Thursday, December 31, 2009


Happy New Year, blogger friends!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'bye Santa

'bye Santa. Thanks for stopping by. We sure did enjoy your visit, but boy! you came and left so quickly! Seems that way every year. Perhaps you are much like me and just like to stay at home. I understand.

Topping today's to-do list was UNdecorate and put away boxes.

There was an exclamation point after that last one. Putting away the boxes is no fun at all and involves a closet that would strike fear in the hearts of Organized People.

But after the last of the decorations were put away, I was rewarded on my trip down to the mailbox.

I think it is time for a lunch break and a browse.

Wonder how Santa's doing. Think he's all rested up yet?

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm a Baby Fan fan

Just as I said yesterday, I frogged that first fingerless mitt, but I didn't start the unraveling until I had the first of these almost done. I just started at the other end.

I thought having that other one there would help me judge the amount of yarn better and I wasn't sure at first if I'd have enough to get a full pair of these done. Looks like I'm going to have plenty.

The baby fan pattern is an abbreviated version of the old standby Feather and Fan (last seen in the Victorian Violet scarf). This pattern is so relaxing and easy to knit and, coupled with this mitt pattern on only 44 stitches, it's pretty quick, too!

I first saw this pattern [Ravelry link] on theraineysisters blog. Susan used a Misti Alpaca worsted which I know would feel yummy, but I wanted to see if I could make them out of the Smooshy leftover from a pair of socks. Knit on size 3 needles, the Smooshy is even more smooshy and feels great.

I love seeing all the wonderful things that the Rainey sisters knit. They both do such beautiful work and by far most of their projects are way beyond something I'd be comfortable attempting. That's what's so nice about blogs. So much inspiration.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Off to the frog pond

I had a good bit of Smooshy yarn leftover from a pair of socks. Since it was within reach last evening when I was looking at projects in my my new Norwegian book, it was the easiest thing to grab and play around with, but I'm not too happy with the experiment and will frog all this as soon as I finish this post.

The lace cuff is from the book - sort of. The lace pattern, just two nice rounds, is from a pattern for 2-color stranded Rose Bridal Wristers. I failed to read closely and didn't do the first purl round before beginning the lace pattern and didn't knit a couple of plain rounds before increasing. By that time I had decided against the rose pattern as two-color stranded knitting would just eat up more of the limited amount of yarn I had on hand. So I thought I'd try some Fibonnaci striping. I suppose it looks OK, but seems a bit too collegiate or something and the stripey-ness doesn't seem to play well with the lace cuff.

Oh, well. Still fun to play with and a chance to try a wee bit from the book. What have you been doing today?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New book

Santa knows me well and left this wonderful book under the tree so I've been quite lazy since opening it and have enjoyed casually looking through it and exploring the patterns and in general just indulging my inner Norwegian.

The book contains thirty designs based on heirlooms in the collection of the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa, a place I hope to one day visit in person. In the meantime, this book is the next best thing.

Vesterheim means "western home" and the museum
helps to preserve the heritage of Norwegians that immigrated to the United States.

I first learned about the museum from "Piecework" magazine articles (of course!).

There are lots of wonderful pictures not only of the projects and the museum textiles on which they are based, but also photos of late-19th century Norway.

There are even a few recipes, but I doubt I'll be trying any of them out!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Salute the happy morn!

Christians awake, salute the happy morn!

John Byrom

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eve eve

I think I'm almost ready. The to-do list* is done. Except for the cooking. But there is coffee and 7-Layer Cookie Bars so it isn't like anyone will starve.

The one thing that has given me the most trouble this season?

This timer......

I'm supposed to be able to set it and the little outdoor tree will turn on and off by itself. I remember I had trouble with it last year.

The online tutorial is of little help.

So far the only dusk-to-dawn thing around here is pajamas.

Take it easy and have a wonderful Christmas.

*Best to-do list I've seen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Need a bow?

Updating my iPod this evening with a few podcasts, I ran across this link on CraftSanity (love that name) for making your own bows from recycled paper.

I'm not sure I'll get around to this for this season, but I can clearly see fun applications using old magazines, tax forms, take-out menus, and lots of other paper that floats into the house.

Speaking of podcasts, I've also really been enjoying Alana over at Never Not Knitting. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's been talking about LACE lately.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jane St. and 8th Ave

I don't like change. I know I'm not alone in this. This, I think, is part of the dichotomy of Christmas. On the one hand I (and many people) love the sameness of Christmas; the traditions, the music, the food. On the other there is CHANGE.

As much as I struggle to surround myself with all the same traditions that give me pleasure at Christmastime, I am constantly reminded all around of change. All very natural, of course. The older one gets the more change there is. Some family members are no longer with us, no need to visit Santa, children grow up, they remake classics. The list goes on.

Technology brings change as well, some of it quite welcome. Now I can rewatch some of my favorite movies on DVD and at times most convenient for me. If I fall asleep and miss the very tail end of "White Christmas", the good part where they fold back the big doors and you can see the snow and the horse and carriage, well I can just watch that bit the next day. I can't shop at small stores in small towns anymore, but I can sit in my pjs and order online.

I mentioned last year that one of my traditions is reading "Christmas on Jane Street". I love reading the description of the tree lot in such an urban setting. When I started reading that book years ago, I knew not a single soul in NYC. Since then, through knitting, I've met Mary. Well not really met, but you know what I mean.

Mary is not only thoughtful, she's quite creative as well as evidenced by the package that arrived here. She got the 10th anniversary copy of the book AND she and her camera headed to Jane St. to get Billy Romp to sign it and urge me to visit. (as if I needed urging)

Then in a separate package with a note reminding me to open the other one, the book, first, was a CD of photos. Photos of Jane Street, of Mr. Romp, of the TREES, the camper he lives in during the season, the shop across the street that lets him connect his electrical cord.

Suddenly I was there.
On Jane St.
With the trees.
Breathe in deeply.
Can't you just smell them!I can.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm no designer

Pattern: used only Small Bud portion of Swallowtail Shawl
by a true genius designer, Evelyn A. Clark

Yarn: Alpaca Sox by Classic Elite

60% alpaca/20% merino/20% nylon
450 yds/100 gr - color #1890 blue jeans

Needles: Size 6 KnitPicks Options

Mary is often encouraging me to try designing a shawl. Well I am here to tell you THAT is not going to be happening around here anytime soon. I couldn't even come up with an edging to this one and I puzzled over it many evenings.

The body of the shawl flew off the needles as Ms. Clark's small bud pattern was a delight to work. (No surprise there.) I didn't want to attempt the lovely Swallowtail edging, even without the nupps, in this busy colorway but for the life of me could not come up with any way to get a nice pointed edge to flow out of the small buds.

In the end I found a reference in Ravelry (from the lips - or keyboard at least of Ms. Clark) to just use a simple eyelet and garter edge and, with relief, that's what I did. You know for just a little scarf/shoulder warmer, I think it works fine.

I have no idea how this colorway would do worked at a finer gauge for socks or how it would wear, but it is really soft and nice for this use.

Now if only I didn't have to visit the post office to mail it off.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Criss-Cross Coasters

I seldom get out the sewing machine anymore. Knitting is just so dang relaxing and portable.

Setting up the sewing machine, pulling out and cutting fabrics, and, inevitably, ironing.......well, not always relaxing and certainly not portable.

But a few days ago I arrived home to find a gift from Kay hanging on my doorknob. That always brightens my day.

Kay is very busy this holiday season being a kind and thoughtful daughter-in-law/nurse. It is seldom an easy job, but I know that Kay is GOOD at it. Laughter is the best medicine and I've never been around Kay when I didn't laugh.

You may know that Kay has quite a few vintage sewing machines at her house and while technically portable, I'm not sure they are making the trek back and forth from her house to MIL's. She had plans to make lots of coasters. Luckily I got a set before she left town again. And of course I wanted to try out the pattern for myself. I thought they'd make good, quick gifts for my sisters-in-law.

The pattern was posted some time back on Allsorts blog. Jenny Harris is a very talented illustrator and I always enjoy her blog. She often posts fun holiday projects and tutorials.
While you're over there, be sure to check out this post about a very special project she did with her daughter.

(I'd post a picture of the fabulous coasters Kay made for me, but I don't want to spoil anyone's surprise. She may be visiting other doorknobs, too!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure Socks

an Ann Norling pattern by Deirdre Wallace
just basic 64-st, 2x2 rib cuffs with plain feet; heel flap, basic toe

Yarn: Regia 4 ply
Patch Antik color / #5754
210 m / 50 gr
2 balls with a little leftover in each

Needles: size 2 Inox dpns

A little over two years ago I started a pair of socks out of a ball of Lion Brand that Kay sent me. Because of the color I thought of them as lumberjack socks and decided to give them to a nephew who was heading off to college. Fortuitously they arrived the very day his rafting coach instructed him to get wool socks. Wool, as we know, maintains its warmth even when wet.

Turns out he likes handknit socks. I think most people do once they've experienced them. He mentioned to his mom that he'd like another pair and I was happy to oblige.

I wanted hardwearing, easily-laundered yarn and Regia fits the bill. After purchasing the yarn and getting along on the first sock, a second e-mail from the mom stated "As for colors, he will take anything but if you have not picked out any yet, he said the crazier the better." Hum. I may have spoiled him with that nutty toe solution on the lumberjack pair!

I don't think he'll consider these stripes very crazy, but hopefully they will serve. These were fast to knit. I think it was because there were only three colors and wide stripes. It was always easy to tell myself that I'd just knit to the next color or through the current sequence.

Choose Your Own Adventure books were fad reading for several months years ago when my daughter was in elementary school. For some reason that phrase was stuck in my head as I was knitting these and I thought of them as just that....socks for the adventurous. Luckily I was able to find a cartoon that I could use for the label.

Making labels may just be my favorite part of gifting handknits.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hey, Santa. Nice Hat.

Santa Claus is coming to town. And the good news is he's a knitter!

Not only that, I think I recognize his hat. Looks like he's wearing a Thorpe on his head, too! Perhaps Mrs. Claus knitted it for him.

And that may be a Lantern Moon knitting bag.

Santa. He's in the know.

[This is Prairie Schooler's 2007 Santa.]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Evergreen Gift Bag

The Evergreen Gift Bag has been finished for some time, but weather and timing for the photo op never seemed to work out just right.

Besides that I'm not crazy about it. I think it looks OK, I'm just not sure how useful it is.

Ouch! That's pretty harsh from a total Bag Lover like me, isn't it?

I made the smaller size and, knit with different yarn and smaller needles, mine came out at 7-1/2" high with a 6" diameter bottom.

The size is fine. I ended up putting a lining in and will probably use it for my small projects bag during the holidays.

This pattern is billed as a gift bag. I'm not sure that a non-knitter would really appreciate it as a gift bag. Still it was fun to knit. Pattern and directions were perfect.

If I try it again, I'd like to try a different yarn and I'd do the top without the corrugated ribbing. I think it would draw together better with just plain knitting and it would certainly be quicker to work.

This is the first project I've made from the book "Handknit Holidays", a very nice hardback book published by Melanie Falick in 2005. It is a lovely book and I was thrilled to find it at a discount book store for only $10.99 when we were on vacation.

There are at least three more patterns that I hope to eventually knit: The Evergreen Shawl [see one here], The River Forest Gansey, and the Keefely Mittens, all by Jolene Treace.

So. It would seem that I am Big Fan of Ms. Treace. She's also the designer of the Wine & Roses Mitts from this year's IW Knits Holiday Gifts (also in their Winter 2006 issue). Very Cranford-ish. I'd love to make them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The reds and greens of the season

Yesterday was an Elf Help day.

After getting most of the cards done, I headed out for some errands.

You know how it goes with Christmas shopping, you leave with some firm ideas and plans and those often get changed before you return.

So it was yesterday. I went to the nursery with one gift idea. It was not to be found and I left with something totally different and for a different person.

But how could I pass up this gorgeous cyclamen? The red so velvety, deep and intense.

"Mary took the opportunity to smuggle a beautiful pink cyclamen into her own bedroom and hide it behind the curtain on the windowsill. It had cost more than she could really afford, but she had decided to forego a new pair of winter gloves. The old ones could be mended, and who was to notice the much sewn seams in a little place like Shepherd's Cross?"

from "The Christmas Mouse" by Miss Read 1973
just one of the things I reread every Christmas

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tis the season

December. Lots of joy. Lots of celebration. Lots of things to do.

Today I'm home and I hope to get some cards addressed. This year I am determined to use up some leftovers I keep saving. Only that small box on the left with the snowy, woodsy scene is new.

Hopefully any recipient who receives the same card as last year will have as poor a memory as mine and not recall. It's the thought that counts, right?

There is some knitting to be done around here. There is a basic triangular shawl that is almost done and hasn't even made an appearance here yet. I'm puzzling over the edging just now.

And no sooner than I had mailed off the pair of zigzag socks, than I heard that a nephew would sure like a new pair of wool socks.

It's been over two years since I made him the first pair. Turns out he loves them. Well that is just the kind of thing that sends a knitter rushing to the LYS for yarn.

I came home with basic Regia. Hardwearing and washer/dryer safe. No way a college boy is going to bother with handwashing.

Cuff on sock one is complete and I can't tell you how much I'd rather be sitting and knitting the heel than addressing cards.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ZigZag Socks

Pattern: ZigZag Socks by Christine Walter
from Vogue Knitting "The Ultimate Sock Book"

Yarn: Dream In Color Smooshy
100% superfine Australian merino superwash hand-dyed
color - Spring Tickle VS140

Needles: Size 2 Inox dpns (love 'em)

These are a gift - for no particular reason - to the person for whom I finished the pesky Lion Brand pair last month.

I've been wanting to try Smooshy sock yarn and it did not disappoint! It is yummy to knit with. I e-mailed Paige with a link to the Smooshy colors and let her choose. As much as I love greens, this Spring Tickle color would not have been my first choice. But I think it worked great with this pattern and the longer I knit with it, the more it grew on me.

This is a very straight-forward 64-stitch pattern and was quite enjoyable to knit. The only thing new to me was that the heel-turn section is also done in as a continuation of the slip-stitch pattern from the flap. I liked it and think it will be a bit of a heel cushion.

I did not work the round toe of the pattern and substituted my favorite toe shaping - which is from Evelyn A. Clark's Retro Rib Sock pattern.

This is basically a fancy rib and the sock is quite nice and stretchy. I think I could have gone down to the size 1 needles called for by the pattern, but I wanted to make sure they would fit and I tend to knit a bit tightly anyway. Didn't want to smoosh the Smooshy!

There is a nice bit of leftover yarn. I may try to get some wristwarmers or fingerless gloves to match. Can't wait to give them to Paige. I hope she enjoys wearing them as much as I enjoyed knitting them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Knitting

The day after Thanksgiving and I'm not out shopping and not intending to shop. Instead, I enjoyed sitting comfortably in my pjs reading through the blogs and seeing how others spent their Thanksgiving. It is a bountiful world out there in blogland and we are all most fortunate. I realize that not everyone was blessed with such warmth, abundance, and goodwill.

I'm thankful, too, for the relaxation and pleasure that learning to knit has brought me and the fun friends that blogging has introduced.

I knew there would be some sitting-around time after the big meal yesterday and I went prepared with a ball of cheap kitchen cotton and made myself two new holiday dishcloths.

I started with the old standby, Grandmother's Favorite, which is absolutely brainless and can be knitted in company and in between bites of pie even without fear of losing your place or getting off pattern.

Later in the day I turned to the Horizontal Dash and liked how the colors played out and how the purled dashes added some texture.

I may have still been on a pie buzz, but I think there are some errors in the Horizontal Dash pattern. I like my dishcloths on the small side. The pattern says to CO 42 or multiples of 10 plus 6. Thanks to the sugar rush, I didn't even realize that 42 is not a multiple of 10 plus 6! I started with 36 and when the main rows 1 and 5 didn't work out, I naturally assumed user error and returned several times to my computer screen to check and see if I jotted it down correctly.
In the end I just went with something that worked out for me. If you try this one, you may want to stick with 42 for the cast on OR correct it to be multiples of 10 plus TWO.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I love Lucy

The Lucy Bag that is. This is one well marinated project.

Pattern via my friend, Pat, was sent in 2005. I finished the knitting last summer and it sat around unfelted for a long time because who needs another visit with the washer?

It was clearly written and fun to knit. You start with Emily Ocker's circular beginning and 8 stitches and increase circularly for the base and then on up the sides.

I knit the small size and used two balls of Patons Classic Wool in Jade Heather. I've always found Patons to felt smoothly, easily, and predictably.

For the accessory, I found a fun fish at Joann's.

Right now I just have it sewn on for decoration, but I may change it and use it as a toggle button with a twisted cord loop to pull the two sides closed. But I'll carry it like it is for awhile before deciding.

This was really a fun felted bag. Thanks, Pat!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1 + 2 = 50!

1 Man + 2 Knitting Needles = 50 Fun Hat Designs

It's no secret here that I love all things Norwegian. {I do, after all, share my name with the Queen!}

I was delighted to happen upon a podcast by Craft Sanity in which she interviews Trond Anfinnsen, author of this book and designer of the amazing hats.

The story of how he first to learn to knit (only about 3 years ago), then customized a basic hat pattern with over 50 variations, knit them, gave them, photographed them, and eventually got a book published (and not even in his native language!) was simply fascinating to me. And, by the way, he didn't stop at 50. He's knitted over 200!

Here's a link to his Flickr photostream showing some of his hats. Browse around while you're over there to see more. You might just spot the Queen and a bunad or two!

I haven't seen this book in the local bookstores yet, but I'm going to be on the lookout for it. In addition to designing each hat with the recipient in mind, Trond introduces each one as they model their hat and tells a bit about how he knows them.

If you'd like to make one, here's a pdf for his Silje pattern (two colors and shown on the book cover, lower right).

Very clever.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Writer's Almanac

I usually check in to The Writer's Almanac, especially if I think I may miss hearing Garrison Keillor's broadcast at 11:00 am.

I was delighted this morning when, still half asleep, I learned it is the birthday of Helene Hanff. So delighted that I lifted the entire piece and pasted it here to encourage you to get to know Helene and this wonderful little book if you do not already.

It was on this day in 1949 that Helene Hanff wrote her third letter from New York City to a used bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. It was the beginning of a flirtatious epistolary friendship across the Atlantic that lasted for 20 years and revolved around classic literature. The letters were collected into 84, Charing Cross Road, a book Hanff published in 1970 and later adapted for the London stage, into a Broadway production, and into a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins (1987).

The correspondence began in early October 1949 when Miss Helene Hanff responded to an ad placed by London booksellers Marks & Co, whose bookshop was located at 84 Charing Cross Road. She wrote:

Gentlemen: Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase "antiquarian booksellers" scares me somewhat, as I equate "antique" with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes & Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.

I enclose a list of my most pressing problems. If you have clean secondhand copies of any of the books on the list, for no more than $5.00 each, will you consider this a purchase order and send them to me?
Helene Hanff
(Miss) Helene Hanff

Over the 20 years, Helene Hanff ordered from 84 Charing Cross Road John Donne's Sermons, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Samuel Pepys's diary, Plato's Four Socratic Dialogues, Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, and volumes of essays and poetry. She once wrote, "I require a book of love poems with spring coming on. No Keats or Shelley, send me poets who can make love without slobbering — Wyatt or Jonson or somebody, use your own judgment. Just a nice book preferably small enough to stick in a slacks pocket and take to Central Park."

Her relationship with the book buyer, Frank Doel, expanded to a caring friendship filled with banter and repartee. She also corresponded with other employees of the bookshop. She sent over to the shop parcels full of dried eggs and nylons and things that were rationed and hard to find in post-World War II England.

Today, there's a plaque up at 84 Charing Cross Road, London, commemorating her correspondence with the bookshop that was there, and another plaque on the apartment building in New York City where she lived for three decades.

(I left out just a bit - in case you would like to read the book or watch the DVD. I don't want to spoil any part of it for you. And the movie - cover shown above - doesn't even list Judi Dench who perfectly portrays Frank's wife in a very small role. What you wanna bet I'm at the library today checking out that movie??)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whoville Socks

I mentioned a couple of posts ago the purchase of yarn for a portable, people-friendly sock project.

Well the leg of the first sock is already done. This pattern, Zigzag Socks from last year's Vogue book The Ultimate Sock Book, is FUN and FAST to work.

I sent the intended recipient a link to the Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn page and let her choose her favorite color. She picked Spring Tickle.

I saw it was available at the online shop Eat.Sleep.Knit. This online shop is within driving distance of me and is open to the public for a few hours three days a week. This meant I would have the opportunity to see lots of yarns in person that I've only ever seen on the internet. Well, who could pass up such an opportunity?

This is my first time using Smooshy. I've read so many wonderful things about it - including this Knitter's Review - that I was anxious to try it. So far; so happy.

Although I had no specific date in mind for finishing and gifting these, I've decided it would be nice to have them done in time to give before Christmas. With that in mind, I've decided the color reminds me less of spring and more of The Grinch, [the redeemed Grinch at the end of the movie; the original animated one!] so I think of them as Whoville Socks. Socks to wear to carve the Roast Beast.

"Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. "

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lawrence Socks

Pattern: Rib & Cable Socks by Nancy Bush
Interweave Knits - Fall 2005

Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot
color: Blue Green
60% superwash wool / 25% mohair /15% nylon
350 yds/100 gr. ; less than 1 skein

Needles: size 1 Inox dpns

My daughter took the time to visit The Yarn Barn on a trip out to Lawrence, KS this past summer and brought me back a skein of this yarn in the richest, deepest blue imaginable. The yarn is a treat.

I never did quite figure out Nancy's directions for the heel turn which included some yarnovers so I ended up substituting the heel turn from her Madder Ribbed Socks and that worked out fine.

These had a new-to-me toe construction as well that used p2togs and p3togs for the decreases with no grafting involved. The fit is fine, but seems like the purled decreases on the stockinette background are distractingly noticeable.

The rib and cable pattern for the body of the sock is so pleasing that I feel sure I'll knit this pattern again sometime and just plug in a different toe. But the first time through I like to work as closely as possible to Nancy's instructions. She's a sock master after all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

State of the Union

Mary asked if I was still nupping along. The answer is Yes; mostly.

Here is the current state of my Lily of the Valley scarf. I am almost finished with five out of ten repeats, so almost halfway finished. Humm......looks a little short, doesn't it?

It isn't shown as a long scarf in the book and the pattern gives it as 44"long which is on the short side for a scarf. I don't need one that winds around and around my neck anyway.

I'm still not in LOVE with this project and I can't quite put my finger on the reason. I know that I'm not overly pleased with how my nupps* are looking but I am keeping my fingers crossed that a good soak and block will make a world of difference.

In the meantime, I've bought some sock yarn for a portable, people-friendly project. More about that later.

Sometimes I find when I get a bit bogged down in one project, that starting a new one is all it takes to motivate me to hurry and finish the first one. Is it the same for you?

We'll see if that works this time.

[*wanna see Nancy Bush demonstrate how to knit nupps? ]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
"A Child's Garden of Verses" published 1885

Today is his birthday. No burning of leaves here on the cul-de-sac although their number could certainly create a smoke trail. Still it is nice to sing a song of seasons and remember the much-loved poetry of childhood.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey day!

No, not Thanksgiving yet although it won't be long. I'm talking about the country Turkey.

I was delighted to see that Susette at Knitting Letters: A to Z blog has a new post up and it is a lengthy and very interesting look at Turkish textiles.

She has a lovely picture of oya - the intricate needlelace edgings.

I first learned and read about oya in "Piecework" magazine (of course!). It appears that both the Jul/Aug 1996 and the Jan/Feb 2006 issues are sold out, but both contained fascinating articles on this beautiful lace. The above linen square with oya flowers arrived here thanks to Mary. I enjoy it so much and never fail to marvel at the beauty of this delicate handwork.

If you're signed up with Ravelry , there is an Oya Makers group here with only a few examples but with some more information in the discussion threads. Flickr account pictures related to the Knitted Letters article are here and more great pictures/examples here.

Isn't it a lovely technique?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feather & Fan

The Victorian Feather & Fan scarf got finished sometime back (10/17 according to my notes), and was recently mailed off with birthday wishes. I am only now getting around to finally posting a picture.

To recap, I used the easy and free pattern posted here and two 25-gram balls of Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere bought long, long ago.

The softness of the yarn, the lovely Victorian Violet color, and the soothing repetition of this classic old lace pattern made this a wonderfully pleasing project.

Knitted end-to-end, the Old Shale pattern results in two ends that scallop differently. I wasn't bothered by that for this project, but some other time I may try knitting two halves and grafting them at the center back.

According to Martha Waterman in "Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls", the Old Shale pattern is the most common used in Shetland hap shawls and shale patterns are named for the way the waves look as they wash upon a shale shoreline

Friday, November 6, 2009

New leaf arrived

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.

Chinese proverb

The Evergreen Bag is finished except for one lone i-cord drawstring. As I was working on the first drawstring, I learned a new grandson had arrived to a coworker. A new leaf on his family tree. Well new baby means quick cap, right?

I looked around the internet and found the Greenleaf Hat and thought it would fine with the Berroco Vintage and I had plenty left from the bag. From this photo angle the leaf looks a bit too big, but doesn't seem quite so much in real life.

I used a bit of the green at the start of the roll brim before switching to the blue and the switched back to the green, of course, for the leaf.

All in all, a quick and satisfying knit and I'll definitely keep this one in mind for future baby gifts.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm having a hard time explaining my current knitting even to myself.

What you see here, first, is the start of the Evergreen Bag from the book Handknit Holidays which I found in a bookstore while on vacation for the low price of only $10.98. Since it is a nice hardbound book with several projects I like, I was quite happy to find it.

Tuesday, in the pouring rain, I went to my LYS to try to find some suitable yarn. Naturally the specified yarn was not to be had. The few yarns that I found that I really liked, weren't available in two colors that I liked together. I wound up trying out one of the new Berroco yarns - Vintage - a blend of 40% wool, 50% acrylic, and 10% nylon. I picked Tidepool and Wasabi. I'm not sure I like this combo, but it was all I seemed able to come up with at the time. The lighting in my LYS is abysmal on the brightest of days and Tuesday was certainly not one of those!

Wasabi. One of those words I never heard until the last couple of years.

What I'm having trouble understanding about my own knitting is why I've turned to this project when I already had this one going.

That is the Lily of the Valley Scarf in 100% cashmere.

See! Doesn't even make good sense.

Since writing this post, I've worked a few more rounds on the bag, getting that wavy line in below the buttonholes for the drawstrings, and I'm even more ambivalent about it. None of my knitting seems to be pleasing at this time.

It may be time to call in Evelyn A. Clark!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lace In Translation

The Design Center at The University of Philadelphia has an exhibition "Lace In Translation" which is running through April 3, 2010.

[which, by the way, does 2010 sound like science fiction to anybody else??]

Contemporary artists were invited in to view, examine, and take inspiration from the Design Center's large Quaker Lace Company collection.

There is a 12-minute video (Blogger didn't let me embed) that is so interesting. Would love to get up there and see this in person.

The image gallery and background information is also fascinating. Visitors are invited to share their pieces as well and there are several intriging pieces already posted.

ETA: It would be hard for me to pick a favorite among the pieces made and displayed, however I was particularly taken with the oil tank. See more of Cal Lane's work here - and don't miss the dirt!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Parade of hats

Cooler weather. Fall is finally here even though the afternoons are still warm. I love to see the fall colors in the leaves. A pity that with all the many trees in our yard, none are maples.

I've been enjoying reading about and seeing all the pictures taken at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival.

If you are thinking of making a hat, or even if you're not, you might enjoy a parade of 85 hats spotted at Rhinebeck. I just clicked 'slideshow' and sat back and enjoyed.

Know what tastes great with a slideshow? How about this fall mix - equal parts candy corn and cocktail peanuts. Salty and sweet. Tastes a lot like a Payday.

And you thought I only ate M&Ms!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Monster Mash

I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash

Frankenstein's Monster Cloth was FUN to work. As soon as I stumbled upon the free pattern I had to get my hands on some acid green yarn (Hot Green Sugar 'n Cream) and try it out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whooo needs a new dishcloth?

I don't know how it is with you, but when I seem to be slogging along on a project and am in need of a quick knit, I usually turn to dishcloths.

They never take too long, the yarn costs only a bit and comes in such bright, cheerful colors. To top it off, the internet is full of free patterns so there is something new to try every time you get the urge.

This one was just a HOOT to knit. : )

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gone Platinum

I decided I really needed a finer needle, a size 28, to facilitate stitching the mosaic stitch in that floral band. Naturally I had no 28s, so last Saturday while I was out, I picked up a package. Two tiny platinum needles, very fine, $4.77. Amazing. But worth it. It has made all the difference in the world.

[kind of puts the cost of addi Turbos in perspective]

I knew I wanted John James needles when I left the house. John James needles have been manufactured in England since the 1800s and were even mentioned by Charles Dickens

"We have been to Redditch, that remarkable, to see needles made...
because our English needles of to-day are spreading all over the known world,
wherever exchange of commodities is going on. We are allowed to go over the Victoria Works,
the manufactory of Mr John James. That so many (needles) should go forth
into the world from one house is wonderful enough...
but the making ready for sale exhibits a miracle of dexterity."

Also a miracle of's a link to a picture of the Loara Standish sampler, 1653, the earliest known American-made sampler which also happens to be a band sampler. Loara Standish was the daughter of Miles Standish.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shrinking Violet

Are the blue socks done yet? Why, no. Why do you ask?

It isn't that I've lost interest in them either, its just that I got the urge to knit something else and that I had an idea for this yarn that I've had for some time.

According the receipt, I bought this in May 2005. I cannot even recall the project I had in mind. Doesn't matter because I only realized when it arrived that the put-up was 25 gr. balls and, whatever the project was, I had half enough. I've not seen this color listed since. Victorian Violet. Love that name. Don't you?

When I recently decided that it might do for a narrow scarf - and for a November birthday for someone - I first tried a shifting rib pattern based on a larger design in The Book of Yarn. A simple enough pattern it would seem, but I couldn't seem to keep it straight - or wandering really as the case may be - and I flubbed the seed stitch, too.

So I found a Feather and Fan (sometimes called Old Shale) pattern online, started at the other end of the ball, and am eating my way through the botched first attempt. This one has no edge stitches but there is no curling. If you'd like an edge; add 4 stitches making the cast on 42 and knit the first three on each end on all rows. [note: this will require thinking and, frankly, I just wasn't up to it.]

Monday, October 12, 2009


Turns out that this year the office closed for Columbus Day so I had an unexpected day off this week. Since it was another really rainy day, it was perfect to be home and knit and I did.

I had finished up the first of the Rib and Cable Socks over the weekend and this morning I got the second one cast on and under way.

Thanks to the still-overcast skies, the photo is a bit dark. I think the flash came on even though I took this outside in natural light.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oh, October

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

The sock is coming along nicely, I'm actually to the heel flap since this picture. It is a most enjoyable knit, too.

Even though we continue to have much rain, there has been a bit of blue sky - enough to remind me of one of my favorite poems.

The leaf is from a walk. Alas no maples in our yard.

Speaking of poetry, have you heard about the giant knitted poem? Here you can see a knitter diligently sewing the letters together. I think I first learned of this project on Cornflower's wonderful blog. She knitted an 'O'.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Yummy Yarn

I didn't crop all the orange button mums out of this shot because I loved the orange color with the bright blue of this yarn. Besides I just had to have a bit of orange after seeing such orangey goodness over at Mary's.

Isn't this blue yarn lovely? I think I deserve some yummy yarn and a soothing sock experience for a change.

This is just the very start of Rib and Cable Socks, a pattern by Nancy Bush from the Fall 2005 issue of Interweave Knits magazine. The pattern calls for this yarn, Mountain Colors Bearfoot.

These are going to be VERY warm, but also incredibly soft. I'm only about 15 rounds into the cuff and already they feel fabulous.

If the rest of the experience goes as well, it will more than make up for all the frustrations of that last pair.

Nancy Bush writes classic patterns in the traditional folk method, top-down with a heel flap on double-pointed needles. I'm a confirmed dpn knitter. Every once in awhile I read about other methods and consider using circular needles or knitting a toe up pattern or a short-row heel. This pause for considering lasts about 2 minutes before I dismiss the idea completely. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Still I recently read where another confirmed dpn top-down knitter has recently converted.

Reading that post and then seeing Jolene's fabulous leaf socks has got me thinking some more.
[be sure to scroll down and see Jolene's perfect, contrast heels]

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Speed Bump

Things have slowed down to a crawl here on the embroidery project. The flowers in this second band are worked in two colors using the mosaic stitch. It is a lovely stitch that adds a nice texture, but the two shades of pale yellow are very similar and, without great lighting, the lighter one is difficult to see against the pale background of the linen.

Even with my OttLite nearby, my eyes tire easily and I only work a bit at a time. I didn't have an OttLite for a long time, but recently ran across one in the sale bin at Office Depot for $10. What a deal since the bulbs alone generally sell for $15. I must say it has been nice having it, especially for this project.

A very sunny, fall day here on the cul-de-sac. Perhaps if I could find a spot outside to stitch....