Thursday, August 24, 2017


You guys remember I promised I'd release a few patterns over the course of the year to benefit charities I believe in?  Here's #3.

$2 of each purchase of Mamie Taylor will go to the Malala Fund through Sept 6.

I dropped my own girl off at school this week, and my mind has been on the importance of giving young women every chance we can. For girls across the world, education isn't a given, and the benefits of self-worth and confidence that come with it are also kept from them.  I love everything Malala has done and said to help girls across the globe, and I am inspired by her bravery and drive.  In the hopes that we can add something to her efforts to bring opportunity and education to girls everywhere, I decided this would be the next charity.  



So far, Dami and I wrote a great check to Women of Tomorrow with Rob Roy in order to help at risk teen girls in Miami, Philadephis and Detroit get to college.  And with London Fog, I was able to give a few hundred dollars to Cradles to Crayons, a local organization I volunteer at each Wednesday that provides needy kids across MA with clothing, school supplies and other items they need to thrive and wouldn't otherwise have.  





Mamie Taylor is an intricately cabled hat that's WAY easier than it looks, knit in lovely Gilliatt wool from De Rerum Natura. The diamond motif is completely addictive, and has gorgeous high and lows that show up perfectly in a yarn with just a little something to it. I used this gorgeous heathered wool but a tweed, another heather, or a semi solid would also work beautifully.


The cables are both charted and written, and it's my firm belief that a hat is the perfect place to play with something a little more detailed - you only have to pay attention for a short while, it won't add bulk anywhere you don't like, and there's minimal shaping.

In fact, I'm always just a little sad when I finish something like this, so I decided to work a second one, in De Rerum's great, classic gray for more of a traditional look and feel.  I left the pom off the second one for some extra contrast between the two.



More details are on the Ravelry page, and the hat is also available on the patterns section of the blog here.

And the recipe is below. Mamie herself was an actress and opera singer in the early 20th century - I was leaning towards a drink named for a great female educator, but wouldn't you guess there wasn't one?  So, this time I just liked the name.  Maybe next time I'll make up a drink for the theme I have in mind....

Mamie Taylor
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes, and one slice of lemon or lime.
Over the ice and lemon, pour 2 oz gin or scotch whiskey.
Pour ginger ale to top.  Stir and serve.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 10, 2017


My latest design, Boston Flip, is a hat design created in a soft, natural chunky yarn.  It features a bold motif, and is otherwise a simple knit, meant to be done twice, with the colors flipped.


These hats were designed as a gift to my daughter Maya and her best friend Olivia.  In a few weeks they will both be off to different colleges, and as a mom and a knitter there was really only one way to properly send them off.  

I of course, have tons to say and impart to the girls and can only do that by overthinking every single element of the design, right? 




I started with the yarn. Traditional. A soft wool, in gorgeous natural colors from a company that respects the farms and breeds of Yorkshire.  Baa ram ewe's Dovestone Chunky was perfect, and Maya smelled it the moment I got home from Pomfest with these skeins.  They know the role of the sheepy yarn.  It's important.

And the feel of the design?  Still traditional, but not. Strong and bold and unique. Both of these guys have always swam a little upstream, out of the current - and often right into it.  Both girls love their history and tradition and are unafraid to challenge it, think about it and decide how it should be re-interpreted for a changing world. Hence a bold, strong motif that felt traditional but was actually not pulled off an existing chart. It's perhaps Icelandic, but perhaps not.   



And in the motif are layers.  A sturdy bottom arch that maybe even looks like a house. I think this one represents the stuff we've added to each child as parents - the rules, the lessons, the patience (or not), years of arguing and teaching and living with them. Showing them what we could as they grew up - that's the foundation we've created. The second arch is still sturdy and fits right into that bottom one - that's all the stuff they've done themselves - the friends they chose, the music and the writing and the schoolwork, the adventures they had and the things they've experienced and the people they've changed and been changed by so far. 

Then, there's that top portion - the taller, open arch.  That's the future.  It  has solid walls and a roof, but there's room inside for whatever comes next, and it's held up by those bottom layers. 



So yep, I overthought everything.  But it still feels right, and even thought it's a complex backstory, it's a simple hat.  Nice thick yarn, some fun stranded colorwork and a simple crown.

Two skeins (130 yds each) will get you two S or M hats, each the reverse of the other.  If knitting two in the largest size, you may want some extra yarn. I have included notes in the pattern about how to modify for depth or width - as well as ideas on using a worsted or bulky gauge.  Here you can see I've knit the white one to be just a little slouchier than the brown version. I think it works both ways..

The pattern is available on Ravelry HERE for $6.50, and is on the patterns section of this website as well, just click PATTERNS on the bar at top.... 

The drink?



Well the "flip" part is pretty self explanatory, right?  White with brown, brown with white.

But the Boston part is because that's where these two have wandered around for the past 7 or 8 years.  Somerville, Cambridge, JP, Boston, North Shore, Arlington, Winchester, and Lexington. Parks and museums and the T and the city and the suburbs. It seemed appropriate.

A flip is s smooth, creamy drink - it's a small, sweet way to end the night, and it involves an egg. That's what adds the creaminess, so it's first shaken without ice, then ice is added before you pour.

In a shaker without ice:

2 oz maderia
2 oz bourbon
1 fresh egg (both yolk and white)
.5 simple syrup

shake without ice until frothy, add ice to shaker, shake again briefly and pour into coupe glass. Add nutmeg.


Thursday, August 03, 2017


Whoa, guys!  This summer is just flying by.  But before it's gone, I wanted to share some of my travels with you.  I was so incredibly excited to go all the way out to the Shetland Islands this June, on one of Gudrun Johsnton and MaryJane Mucklestone's wonderful Shetland Adventures.

The chance to go to the islands with Gudrun and Mary Jane would have been a bucket list item in the first place, but the chance to be there with a group of fellow industry people was seriously a once in a lifetime trip.

My travel buddy from beginning to end was fellow designer and one of my best friends, Amy Christoffers.  She's up in Vermont and I'm down in Boston, so we booked our tix online via phone call ("Three seats left on this one. OK, when I say go, click on it!") and met up at Logan Airport the day of our flight, only to find out that our tickets had been changed from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

So we rolled with that and ended up seeing an extra city on both the front and back ends.

Here's Amy on the ferry:


We arrived in Edinburgh with a day and a night to play and explore, and took full advantage.


Then we met up with everyone for a train ride to Aberdeen, where we boarded a giant Viking-themed overnight ferry to the most remote and beautiful inn I'll probably ever have the chance to stay at, Burrastow House:


That's the view from the short hike out the front door.   You wind along the water and hop that stone fence, and then shimmy past a little stream at the beach edge if it's high tide, trying to keep your feet dry.  Once you crest the hill, it's just sheep and grass and cliffs and water to explore.  This is pretty much what we did every night (photo taken after 10pm,  and yes, it's still light out!).  We only got lost once, when we cut inland - otherwise, following the water was a great way to get back.


See all the white bits on the ground?  Those are either bog cotton or little fluffs of wool that naturally snag or fall off the sheep.  See the bigger white bits in the distance?  Sheep.


They roam every grassy inch of the islands. Seriously. They Are Everywhere.


We roamed the islands in 3 little red cars.  I feel like we were everywhere too.


Some of us got souvenirs in Lerwick - at the Jameison's shop on the main street.


But shopping was not the main goal.

We visited Oliver Henry, the famous wool man of Jameison and Smith, toured the Jameison's factory, went to Uradale Farm and ate homemade blueberry cake, studied Hazel Tindall's beautiful fair isle designs, Anne Eunson's lace, and Ella Gordon's vintage sweater collection.  We sailed on a boat, and hoisted sails while dressed in giant orange outfits. We got lost a few times on the road, spent time in the Unst Lace Museum, the Shetland Textile museum, and got a peek into the textile archives in the larger Shetland Island museum in Lerwick.  We sampled local beers and whisky, and ate gorgeous 3 course meals every night.  We hiked to cliffs and puffins and hidden beaches, and collected tufts of wool in our pockets for Bristol to spin into yarn.  We looked for Orcas and never found them, even though the Facebook Orca page said they were nearby.  Some of us found and visited the town of Twat, because that's funny and we are never too old for funny.

Those photos are all on my Instagram feed, @theacolman - as there are WAY too many to put here.

When we weren't out doing All Those Things, we were here.  Around this table knitting and talking, maybe braiding some hair or having a drink, and just spending time together.  And it was really fantastic.



When it was over, we all boarded the ferry again for one more overnight adventure on the Viking boat, and some of us parted ways in Aberdeen.  The rest of us boarded the train to Edinburgh for another few days.  Amy and I spent those in a charming airbnb next to the Castle. We had a great dinner in Ysolda's hood with the remaining travelers and did a bit more exploring.

I took photos of an upcoming sweater design Amy has in a future Knitty (am I allowed to say that?) the next morning. She had been working on it for most the trip, blocked it in our little kitchen, and we decided to wander the stone alleys around the castle with coffees and the camera the morning before we left.  Pretty perfect.

Lastly, we spent one day in our surprise destination of Glasgow, sampling beers and narrowly missing Amy's life goal of going to the Remy Mackintosh house, which was closed on Mondays.  Who even  knew it was a Monday?  We did see the outside, and walked up to the door of the attached museum, but not the same. Instead, beers.  Then it was time to head home.

So many thank yous to Gudrun and Mary Jane for organizing this trip and taking us.  It was an incredible experience, and if any of you get the chance to head out there, bring your cozy clothes, some sturdy hiking shoes, your knitting needles, and a camera.  You'll love it.  

Maybe you'll even catch the orcas.