Sunday, August 31, 2008

Acorns a la Betz

Hi Knitters,
Well, I have noticed that the acorns are falling around my neighborhood. I love that crunch under my feet when I am out for a walk or run. What is it about acorns that people love so much? I think acorns are wonderful.

I pulled these out from last fall. That Betz is genius. I truly love this clever, easy fall project. She inspires me.
I decided today to make a knitted version entitled, Acorns a la Betz. The felted balls are from here, order the 2cm size if you are making acorns like these. The acorns I made are from the Fall colorway.
I'm going to make plenty more. Last fall I put a few acorns together and gave them to teachers. They loved their felty acorns.

Here is the pattern for you:

Acorns a la Betz
US size 3 dpns, set of 4
Small amount of dk weight tweed yarn or brown yarn (I used O-Wool Balance)
Matching thread and sewing needle
Yarn needle
Stitch marker
2cm felted balls (from here)

Cast on 15 stitches (5 stitches on each of 3 needles).
Join to work in the round being careful not to twist, place a marker.
Work 4 rounds in seed stitch.
Decrease rounds:
rnd 1: (k2tog) 2 times, knit 1 on each needle (3 stitches per needle and 9 stitches remain)
rnd 2: knit
rnd 3: k2tog, knit 1, pass the first stitch over and off the right needle (1 stitch per needle and 3 stitches remain)

Place the 3 remaining stitches on 1 dpn. Now use 2 dpns to make an I-cord.
Next row: k2tog, k1 (2 stitches remain)
Work 2 more rows in I-cord. Then k2tog (1 stitch remains), cut the yarn and pull through the remaining stitch. Weave in the ends to the inside.
Place the knitted acorn top on the felted ball and sew with a needle and thread to attach.

That's it! Hope you enjoy.
I'm off to movie night at the pool to watch Enchanted with the kids.
Happy Holiday.
best, susie

Friday, August 29, 2008


Hi Knitters,
I have things to share with you today. I want to quickly share a couple yarns I picked up at Purl while in NYC. I am so excited about this gorgeous Koigu KPPPM #P854. It is so fall-inspired with dark chocolate, rusty oranges and reds, golden honey and luscious greens. The colorway is rich and full and beautiful and dark and cozy. I am not sure what type of socks I will make but they need to be worthy. The yarn is full with color already so the pattern will need to be a simple one.
One more quick find from Purl is this kettle dyed skein from Farmhouse Yarns. It is 400 yards of Fannie's Fingering Weight in the Rainforest colorway. I have been completely drawn to greens of all sorts lately. The greens here could be from any forest really. Check out this collection of yarn, it all looks like candy or ice cream or something decadent.

Which brings me to these. My daughter and I will be making up a batch later this aft. Can't wait. I haven't made this recipe before so I'll let you know how it goes.
My daughters both had birthdays this summer and had a couple gift cards to use up from Barnes and Noble. Right when we walked in we spotted Kevin Henkes' newest release, Old Bear. We are huge fans, huge. We have all of his books. Not only does he live in Madison, which always makes my heart grow fonder, but what a genius talent he possesses. I think one of the most difficult things to do in story writing is to limit your words right down to the bare bones and still convey the feeling and detail that is the meat of the story. Kevin achieves this with so few words. Old Bear is one of the top picture books I have read lately. This author clearly shares a love of the seasons right along with the old bear. You feel the seasons shift and change as the old bear vividly dreams away the cold winter to awake to a glorious spring. It is a joyously short story with simple but magical illustrations.
Here is the book my other daughter picked with her gift card, How to Find Flower Fairies. Talk about a magical book (this is one of a series of books). It is set in the 1930's and is written by Cicely Mary Barker. She is a woman who has found proof that fairies exist and she tells you the secrets to finding fairies in 5 different settings: the tree tops, the forest floor, the garden, the wayside and the marshes. The book is written in a scrappy, journal style but best of all it has fantastic pop-ups along the way.
The tree top pop-up page is wonderful, it is my favorite. You have to look in all of the creases and crevices between the leaves to see all of the magical finds in here.
The garden page is my daughter's favorite due to the colors. The book even has "actual" photographs of fairies taken by Cicely's camera. What a great, fun book.

I have some links to share with you. I have been searching patterns lately, you know, for the p.o.a. So here are a few patterns that you may want to add to you p.o.a. along with me:
cozy (this is a ravelry link, couldn't find another one for you)

Check out these posts from Kristin for some great inspiration:
Country Home tribute (I've got to get this issue, quick.)
Fabric Printing (This has to be done with a certain someone over here.)

Check out this flower tutorial from Betz. Little rosettes are the best.

Okay, for now I must leave you. Have a beautiful holiday weekend if I don't get back sooner. It's supposed to be a glorious one in Madison, hope it is for you, too.
best, susie

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

P. o. A.

Hi Knitters,
When my husband and I were in college we had this group of friends. The father of one of the friends would always come in and ask, "What's the P.o.A.?" You know, the Plan of Action. I always thought that was so funny, he is the only one I ever heard use that abbreviation. Nowadays everything is abbreviated for texting, I guess, but back then it wasn't like that. So I am deep into my P.o.A. for when I finish knitting the projects for my book. I think I have about 3 or 4 more to go for the book and even though that doesn't sound too bad it is still a lot of work ahead.

Do you see any exhaust fumes coming off of the yarn above? I started working at 4am yesterday morning to complete and write the pattern for a 3 toy set for Blue Sky Alpacas. I happily sent the toys off to Minnesota yesterday afternoon. What a good feeling. I love the Blue Sky ads in the knitting mags so I can't wait to see this one. Hopefully I will remember to look around for it when it comes out. If you see it and I don't, please mention it to me. You'll know the toys are mine when you see them. I think it is supposed to be in their winter collection so by then I know it will be gone out of my brain.

I really do forget things and I am not proud of that fact. When I woke up this morning I thought it was yesterday morning. This wouldn't be so bad only I had an appointment yesterday and I thought yesterday was today. Are you following? I lost a day this week and a doctor's appointment. Believe me this isn't the first time this has happened. When you think yesterday is today you end up having to call and apologize for missed appointments. That is embarrassing and not fun. I don't recommend it. I don't think I am losing it, I think it is more that I have so much to remember that it doesn't all fit in my head. It helps to keep a calendar but then you have to remember to look at it. Enough.
As I was digging around for yarn for my extensive knitting P.o.A., I found this little gem I made a few years ago for a store sample. This booklet for Jaeger (2004), by Martin Storey, is a winner. Every pattern is wonderful. I don't know if you can still get this one anymore, I treasure my copy. Anyway, just thought I'd share this cute, teeny-tiny raglan with you. It's never been worn so I think I will save it for some special baby. I noticed that I left the pockets off. A newborn baby doesn't need side pockets, right?
Back to my P.o.A, this luscious scarf and hat set, by the talented Tanis Gray, is in the winter 2007/'o8 issue of Vogue Knitting. This is the only pattern from this issue that I was interested in knitting. It is made in cashmere in the magazine so I just hadn't pursued finding a substitute yarn. I looked up the yarn the sample is made in but it was something like $59 a skein. It would be between $2oo to $300 to make if you used that yarn. I had forgotten about it when I saw this exact pattern and scarf in progress out on the table at Newbury Yarns in Boston. The woman working at the shop was making the set out of Reynolds Andean Alpaca Regal, a three-ply bulky alpaca yarn, and it was gorgeous. I had to join in. This is definitely on the top of the P.o.A. I could wear it this winter.
The newest Fall 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting is one of the best issues ever put out in my opinion. Congrats to the hard working people at Vogue for a spectacular issue. There are so many patterns in here that I would love to make starting with Mari Muinonen's Yellow Harvest mittens. My P.o.A. just got longer. These beauties are made out of 2 skeins of Manos del Uruguay which I happen to have in the lovely Blush pink colorway #17. Vogue directs you to their site to print out the charts they have available in pdf format. I think this is a smart way to go about the space issue. Don't you just love those mittens? I'll be sure to hold my hands like just like the model when I finish. I guess it is hard to come up with different poses when modeling mittens. I love that pose. It is the same pose on the cover, too.
I don't think I will make these just like in the picture but I sure could look at them all day long. I think I might make a shorter version, leaving off the long cuffs and poms. Then they would be more practical for me. That embroidery is deadly good. They are knit in Julia by the always fantastic Kristin Nicholas. She was asked to create some over-the-top mittens and she achieved greatness. I think this could have easily been the cover shot. They probably had a difficult time deciding the cover with all of the stunning patterns in here. I want to make the cover mittens, too.
Okay, I mentioned this sweater in the last post briefly. When I leafed through the magazine I paid no attention to the Aran Wrap Cardigan. Then I saw this blog post and followed the link and then I was convinced that I had to knit this sweater in the near future. You really have to look at the difference the desiger's photos make when looking at the sweater. It is remarkable. The designer is Angela Hahn and she came up with a detailed and beautiful design that looks incredibly fun to knit. Congrats.

I dug around and found this Rowan Magpie Aran (I don't think Rowan produces this yarn anymore) just hanging about and sure enough I am just a bit short for the yardage. I am still going to use it because I am short and I have short arms so often times I shorten things up anyway. That's a lot of short. What can you do? I think I can make it work with the Magpie. Hey, Angela also has posted a list that offers substitute yarn ideas if you are interested.
I'll leave you today with some serious fairy drawing we are working on over here and my Opal #1702 socks in progress. It's funny because I thought all of the stripes would be even but the red stripe is extra long. I love surprises.

Bye for now. I have some rescheduling of appointments today on my P.o.A. Bummer.
best, susie
p.s. Another thing I keep forgetting is that the Itty-Bitty Nursery Trunk Show Tour is now at:

Threadbare Fiber Arts Studios


319 S. Waverly Road

Lansing, MI 48917


Arrive: August 21

Depart: September 2

Stop by if you get a chance.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Trip Finale Plus

Hi Knitters,
Are you up for one last look at our summer trip? I hope so. My brother lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area so we ended our trip at his house, which is beautiful by the way. He lives on a quiet street in a big house so it felt wonderful after the crowded streets and hotels. We mainly hung out and visited with our families but we did make one journey downtown to see the monuments. On the way to the monuments we walked by the house where Abe Lincoln died and the theater where he was shot was right across the street. I hadn't seen that before and it really made you stop and think about that history from so long ago. It is hard to imagine the times during that period of history. Everything was so small in size, the buildings I mean, but the Lincoln monument is massively impressive when you are up close.
It is a sight to behold.
The Vietnam Memorial Wall is by far the most moving monument to me. I don't know what it is about that wall that brings me to tears, it surely isn't the fanciest or prettiest. As you are walking it is like the world gets really quiet the farther down the wall you go, silence surrounds you. Seeing the staggering list of names of the people who died hits you like a ton of bricks but it is the trinkets and notes that are left by loved ones that gets me every time. You see how personal and current is still remains. On the bottom of one list of names there was a simple little note left in the gutter. Scribbled on that scrap of paper it just said, "I love you." I get so sad just thinking about it.
It was a perfect day as the sky was overcast with only one brief and light shower along the way. The temp and humidity were not high and the crowds were surprisingly small. It is a memorable journey and a somber journey at times as you think about all of the people who have paid so much for our country.
On a lighter note, on the way to the monuments we went to Georgetown where I ran across this little gem of a yarn shop, Stitch DC. They have three locations in the D.C. area. What a cute little shop to stumble upon.
The young woman working was helpful and friendly and cute. It is a wonderful little space with some fun yarns. It seemed they had a lot of Karabella, Debbie Bliss and O Wool.
I especially like seeing this on the shelf when I walked in. That makes you feel good:)
I bought this scrumptious and huge skein of Mary's Little Lamb Light Worsted in True Blue. It has 450 yards and is by Farmhouse Yarns. I love the gentle color and I am planning on making some sort of cabled scarf out of it eventually. I ran across this array of free cabled scarf patterns (scroll down) you may want to check out. What a plethora of patterns from this wonderful designer.

Here are a couple more cool links I have been thinking about. I am making that sweater (from the first link) and I think I have the yarn in my stash for it, more later. If you have the magazine then you will know what I am talking about when I say that passed that sweater right by at first. Then when I saw the photos from the designers blog, I can't get it out of my head. What a fantastic creation. The other link is another great new resource you may want to visit. There are some interesting patterns here.
I know this is getting long but I want to finish by sharing my daughter's altered book. She had so much fun with this project. Here are some of the pages:
This page features glitter and a working zipper. When you open the zipper you see she wrote, "Happy Days," and glued two little buttons on either side, very cheerful.
I love this because you can make the horse move by pulling on the sucker stick on the side. It's an action feature.
Cheeky monkey!
You have to have a blue bird, sun with a smiley face and a big ol' tree, always.
This book is now featured on display in our living room for all to see.

Have a super weekend, Knitters. I hope it's a good one.
best, susie

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New York Minute

Hi Knitters,
It seemed like a minute anyway. The trio above was the highlight of my short time in New York. I got to see my beloved editor, Trent Duffy, at Artisan Books for the first time in person. I know I have said this before but it is strange to work with someone for almost 2 years and never meet them in person or even know what they look like for that matter. Well, it was a fun meeting. I met with Trent first and he is so warm, friendly and welcoming. We chatted in his office for a bit then he took me around the office and introduced me to the Artisan staff, a few I had met before. Everyone asked me if I was done with my new book yet and I had to keep saying not quite. Oh well.

The office is really nice, they recently moved to this current building. It was great meeting Trent face to face. Trent is the kind of editor any author dreams of working with. He treats me in an incredibly kind way. He's very respectful and sweet and the best thing is he respects my knitting. I love that so much. Every day he jumps from historical topics and authors, to dealing with the top chefs, artists and photographers in the world, celebrities and news people of all sorts, all the way to me and my toy and baby knitting. I feel like he sincerely includes me and my chubby bunny-like projects right in the same category as his other authors and that is truly wonderful. It actually makes me tear up a bit to think about my good fortune in Trent. I feel pretty lucky about the whole thing. He likes things to be done right and well and it shows in the books Artisan publishes. Plus he's a nice looking man in person to boot!

That's Danielle Costa in the middle. Do you remember me talking about her awhile ago. She was my publicist for Itty-Bitty Hats. She set up my first book tour and led me by the hand while I experienced being an author for the first time. What a job she did, the girl was 25 years old at the time and she literally filled me with her confidence. I loved working with Danielle and I actually cried after I hung up the phone when she told me she was switching jobs at Artisan. She is in the sales department now and is doing a fantastic job. I really feel like I owe Danielle a ton of gratitude. She has been so supportive and caring. I can't tell you enough about the type of support she offered along the way and in every situation. I even called her one night before my first tour stop in Minneapolis where I had several tv appearances scheduled. I asked her the silliest question about what I should wear. I called her on her cell phone so I asked where she was at the moment. I could have died, here she was at the publisher, Ann Bramson's apartment for an after-work gathering and there I am calling about which skirt to wear. She couldn't have been any kinder. I miss Danielle but I still get to see her every once in awhile which is good. We will always be friends, I hope.

Lastly, you all know the wonder-publicist Jaime on the right. She is my current book publicist at Artisan and the brains and organizer behind the current Itty-Bitty Nursery trunk show tour. Well, she continues to be a bright light in my life. Jaime has a lot going on right now and I hope and pray that I get to continue to work with her. Jaime's in love and her love just happened to get in Harvard Law School. Guess who's moving to Boston? I would do the same thing. I am hoping it works out that she gets to do the publicity for my next book in a freelance type of way, that is my dream. It could really work out that way. Maybe we'll even get to go to TNNA together again. Jaime is a knitter and we just have a good time together. I am sure all of her author's say that but it is true. I love Jaime. She has done a wonderful job and she has a lot left to do in the world. I can't wait to see what happens next with her. The world is Jaime's oyster.

These three took me to lunch just across the way from their office at a place called The Blue Ribbon. It was a wonderful leisurely lunch. I loved chatting with them, they are a funny, entertaining group. I had the most delicious salad too, one of the best ever in fact. I had looked forward to this lunch for a long time and it was better than I had ever imagined. I smile when I think about it. Gorgeous, all of them.
Here I am outside the door of Artisan with my daughter. I was surprised by her height or my lack of, rather. I wish I was tall like that. My family walked me to the door and then when I went in to push the elevator button I looked back and they were all in the doorway waving at me. It was a pretty funny sight. They got to meet Jaime, Danielle and Trent after lunch. That was a good moment. My life is so different than their lives it is fun to see the two worlds collide.
I Spy: my head and my daughter's pony tail.
My sons love The Office. Here is a wall of Dwight bobble-heads on display at the NBC studio store. We came home with a Michael and a Dwight bobble-head. I like that show, too, but it makes me so uncomfortable sometimes that I can't watch.
We spent a ton of time at FAO Schwartz. That was fun. What can I say about the tootsie pop photo? Teenage boys are just funny characters.
All of the kids tried the massive piano keys from the movie Big. You can get one for your house for only $250,000.
We went to Central Park and climbed humongous rocks. We went up and down a lot. There are climbing rocks everywhere you turn.
We called Jaime from the park for a dinner recommendation and we ended up here:
The Carnegie Deli. Here is my matzoh ball soup with noodles. Have you ever?
Here is my son's sandwich called, "Bacon Whoopee." I only cringed a little when he ordered it, pretty funny. They ate half at dinner, took the other half in a doggy bag and polished it off while watching the Olympics later that night.
We went to Battery Park to view the Statue of Liberty.
She looked beautiful as ever.
best, susie
p.s. We stayed at the best hotel in Secaucus, NJ. It is an Embassy Suites, the room rates were very reasonable and it was a 15 minute bus ride to Times Square. The bus stop was right out of our door, $3 a piece for a ride. The best part was each morning they had a huge complimentary made-to-order breakfast spread. For a family of 6 this was ideal and saved us a lot of time and money. The hotel was clean with a friendly, helpful staff. I highly recommend this spot if you are headed out that way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Boston Times and Stuff

Hi Knitters,
First I'd like to share with you something straight from my fridge...
and my kitchen table...
directly to the pages of....
Parents magazine, September 2008 issue!

I found this in my pile of mail yesterday. The wonderful Amanda Kingloff, the lifestyle editor at Parents magazine, is so kind to remember to send me issues that have my stuff in the pages. Otherwise I would probably forget and it is nice to see the results in the end. In every issue of Parents they have a quick one page craft for kids called Make It! Many months ago I sent Amanda a few of these flower magnets I had made using bottle caps as the base of the flower. They loved them and with a few modifications made for more accessible materials here is how it turned out:
This is such a quick, cute little craft project that is good for any age group young to old. In the project that made the pages I used felt and pom-poms from the craft store. They look great but I have to tell you that the original samples I made were a little different (seen in the top three pictures) and you, as fiber people, might enjoy the materials I used. I had some wool felt ovals and some felted balls in my stash that I put to use. The flowers made in the felt were gorgeous and if you have any of these items around this is a great use. A fun and easy project for kids and adults is always good.
Well, we sure did a ton of this last week. We started out the week in Boston. I love this city, so historical and interesting. We walked all over, up and down, side to side. We hit just about every Boston spot you could think of in our short stop over.
My kids took most of the photos from our trip and it is fun to see what they see through the camera. It is always creative and funny at times. We really enjoyed Newbury Street, of course. One of the spots my girls loved was Lush. This store is a franchise but we don't have one in Madison yet. They have all of this handmade soap in all different forms and smells. We tried everything in the store and we even had a hand treatment. The staff was so much fun and there was even a young woman working who is from Chicago and her family was in Madison at that time. She liked that we were from Madison, it was cute.
This beautiful young woman was really fun. She had that water pouring into buckets and bowls and we sampled to our hearts content. I asked if I could take a picture of her hair for my blog. I think she thought I was a bit nutty but what's new? She had taken roving and braided it into her hair and then left long ends to wind up in that spectacular roving bun. If I were twenty I would do that. Anyway, stop in to the Lush shop if you get a chance.

We also went to Newbury Yarns where the woman working in the tiny upstairs shop was so helpful and friendly. She made our visit incredibly pleasant. I bought a few fun items here that I'll share at some point including some needles that look like candy on the ends (my daughter picked those out).
We ended up at Sugar Heaven for some treats. It turned out to be an expensive candy stop much to my husband's chagrin. That's the whole crew taking a sugar break.
It was beautiful in Boston, what a great walking city. The eating was fun, too. You can't miss.

Change of subject, you know the silk ribbon I used for this cover project? A friendly reader sent me the link to this ribbon. I get so many emails about where to get this exact ribbon and now I know. Thank you, Allison.

Okay, more later. Oh, and Robbie aka washmom responded yesterday to the giveaway so she is the official winner for sure. Congrats again.

I am already gathering my next giveaway. It may be smaller but it will be just as good. I have no idea when I will do the next one, it will be when the feeling strikes. Those are pretty fun.

Have a great Tuesday, Knitters.
best, susie