Friday, December 29, 2006
Surely this can't be my front yarn (okay, I typed yarn instead of yard which is kind of perfect in a way) in Madison at the end of December. Sadly enough it's true. We love the winter, that's why we continue to live in this climate. When there is no snow it makes everything seem a little gray and sad. My children love bundling up for an afternoon of sledding at a huge hill just down the block. It hardly seems necessary for a cup of marshmallow-y hot chocolate when the temps are in the mid-40's every day. I feel it in my bones that soon we may get completely socked in by a blizzard. I hope for a snow day from school as much as the kids do. It feels like such a freebie, like a little cheat. Oh well, maybe soon.
Yesterday I took my run and listened to The Knitting Cook. This is a wonderful podcast from a young American mother, named Faith, living in Germany with her husband and two boys with another baby on the way. She knits and spins and can she cook! First she talks about her knitting and spinning adventures which are always fun to hear about. Next she tells a funny story about her adventures living in Germany. Her family is a recent transfer due to her husband's job. To finish things off she shares one of her favorite recipes while she actually makes the recipe in her kitchen as she talks. It is great to hear the spoons banging or things sizzling or how she fixes things if she makes a mistake as she goes. Faith has a great voice and right now she has holiday baking recipes on her site, www.theknittingcook.com, that I am definitely going to have to try. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies and these recipes are very appealing. This podcast should be on your subscription list for sure.
Now about those socks, Faith from The Knitting Cook is making a pair of Leigh Radford's Cable Footies from One Skein for her mother. As I was running I began thinking about the Cable Footies I made last year. I hadn't worn them for awhile so I rummaged around in my drawer and sure enough when I put them on this morning, my love for them returned quickly. What I remember most about these socks is that they are fast. I finished the pair in one or two days. But best of all, I learned a new technique while making these socks. I learned how to do cables without using a cable needle.
I learned this cable needle-free technique from Annie Modesitt's blog at www.anniemodesitt.com, where she had a step-by-step tutorial. When I just looked on her site for this tutorial I didn't see it but it is probably buried in there somewhere so just do a search for cable without a cable needle, and you will find her tutorial, which is excellent as always. This is a great technique and once you have it down your needles will fly even faster! Learn this technique, really.
My Cable Footies are made from the recommended yarn, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in black. This is fantastic yarn and there was quite a bit left over at the end of the project. One Skein is a beautiful book, beyond wonderful and one of my favorites. Leigh Radford was also interviewed by Jennifer at the Craftsanity podcast. This makes for an interesting and informative listen from one of the leading designers in knitting today. It's a very worthwhile hour indeed!
You won't regret getting this book, listening to this podcast, learning a new technique, and maybe even baking some cookies by Faith.
p.s. Shobhana from Yarnplay emailed me and asked to put my version of the Sidetracked scarf photo on her Yarnplay blog. Her blog is www.mylifeinstitches.net and the Yarnplay blog is www.wild_deer.typepad.com/yarnplay. Both great fun to read and explore. Shobhana is really just herself in her blog, she's honest, not trying to impress and that ends up being so cool. She's refreshing and talented so head on over there, too.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Did you see that amazon is selling Greetings From Knit Cafe for $4.99 a copy (normally $24.99)? This is a wonderful hardcover book with beautiful photography and some great projects! Sneak on over and get a copy quick before it's over.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The excitement is at an all-time high over here this morning. We are actually in the midst of doing a major clean up before the onslaught of new toys, clothes and gadgets hits our already crowded house. Everyone is pitching in, so that helps.
Have you checked out the crafting blog www.ihanna.nu/blog yet? Go on over there and see what she's all about. I need more time to explore this blog more thoroughly, but it is a popular one to say the least.
I'll post a better shots of the fun stuff I have made and collected over the years that fill up my studio. I can't seem to get the shots to be crystal clear, they are always a little shaky even when I rest my elbows on something for stability. Any suggestions out there? I am new at photography, but I am loving it and I want to get better. I have so much to share.
The buttons that are hot glued to my light switch in my studio were given to me in an ancient tin from a sweet friend of mine. They were her mother's buttons, some of them are extremely old, and when she passed away at age 90 a few years ago, my friend thought of me when she found the tin. When I showed her my light switch, she just loved it! I still want to do more with these, like use some mismatched buttons on a sweater for her granddaughter or make a felted scarf with the buttons applied somehow. I've got to work on that.
Guess who won the battle with the manuscript? That would be me! It is on its way to NYC right now. I feel really good about it.
Another friend of mine dropped off her annual Christmas amaryllis that we watch grow and blossom every winter. What a treat to get such a great gift. I have kept a stash of knitted ornaments, Christmas Peas and Santa Baby hats and oh, I did some needle felting on styrofoam balls that I hand out when anyone stops by. They have been a big hit.
Well, that's enough for now. Have a beautiful holiday and enjoy your loved ones!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
This lovely little mug sits on a table in my studio and I just keep adding knitted stuff to it. It looked so sweet I thought I'd share it with you on this dreary winter morning.
I was in Stitcher's Crossing buying up some Manos last weekend, when the woman working there, who is on the board of the Madison Knitter's Guild, asked if I would teach a class on knitted embellishments for a March weekend knitting extravaganza. How fun will that be? I haven't taught for awhile and I miss it so this will be a good thing. I said yes right away.
Then the added plus came. Guess who is coming to Madison to speak at this event? The one and only Annie Modesitt! I love her! She is a knitting superstar. I am so excited about this. I am honored to have been included in the line up, and getting to see Annie is just a big bonus. Her blog is fantastic and just hearing about her schedule for travel and knitting deadlines makes me tired. She is something else. Check her out at www.anniemodesitt.com. She also has a great interview with Marie Irshad from awhile back on Knitcast, so take a listen to that if you need entertainment while wrapping those gifts.
I will fill you in on the details about this event as it gets closer. Annie's coming to town and I am so there.
My daughter woke up singing only 5 days to go! My manuscript is flying out Saturday morning to arrive in New York by Tuesday. The mad scramble is on and I am determined to win this battle.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The snowman factory is closed and all of the workers are exhausted. A friend of mine first made a version of these snowmen many years ago. Here is a step-by-step recap of our snowman excitement.
fruit by the foot
mini chocolate chips
white rainbow rounds (melted to cover the marshmallows)
long sucker sticks
The white rainbow rounds and the long sucker sticks I had to purchase at a baking/candy making specialty shop called The Vanilla Bean. Everything else I picked up at the grocery store.
Have the kids push three marsmallows onto the sucker sticks, and make sure they are close together. Melt the white rainbow rounds in a shallow dish in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Roll the marshmallows on the sticks in the melted white chocolate until completely covered, let the excess drip off. Place on wax paper. Before hardening quickly place the mini chocolate chips to make eyes and a mouth and buttons. Truly, the kids can do all of this on their own.
Using the frosting as glue, place a peach ring and kiss on the top for a hat. Gently push 2 pretzel sticks in for the arms. Cut the fruit by the foot in 8-inch lengths and then cut in half lengthwise to make the scarf skinnier. Wrap the scarf around the neck and squeeze together to hold in place.
I know the snowman is blurry, but so am I!
Snowman mission accomplished.
My daughter is keeping a countdown to Christmas on a large chalkboard I have in my kitchen. Every morning she changes the number and announces to me how many days are left. I love her enthusiasm but it is making me panic a bit. I am not ready, yikes! I still have that manuscript haunting my every move. I am making good progress with just a few days to go on that. There are too many countdowns going on right now!
In knitting news, I have started some needle felting. It is pretty fun. I made some dots on this felted bag I had made awhile ago. It is an easy way to add some color and interest to your fabric. You'll be seeing more of this from me in the future. I see a lot of possibilities.
I heard from Robin Armstrong that the Knitting for Noggins charity hat drive has currently collected 24,000 hats! This is incredible. She also said they have collected donations from 22 states. I can't get over the success of this project. It's pretty darn impressive. I thought the original goal of 10,000 hats sounded like high number.
Well, off I go to make the cutest marshmallow snowmen with my girls for their classes at school tomorrow. I will share these little creations with you later. This is a project even little kids can really do with just a little adult help, it's the perfect recipe. The snowmen are a sweet tradition at our house every year. The kids love it and it's good winter fun!
Friday, December 15, 2006
I know this isn't the best shot, but I don't have time to re-do it this morning. I wanted to show how you can include some knitting in your holiday cards. I knitted tiny stockings, one for each child. Next, I took their school pictures and cut out their heads and put them peeking out of the stockings. I literally cut and pasted this thing together, only I used Scotch tape. My girls threw in some artwork and voila! Instant Christmas cards.
I took the paper, with the actual stockings and pictures taped on, to the copy shop and ran color copies. Crayon drawings copy really well, by the way. The copies make it look like each card is individually colored by hand. The knitted stockings look so real you can see every stitch. Almost every year I use my children's artwork for our holiday card. Children's ideas and thoughts are meant to be celebrated and shared, it is simply the best.
Cheers to our children!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
I happened to check out the new winter Knitty issue yesterday, and I had to knit Center Square by London Nelson. What a great hat! I ran out and picked up some Julia by Kristin Nicholas at a shop close to my house. The yarn is used doubled throughout so it is a quick knit, and I mean quick. I made it up this morning, and the result is terrific. I am tempted to keep it because it is so warm with that double-thick yarn and the fair isle stranding on the inside. I will most likely give it for another gift, I just like to dream for a bit. Find this pattern and many other fantastic knits at www.knitty.com.
The other morning treat I enjoyed are these spectacular Honey Crisp apples. I lucked into these at a local market because I thought the season had run out and there they were. These apples have the perfect amount of sweetness and crunch. I've been eating them dipped in cinnamon-raisin cream cheese for breakfast. Yum!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I have a couple of quickies today.
I finished the set for Piper. The matching scarf is made out of Manos on US size 11 needles. I casted on 26 stitches and worked in a 2x2 rib for 40 inches. I alternated colors in longer blocks and stripes in a random way. I made three poms for each end that are 2 inches and 10 wraps each (I held three strands together while wrapping). It is the perfect child-size scarf. You don't want a long scarf for a child. Another knitted gift can be checked off my list. Hooray! This set was made from 3 skeins of Manos with a little to spare.
The next bit of news is that the Craftsanity podcast with my interview was posted last night. I think Jennifer did a terrific job putting it together. The free Santa Baby ornament pattern is now posted as well so I hope people whip up some teeny-tiny (vs. itty-bitty) hats before the holidays. You can find all of that at www.craftsanity.com so check it out if you get a chance.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Ok, I had to squeeze in one more Christmas hat I just finished. Manos makes some of the best colorways ever. The purples in this mix are glorious and they compliment each other to the utmost. Once again, I used the Stipey Stocking Hat pattern from Itty-Bitty Hats. A little ribbed matching scarf with poms for the ends is being worked up right now. This is for a dear friend of mine's grand-daughter named Piper. I love that name and she is as cute as can be with her white blond hair and rosy cheeks. I can just see her in these beautiful purples. I am getting down to the wire with my Christmas knitting and I may have to resort to shopping (the dread of it).
I promised awhile ago that I would talk about my coffee table. This is an antique table that was in terrible shape when I got it. It is oak, I think, and I gave it a good sanding to remove the finish a bit before I started working on it. Next, I primed the table covering every nook and cranny. Then I painted it in an ivory color.
When that dried I dragged the table outside and got out my handy electric sander. I started in on sanding all of the corners and edgings of the table until the original wood showed through. This table is unusually long and it has that weird octagon shape, so there are many corners and edges to work on. Next I used a brown stain to go over the ivory and sanded sections of the table to give it that antique look.
Banged up looking furniture is a plus at my house with everyone banging around all of the time. I have a big family in numbers and size! My husband is 6'5" and a couple of the kids are following in this suit. Nothing stays pristine for very long, which is why I like to refinish furniture to look used. Then I don't worry about it. With a big family there is no room in our house to have anything off limits and we are just a comfortable-type group anyway.
The fun part of the process came next. I had been collecting vintage luggage labels that I found in these little tins. I love stuff like this. The labels represent places from all over the world. Some stickers show hotels and some show vacation destinations. These were the perfect treatment for my table top. I was going to spread them out, leaving some of the paint sticking through, but then my son suggested overlapping them to create a denser surface. I thought that was a great idea.
I am a girl born in the 1960's and anything with the names mod and podge in the title is a friend of mine! I think decoupage is one of the top 3 crafts I enjoy. I actually stuck the stickers into place and then I applied several coats of Mod Podge to get a solid finish. I have used Mod Podge on many items in my house like lamp shades, sketch book covers, serving trays, my studio work tables and decorative bottles to name a few. I am thinking about Mod Podging an entire powder room's walls with either comics or maps, I can't decide. I think it would be really cool looking.
Anyway, back to the table, it is a show-stopper. I have it in the front room of my house so it is one of the first things you see when you come in and everyone loves it! Everyone asks about it and studies the labels. It is really fun. This table had been water-stained and taking up room in the basement for years, I had considered getting rid of it many times. This makes it even more gratifying to have it turn into a new piece of furniture in my home. On the table I keep an enormous suede-covered sketch book open and a pot of colored pencils ready for action. When people come over they can leave a sketch for us to enjoy. We've had lots of takers. My daughter and I spend a lot of time sketching in there, too.
Right after I made this table I bought the book Alterknits by Leigh Radford where she decoupaged a dress form with yarn labels. Now I have collected bags of yarn labels just waiting for another piece of furniture to cover with my beloved Mod Podge. I don't think I will cover my dress form because I like to pin things on it. But cover a piece of furniture? Oh yeah!
Mod Podge + me = friends forever.
p.s. Now I am thinking about those yarn labels covering the powder room walls. Double oh yeah!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Did you know you can now watch Knitty Gritty on HGTV? I caught another episode this morning at 10:00am central time today. I know that they are showing episodes every Monday at this time, so I was surprised to see it today. I'll have to check out when they are scheduling this throughout the week. It is fun to watch when they have fun designers on that I am dying to see. Have you been following the Yarn Harlot's sock knitting for the show? Nightmare!
Just now as I am writing I had to stop to answer a knock on the door. It was the FedEx man with my manuscript for book #2! I have editing to do. This is the first round. The manuscript is sent from me to my editor. After he goes through and makes sure it is all together, the manuscript goes to a technical editor for several weeks. Then I get it to go through the changes and answer queries from both of them. This happens 3 or 4 times total, and the editing continues right up until printing time. It is tedious, intense, and at times, really not much fun, but it is necessary to say the least. The amount of work that goes into putting a book together is staggering, but nothing is more rewarding than seeing the fruits of your knitting labor in a beautiful book. I love every minute of it, even the editing. I finished my Christmas cards this morning, and yes, my card included knitting in the picture. I don't have a scanner but I should share this because it turned out really good. I'll have to work on that. I still have a lot of shopping to do. It always works out in the end, so I am not worried yet. Maybe I should open the package before I make statements like that.
The Craftsanity podcast with my interview is coming out later this week (no later than Saturday) along with the Santa Baby ornament pattern. Jennifer took lots of pictures of me and my things when I met her in Michigan, so I have no idea what she will post from those. Maybe some, maybe none. I will let you know exactly when it is available. She just posted an interview with Betty Christiansen a couple of weeks ago. Betty edited Itty Bitty Hats, so it was especially fun for me to hear her interviewed. She did a great job.
I love knitted toys to no end. The shaping and seaming can be a lot, but the toys I make are always small, so the knitting is incredibly fast. This sweet bunny I knitted for my daughter last Christmas. The pattern is from Toy Knits by Debbie Bliss (j'adore!). This book is a must have for any toy knitter. Debbie's a genius at making these clever little toys beyond cute. Toy Knits is one of my all-time favorite books and was published in 1995. It is good to remember older books because they have continued value for today's knitters. All of my books bring back memories for me, and patterns for toys never go out of style, so these types of books remain current. In my book #2, there are many knitted toys and I got the biggest kick out of knitting them. I am pondering writing an entire book on knitted toys. It is one of the most enjoyable forms of knitting for me. I have a major thing for tiny knitted goodies.
Well, off to open that envelope...wish me luck.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Yesterday was all Christmas-y. Every year we cut down our tree at a tree farm, and I say we generously. My husband and one of my sons do most all of the work. The rest of us help a little, but mainly we help select the tree. I love how my youngest daughter sneaks under the tree to help carry it back to the car. It was bitter cold, so those knitted hats are key.
The Christmas gifts are still flying off my needles. The stripey gloves are for another niece, who is 16 years old. I made them using the same pattern from Louisa Harding I mentioned earlier, only this time I used some Jo Sharp 100% dk wool on a US size 6 needle. I have tons of this wool in a lot of colors from at least 8 years ago. I made a sweater for my daughter and I had way too much yarn. This is the perfect way to use up some stash. I love mis-matched socks, mittens and gloves for some reason, and I like to knit them, too. I think it's about not following any certain pattern for the second item in a pair. It makes the knitting more interesting and the final product more fun. I hope she likes them.
This morning, as I wrapped up my second-grade daughter for school in her knitted sweater, knitted hat and knitted scarf, I told her she looked like knitted goodness today! I could tell she was smiling by her eyes peeking out. The rest of her face was hidden by her scarf and hat. I feel like she is wrapped up in my handmade love when I see her wearing all of that knitwear. It is the best way to start a cold Monday morning.
Friday, December 01, 2006
One more knitted Christmas gift in the can! I love these big chunky mittens because I can literally sit down and have them finished in no time at all. I have a few more pairs of these to go before the season is through. These also make wonderful teacher gifts because they are relatively inexpensive, they are heartfelt, and they are perfect for recess duty in the dead of winter. The felted balls are from www.ornamentea.com (thanks to Betz White for this site-it is fabulous). I also ordered larger felted balls, felted rings, and felted flowers. These all can be used for a quick embellishment for any knitted project-it's a great find.
I am providing the pattern below so you can whip out some mittens of your own for family and friends. I wrote it up quickly, so let me know if you find any errors. I can finish a pair in about 45 minutes from start to finish. I know I am speedy, but I used to teach these to very new beginners and they could finish one mitten in an hour (I am talking about knitters who didn't even know how to purl when they sat down). So with any amount of knitting experience these will be fast for you, too.
You can vary the length of the cuff (some like it shorter or longer) and you can always add length to the thumb or hand if need be, try them on as you go. I had students do this who were knitting these mittens for their husbands with larger hands. Watch the yardage when adding length so you don't run out of yarn, if you make them much longer you may want to pick up an extra ball.
I also know someone at my old shop who knitted this pattern using worsted weight yarn and US size 7 needles and they were the perfect young child-size mitten. I am not sure about the sizing on those, but they would be worth a try if you are so inclined.
What about a mitten ornament using a dk, sport or fingering weight yarn? Just add a crocheted chain stitch loop for hanging. It could happen and it could be cute!
1 ball Rowan Big Wool (I used Tricky #030 for the mittens above)
US size 15 needles (I used 24-inch circular needles, Addi Turbo)
2 balls Tahki Baby
US size 13 needles
Felted balls (optional)
Sewing needle and thread (optional)
Size: Average-size adult, large child or teen
Gauge: 8 ½ sts to 4 inches
Cast on 22 sts. Begin with a knit row, continue in stockinette stitch for the entire mitten.
Shape for thumb:
Next row: k15 and stop. Cast on 5 sts using the backward loop method, and turn.
**Next row: Purl the 5 cast on sts, p5 more (10 sts total for thumb) and turn.
Work 6 more rows on these 10 sts only. End with a purl row.
Next row: (p2tog) repeat across the row (4 sts remain).
Cut the yarn leaving about a 6-inch end, and place on a yarn needle. Thread through the remaining 4 sts. Pull up tight and join thumb seam, using a mattress stitch or whip stitch.
Next row: Decrease 2 sts at base of thumb while purling across the row. (20 sts remain)
Work a further 14 rows straight on these 20 sts, ending with a purl row.
Decrease for the top of the mitten as follows:
Row 1: (k3, k2 tog) repeat across the row (16 sts remain).
Row 2: purl
Row 3: (k2, k2 tog) repeat across the row (12 sts remain).
Row 4: purl
Row 5: (k2tog) repeat across the row (6 sts remain).
Cut the yarn leaving about an 8-inch end, and place on a yarn needle. Thread through the remaining 6 sts. Pull up tight and join side seam using the mattress or whip stitch (see the note above about seaming).
Work the same as for the right mitten to *.
Shape for thumb:
Next row: k10 and stop. Cast on 5 sts using the backward loop method and turn.
Complete the same as for the right mitten from **.
Turn up the cuff and sew on felted balls around the edge with a sewing needle and thread.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I don't know if I can part with this set, I love it so much. It is intended for my niece to go with both her black coat and white coat. She is a Wisconsin Badger, so the red is appropriate. I think she will love them, so I'll have to say good bye.
I am a gusher of the worst sort, so here it goes:
Louisa Harding, I love your wonderful patterns. I have had this love for years and years, and I have knitted your patterns again and again. Your work is always a beautiful treat for my needles. The hat and gloves are from her book, Hats, Gloves, Scarves. This book is super, every page has a clean-lined classic pattern. I highly recommend this for every knitter's library. I have made many, many of the items in here. The hat is the Streamlined Sporty pattern, and the gloves are the Toasty Tweed pattern. It is all knitted on US size 6 needles. The yarn is Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK that I bought on sale from Jimmy Beans Wool. I bought a few other colors, too, so maybe another set is in the works.
My thirteen year old son quickly took this picture before the sun went down. It is freezing cold today, so the winter wear is perfect.
I got a haircut this morning and I had at least 2 inches trimmed off my hair so it is a sleek little bob now. My three youngest kids all told me after school that they like my hair better long. I tried to get my son to say he used to like it better short, but he quickly corrected me that he actually likes it better long. This made me laugh. I told them not to worry it will grow right back! They just agreed.
Que sera, sera...
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This is my new ornament design, it is called Santa Baby. I just sent the pattern off to Jennifer at www.craftsanity.com, which she will post for free along with my upcoming interview for her podcast. It should be out shortly and I will keep you updated.
The ornament is about 3 inches long and it is a snap to work up. It makes the perfect little gift on its own or with a gift card. I am always thinking of teacher gifts, which I have a lot of due to having many children. They all have multiple teachers, too, and then there is the librarian, the principal, the past teachers we love, and so on, and so on...I wish I could knit for them all.
Also, this santa hat would be perfect for a new baby ornament. The year of the birth or a baby's initial could be embroidered onto the hat. What a special little gift that would be.
I'll let you know when the pattern is available.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I've just returned from a 2 day excursion to Chicago. Wow, was that ever crowded! The weather was spectacular, downright warm for this time of year. We visited the Shed Aquarium, the American Girl store, the new Macy's (Marshall Field's) with their beautiful Walnut Room with the enormous tree, the Millenium Park, and the yummy Scoozi's Italian restaurant. They had the best salty topped bread to dip in olive oil, I'm still thinking about it. It was busy, the kids had fun and I am exhausted.
I did, however, manage to squeeze in some excellent knitting along the way, mostly in the car. Madison is about 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, so it isn't too bad of a drive. I worked on a sock, a glove and I worked on the scarf in the photo. It is called My So Called Scarf, and I know it has been all over the internet, but I found out about it from www.peaknit.blogspot.com (I know I have to learn how to make those links, but I just haven't yet!). Peaknit is a great story, and she has an adorable blog. She learned how to knit in the shop I used to work at and took one of my classes. She was very much a beginner at the time, about 3 years ago, but I remember her being extremely quick to catch on, and I remember her sweet, and quiet enthusiasm about knitting. Cut to 3 years later, and she shows up at one of my local book signing events, I believe knitting on some Jaywalker socks. I am very good at remembering faces, names-not so much, and I recognized her right away! I have been blown away by her speedy progress with knitting and her involvement in the knitting community. I have been reading her blog ever since, so check it out. She knits great projects and shares her ups and downs along the way, and she has 2 cute daughters.
My So Called Scarf is from www.sheepinthecity.prettyposies.com and it is made with Manos in the photo. I used size 15 needles, and 2 balls of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky in a discontinued colorway. Actually when I was in Little Rock for the Knitting for Noggins event, I visited several yarn shops and the Handworks Gallery was one of them. Have you seen the ads for this shop in the knitting mags? The owner poses in her designs, she has very dark hair and wears sunglasses. The last one I saw was her in a geometric wrap/poncho type thing that had circles and squares joined in a lacy configuration. Oh well, if not, it is an interesting little shop with a fun, nice staff, and they have a great online business. The owner actually gave me this yarn, for which I was so surprised! It was a nice little treat and I love this yarn. It is a dark pumpkin colored tweed, and I am a tweed nut. I love it.
I casted on 32 stitches and worked through the 2 balls for about 66 inches in length. It is about 7-8 inches wide. This is an easy 2 row stitch pattern which gives a woven appearance. I will definitely use this again with some other yarn. I think I will keep this scarf for myself, as it is a trip momento.
I need to post an update on the Knitting for Noggins and its amazing progress, and I have finished more Christmas knitting to share! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful long weekend.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The stripey stocking cap from Itty-Bitty may be my all-time favorite hat. As you can see I have been busy knitting this pattern for Christmas for my nieces and nephews. Their ages are 3, 7, 9 and almost 13 years-old. I made the same size for all four of these kids. It is the largest size in the pattern, where you cast on 72 stitches to begin. Let me tell you why this works and it may be surprising.
I measured my 3 year-old nephew's head, and it is 21 inches around. I then measured my 13 year-old niece's head, and it is 21 1/2 inches around! They basically have the same size head. This same size hat also fits my head, which is 22 inches around. The fact is that head size stays relatively the same from the time you are 2-3 years-old all the way through adulthood for most people. It may get a half inch to an inch bigger, but that isn't much.
Many of the toddler or largest size hats in Itty-Bitty will fit an older child. Remember the knitted fabric is very stretchy and you want that snug fit. What you need to do is add a bit of length before the decrease rounds to better fit a larger child's head, and to cover their ears. Most older children to adult size hats are knit to 7-8 inches in length from the cast on row before the decrease is started.
I made these hats with Manos on a size 9 needle. The points won't stand straight up while they are wearing the hats because they will soften up quite a bit, but I couldn't resist the hats standing at attention like that. It is so colorful, they almost look like little trees. I lined all of the hats with fleece. I hand-stitched the linings in with matching thread. This removes any chance of itching and keeps those ears warm in our cold Wisconsin climate.
This hat makes a great gift for any age child or teenager or even adult! Three of my kids wear this same hat all winter long and have had their hats for several years.
I've got some gloves going this morning, a few scarves in queue, and a few more ornaments to go....and it makes me so happy.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Have you been to www.betzwhite.com? Well, you should go there and look at her beautiful felted work, and you should visit her blog! It is filled with her work and some wonderful tutorials. She is a big talent, and she recently signed a book deal with Northern Lights publishing. She lives very close to me, so that is fun. Congratulations to Betz!
Anyway, my knitted Christmas Peas ornaments are inspired by her pea ornament which she made with felted balls and a recycled felted sweater. Really, you have to check Betz's out. I have had a thing for pea pods forever. I have pea pods in my online store on hats and I have a fun take on a pea pod in my new book, which you will have to wait to see. I loved the ornament idea. Pretty much every year I do some sort of knitted ornaments to give away as gifts for the holidays. So the Christmas Peas are it this year! So far I have made five pods and I will do some more. I used a thin piece of silk ribbon for the loop. The pods are about 2 inches long to give you some sense of scale.
I am extra excited that I have figured out how to do a close-up with my camera to give better detail on my photos. I am learning new things every time about photography. I am starting with no knowledge at all, so be patient with me.
It is so beautiful today in Madison. It is sunny and warm-ish for us, maybe 50 degrees. I am heading outside to enjoy this brief reprieve from the cold. Happy Sunday!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I spy with my little eye....
1. 2 itty bitty stripey stocking caps
2. 2 yarnplay sidetracked hats
3. 1 ceramic hen
4. 1 Workman address change postcard
5. 1 manos sunflower
6. 1 stripey baby sock
7. 1 itty bitty felted flower
8. 1 purl postcard
9. 1 purl patchwork postcard
10. 2 Rowan cotton braid flowers
11. 2 balls of 127 print
12. 1 messy studio!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Now, guess where that camera was? On my dresser, of course. Here I go blaming the kids, and the missing camera was all my fault. Sorry kids.
A couple of posts ago I talked about a sweater that Julia Roberts helped design a long time ago, well this is it. The sweater was on the cover of a women's magazine, a non-knitting magazine and I liked it. This was about 8 years ago or so, and I have no idea what kind of yarn this is. It is wool, and it is very soft. I stored it in a cedar chest and when my daughter put it on, she scrunched up her face and said, "It smells like grandpa's house." That made me laugh.
Anyway, it is looking pretty cute on my 10-year-old daughter. I am starting to feel like a lot of my things are looking better on my daughter than on me, and that's how it should be. I guess that's what happens as time goes on. She is a tall, tall girl and that is something I will never experience.
We just had parent-teacher conferences for the kids, and all is going well. It is a good feeling to know everyone is working hard and most importantly, everyone is happy.
I finished another Christmas hat this morning and I have 2 more to go. Believe it or not, I still get a major thrill when I finish a new hat for a child!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I have been looking for my camera all day today, and guess what? I can't find it. That's what happens when you have four kids, things mysteriously disappear and no one knows anything about it. I have some fun hats that I am knitting for Christmas gifts that I want to share as soon as I find that camera!
Ok, about those book corrections or errata if you prefer, I can't tell you how much it pains me to have any corrections to my book at all. It hurts, it really hurts. I apologize. I have written them down to the best of my knowledge, and they are posted on my online store address at www.shopabcsoup.com. I will get a permanent link up here soon, but not tonight. Anyway, there aren't many errors and they will be fixed in the next printing of Itty-Bitty. Check it out if you are knitting from the book to make sure you have the updates.
On to happier news, my next book is on the way to the technical editor! The photographs are in and they are beautiful. I am so excited about this new book!!! I can't wait. I'll get it back in a couple of weeks, and then I will be back to work. In the mean time, it is Christmas prep overload for me. My manuscript is due back in New York on December 20th, just in time for Christmas. That means I have to be organized this year. I usually work on getting ready for Christmas right up until the last minute. Oh well, it may be fun to try to get ready early for once. We'll see if I can actually pull it off.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Well, I have been busy knitting, as always. I am selling my wares, or hats in this case, at an upcoming show. The art gallery show is called, Colored Threads, and it is a wearable art show. I have done this show a couple of times before, and it is a lot of fun.
The Colored Threads showing is from November 22nd through January 8th, at:
Katie Gingrass Gallery
241 North Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
I am selling 25 of my original hat designs, knitted by me! Also, I have autographed copies of Itty-Bitty Hats to offer. I don't know the other artists who are in the show, but in the past there were handbags, jewelry (loads of), woven shawls, handmade clothing, etc. It has been great before, so hopefully it will be this year, too!
If you are wondering about my crazy coffee table, I will post about that soon!
I have discovered 2 new podcasts that may be worth a listen, Sleepy Eyes Knits and Sticks and String. The latter is a man in Australia who is rather interesting. Sleepy Eyes Knits is a 33 year-old mother who has a cute voice, and a fun take on knitting! Try these out and see if you like them. I am definitely tuning in again. You can find out about these on itunes.
Also, did you see Julia Roberts is set to star in and produce The Friday Night Knitting Club? This is a novel about a knitting group that is set to be released in January 2007. I love it that Julia knits, and in fact I knitted a sweater she helped design many years ago that was on the cover of a non-knitting magazine, like Redbook or something. It turned out really cute! I should find that and take a picture.
Anyway, the more knitting that is out there, the better! Julia even worked her knitting into a scene of the Broadway play she was in recently. Gotta love that.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham is one of my favorite books. It is so innovative and inspiring. I read it like a novel from cover to cover, and I revisit it often. I have knitted many of the projects from this book, and I have many lined up waiting to be knit. Here is one of them completed. This is my youngest daughter wearing the "child's geek spiral pullover."
I had to do a lot of remedying on the sizing because it was running very small and the neck opening was so tiny. Cotton chenille has no give whatsoever, so keep this in mind when using this yarn. I also added a picot edging on the hood with a crochet hook and the dark pink chenille. I made the largest size that is a 4-6 years. I made this 2 summers ago, so my daughter would have been 5 years old. It was not even close to fitting her, thus the extensions on the bottom and side edges, and she is average size. I still love the sweater and even with the funny add-ons, it looks great on her.
I used the Crystal Palace cotton chenille and a US size 6 needle. It was so much fun to knit the patterned front. You should try this pattern and you will quickly see how simple and fun it is. You start in the middle and work your way out and around picking up stitches and making triangles. The swirling front would make a fantastic pillow or baby blanket as well.
Anyway, this has turned out to be one of her favorite sweaters and she wears it often, like several times a week, even to soccer games in the rain and mud and for messy pumpkin carving. I love seeing her in it. I have washed the sweater repeatedly in the machine, and I lay it flat to dry. It holds up well.
Teva is a genius in Loop-d-Loop. I hope she has a second book very soon, I will buy it sight unseen! My rating here is a double thumbs-up!
Monday, November 06, 2006
This is my youngest daughter, my budding artist. She dreams of crafts and colors all day long. I eat it up! The top of her name poem says "m is for makes crafts." She is dear to my heart.
She is wearing a scarf I finished recently. It is made from 2 skeins of Tilli Tomas Disco Lights. I used US size 8 needles to create a basket weave stitch. The drape on this scarf is incredible. I absolutely love the finished result.
Cast on 40 stitches.
Row 1: (k5, p5) repeat to the end of the row
Rows 2-6: repeat row 1
Row 7: (p5, k5) repeat to the end of the row
Rows 8-12: repeat row 7
Continue repeating rows 1-12 until you reach the desired length, and bind off.
My scarf is 74 inches, 8 inches wide, knit at 5 stitches per inch. I have bought this yarn at both kpixie and purl. The basket weave is the perfect stitch to show off the natural beauty of this yarn. Tilli Tomas is beautiful, rich, drapey silk, run with sequins, beads or crystals. Check it out when you get a chance!
This scarf is from Scarf Style and is called "braided mischief" by Teva Durham. I used US size 10.5 needles with a double strand of Elsbeth Lavold's silky wool in ivory. I love this cabled pattern and it is so easy to memorize. With one repeat, you will have it down. I didn't add the tabs at the edges as I like it as it is.
I started this scarf when I was coming home from Little Rock, Arkansas where I was the guest host for the Knitting for Noggins charity knitting event. Boy, did I have a great time down there. You should check out the website for this charity hat knitting drive. It is at www.archildrens.org and it is under Knitting for Noggins. There you will find free hat patterns, photos from the knit-a-thon, and there is even a webcast of me speaking at the event. Really, I was so impressed with this event. The woman running everything, Robin Armstrong, was so kind, and she did a super job raising 1,400 hats in just one day. They already had 5,000 hats sent to the organization, which is a children's hospital, and their goal is to raise 10,000 hats. I don't know the current number they are up to, but I am sure it is high.
I created a free pattern, amongst other people, for a helicopter hat. It is a great hat, but the photo doesn't show the helicopter feature very well. You will just have to trust me and make it anyway!
The Knitting Tree event last week in Madison was terrific. The turn out was good, and we had a wonderful time chatting about the book and knitting in general. Thanks to everyone who came, both new and old friends, I appreciate it. This is a treat of a shop, which was recently featured in a new book about Wisconsin with a photo spread. I can't remember the name of that book, but I will find it. Please patronize this shop if you are in town, and you will be pleased with the wonderful staff and wide selection of beautiful yarns.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
This is the Knitting Tree window display with some of the hats from my book. This quaint little yarn shop is on Monroe Street in Madison. This street is quintessential Madison to me, and I love it. There are schools, locally owned shops and restaurants running up and down the street that leads to the University of Wisconsin stadium. There is much cultural flair and color nestled into this bustling area. Monroe Street really comes to life in the fall and it brings back a lot of memories for me.
Anyway, I am looking forward to the event tomorrow night. I am glad to have the opportunity to spend some time here.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Here is my Halloween costume for 2006! I really went all out with my disquise.
Yesterday I had an interview with Jennifer of Craftsanity. I am going to be on an upcoming podcast. It was very fun talking with her. When I was on tour for Itty-Bitty in Grand Rapids, Michigan she came to my event. We had lunch the next day and had a good time chatting about knitting and crafting. For the interview we talked for almost 2 hours, but it went so fast that I didn't even realize it was that long until I glanced at the clock at the end. That is a good sign, I hope!
On Thursday, November 2nd I am giving a talk and having a book signing event at The Knitting Tree here in Madison from 6:30-8:30pm. I hope to see lots of Madison knitters there. It is on Monroe Street and the new owner Jackie Shanahan is just wonderful. I am going to sneak down to take some pictures of the cute window display we set up last week to show the hats from the book. I will post that later.
All is well on this chilly, but sunny Halloween day. My kids are so excited to trick or treat tonight. Our neighborhood really does it up big, so it is extra fun! My sweet Noro skinny rib will keep me toasty I am sure.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The wisdom teeth extraction went fine. It is difficult to see one of your children go through pain to say the least. Today is a better day for him and all seems fine.
I am on the last sleeve of my Kureyon skinny ribbed sweater. It is delicious. I was knitting in the waiting room yesterday and the receptionist called me over to look at this sweater. All of a sudden there were 5 office people gathered around admiring the colors. They were so interested, I told them they definitely needed to start knitting! They all laughed.
Sometimes when you knit in public you can attract a lot of attention, like it or not. I usually sit in a corner or out of the way seat in waiting rooms, so I don't gather attention while I knit. I also knit low in my lap so people don't notice as much. Anyway, the knitting was a good distraction to have to ease my worry in this case. I knit in public all of the time, almost every day, but sometimes I don't feel like talking about it or answering lots of questions. Other times it is fine. It just depends on the day and the situation. I am always cordial no matter what because I like to promote knitting as much as possible when people approach me. I think public knitting can spark an interest in non-knitters.
I promise pictures of the sweater as soon as I finish.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I just finished this scarf for my father-in-law's birthday gift for the upcoming weekend. Let me tell you a brief story about the hat that lead to this scarf.
My son, who is just shy of 15, asked me to knit him a hat. I jumped at the chance to knit my teenager a hat, what could be better than that? I had just bought Yarnplay, by Lisa Shobhana Mason, which is a great book, by the way, and it was laying about the house. He apparently looked through it and picked out "sidetracked" as a hat he wanted to wear. Again, I was thrilled.
We sat down and ordered the yarn online, he wanted the exact colors in the book, so that's what we did. We waited anxiously for the yarn to arrive, it came quickly from www.yarn.com and www.jimmybeanswool.com, two of my favorites. The hat is made from 3 colorways of Filatura di Crosa 127 Print, and it is striped throughout the hat. I didn't take a picture of the hat to share, because he has it with him right now. I'll see if I can catch him later for a photo.
Anyway, being a hat designer myself, I really wanted to make my own pattern, but with him identifying with the hat in the picture so positively, I thought it was best to stick to the pattern. I haven't followed a hat pattern for years, but I did just that! It is a terrific pattern, and the colors look great together. I made the medium size hat on size 9 needles. It fits him like a glove. I finished the hat in a matter of a couple of hours of off-and-on knitting, it is an easy, fun pattern-good job Lisa! He slapped it right on and wore it to school the next day. I am so happy about it, and he is, too. It was a fun project to do together.
Quick-Tip for hat knitting: Measure around the person's head (the head that will wear the hat of course!) at the forehead just above the eyebrows, and just above the ears. Whatever this measurement is, subtract 1 inch. This is the measurement you should use to determine the size of the hat you are making. Hats should be snug on the head! By subtracting the inch (sometimes I even subtract 2 inches depending on the hat), you insure a better fitting hat. No one wants a loose, baggy cap.
Now about that scarf, I had a lot of 127 Print left after the hat. My father-in-law is turning 74 this week, and we are going out for dinner to celebrate with him this weekend. He has everything, so it is difficult to think of an exciting gift to give him. I decided to make him a slight variation of the "sidetracked" scarf from Yarnplay. I used the 3 colorways of 127 Print which are numbers 14, 18, and 21. I then added tan, teal, and moss colors of Montera by Classic Elite. This was in my stash and has a similar quality to the 127 Print, and is about the same gauge. I casted on the long way with size 9 needles (circular Knit Picks Options, 32-inch). This pattern I really didn't follow exactly. I just alternated garter stitch and seed stitch and colors as I went. I just do what feels good to my eye. I think this is a great pattern from Lisa no matter how closely you follow it. I haven't made men's scarves so it is great to have a guide on length and width.
I think it is a masculine and handsome scarf that any man would wear! I hope it is a hit. Get this new book, Yarnplay, it has a lot to offer!
Friday, October 20, 2006
This is the sweater I started yesterday. The yarn is Noro Kureyon, I don't know the number. My sweet sister gave this yarn to me last year for my birthday and it has been so hectic that I haven't gotten to it yet. This Kureyon has been on display in my family room in a ginormous green bowl for all to enjoy, mainly me. I am loving it knitted up, even more than I anticipated.
The pattern is a skinny ribbed sweater from the Noro 2 collection by one of my all-time faves, Debbie Bliss (j'adore!). I have already knit this sweater before in a different color-way of Kureyon many years ago. How boring, you wonder? No way! I love, cherish and wear this other sweater to death all winter long. I could really use another one. This style of sweater is my favorite, simple lines with a turtleneck.
I am knitting it on a size 8 needle at 4 stitches per inch, with my new Knit Picks Options needles. The binder is great, but I do need a few more pockets. The needles on the right side of the binder are the double-pointeds, which I have yet to try. A review will be coming soon...
My sister, mom and I went to lunch yesterday for my current birthday. My sister came through again with a gift certificate to Lakeside Fibers, a local yarn shop. Love her! Even better she bought the certificate at her school's silent auction so the money went to the school, how smart is that?
I will write about Lakeside Fibers at a later date because it is one of the most exquisite yarn shops around, and it is right here in Madison. We are lucky.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I am starting a sweater (pictures to come!) with my new Knit Picks Options needles and are they ever fantastic! I have had a love of Addi Turbo needles for years, but now I am highly suggesting the Knit Picks Options. Here's what I like about them:
1. The point of attachment of the needle to the cable is incredibly smooth, no snags here.
2. The needle itself is smooth as silk, it has a great slide factor. The faster the better!
3. The cable is very flexible, but not flimsy, plus it is purple which is kind of fun.
4. The price is right, what a steal for a fantastic product. Really, check out the prices. Compared to the Addi Turbo needles, it is a huge savings.
5. The most important and unique feature is the point of the needle. It is sharp, the sharpest I've ever used and I love it! I really can't get over how sharp the point is, it is excellent.
Check out these needles at www.knitpicks.com. You can buy an entire set or just try out a single size, there are also double-pointed needles, too.
I will have pictures up soon. Right after I posted for the first time, my camera dropped and stopped working. I had to pick up a new camera and I will get that going in the next couple of days.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I am starting this blog to keep in touch with all of the wonderful people I have met on the road this past month while touring for my first book, Itty-Bitty Hats!
This will be a short post due to the pending deadline for my second book! I am plugging away as always on my manuscript, but am so short of time right now. I have just over a week to finish up a huge amount of writing. However, I just wanted to get this started once and for all! I have been dreaming about this blog for months.
Thanks for all of the wonderful support, it has been great. I will post again soon with lots of knitting news and descriptions of my knitting adventures.
I completed these socks over the last couple of weeks. They provided some much needed company while traveling alone. I had my 14-year-old son take this shot and help me load it onto the blog. I don't know how to do this myself yet, but I plan on learning quick so I can share my many projects with you.
Check back soon for more!