Monday, June 23, 2014

This blog has changed and moved!

Dear knitting friends, I am no longer posting here, but you can find me at my artists website and blog:
Lydia McNeil.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Soledad Jam case anyone's wondering what's been going on with me, I've mostly moved on from working with fiber for the time being and instead have started a cottage food business making artisanal jams and jellies!

Each week I hit the produce market to see what looks good...what's in season, what's local, what's organic, what's the best I can get this week...and then I spend the rest of the week cleaning, chopping, and cooking that beautiful fruit down to produce soft-set European-style jams.  

I love it but I've never worked so hard in my life! I'm working on a permanent website but in the meantime, please visit and like me on Facebook to see what's going on at Soledad Jam.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hi all! I've got new yarn listed in my Etsy shop, all hand-dyed superwash merino sock, 100 g (400 yards).  Several colors available.  Check it out!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Jumping Right Back In

Okay, I took a major blog hiatus while all kinds of things happened, and rather than try to cover all that ground, I'm just jumping back into the knitting.  Specifically, I've got a brand new baby niece to knit for, so lemme show you some of that.  

The pattern is Wool Leaves by Jared Flood, and I did enough repeats to make it square.

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton held double in natural.  It's the most beautiful cream color, very soft.

For the trim I used Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton in a very lovely blue, because everyone was convinced that baby would be a boy.  I think blue's nice for girls too, though.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hairy Slippers

Stocking #2 out of 3, progress shot. I'm 95% done with the 3rd one, racing Santa.

I should be cooking my face off in prep for Christmas dinner, but instead I'm cruising the interwebs looking at knitting stuff. Take a look at these Tom Scott slippers. They are alpaca and have a crocheted sole and garter stitch upper...not exactly difficult crafting there. They are $188. That's right, $188.

By that reckoning the girls owe me $1200 at least for each of their stockings but I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heart Knitting Chart

I'm working on the last of three stockings and I thought I'd share this chart with you. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010


I have a new pattern for sale on Ravelry! It's a very fast knit - start now and finish in time for the holidays!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Puttin' Up With Frank

How lucky am I?  Turns out my cousin Frank, who's quite the foodie, has been making his own preserves and sending them my way from his 'hood back east.  The first batch (savory - including the most amazing Caponata Siciliana) he sent arrived on the day I was having the girls' farewell-gone-to-college dinner and it flew into the hands of my sisters and nieces so fast I didn't get any pictures.

This batch (sweet - peach, nectarine and plum jams) arrived a couple of days ago and the weather finally cooperated enough for me to capture all its glory on film.  Now I ask you...should I share this bounty?  Maybe only with the sisters and nieces who read my blog - the rest won't know any better.

They're like little jewels, no?

I plan on using some of it for a jam tart, one of John's favorites. Perhaps that glorious peach.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Night Out, a Morning In

My table companions tried to convince me that was shooter of some kind, but it's vinaigrette.

The other night John and I attended a gala fundraiser for the Old Globe, one of San Diego's several fabulous theater companies.  The Globe and the La Jolla Playhouse are probably the most widely known, and they're two of the reasons this is such a great town to live in, along with fish tacos and the weather (notwithstanding the sucky summer of 2010).  But if you live here, there are lots and lots of opportunities to see interesting live productions all over the county.

Delicious roasted duck breast with berry sauce and a ravioli I gave to John

Along with the usual silent auction, the gala featured a showing of Robin and the 7 Hoods, followed by dinner and dancing (or if you're me, followed by dinner and the vague shuffling around that comes from being up way past my bedtime - it's kind of a long night) outside under the stars.
That mysterious object is an almond crisp over strawberry shortcake with ice cream.
There were also fabulous mini strawberry ice cream sandwiches but they went so fast I didn't get a photo!

You wanted to see what they served, right?  Luckily, I had my iPhone to capture these quality shots.  I wish I could show you how they light up the Museum of Man tower next door - it's really cool - but I'm already stretching the capability of my phone with these.

Um...I'm pretty sure I brushed my hair before we went, but I do look like I'm up past my bedtime.

And while I'm showing you food, here's a batch of brioche from the following day.  Fiona learned Dorie's method for the dough, and I baked these off the next morning so she could sleep in during the final rise.  That's right, I'm the BEST mom, kids.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Red Gaenor

Here's something I've had off the needles for quite some time but only recently had time (and the proper weather) to block.  It's a little shawlette; the pattern is called Gaenor and the yarn is Aspen Sock by Red Rocks Fiber Works.  The yarn is fantastic - the colors are gorgeous and it's sproingy and delicious as only yarn can be.

Along with mittens, shawlettes are my knitting love du jour, because they're more interesting than scarves and yet can be worn in the same way, wrapped around the neck.  My Ravelry queue is full of them.

The other thing I've been doing lately is tinkering with my blog design a little bit.  Since I'm a graphic designer, you'd think I'd be busily designing myself a beautiful website, but it's one of those cobbler's children things...designing for myself is the last thing I ever feel like doing, so instead I've updated to the latest version of Blogger and it's driving me crazy.  In the process, it lost the link to Google Analytics (took me several days to figure that one out) and while I appreciate the pushbutton nature of Blogger, I'm starting to think about alternatives.  If you all have a recommendation, let me know.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainbow Fiddlehead Mittens 1

In preparation for the girls' departure for Boulder, I'm knitting mittens as fast as I can.  I love mittens.  They're fun to knit, completely portable, and I can indulge my love of wild colors without ending up looking like a clown hooker.

These are Fiddleheads in gray Ultra Alpaca and Noro Kureyon; I'm knitting them tip-to-cuff on two circular needles.  I cast on yesterday afternoon and I just popped that sore thumb onto the first one so I'm on fire, baby.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pie, Pie, Pie

Peach Pie

As promised, today we're talking about pie.  Earlier this week I read about this life-changing crust method over at Chez Pim and had to give it a try.  Pie crust is one of those things for's touchy.  I can make perfect crust one day and the very same recipe will flop the next time I try it.  I know, I know - it all depends on the humidity, the temperature of the water/the butter/your hands/your kitchen, the earth's position with respect to various far-flung stars, whatever.  The point is, it's not to be trusted.

Blueberry Pie

Enter this completely heretical recipe (Yes, I'm still watching The Tudors.) calling for salted butter and manhandling of the dough.  Since I often inadvertently manhandle the dough anyway, I figured I'd try it.  Less than a week and two pies and a quiche later, I'm sold.  I love it.  It's easy to work with, it's flaky, it's buttery, it crisps nicely on the bottom, and it worked all three times in a row.  I don't want to jinx it, but I think this is now my go-to crust for pies both savory and sweet.

Bacon & Egg Quiche

Blueberry Pie

5 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the berries are on the tart side)
5 T cornstarch
1 t cinnamon
1 T unsalted butter
splash of lemon juice

One beaten egg for washing the crust if you want, and some raw sugar if you'd like to sprinkle that on the crust as well.

Crust for double-crust pie

Preheat oven to 425F and line a deep-dish pie mold with bottom crust, pricking a few times with a fork.  

Make sure berries don't have twiggy bits and put them in a largish bowl.  Whisk together dry ingredients and add them to the berries, turning over gently with a spatula to coat.  Add a a teeny splash of lemon juice as you turn them over.

Pour the berry mixture into the prepared bottom crust and top with a lattice crust, or just slap the top crust on and cut a few vents in it.  Crimp the edges and brush with the egg wash to give it some shine; you can sprinkle some raw sugar on it too as I did with the peach pie above.  

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the crust is brown and the berries have thickened.  If the berries still look liquidy when your crust is brown, top the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for a bit longer. The berries will be bubbling and thick when the pie is done.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Lose Your Head Over Mittens

I apologize in advance to all of you who froze through an unforgiving winter and are now sweltering through a humid, boggy summer and are reading this in disbelief at the temerity I'm about to exhibit, but I must now complain about the weather. Today is July 21 and I am in long sleeves, staring out the window at yet another gray and somewhat drizzly day in La Jolla - another in the long string of gray and drizzly days we've experienced since early June. Last week the sun came out for two days and people danced in the streets, only to be disappointed and resigned in their aspect when our 48-hour summer slammed to a foggy close.

It's been so chilly (don't laugh - our blood is thin, people!) I've been baking pies all week (more on that tomorrow) and today I'm seriously considering lighting the fireplace. It's been so chilly I've actually been knitting heavy woolen things and been grateful for their warm weight in my lap. It's been so chilly I think the girls are looking forward to leaving for Colorado to warm up.

These mittens are last week's project, in colors inspired by season one of The Tudors, which I've been watching on Netflix (and which, by the way, I found somewhat slow for the first few episodes and then wham! people started dropping like flies and Henry started looking really scary and now I can't stop watching...the betrayals! The beheadings! I'm a little disturbed imagining the personal hygiene issues they must've encountered, too.). They're from  Magnificent Mittens and I knit them up in some soft and warm Ultra Alpaca for Fiona to take to Boulder with her.  I love the patterns in this book and I'm already planning a few more pairs; I'm also planning to use the "toe-up" technique on other mittens as often as possible, because I really like the custom fit you can achieve this way.