Sunday, June 29, 2008

Start and Finish

Hi Knitters,
It's a Sunday for fresh starts and overdue finishes. I've decided what the Blue Sky Dyed Cotton is going to turn into. The picture holds a clue but I know what you may be thinking and it isn't a flower.
The project is going to be part of the beginner chapter in the toy book. So far I have a couple of good solid beginner projects completed but I need a couple more. One thing about an easy project with simple shapes is that it has to remain appealing for experienced knitters as well. Meaning it shouldn't end up looking like a beginner project in the end. You want something that you would want to give as a gift, something that makes you proud, something impressive, but it still has to be easy. For these reasons the beginner projects are the hardest to design of all. Advanced projects have no limitations, you can pull out all the punches at any time.
With gorgeous yarn in your hands half the battle is won. How can I go wrong with colors like that? Wish me luck. It's easy construction day, all day. I am thinking the knit stitch, double-pointed needles (an introduction for knitting in the round and casting on), learning how to make 1 (m1), knitting 2 stitches together (k2tog), and that's it. That doesn't sound scary, right?
Speaking of starting, my daughter started this scarf out of some left over Koigu Kersti. The start of the scarf is this funny loopy stitch (it's not showing up well) that I have used on a couple of toys for hair. She insisted on learning how to do the stitch. I taught her even though I didn't think she would get it down. I learned something here, never underestimate a beginner with want. She was looping left and right before I knew it.
On to some finishing that happened this morning, the same daughter (aka The Collector) grew this onion. She started growing it at school in a cup filled with sand. She brought it home and planted it in a pot in the yard. This morning she came in carrying her creation.
She loved the roots so much and of course thought they looked like hair. A face had to be added, no question. We both enjoyed the strong aroma of the onion. I love the smell of onions. I love eating them, too.
Another finished project is the Trekking XXL #134 peds. I finished up the toe early this morning. Luckily, it is a cool day here and I am actually enjoying wearing the wool socks in June no less. Go figure.
They look like popsicles or cotton candy or sherbet or summer....

The trunk show is off to a good start I hope. The first stop is here:

Sit n' Knit

Barbara Fabian

55 Wintonbury Mall

Bloomfield, CT 6002


Arrive: June 26

Depart: July 8

The site for this shop is here. If you are in the area go check it out! Get in touch with Barbara if you have any questions. I didn't get time yesterday to get the entire list up on the sidebar but it is coming, I promise. Also, someone wrote in to ask if the trunk show is going to be in Madison and the answer is no. Who knows why.

Hey, if you want to see some cool crochet projects combining fabric and other things look here. Seriously, scroll down. She has a great free pattern, too. I love it and I want to make one for myself.

Take care on this last Sunday in June. Try to start or finish something today and let me know.

best, susie

Friday, June 27, 2008

Good Morning, Pickle

Hi Knitters,
I have finished up another project this morning for the book so now I take a deep breath and begin to think about the next one. There is always so much to consider. This collection has kind of emerged from groups or chapters. When I first wrote up the proposal there were chapters and then a list of projects for each chapter. Then when I get to actually making the projects there is always something new that occurs to me as I work. It changes.

What I love most about writing books is the freedom. I am let go to create and think and to see what happens. That breeds creativity where one thing leads to another. So this morning I pulled out the squishiest, most beautiful cotton I have ever encountered, Blue Sky Dyed Cotton. People who don't enjoy cotton may have not tried the Blue Sky Alpacas cotton lines. It is all dreamy and a half.

The color names are honeydew, lotus, poppy, orchid, caribbean, ladybug and best of all, pickle. Who doesn't love pickle? It will be a good morning. That's my pickle on the side (in the striped pajama pants).
So I am back on my computer all fixed and slick and fast. All of my photos from the past, are back at my fingertips and that feels good. I was most worried about the photos being gone forever, our life's documentation, but all is good. Now I need to get those saved properly.

On to some news, the Itty-Bitty Nursery Trunk Show is underway. As soon as I get a chance later today I am going to post the locations and dates on my sidebar. I'd love to hear from the shops as the trunk show progresses. Even better, I'd love to see some pictures along the way. Please send them and I will post them here for all to enjoy. Also, I would love to give a plug to the various shops hosting. I hope all goes smoothly. What a great idea by Jaime, she's such a smart pickle.

Okay, if you are knitting the ladybug hat or the bumble bee hat (see sidebar for patterns), you have to check this out and it is free. Wouldn't that make the best tiny gift to add to the hat? You could use your left overs. She is one good knitter just look at this and this.

Here is the cutest baby ever and I want to make these animal crackers. That has to be done.

You should read this blog if you are interested in southern farm life, animals, spinning, dying, knitting and cooking. This is a good and talented woman, I know first-hand.

Off into the weekend we go, it's going fast.
best, susie

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Party Planner

Hi Knitters,
I have been the party planner these last few days. My daughter has officially turned 9 and she has officially had four parties to celebrate. I'm not bragging for her or anything, it is just the way it always turns out. We have different extended-family parties, our own quiet family party and then a friend party. Is that crazy? I am exhausted. Party planning is not my calling in any way, shape or form. Honestly, I am much more of a party avoider.

My friend Betz has a super tutorial for sponge balls. As soon as I saw these I knew they were happening at my house. The good thing about a summer birthday is that water is usually involved. The grand finale was a pool party for my daughter's friends, some neighbors and a couple of cousins. The sponge balls were the hit of the party. Thanks for sharing, Betz.
See, the sponge balls soak up the water which makes them great for throwing and splatting. My sister thought they looked like gobstoppers, Willy Wonka style. Some of the sponge balls were over-taken by a group of of older teens while we were at the pool. I thought that was pretty funny. They loved them as much as the little kids. That's the sign of a true hit.

The party bags were stuffed with treats and toys. I have learned over the years that what's in the bag is more important than the bag itself which usually gets tossed aside. We just used brown lunch bags that we already had and tied on some curly ribbon. When I was tying up and scrunching the bags I couldn't help but to think of a certain hat. Yep, it's right there on the cover, the pink paper bag. See that big container of gum? We've all been chewing so much Dubble Bubble around here that our jaws hurt. That's got to stop. It's not attractive.
This was party number two. We made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. I made a second batch just the same for the pool party.
The first party involved a Dairy Queen cake entitled, Chocolate Extreme. The eating has to stop or more realistically, slow down. We had pizza, ate out at a local diner, had a party platter of subs, a breakfast feast including sweet rolls and eggs...and I loved it all. That's the problem.

Okay, now I get to catch my breath for about a week until my other daughter has her birthday. That will include a sleepover with a few twelve year olds, fireworks, a cookout or two and more and more eating. And I will love it all again.

The knitting work is still going on strong. I have a couple of new books to review. It's already Tuesday, Knitters, hope you are having a good week so far.
best, susie

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flower Pacifier Clip

Hi Knitters,
I have had a few questions about the double knitting technique used in Itty-Bitty Nursery to make various projects like the flower pacifier clip (free pattern!) also available on the sidebar, the on-the-go tote and the feet and hands for the garden mice. I love this technique because it allows you to knit two sides at once instead of knitting separate pieces and then seaming them together. You are actually knitting a tube with back and forth row knitting. This is an easy technique to add to your repertoire. You can do this one with ease.

This is a short three minute video because that's how simple it is to double-knit. I hope this helps a bit.

Hope you are having a nice Sunday, Knitters.
best, susie

Friday, June 20, 2008

One-Skein Bunnies

Hi Knitters,
I am so excited to see the Organic Bunnies I made for the new edition of 101 One-Skein Wonders, edited by Judith Durant, made the cover. The Storey Publishing fall catalog just came out and Jaime (my one-of-a-kind book publicist from Artisan) sent me a copy. What a great book list Storey has to offer. The bunnies are also on the table of contents page in the catalog, shown above. You can see them better in this larger photo.

This upcoming version of the 101 One-Skein Wonders books is featuring luxury yarns which includes organic yarns. I picked my favorite cotton, the Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, in three of the naturally dyed shades. I think the colors are called sage, nut and natural. Of course it takes way less than one skein to complete a single bunny. The organic shades look so beautiful together that I just had to make three of them.

I loved these organic bunnies so much after I knitted them that I was really tempted to keep them for my own upcoming toy book. I am extra glad to see them again because I kept wondering if I should have hung on to the bunnies for myself. They found a good new home.

The other one skein books are wonderful. If you don't have them you really should check them out. I have both of them and I think they have a fantastic mix of projects to offer. I can't wait to see what the newest version holds. It is a beautiful cover and it is now available for pre-order on amazon with the release date set for October 2008.

Below is the cover as seen in the catalog. I love the feel of it, so creamy and natural looking, this is a good one. They even threw a cute baby on the cover, that never misses. I am anxiously awaiting the release of Judith's new book. I am sure yarn shop owners are racing to order this one for their stores, too.

Have a great Friday, Knitters. Yay for the weekend. This week really needs to end:)
best, susie

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mouse from Down Under

Hi Knitters,
How cute is this little mousie? I received this photo and email yesterday and I asked Mekaela if I could share it with you all. She said sure. Don't you love the swing? Here is the note that came with the photo:

I recently purchased your book "Ity Bitty Nursery"
Just want to say thankyou for re kindling my love for knitting.
I had so much fun with the mouse but as I had not knitted in the round before it did take me quite some time.
Had to do a  project for our school fete and came up with this idea, thought you might like to see.
Looking forward to the new book.
Mekaela Ferrero


I wrote her back to ask what a school fete was. She told me it is like a fair and fundraiser for the school. I hope the garden mouse found a new home and made some money for the school. Also, the fact that this was Mekaela's first project for knitting in the round should inspire some new double-pointed needle users to give it a try. It is so much easier than it looks. Thanks for sharing your creativity with me, Mekaela. I love getting project photos from knitters, never hesitate to share your work with me.

The pattern for the mouse is in Itty-Bitty Nursery  and is a part of the Garden Mice Mobile. i designed the mice to specifically work as stand alone knitted toys or to be used in the mobile. i think it is great that people are knitting the mice on their own.

I am having quite a week. As my mom would say, what a world. On top of it all our main computer has completely melted down with all of my stuff on it. I am writing this post from our lap top which is nothing short of feisty and is missing the "k" key. It really bothers me because I guess I use the letter "k" a lot what with this being a "k"nitting blog and all.

I'll be back soon hopefully with a computer solution underway.
Have a beautiful Wednesday, Knitters.
best, susie


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back Home to Mama

Hi Knitters,
Well, I got my sweater back. It is just as I remembered it. My sister told me I had told her I didn't want it back and she could just get rid of it. She hung on to it for some reason and now we are getting a good laugh out of it. In case you missed it, I knitted this sweater around 1985 from a Very Easy, Very Vogue pattern from Vogue Knitting. I had just found an old picture of me wearing it and I was flooded with memories. I really loved this sweater at the time.

You have to admit, it's a lot of bang for your buck. You get the complete look coming and going. The sleeves are super short which I highly doubt was planned. It is good for a petite girl (that's just a nice way to say short) like me.

I had mentioned how I twisted my purl stitches when I first learned to knit. You can see that this entire sweater was completed with twisted purl stitches which isn't a good thing. The fabric looks so funny.

Here is the best part. My sister and I laughed so hard. Shoulder pads! Yes, I had sewn in some matching pink shoulder pads to complete that 80's look. That is too good. I had no recollection of this final blow.

Okay, I found a few cool things. Here, here and here: I am not alone, funnyfunny interview and lovelovelove the buttons.

best, susie

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Collector

Hi Knitters,
My daughter came tearing in from the backyard yesterday wanting me to grab my camera and follow her back out. She spotted this tiny vine that formed a heart and she asked me to take a picture of it. Isn't that great? I love it. My daughter is a mad nature lover and an even madder collector of all things nature.

This assortment is what I cleared off the kitchen table last night so we could eat our dinner with some sort of space. Other nights I admit to simply clearing a space in the midst of the nature collection so a couple of hurried kids can quickly eat before running out the door. Every single time she goes outside she arrives back inside with armfuls of plants, leaves, flowers, sticks, etc. 

She spent a lot of time working on this grape-ant. I kid you not that the pile of sticks on the ledge there were all on my table. The other day she came home carrying a 4-foot birch branch (I have no idea where it came from) and she tried to bring it inside. I had to draw the line and tell her to turn around and take it back outside. It is so funny.

A few days ago she rode her bike along with my husband while he went for a run. He actually runs, not slogs. At several points during the run she had to get off of her bike to gather various flowers and such. I don't have them any longer but included in this bouquet where these gigantic leaves that were about 18 by 12-inches, there were two of them. I don't know what they were from but they were huge. My daughter was distraught about bringing all of this home so my husband had to run several miles carrying this bouquet including the leaves. I wish I could have seen that in action. These collections are such a mess but there is something so endearing about this little collector that I can't complain. Her urge to collect and craft is beyond her control and I relate to her on every level. I can't wait to see what becomes of this obsession.

We wrapped up these little birds in tissue paper and tied them up with curly ribbon. Off they went to school for several teachers and the principal. What a sweet little gift, I just love the simplicity of these birds.

I've been working on a bit of this....

...and a ton of this. Oy. Work, work, work. Designing can make your brain ache, big time. Toy designing is complicated and much work. I am challenged in the best way possible but it is slow moving.

This little thing graduated from 8th grade last night.

I love him.

Here are some odds and ends for you:
This is the funniest re-cap of TNNA I have ever read. Too good to be true. Hilarious.

Summer Knitty is out. I want to make these and these.

This spot has some super cute new bags. I love my bag more and more everyday. You should get one if you are at all interested.

Guess what? My sister has that Very Easy, Very Vogue sweater and I am getting it back. I will slap that baby on as soon as I get it and share it again in real time. I guess I loaned it to her at some point. She was laughing so hard when she saw that picture from the last post because she knew the sweater was hiding in her closet. The other thing is that I love to hear from others who have knitted that same sweater. Fantastic.

Okay Knitters, I am off to finish knitting a toy.
best, susie

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunny Inspiration

Hi Knitters,
I am so inspired this morning. Dani from Sunshine Yarns has generously sent me a bundle of her Mini Skein Color Collection to help me figure out what colors I want to use for a project for my book. Can I use them all and then use them all together? Maybe not, but I feel the itch to start striping right away. Seeing this gorgeous array of color has carried my mind to a completely different place project-wise. I have a whole new set of toys in mind now that I am very excited about.

The colors include buttermilk, sunshine, mushroom, lime, avocado, fire orange, periwinkle, dusty plum, chocolate, and mermaid. See if you can match those up. I am a sucker for color names. Dani has these mini skein collections available for purchase and it is a great way to sample her yarn. The yarn is Soft Superwash and each of the 10 skeins is 60-70 yards. It is fingering weight and machine washable. The yarn is so incredibly soft and snuggly, squeezing these little cakes is a must.

Granny square update: 78
Last update: 76
I know that isn't much progress in numbers but I did stitch all of the squares together which is still progress. I am shooting to make the blanket 12 squares by 15 squares. Right now it is 6 by 13. Not bad.

I'll leave you today with another blast from the past. This photo was taken on my 28th birthday. (I think that is so funny that I had the candles with my age at 28. Who did that?) That is my cute niece, Morgan, who was the recent graduate I mentioned a few posts ago. I think I was pregnant here with my second son. The point of sharing this picture is to share that lovely sweater. I think this sweater came before the Susan Duckworth sweater for a couple of reasons.

I remember working on this Very Easy, Very Vogue sweater pattern from Vogue Knitting, maybe in 1986-87, while I was still a college student. I knitted on it while I worked one summer as a student advisor for the School of Education for incoming freshmen at the UW. I would pull it out to work on while I waited for the groups of students. I remember being very excited about the sweater. I distinctly remember the woman I worked with making comments about my knitting, especially the Very Easy, Very Vogue title in the magazine. She wasn't a fan. In the photo, which was taken in 1992, I was sitting at the kitchen table in our first house. I remember that awful wallpaper and I remember removing it later. That was not fun.

The sweater was knitted in a cotton and was quite heavy when finished. When I first taught myself to knit I twisted my purl stitches. This entire sweater was completed with twisted stitches making the fabric kind of strange looking up close. It had a lower band of a black and white pattern across the stomach and also a different pattern band across the upper back. This is so strange aesthetically. It is was the 80's is my only explanation. I wore this sweater to death for many, many years. It was perfect, being that it was absolutely huge, to wear through a couple of pregnancies. I don't have this winner in my possession any longer, not sure where it went. I don't have the magazine either.

Oh well, thought you might enjoy another laugh at my expense. I sure do.

Okay, Knitters, back to work for me. Have a good day.
best, susie 

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fruits Circa 1988

Hi Knitters,
Let me take you back for a moment, waaaay back, about 20 years ago to be exact. I was 23 years-old and in graduate school and I was already crazed by knitting. Now, let me set the scene for you. No one knitted at that time, no one. I was a lone fish swimming in uncharted waters with no help by my side. Dramatic, no?

I found this book at the new Borders bookstore here in town. It was a big deal. There were 3 knitting books available, one by Debbie Bliss, one by Kaffe Fassett and one by Susan Duckworth. I bought them all. Susan Duckworth's book sent me realing. I got shivers when I opened this book. I poured over the pages of spectacular knitting, detailed texture and colorwork and design. I couldn't believe my eyes. I finally landed on this pattern called, Fruits. Yes, Fruits. I had no business knitting this sweater, none at all. I did it anyway.

I took the book to a local yarn shop run by a couple of older ladies. I am sure they just shook their heads when I left. Those ladies intimidated me to no end, I never would have asked them for help. I have no idea what that yarn is for the main color but it is some kind of fine wool. The accent colors for the fruits and leaves were all carefully selected wool embroidery yarns. That was all they could do for me.

I knitted this on US size 2 and US size 3 needles. Yes, I just said 2's and 3's at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch. Can you even believe the nerve of that? Naivete is truly a gift at times. The 1 by 1 ribbing on the bottom is at least 10-inches long and extra snug to get that blouson effect just over the top of it. I bobbled, I moss stitched, I intarsia-ed, I basket weaved, I crocheted edging, I had bobbins swinging left and right. Phew, that's exhausting. This thing came with me everywhere I went. What a smart on-the-go knitting project for a young college-aged woman. I wonder what people thought of me. Goof.

Guess what? I got a little burned out. I ended up with a lonely bunch of grapes on the upper-center back and plain stockinette stitch sleeves. The fruits were supposed to be all over the sleeves and back, too. I think this took me a couple of years to really finish because I remember sneaking it out to knit on during lunch at my first teaching job which was in 1990. My husband was in law school and I would knit on this while he studied at night.

I can't believe I actually finished. I will never get rid of Fruits because it taught me so much about knitting. I am still surprised by my courage with my knitting early on. You couldn't pay me to knit something like this, I mean tedious like this, today. No way, no how, period. Never.

Do I resemble the glamorous English model just a little? Nah, not in my dreams. I must say for a girl who had no idea what she was doing and with poor materials my sweater looks pretty darn close. It is all pretty funny.

Here is the cover of Susan Duckworth's Knitting, so English and beautiful. The book is a feast of color and design and gloriousness. I will save it forever. Simply paging through here brings me back to a time where I was game to try anything and I realized that knitting made me catch my breath with excitement. It became my life's calling and it all began with another Susan by my side.

It's 20 years later, it is crazy hair day at school. I have a great tip for you crazy hair designers, like myself, braid pipe cleaners into your daughter's braids and you have an instant Pippi Longstocking look or maybe Medusa (perfect for Halloween). We did four braids and I used 2 pipe cleaners, brown to match, in each braid. 

My daughter had a poetry coffee house with her class this morning. We walked into a dimly lit stage area and were served coffee on the way to our seats. We were instructed to snap instead of clap, very hipster. The kids were told to wear black. They read their poetry with utter confidence and pride. I loved it all. What a teacher she has, simply outstanding. I am indebted forever to good teachers and she is one of them.
Have a good Friday, Knitters.
best, susie

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mercy, Mercy Me

Hi Knitters,
This is my new theme song. I just put it on my ipod today and I can't get enough. I will sing this while I am:
-working on my book
-trying to keep groceries in my house
-doing laundry
-slogging (slow+jog)
-attending end of the year events
-cleaning my house
The list goes on and on. You know I'll be begging for mercy when I start editing. I better start stocking up on candy, right Betz?

This is the best new song I have heard in a long time.
best, susie

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This Becomes...

Hi Knitters,
Don't you love it when this becomes...

...these? I spotted this project here and have been bird crazed ever since.

The underside of the birds have a contrasting print which doesn't show in my photos. I am making a bunch more of these birds to use as little gifts or I think they would look great all thrown in a basket together.

The fabric I am using is from her and here. She did a more than fantastic interview awhile back that is worth a listen. There is a lot going on in her life. She's an admirable sort. I am using some of the Chocolate Lollipop collection in my upcoming book. It's adorable.

I love it when a ball of this....

becomes these. I am on my fourth cozy right now. I am giving them for teacher gifts.

It looks like Cider Moon doesn't have this colorway available any longer. It is called Bikini Bottom in reference, I am sure, to Sponge Bob Square Pants, a longtime favorite at my house. This is the first time I have knitted with this yarn and it is fantastic. It is so soft and fun to work with.

My older daughter taught me how to make these become....

...little boxes. Her teacher taught her class how to make the boxes out of greeting cards yesterday and we made a bunch last night. What a perfect way to recycle old cards. The kids love making the boxes.

My youngest daughter wrote a tiny thank you note to her teachers and tied it up with some Cotton Classic. She gave the boxes to her teachers today. I didn't even know she was doing this until the last minute before she left for school. I quickly took a picture before she left.

I have one last this becomes that for you. I love it when this (and I mean the eggs) becomes that. I have been dreaming of that egg and toast breakfast all week, right down to the steaming hot latte in the orange mug. I've got to go out for breakfast soon, it is my favorite meal of the day. Breakfast at a restaurant always seems like such a treat to me.

On another birdie like note, check out this site. I especially like this craft.
best, susie
p.s. I am totally making Kristin's egg recipe sometime soon. Yum.