Easy Bolero

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I often preface my knitting projects by calling them “easy.” The reason is because I usually select patterns that are truly simple to make. They usually require no intricate stitches and I seldom use patterns with complicated charts to read. If you know the knitting basics, any beginner knitter will agree with me. This goes for items I create on my own, like these baby hats and these lace ponchos.

I think my latest project earns the title of the easiest garment I’ve ever knit. It’s a bolero. And a cute and wearable one at that!

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I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a bigger “AHA” than when I figured out the construction for a bolero. What? All I do is knit one long piece, sew together the arms, and pick up the sides? That’s it? No seaming together pieces? How can something so cute be so simple?!?

Yep, that’s exactly how I knit this bolero: I knit a panel (that looks like a shorter but wider scarf) using a simple stockinette stitch; create sleeves by sewing two sides of the panel together; and pick up stitches around inside the panel using a rib stitch and knit 2 purl 2 all the way around.

It’s a little difficult to explain it without any visual aids but I’m sure I’ll knit another one of these little shrugs soon and I’ll post a tutorial then, for anyone interested.

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Boleros are so awesome because it’s light and perfect for breezy summer nights, just like ponchos. It’s also a great remedy for someone like me who loves summer dresses but don’t feel comfortable showing bare shoulders and arms.

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I used one skein of Cascade 220 Sport in Doeskin Heather.

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Easy Fair Isle Baby Hat

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My BFF Maya recently requested a custom knit bag with a 1 stitch x 1 stitch Fair Isle pattern, like the beautiful Arctic Wrap from The Purl Bee. She saw and felt the actual wrap on our recent trip to Purl Soho and fell in love with it. I think turning it into a bag is a marvelous idea and I’m delighted to make it for Maya, but I panicked a little because I’ve never knit a Fair Isle pattern before.  cry

Over the weekend, I dusted off a few skeins of leftover Amy Butler yarns and made itty bitty baby hats to practice the pattern. I didn’t want to commit to a large project so I settled on the hat … but I had so much fun with it that I ended up knitting three in two days. I knit as I went, with no pattern, which allowed me to make them very quickly.  I think I’m now ready to knit that custom bag for my BFF!

I’m no expert in pattern writing but if you would like to try making the hat, here it is! It’s a great solution to use up your yarn stash, especially if you have some half-used skeins you didn’t know what to do with!

Happy knitting!

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Supplies:

    • Circular needle in US size 7, in 16 inches (You can omit the circular needle if you’re just using the double pointed needles)
    • 4 double pointed needles in size 7
    • 2 different color yarns (about 25 grams each)
    • A pair of scissors to cut off yarns
    • Tapestry needle to bind off loose ends

Note: The first number in the pattern is for the small size (pink) with a 14 inch circumference; the larger size (gray and yellow ones are the same size), in parenthesis, is for a 16 inch circumference.

Direction:

Using circular needle US size 7 in 16 inches, cast on 80 (88) stitches with Color A (pink).

Knit 2, purl 2 in a round and repeat this rib stitch until it measures about 2 inches.

Now, add Color B (yellow) and knit, alternating colors at each stitch. You might need to M1 at the end of the first row to avoid repeating same color twice. Continue to knit until the entire hat measures around 4.5 (5) inches. Note:  Because you’re knitting in a round, you don’t have to worry about purling the alternate rows.  You can knit all the way around to create a stockinette stitch. 

Cut off Color B. Using Color A only, knit for 1 (2) inches. At this time, the hat should measure around 5.5 (7) inches.

Hat pattern

Begin decrease:

Row 1: k2tog, k2. Repeat this for the entire row.  Change the circular needle to double pointed needles. Note: If you are left with uneven number of stitches, simply stay as close to the pattern as possible. 

Row 2: K2tog, until you are left with one stitch.

Bind off lose ends.  Add a pom pom on top (optional).  I ran out of yarns but I would have loved to put it on the top!

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Amy Butler Rowan belle organic dk in Cilantro (016) and Tomato (012)

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Amy Butler Rowan belle organic dk in Cilantro (016) and Slate (015)

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Same as the hat above, in contrasting colors.

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

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I finally baked My New RootsThe Life-Changing Loaf of Bread that I had my eyes on for … well, as long as I can remember. If you Google the bread, you’ll see hundreds of satisfied bakers raving about this nutty loaf. There’s no need for me to go on and on about the goodness of the bread, except to say that I’m now one of them.

When I posted a photo of this bread on Facebook, I received two kinds of comments: Half were from health conscious friends who salivated over the loaf full of nuts and seeds, while other half were puzzled. They wondered, is this a bread or just one, giant granola bar?

For all the skeptics out there — if you aren’t sure about this bread, just bake one and try it for yourself. You’ll be hopping on the life-changing bandwagon in no time.

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Knit Cable Bag

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One of the main reasons why I’m now a knitter is because I fell in love with Michael’s Fashion Cable Bag I saw on display, while on a non-knitting errand at the local craft store years ago. It was knit in white wool, with round bamboo handles, and had a brown ribbon around it. I had to have it but it was not on sale, so I picked up a pair of knitting needles instead and taught myself to knit. My first attempt was such an epic failure that I never went back to the pattern again (to my defense, the pattern is written very poorly) but my love for cable bags never faded.

Fast forward several years and I finally have my very own knit cable bag!

Many of the patterns I found online were beautiful but too intricate for my taste, so I made an original, super easy version. I made the bag panel using a pattern from The Yarn Girls Cables in Chamoix (see my previous post about the sweater here). The cable bag is virtually a sweater front folded in half, with handles on top.

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Pattern: Inspired by The Yarn Girls’ Cables in Chamoix
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Pacific (I knit with two strands to add durability. It’s sturdy without being bulky.)
Lining: Amy Butler in Belle French Wallpaper Spruce
Handles: 10” full ring bamboo handles, in natural color

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I’m currently contemplating if I should put a little embellishment, like a fabric flower or a bow, on the bag! I’m in love with the bag!

My Favorite NYC Moments #1: Villard Michel Richard

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Hands down the best dining experience of our trip.

We had dinner at Villard Michel Richard at the New York Place, where we stayed. I selected the Frix Fixe menu, reasonably priced at $48. It started with this refreshing Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Burrata which was to die for.  I seriously wanted to order another one because I couldn’t get enough.

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And it was followed by perfectly seared Scallops with English peas, radish, carrot-ginger sauce. I seldom order scallops but these were a winner.

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Maya had a plate of juicy Filet Mignon.

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And ended with Celebration Cake.

I heart you, NYC, and thanks for another amazing visit.  I’ll be back again real soon.

Here’s the full list of my top 10 moments:

  1. Dinner at Villard Michel Richard
  2. Lunch at Babbo
  3. Picnic at Central Park
  4. Serendipity 3
  5. Lunch at Balthazar
  6. Grand Central Oyster Bar
  7. Gahm Mi Oak
  8. Dominique Ansel Bakery
  9. La Vie at JFK
  10. Bryant Park at night

My Favorite NYC Moments #2: Lunch at Babbo

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Time to check off an item from my culinary bucket list – I finally made it to Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante in Greenwich Village. Yipeee!

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When we arrived at the restaurant at 11:00 a.m., right at my reserved time, the restaurant was still closed. Strange, I thought. How could a restaurant be closed when I, in fact, made a reservation for that time slot more than a month ago? When the door finally opened 30 minutes later, I went to check in, only to find that my name was nowhere to be found. After a few tries, the hostess figured out that my reservation was not for 11:00 a.m. but was for 11:00 P.Meek Only in NYC that people actually make dinner reservation so late.

Luckily, she was able to seat us right away!  Phew!

The restaurant was everything I’d expected this place would be — a professional service, attentive servers, and absolutely delicious food and wine.

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Complimentary chick pea appetizer.

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My appetizer: Crostini Napoletani with Ricotta, Sardines and Dandelion Greens

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Maya’s appetizer: Mozzarella di Bufala with Babbo Coppa

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I ordered Pappardelle Bolognese.

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Maya ordered Soft Shell Crab on a bed of couscous.

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We shared a plate Babbo Greens with Roasted Shallots — a much needed vegetables!

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Pistachio and Chocolate Semifreddo for dessert.

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Maya enjoyed a glass of port (Pedro Ximenez) that she absolutely loved, and I couldn’t get over all the sugar options that came with my cup of coffee.

Here’s the full list of my top 10 moments:

  1. Dinner at Villard Michel Richard
  2. Lunch at Babbo
  3. Picnic at Central Park
  4. Serendipity 3
  5. Lunch at Balthazar
  6. Grand Central Oyster Bar
  7. Gahm Mi Oak
  8. Dominique Ansel Bakery
  9. La Vie at JFK
  10. Bryant Park at night

My Favorite NYC Moments #3: Picnic at Central Park

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Maya and I picked up smoked salmon sandwich (for me), ham and cheese croissant (for her), and other goodies from Bouchon Bakery and headed to Central Park for an afternoon picnic.

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First to Sheep Meadow, then off to Bethesda Fountain.

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I’ve visited NYC many times, but this was actually my first time in Central Park. I’ve been to the entrance of the park but never inside, because I never knew how to get in! (Lame, I know.) Turns out that I needed to enter from Columbus Circle, on the West side of the park. Duh. Big thanks to Maya and her trusty smart phone for figuring it out!

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Here’s the full list of my top 10 moments:

  1. Dinner at Villard Michel Richard
  2. Lunch at Babbo
  3. Picnic at Central Park
  4. Serendipity 3
  5. Lunch at Balthazar
  6. Grand Central Oyster Bar
  7. Gahm Mi Oak
  8. Dominique Ansel Bakery
  9. La Vie at JFK
  10. Bryant Park at night