Category Archives: Knitting

Drop Dead Easy Knits is Alive

And so am I!!!  So many days I write blog posts in my head, I even have photos to put up but I don’t want to do just do a drive-by post. As a result nothing gets put down here.  But I am so thrilled that the book project has finally come to fruition, that I’m driving by on my way to work.  Drop Dead Easy Knits is available at yarn stores, bookstores, from the publisher and on Amazon in the US, UK and Canada.  Also as an e-book for those who prefer it.  Yippeee!!!


And here is a silly video the three of us made about the book, with some Drop Dead Easy Tips.


More about all of this, and my attempt to finish my first Rhinebeck Sweater coming soon. Meanwhile, here’s a review from the wonderful Mason Dixon Knitting folks (Who have a gorgeous blanket in the book!) that captures our intention perfectly.

You and I often talk about the joys of knitting below one’s skill level. So much of the pleasure of knitting is in doing it while watching the world go by, talking with friends, enduring otherwise unendurable people/places/experiences, waiting for the hold music to stop…. The list of things we can knit along to goes on and on, but the knitting has to be a certain kind of knitting.

While you are at it, go look at the rest of the new MDK site.  And hang onto your wallets.  Or not.

Second of May, Shoelace Day.

I’m reposting an older blog post from 2008 that gets me a lot of email this time of year.  Mostly from people who grew up in New Jersey and are trying to find the origins of this First of May Petticoat Day custom.  Maybe when I retire, I’ll apply for a research grant.

First of May Petticoat Day

Was this a strange New Jersey custom? Or an old-country custom that founds its way to the East Coast? When I was a kid in the 60’s (just before love peace and brown rice) there were several customs tied to May Day. The boys mostly, but also girls would shout “First of May, Petticoat Day” and flip up the edge of a girl’s uniform skirt to show her slip. Some years I would wear shorts under my uniform so that I didn’t have on a petticoat. (a doofus even then) Then there was crowning Mary (as in the Blessed Virgin Mary) Queen of the May. I imagine this came from some attempt to christianize a pagan ritual. I was always jealous of the girl that was chosen to crown Mary. She got to wear a pretty dress and a wreath of flowers. I was never chosen for such things, because I was not small and cute, but tall and awkward. The term my grandmother would use was ‘hoyden’ — not who you want traipsing down the aisle with wreaths and flowers

Second of May was Shoelace Day, you shouted that and grabbed someone’s shoelace to untie it. These days the little un’s all seem to have velcro. (Third of May, Velcro Day?)

And since we all love pictures, here’s a first of May flower shot of my trillium.Trillium are open

Stopover Leftover Popover

Sitting in a work meeting on performance measures (don’t be jealous) a woman at another table was wearing a shortish stockinette poncho in a light, fuzzy, machine knit – I’ve always scoffed at these, but for whatever reason, this struck me as attractive, and possible useful. Not in my office, which at the moment is quite overheated, but at home, watching the tube, sitting at the desk, even outside on a spring morning.  Plus short enough not to fall into the sink or my supper. I had a hideous hot pink woven poncho from Guatemala when I was about 10 – I think it put me off anything related for many years.  Like this, but very, very pink.


No matter, the siren song of the Stopover Leftovers was calling, and this wrap/poncho seemed like a good way to experiment. I have worn the Stopover nearly daily since finishing it. I was skeptical about it being itchy, and over warm, but it isn’t. I wouldn’t wear it over a camisole, but over a t-shirt it is light, and warm, but not too warm. Thank you MJM!

Quite coincidentally, the Yarnery is poncho mad at the moment, so I looked at those on display. I didn’t want anything too big and sixties looking, (see above) I just had an idea of something light and shortish, like the woman I was staring at was wearing. I think she thought I was stalking her or something. “Hey, you call those outcomes…”

I initially considered a whole rectangle of random stripes, but aside from all those ends to weave in, it wouldn’t have the quieter quality I admired in the performance measures poncho.   I’m not sure what I ended up with is quiet, or even a successful combination of stripes, but it does function as intended.

full length rectangle

(Right after removing the blocking wires.)

This wrap was pretty much unplanned – shocking, I know .  I guessed at a happy medium width, somewhere from 19 to 22 inches after blocking, and using the gauge and needles I used for the Stopover (See, no gauge swatch required!) I cast on 60 stitches. The main color  had been rejected as my main Stopover color,  glacier blue, so I had the most of that.  I kept up the stockinette slog until about 30”, then started the stripes. Happy mindless knitting, how I love you!

I had 6 nearly full skeins of different colors from fooling about with Stopover, plus a bunch of “color pops” courtesy of  Jen‘s generous organizational skills –   enough for random striping.

I planned for about 45” of finished product.  Final result after blocking: 21” wide and 48” long.  I folded it in half and seamed it for about 12”.

2016-03-27 14.23.00

And here we have it!

front shot poncho


back poncho


If anyone wants particulars on colors, I’m happy to share.



Stopover the Madness

Or as someone on Ravelry called it, the Stop and Start Over Stopover.  Color changes, yarn shortages, gauge issues, not paying attention and having to rip back –the Stopover is a gorgeous simple-to-knit sweater that I managed to mess up a few times.

I have never participated in a Knit-A-Long. I never even had the urge to participate in one.  But Kay and Ann at Mason Dixon Knitting caught me at a weak moment. After tossing a couple of old, ratty pullovers in my fall declutter-a-thon, I wanted a new one to wear around the house, which we keep pretty chilly as a rule.  I was browsing my stash and pondering possibilities when Kirsten at Through the Loops posted a picture of hers and then the BangOutASweater movement got started.  Why not?

I have to say, it was really fun.  I am a fast knitter, and could have done this in less than a week if I had not had quite so much on my plate.  Part of the fun was handling a project just for fun, not work.  There was no secret stash of the Lett Lopi, the Yarnery (where I teach) doesn’t carry it, so I had to track it down, choose from the colors available and get started.

2016-02-06 09.07.34

And, like all other knitters, I had the fun of following Mary Jane Mucklestone’s excellent Stopover pattern.  There was no calculation, writing down, trying to figure out how to explain what I just did, just reading the instructions and following them.

Well, sort of.  All along I did dumb things.  First of all, I didn’t get a safety skein.  I always get a safety skein, but I just didn’t.  Then I went on my merry way, adding length to the body and the arms with never a thought for tomorrow.  Or tomorrow’s yarn.  (I’m tall and long waisted, so I added 3 inches to the body and almost 2 inches to the sleeves.) I found a place online that had my main color, Lapis Blue, and ordered a couple to reduce the feeling of panic.  On the day the yarn was due to arrive, an email arrived instead, saying the yarn was back ordered.  Grrrrrr.  On a whim, I called Lila and Claudine’s, a yarn shop that is sort of on the way to the barn.  They weren’t listed on Istex as a stockist, but you never know. This shop is Tardis yarn shop – much bigger on the inside.

my heroes

Eureka!  Safety skein found.  Now I could throw caution to the winds, adding  a few short rows, leaving long ends, just going crazy!  That was Saturday and after ripping out the initial color rounds several times (I blame bad lighting) I got things going and finished it Sunday morning.


stopover dull

My ‘pop’ color, however, wasn’t popping.  The talented colorist Jani at Starcroft said the pop should be an unexpected color. The rust was unexpected. Unexpectedly dull.  More digging and I tried out a double strand of Nash Island Fog in Lobster Bake. Perfect!  I duplicate stitched it right over the rust, which helped it pop even more.  Lobstah pop!

lobstah pop

Ta dah!  I have no idea how it will wear, if it will be too warm, too itchy, too blue, but I think I like it.

This was a very quick selfie at 7 degrees F.

shoulder view


Join being careful not to twist.

twist do not

How many times have we all seen that caution in a pattern? Or, as Amy Detjen says, JBCNTT. My style sheet from PotterCraft requires “Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.” I help students avoid this every week, people. Yet here I was, casting on for a simple in the round sweater body, double checking it carefully, and several rounds in noticed I was doing the twist.


The scene – a table in a slightly darkened hotel conference space. The cast – CPAs, attorneys, municipal finance types and me. (I am none of the above. A sort of downstairs maid.) I didn’t want to rip out and cast on again when I was supposed to be paying attention. That was the whole point of bringing this particular project, knitting in the semi-dark, going around and around to keep me thinking about work.

I twisted it back at the join, and kept on going. I figured that since it was a rolled hem, I could take it out later and knit down. At least I wouldn’t waste five hours of blissful stockinette meeting knitting. An attorney tapped me on the shoulder later and told me how jealous she was, that she didn’t want to risk looking unprofessional but wished she were knitting.  I thought I did look professional, tights, dress, even some makeup!

Here it is in its twisted beauty.


And after being allowed to roll up, no weaving-in or attempt to improve the appearance.


I may just leave it. (Peter, avert your eyes.)

On the other hand, taking it out and knitting down is no big deal. What do you think?

I cannot reveal the pattern right now, but the yarn is Fiora from Berroco. I LOVE this yarn. It’s a cotton, alpaca, rayon and wool blend. It feels like a sweatershirt with drape and class, so I chose sweatshirt grey. Cozy. Which I need.


Another Twelfth Night

I was going to post pictures of all the gifts I knitted, but somehow, the pictures are not around.  Now I have to pester the recipients.  A new Christmas stocking for the new baby!  How could I have forgotten to take a picture?  Oh, yeah, I was knitting until the last second before mailing it.  Socks of leftover yarn.  Giant Christmas stocking.  My sister has promised a photo or two.  We’ll see.

But – the good news is that the Christmas gift-making tradition continued.  What used to be tiny humans satisfied with cookies and cocoa are now giant humans who can eat two pounds of carnitas and the fixings for lunch and then have cookies.  I love that they still want to make things.

Christmas Collage

Somehow the birdhouse, the cribbage board and something I can’t remember didn’t get photos.  I always get caught up in the fun and forget.  Oh, wait.  That’s the whole point!  I told these boys that girls find a guy who knows how to sew attractive.  That was seriously motivating.  A couple of high school kids had nose to the grindstone.  See that pie carrier in the middle?  He had never even threaded a needle.  So proud!  And the check-shirt sewer?  Thinks he has time while working on his mechanical engineering degree to sew and can I help him find a machine.  So sweet!

This was a low-key holiday here.  I had a bit of the Christmas blues and am happy to see Twelfth Night arrive.

Best wishes for 2016.  I hope to see more of you all!


Makers Gift List and the Winners!

I know, I was going to announce winners last week, but the Craft Friday turned into wash the kitchen floor etc. Friday.  I did do some crafting, really.  Like finishing this update of my Tamworth Cowl in Maai, in a similar color as the skein of laceweight that three lucky recipients have won:


Asteride, kim in oregon, and Ellen B.  I tried to contact each of you, but if you didn’t hear from me, holler, so I can send your yarn.

What did you make on Craft Friday?  Something for a gift, or something for yourself?  I loved the comments, it seems like everyone is most irritated by the horrible overkill of Christmas in October, and buy, buy, buy.  Beverly had an excellent idea for a round-robin of gift ideas from makers or small scale folks who can’t beat you over the head with the excessive consumerism message, but make a living through making.

Here are some of my favorites, in no special order.

I didn’t really want to duplicate any of Beverly’s but had to for this one: Tide Pool kit for colorwork, in several several color ranges.  The one I want:


Lucious yarn, spun and dyed by Jani herself from Nash Island sheep’s wool.  Read the Nash Island/Starcroft story while you are there, it is sweet.

I have bought several project bags from A Needle Runs Through It.  Nice quality and fast service.

Want a little bauble with a fibery twist?  Emily has some lovely ones.

I have to say, I just bought a skein of of yarn for myself, because a) it was on sale, b) all the cool kids were knitting with it at Fiber College and c) look how cute the packaging is!  It comes in its own hachimaki.  Rifton from JillDraperMakesStuff is spun to stripe, not dyed to stripe.  Gorgeous yarn.


Horsey types on your list?  A pal alerted me to her friend’s shop where there is a FjordHorse ornament.

I love the e-balm and the solid lotion bars from GoodiesUnlimited   My sister swears by it, too.

I have lots of ideas for non-stuff gifts.  Maybe another post!