Monday, December 28, 2009


Hi Knitters,
I started this hat as a treat for myself a couple of days ago. Yesterday I really had some time to nail it down. I LOVE it! The yarn is the most decadent, gorgeous, soft, lofty treat ever. It is Blue Sky Alpacas Royal which is a 100% luxury alpaca. It is like nothing else I have ever tried. Delicious. It is light as air and the drape is dreamy. I want to knit a lot more with this yarn.

The hat fits so nicely. It's comfortable, covers my ears, clings where it should and looks fantastic! I am thrilled with the way this turned out. The stitch pattern involves increasing and decreasing to get the rippled effect. It is simple but interesting, too, which is the best for this busy time of year. It makes for perfect knitting by the fire. There is nothing more difficult than a kfb (knit in the front and back of the same stitch), and a k2tog (knit two stitches together). Easy, peasy.
I am calling this new pattern, which is available for purchase in my pattern shop, Ruche. Here is the dictionary definition of ruche:
ruche (rōōsh)
n. A ruffle or pleat of lace, muslin, or other fine fabric used for trimming women's garments.

[French, from Old French rusche, beehive, from Medieval Latinrūsca, bark of a tree (used for making beehives), of Celtic origin.]
ruched (rōōsht) adj.

Perfect, right? Beehive, bark of a tree, pleated, ruffled, they all fit the bill. Viva La Roooosh!
The Collector took the photos this morning. Not bad for a 10-year-old.
Here is some information you might like to know:
Size: To fit an average size woman or large child with a head circumference of 20-22 inches.
US size 3, 16-inch circular and 24-inch circular needles OR size to obtain gauge
US size 3, double-pointed needles set of 4 OR size to obtain gauge
Ruler or tape measure
Stitch marker
Yarn needle
6 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch
k knit
p purl
k2tog knit two stitches together
kfb knit in the front and back of the same stitch
rnd(s) round(s)
st(s) stitch(es)
The pattern cost is $4.50. Please remember that I personally send out all patterns from my shop via email with an attached pdf pattern. Sometimes there is a slight delay because it is not automated, it's me doing all of the sending! I try to be as prompt as possible.
Thanks and I hope you enjoy this beautiful, lush hat as much as I do!
best, susie
p.s. Two of my patterns made the Best Knitting Patterns of 2009 for Check it out here! Thanks, Ramona, for letting me know.
p.p.s. I have a new free pattern available on Spud says! Check it out here!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kitchen: Kitschy to Modern

Hi Knitters,
Here is my old kitchen. I wish I had an even older photo because this version is after my do-it-yourself remodel about 8 years ago. Our house was built in the late 1970's. The really old kitchen had dark brown wood cupboards. I painted all of the cupboards inside and out in white. I knocked out the inside panel on the upper cupboards and had glass put in. Over the stove there was a vent and more cupboards that we removed to open it up. There was a dropped plexi-glass ceiling that had florescent lights, big tubes of lights. Why? It was awful. We ripped all of that out. A good friend of ours did all of the electrical wiring and added new canned lights for us. No more florescent lighting.

The back splash was so fun. I collected tiles and mugs and silly stuff and created a funky mosaic back splash. It was so funny and fun. The kids even painted tiles that we broke up and added to the mosaic. I had shelves and 2 big chalkboards and a filing system that hung on one wall with a cubby for each child. It was a funny little kitschy kitchen and we used it hard for years.

I spent about 4 months remodeling the original kitchen into the updated version above. I did everything myself. I walked around in paint stained clothes and hair for months.

The problem was that with four children, three of which are big adult-size now, we simply could not fit in our kitchen comfortably. Entertaining for a sit-down meal was out of the question. Even adding a couple more people left us without enough places to eat. We had a large farm table and benches to sit on. You had to shuffle sideways to slide into your seat and once everyone sat down you could forget about getting up again. It was tough and uncomfortable.

It was time for drastic action! The wall with the double oven was knocked out completely and the kitchen was gutted and every inch was reworked. We also added a sliding glass door and a deck onto the back of the house. We added all new windows which really brightened up the room.

We started last June and the new stone back splash was installed and grouted last week. Now you can look at the entire process! It was painful to say the least but we are in love with our new kitchen.
Funny little mosaic strip left all alone on the wall. No more handmade kitchen for us. We loved it but it was time to move on.
Love the old linoleum you find under other flooring!
There is the new doorway to the deck. This adds so much light to the room.
Filmy Green from Sherwin Williams, the best color ever! I have had three people I know paint this same shade in their homes since it went up on my walls. It's beautiful.
Hard wood floors are the best.
Excitement ran high as the new cupboards arrived. It was like a giant puzzle.
The lighting is simple and beautiful. No counter tops yet.
Taking shape.
I LOVE the stone back splash with the gray grout and how it goes with our counter tops and wall color. It is heaven on earth. The Ming Green tile is from TileArt, a Madison tile shop on Monroe Street. The counter tops look like concrete, all speckled gray and fun.
Joy! The back splash is so sleek and cool. I can't believe it is in my house. I go crazy over stuff like this. I like it so much.
The sink was filled with cookie sheets, maybe I'll take another photo when it is clean and empty. The sink is one huge deep basin, no divider in the middle. I am in love with my huge sink and the faucet is so cool. It has the nozzle that pulls out and can be used like a sprayer. It is such a joy.
There is so much seating now. We have storage drawers built into this big bench that is under one of the windows. All of the cabinets are birch wood. To have storage is a new thing to me.
We have two islands. One is a breakfast bar with seating for four. The other island holds our stove. This is the first time I have ever had a gas stove. That is a treat.
We can all fit around our table comfortably now. I can't tell you what a difference the new kitchen has made in our lives. We love everything about it.
I am a baker. I love making cookies and now I have 3 racks in each oven. These are convection ovens and boy do they work fast. I have had to happily adjust to speedy oven time. Now I can bake an entire batch of cookies at once. That's a thrill.
When I have been out on the road so many knitters have asked me about the kitchen. I was waiting for the last bit to be finished up before I posted on the project again. I haven't even hung any artwork back on the walls yet. I am enjoying the clean freshness of it all, I guess. I will get to hanging some things on the walls again soon.

This is the first time in my life I have ever had something new that we created from scratch. I am so appreciative of it all. I am used to always making do and now I don't have to so much.
From my kitchen to yours, happy holidays!

Much love and good wishes to all of you, sweet friends.
best, susie
p.s. The cookies are my mom's ginger snap recipe with chocolate Kisses plopped on top. Yum. They were gone in a flash. Not kidding.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snooty Snood Deux

Hi Knitters,
Fast and furious today! Late last night I hurriedly finished a second Snooty Snood by Gina Hills. I will be giving it away for Christmas. The Collector gave me permission to take her photo this morning but threw in a brusque, "Hurry up!" So I jumped to it as ordered. She is on fire over Christmas.
Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed, color 100. 2 skeins, none left. US size 13 needles.
There are some funny mistakes in this one but I am okay with that. I'll never tell and it looks good to me!

I get asked this every time, the yarn cubbies in the background are old and from Sundance catalog. I don't even get that catalog any longer, is it still around? I used to order from there every once in a while. Cool stuff. Robert Redford style.

I've got to run. My boys' high school swim team is coming over for dinner tonight for Chinese. That's close to 40 people total. My older daughter had already planned a sleep over for three friends as well. Poor planning. All I have to do is provide the house and make dessert. Everything else is being taken care of for us. It should be fun but I need to clean and bake and clean some more!

One other exciting bit of news is that my oldest son has just been accepted in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is so excited as it is the only place he has ever wanted to go to college. He only applied for one other school. I've never seen anyone so set on one school. There was no doubt in his mind. I would have felt so sad for him if it didn't work out. But it did! Phew!

We have a long family history at the UW-Madison with loads of family members going to college here, including my husband and me, and my dad who was a professor at the UW-Madison for over 30 years. The campus is the reason we grew up and lived in Madison, I was born shortly after my dad got his position on the faculty. My husband played football for the Badgers as well. In general, we are just Madison people through and through and we love it to death here so it isn't hard for us to understand why my son feels so strongly. In fact, I feel good that we have passed on our love for our great little city and our great big college.

What a gift for the season. I don't need anything else. Now, I get to breathe a big sigh of relief.

Happiness lives on!
best, susie

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Past

Hi Knitters,
How are you? Is everyone knitting for the holidays? I hope so. In the past I have knitted my heart out for Christmas but this year has been a little different. I haven't had the time to knit for gifts. I am okay with that though. I started thinking about past Christmas seasons and knitting and crafting I have done. I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane.

The first project that came to mind is the Grinch Glove design I made a couple of years ago. The Collector loved these. The Grinch Glove pattern is a free pattern on my sidebar if you are interested. It is just a good glove pattern for kids, too, if you don't want to add the Grinchy-ness.
I love the heart on the palm. It reminds me of the book, The Kissing Hand. The link for The Kissing Hand book is in the free pattern post linked below.

Here is the link for the Ravelry page for the Grinch Gloves.

I knit this set several years ago for a different project I was working on. The other project was then changed and became Itty-Bitty Toys. I was very happy to get to include The Christmas Set in this book.
The Christmas Set is one of my favorite sets of toys. I remember feeling so excited about it when I finished. I brought the set to my mom's house to show her. She just loved it. My mom loved details and I remember her examining the Santa so closely. We even pulled out her old Polaroid camera and took some photos of the set in her kitchen. I still have those Polaroids. In fact, one of those photos is on a bulletin board in my studio. It is a sweet memory that I think about every time I see The Christmas Set. It is good.

My mom was a fantastic seamstress but she didn't knit. She always told me that knitting was more difficult than sewing, at least to her. I remember one time, many, many years ago, I was on a plane sitting next to her. I was knitting an acorn off the top of my head. She asked me, "How do you know how to do that?" I said, "I don't know." She thought that was so funny. We laughed at my silliness.
I think the beard and the eyebrows are my favorite features on this little guy. They turned out to be so good.

Here is the link for the Ravelry page for The Christmas Set.
Remember this project last year? I made several of these Santa Hats. The pattern for this is in Handknit Holidays. The Collector is still proudly wearing her Santa hat this year. This is a perfect, festive holiday hat. I even did a tutorial on how to line a hat using this hat as an example.

Here is the link for the Ravelry page for the Santa Hat.
I knitted up these fun little things last year, too. I have given the hat and the sachet tree away. The Snowman? I still have him. I made the pattern up as I knitted, it's not written up anywhere. The tree sachet is a free pattern on the Purlbee if you are interested. It is on their sidebar along with lots of other free patterns.
The Santa Baby ornament is another free pattern on my sidebar. You can knit this up in a jiffy if you still need a quick gift. It is easy and teeny tiny.

Here is the link for the Ravelry page for the Santa Baby Ornament.
Last year I had this idea for these tiny snow people ornaments using wool felt balls and sequined felt rings I purchased from here.
I stitched them together with a needle and thread but you could glue them instead I suppose. I cut a tiny triangle of orange felt to stitch on for a carrot nose. Then I took a black Sharpie and made dots for the mouth, eyes and buttons. This is a fast and sweet project, too. I gave a bunch of these away last year as gifts.

The scarf in the background is the Eleventh Hour scarf made out of Blue Sky Bulky. This is another great free pattern available on the Purlbee.

Well, I hope you are doing better than I am this year with your gift knitting. I am not ready for the holidays at all, not one bit. I have so much to do and so little time. I am one of those last minute people.

I want to give you an update on a few things before going today.

Knitty included a review of Itty-Bitty Toys in their Cool Stuff section of the new winter issue. Here is the link for the Cool Stuff page. Knitty's Cool Stuff selection always makes me want everything they select. It is a fun read.

The new patterns for Spud and Chloë are up for preview. To celebrate the new patterns I am hosting a giveaway on Spud says! (my other blog). Click here to check it out and enter. You still have a tiny bit of time to enter over there to win the incredibly cool and vintage looking Spud & Chloë pencil bag and your choice of one of the new patterns. I will be picking the two winners very soon so enter quick. Maybe even later today but for sure tomorrow the winners will be selected.

Well, maybe next year I'll get to knit and craft a little more for Christmas. This year I am just looking to Christmas past.

best, susie

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stitchers Crossing Event

Hi Knitters,
I brought the Itty-Bitty trunk show to my neighborhood quilt and yarn shop last weekend and I had such a good time. I love Stitchers Crossing. This is the shop where my sister and I took the quilt class last fall. I could spend hours in here and in fact, I have! Speaking of my sister, she stopped by to see me on Saturday even though she was in the middle of shuffling her kids around town. I made her take a photo with her side of the sister doll. See, that doll is actually her! Isn't my sister cute? Love her and I couldn't make it through life without her by my side. She's an awesome sister.

If you look up on the top right of the shelves of yarn you can see a bunch of Itty-Bitty Hats knitted up. The shop taught a class this fall using the book. I think the students could pick the hat they wanted to make. Gael taught the class and she is wonderful and helpful and nice. She has great samples of all sorts of projects knitted up for the shop. Stitchers Crossing is a quilting shop and yarn shop. It is a nice mix of both.

I didn't get great photos of this event but it was a nice event with a steady stream of interested knitters. I had quite a few people stop by with books owned by others to get signed. I always am surprised at the effort people make to get their books signed. I had quite a few Christmas gift books to sign. I had a few people stay for quite awhile, which was fun. Then you get to visit a little longer. There were kids, parents, friends, grandparents, moms... it was a nice variety of knitters.

I am pleased to say that the toys are holding up really well after all of the hands and travels. It is good to see that they will stand the test of time. I haven't had any repairs as of yet!
This is madtownmama on Ravelry. She came with her two little kids, who are adorable and sweet. She has already knitted two wrap me up puppies from the book. They are so sweet. It was great to meet her in person.
The Collector came and was great company. She brought her knitting and a bunch of drawings she is working on. She looked around the shop quite a bit. We left with a little bit of fabric she picked out. It had sparkling dragonflies, okay? We can't resist that.
My sweet, dear friend Laura stopped by. She is one of my favorites. She took both of my girls and me out for breakfast on Sunday. It was a good weekend to get to see her twice. What a treat. She taught three of my kids for first and second grades. It was a lot of years. She is such a good friend. I am a lucky girl.
Sharon is in the background taking a photo. She is the owner of the shop. The woman on the left is Katie. She came from Milwaukee to see me and came right at the end of the event, I was heading to pack up when she arrived. I am so glad she caught me. The driving was bad due to the snow. My husband came right at the end, too, and took these photos. I love Katie and have met her before. She works at Loop Yarn Shop in Milwaukee. Remember she made me mosaic knitting needles and a bear cake? I do. She just graduated from college a couple of days ago. Congratulations, Katie! I hope to get back to Loop sometime this spring for another event, it is in the works. Thanks for coming. It was so good to see you again. Katie has good energy.
The woman on the right works at the store. She had me sign a book and then she told me she was going to place orders with her daughter, the knitter, for various toys! It was cute.

The most exciting development of the day is that Stitchers Crossing is planning to carry Spud & Chloë after the first of the year! Madison knitters are now going to have a local spot to get their Spud & Chloë yarns and patterns right in town!! I am so excited about this. I will be sure to get you more information when this develops. This is great news and I really hope the Madison knitters will come out in force to support Stitchers on supplying this line locally! I get so many requests from local knitters and now we will have it at our fingertips.

I love Stitchers Crossing! Thanks for hosting me. I always have fun at this beautiful shop!

best, susie
p.s. Here are the Ravelry links for my two new patterns that will be released in January for Blue Sky and Spud & Chloë. Three Brrr Bears! Hop! I'll tell you more about these soon!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Katie B. Wants to Knit a Giraffe!

Hi Knitters,
Here is the randomly selected winning comment:

Blogger Katie B. said...

Hi, Susan! I love your new book. I'd love the chance to knit up this little guy.

Katie B

Congratulations!! Katie B. please send me your mailing address by Tuesday, December 15th. My email is on the sidebar.
So let me tell you what I added to the prize pot. I have one skein of the luscious Malabrigo. It's yours. Plus, I am throwing in a skein of Cascade 220 in a gorgeous purpley pink. Love it.
Here is the Superwash Cascade 220 in Daffodil and Orange and my all-time favorite tool, Alice's Pom Tree! You're going to need the Pom Tree to get your Giraffe all dressed up and ready to go.
Here is the friendly, sleepy Giraffe just waiting to be knit up by you, Katie B!
Remember this guy in Itty-Bitty Toys?
Well, I am throwing in the rest of the Yarntini Chocolatini yarn that I used for the monkey in the book. There is plenty to knit another chocolate sock monkey for sure! I love this yarn so much. It reminds me of golden chocolate chip cookies.
Remember the Baby Bear in IBT?
I am pretty sure there is enough left on this skein to whip up another Baby Bear or a Curly Snake or maybe a Pear in the Finger Foods selection. This is my favorite colorway in Noro. That burst of magenta gets me every time.
Speaking of the Curly Snake...
... here is the rest of that skein as well. I barely used any of this large skein of yarn for the snake in the book. You could get another snake or two out of this one!

There you go, Katie B. ! Can't wait to hear from you. You know every time I do a giveaway I always dread picking a winner. I wish I could send all of you stuff, really. Thank you for entering and leaving such happy, loving comments. You are the best, each and every one of you.

Thank you, dear Knitters. You make this blog so much fun. I look forward to coming here and writing and sharing with you. It is a comfortable place for me to be and I hope for you, too.

best, susie
p.s. Check out these two new toy pattern previews I designed and knitted for Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas. I am pretty excited about both of them. They will be available shortly and I'll give more details soon. Both of these patterns have interesting construction details.
p.p.s I'll be back this week with a recap of my Stitchers Crossing event yesterday (it was fun!) and a book review of Kristin Nicholas', Color with Kristin. I think I can host another giveaway for this book, too, so be looking for that if interested! I think I possibly can giveaway 2 copies but I have to double check on that with Kristin's publicist. I have a stack of books I need to review and share but I can't seem to find the time to get it done.