker tones.

Watercolor

The prettiest results are often the trickiest techniques. With watercolor, you're essentially spot-dying the fabric and it can be tricky to control. I literally went through four versions to get this technique right for this tutorial - so try on scrap fabric and don't get frustrated if you don't get it the first time. 

Some tips for success:

  • I'd only recommend watercolor for larger areas.
  • Put a dry paper towel under the fabric - it will soak up the extra fluid and help control the bleed.
  • Try to get your brush as dry as possible when working near the edges of the design.
  • Barely touch the brush to the fabric. A tiny touch is all that's needed for the fabric to wick the fluid/color off the brush.
  • Work from the outside in and start at least a quarter inch out from the line you're trying to color up to. This will give you a chance to figure out how much the fabric bleeds.
  • Embrace the imperfections. Watercolor is going to give a mottled effect - if you want a solid color, go with crayon or pencils. 
  • Let the work dry completely before adding additional layers of color or beginning stitching.

Experiment and Have Fun!

Using traditional art supplies can be a fun way to add color to your embroidery pieces. And don't limit yourself to these three - try markers! Glitter glue! Have a mixed media field day!! 

To get started on the next step of the process, check out the tutorials below or click here for a downloadable PDF of basic stitches


Seed Sower
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