Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This and That

Hi Knitters,
Every summer our neighborhood pool has a silent auction fundraiser along with an adult social. This year a woman in the neighborhood contacted all of the knitters who go to the pool to knit 4 inch squares. She is going to sew these squares together to make a blanket to auction off. Of course I am contributing. The only stipulations are that you should use bright colors, use garter stitch (okay I cheated a little on this) and that you only use 100% cotton. I turned in 4 squares yesterday and I have these 4 to hand off today. I can't wait to see the finished blanket. It should be pretty darn cute.
Remember my ripple stitch scarf from Jan Eaton's Ripple Stitch book? I am making progress. Every day or so I pull it out and add a few more colors. I think I have about 30 inches completed.

I think I will make it at least 60 inches. I like a long, wrappy scarf in the winter. Those Jo Sharp colors are doing no wrong.
I am going to visit Knit 2 Together with you today. Do you have this? It is for sale on amazon for $5.50. That is a steal, my friends. I looked through this again yesterday and every time I see this book I like it even more. First of all I love Tracey Ullman. She used to have a style show on some obscure channel and I used to watch it all of the time. She would interview various designers and she would try on clothes and give her perspective which was usually funny. I'll never forget one time Tracey was making fun of American parents and how they gush endlessly and claim their children are always gifted at everything. She said English parents don't gush like that, they just nonchalantly say, "Oh, you're okay." I like that mentality. I am always telling my kids, "Oh, you're fine." It is good not to get too worked up about things sometimes.
This beautiful cashmere neck warmer is on my list for next winter. It looks so warm. Mel Clark of Wildfibers has designed all of the projects in the book. She is quite talented and has a great eye for detail. You can tell she has a fun sense of humor, more than enough to keep up with Tracey.
This great felted bag is called sea anemone. It is made from 2 strands of Cascade 220 held together. Now, I don't think I would do the orange embellishments, but I love the bag shape and I have tons of cascade 220 lingering about. Maybe a stripey version would do me fine.
Mel designed this fantastic circular sweater made in Koigu Kersti, one of my faves. There is a simple lace pattern and I am digging the shawl collar. Love the older model, too, she's lovely. I notice these things.
How can you go wrong with a sweat pea sweater. I love those peas and they are done so delicately here. Gorgeous. I don't think I would make this one, but I appreciate its beauty.
When Mel and Tracey were on Martha Stewart, Mel wore this sweater. I was happy to see it on her because she is an average size woman and it looked terrific on her. I think that ribbon on the neckline is a pretty touch.
What a beautiful little shrug made from Blue Sky Alpaca's Silk. Oh it is dreamy. Mel claims beginners at her store have made this. So maybe if you are a beginner at lace this may be a good place to start.
What a fun picture. Don't you ever feel like doing this? I do. Check out that subtle ruffle detail on the side, so cute. This added touch makes all of the difference. I paid full price for this book and I think it was worth it. Now will I knit an apron? No. Will I knit a pair of pantaloons to wear under a skirt? No. But there is never a book where you are going to knit every project. The number of knittable projects for me way outweighs the number of projects I won't knit. I read patterns anyway, even if I don't care for them, because you can learn so much.
There are great little stories and fun tales from Tracey and Mel's past. Plus don't you love the Wildfiber ads in the knitting mags? They are like the spirograph art from my childhood.

Yay for Wednesday. Now go get that book!

best, susie

p.s. I think Tracey received some static for just being a celebrity and not being a real knitter. She is a real knitter and she is funny and witty and she helps shine the light on knitting in a positive way. I say go for it. Also, she and Mel did a great interview on NPR awhile ago. I can't even remember how I found that to listen to, it was an obscure link. I bet if you dig you could find it, too. It was a fun listen.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Watermelon Monday

Hi Knitters,
I have socks on the brain lately. These watermelon socks are knitting up quite nicely in the sereknity dk weight yarn. These go a lot faster on the size 4 dpns. Lovin' that. I am still into the simple sock right now. A simple rib or stockinette is all it takes to make me happy. I never knit the cuff longer than 6 inches, too. I don't enjoy a long cuff which is good for knitting socks.
I am doing a seed stitch rib, which I will tell you more about when I finish the pair. Okay, now I have 1 vesper sock, 1 yarntini sock and close to 1 sereknity sock. I will be in heavy sock rotation until these pairs are all complete. That doesn't include the other 2 half finished single socks I have sitting in my studio. What's a girl to do but finish these up. I always finish everything I start but I am just keeping it interesting with the socks. I'll keep you posted.
It's a watermelon Monday alright.
best, susie
p.s. Check out woolgirl for some great new sock yarns just in this week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Love You, Yarntini

Hi Knitters,
I can't say it enough, I love Yarntini. I am not ashamed to proclaim my love. I know I tend to gush over things I find wonderful, but that's just how I am. I mean it when I say it.
The color way is called Pureknits, but it is like neopolitan ice cream. One of my favorite color combinations is pink and brown, another is light blue and brown. You can't go wrong with either of those.
I can't fully describe how these socks feel on your feet, well, foot right now. The yarn is incredibly soft and squishy. The rib makes the fit fantastic and snug, like your foot is being held sweetly. I used size 2 needles. I did a knit 3, purl 1 rib, couldn't be any easier if I tried. I love having that simple project to interject between designing new projects from scratch. Socks rule.
I love you, Yarntini, I really do.
best, susie

Friday, June 22, 2007

They Say It's Your Birthday

Hi Knitters,
When you turn 8 years old it is a big deal. We had a big birthday bash over here last night for my youngest daughter and it was fun. We worked all day on this cake, well, off and on and in between trips to the store to pick up more ingredients.
This picture made me laugh. I look so serious, but those candles would not light.

My daughter spotted this recipe in American Girl magazine a couple of months ago and she knew right away this would be her birthday cake. It uses jell-o (hello jell-o people!) to color the layers of cake. I like the idea of the blue sky with clouds and a rainbow inside.
The only modification I did was to use two cake mixes divided into four layers instead of one cake mix. This is a big crowd over here and the double cake mix makes a more impressive cake. Note the Windex in the back. We actually did some cleaning, too.
All four kids helped with the cake. That cute cake plate was a gift from The Knitting for Noggins group in Little Rock, Arkansas (thanks Robin!). This was a benefit for the Children's Hospital. I'll be heading down there again this fall for another knitting extravaganza, can't wait.
Look in the background, that's my daughter making pigs in a blanket. Now don't laugh but I am going to tell you two dishes I am known for in these circles. One is my famous Scotcheroos, and the other is pigs in blanket. That is so bad I can't believe I am admitting that. People actually request my Scotcheroos when there is a potluck. I've had that recipe memorized for about 15 years. Last fall I started making mini pigs in a blanket with little smokies and crescent rolls for my son's high school swim team potlucks. I've had phone calls from other mothers about how to make the pigs in a blanket. How embarrassing! Both of these items are always gone in a heartbeat at every function. I am telling you it is a high class joint around here. Beware.
Okay, some knitting news is needed here. Take a listen to Guido Stein on It's a Purl Man . On his most recent podcast he interviews one of my all-time favorite knitters and artists, Kristin Nicholas. If you want some major inspiration check out her blog. She lives on a beautiful farm and her photos from her house and land will warm your heart. One of her books, Kids Knitting, was part of the inspiration for my contacting Artisan (my publisher) with my own book idea. I just love Kids Knitting and her illustrations are all over that book. She is honest and matter of fact about the publishing world and has vast experience to draw from. Oh and by the way, the song that opens the It's a Purl Man podcast makes me laugh every time. Guido recorded it with his brother and it is the best music intro on any podcast. So funny!
best, susie

Monday, June 18, 2007

Another Day in the Life

Hi Knitters,
Oh my, what a beautiful hot father's day we had in Madison. It feels like mid-summer already. We served my husband breakfast in bed with a yummy new crust-less quiche I tried for the first time. It was delicious. I love a good new recipe. Then we headed out to downtown Madison. We went to the capitol and climbed the stairs to the lookout balcony. It takes your breath away, the beauty of this city. Madison is surrounded by glorious lakes. It is like an island, a getaway. After that we went to the Memorial Union which where the university students old and new hangout.
We got big old Babcock ice cream cones and sat out by the lake. Then we walked up Bascom Hill, which is like the center of the University, and pointed out our buildings to the kids. The law school building is on the right up above and straight across is
the old education building where both my dad and I worked. He worked as a professor for about 32 years at the UW-Madison in curriculum and instruction. The campus brings back so many memories for me.
Remember my son jumping off of the couch a few posts ago? Here he is again. He is a major goofball. Where does he get it?
Here is one last parting shot of Itty-Bitty Nursery for now. This is a finger puppet set of the three little pigs. The pigs are cut off a bit in this picture but not in the book obviously. My son took this picture for me. There are the 3 pigs, and a wolf, you know the story, right? They are horizontal finger puppets with four legs. This just made sense to me because that's how they really are in the world. There are three houses made of sticks, straw and bricks. The brick house has a chimney to drop the wolf into and a black cooking pot for the wolf to land in. I like the idea of finger puppets to go along with a well-known story. It makes it more fun.
Enjoy the day.
best, susie

Friday, June 15, 2007

Itty-Bitty Nursery and a Woolgirl

Hi Knitters,
I tried to get a few better shots of the promotional materials for Itty-Bitty Nursery. I think they turned out a little better but what I really need is a scanner. I'll have to look into that.
If you click to make these larger you will be able to read the print. I hope.

This little girl is so beautiful I could just eat her up with a spoon! The other two pacifier clip patterns include a frog and an elephant. I tried to include boys in this book! I always think there is a lack of boy cuteness available. It is a lot easier to design for girls in a lot of ways because the sky is the limit with color and you can go over the top and get away with it. Boy stuff requires subtlety in color and design to an extent. It can be a little trickier.
The babies are all from the Minneapolis area. They grow them good up there! I just love these babies. They are so sweet and I can tell they have big personalities to boot.

This is the back of the book. The tour locations are not complete as I am already scheduled for several cities not included on this list. We'll have to wait and see where I end up going. The tour is being scheduled for this upcoming fall. I'll keep you updated on all of that stuff. I love that baby in the white one-piece outfit on the blanket. I used to dress my babies in those one-piece snuggly outfits. They just look so comfortable on those little round bodies.
Okay knitters, just take a look at what I received in the mail today. I am so excited about this package. I have such a thing for watermelons. I love the colors of watermelons inside and out. It just looks like summer to me. When my daughters were babies they both had watermelon swimsuits and I had a watermelon beach towel growing up that I loved (I still have it). Anyway, it has been a common theme around me forever. Most of all I love to eat watermelon. My mom would always slice up watermelon in finger-food size squares for us, plus she would pick out all of the seeds. This was before seedless watermelon. She always did those little extra things that made you feel so loved. Oh, it was such a treat and a great way to eat it. I am trying to think of how I can include watermelons in my next book project. I know I'll find a way.
When I checked out the new summer knitty I saw an ad for Woolgirl and I clicked onto it. I was pleasantly surprised. This shop out of Oregon has a wonderful selection of yarns. You should check it out when you get a chance. When I saw the Sereknity yarns in these beautiful watermelon color ways I just had to get some. I bought fingering weight and sport weight in watermelon and I love them both. This is fantastic yarn.

Jennifer Jett is the owner and boy did she do a nice job with the packaging. The yarn came enclosed in plastic and wrapped in colorful tissue paper with cute stickers and ribbon. She included a sweet sheep stitch marker (love it!), some Soak and a handwritten note card thanking me for the order. I want to thank her for making this purchase such a treat. I feel like I have been gifted even though I made the purchase! That's how retail should be if you ask me. I will be back for more and soon.

Thanks for the kind responses this week.

best, susie

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Hi Knitters,
Okay, I published the Sneak Peek post and it vanished except for the title. I published again in hopes it would appear. It appeared with the title only. Then I went for a run and when I returned the first Sneak Peek with the text and pictures appeared and was published. I have no idea what actually happened.

Don't make fun now. Since a couple people have asked already the book is due out in September 2007 and is up for pre-order on amazon under Itty-Bitty Nursery. The cover photo is not on amazon yet but hopefully soon. You should check out the knitting books on sale over there, too, it is unbelievable. K2together with Tracey Ullman is five bucks!

This is really my last post for today.
best, susie

Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek

Hi Knitters,
Look what just arrived in my basement. That's all I'm going to say about that. I know you are jealous about this summer treat.
Luckily, this Artisan Catalog arrived the same day as the drum set. It is the fall 2007 Artisan catalog. Artisan is my publisher if you don't know. I am excited to show you a sneak preview of a tiny bit of Itty-Bitty Nursery.
I know the pictures aren't the clearest, a little glare is going on. I am running out the door in a minute so I don't have time to re-do right now. Maybe I'll try again later or get my son to do it for me.
The sweater and pillow set are made in Blue Sky Alpaca and they are such a fun knit. It is garter stitch heaven. I have a funny story about this set I'll share with you later. The cover shots, the cupcake hat, scarf and mitten set, the polka dot chickens, the pacifier clip (there are three different clips in the book) and the patches blanket are all made with Rowan yarns, my all-time favorite company.
The peas and carrots pillows are made with Crystal Palace cotton chenille which is a great baby yarn. Anyway, it's all looking good.
The other fun thing about getting a catalog from your publisher is that I get to see who the other authors are that are releasing books the same time as I am. Artisan publishes a wide variety of books, mainly cook books I would say, but they cover many other topics as well. They are a part of Workman Publishing. The whole thing interests me to no end.
One last thing or maybe two, congratulations to my sweet 5th grade girl for completing elementary school. She is on to the much larger middle school next year. It is a milestone for any child. We are very proud of her. She is filled with sweetness and love. You can see that I wasn't lying about my husband's height. My sister picked the bouquet from her garden, what a treat. The gym was at least 100 degrees. Isn't that always the case?
The Inspiration Wednesday podcast was released yesterday. It is a fun listen, only about 30 minutes. Adrienne does a great job. Her friend Toya, who she does the podcast with wasn't there due to computer problems. For a little inside track and a laugh, you wouldn't believe how tired and worn out I was when I received Adrienne's call for the interview. It was at 8pm, which normally wouldn't be that late, but it had been one of the busiest, most hectic and stressful days I can remember. I literally had not sat down all day. Not to mention that I had gotten up at 3:30am that morning and I had to take an anti-histamine for horrible allergy problems which only added to the fog. I even considered rescheduling with Adrienne but decided against it. Then when Adrienne called me she told me she was completely exhausted and had her tire blow out on the way to or from work that day. You probably wouldn't notice my tiredness too much, but I thought letting you know might add to your listening experience. We both just laughed about it all and carried on.
That's just what you do in life!
best, susie

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yarntini On the Go

Hi Knitters,
I went on a field trip with my daughter's fifth grade class today. We went to the Wisconsin Dells to visit the Mt. Olympus amusement park. It was a long day but it was filled with nice, fun kids,which is always a good thing. I don't know about you, but I don't go on roller coasters or other spinning-type rides. I just can't do it. It makes me feel sick and then I don't recover very fast. I've always had this problem since I was little and it has only gotten worse with age.
Since I don't go on the rides I had a lot of waiting time at the exits. I would send my five girls off at the start of the ride, walk over to the exit and pull out my new Yartini Pureknits sock and rib away the minutes. Oh yes, I am already at the heel and started the sock this morning. It was a good day. My daughter had a ball and I got to knit on my beloved Yarntini sock yarn. If you haven't tried this yarn you are missing out. It is absolutely the best. I am dying to get more of it but it is sold out everywhere. I haven't forgotten my second Vesper Sweet Water sock, I just couldn't wait any longer to start the pureknits color way. I will return shortly to the sweet waters. I will probably alternate the two yarns to finish both pairs.
I planted the pot. How cute is that?
best, susie

Friday, June 08, 2007

1 Vesper Down, 11 To Go

Hi Knitters,
Look it matches the morning paper. I finished my first Vesper Sweet Water sock. I love it. This is great yarn, and I have 6 skeins of Vesper in my possession, in different colors of course. I know I am lucky. So I figure I will be knitting a total of 12 socks with Vesper yarn and I have only finished one sock so far. I will share as I go. I'll be starting the matching sock to this one later today.
When I finish a sock I always put it on immediately, fresh off the needles. This is a thrill for me every time. There is something so motivating about finishing a project.

I used size 2 dpns and let the yarn do all of the work for this simple stockinette sock with a heel flap. Oh well, can't wait until I have a pair.
A couple of years ago I made two mosaic pots. This is my favorite mosaic project and I have made many of these tiny pots to give as gifts. Anyway this particular pot I grouted with some pre-made grout from Michael's. I had never tried this before, I have always mixed my own grout. I was so disappointed with the pre-made stuff. It was gooey and too sticky for me. I had a hard time working with it. I couldn't even get the grout cleaned off of the pot very well.
I was going to throw the two pots out in the trash, but instead I put them out in my backyard. They sat out through a year or two of harsh weather and one of them broke. Now I absolutely love this remaining tiny pot. I think it looks great and I am so glad I saved it. Some of the tiles and things have fallen off, but this year I am going to plant in it and set it out.
Some things just get better with age.
best, susie
p.s. I did an interview with a new crafting podcast a couple of nights ago. It is called Inspirational Wednesday. It will be available June 13. The show is available through itunes. I'll give more details later.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some Fun Now

Hi Knitters,
You know Little Shop of Horrors, right? I like to sing the "some fun now" song in my head every once in a while. It's a little pick me up. I snagged this little tote last weekend at a beautiful boutique close to my house called Beauty Blossoms. It was in the baby gift section but my eyes saw knitting when I looked at it. It is tiny, just big enough to hold a sock in progress.
There are nifty pockets going all around the outside to fit your cell phone, keys, yarn needle tube, tape measure and your slip-n- snip scissors. Just perfect if you ask me. See, I'm making a little progress on that Vesper sock.
I don't know anything about this brand, The Piggy Story, other than it is cute, cute, cute and they have a sweet website.
Here is my other some fun now. I have been going needle felting crazy for the past week on some book projects. Oh my goodness do I love it. You just have to try this technique if you haven't done so yet. I am going hog wild with this gloriously dyed roving purchased here. The color selection is a smorgasbord of roving delight. There is a color available for any project you have in mind.
The right tools for needle felting are essential. I use the single needles from Fiber Trends for extra-fine detail work. The Clover felting needle tool with multiple needles for covering larger areas. Finally, the Clover felting mat brush is awesome for felting the roving into a piece of felt to be cut out into shapes and then applied to your work.

I did stick my finger one time when I was talking to my son and wasn't looking. That really smarts, don't do it. Those tiny needles are so sharp they can pierce your skin instantly.
Other than the pierced finger, I love my job.
best, susie