Herringbone Mittens for a knit-appreciating friend

Our first snowfall of the season is predicted for late this Saturday night. I’d say I finished the herringbone mittens for the snowfall, but in fact I will probably mail them to Rachel C. for her 30th birthday. She’s received a series of Katie knits since 2004. Even in the beginning, when the items were super simple and/or wonky, she was very appreciative (or pretended well enough that I was convinced).

When I was just graduating from “scarf land,” it was encouraging to have friends like Rachel who gladly accepted knit gifts. Who’s been in your knitting fan club from the beginning?

Rachel, I hope these mittens help make up for the weird scrap-yarn hat I sent you that one time in 2007. They’re warm…I tried them out on my walk this morning to get an egg & cheese bagel.


Protecting My Insta-happiness Sunglasses

My sunglasses would last longer if I didn’t treat them like loose change. Throwing them in a purse, knocking them against my keys…I sat on the last pair in the car and busted a lens. This is why I buy sunglasses at gas stations and garage sales. I’m seemingly incapable of caring for them.

This Saturday I picked out a $10 pair to replace the sat-on ones. They’re amazing. Insta-happiness for the eyes. Everything looks nostalgic and sepia-toned, like a picture from the 70s. Here’s an approximation of what they do to the world…

I want to preserve their honey-colored lenses, so I knit them a little felted bag with a button closure.




The yarn is from an early knitting project – a Noro sweater – that I’ve been frogging section by section. Last year I made my mom some felted Christmas slippers from it that were a big hit. The Noro looked so cool in a 2×2 stripe, so I’ll probably make a couple more pairs for Christmas gifts this year (unless any of you would like to trade or barter for a pair??)

Mini Apple Pies for a Picnic on the Charles

This weekend was Head of the Charles, a great big regatta on the Charles River. Prior to this, my only experience as a rowing spectator was in 4th grade, watching my best friend demonstrate how the rowing machine worked in her dad’s home office. So on Saturday I was a clueless fan, enjoying the weather and people-watching, but unaware of what good rowing even looks like.

Our friends asked us to join them at the regatta as part of their pledge to “be tourists in their own city.” You know…do all the Boston-y stuff that you’d typically just make an effort to do if friends were visiting. I like that. What would you do as a tourist in your own city?

pick your own apples

Our friends also suggested bringing a picnic to the regatta. Very smart. With the whole spread laid out on the banks of the Charles, we got a lot of wistful glances from passersby.

I wanted to use up the last of the Macoun apples from our trip to the orchard a few weeks ago, but in something more portable than a pie or crisp. I was inspired by Soup Addict’s Apple Pear Honey Creme Tiny Pies to pull out the muffin tin and try some mini pies….

Ohhhh and they did not disappoint. We ate one warm from the oven with ice cream before leaving for the regatta, which was the best. But I ate the final one today for breakfast, and even two days old (and cold) it was tasty.

Mini Apple Pies
: Click for my family’s no-fail crust recipe. I was out of shortening and used all butter…super rich and tasty. Cut out circles of dough with a water glass, then press them into a greased muffin tin. Press the dough upwards with your thumb so that it just rises above the edge of the muffin cup.

Filling: Peel and slice 5-6 tart(ish) apples. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and the juice from half a lemon. Mix, then fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.

Topping: Mix 2/3 cup each of brown sugar, flour, and old-fashioned oats, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1/3 cup butter with a pastry cutter (or two knives) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spoon topping over each mini pie.

Bake 350 degrees until bubbly and topping is slightly browned.

Does Rhinebeck live up to the hype?

Yes. Yes, it does.

I heard about the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival  (conversationally referred to as “Rhinebeck”) when I lived in Oregon. The BIGGEST, BADDEST, BESTEST fiber festival in the country…only I lived on the wrong side of the country.

I was delighted to discover that Rhinebeck is now just 3 hours away, so when my mom and aunt wanted to come to Boston for a “girl’s trip” we planned it for the weekend of the festival. We spent Friday walking around the North End, eating Italian pastries with unpronouncable names and reading amusing epitaphs in Copp’s Burial Ground (i.e. …Sacred to the Memory of Elizabeth Fernald, amiable wife to Capn. Abraham Fernald). Copp's Burial Ground

Paul Revere Mall in the North End, Boston

Saturday was a full day of driving, exploring Rhinebeck, and driving again. Here’s a list of our highlights and notes to remember for next time.

Bring snacks for the traffic jam
Traveling the last 3 miles of road took 45 minutes…which is completely understandable given the small size of the town and the huge size of the festival. We were also getting in around noon, which I imagine was a popular time. My mom couldn’t stand just sitting there, so while we waited she cleaned the backseat of my car with Armorall wipes, even going so far as to wipe each groove in the floormats (see, this is why she should take up knitting! A knitter is never bored waiting in a line).


Participatory art: wear your favorite handknit
My absolute favorite thing about Rhinebeck was the sheer volume of handknit items worn by the crowd. Nearly everyone had somethinghat, sweater, felted bag, shawl. A non-knitter might not see and notice it all, but if you are a knitter, there’s a sublime happiness to seeing handknit wardrobes all around you. It’s like a high society ball, but instead of asking Who are you wearing tonight? I was asking What’s the name of that pattern? When was the last time you saw so many knits in action?

Kami was there
I couldn’t believe it. I got up from eating a pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries, and there at the end of the table was someone wearing my Kami hat pattern. At least I thought so, but I had to ask to make sure. And it was! Seeing as how there are (according to ravelry) 16 of them in the world, I think I’m justified in being amazed at the odds of meeting one! It was dark green malabrigo and very cute.Vendor Barn at Rhinebeck

Make a shopping list and make early purchases
Rhinebeck is sensory overload. I spent a couple hours on ravelry Friday night making a list of yardages and yarn weights to look for, and then made those purchases in the first hour. By the end of the day, we’d seen so many vendors and so many yarns that it was difficult to be decisive…so my best advice would be to buy early and spent the rest of the time leisurely perusing.

Say hi to Babydoll
There were a lot of cool animals there, but Babydoll took the prize. I told Read that in our future-dream-house, I want some sheep in the backyard. He said that’s fine, as long as he can get a basketball half-court. I see how this bargaining is going to go…

Llama at Rhinebeck

Consider a 2-night trip
This requires a little saving, since accommodations in the Hudson River Valley can be spendy. But most of the places (even hotels) require a 2-night minimum stay. I found us a relatively inexpensive Friday night at the Chatham Travel Lodge, but if we went again it would be fun to splurge on 2 nights in a vrbo. Something like one of these:
Historic Red Schoolhouse in the Berkshires
Litchfield County Converted Barn
Hudson Valley Panorama
Classic 1880’s New England Farmhouse

What else should a newbie know about Rhinebeck? What’s your favorite part of the festival?