Category Archives: Knitting

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.

To Be or Not to Be

Whether to continue to knit the sweater and suffer the potential slings and arrows of having lost my knitting mojo, or to take up needles and by opposing, rip all those freaking stitches out. 

Is this a consummation devoutly to be wished? Or not.

Nimue sweater

I love this yarn. (Nimue in Grey Goose from talented dyer/designer Anne at Wooly Wonka.) It’s a cute sweater.  (Blumchen, from Knitspot.) They look good together.  I’m just not feeling the love for me.  I horrified myself the other night when the thought first crossed my mind.  Then today, I starting wondering what I really wanted to make with the yarn.  It seems like my mind has leaped to the next step.  But should it?

I have both fronts and almost the whole back done.  But I just can’t get motivated to keep going. Has that ever happened to you?  I have put projects aside and a later wondered why, then finished them.  Maybe I should just do that with this one.  It’s October.  I could happily move onto another (warmer) project while I sleep on it.  To sleep, perchance to dream.  Of this:


Starcroft Nash Island Light in Color Cove.  (photo courtesy of Kirsten Kapur, taken at Fiber College.)  This is winging its way to me right now.  Wait, is that the doorbell I hear?

Vote early and often!

I named this cowl Tammany because it is a Tweed Ring.   (History Nerd joke.)

tammany spotlight

Tammany Hall was the home of crooked politics in NYC in the late 19th and early 20th century, led by Boss Tweed.  But now you can vote early and often legally and for a fun cause.


The  Old Skool Cafe, a 1940’s styled youth-run supper club, is in the running for a Super Bowl commercial, courtesy of  Intuit’s Small Business Big Game contest.  Old Skool made it to the second round, and you can vote for them EVERY DAY for the next two weeks.   I’m offering the cowl pattern free for the duration of the voting for those who vote.  I’m doing this on a trust basis, so please go vote if you download the pattern. And vote often!

Old Skool helps break the cycle of violence, crime and incarceration by meeting three critical needs: real-world skills, a sense of belonging and a support system. Learning every aspect of the restaurant business, youth ages 16 – 22, gain transferable work skills necessary for life success.

Imagine a safe haven for youth to learn and succeed. Imagine an incredible restaurant that satisfies both the appetite and the soul. Old Skool Cafe…Come hungry. Leave INSPIRED.

(I’ve never been lucky enough to eat there, but I hear the food is great.)

So vote, already.  Why should beer companies get all the attention?

Drive By with Lightning Bugs

Trip home to New Jersey.  Dramatis personae: Me, and a kid in the airport.  I was working on a baby blanket, with the project bag on the floor. (More on the blanket soon.)

“What are you doing?”  He seems about 4, maybe 5. “I’m knitting, making a baby blanket.”

He points to the yarn yarn trailing down to the bag .  “Is that a yo-yo?”  No, I tell him, it’s yarn.  “Yarn?”  Then the light of understanding shines in his eyes.   “Ooooh, so it’s a blanket for a baby cat.”

I was home for a family wedding, which was great fun, except that the mother of the bride had to leave right after the ceremony and have an emergency appendectomy.  Really, what are the odds?  The wedding was at a lovely B and B, former goat farm,  in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  It was  perfect setting when there are lots of little ones in tow – plenty of space to run around.  Wouldn’t you want to catch lightning bugs with this crew?

2013-07-12 14.43.05

Best lighting bug line?  My 9 year old great nephew told me the next one he caught would be named Bob.  “It’s kind of an old-fashioned name, but I like it.”  Catching lightning bugs was a regular activity of summer evenings in my childhood, but I rarely see them here in Minnesota. The other night my husband rushed in to tell me that Bob was in the backyard.

And crafting was all the rage.  Are Rainbow Looms a hot commodity where you live?  I received many of these snazzy rubber band bracelets:


A knitting student update: this guy is still knitting, two years later!


He told me there is a knitting club at his school and he goes every week.  “Some people (glares at his twin sister) say knitting is boring, but I like it, don’t you?”  His older brother scoffed that all Nick makes are squares and rectangles.  I reassured Nick that many, many knitters don’t get beyond squares and rectangles.  Nick also things we should write a knitting book together.  “But not now, because I’m on summer vacation.”  Whew, I thought I was going to have to squeeze that in!