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.