Sunday, April 29, 2007

Good Morning, Sunshine

Hi Knitters,
Here's what I see in the glowy morning light:
Vesper Sweet Water has been wound and started,
my chevron scarf is about 2 years old and is made in leftover Koigu Kersti (who knew this would be the new trend?),
Peace Fleece, mmmm.
sock heaven (do you see Pink Lemonade?),
a little mosaic work that's been used and loved,
and my son's artwork (the eyeball fell off so he stuck it in the mouth, love that).
Have a beautiful Sunday.
best, susie

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lexington Festival of Books

Hi Knitters,
Well, I found my camera and I am not even going to bore you with the story. Let's just say I am totally at fault. It's back and I am happy about that fact.
Moving on, last weekend I was in Lexington, KY for the Festival of Books which is hosted by Joseph-Beth Booksellers and the University of Kentucky. It is a massive event and it was put together beautifully. I was excited to go. When I arrived at the event, the first booth I saw was for Paula Deen. Oh yeah! I love Paula. Have you made her Lemon Blossoms? They are a treat and one of my favorite recipes. I saw Paula as I was waiting for the shuttle to the airport and she walked right by me and jumped in her car with her husband after the event. She is teeny-tiny in person, and that silver hair is beautiful. I wish I could have gone to her speaking event, but at least I got to admire her up close. She is an inspiration. I love women who work so hard and have a special talent like her. She has quite a story. On to the knitters!

When I found my booth, that was in very large room at the Lexington Center, I quickly checked out who was next to me. Lo and behold next to me on one side this name appeared. Recognize that?
On the other side of my booth this name appeared. Do you feel my excitement?
On the other side of Stefanie Japel was this booth. Oh, I recognize that! I knew right then and there it was going to be an interesting day. I was the first one there. I keep strange hours and I spend a lot of my day awake before any else gets out of bed. I have been known to get up at 3:00am on a regular basis. Let's just say I was up kind of early on Saturday and arrived, well, early. I set up my table or booth by decorating it with a bunch of my hats, photos from my new book, and I brought along the pg. 81 booties and Elefante for anyone interested.
Stefanie Japel and her editor, Jessica, arrived after me. Stefanie has just released Fitted Knits, which is a beautiful collection of women's sweaters. She is innovative and a real design talent. She has 2 more books in the works, one called Glamknits, coming out quite soon, plus she is a scientist full-time. Phew, that's a lot of work. Jessica was the moderator of the panel I was on with Stefanie and Ann Hood.
Ann Hood arrived next, she wrote The Knitting Circle, which I reviewed not long ago. I really wanted to meet her as I admired this book so much. It is so well-written and it came from such a raw emotional place, I just felt this book in my heart. I think I am going to do another post on The Knitting Circle because after I met Ann and heard her talk, I have a lot to say about her and her topic. She impressed me down to my toes. I want to share with you about all of that in more detail. So look for that soon!
I signed books at my booth for a couple of hours, it went well. It is always a fun pleasure to meet knitters and non-knitters who like your work. Pure fun. Plus, I had the advantage of getting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's spill-over knitters. Let me tell you, I had such a great time watching her at work with those long lines of knitters. She is kind and thoughtful to every single person who comes through with their stories, picture-taking, and their giddiness at meeting her. Everyone feels like they know her personally, it must be strange at times. I got a major kick out of the entire thing.
Okay, while all of this action is going on, the wonderful owners of Magpie Yarn, Diane MacDonald, and Jane Homeyer, arrive on the scene. These two friends and business owners came to my tour stop in Lexington last fall. They sat in the front row and knitted away and they were so friendly. They are a class act. They had a yarn giveaway at the event last fall to coincide with Itty-Bitty Hats. I recognized them immediately. Diane and Jane then invite the knitting authors/editor out for lunch. Yay! At this point I am more excited for lunch than the panel I am on. The panel is right before lunch, 11:00-12:00. It is one thing to sit next to people at a book signing, but now I really get to talk with them.
The panel discussion was well attended, lots and lots of knitters there. We basically fill a nice sized room. Jessica asked questions, we all answered. I loved listening to these other women. We all have such different stories to tell, I mean really different. I was fascinated and I love how we all ended up on this panel together. It was comfortable and fun. The time went super fast, which is a good sign. We pretty much ran right out. Jessica, who is smart and cute, did a great job at moderating. She was well prepared and I especially like how she included Ann Hood, who wrote a work of fiction, in with Stefanie and me. It went smoothly. Stefanie Japel is very interesting, I really enjoyed her and she did a wonderful job for her first event or any event. We are going to be hearing a lot from her in the future. Ann Hood is likable and funny to boot.
Okay, the knitters all loaded into a mini-van (Okay, we own two mini-vans and I am not proud of this fact but we don't have many options. Don't hold it against me.) I felt strangely at home in the mini-van while the others were laughing about it. I love this picture, that's Ann Hood front left, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee back right (like I have to tell you), Jessica, North Light Books editor, front right, and Stefanie Japel back left. Check out Stephanie's photo of our car ride here. I was happy to be in a picture with that famous green sock.
It was a happy, talkative group, as you can imagine. We went to a little restaurant, a local spot that was quaint and had a nice menu. At lunch I sat across from Stephanie and Ann was at my left. We ordered. Then we waited and knitted. Then we waited some more and some more. The problem was that Stephanie was set to talk at 2:00 and it was 1:40. Finally our lunch arrived. Did I care that my sandwich was made with the end of a loaf of bread? The answer is no. I would have enjoyed just about anything at that point. We all ate super fast so Stephanie could make her talk.
I did get to tell Stephanie about my personal favorite page in her last book, SPM Casts Off, and that would be on page 144 if you want to look it up. It is called, The Skanky Knitted Bikini. I laughed so hard at this paragraph. I have read it many times and skank is a word that is not often used by me, but I have always found it funny. Stephanie liked that and she told me how she enjoys that word, too, and the word arse. I love her. She also doesn't understand or enjoy the knitted lingerie thing. I love her again. She is just how you'd think she'd be, funny, friendly, opinionated (I adore opinionated people), down-to-earth, a vegetarian and oh yeah, she is tiny.
She says she gets nervous before speaking, but she seemed cool and collected to me. I was impressed by her. She has created a great voice for knitting and let me tell you, people love her. She is a rock star who makes people feel good. I was glad to have met her.
Here we are waiting at lunch. The owners of Magpie Yarn are between the two Steph/f/anies. Stephanie told Stefanie to go ahead and buy the extra letter for her name.
Here are Ann and Jessica at lunch, still waiting. Stephanie's talk started a little late, due to the fact that Stephanie needed a podium and they had to bring one in. I could only stay for a little bit of her talk due to my flight schedule, but I am grateful to have been able to see a bit of it. The feeling in the room was so happy. Everyone was excited. I sat back, pulled out my knitting, actually put my feet up (I was waaaay in the back) and enjoyed the whole thing.

See that man and the little boy? That little boy laughed so hard at Stephanie's every word, it was so sweet.
Okay, I have one more quick story. On the way home, well, really in Chicago's lovely O'Hare or O'Hell as Stephanie would call it, I had a horrible layover. It was supposed to be 3 hours and it turned into 5 hours. It was miserable and it included a large, older, very drunk man proposing marriage to me. When I said no thank you, he responded by shouting, well, thank god for that! Why me?
All in all it was good fun (except for the drunken proposal). Well done Lexington!
best, susie

Monday, April 23, 2007

Do I Have Stories For You

Hi Knitters,

I have so many good stories to tell from the Bluegrass Festival of Books, you really won't believe my good fortune. However, I am having a problem. I, for the life of me, cannot find my camera and I need the pictures I took for proof. Really, it's that good.

I will continue my search. I know I saw it as I was unpacking so it is in this messy house of mine somewhere. I've just searched through my suitcase a second time hoping it was hiding in there. I've looked in my son's room because he likes taking pictures, but no luck. I am getting desperate.

I'll be back, hopefully even later today with my tales from Lexington, but I need that camera to really share with you the events of the weekend. The photos may not even be that great, but I want them anyway.

Wish me luck in finding that darn thing.

best, susie

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Elefante Pattern Printable

Hi Knitters,

My new friend, Jill, has been generous enough to put Elefante into a printable format for you. You can get to the pdf here.

Thank you, Jill!

best, susie

Page 18 Elefante

Hi Knitters,
The pattern for Elefante is finally here for the taking. This pattern came to be when a knitter emailed me after spying a tiny striped elephant on a shelf in Itty-Bitty Hats on page 18. She wanted to know where to get the pattern. I had no idea where that elephant came from until a friend (thanks Renee) told me about this site. I am sure the original is a crocheted toy from this site and boy oh boy, are the other toys available here ever cute. I decided to make a pattern for a knitted version of this little guy and share it with you here. Have fun and please let me see your finished Elefante!

Warning: Please be sure to use your discretion when using poly-pellets for filling your knitted toy. If your elefante is intended for a baby, please be sure to not use poly-pellets or make a muslin bag to hold the pellets before putting them inside the elefante. The other option is to only use the fiberfill to stuff the toy. The pellets would be considered a choking hazard for babies and toddlers if they leak through the fabric. My elefante is knitted with a tight, dense fabric that holds the pellets inside and it is not for a baby, it's for me! Enjoy.


Set of 5 double-pointed needles US size 4
Size E crochet hook
Yarn needle
Stitch marker
Cascade 220 in Red, Pink, Orange and Lime
Julia by Kristin Nicholas in Dark Blue and Light Blue
Small amount of black to embroider eyes
**Any worsted weight yarn will do and this is a perfect project to use up your stash. Try not to buy new yarn for this pattern! Make up your own colorway for the stripes. You only need very small amounts of each color to complete Elefante.**
Finished measurement:
5-inches tall by 6-inches in length (he's tiny!)
6 stitches per inch
Stripe Pattern: (used throughout except the ears and where specified)
2 rounds of each of the colors in the following order:
Dark Blue
Light Blue
Tip: Since this is a stuffed toy and the inside will never be seen, I cut and tied the ends of the different colors on the inside as I worked. This will hold together better because toys are often pulled and squeezed by little ones, at least I hope so! Don't worry about the ends is what I am trying to say and go ahead and tie some knots! Really!
Rnd round
sts stitches
k knit
k2tog knit 2 stitches together
m1 create a new stitch by placing the bar in between 2 stitches on the left needle from front to back, then knit it through the back of the loop.
kfb knit into the front and back of the same stitch

Legs: (make 4)

With Dark Blue cast on 21 stitches and place 7 stitches on each of three double-pointed needles. Join to knit in the round and place a marker on the first stitch also being careful not to twist the stitches. Knit every round working 2 rounds of each Dark Blue, Light Blue, Red and Pink.

In Pink only continue as follows:

Rnd 1: purl

Rnd 2: (k5, k2tog) on each needle (6 sts per needle, 18 sts total remain)

Rnd 3: knit

Rnd 4: (k4, k2tog) on each needle (5 sts per needle, 15 sts total remain)

Rnd 5: (k3, k2tog) on each needle (4 sts per needle, 12 sts total remain)

Rnd 6: (k2, k2tog) on each needle (3 sts per needle, 9 sts total remain)

Cut the yarn and place on a yarn needle. Pull through the remaining 9 stitches tightly to close the hole. Weave in the end to the inside. Pour poly-pellets in the leg to about half full, fill the rest with the fiber fill. The top of the leg remains open. Set the legs aside for now.

Working in the stripe pattern beginning with Red, cast on 9 stitches with 3 stitches on three double pointed needles. Join to knit in the round, placing a marker on the first stitch and being careful not to twist the stitches.
Rnd 1: kfb of each stitch
Rnd 2: (k1, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 3: (k2, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 4: (k3, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 5: (k4, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 6: (k5, kfb) across each needle (21 stitches per needle and 63 stitches total are on the needles)
Place a marker on a Rnd 6 stitch. This will be used for measuring in a moment.
Continue in the stripe pattern and knit straight for 2 1/2 inches from the stitch marker you placed on Rnd 6. Now begin the decrease rounds.
Rnd 1: (k5, k2tog) across each needle
Rnd 2: (k4, k2tog) across each needle
Rnd 3: knit
Rnd 4: (k3, k2tog) across each needle
At this point, tightly close the hole on the bottom of the body where you cast on with a yarn needle and matching end of yarn. Now fill the body first with the poly-pellets to about 1/3 full. Fill the rest of the body with the fiber fill up to where you are working. You need to add more fiber fill as you finish up the body before closing the hole at the top.
Rnd 5: knit
Rnd 6: (k2, k2tog) across each needle
Rnd 7: knit
Rnd 8: (k1, k2tog) across each needle
Rnd 9: knit
Rnd 10: (k2tog) across each needle (9 stitches remain)
Cut the yarn and thread onto a yarn needle. Complete any remaining stuffing at this time. Pull the end through the remaining 9 stitches and pull up tight. Weave in the end to the inside. This end is the top of the body.
Take the four completed and stuffed legs and whip stitch the legs to the bottom side of the body.
Trunk and Head:
With Pink cast on 9 stitches placing 3 stitches on each of three double-pointed needles. Join to work in the round, placing a stitch marker on the first stitch and being careful not to twist the stitches.
Rnd 1: (k2, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 2: (k3, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 3: (k4, kfb) across each needle
Rnd 4: purl
Rnds 5 and 6: knit
Switch color to orange and continue in the stripe pattern as set. Knit every round until the trunk measures 1 1/4 inches from the purl round (rnd 4 of the trunk). Now you will start increasing to form the head.
Rnd 1: (k2, kfb) across each needle (8 sts/needle, 24 sts total)
Rnds 2-4: knit
Rnd 5: (k3, kfb) across each needle (10 sts/needle, 30 sts total)
Rnd 6: knit
Rnd 7: (k2, m1) 4 times, k2 across each needle (14 sts/needle, 42 sts total)
Rnds 8-10: knit
Now you will move the stitches onto 4 double-pointed needles using the fifth or free needle to knit onto as follows:
Needle 1: 8 stitches
Needles 2 and 3: 13 stitches
Needle 4: 8 stitches
Continue with round 11.
Rnd 11:
Needle 1: knit all stitches
Needles 2 and 3: k1 (m1, k2) 6 times (19 stitches on needles 2 and 3)
Needle 4: knit
54 stitches total are on the needles.
Rnd 12: knit all stitches
Rnd 13:
Needle 1: knit all stitches
Needles 2 and 3: (k6, m1) 3 times, k1
Needle 4: knit all stitches
60 stitches total are on the needles.
Knit every round straight until the head and trunk measure 4 1/2 inches from the purl round of the trunk. Now you will start the decrease rounds for the top of the head. You may have to do some redistributing of the stitches as you work for the decreasing.
Rnd 1: (k4, k2tog) across all stitches
Rnd 2: knit
Rnd 3: (k3, k2tog) across all stitches
Rnds 4 and 5: knit
Rnd 6: (k2, k2tog) across all stitches
At this point close the hole tightly on the bottom of the trunk with a yarn needle and end. Fill the trunk with poly-pellets and then fill the head with fiber fill up to the working round. You will need to continue stuffing the head as you complete the head.
Rnd 7: knit
Rnd 8: (k1, k2tog) across all stitches
Rnd 9: knit
Rnd 10: (k2tog) across all stitches (10 stitches remain)
Cut the yarn and thread on a yarn needle. Pull through the remaining 10 stitches. Complete any remaining stuffing and pull up tight. Weave the end to the inside.
Ears: (make 2)
With Pink and the crochet hook chain 4, join in a ring with a slip stitch.
Rnd 1: single crochet 8 stitches into the center of the ring, join with a slip stitch.
Rnd 2: (1 single crochet, 2 single crochet into next stitch) repeat across, join with a slip stitch.
Rnd 3: (1 single crochet in the next 2 stitches, 2 single crochet in the next stitch) repeat across, join with a slip stitch.
Rnd 4: (1 single crochet in the next 3 stitches, 2 single crochet in the next stitch) repeat across, join with a slip stitch.
Rnd 5: (1 single crochet in the next 4 stitches, 2 single crochet in the next stitch) repeat across, join with a slip stitch.
Cut the yarn and pull through the last stitch. Fold the ear in half.
With Red and the crochet hook, single crochet the edges of the folded circle together. Leave the folded edge as is. Cut the yarn and pull through the remaining stitch.
With a yarn needle and Pink whip stitch the ears to the head using the photos as a guide. Make straight stitches with a yarn needle and black for the eyes again using the photos as a guide.
With 2 double pointed needles used for knitting an I-cord and Red, cast on 4 stitches. Knit an I-cord for 1-inch. Bind off.
With Pink make a 1-inch tassel with 8 wraps. Sew onto the end of the tail. Sew the tail to the backside of the body.
I know this pattern is a little quirky at some points, but this is simply what I did to make this little guy. I hope you enjoy the pattern. Please be respectful of copyright issues. This pattern is for personal use only and is not to be sold under any circumstances. The pattern is also not to be used to knit and sell the finished item. Charity knitting is always welcome along with the use of this pattern.
Good luck!
best, susie

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today vs. Yesterday

Hi Knitters,
Today I look out my windows and I see this in April...

And I sit at my desk and work on this....
And I look at my beloved family in a frame while I edit and read...
Yesterday I sat on the beach and looked at my husband and son....
And I'd still rather be home in Madison than anywhere else...
best, susie

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Hi Knitters,
It is good to be home. Today is the first day the kids have school again. Now the schools give the day after Easter as a vacation day, too. I was glad to have everyone with me for one last day. I love those kids.
Our trip was a success, great weather, beautiful beaches, lots of long days together. My husband is the best to have around on vacations. He is the rare type that has endless energy and can play for hours on end with the kids. I haven't met another adult like him in this capacity. He is good with kids at any age and doing any type of activity. I love that about him and kids love him for it as well. Plus he is super, super funny all of the time. He makes me laugh so hard, like no one else. You know when your stomach aches from laughing? That's him in a nutshell and it's just what the doctor ordered. Anyway, we're home safe and sound now.
I knitted a little bit on the trip but all that I am working on now is for a future book project that I can't really share. I am working on one project with Tilli Tomas' Disco Lights which you can purchase here. It is a winner of a yarn. I have only three or four other projects completed so there is a long way to go for an entire book.
I received quite a response on the booties and have seen many pictures of completed booties so far. That has been fun, I am glad people are enjoying those. I will get that Elefante project posted soon, possibly the next post. At least that is what I am planning on.
I am getting my manuscript pages back for one last look today or tomorrow. Back to work I go on that. I can't wait to see it again. Itty-Bitty Hats is now out in a second printing so you only need the corrections if you have the first edition copy.
I am excited to say I got invited to the Lexington Blue Grass Book Festival hosted by the beautiful book store Joseph-Beth Booksellers which I visited on tour last fall. They have great events there for authors. The festival is on April 21 and I am on a panel at 11:00am with two other women I am so excited to meet. One is the fiction author Ann Hood who wrote The Knitting Circle, which I just read and reviewed. That is good luck, right? The other is Stefanie Japel who authored Fitted Knits, which I received in the mail before my trip. More good luck, yes? That's an interesting panel with some very different authors, should be fun. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is going to be there too, so I hope to catch whatever she is doing. I am reading her new book and will talk about that soon.
I'll let you know more about that event later. I hope to see and meet lots and lots of knitters in Lexington so come if you are close. All of a sudden I realized that is only a little more than a week away. Can that be true? I have no sense of time lately. I wonder if I have something in my closet to wear. Yikes.
Gotta go check.
best, susie
p.s. I just looked at the Joseph-Beth site and Paula Deen is going to be at a sold-out talk on Apr. 21rst at 12:00. I love Paula and her recipes. I wish I could have seen her. Shoot.