Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Éirinn go Brách

Here’s the cover of a book I got from my Grandmother’s sister – they emigrated from Ireland in the early 1900’s. It’s the Official Handbook of the Irish Free State, printed in 1932.


The book is supported by advertisements in the back.  Like this one:


Would you like to See Ireland First?  In October?  Then join me and Theresa Gaffey for a Knitting Tour of Ireland.  We have been asked to host this tour, organized by a local travel agent.  The pace will be relaxed, the company good, and the price reasonable.  Fly from anywhere and meet us in Ireland.  Remember,

To Fashion Art that still shall be Supreme, the Hand Retains the Key.


Now I’m off to bake some soda bread.  No caraway seeds, EVER.

When Knit Nerds Meet

I was at a party this week and the host took me over to meet another guest – “He’s a knitter, too.”  I rounded the corner and saw this:

foolish virgins

And the back view:

foolish v 2


“Oh my!”  I gushed. “The Wise and Foolish Virgins!”  His companion leaned over to me and stage whispered, “I can assure you, he is neither.”

And even though I had the name wrong, it is The Foolish Virgins, he was kind enough to model while I whipped out my i-phone.  Now that is some knitting mojo.

The Last Rose of Summer

I took this the other morning.

Although I must say when I hear the phrase ‘The Last Rose of Summer,’ I don’t think of plaintive Irish music, I think of my father and dirty diapers. Whenever the baby (any baby) was especially fragrant, he’d take a deep whiff and say “Ah, it smells like the Last Rose of Summer in here.”  Not terribly poetic, but there you are.  Speaking of babies, check out this one!

This is an older pattern of mine that badly needed new pictures.  Sunday was gorgeous and mild, and my little neighbor was even wearing the perfect color coat.  This is the Hugs and Kisses Hat.  I’m going to get a boy photo in another color before I put it up on Ravelry and the Yarnery shop.  For some reason, many knitters won’t look at a hat on a girl and say, “Oh, won’t that be cute in blue on little Adam/Noah/Carlos. ”   Nope, they sigh , flip the page, and say that all the cute stuff is  for girls.  I designed this to be subtle hugs and kisses, that you could sneak onto any kid, especially a boy kid,  and no one would be the wiser.   This could start me off on a rant about how women can wear men’s clothing and it’s fine, but if a man wears a shirt or sweater that belongs to a woman he is a cross dresser.  That’s a conversation for another time however.

Down to the Sea in Ships with 1200 Teany Hats

Shipmates!  I like saying that, since I’m reading/listening to Moby Dick, the great unread american novel.  A personal project of mine for the past  year or so has been listening to audiobooks of classics that I’ve never gotten around to reading.  Gulliver’s Travels, Our Mutual Friend, The Woman in White, a bunch of Trollope, the sort of books that are too big to haul around.  Many of these books were published in serial form, so listening to a chapter as I walk home, or head and tail green beans for freezing, (or knit, of course) works wonderfully well. I also can get them free for my Kindle, so I can alternate between reading and listening as the mood takes me.

The mood has taken me to the sea lately.   This is timely, and linked to knitting, because I received a little kit to make a teany hat on behalf of the Seamen’s Church Institute 1200 Hats project.

Most knitters know about the Seaman’s Scarf, but may not be aware that the pattern originated with the Christmas at Sea program of the Seaman’s Church Institute.  The 1200 Hats project is aimed at raising awareness of the continued role of merchant seaman in commerce, and therefore our daily lives.  The nice part?  These really are teeny weeny hats that take 12 yards of yarn and almost no time at all to knit. The hats will be put on bottles of tea in Starbucks in northern NJ and NY where so many sailors work.  If you are in the Twin Cities and want to make a hat, bring it into the Yarnery and I’ll mail them all by the end of October.  I’ve asked them to send me more tags, so you can put one on your hat, too.

One more really timely item: just yesterday, I discovered that there is a project to make Moby Dick more widely read, The Moby Dick Big Read.  Various actors and visual artists have donated their time and talents:

‘I have written a blasphemous book’, said Melville when his novel was first published in 1851, ‘and I feel as spotless as the lamb’. Deeply subversive, in almost every way imaginable, Moby-Dick is a virtual, alternative bible – and as such, ripe for reinterpretation in this new world of new media. Out of Dominion was born its bastard child – or perhaps its immaculate conception – the Moby-Dick Big Read: an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.

So check it out, shipmates.  Chapter One is read by Tilda Swinton, a big favorite in our house. I’m off to listen again, as she tells of how  the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open…

Baby Pants Live

The solid cuff was the winner by far, online and in person.  (Sorry, Annie.  But you can make whichever you prefer!)  I was lucky enough to get a couple of live modeling shots, but Zorrito wasn’t really in the mood, so they are a bit blurry.

And the short rows on the back:

I think I’ll give directions for discontinuing the stripes when the short rows start as well as keeping the stripes going.  I like the little wedge on the back, but others might not.

Sarah is test knitting, then I hope to have the pattern up on the Wearwithall web site by the end of the month.

The summer swelter continues.  My sister and nephew from San Antonio were in town for a couple of days.  She thought it was plenty hot and humid, and those Texicans know what they are talking about.  JB is fishing obsessed, which seems like a good thing for a 12-year old.  He can do it by himself for hours.  No ipod,  no wheeled activities.  Here is the first time fishing in the Mississippi:

He didn’t catch much there, but in a nearby lake there was a perch for every cast.  He would throw them back and cast again.  I enjoyed the time with my sister, but the bug bites are still itching.  My sister and I were reminiscing about learning to spell Mississippi from one of those ‘follow the bouncing ball’ cartoons.  They were vintage for us, in the 60’s, but the idea of a bunch of adults in a movie theater singing to a cartoon threw JB into hysterical laughter.  Waiting on the levee, waitin for the Robert E. Lee, anyone?  I couldn’t find that, but here is Harvest Moon, so start the day with a song!

War of the Roses?

I can never remember whether York is Red or Lancaster is white. Nevertheless, they are battling it out for space this year. (I didn’t get a good shot of the white ones here.) It is a good year for the roses. (Cue George Jones.) Our let’s –pretend-we-live-in-Zone 6 winter gave our roses an unexpected boost. Most of them are Canadian Explorer roses. Bred for hardiness up in Manitoba, they survive our Zone 4 Minnesota winters and need little or no attention. This winter Messrs Kelsey, Frobisher, Cabot and company must have given up searching for the Northwest Passage and figured they were living on easy street, getting out the flip flops and shorts. We have never seen them this lush and large. The scents of all these roses when I weed (not that frequently, as you can tell) are heavenly.

I love the foxglove, too. It just wanders around the garden, popping up in a different place each year.

I only have this one phone photo of the back 40 where the vegetables are. We are still eating asparagus and the strawberries are going wild. Let’s hope it continues that way the rest of the year.

On the knitting front, Shelly over at the Yarnery asked me for a couple of quick summer scarf patterns. I found this on my desk last week and didn’t know whether I should share it, or hide it.

Here is the result of my day dreaming. I think it would work in almost any yarn, not just this Revive, a silk and cotton blend of recycled fibers.

I’m working on another one for my friends at Frogtree in Picoboo, a soft, drapey cotton/bamboo blend. I made the scarf about 5 feet long. Do you think that’s about right for a summer scarf? I assume they are more to use for an accessory, or perhaps to keep the chill of the AC off your neck.

Launch Party

The Wearwithall launch party was great fun. Thanks to everyone who came.Special thanks to Angie, who really knows how to throw a party!

I was a little embarrassed at first when people asked me to sign their book.  After a while, I got over it, and was signing one handed while snuggling with male models.  Nothing like being seen with some arm candy, especially when they are drooling on your sweater.

This model felt no embarassment whatsoever.

She would point out her picture to anyone handy, and had been practicing writing her name all week.  And really, it’s a party, people.  Doesn’t anyone around here know how to dress?

Wearwithall the book is here!

The result of a year of hard work  and lots of fun has arrived from the printer.  It is so exciting!!  Wearwithall Knits for Your Life.  The book is a collaboration with friends, and photographed by a friend, the fabulous Gale Zucker. Designers (in addition to “The Team”) include Gretchen Funk, Martha Alvarado and Peggy Lexau.

The book was tech edited by Theresa Gaffey, Donna Druchunas and the intrepid Ellen Silva.  (Who also served as jill of all trades during the photo shoot.)  So many great knitters were involved with project, test knitting and giving feedback.  The Yarnery owners have supported the project.   Thanks everybody!


Is not a new dystopian young-adult novel about knitters ruling the world, but a new yarn from Frog Tree.  I was delighted when they asked me to design something using it.  Ewetopia is merino wool, spun with half superwash merino, half fine merino, so it takes the color differently in each fiber, ending up a sort of ragg/marled color.  I don’t know anything about spinning, but it has a nice, sproingy feel.  Coming soon to a yarn shop near you.

The color contrast in the twist made a design challenging, though, because stitch patterns got lost.  I tried cables and traveling stitches among other ideas, then gave up.  (I really should keep photos of my failures.)  I went back to basics, and used garter rib to make a pattern with several variations on the basics. A hat that can be a beanie or slouchy.  You make it slouchy by widening and narrowing the ribs.  Then, mittens that can shortened into fingerless mitts, sizes toddler to adult.  Something for everyone.  (All this variety carefully tech edited by the wonderful Ellen.)

The toddler photo shoot was fun.  It had just snowed for the only time in March (a whole half inch!) providing that wintery effect.  I wanted to get the hat and the mitten in the same shot, so I asked our model to put his hand on his nose.

Then he took it away.

Here’s the slouchy hat and fingerless mitts:

I think it would make a lovely, cozy sweater, too.  I wanted to make a child’s sweater, but I am always reluctant to do that in non-superwash wool.  Do you make things for children that have to be hand washed?

Spring? Winter?

This late winter/early spring weather has been so schizophrenic – one day it is 38F and then it’s 75F.  Good thing one of our rehab projects has included the stove – here’s a new photo with the radiator covers.  Grainy but we shows we are making progress!

Warm days meant fulfilling a promise to take a certain two-year old to the barn.  She was so excited to “see a big horse” but the reality was a bit overwhelming.  It’s much safer to pet them from up high:

The best part was when she got on the horse, and yelled “I cowgirl. Yeehah!”

I have been going to the barn, too.  I miss Holley, but I love horses, and one barn buddy has more horses than she can handle, so I’m working with this 6-year old Norwegian Fjord mare. She has a lot to learn about manners, but she is making progress. Which is the best any of us can hope for, isnt’ it?