Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blanketed in Love

Hi Knitters,
I have a story to tell you about a beautiful blanket that was sent to me a couple of weeks ago via my sister. The blanket was made by the ever-wonderful knitters and my dear online friends from the Itty-Bitty Knits group.

I have posted the videos that illustrate the story behind the blanket so you can experience it right along with me. Receiving this blanket has been a life-changing experience for me. It overwhelms me and just thinking about it makes me emotional. I have had a hard time even pulling a post together about it I guess because it means so much to me. That makes it almost difficult to share somehow? I don't know. I have never had anything like this happen to me. The effort was tremendous.

Suzanne, the moderator of the Itty-Bitty Knits group on Ravelry and dear knitter friend of mine, was the mastermind behind the blanket. Please go to her blog and subscribe to her video podcast - she is a cool one to watch.

The blanket squares came from all over the world, China, Australia, Ireland, Canada and all over the United States coast to coast and everywhere in between.

Besides Suzanne, the rest of the credit goes to these lovely and generous Itty-Bitty Knits knitters. Here are their Ravelry names:


The blanket is gigantic! It fits on my king-sized bed! The blanket is made in Spud & Chloë Sweater and is the Dream Catcher Baby Blanket, which is a free pattern.

How to ever thank each and every one of you enough? I am at a loss. I am humbled, overjoyed, lucky, not worthy, amazed, appreciative, feeling big-time loved, and will be warm and snuggly for the rest of my life. My appreciation is beyond description.

A simple heartfelt thank you to you all. My family thanks you, too. Every single day the blanket has been in my home someone has been snuggling up on the couch with it. We have one room that gets especially cold in the winter and it is already a well-loved staple in there. It makes me smile when I see my kids using this blanket.

Please enjoy the following videos, the first is my sister bringing the blanket over for me to open. I am so shocked and surprised by the whole thing as you will see.

I will let you watch the videos for the whole story. Enjoy.
best, susie

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lamb from Scratch

Edited later to add: Well, I seem to be struggling with names a bit lately. I had to change the name of my new toy because Lambspun is a trademarked name of a fiber arts company in Colorado. So there you go! Lamb from Scratch is the new beloved name for my handspun toy.

Hi Knitters,
I have a new little lamb love made from my first batch of handspun wool yarn. I am calling him Lamb from Scratch because he is my first project knit from my own handspun wool. He is 5-inches tall by about 3 1/2-inches wide. He's a small fry with a big personality and a rustic twist.
I am going to write this simple project up and have the pattern available very soon. You can make this out of commercial yarns as well and I will list some suggestions for you. The good thing about a toy is that it doesn't have to fit anything so gauge is not quite as important.
Look for the pattern for Lamb from Scratch right here on my blog and in my Ravelry pattern shop next week. You will be able to whip up a few in time for the gift giving season with no problem at all. I will keep you posted.
Meet my other new love.
What should this become? I can't keep my hands off of it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I am hoping you will be surrounded by family and loved ones and that there will be lots and lots of comfort food to go around.
best, susie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Hi Knitters,
I'm getting better.....
- from frabjous fibers - hand dyed blue faced leicester top, #3 surf n seaweed - Sow's Ear!
These are two different skeins (than on the prior post) of the natural wool.
best, susie

Monday, November 22, 2010


Hi Knitters,
I hope this day finds you well and happy. I had a whirlwind week and weekend just past. I will fill you in on the happenings in more detail very soon. One thing to share today is that I have learned how to spin! Well, I have learned a little bit about how to spin.

The skeins you see are my first meager attempts at spinning singles and then plying them together. Although I am usually a quick study when it comes to things of a crafty sort this seems not to be the case with the spinning. It is not a quick study but a long study involving lots and lots of practice and patience.
Therefore I am humbled. I will continue to work hard on the art of spinning because I have fallen in love with everything about it. I have even found myself thinking about it as I try to fall asleep at night and then I have to remind myself to stop thinking about it so I am able to fall asleep at night. Silly girl.

The wheel I am using is an Ashford Joy single treadle sent to me by the owner of Spud & Chloë.

The gorgeous natural roving was gifted to me by my friend Dianne of Sheep Dreams. A big box of roving just arrived on my doorstep one day. I had mentioned one time that I was planning on learning to spin. You should really read Dianne's blog if you don't already as she is a talented and interesting one. Click here for Sheep Dreams.

Liz at the Sow's Ear gave me a lesson on how to use a wheel and the very basic elements of spinning. Liz is an excellent teacher! She teaches knitting and spinning classes and kids knitting classes and she is a gem.

When I was having a lot of trouble with my wheel my friend Sara met me at the Sow's Ear and fixed my troubles right away. I sat and watched her spin for a bit and learned so much in a short period of time. Thank you, dear Sara. TC came with me and downed a hot chocolate and a big chocolate cupcake (yes, the Sow's Ear has a bakery/coffee shop, too) while Sara helped me. Oh, to be eleven....

I have some really cool and generous friends:)

I also had a most wonderful sort of huge surprise happen to me last week. I need to do a full and proper post on this event and I will. It will take quite a bit of time and thinking so I want to do it justice. It was an act of kindness and generosity that has touched me in a way that I've never experienced before. This surprise involves knitting, internationally located knitters, Spud & Chloë, and lots of love and patience and more.

I will be back with more during this appropriate week of thanks and giving. Here's to everyone having a good start to the week at hand.

best, susie
p.s. I have a new free pattern up on Spud says! for a long and twisty looped scarf. Click here to check out Twister.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wrap and Roll

Hi Knitters,
I had to share my binding roll with you. I save up long strips that I have cut off of other pieces. If I want the binding to be the same I cut a fat quarter into 2 1/4 inch strips. I sew the pieces together and iron the fold.
I love the look of the roll of binding, especially on the raw edged and thready side. It feels so good to use up scraps along the way. I am trying to finish up my placemat project this week and I promise will photograph the steps for you. I've gotten a ton of requests for a tutorial.

Here is a preview of my next project for Spud says! It is a cozy wrap made out of Spud & Chloë Outer. It keeps my shoulders so warm. There are lots of ways to wear this one. The buttons are optional. I bought my handcrafted cut branch buttons from this etsy shop called, Wooden Treausres, if you are interested. I have another set waiting for a sweater I have planned. They are gorgeous wooden buttons.

The pattern is coming soon and I'll keep you posted as to when it becomes available.
TC finished her baby hat and bootie set. She is incredibly proud which is fun to see.

The hat is from Itty-Bitty Hats.
She has been enjoying her creations and places them in different spots for people to view and comment on. It is pretty sweet.

I have to tell you about this series I recently watched and enjoyed while I've been knitting and sewing. I found out about it from Jessica while listening to the Doubleknit podcast (one of my favorites). It is a British television series called, Doc Martin. It is available on Watch Instantly on Netflix, which is how I watched the series. Doc Martin is about a socially inept London surgeon who transfers his practice to the tiny village of Port Wenn to become the villagers' general practitioner. He is a curmudgeonly and rude genius to say the least and the characters in the village are as quirky as it gets. I loved it. Doc Martin, however, is not for children as it contains some adult content, nothing too racy but definitely a few adult topics are thrown in here and there.

I love the Doubleknit podcast so much because they talk mainly about knitting but then they talk books and movies and tv as well. I like the added entertainment reviews. I think I have mentioned this podcast before but it is worth another mention.

Take care, Knitters.
best, susie

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Old Friends

Hi Knitters,
TC has been knitting up a storm again. It comes and goes for her but when she is on with the knitting she is a whirlwind. She became obsessed with knitting booties so I suggested this old free pattern of mine called, Pg. 81 Booties. If you have Itty-Bitty Hats go to page 81 to see where it all started. She is so excited about her finished booties. I helped her with the finishing but she did all of the knitting.

Click here to read the story of the Pg. 81 Booties and see how to make them.

Click here to go to the Ravelry project page for the Pg. 81 Booties.

The free pattern pdf is on my blog sidebar under Free Patterns.

TC is incredibly proud of her booties and she made a hat to match. All that is left is a few rosebuds for the top of the hat. She literally hovers about me while she is knitting. It is cute. She is using the no longer being manufactured Manos Cotton Stria. I am glad to have a big basket of this yarn in my possession. It is gorgeous and will dwindle eventually because TC loves it.
All week I have been knitting up a storm right along with TC but I also worked in a few more placemats. You know, I just can't get used to writing place mat in two words. I am going back to the regular old placemat. What do you think? Anyhoo, either way, my goal is to eventually get a dozen placemats for my family's daily use. Everyone loves them so much. It is making me really, really happy. I have to remember to photograph the steps for you. I think I will put that up next on here.

It's the little things in life that count. Simple pleasures are the best.

I purchased that fun pincushion from Anthology on State Street in Madison. This is one of our favorite local shops to get lost in.
Here are two more that I am hoping to finish up today. I am doing mitered corners on the binding. Sometimes they work out so beautifully and sometimes I struggle. I can't quite figure out why. This is such a good learning process for me. Practice, practice, practice. I am getting really fast and confident on threading my machine, filling bobbins and problem solving. I've got the bobbin tension figured out, too. You learn by doing. It's true.

As far as other new things, I am going for my first spinning lesson next week! I am pretty excited about this. I will keep you posted on how I do. I also have my skirt sewing class coming up. I'll have lots of new things to share over the next couple of weeks.

I'll leave you with a few fun links today:
A gorgeous new sweater pattern.
A free pattern for a swirly cowl.
A cool and easy sewn scarf pattern.
A knitted Kindle cover (I need to make this asap!)
I am considering purchasing one of these hooked rug kits. I love the look of them.
Gudrun Johnston's incredible new pattern book is up for pre-order. I love these patterns.
I am ordering this pattern book by Mandy Powers!
Check out the patterns for Mandy's book in this review. You'll love the patterns.
This Etsy shop is making me swoon.

Okay, friends, I have to get on with my day.
best, susie

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Place Mat Mania

Hi Knitters,
My family is one for place mats. They love to have place mats on the kitchen table for every meal. Unfortunately, I have only two sets of not very appealing place mats for them to use. Plus, they are constantly in the wash as place mats tend to be.

By the way, did you think "place mat" was one word or two? I thought it was one but wasn't sure so I started looking around. In ads for Macy's and other places it is one word, placemat. Interestingly enough, in the dictionary it is two words so that is what I will use:
place matnouna mat serving as table linen for an individual place setting

I have been wanting to sew my own set of place mats forever. After finishing my large quilt and refreshing my quilting memory I got the inspiration to come up with my own version of a quilted place mat. I didn't use a pattern for this at all in case anyone is wanting to ask for the pattern.

I have finished four so far. Ideally I need at least ten or twelve for my family and guests. We could never really have enough with some always being in the laundry so I will keep plugging away.
I have collected some fat quarter fabric bundles over the past few years and they are making some pretty charming place mats if I do say so myself.
Each mat is reversible and has different quilting lines that are completely random and not measured or marked. I just go at it.
I spent a little time making a huge roll of binding by cutting strips of various fabric pieces and scraps and sewing them together to have on hand. The mismatched fabric makes for a fun edging. I love that.
The whole process is free and easy. I am using one of my store-bought place mats as a size guide. I just lay it on top of the fabric and cut away. There is basically no measuring whatsoever involved. I love the unplanned project so much.
Here are two more waiting to have the binding hand-stitched and then they will be ready for use.

I think I will put up a tutorial for this project at some point soon. It is fun and quick and I am hoping to get some made for holiday gifts for this Christmas season. You might want to do this, too.
On the knitting front, I am working away on this baby blanket in Outer in the Cedar colorway. It is turning out really great.
Also, I just posted a new free pattern on Spud says! for this cute hat called, Go Team! I sized it for young children through adult sized heads! This is another perfect gift idea and let me tell you the teens LOVE this style hat. You won't go wrong gifting this one.

Take care, Knitters. It is a busy, busy week ahead. Off we go!
best, susie

Friday, November 05, 2010

I know it's over but....

Hi Knitters,
I just had to share my goofy Halloween crew with you. Looking at that bunch of silliness makes me laugh. I especially like my nephew in the front. He's in the ghost busters costume with a white top-hat. Why not?

You know, I can't remember if I have told you the story of one Halloween many, many years ago. It was scarring. It was the year my mom bought my costume at our neighborhood elementary school resale. I am pretty sure it was maybe a dime or a quarter for the costume, possibly a nickel or even a penny.

I have been made fun of by my siblings (in a loving way) over the years due to wearing this costume in the late 1960's. It was a horrible hard plastic mask and some sort of cheap fabric/paper dress. You'll never guess who my mom dressed her preschool aged daughter up as that one Halloween.....

Lucille Ball.

It was perhaps the worst costume in costume history. It was basically unidentifiable. I don't think I even knew who Lucille Ball was at that age. My mom used to laugh about that costume, too, she knew it wasn't right. I will see if I can find the photo of my three older siblings and Lucille Ball sitting on the couch before trick or treating. I will share the photo someday if I ever am able to find it. It's a good one.

Have a good weekend everyone!
best, susie

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

There is a First for Everything

Hi Knitters,
I don't know if I can describe this well enough but I will try. It was so funny. I was sitting looking out my front window after school and my girls were in the room with me. All of a sudden my daughter starts laughing really hard. "Mom, look!" All I can see is my son backing into the driveway with the back end of the car open and two more boys inside hanging on to some huge piece of furniture of some sort. I kept trying to figure out what it was....

Of course! It was a really old dust-covered organ that they had found on the side of the road. Why wouldn't you stop and load that gem into your car? I remember lots of people had these upright organs in their homes when I was growing up but the kids had never seen one of these before. It looked so archaic. Do you remember these like I do? I am sure they were thought to be a real luxury at the time. I had friends with these exact organs in their houses. We always had the regular old piano at our house.

The boys set it up on our driveway and my son dug up a really long outdoor extension cord. I was bracing myself for the loud organ playing that would take place in my driveway. You're not going to believe it but it didn't work. Go figure. I told him I didn't want the organ inside of our house. We really and truly don't have room. My son said not to worry they would put it out on the curb if they couldn't get it working which I wasn't thrilled about either.

They fiddled around with it for awhile to no avail. Then they got all excited thinking they were going to sell the organ. They were laughing really loud and running around the house. They got online and saw that similar (however working) organs were being sold for a couple hundred dollars on ebay. They even found a minister who collects organs and restores them. However, I told my son again I didn't want it left in our garage or in our house. I tried to consider it staying but I just couldn't do it. They loaded the organ back up in the van and took it to one of the friend's houses. Sorry to the other sweet mom who now has an organ at her house but I am glad it's not sitting in my garage right now. I think my son emailed the minister so we'll wait and see what happens.

This was a first and hopefully a last.

There is never a dull moment around here. Honestly. I would enjoy a few dull moments. To the mothers of young preschool-aged children, you think it's busy and crazy now but just hang onto your hats.
Okay, all of that was going on when I started writing on the real topic for today's post. It was so silly I had to take the detour to, "The Great Organ Adventure." I am so excited and proud about this: I finished my first ever large-sized quilt!

Do any of you remember when I first posted about this quilt I started making? I just found when, July, 15th, 2009. Click here to see the first post on this quilt! Our house had just begun a massive renovation where almost every inch was gutted and every inch was dust covered. I decided at that time to put it away to finish after the remodel. You know how that goes. You forget.

The other day last week I was cleaning out my studio and I ran across the finished quilt top and the backing fabric and batting I had picked up at Stitcher's Crossing way back when. I had since taken a really great quilting class at Stitcher's so I kind of remembered how to finish a quilt. We had made a small quilt in the class. That was a year ago. Click here to see my fall-inspired quilt.

The fabrics for the quilt top were all bundles I had purchased online at Spool in Philadelphia. I had quite a collection of summery-themed bundles. Spool puts together fantastically coordinated fat quarter bundles. Click here to see what they have pulled together right now!
For the backing I used two colorways sewn together of this Amy Butler fabric. Since I didn't use a pattern for my quilt but instead stitched up random columns of squares and rectangles both skinny and fat my quilt ended up not being a standard size. It is a great and generous size though.
It is so summery and juicy. The colors are refreshing and light. I love it so much.
I masking-taped the backing down on my floor and did the basting that way. It wasn't too bad. I made sure not to scratch the wood floor with the pins. The quilting lines I stitched on my old 1970's sewing machine which took a lot of maneuvering. It was quite an accomplishment for me. I only broke two needles. I did random lines, no measuring and no marking or planning. The quilt lines are quite fun and not so straight at all. I actually like that the lines are not straight and even. It's more charming, natural and playful to me. I really prefer that kind of quilting without the precision cutting and stitching.

For the binding I used the extra fabric from the backing after I trimmed it off. I loved seeing it come together. It was very exciting. The binding looks so good. Again, there is nothing perfect about this quirky quilt.
I enjoyed the hand-stitching of the binding to the backing. I feel much more in my element when hand-stitching. I am not much of a machine girl. The kids are excited about the new couch quilt. I am actually surprised by the amount of attention the new quilt has received. I barely get a nod from anyone about my knitting projects around here. My son (the organ collector) and his group of about six friends, who were over for lunch one day, have even admired and commented on the quilt several times. That made me laugh. They all stood around the quilt in my living room to take it in and compliment.

It will be heavily used no doubt.
Now I am back to reality with the writing and knitting. It was a fun short-lived break with the quilting. I signed up for a Barcelona skirt (Amy Butler pattern) class at Stitcher's Crossing in a few weeks. My sister is joining me for the class. I have had this pattern for a long while and have never made the skirt. When I saw that Stitcher's is offering a class for this pattern I jumped right in! I will share what I learn and hopefully I will end up with a cute new skirt.

It's Wednesday already? Really?
best, susie
p.s. By the way I watched the Fiddler on the Roof with Peachy this past weekend. I forgot how much I loved this movie. My family went to see it in the theater in 1971 when the movie was first released and I loved it then even though I was little. We had the album of the music and we listened to it all of the time. I remembered all of the words to the songs. It was really fun. The movie is rated G! Hooray for the long-lost art of the G-rated movie. I miss that and it can be done well.