Tag Archives: Knitting


Join in the fun and win fabulous prizes!  Over on Instagram it’s the


Through Dec 31, post a picture of your beverage of the moment- tea, coffee, hot mulled wine, or refreshing spring water – on our coaster.

Here’s one with my water glass at work.


Didn’t get a coaster?  Use a facsimile DropDeadEasyKnits coaster, the cover of the book or even a knitted item. Use our hashtag #DropDeadEasyKnitsDAL .✨

We’ll be doing giveaways of the book, yarn packs to make projects, plus some additional e goodies.

Here’s a jpg of the coaster to use if you don’t have a real one!

Drop Dead Easy Coaster WordFrame White

It is supposed to be -20F tomorrow evening.  Knitting at home is the plan!

Craft Friday Giveaway

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.

Nathaniel  Hawthorne

Welcome Craft Friday folks!  I’m hoping for a cold, unpleasant day for Craft Friday.  That will encourage me to stay inside and craft.  This fall has been so mild that I have been playing outside as much as possible.  Here’s a photo of a lovely ride on Sunday.  Orange vests are de riguer around here during deer season.

Sunday in November

Mine is the blonde with the big butt.  I am wearing a hand-knit sweater, but it isn’t really visible.  I am just telling you because this is a knitting blog, after all.

I want everyone to knit!  Or craft in some way.  To encourage you and celebrate Craft Friday leave a comment and enter into a drawing for one of these three skeins of pumpkin colored silk and merino laceweight.


The yarn is Swans Island Natural Colors.  They were a pale pink, not to my liking, so I overdyed them in the Dye Tent at Fiber College.  Badly.  ( I had photos of the dye tent, can’t find them for some reason.) The generous and talented Odacier fixed them up for me in this warm, autumnal tone.  Pumpkin seems perfect for the day after Thanksgiving, don’t you think?  Each skein (sans label) is about 50 grams, 530 yards of 50% Fine Merino Wool, 50% Tussah Silk.

So enter in the fun – leave a comment airing your biggest gripes about the beginning of the holiday shopping season.  Or anything, really.  Or what you want to make with this.  Or why you love the color.  Contest closes Thanksgiving at midnight.

Check out the Craft Friday pinterest board, too.  Beverly has been busy!


P.S.  I’ll mail your prize anywhere!


Twelfth Night I Think

Could be last night or the night before, depending on who you ask.  Whichever, the Lord of Misrule must be setting up the weather.  Minus 7 F and bitter windchills.  This was most welcome to sit and knit and read by:


The Holiday Recap: Present-making was limited this year, as those adult children have such busy lives.  We did one big gift.  This was the inspiration, a fake advertisement:

2012-12-25 13.34.16

IMG_2210I did socks, some of which didn’t quite fit and now have to be adjusted.  It adds to the legend when you say you can do that, of course.  My goddaughter said the ones I made her from leftovers  are her favorites of all the ones I have ever made her.  (She is a big charity shop devotee.)  I meant to get  an Esther Williams type photo of all the feet but the mayhem was too much.


My basic sock over 48 sts with a K3, P1 rib.  The yarn is leftover sport weight sock yarn Supersocke 6-Ply Wohlfühl Color, now discontinued. I wish I had bought more. Here’s a pair made from one skein.

basic socks sport

I did some hats, too. Action shots from our mid-day walk, with a bit of freshly falling snow for atmoshphere.–  a Big Flap Hat in Rasta, from Malabrigo.  (Such lovely yarn!)  And a Hugs and Kisses Hat in Cascade 128 superwash.


A slightly better shot of the little hat, with the back of my husband’s Nansen I knitted a zillion years ago:


Now to my favorite time of winter, no fuss, no muss, no gardening, just reading and knitting and trying to stay warm.  Best wishes to all of you for 2015.




Stick a fork in it – the pompom, that is.

Yesterday was another Pompom Popup at the Yarnery.  It was a sell-out.  What could be more fun in the midst of crazy holiday frenzy than a room full of people who want to learn how to improve their pompom skills?  One non-knitter wanted to make her granddaughters some last minute stocking stuffers – pompoms for their ice skates.  I suggested she needed to track down some jingle bells for them as well.  All the cool girls had them.  (I didn’t.)  Everyone applauded and ooohed and ahhhed at each finished item.  And now the non-knitter decided she is ready for her first lesson, since knitters are such fun people.

pompom popup

Pompom pride!

Hard to imagine we could improve on last year, where I learned how to steam a pom pom.  This year, I managed to get to the mini pompoms made on a fork.

fork pompomsYou need either a four-tined fork, or one of those old two prong meat forks.  I didn’t bring that one to class.  It seemed a bit dangerous to put in my bag.

The photos above illustrate the process – it’s pretty simple.

  1. Wrap a bunch of yarn around the tines of a fork.
  2. Cut a piece of yarn to tie around the bundle.
  3. Cut the ends on either side of the fork.  Be careful not to cut the yarn tying it together.  (I demonstrated how not to do that in front of the class.  On purpose, of course.)
  4. Fluff and trim.  Steam if you so desire.  Warning – these are addictive.

Another student tip – if you are afraid your yarn is acrylic or blend you don’t want to steam, spritz it with some water and let it dry.

Here’s an idea for bigger pompom presents – a basket of indoor snowballs! (photo spoonful.com)

indoor snowballs

Next year, I’m going to bring little jingle bells.

Knitting, Walking, and Memory

I’m sure most knitters/crafters have had this experience – you pick up your work and start knitting, and as you knit, you remember last night’s movie, or meeting, or conversation with friends. A bit of online searching turned up many scholarly research papers on topics such as “multisensory associative learning.” I don’t have the stamina to follow these up at the moment (or probably ever) but since what we learn enters our brain through sensory channels, such as sight or smell or touch, the ability to remember when that sense is stimulated makes, well, sense.

Last Sunday morning I picked up a sock, the second of a pair, and found that my careful grafting and weaving in of ends was time wasted. I had to pick it apart because it was shorter than its mate. I’m not all that fussy, but really, a pair of socks that will be a gift should be at least close to the same size. As I was putting the sock back on the needle, I had the familiar sensation of remembering the movie I was watching the night before. Now, of course, I can’t tell you what movie it was.  (The socks in question are the purple stripe.  This is the pile of Christmas socks finished to date.)

2014-12-14 09.59.30

Later that same day, I had a more surprising memory experience. I went for a walk into a wooded park area, not far from home. The winter my horse died I walked in there frequently. I needed more time in the woods, something riding had provided me. My foster horse now gets me into the woods, so I hadn’t been there much since then.  It was a grey, miserable afternoon, but I needed a walk break. As I stepped onto the lightly snow-covered path, Dickens came flooding back to me. (That winter when I walked that path often, I had been listening to an audiobook of Our Mutual Friend.)  All of a sudden, bobbing to the surface of my brain was the Golden Dustman, the River Thames, and especially a very funny scene where a semi-literate market stall owner is hired to read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire to the illiterate Golden Dustman.  Is walking also a pathway to memory?

winter walkrosehips

I think 19th Century giant novels like Dickens make satisfying audiobooks. Since they were often published in serial form, they work well as chapters picked up here and there, say when going for a walk on a cold, grey day. There is very little effort required to keep track of the goings on –

“But in the nineteenth century, breaking down the novel’s bulkiness into twenty snippets of entertainment allowed readers to “inhabit” a world, like a television soap opera, in manageable segments. Deprived of the luxury of installment reading, readers today find features of Dickens’s prose overbearing that would be much more appealing if read, especially read aloud, over a year and a half.”  Robert L. Patten

I don’t typically listen to modern novels as audiobooks. Somehow they don’t work for me. I just finished Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which really enjoyed, but can’t imagine it as an audiobook.

What do you listen to when knitting, or driving, or walking?


That’s been the theme of life for the past little while, things good and bad. The latest was having my wallet and iphone stolen. That commercial that asks “What’s in your wallet?” —  I couldn’t remember. Which cards? What ID? Not having a phone is really disorienting, but maybe in a good way. For instance, I am waiting at the Verizon store writing this instead of reading stuff on my phone or texting.

In the past month I’ve moved offices to a new ‘open office’ format. (Horrible. Maddening.) Had to replace my 15-year old car. (Nice new-to-me car, but unexpected change in the midst of being ‘unofficed’.) Travelled for work. (Good, but, you know, work.) Two funerals. (Sudden, tragic, sad.) Aforementioned stolen wallet. About the wallet, I am feeling grateful that it is not a time in my life, because there have been such times, when losing cash would have meant real hardship. I wasn’t hurt, I’m not sick, and I always have my knitting along for the ride. The banks, driver’s license folks, Verizon were all helpful and expedited where they could. Things could be much worse.

However, this has all left me feeling unfocused and vague. The other day I cut myself and put the band-aid on the wrong finger. (At least it was the same hand!) I stood by the wrong grey car trying to open the door with my new clicker. But seriously, since I bought a grey car, they are all grey.  I took this picture in the parking lot to prove it.

silver cars

I need to get grounded. Other than more knitting and breathing, all ideas and suggestions welcome. I’m thinking of going home and lying down in the garden.

garden veg Collage

I have no nice knitting photos for you because they were all on my phone, not yet uploaded. Those are a few vegetables I put in the freezer this past weekend, though, because no blog post should be photo-less. More to come, soon, I hope. It’s my turn …

Stitching Failure in the Nation’s Capital

I have spent the last 5 days in Washington DC at a conference, which for most of the day means knitting.  A colleague from another state found me to say I had inspired her and this year she brought her knitting.  Yes.  As a token of her gratitude she gave me this button:

button gift

I did get a break between sessions and walked over the Key Bridge to Georgetown and back.  This is the river on a quiet weekday afternoon.

2014-09-30 16.24.52

Unlike Sunday, the boat and paddle board rental place had very few customers.

2014-09-30 16.28.45

So few, that as I hung over the bridge railing I watched the attendant entertaining himself.  He made it all the way to the end of the dock.

no customers

I walked into Georgetown to find some better thread to hand stitch the rolled hem on my scarf.  The fabric store listed on yelp and elsewhere had moved about 20 miles away.  Oh well.  I had attempted stay-stitching the edge before leaving home, without much luck.  I used different tensions, even remembered to switch to a brand new silk-appropriate needle.

2014-09-27 10.30.42

It still looked bad, so I gave up.

2014-09-29 16.55.11

My hand sewing in the hotel room after a long day wasn’t much better, so when I get home I’m going to look for finer thread in a slightly darker grey. That’ll do it. Sure.  No operator error on this end.

Bad sewing

All advice welcome.


How did it get to be September?

A few minutes ago I was lying on my back in the snow, relieved not to be hurt.  Now I wake up to find I just came back from Fiber College of Maine, always held the weekend after Labor Day.

View from Porch 2014-09-05 07.42.11

I think of posts, but never write them down, just leave them drifting through my mind. So, at the beginning of what so many of us still think of as the new year with new notebooks, I am making a renewed commitment to posting more regularly.  One big reason for this is that I have just spent 4 days in the company of women I met via blogging, starting with Gale Zucker and Kirsten Kapur.  The connections keep flowing, and I don’t want them to stop.  So, I’m going to start again.  How about you?  What connections have you made through blog reading or writing?

At Fiber College I stayed in a house full of talented, funny women and shared skills in classes with wonderful fiber folks.  I have very few photos to show for it.  That’s one thing about being with a bunch of visual artists.  They take all the pictures, I just hang out.  Here’s the house of fiber folk, taken by Gale, of course:

House in Searsport Gale

Gale is not only a great photographer, but an excellent teacher.  I wish I had been able to take the Savvy Storytelling class she and Beverly Army Williams taught on Saturday, but I was teaching all day.  (Dorset Buttons and Navajo Knitting) If you are interested in an online class, Gale’s Interweave class on Photography for Knitters is on sale right now.

One of the most fun features of Fiber College is the Mentored Dye Tent.  Ellen Mason (taken by Gale) sets up all you need.


You can buy some yarn from her, or bring your own.  Overdye ugly stuff.  Dipdye an old sweater.  Look at this display Ellen set up to help you choose colors and see how they would affect your fiber:

Dye Tent 2014-09-06 13.33.37

or look at it taken by a real photographer.

I have been knitting, designing, gardening, riding and working like mad at the day job. When I got home from Fiber College I wanted a grasshopper day, but nature decided I had to be an ant.

produce 2 tavera 2014-09-08 14.06.15

Do you know that it takes a long time to shell Lima beans?

limas 2014-09-08 14.03.29


Goldilocks and the Three Bind-Offs

The Yarnery asked me to design a cowl that would use one skein of Metalico, from Blue Sky Alpacas.  I could expand to two skeins, but since it is pricey, it’s nice for customers to have some affordable options for such luscious yarn.  The other request was that it be “Something a man would wear.  Or at least a gay man.”

Metalico is a singles blend of baby alpaca and mulberry silk.  The colors are natural and undyed, and really do have with a metallic sheen in the sunlight.  Designing for such a non-springy yarn was  a challenge.  I started out swatching with some Frog Tree Alpaca sport so that I wouldn’t wear out the Metalico.  This wasn’t a great idea, as the Frog Tree is plied and has no silk.  What worked in that was a dismal failure in the Metalico.  I wish I had been alert enough to record all the failures.  (Gale, photography teacher extraordinaire, always says “Document, document, document.”)  I just get in the flow and rip and restart.  And rip and restart.  Nothing I tried  lent the yarn enough elasticity. I had a wonderful idea for some giant, slightly cabled pattern down the front, but it would have needed a garter belt to stay up.  Plain ribbing seemed too boring.

At last, I went with a combination of ribs and welts.  There are lots of variations on this out there, especially in some of the older books, like Mary Thomas.   I was surprised that it worked. It had enough elasticity to stay up on the neck, and go over the head.  The variation in stitches showed off the yarn, and they didn’t get lost in the slightly tweedy appearance of the Metalico.

Then it was time to bind off.  My usual approaches all failed, and left a sad, droopy edge.  I was in a hurry to get the cowl done and off to the shop for the Blue Sky Alpacas trunk show, so I didn’t record that process, either.   I decided to make a second one in some Malabrigo Silky Merino DK that was calling out to me.  Silky Merino is quite similar to the Metalico, but has a bit more loft and elasticity because it is 50% merino instead of 50% alapaca.  It really showed when I worked with it, and the finished cowl has a bit more bounce.  I did record some of the bind-off failures this time.  They weren’t quite as egregious as with the Metalico, again, I think it was the merino vs. alpaca aspect, but what failed before, failed again.

My number one favorite bind-off, useful about 90% of the time, is the Knit Two Together Through the Back Loops: *Knit 2 stitches together through the back loop. Return the stitch back to the left-hand needle; repeat from *.


Second attempt, bind off in pattern.  It was a bit better, but still rather Sad Sack:

Finally,  just right.

The good old sewn bind off. If you don’t know that one, it is in lots of books, but here you are:  instructions are generally break yarn, leaving a tail about three times as long as the circumference of the item to be bound-off.  Frankly, I don’t do this, I would rather weave in some ends than fight with yards of yarn as I sew the edge.  Thread a blunt tapestry needle.
With tapestry needle, *sew right to left through 2 sts as if to purl, leave sts on needle, draw the yarn through both stitches.
Sew left to right through first st on the needle as if to knit , draw the yarn through and remove that stitch from the needle. Repeat from * until all sts are bound-off.  (If you have never done the sewn bind-off, remember that if you need to undo it, you have to take it out bit by bit.  It won’t rip out easily.)  Looks just about perfect, doesn’t it?

Naming patterns is often a challenge.   I looked online for images of herringbone brickwork, since that’s what this stitch pattern suggests like to me.  I found Tamworth Castle, in Warwickshire, UK, has a famous herringbone stone wall.  The cowl doesn’t look exactly like it, but who cares, really?  It was fun to search it out.  So it is now the Tamworth Cowl.  The second also took just one skein of Silky Merino DK and is now waiting to be given to the someone who looks good in that nice blue-grey-green. Huh, that’s my color, isn’t it?

Fiber College

Thanks to everyone with ideas on restoring my mother’s embroidery.  It took you all to get me thinking that I know people who know people – like a textile curator and also the director of the Minnesota Textile Center.  (Smacks self on forehead.)  I now even have 35% off offer from the recommended framer/restorer.  When I get over there, I’ll give you more detail in case it’s of use.

FIBER COLLEGE!  My first trip to Maine, teaching and learning, making new friends, finding inspiration, I could go on and on.  If anyone has the chance to go next year, do it!  Photographer extraordinare Gale Zucker offered to pick me up at the Portland, Maine airport and we drove the rest of the way to Searsport.  It was dark by the time we got to Wonderview Cottages, our home for the next few days.  In the morning, I woke up to this view from our screened in porch:

Not enough time to enjoy it fully.  We rushed over to the Searsport Shores Campgrounds so I could get to my full day class – Natural Dyeing with Jackie Ottino Graff.  I’ve always wanted to try natural dyeing, and what a privilege to take a class from the head dyer for Swans Island Yarns.  We even got to use Swans Island’s organic merino base, talk about luxury.    Jackie had plants and powders from bugs and resin and trees I’d never heard of, like kutch and ironwood.

If you have never done any natural dyeing, it is like magic.  I felt like an alchemist – throw in a handful of iron and suddenly one color swirls into another. Plants simmer and steam and the yarn emerges vibrant and glowing.

Jackie is an excellent and patient instructor.  She taught an Indigo class I couldn’t take, because it was at the same time as one of my classes, but  I’m hoping to get her to Minnesota.

I taught Reading Japanese Knitting Patterns and Short Rows Three Ways.  My students were really engaged and engaging.  I always learn so much from teaching, as knitters are the most generous of people with their time and talents.

I felt obligated to purchase from some of the on-site vendors.  Since my day job involves economic development, I understand the importance of supporting the local economy.  Like this gorgeous laceweight yarn from Play at Life:

And these not-too-cute sheep buttons from Fields Edge Farm:

I met so many fun people.  Getting to spend more time with Gale was great, and our partner in Wonderwiewing was Kirsten Kapur, of Through the Loops.  Kirsten, it turns out, is a fellow Jersey Girl.  Not to mention insanely talented, professional, down-to-earth and a whole lot of fun.  I’ve admired her work for years, so it was pleasure to finally met her. Insanely talented and fun seemed to be the common denominator at Fiber College, like Ellen Mason.  Go visit her  blog and look at her patterns. Her designs are  clever, wearable, and have great names.  Her Fiber College blog post really captured the feeling I had flying home from Maine. Full. Full of inspiration, energy, friendship and laughter and blueberry pie.  I can’t wait to go back next year.