Sunday, May 30, 2010

Good Stuff

Hi Knitters,
I'm jumping around in topics today so hang with me!

My Peachy had her first big dance last week. Can you believe it? Our height difference makes me laugh every time I see it so clearly. I have mentioned it before but in case you missed it my husband is 6' 5" tall. Peachy clearly takes after my husband. I would love to be tall like that. She looked so pretty. I helped straighten her curly hair. This girl has some serious hair so it took quite an effort. She was funny and excited about the dance. Her friends met at our house to get ready for the dance. They were all sweet and fancy. She had a great time in the end. She came home bubbling with stories.
We went down to the farmers market again yesterday. I spotted this little handknit hat stand in front of the Grace Episcopal Church.
I actually started talking to the Reverend Pat Size who is behind the little hat stand literally and figuratively. She is the Hispanic Missioner for the church. She has lots of knitters who donate their handknit hats to her cause. All proceeds from the sales go to the Hispanic Ministry Scholarship Fund. Reverend Size was excited to tell me that over the years they have raised over $20,000 from selling the hats and they have sent two students to college with their scholarship funds. She was proud of these success stories. That is so wonderful.

I by chance noticed the reverend had Itty-Bitty Hats leaning up against the stand on the ground. See it there by her feet? I told her that I was the author of her book. She said that someone about a week ago had stopped by her stand and told her she should get Itty-Bitty Hats to use for her charity knitting. She had just gone to Borders to pick up a copy and loved it. She already had a few rosebud hats up on her stand that were getting attention while I was standing there. She asked me to sign her book for her. It was just a fun chance meeting.
I have been to a wedding at this church before a long time ago I think. Anyway, it was so refreshing to see such good being done through knitting. The stand attracted a lot of business. I wish them luck and if you are interested in contributing to this cause you can contact the church by clicking here.
Across the street the farmers market was hopping!
Each week there is different produce which is always fun to see.
Lots of radishes adorned the square. Radishes are always beautiful.
TC was on the prowl.
Oh she found something alright. She spotted a strawberry plant with ripe strawberries.
We went home with this beauty of a plant. It's already been planted in a bright sunny spot in our backyard.
She ate most of the ripe strawberries before we got home. We got our big bag of kettle corn of course. Well, it has been a busy stretch. May is always like that and I always seem to forget how much goes on with the kids in May. It seems like we have something every day and night of the week.

I have been knitting like mad trying to finish up some projects that are due in the upcoming week. It always creeps up on you no matter how hard you try.

I'll be back soon...
best, susie

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shalom Report

Hi Knitters,
My Shalom is progressing nicely. I finished the body and have sewn on two brown buttons with two more to go. The yarn is working up perfectly for the pattern.
I am using Cascade 128 on US size 10.75. It is so fast and fun.
I love the knit on front edging and bottom edge both in garter stitch.
Now for sleeves! Those will be fast and furious as well.

I have been working so hard on my work projects this week and my parenting projects this week. It has been busy, busy. There is so much to be done on both fronts. Check out one of my new patterns set for mid-June release over here on Spud says! It is a super cute and fast project.

I'll be back soon with lots more to share and hopefully with a finished Shalom. By the way, I have been wearing my Tea Leaves Cardigan so much. I throw it on in the early morning and at night over a t-shirt and jeans or a skirt when it has been a little chilly. I just love it!
Have a good night, Knitters.
best, susie

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Hi Knitters,
This is sure a quick little knit. I'm using Cascade 128 in color #1910, on US size 10.75 needles at 3.25 stitches per inch. Find the free pattern for Shalom here. This is one sweater that will benefit greatly from a good hearty blocking session. It's looking a little rough around the edges right now but it will very cute in the end.

Shalom is well on the way. It is a vest pattern and I am adding sleeves roughly using the little mama's sleeve instructions. Soule Mama also added sleeves to her Shalom and offers some sketchy instructions. I love both of these versions from both of these wonderful mamas. It is a one button pattern but I added three more buttonholes. I have four perfect brown buttons in waiting that will look fantastic with the blue.
Oh, and this little mama got a big daddy haircut. I also got my grays washed away. This salon visit will last me for a good long while. Is it weird that I dread going to a salon and sitting there for a couple of hours? Weird or not that is how I feel.

I'm off. I am putting my Shalom away now until I finish up some more pressing work knitting projects that have to be completed over the next few days. Shalom is packed up tight in my rooster bag and hidden so I won't even see it to be tempted. Unfortunately when you hide things from yourself you actually know where to find them. Willpower be with me, please.

No more personal knitting for a bit. Work, work, work.
best, susie

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tea Time

Hi Knitters,
I forgot how much I like to knit sweaters. I used to knit sweaters for myself like mad. I have a huge cedar chest packed full of handknit sweaters. I remember getting Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits years ago and scouring them for sweaters I wanted to knit. I would dog-ear those magazine pages to mark all of my favorites. In fact, there was rarely a knitting magazine released where I wouldn't knit at least one of the sweaters in the issue. That all ended when I started writing books. There just isn't enough time in the day.

Even though I am not really on a lull as far as work goes, I became smitten with the Tea Leaves Cardigan. I decided to make it for myself and I am glad I took the time to do it.
The Tea Leaves Cardigan (click here to purchase) is an incredibly simple, fast and fun knit. The Madelinetosh dk is a squishy, interesting treat. I used the colorway called Burnished.
I made a few changes here and there but I made this for fun and I am not going to go into detail about the changes I made. If you look up this sweater on Ravelry you will find 557 posted Tea Leaves Cardigans with extensive modification notes and yarn ideas. There is a modification for just about any fit issue you could imagine in the Tea Leaves posted projects.

The buttons I ended up using are gorgeous buttons from Purl. Here is the link. They are the Ecrulet black scroll buttons. They are beautiful and perfect. I only had two of the copper ceramic buttons so I had to make a new choice. The original button spacing wasn't working for me when I tried it on so I had to change it. I had to place four buttons closer together to make it work better.
The yarn? Madeline Tosh dk purchased at Nina's in Chicago. Give them a call to get some!
The pattern for the Tea Leaves Cardigan? Look here on Ravelry for all of the details.

Now on the needles? Shalom in Cascade 128 in Summer Sky Heather #1910! It's going to be fast and furious. I will be adding four buttonholes to this sweater. I am going to see if I have enough yarn to add sleeves, maybe? We'll see.

In my time off from work knitting what do I do? Knit! I love what I do.
best, susie

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One, Two, Three, Four

Hi Knitters,
1. I've got one sleeve finished!
2. I've selected new buttons from two very different choices.
3. It took three tries to get the buttonhole band right.
4. I've decided on four buttons with a new placement and smaller holes.
best, susie

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Brother's Buddy Joe

Hi Knitters,
My brother, Scott, spent the weekend with his good buddy Joe. Vice President Joe Biden, that is. Here is the link to the article and photos. That is my brother in the sunglasses turning and laughing with Mr. Vice President. Oh, and those are my brother's binoculars that he let the Vice President borrow. I can't believe that Mr. Vice President forgot his binocs.

My nephew is on the crew team and apparently the Bidens' granddaughter is on a crew team that was also at the regatta. My brother told me that the secret service was all over and that they actually selected the seats right behind my brother. I'm sure they spied his binoculars at the ready and seized the opportunity.

I LOVE it!
Now on the left in this photograph is my sister-in-law with the sunglasses. She is a Susan, too.

Aren't they cute? They all look so happy.

Wow, and I thought I had a good weekend.
best, susie

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday in Madison

Hi Knitters,
Warning: Long post with lots of photos! I have to share our first farmers' market trip of the season. On a quick side note, I looked up whether or not to use an apostrophe when writing farmers' market. I have seen it written farmers, farmers' and farmer's. On the official website for the market they use farmers' plural with an apostrophe at the end so that is what I will use. I know I have written about our Madison Farmers' Market before but it really is spectacular so I don't mind writing about it again. I have heard it is the largest farmers' market in the country. It circles the Capitol Square and extends out on side streets surrounding the square which makes it enormous. We started out a little late so it was a bit too crowded. It is better to go early to beat the crowds.

My husband and son joined me and we started out at the first booth buying three huge bright red shiny tomatoes. We ate them with dinner last night just sliced with salt and pepper. The. Best. I am going to try to grow tomatoes this year as we have more sun in our yard due to the tree removal of last summer. I can't wait to see if it will work.
The flowers were stunning. My son immediately bought a bag of cheese curds which we shared as we walked around. The test to see if they are good or not? The squeeeeeek! These curds were a good batch.
The oils and potatoes were gorgeous. The variety being sold in the booths always surprises me.
There was quite a bit of popcorn for sale.
I hadn't seen the award winning sheep milk cheese booth before. Did you know about that?
Tulips in buckets were abundant. It is that time of year. My husband told me that every mid-May the Capitol lets people dig up the bulbs in the huge tulip planters that surround the building after the blooming season is done. I want to do that next year.
Scallions were being sold at every turn. It is fun to see what is available so early in the season.
Pansies are the flower of the moment in Madison. People are planting pansies like crazy. I have noticed this on my daily jogs. Even a few weeks ago people were planting pansies in pots and I thought it was too early but my sister told me that these are ice pansies that can withstand the cold temperatures. I am going to try planting pansies this summer because of our new sunlight in the yard. They are one of my favorite flowers. We'll see if it works. I have planted pansies before that didn't survive. Aren't they gorgeous?
That's my son in the red t-shirt and my husband is to the right in the gray carrying our tomatoes. The babies were out in full-force. One woman had teeny-tiny twins that looked maybe one week old. They were screaming and crying as she walked along. I think maybe a little too little for the market, right? It was so crowded that it was impossible to make a fast exit. We were shuffling right behind them for a long while listening to the newborn cries. I kept thinking she needed to pick them up but she left them in the stroller. I felt like picking them up myself. I was saying to my husband, she needs to pick them up and feed them. It's funny how that new mom feeling comes right back when you hear those newborn cries. We stopped at a booth so I don't know how that all ended. I am sure fine. They were really, really cute tiny babies.
Pussy willows and tangled twigs always catch my eye.
There was a cheesecake booth this year that looked fantastic. I am a cheesecake lover but rarely ever eat it. I love the chocolate heart ganache. That looks so good. Yummy booth.
Rhubarb was the other main event. Rhubarb and scallions stole the show. Rhubarb reminds me of my mom and her rhubarb pie. Best ever.
Of course in Madison you have to have your obligatory protest. This one didn't get too much attention. It was about increasing alternative education options. I don't know. There was a lot of yelling and sign holding. No one seemed to give it much attention.
On the other side of the street there was jewelry and a few clothing booths. This woman dyed onesies and then stamped cute little sayings or words on the front. I liked the one that simply said Peanut. Peanut.
Our outing ended at Fromagination. I had been wanting to head over to this shop for a couple of weeks because I heard that Jeni's Ice Cream had made it into this Madison shop. Have you heard of Jeni's? It is famous in the Knitter World because it originates in Columbus, Ohio, the home of the summer TNNA event. Knitters tweet and blog and brag about their daily Jeni's Ice Cream consumption when attending TNNA. I had never tried Jeni's before but had always wanted to.
I hadn't been inside Fromagination before as it is a fairly new shop on the square. It was a treat. My husband used to work on the square and his old office is just a few doors down from Fromagination. The shop has been reviewed in the New York Times and has been named the Best of Madison in 2009. The shop sells an extensive and wide variety of gourmet cheeses and all sorts of other foodie type things as well. These are colored sugars in tiny tins with handwritten labels.
The shop has a strong cheese smell when you walk in the door. Stinky cheese smell. I love stinky cheese. Do you?
Sweet sheep iced cookies wrapped in cellophane looked yummy. There were so many little things tucked here and there. You had to spend some time looking to see everything.
Samples were everywhere. The shop inventory is huge and packed full. Fromagination was very crowded while we were there.
Finally in the back freezer I spied the Jeni's Ice Cream! Pear Sorbet, Wildberry Lavender, Almond Butter.... and there it was Salty Caramel! This is my favorite new flavor. In San Francisco we had Bi-Rite ice cream a couple of times. It was a funky little ice cream shop filled with flavors and characters and we loved it. That was the first time I ever had Salty Caramel ice cream and I fell in love with it. Salty and sweet is a winner every time. We bought a pint of Jeni's Salty Caramel for $10.50 and they packed it in a brown paper sack with handles for us to carry home. You should visit Jeni's Ice Cream site to see all of the fun flavors they have. Every flavor is unusual.
A little scoop of Salty Caramel was our dessert last night after dinner. It was awesome and memorable. What a treat.
Colorful spools of twine line the wall behind the register in Fromagination. They use it to wrap purchases or you can buy the spools as well. I love the look of that shelf.
These little pastel French Macaroons were featured in the shop. They apparently had some big magazine write up that was posted around. The cookies look very sweet and fancy. I love those fat felt-y birds in the window, too.
Our last stop was my favorite place. The Capitol Kettle Corn booth is always the best. They make fresh batches of salty and sweet kettle corn about every 10 minutes or so. You wouldn't believe how good it smells. The man stirs and stirs like crazy when the corn is popped. He must be exhausted at the end of the day. The last thing they do is add the salt. The kettle corn literally melts in your mouth when you eat it. I never leave without a large bag and we all share it for a couple of days at home. This morning I noticed not much was left.
Here I am armed with my salty and sweet treats. I've got my warm kettle corn, Jeni's pint and three juicy tomatoes. I'm a happy girl. Oh, I have to tell you about one other thing my son purchased. At Stella's Bakery he stood in a long line to get a cheese bread. This is about a 9-inch round spicy loaf of bread that is loaded with melted cheese. You buy it hot, right out of the oven, and they pack it in a small clear bag. To eat it you tear off doughy pieces that have melted cheese inside. It is incredible and worth the wait. I held the bag of cheese bread while he waited in line for a smoothie and I swear it weighed about 5 pounds.

Look behind me in that picture above....
That is the Monona Terrace. It is a gorgeous and fairly new building to Madison that was years in the making. It is a Frank Lloyd Wright design that overlooks the beautiful Lake Monona. It really is a beautiful building where conferences, weddings and other events are held. It is also a fun spot to view the lake from the rooftop.

If you are in Madison on a weekend the farmers' market is a must do event. I hope you get to experience it sometime.

Thanks for coming along!
best, susie
p.s. I have one fun and inspiring link for you today. It is a blog called Tree Fall Design. Check it out.