Wednesday, June 27, 2012

yarn along...stripe edition

Wednesdays keep sneaking up on me...time for yarn along again.

When I'm between projects, or just bored and seeking inspiration, I sift through my yarn bin. This accomplishes a few things: I remember what I have, get interested in starting something (or finishing something), and I'm deterred from buying more supplies.

This week I discovered (again) several extra and several partial skeins of Lion Fishermen's Wool. I usually end up with more than I need for sweaters, sometimes by a full skein, and that's what I have floating around in my bin. I'm mildly obsessed with using what's on hand this year - I've broken the habit of randomly wandering the aisles at the craft/yarn store and now I don't even feel like going there. Yay!

However, I do not have enough of any one color for a sweater. So I started a simple neck-down cardigan using Nature's Brown and Oatmeal for stripes. I have less of the Oatmeal color so I'm doing 12 rows of Nature's Brown to 6 rows of Oatmeal. It's on size 9 needles so it grows pretty quickly. These colors have a rather masculine feel in this stripe pattern, but I'm just looking for a utility sweater, to knock around the house in next winter.

As for reading, I finally picked up Outlander and read it through. It took me 3 tries to get past the first two chapters, but once I did I could not put it down! I will say this, it is too long and could have done with some serious editing to condense a few parts and move it along, but it was very good. I'm on to the second book of the series. I use an e-reader on my laptop and can then work the stockinette stitch of my sweater while reading. Win-win!

Oh, and the book in the photo is Scarf Style. I'm dying to knit Ene's Scarf and our entire large library system has only one copy of this book, so I grabbed it while it was in. I'm not sure I have enough of anything in my stash to knit it (I want to use fingering weight rather than laceweight for a more hearty shawl). I may break my streak and buy something, so badly do I want to make this pattern.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

lighter fare

I must admit, I've burned myself out on the huge knitting projects for the moment.

While I wait for the urge to start something large, I'm doing some fun quick knits.

I'm also obsessed with using up my stashed yarns and leftovers right now, so this scratches that itch as well...some new clothes for one Ms. Barbara Doll.

This shift dress took one day to make and used a few ounces of old leftover Baby Ull and size 2 needles. I hate the belt and will re-do it, but wow, what a FUN pattern to knit!

I ordered a selection of patterns from a great seller on ebay - "Pretty Patterns" - and while they are photocopies (I knew this when ordering) they are of excellent quality. I can recommend this seller for sure if you're seeking unusual or hard-to-find patterns. It seems there were many Leisure Arts booklets with Barbie patterns in the 80s (I saw some on ebay as well) but not anymore. I wonder why? Knitting for Barbies must be uncool now or something. Anyway, I liked the collections this seller had - they are very 50s and 60s and not difficult at all.

The back closes with 3 snaps, and it is hemmed, which is a nice detail. People used to put so much care into things. 

I loved making this. Can't wait to make's perfectly delightful hot weather knitting. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

self-promotion post

Oh man. It's 90 degrees. Know what's fun to do in 90-degree weather? NOTHING.

I don't even have anything much to say. Maybe I will tomorrow when it's 15 degrees cooler.

I'll spare you another photo of my stole-in-progress, though I will report I have completed 5 full repeats as of last night and have only 46 pattern rows to go, then the top border and it will be done. Woot! I'm already plotting and planning what will be next...

Since I have nothing else I'll do a little shameless self-promotion. I'm caught up on Etsy orders, so I have all my custom order slots available plus two additional wool soakers ready for immediate shipping.

0-6 month soaker in petal pink. This would fit a larger newborn, up to about 6 months depending on thickness of cloth diapers and, of course, size of the baby. Also very cute for photo shoots where you want the baby in only a diaper but you don't want to look at a company logo on a disposable diaper. 

Newborn soaker in dark grey. This was made with mixed dye lots of yarn, so the cuffs differ slightly from the rest of the soaker, even though they are the same color. You can kind of see it in the photo above. It's not terribly noticeable in low light but you can definitely tell the difference. I made it from leftover yarns so because of that, and the difference in dye lots, I've priced it at a discount. If you or anyone you know is considering trying wool covers with cloth diapers, this would be an inexpensive way to try it out! It seems counterintuitive, but wool is actually excellent for the warmer months because it "breathes" and allows air to circulate, reducing the incidence of diaper rash (I know this from experience with my son).

These soakers can be seen in more detail and purchased here.

Ok, thanks for bearing with me. I do like to get the word out. Those student loans aren't going to pay themselves!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

kai's shirt

On my weekend hiatus from stole-knitting, I sewed up a shirt for my little guy. I had some really nice plaid shirting left over from a dress I made for Daughter last year - it's almost a seersucker, I guess. Very light and cool to wear. I had enough for another small garment so I made Kai's Shirt from that disaster of a sewing book, Weekend Sewing.

Everything you've read/heard about that book is true. It sucks, unfortunately. The patterns are so, so cute but everything about them is pretty much wrong, from fabric requirements to layout to assembly instructions. As a fairly experienced seamstress I was able to cobble this together but it would be more difficult for a beginner...who uses 1/4" seam allowances for garments? And even that is inconsistent, as the directions switch back and forth from 1/4" to 3/8", and the instructions for hemming the shirt don't work either. You have to kind of know what you are doing. But in the end, you will get a very nice, cute shirt. It's perhaps the best pattern in the whole book. At least the proportions are correct. I made a shirt for myself (also from this book) last year and the sleeves were easily 6" too long.

Yay, one sewing project off the pile! As the weather is about to get too warm for knitting (90? yuck!) I hope to get a few more sewing projects done this weekend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

yarn along

I'm tardy to the party (again) but I am here this week for yarn along. My hand and wrist really hurt all last week, but I did minimal knitting, slept with a wrist support, and tried to be careful in general. It seems to be better now, though I have to take it slow and take frequent breaks. Boo hoo.

After a stretch of truly crummy weather (cold and rainy), we are back to summer conditions. I took advantage by setting up outside with my knitting, my books, and some iced coffee. I'm reading some very dense and heavy books about speech in an effort to better help my son. The knitting is my Faux Russian Stole. 

I've completed 4 full repeats now, and have 1.5 to go (actually I am 20 rows into the next repeat). It's going to be lovely...and large.

Here it is with my almost-4-year-old. And he is tall!

What are you knitting and reading?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

on injured reserve

I've been knitting like a crazy person on my Faux Russian Stole - this is 3 complete repeats of the pattern, with 2.5 left to go. So I'm past the halfway point! It is still a very enjoyable knit and I am excited about the finished product, but unfortunately I was starting to have hand and wrist pain while working on it. I had to pretty much stop working on it over the holiday weekend. 

So while I rest my poor arm, I will accomplish other things. 

Sorry about the glare in the photo - the sun was directly behind the tree but this was the only place I could hang the dress and not have it blow away. The sewing is straight, but it is so windy the dress would not hang straight.

The dress is the second half of a birthday gift for the daughter of our good friends (the purple sweater is the other part). She just turned 3, and her party is coming up. I'm so thrilled with this little dress and pattern - I wish I'd had it 4 years ago when my own daughter was that age. It's Simplicity 2377 and it is just a perfect little dress pattern. 

This little girl's favorite color is purple, so I tried to find purple fabric but nothing called out to me in the store.  I went with this girly butterfly print and now I'm just hoping it's not too.....loud? Oh well, it's a tad obnoxious but you can get away with that when you're 3. 

I can highly recommend this dress pattern if you have a little girl in your life. It's 4 pieces that fit together like a perfect puzzle, and the elastic sleeve and neck openings are SO EASY. There's no need for any other closures (zippers or buttons) because of the elastic, which also means a gal can dress herself. Woot! I'll be making some of these for Daughter for sure (the pattern goes up to size 8). [I also like that you don't have to buy a bunch of expensive notions to make this...half the time I get a great deal on the fabric for kid projects and then have to spend a fortune on notions. Why are zippers, like, two dollars each??? This whole gift, start to finish, cost maybe $10 plus my time.]

It's incredibly hot and humid today - thunderstorms are rolling in and they can't get here soon enough. They're supposed to drop the temperature about 20 degrees by nighttime and I will take it! I love warm weather but not when it's so sticky you can't get anything done. Blech. So we'll see how the wrist feels later...I might have an update on my stole for Wednesday's knit along post, or perhaps I'll stick to sewing for a few more days. Heaven knows there are enough projects piled up to keep me busy for a long time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

yarn along

Knitting and reading this week with Ginny and the others for Yarn Along...

I've done one full and 2/3 of another repeat of the Faux Russian Stole. I'm really, really enjoying this knit. Once I started the second repeat (the pattern is 96 rows), I found I could go quicker because I almost knew or felt what was coming. It's not a complicated pattern, and I can follow it while watching TV (we're into A Game of Thrones now...I couldn't get into the book but the series is amazing). I can also work it while sitting outside watching the kids play. Perfect. It's very rhythmic and calming, probably because there is only knitting, no purling. Surprisingly, the garter background is working for me - I usually prefer stockinette.

The book is just OK. I didn't realize this but An Everlasting Meal is really more than an homage to How to Cook a Wolf. It's almost an update of the exact same thing. But the former is much better in my opinion. 

At least I am reading - I'm finding it so difficult to get into a book lately. I tried The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and got through about 10 pages. I tried A Game of Thrones and got through about 3, maybe. Perhaps it's because the weather is finally getting beautiful and warm, and reading feels like more of a curl-up-with-blankets thing? I don't know, I guess I'm just not choosing the right material. 

But the knitting...the knitting is good. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

parade of wips

Last week was rough. I couldn't pull it together enough to post.

But I've been a busy bee...because in the words of EZ: "knitting, as you well know, is therapy too."

I finished the little purple sweater for our friend who has just turned 3. I had enough yarn (Caron Country) to make the body full-length (size 2-4 years), and the sleeves ended up about 3/4 length...and I had about 1 foot of yarn left after casting off each cuff. Talk about cutting it close. The buttons are purple see-through with purple glitter in them. Perfect!

The party is not until next month so I still have time to make up a matching sundress out of this butterfly/floral fabric. (Sweater color is really off here...the top pic is more accurate.)

Last year sometime I bought one of those $5 "mystery bags" of yarn at AC Moore - they are one pound of yarn, never labeled, but they mostly come from Listowel, Ontario, Canada. That's where the Patons factory outlet is located so I can often make a decent guess about the yarn in the bags. I've found Patons Classic Wool in those bags, as well as kitchen cottons, and plenty of acrylics. But one bag caught my eye because the yarn looked like fingering weight and you never see that. I bought it, it marinated for a year, and then I finally figured out it must be Kroy sock yarn. Now that the AC Moore potpourri smell has faded I can definitely smell wool/lanolin and it feels just like the skeins of Kroy sock that I have in my stash. The color is just a little off, so I am betting this was a mis-dyed batch that they wound into skeins, bagged up, and sold as mill ends. 

I have one pound, which is just over 450 grams. That's the equivalent of 9 fifty-gram balls of sock yarn. At 187 yards per ball, I have 1683 yards of fingering weight wool-blend yarn. Unless I wanted to make matching grey-ish socks for everyone in my family, I had to think of another project. I chose the Faux Russian Stole from A Gathering of Lace. I've never made a lace project on a garter-stitch background before and this one is a nice, simple pattern for summer knitting. Also it is narrow, less than 100 stitches wide, so I can work on it while I watch my kids. Unlike.........

......this Shaped Triangle shawl from the same book. I've been working on it here and there since last fall. It's laceweight yarn on size 4 needles and each row is over 400 stitches now. If I can find a quiet 20-30 minutes I sit down and knit two rows. It's coming along, but it's definitely slow-going.

I love these lacy projects. They are just difficult enough to be challenging and hold my interest, and when life feels absolutely beyond my control I can use my own two hands to create something really magnificent.

"Now, let us all take a deep breath and forge on into the future; knitting at the ready." - EZ, The Opinionated Knitter

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

yarn along

Joining Ginny again for the weekly yarn along.

I do jump on most bandwagons I guess, though I tend to be tardy to the party. I finally read the Hunger Games series and now I'm joining every other person in the universe with these Steig Larsson books. This caught my eye on the "popular" shelf at the library this morning so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm 15 pages in so no opinion yet!

The knitting is a plain old natural diaper soaker for a customer, and a top-down raglan cardigan for a little girl turning 3. Purple is her favorite, so I'm making a cardi and hopefully a little purple print sundress to go with it. I don't have enough yarn for a full-length cardigan with long sleeves so I went back and forth between a bolero-style with longer sleeves and a full-length with short sleeves and decided on full-length with as long a sleeve as I can squeeze out of the yarn I have. We'll see how it goes...

Off to make a cuppa and enjoy this nice warm day (66 F!).

Monday, April 30, 2012

swallowtail shawl

Yay, I finished something!

I don't know what it is about these silly lace shawls...I have no plans to actually wear one, but I can't stop making them. I guess it's the magic of going from a lump of crazy-looking knitting to a thing of beauty.

This is my swallowtail shawl, an Evelyn Clark design. Everyone has made one. (Well, nearly 10000 knitters have, anyway.)

Senorita Grumpypants was not in the mood to model today - can you tell by the hunched shoulders? She's pouting, too. Oh well, you want me to take you to that bounce-house birthday party later today, kid? That's what I thought. Now, show us how it looks when you hold it out to the sides:

It seems there are certain shawls that just about everyone makes (if they make shawls, that is). There's this one, and the flower basket shawl, the shetland triangle, ishbel, and ene's scarf, among many others. I guess because these designs are so accessible for knitters of every level, maybe? The knitting is really not difficult at all, other than those tricksy nupps. Lots of knitters substitute beads there, and I can see would definitely be faster and less fussy. But I'm glad to have tried it as written. 

I'm disappointed I didn't use up more of the yarn, though. I had two skeins of Naturespun fingering weight in nordic blue, approximately 310 yards each. I got most of the way through the shawl with one skein, and only used maybe 1/10 of the second. Oh well, it's better than running out, and it came from stash so that's definitely good. This was knit on my favorite vintage nylon size 6 circular needle. 

I have lots of shawls in my ravelry queue, what shall I knit next? I also have two more skeins of Naturespun in a purple colorway to use up as well...I have to admit, I didn't "get" ravelry at first, but holy moly, it's an amazing tool. If you need me, I'll be over there trying to select my next project...

Friday, April 27, 2012


First things first, could someone answer this for me? I got an email from Blogger telling me I need to be sure and update my "legacy" blog (whoa, I've been blogging so long I'm a legacy), but it already says "Google" on my dashboard, so didn't I already do it? I don't want to lose access to my own blog!

Moving on, I have a bit of birthday sewing to share. Daughter turned 7 last week (7!) and I managed to just squeak this gift in under the wire. Seriously, just before dinnertime the night before her party I parked both kids in front of a video and sewed like a crazy person in the dining room. I managed to snap a couple photos too. Somehow, she did not see anything!

I will tell you this - it's no secret that I am generally a lazy seamstress. I choose simple patterns with clean lines and I don't care for projects that take days on end to finish. Patience is in short supply! But I think this nightgown was worth the time and effort.

The pattern is McCall's M4505, which is actually for undergarments (slips, camisoles, bloomers). I chose to use some pink rose print lawn I got from last year (majorly on sale, like maybe $3/yard?) and whatever lace I could find in my stash. Consequently, the lace at the collar and armholes does not match the lace at the hemline, but they are awfully far apart and similar enough that no one has noticed so far!

The buttons were a gift from a dear friend, and they look absolutely perfect on this fancy nightie.

By the time I did most of the gathering and lace application, I had used one entire bobbin of thread. I had to spin another just to complete the gown. The ruffle was easily the length of my living room before gathering, and each ruffle panel took 4 passes of the sewing machine to complete - lace placement line, lace stitching line, ziz-zagging the raw edges down, and topstitching to finish. Only then do you assemble the ruffle into one long piece and gather it to fit the gown!

A new skill for me on this project was stitching a continuous lap. Not too hard, but requires some patience. It came out pretty good for my first try.

The nightgown hasn't seen any use yet because it is 40 degrees here. It has snowed 3 times this week. Boo.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

yarn along


Oh Blogger. What is up with this new interface? I sure hope it ends up being awesome because I currently have no patience for learning it.

Anyway, just a quick one today because I want to use naptime for knitting time. I'm yarning along with Ginny at Small Things, working on my Swallowtail shawl.

As for reading, I'm in between books. Just finished the Hunger Games trilogy yesterday so I'm still digesting that. (Anyone else find the last book to be a poorly written total bummer? The first two were so good!)

Now I'm thinking of maybe reading the Game of Thrones series...supposedly it is wonderful, but complex. Can my feeble brain handle it? I'm going to start the first one and we'll find out. (See the edge of the computer in the photo? I'm using a PC reader and reading electronically so I can knit simple things at the same time...not lace shawls, but stockinette socks work out nicely!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

one project at a time

Do you ever have so many things you want to make and do staring you in the face that you become almost paralyzed into doing none of them? I'm in that boat right, so many awesome projects I've stumbled across around the web, so many little piles of supplies building up around the house, just waiting for me to find the time...there's the sewing pile, with pinned pattern pieces sticking out all willy-nilly, the knitting basket(s) with balls, skeins, patterns, and half-done projects languishing, and the cookbooks from the library stuffed with post-it notes to mark the recipes I want to try. Then of course the floors have dust bunnies, the laundry never stops, the ironing is building up and Hubs needs clothes for work, AJ is sick and needs constant nose-blowing assistance, our beloved speech therapist went and had her baby 3 weeks early so I'm scrambling to replace her, and my family somehow wants 3 meals a day (selfish!). I look at all that, and then I give up and flop in my comfy chair to browse the internet until bedtime. Pitiful!

It's just the usual stuff, the mommy stuff, the stuff we all deal with. It's challenging, it really is, and I wish we'd all acknowledge that more often. Today I was feeling pretty ace because I got the bedrooms straightened up, beds made/changed, clothes put away, rugs vacuumed...only to discover that while I was running the vacuum my son dragged furniture into a configuration that allowed him to scale the kitchen countertops and retrieve my glass pyrex measuring cups from the second highest shelf in the cupboard. Because he heard me mention making homemade granola bars today and he "just wanted to help." *sigh*

We did manage to make the granola bars. Only a little bit of the dry mixture ended up flung all over the kitchen...due to the aforementioned helper.

These are pretty good. I started with the recipe as written, subbing chocolate chips for raisins. I baked mine for only 25 minutes and could have even shortened that a bit (the recipe says 30-35). I used a dark pan and mine were not entirely even, particularly at the edges (again, I had "help") so the outside bars are a bit dark and crunchy. They do have a remarkably granola bar-like texture and they taste good.

Next time I will reduce the cinnamon (or skip it), and make some "grownup" bars with dried fruits and nuts. And probably some chocolate too, 'cause who am I kidding? Tiny chocolate chips are awesome. If I can perfect this I will switch to making my own all the time because even with the sugar and honey I bet they are better for us than the processed Quaker bars I buy by the truckload. Heck, they have wheat germ in them. Boom, healthy!

Ok, moving on, my sister asked me to take a bridesmaid dress she wore several years ago and re-make it into something for the bride's daughter. Should I admit that the daughter in question is 2 years old and my sis has been asking me to do this since the little girl was born? And that my sister has been asking me approximately every 6 months when I'm going to be able to get around to making the dress? Nah, I'm going to skip that part.

Anyway, I finally did it. The color of the dress defies description, so I was nervous about finding thread and a zipper to match. In some light it is yellowy, sometimes peach, sometimes pink. The underside of the dress fabric is actually hot pink. The lining is a pretty straight-up peach. My sister is very tall and it was a floor length dress so there was a lot of fabric to work with. The corset top was useless...I tried to pick the zipper out to re-use it but it was hopeless. So the entire toddler dress is made from the skirt of the bridesmaid dress. I chopped off the top 14" or so of both the dress fabric and lining, and made the bodice (and bodice lining) from those. I must mention that this fabric is a complete nightmare...the instant the scissors touch it the fibers disintegrate, basically. It was very difficult to work with!

I was able to then use the rest of the skirt from the original dress to make the smaller skirt you see here. The pattern pieces wouldn't fit on the remaining skirt, so I simply left it sewn together (front to back panels), gathered it, crossed my fingers, and sewed it to the bodice. The lining remained sewn in, too, so that was easy enough! Bonus: those seams were already serged.

More difficult was placing and sewing the zipper...I went with a regular zipper rather than invisible because I don't have an invisible zipper foot...oh, and I've never sewn an invisible zipper! I didn't think this was the project for trying new things, so I went with what I know. I used peach, and carefully pinned it so the dress fabric overlaps it perfectly in the back. The sewing gods were smiling on me, because it came out just right.

Then it was just a matter of hand stitching the lining down over the waist seam and hemming it (the skirt was the original length from the dress...I had to slice off about 15"). I did a pretty good trick, I think, to hem it. I measured down from the waist and marked the cutting line, then sewed a line of straight stitching on that line first. When I cut it a scant 16th of an inch away from the stitches, that stitching line prevented the fabric from unraveling while I folded and hemmed. I did the same with the lining.

Finally, the dress needed something to jazz it up. It was too plain. I took it to Michael's and was lucky to find this ombre ribbon that matches almost too perfectly. It was wired so I had to carefully pull the wire out of each side, but then I was able to turn the ends and stitch them, tack it in 3 places (center front and side seams), and tie a bow in the back.

Done! I hope my sis likes it and I hope her friend does too.

Oh, it is a size 3, using the bodice from New Look 6309.

Back to the to-do list.....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

a fail and a win

I think all knitters have had a project or two where they get halfway through and start to wonder if it's going to work out. Then one has to decide if it's worth it to press on and finish, or rip the project and repurpose the supplies.

I chose to press on. I had one ball of Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud laceweight in the 'stream' colorway (discontinued), leftover from the feather and fan shawl I knit while pregnant with AJ (2008). I came across this pattern on Ravelry, and thought, why not?

Well, I'll tell you why not. This project is a total fail. The pattern is fine; well-written and easy to execute. (And as an aside, check out the designer's work, it will blow your mind.) The problem: very poor match of yarn to pattern on my part. Alpaca Cloud has absolutely ZERO body, and does not hold up well to the beads. When I tried to put it on my neck and style it nicely, it just flopped. In the pattern picture you can see the cowl actually stands up a bit and has body to it, but mine is nothing like that. And I even went down a needle size because I didn't have an 8 handy - I used a US 7.

This makes me sad because it was no small feat putting over 700 beads into my knitting. It took a long time! The color is pretty, and the silvery beads sparkle so nicely, but sadly, I just don't see myself wearing it.

Oh well, live and learn. At least that ball of laceweight is used up!

Happily, the bread dough I mixed up last night resulted in a win:

It's still hot and I can't wait for it to be cool enough to cut. It's the easiest recipe in the world to follow and it comes out great every time (I use 2 cups AP flour and 1 cup WW flour). I used my Ma Ingalls cast iron dutch oven and it worked perfectly.

Back to my etsy order and a cup of tea.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


So much to do...gotta update the header for spring (and then summer will be here before we know it and I'll be out of date again). Gotta update the blog and ravelry with a couple finished projects. Gotta finish up some Etsy orders (no orders since early February but when it rains, it pours). I totally missed the yarn-along today because it's spring break and I had to take the kids somewhere that had elevators because that's what they wanted to do and would not shut up about it. So we went to the supermarket that has an upstairs cafe, rode up, ate a snack, rode down, and they were happy.

It's 8:50 p.m. and the kids are finally quiet, the kitchen is finally cleaned up, there's no-knead dutch oven bread mixed to rise overnight, and I just made the most amazing muesli. Want some? It takes two seconds to mix up and when you eat it with yogurt...awesomesauce.


2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
scant 1/4 cup brown sugar (or to taste)
1/4 cup currants or raisins
A tablespoon or two of:
     flax seed
     raw sesame seeds
     dates (chopped)
     dried cherries (chopped)
     walnuts (chopped)
     slivered almonds

Mix it all up in a big bowl. Store in an air-tight container. The online recipes I looked at for inspiration said this will keep for 2 months but there's no way it's going to last that long. I took a big scoop to try it on my yogurt just now and the remainder fit in a quart mason jar. And of course you can add/subtract what you happen to like or have on hand. I was able to get most of this stuff in the bulk department at the grocery store so I didn't have to buy huge quantities. Delish.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

beads! and stuff

Oh, dudes, knitting with beads is cool. Really cool.

This week has sort of swallowed me whole. Daughter had a play at school, which threw the weekly rhythm off a bit, and Spring Break starts tomorrow {blech!} so I have to quickly think of over a week's worth of activities to keep the kids from killing each other. I need to sorta-clean the house for Easter Sunday as I think my in-laws are coming over for coffee cake (though they are notorious for cancelling or, even worse, ruining holidays). There are sewing projects in various stages of completion laying all over the dining room, including a satin bridesmaid dress turned toddler frock that needs hemming and embellishment. The weather has turned chilly and gray again so I have approximately zero motivation to do anything.


I'm going to go knit with beads some more.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Sorry, sock. Nom nom nom.

Hat pattern here (it's free!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

less about knitting, more about food

This is technically my yarn along post, but I don't have any actual knitting to show and I haven't started these books yet. So I'm cheating, sort of.

Here we have The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, and Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen.
Also, I finished A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove, and I recommend it. At first I was bored...frankly I didn't care about hunting and preparing the wooly mammoth and the early history stuff didn't pique my interest either, but once she got to the 1800s things got more interesting. Even more, the chapters dealing with the 20th century were a great read, because I always wonder what happened to our society with regard to preparing healthy foods. The author doesn't answer that question for me, but she discusses the circumstances of women throughout the World Wars, the crazy baby boom time, and beyond, and also brings up the point that we watch the Food Network like addicted freaks but most women don't / can't / won't cook what they see on TV. We can't get enough of Ina Garten roasting a chicken or braising a brisket, but then we pick up some KFC or, if we feel classier, a prepared meal at Whole Foods (or Wegman's, if you live where I do).

I'm no gourmet chef by any stretch of the imagination, but every night my family knows there will be a homemade meal with a protein, a vegetable, and a starch on the table. The kids will have their glass of milk, there will likely be cut-up fruit for those who won't eat the veg, and we will sit together to eat the meal. The whole family is expected to find something they like on the table, and unless it is something I know the kids hate (like chili or red beans & rice) I do not make something different from the main dish.

Sure, we occasionally (about once a month) order pizza, or have sandwich night or leftovers-from-the-fridge night. And like I said, the meals are super simple and not gourmet. But I know my way around my kitchen and can make many decent meals from memory.

I was talking to an educated woman today, a woman I respect and admire for her professional knowledge and ability, and she claimed she "could never make a chicken." And I was like, really? You couldn't roast a chicken? The directions are right on the plastic wrapper! I think what she meant was that she has no interest in roasting a chicken. That's a different story, I suppose.

Sometimes I have no interest in cooking. Truthfully, most nights I have no interest in cooking because after a long day of housework and mothering, who wants to haul out pots and pans and then have to clean all that up? But something inside me says I should do it, so I do. My family seems to appreciate it. And moreover, I don't know what I would feed my peeps if I didn't cook each night.

Do you cook? Every day? Just for holidays? If not, is it because you hate it? Or you don't know how? I'm super curious about this, especially because I find in the crafty-mom-blog world there are a lot of women canning, baking bread, and hard-core gardening along with their sewing and knitting. So I am perhaps confused in thinking my generation (30-somethings) DO cook. Do we? Or is my perception skewed because of the online company I keep?

Oh, and those are beads up there in that picture. BEADS! It is possible that I have lost my mind, but in an effort to use up some languishing laceweight yarn, I'm going to attempt a beaded cowl. First time ever using beads with knitting...scary!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

yarn along

There hasn't been a whole lot of knitting over the last few days. With temperatures in the high 70s and abundant sunshine, we've been taking major advantage and spending most of our time outdoors. Such odd weather for March, but I can't complain. The only problem is my skin - I am extremely fair and there is no shade yet, so it's tough to find a place to sit outside and enjoy the warmth without cooking myself in direct sunlight. Oh well, that's not such a terrible problem to have.

I did do some knitting over the weekend. And I started a new book, so I have a yarn along post.

I'm reading A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove, by Laura Schenone. I had no idea this book existed until it caught my eye on the library shelf while I searched for another title. I grabbed it on a whim and so far it is an interesting history of the role of women in food production and preparation.

The knitting is Daughter's red cotton cardigan. The body is almost finished. I got some adorable buttons for it and I'm looking forward to getting it finished up so she can wear it to school in the mornings when it is still cool.

Friday, March 16, 2012

rainbow brite

Just in time for (unseasonable) 70 degree weather:

My rainbow socks are done!

How fun are these? I just love them. And they match exactly, which is the icing on the cake. I was really careful and it paid off.

The yarn is Knitpicks Felici in the "rainbow" colorway. Size 2 needles, 60 stitches, top-down construction. I used some Joann Bamboo & Ewe cream for the heels to keep the continuity of the striping from leg to foot. Oh, and they are for ME. Me, me, me!

Daughter loves the yarn too...not enough left for socks, but maybe, paired with another yarn (a deep charcoal?) enough for some mittens, gloves, or a beanie for her. We'll see.

So, it's seriously supposed to be 70 tomorrow, and sunny. Hubs says we're cleaning out the garage (blech). I say we're knitting in a lounge chair! Hooray for sun! :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

yarn along

Yarning along with Ginny at Small Things again today. If you're into knitting and reading, do check out the many, many links on the weekly Yarn Along posts. You'll find good stuff.

First of all, I finished Growing a Farmer, by Kurt Timmermeister. It was pretty good. I liked The Dirty Life better, but then again there was a love story behind that one and the author is actually a writer so the story flows a bit better. Growing a Farmer is more technical and less lyrical but still a quality read. And the bibliography he references at the back of the book is phenomenal...I now have a much longer list of books I want to read!

This week:

I'm not even going to apologize for the glare in the photo because THE SUN IS SHINING! Spring is springing early this year and it feels so awesome. Even with the mild winter we've had, I've been longing for some sun and warmth.

The baby sweater is 99% complete. I have to weave in the ends and sew on some buttons but the knitting is complete. It's a free pattern. I've made several Carole Barenys patterns and they are all very easy to follow and quite adaptable. My yarn here is Lion Baby Soft in white, needles used were US 5. The baby is a girl, so I'll go look for some little flower buttons or something like that.

And the book! Oh, this book. I've been seeing it around the blogs, wondering what it's about, reading the rapturous reviews. Finally, my library had a copy of An Everlasting Meal available. Oh my word, friends, if you are at all interested in cooking - real, earthy, fresh ingredient cooking - go get this book. I'll be ordering my own copy and copies for my family members as well. It's brilliant, it really is. I want to meet Tamar Adler and just listen to her talk about food. That's how the book's like listening to someone who really loves and knows food, just talking about how best to treat it. I sort of think of her as a female Jamie Oliver...but way calmer. Same idea, though, of taking the best ingredients available and just putting them together beautifully and simply.

I'm not even finished reading it yet - about 2/3 through or so. I have to keep putting it down because it's so rich, I get exhausted.

I think I'll drag a patio chair out and read a bit more in the glorious, glorious sunshine. Hope it's sunny where you are too.

Friday, March 09, 2012

a tiny bit of knitting progress and some good reads

I've been working on nothing but this little sweater this week and it is taking forever. What is it about sport weight yarn and size 5 needles that slows me to a crawl? The body is almost complete, I'm just working out where to place the decorative slip-stitch rows that match the yoke, then I'll do the bottom ribbing and be on to the sleeves. I should have those finished up by, oh, Halloween at this rate. 

Progress is slow, is what I'm saying.

A couple more good books that I've sped through lately, in case anyone is looking for something to read:

Little Heathens, which was mentioned in the comments and I've seen it around the blog world lately too. It was an excellent read. It combines farming and frugality and the Depression, so it's a bit sad at times but mostly inspiring and awesome.

The Dirty Life - I couldn't put it down and read it in 24 hours. The best part about this book, for me, is that it's sort of still taking place right now. It was published very recently and is about events occuring within the past 10 years. The author graduated from college the same year I graduated from high school, so we are close in age. The farm where she lives and works with her husband and two daughters is at the opposite side of my state so it feels very close and real, and you can visit it! In fact there is a farm tour offered next week. If only.....but I don't think my husband would be up for a 6.5 hour drive to tour a farm, no matter how "famous" it might be. 

I'm currently reading Growing a Farmer (I wasn't joking that I can't get enough of this'd think I was doing research for a dissertation or something). It's also very good and quite contemporary, taking place in the 90s and 2000s, though again, the story is ongoing. 

I've got a whole stack of books from the library right now dealing with growing and preparing really good food. I always get excited about that concept at this time of year...even though I have only a measly 8X10 garden and children who think hotdogs and chicken nuggets are the apex of fine dining. 

But hey, we took a chance last year and planted several bell pepper plants, and despite my benign neglect we filled the freezer with a couple dozen beautiful, delicate, flavorful green bell peppers. I haven't once had to buy the dark green waxy supermarket behemoth peppers grown in Mexico. That's an awesome feeling...even my husband comments on how fresh and bright ours taste. So I'll soldier on with my tiny garden, and leave the farming to others, but I'll certainly enjoy reading about their experience.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

yarn along

One of my unofficial "resolutions" this year is to read more books. I used to be a voracious reader, but since having children that has gone out the window. I've noticed a serious problem with my attention span since dropping books in favor of aimless web browsing and that is not good.

I'm not very good at joining things and keeping up, but I'm going to try to participate in Ginny's yarn along.

For the past few years I've been obsessed with memoirs and stories about farming and/or the Depression...for whatever reason I just can't get enough of learning about how women did things before all the modern conveniences of today. For some reason that's what I thought This Life is in Your Hands was about, but it isn't. Rather, it is a memoir of growing up during the "back to the land" movement of the late 60s and early 70s. Melissa Coleman and her family lived right down the road from Helen and Scott Nearing and this book is a fascinating look behind the scenes of that whole experiment. It helps if you've read The Good Life, which I have. Coleman's book both adds to and punches holes in that story, and it is just a great read. Some reviewers panned it because it is written from the perspective of a very young child (birth to age 9 or so), and much of it is either imagined or pieced together from research, but who cares? It's an enjoyable read. I could do a whole book report on it but I won't. I'll just say I really, really liked it. (I am cheating a bit because I already finished it, but I haven't made it to the library to pick up my holds yet this week.)

As for knitting I am plugging away at the baby sweater for our speech therapist's baby, which I mentioned yesterday. I've placed the markers for the sleeves, and am nearly done with the increases so I can get to the main body stitches.

I don't know how much will get done today as it is sunny and the temps are indeed rising...56 already and it is only 10 AM! Yay!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

checking in

Well hello! What's new? I've been gone a bit...we went on a real vacation! With airplanes! And beaches! And, most exciting for my 3 year-old, elevators!

It was ok. Normally a family vacation to a sunny place wouldn't be in our budget, but after my sister cancelled her destination wedding in December, my parents were left with a bunch of non-refundable plane tickets. We got very lucky with an offer of a place to stay in the Florida Keys, so last week we packed up and jetted off. 

We enjoyed the warmth very much, and the Keys are...interesting. I wouldn't say exciting, but it was nice to visit. The kids enjoyed swimming several times a day, and riding the aforementioned elevator up and down in the condo complex where we stayed. It's challenging to travel with your parents, spouse, and young children. Kind of awkward playing the respectful daughter, the compromising wife, and the authoritative parent all at once, all the time. Still, it was a nice change of scenery and getting out of gray dreary cold NY in February is pretty priceless.

Now we're back to reality with all its funsies...therapy, school, work, chores, Daughter's stomach virus over the weekend (blech), worrying about AJ's preschool options for next year, pondering our next home improvement, waiting for signs of Spring. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 50s! Oh please, let it be so. We could use some outside time. 

My vacay knitting was the pair of rainbow socks I can't seem to finish. It's March already and I feel like I've barely knit anything in 2012. I know it's not a contest but sheesh! I do like to complete projects and this year has been a slog so far. I'm in the homestretch more complete rainbow repeat and the second sock will be done.

Started a Spring cardigan for Daughter in this Cherry Cotton Ease. This photo is extremely washed's a rich cherry red. Cotton is a bummer for my hands so I work on it in fits and starts. I'm just about to put the sleeves on holders and work the body stitches. I picture this worn with a (handmade) sweet navy blue sundress with white polka dots just like the one I made when she was a toddler. Wouldn't that be adorable? Unfortunately Daughter is becoming picky on the eve of turning 7 (!) and I'll have to bounce that idea off of her before I buy any fabric.

Weighing heavily on my mind these days is the upcoming maternity leave of our awesome speech therapist, Miss Sarah. Boooooo. We are thrilled that she is welcoming a new baby girl, but I feel a deep sense of loss as she will be leaving us at least until late summer or early fall - that is, if we can even get her back. I've started a little white cardigan for the baby, and with each row I say a prayer for her health and wellbeing, and a selfish prayer that she makes it to term so she stays with us as long as possible. Any gain our son has made in his speech since September has been because of Miss Sarah and her methods. Yes, I work with AJ all the time on his speech, but she has given us the tools and the encouragement we need to move forward. Also, she is at our house 5 days a week. Her absence will be felt. :(

Nothing else exciting to report. Just starting to formulate some plans for some possible summer sewing, and anxiously awaiting Spring. What's new with you?

Monday, February 13, 2012

lace knitting as therapy

Well, the shawl bug has definitely bitten again. I made one last week and I've started another.

First, Evelyn Clark's shetland triangle. Super easy-peasy pattern to work, though I managed to screw it up because I was watching television - that's where hubris gets ya. "Oh, it's so simple I can watch TV while I knit it!" Hahaha...tink.

This is without flash and it's the best I could do. I think my camera needs batteries. 

Here I used the flash so the pattern shows up better. However, you can see many, many, many versions of this shawl on Ravelry. Nearly 4000 of them! 

Mine was knit from about 1 and 2/3 skeins of Knitpicks gloss yarn (fingering weight). Last spring I made the flower basket shawl using this same yarn in a different colorway. This color might be called cocoa, but then again, it might not. It's been marinating in stash since Christmas 2007 after all, so this colorway may not even exist anymore. Like the yarn from the other shawl, this was part of a sock sampler kit, and again I thought there was a better use of wool/silk blend yarn than getting all pilly on my feet as a pair of socks. The silk content makes this yarn so interesting to knit with because it's almost crunchy. But it's still quite soft. Then, once washed and blocked, that crunchiness goes away and it's just drapey and lovely. 

I used a US 6 needle to knit this shawl, which is my favorite for fingering weight. Right now I'm enjoying making lace from fingering weight yarns, as I like the look of more "filled-in" stitches, rather than the really open look you get with lace weight.

The minute I had the brown one pinned out to block, I went searching on Ravelry for the next pattern. Sure, I could use one of the twelve-bazillion books I own, but no. I knew I had some fingering weight wool hanging around from nearly 10 years ago that I really wanted to use, so I searched for shawl patterns by weight and yardage required. 

Again, Evelyn Clark came through for me. The two balls of Nordic Blue Nature Spun fingering weight that I bought for $2 apiece in 2003 are just right for the swallowtail lace shawl. (Look at all the pretty F.O.s - nearly 10,000 of them!)

It's so addictive to knit these triangles. I finish and block them, admire them, and then fold them away in my cedar chest because I have no use for a lace shawl at this stage of my life. But they are just such an enjoyable knit for me. 

But wait, what's that you say? The last time I went on a lace-knitting bender it's because I was super duper stressed out and the obnoxiously detailed patterns kept my mind occupied so I didn't panic over life stuff? Ah yes, it was true then and it is true now. My son's speech therapist informed me that she was given the date for his annual CPSE meeting (committee on preschool special education) and it is in May. Our dear, darling therapist who I love is having a baby right then and will likely be unable to attend. Not cool! Also, we have to make some decisions about what to do regarding preschool and then kindergarten for AJ. 

My sweet boy will be turning 4 in September and is therefore eligible for Universal Pre-K, which would be 5 days/week at no cost to us (it is through the school district). He could continue to receive therapy services through UPK and/or, I think, in our home. (I want some sessions done when and where I can observe them.) The problem is his speech deficit is still such that we don't dare send him out on his own yet. 

Also, while of average height, he is a lightweight and looks younger than some of his peers. If he went to pre-K this fall he would be with kids who are turning 4 right now...some of them would be up to 8 months older than AJ. So we're discussing keeping him out of UPK this fall and sending him to a program on our own a couple mornings a week, then maybe three mornings a week for the second half of the year if it goes well. He would then go to a full pre-K program at age 5 the following year, and start kindergarten at 6. 

Everyone I've asked says this is The Best Idea Ever, even for boys who have no delays or problems but who just have late birthdays. It's what we're leaning toward right now...I think it would be best for him to have some extra time. After all, he spent the first 18 months of his life just learning how to eat. How can we expect him to be ready for everything all at once just because the calendar says he should be?

When we have the CPSE meeting I know they will ask what I am doing for his socialization needs, which up until now has been basically nothing. We have therapy at home 5 mornings a week. It doesn't leave much time for anything else. But our library does have story hour that we can get to, so I bit the bullet and signed up. We went today and he hated it, but we got through it and he will learn to sit still and listen, and to participate with the other kids. He will. It doesn't help that my social anxiety ratchets up to about a hundred in these situations...anyone remember my problem with Daughter's playgroup years ago?

So yeah, I'll just be here obsessively knitting lace shawls to keep my brain from eating itself and to squelch the panic and anxiety that keep creeping up. At least in the end I've made something pretty.