Category Archives: Knitting

The Winner and the New Baby

The winner of the blanket kit is whatzitknitz – my neighbor to the east in Wisconsin.  I’ll contact you to get a mailing address.  The big news is that Aunt Lou had the date wrong – EJ was due in early February, not late.  Looks who is here ahead of the blanket:

2014-01-30 06.22.09

I think the bright colors will be perfect for him.   If I ever get it done.  Thank goodness it is bulky yarn.  I really appreciate all the comments and ideas.  I have to swatch to see if I like it better without the orange or without the yellow.  I am going to try Robin’s idea of putting the dark teal where the yellow was used. “The bigger stripes will be the bright colors and the darker blue will “tone” it down a bit. I think it would be fabulous that way!”  She may be right.

I’ve been distracted by a sweater for me.  In the fantastic Nash Island Light.  Nearly done picking up all the stitches for the button band/collar. (I will never purchase another of this brand of interchangeable. This has happened with all most of the longer lengths.  Maybe I just pull too hard, or perhaps this was the first version and they have improved.  )

broken needle

Ripped out collar twice.

collar 1

Another big oops when I tried it on to decide whether I wanted hems for cuffs or ribbing.

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How did I manage to make one sleeve 3 inches shorter than the other.  THREE INCHES!  At least it is stockinette and used a provisional cast on, so I can pick up and knit down.

Time to shovel snow.  More details on the sweater later.  The polar vortex appears to be hanging around enough for me to get lots of wear out of this if I ever finish it!  Thank you all for playing!

Baby Blanket Failure – a giveaway

I am excited to be a great-aunt yet again – those kids are more prolific than any of my siblings were.  I have been planning a baby blanket.   I love making baby blankets, cozy, cute, fast ones.  I don’t make heirloom lace gorgeous items to be used at a child’s wedding.  These are blankets to drag around, and nothing makes me happier than to see or hear that the blanket in question has made it to that stage.

A newly arrived neighbor baby got a blanket, (I can’t find a picture right now) and her 5-year old sister was feeling a bit miffed.  I told her that she had received a blanket from me long before this interloper.  Her eyes got bigger, and she asked if it was yellow and green – yes, it had those colors in it.  “I sleep with it every night!”  That really made my heart glad.

So, I thought I’d make little EJ to be something bright and fun. ( Soft, squishy, bright 128 Superwash from Cascade.)  You know how you keep knitting, even when something isn’t working out?  Like when the colors looked great in the skeins, but together are less than the sum of their parts?  I brought this blanket to the shop to get a second opinion, and yes, it was deemed irretrievably ugly.  I took it up to class.  (I think it’s always good for students to see me ripping out work.)  Before I displayed it, I announced that I was going to rip something out, not because it was technically wrong, but because it was hideous.  They all said, not, nothing can be ugly enough to rip it out.  When I did the TA DA, they all groaned.  Yep, ugly.

ugly blanket

On the other hand, If it made it, I could call it “That 70’s Baby .”

The lesson was then looking at the little balls of yarn  and seeing that they should have played nicely, but didn’t.  Was it tone?  Proportion?  Stitch pattern?  I especially love it when I have students who quietly confess they have art degrees and start explaining some color theory.    That’s the sort of thing that makes classes fun.  Otherwise, we could all sit around with you tube videos.  I may try something without the yellow, however, I’m open to suggestions.

This blanket, Terrace, I designed in the summer specifically for the Yarnery’s Shop Hop Yarn, Sprout.  It’s Superwash BlueFaced Leicester from All for Love of Yarn.  Details on Ravelry.

terrace web pic

It is bright and fun and not ugly.  And check out that cute model – he’s a neighbor, too.  Aren’t I lucky to have such photogenic kids around the ‘hood?  The problem is, they grow too fast!  The Yarnery has kitted up a pattern and two skeins of the yarn and I have one for a giveaway.  Post a comment by January 28 and tell me what baby items you like to knit.  Some lucky winner will have these in her mailbox, soon.

In the Bleak Meteorological Mid-Winter

Frosty winds are making moan at my house.  I saw this on Weather Underground the other day, the difference between astronomical winter and meteorological winter and figured it would make a good lead-in for a long overdue New Year post.

First of all, the annual present making with the mostly grown up children went well, one of the best efforts.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of all the candles we made, because the team got them packed and wrapped before I remembered.  It went so well, and their mother uses so many candles that we talked about a repeat for next year.  They could each search for some cool containers ahead of time.  (Yeah, right….)

Here’s an action shot of the crew at lunch – surrounded by our still unpainted dining room walls.  Those are sparkling juice bottles, BTW.


I didn’t get pictures of all the gifts they made for one another, since some of that action took place elsewhere, and some of the phone camera shots aren’t very useful.  There were, however, some cute hippo slipper(s), even if not quite finished:

hippo2 hippo

And some of the gifts I made them:

Popm poms, of course!

aman 2 Aman   Billy

Socks and infinity scarves

T's sox


This is the infinity scarf in its first incarnation, a Honey Cowl.


I was clearly not going to have enough yarn, and I was using stash, a skein of Casbah carried with a skein of Kid Silk Haze, so there was no more to be had.  I ripped it out and used a stitch pattern with a much less compressed row gauge.    Here’s what I had left after the new version:


And for the one teen aged boy I know who likes to dress up:


He appears to be checking out my workmanship, I hope I passed the test.  That is a newish pattern, Adair, the grown up version of the Avery vest.  I used some JoSharp DK that was in my stash, and Mr. Style has worn it quite a few times already, so I hear.

There is also a shaped option with sleeves for women.   The yarn is the Pediboo Worsted, the grown up version of Pediboo.  It is lovely stuff.

Adair front view

I thought I might do a knitting year in review, for my own record keeping, but this post is already too long .  For those down under, keep cool.  For the rest of us, snuggle in and stay warm and dry.  Happy 2014 to all.

Steam that Pompom!

Or pompon, whichever you prefer.  It’s been a crazy crafting month here, but in case you have last minute items that need pompoms, I have to share this new technique:  steam them!

I taught a PomPom Popup at the Yarnery last week.  I didn’t think anyone would come.  It was cold.  It was snowing.  It was Saturday morning.  It was a one-hour class on pompoms and tassels.  Plus, everyone knows how to make pompoms and tassels, right?  Well 16 people showed up.  Everyone had made pompoms and tassels, but everyone felt theirs were weak, lackluster, missing the oomph that is the very nature of a pompom.  My two top tips: Use LOTS of yarn.  Much more than you think. And use one of these gadgets:


I am not typically a buyer of gadgets, and I’ve made many successful pompoms with the good old cardboard circles, but these babies are fast.

The real top tip, though came from a student, who clearly had no business being in the class.  She told us she learned to steam them in Campfire Girls.  Good idea.  Let’s try it out.  I ran downstairs and borrowed the electric kettle from the kitchen.  I had a few forks for showing folks how to make tiny pom poms on a fork, (which we never did) so we stuck a fork in it and it was done!

Happy students with their pompoms:

Photo Dec 13, 6 34 40 PM

Here is the brief photo tutorial I make at dark o’clock to show you how it works.

Pompom in Lamb’s Pride Bulky*, almost ready for a Christmas gift, but untrimmed.   Notice that it is stuck on a fork being held over a pot of boiling water.

Photo Dec 22, 2 29 02 PM

Lightly steamed and gently fluffed:

Photo Dec 22, 2 32 45 PM

Trimmed and ready for the hat:

Photo Dec 22, 2 36 32 PM

So happy pompoms to all, and to all a good night!

*I’d be careful with steaming acrylic or blend yarn.  I’ll have to try it out and let you know.

Not Black Friday, Craft Friday!

Beverly over at Pomo Go Lightly is calling for Craft Friday revolution the day after Thanksgiving.  What a good idea.  Heck, I’d welcome a minor uprising! I don’t normally shop on the day after Thanksgiving, but this year I’ll be glad to stay home and knit for the revolution.  Or at least take the first steps in the annual Christmas-present-making-madness.

I started making Christmas gifts with my goddaughter when she was five.  We took purchased glass Christmas ornaments for her family, wrote each family member’s name on one in glue, sprinkled glitter on the glue and let them dry.  ‘Cause nothing says Christmas like glitter all over the kitchen floor.   A tradition (and make a monster) was born.  (I discovered that she had as much fun checking the names off the list as she did with the glitter.) Children not even alive that fateful yuletide season have been following the tradition of making presents.


The greatest aspect of this tradition over the years has been the excitement each child felt when the handmade gifts were opened.  Instead of looking forward to what they opened from Santa, they looked forward to seeing their parents or siblings open the hand made item.  Now, I think they just like to spend a day at our house going crazy and feeling the pull of nostalgia, even at their tender ages.



Some details in posts past.

I just got an email yesterday from the above described goddaughter, now working at the Old Skool Cafe in San Francisco. She will be home in time for Christmas, but not in time to be part of the gift making.  Her request? Will I please make sure that the next kid in line organizes it?  It made me smile.  And panic.  I have to get some present-making ideas together soon!

Post Voting – Old Skool

Well in spite of all your help, Old Skool Cafe didn’t make it to the final four.  One project did that I supported via Kickstarter about a year ago – Goldieblox.  Are you old enough to remember this Lego Ad?lego girl

Can you imagine that ad running today?  Not a smidgen of pink anywhere in it.  Goldiblox is kinda pink and girly, but the mission is to inspire the next generation of female engineers.

If you want to see the four winners, check them out here.

I am swatching my new yarn, and having the strangest issue.  I love this Cove/Nash Island Light so much that I am afraid to commit to a project.  Do I want a rough and tumble sweater?  Something to wear to work?  A jacket-type?  A pullover?  I want to knit with  it, though, so I am going for a simple stockinette cardigan and using a provisional cast on so I can choose finishing later.  Crazy, I know.  I actually woke up this morning with a vision of the neckband in my head, but not the stitch pattern.  I need help….

Visual Organizer or ….

I don’t really enjoy putting things away.  Except the sweater in progress I just put away based on all your good advice.  Thanks for supporting my inclinations.

If I put something I need to work on away, it is out of sight, out of mind.  I have folders and papers all over my desk and my file drawers are half empty.  My husband put some of my library books in the bookcase.  Are you nuts?  How will I know I have to return them if they are in the bookcase?  Sheesh.

I just figured it was a personal weirdness, something problematic from my childhood.  (Why did my mother tell me so often that we did not have maid service?  Was that damaging to my little psyche?) I mentioned this proclivity to a colleague recently and she just looked a bit surprised.  “No, you are a visual organizer.”  She explained it a bit and I thought.  “Oh, cool.  I’m a visual organizer.”  Isn’t it funny how naming something can clarify it?  Or perhaps it is just the sense that if my way of thinking, seeing, behaving has a name, then I cannot be alone in thinking that way.

On the other hand, it may just be a way of justifying my laziness about putting things away.  I’m sure there is a name for that, too, and I am sure I heard it used by my parents many, many times.

Knitting needles are one of the things I don’t put away all the time.  I have cases, and systems but systems only work if you use them.  My circulars (except the interchangeables) have a number of places to live, but this is the default, once I’ve gathered them from the bottom of my knitting bag:


I have all their little packages somewhere.

My double pointed needles live a couple of pencil cases, like this one:


Most often, though, they end up all together in my Jennie the Potter mug that I cracked and now it won’t hold liquids.

I like to try and organize things from a big picture, it is the daily putting away I don’t enjoy.  Or is it that I am too anxious to move onto the next thing?  I read somewhere that if the task you are avoiding would take less than five minutes, do it.  I try to remind myself of that.  Hanging up my clothes? Putting away needles?  Putting away leftover yarn from most recent sock project? Definitely less than five minutes.  Clearly not a foolproof method for me yet.

So one night not long ago I was tagging along on a trip to the big hardware store.  The person who makes the signs must resent the intrusion of all the early Christmas paraphernalia as much as the rest of us.


While waiting for the proper bolts to be identified and purchased, I spotted a clearance bin of little items and found this companion to my knitting bag:

bucket mug

I did label the little outside pockets with my handy dandy Sharpie. It remains to be seen if I will, in fact put the needles away where they belong.  To me, in the general vicinity is usually good enough.  Jennie the Potter now holds some in packages and my crochet hooks.


I will try not to commingle.  What about you?  Do you have needle system that works?

Speaking of double pointed needles, I’ve tried some new ones that I really like. Knitters Pride Karbonz.  They are carbon fiber with a nickel plated brass tip.  I tried the Blackthorns  because I like to support knitting entrepreneurs, but they didn’t didn’t suit me. They found a happy home with someone who likes the skritch, skritch noise they make.

Here are the new needles in a sock I’ve been working on with some yarn I picked up at KiwiKnitting Company on a work trip to Tucson.  I thought the colors were vaguely southwestern.


I like to buy something when I visit yarn shops, and sock yarn can always find a home.  It was Yarncrawl  MONTH in Arizona. We have a weekend here in the Twin Cities, but the shops there are so spread out that folks make a month of fun shopping for yarn.

My NashIsland Light arrived while I was in Tucson, I’m swatching away with great pleasure.