Monday, December 31, 2007

Ellen Pattern

Need a neck warmer to keep the chill away but light enough to wear indoors? Ellen's your gal. Here are the specs; email me if you need more info or assistance.

Finished size after blocking: 18" x 5.5"
Yarn: 1 skein of Karabella Aurora 8 (100% extra fine Merino wool, 98yds)
Gauge: 18 stitches = 4" in stockinette
Needles: US size 8 16" circular or size to obtain gauge, size 10.5 needle for stretchy bind off.

This is a basic cable and eyelet pattern knit in a multiple of 11 stitches + 1. I added 3 extra stitches to create a flat panel to sew decorative buttons on , which is optional.
The cable is over 6 stitches: 6sc ( slip 3 to cable needle and hold to the back, k3, k3 from needle).

Cast on 81 stitches and join in the round. Knit 2 rows of garter stitch. Begin pattern as follows:

1. K4, * k1, yo, k2tog, k4, ssk, yo, k2* (repeat pattern between asterisks to the end)

2. K all

3. K4, * yo, k2tog, k6, ssk, yo, k1*

4. K

5. K4, * k1, yo, k2tog, k4, ssk, yo, k2*

6. K

7. K4, * yo, k2tog, 6sc, ssk, yo, k1*

8. K

Repeat these 8 rows for 4.5" or to preferred length.

Work 2 rows of garter stitch.

Bind off.

Lightly steam block to reduce the curling.

I hope you enjoy this pattern. This can be knit in a few hours and worn immediately. If you are like me, you may not want to take it off.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hey Howdy Hey

7 pairs in 7 weeks
Just a quick post to show off my Big Secret Gift knitting. The recipients seemed pleased and I am yet again victorious in defending the world against cold toes. Hope you all got everything on your wish lists and had a few memorable moments thrown in the mix. I had the opportunity to laugh until I cried a few times and that is what makes a good gathering for me. So, thank you to everyone who made me laugh this week. I treasure you more than you know. I'll be back again next week after I have found a place for every new toy in my children's rooms. Seriously, it will take the whole week. Happy New Year!
ps-check out these handwarmers, too cute!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.
Isak Dinesen

Thank you for the kind comments about Ellen. If you'd like the pattern let me know, I'm happy to share.

The December solstice and holiday festivities are almost upon us. The next few days are the last push of the year, for many of us the craziest days of preparations. This time is usually so chaotic and stressful we forget what we are really preparing for. We have been celebrating in many ways the return of the light for the past few weeks, preparing for a rebirth in our lives whether it be spiritual or secular. I hope you find your light again, friends.

I hope you all find your path without much stumbling, that your hearts can be full even though you may feel alone, and that we can all bear each other up as we go into the unknown of a new year shedding the previous year's worries for they really are so small.

Keep compassion in your heart as you hold the hands of your children, the hands of your dying, the memories of those lost or astray, and the loved ones you visit. You will have been all of these things in the end.

I am on blog holiday for the next week or so. Safe travels and Happy Holidays to you all!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Inspired by Veronik Avery's lovely Chevron Neck Warmer, I knew I wanted to knit one. I live in a milder climate so I designed mine to be cozy enough to keep chilly breezes off my neck without suffocating me indoors. I am calling this Ellen, for a most intriguing literary character, Countess Ellen Olenska. She defied convention as stylishly as a neck warmer full of holes.

Pattern: Ellen (my own design)

Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 color 1350

Needles: US # 8 for body and 10.5 for bind off

I knit a generic cable and eyelet pattern in the round, leaving a 4 stitch stockinette panel (shown in top photo) in one spot where I'll add decorative buttons later. The neck warmer measures 18 inches in circumference and about 5 inches tall. I lightly steam blocked to keep the edges from rolling inward. I knit this over the course of a normal day watching the kids, so without interruption I would guess this could be knit in a few hours.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Did I miss it??

Apparently I missed the news. Seems the hordes of holiday shoppers all converging en masse at the local big box jarred the earth ever so slightly, causing our world to tilt even more on its axis. Scientists concur the Earth is now rotating at 24.073 degrees rather than the normal 23 degrees. The immediate effects of this orbital shift have been evidenced in small town Alabama where winter and spring decided to take a vacation and summer volunteered to come back for awhile. The lasting effects of this shift are unknown but can cause motherly crankiness since she has to dig in storage for little t shirts while getting a mean case of frizzy hair. Winter, please come back. I need you.

Little Man climbed to the top of the McD's outdoor playground and decided he was stuck. I sent up 4 children to get him down but he insisted I was his only means to safety. I squeezed my way to the top. We touched ground to the sound of applause from seven kids and a half dozen construction workers. Thank you, thank you very much.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Daily Life

I know many regular visitors to my corner of the blogiverse are knitters. Knitters looking for a progress pic or at the very least some yarn. I have been so wrapped up in Big Secret Gifts (as I am sure we all are now) that I haven't stopped to do much of anything else. I thought I'd share a typical day for me now. The sock being knit in the photos is a gift, but if you think it's for you, you are wrong.

Little Man makes my coffee so I can keep knitting.

Miss A braves the five sharp needles for a hug.

Yup, here too.

Sweet dreams little sock.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Girl Crush

Sandra of I May Be Knitting A Ranch House commented about my crush on Elizabeth Klett of A Mingled Yarn. This is no laughing matter. I really do have a huge girl crush on her knitting, sewing, and audio book recording. She is one of those rare individuals that seems to have an effortless Midas touch. She made her own winter coat. How could I not be smitten?

This got me thinking about my crushes. Since George Clooney is kind of thin and tired looking these days and my love for Paul Newman's broody character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is as contextual as my love for Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, my recent crushes have been on crafty artists and their wares. So without further ado, I present my crushes for December 2007:

1. Anything created by Emily Martin of inside a black apple. This is a print called Sylvie, for sale with many more amazing prints in her Etsy shop. Ms. Martin is in Athens, Georgia and I may have to go visit my cousins there so I can stalk her. Just kidding. Kind of. Her art calls my name. Some of my favorites include Sylvie, The Little Knitter, Lucy on a Windy Day, and Lunar Valentine. Go support her today.

2. Next up is this little knit hat by Franklin Habit. So cute it hurts. He got this right- sweet without being sickeningly so. Mr. Habit has promised to offer the pattern soon, so be on the look out.

3. My big crush on ergonomic design is no secret. I drink mostly coffee and tea so my Hubby, being so dear, bought me this mug from Miam Miam. I love this like no other material thing. Every sip from this mug is a gift. Check out the other fab designs. The company has a great philosophy and attention to the need for beauty in the everyday.

4. Lastly is my decade long crush on this woman. Isn't Nigella beautiful? I was addicted to her TV program back when I had cable and free time. Her recipes are delicious. I believe a biscuit and a hug from her could cure anything that ails you.

What do you have a crush on?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Trial and Error

For the past few days I have had a sewing project brewing in the back of my mind. Right there, behind doctor's visits, an unexplained black eye on Little Man, and loads of laundry, a quick sock project bag was being born in my imagination. So when LM decided to play blocks and trains all by himself, I seized the opportunity to blow several months of dust from my sewing machine.

This is the final product. Very easy to put together, but too small and the handles aren't centered. I am not discouraged. I always need a test dummy since I hate to sew directly from a pattern. Ok, truthfully, I hate to spend money on sewing patterns, so I make them up as I go. The next one of these will have a few modifications.

First the size. My sock projects fit in here fine, but I am currently knitting from a skein rather than a cake. I fear a cake wouldn't fit. I would like to fold the top over like a lunch bag. The sides are pressed in like a paper bag already. The handle would go on top of the flap rather than in the back.

My favorite part: pear recycled from the wool skirt that never really fit but I was wearing when Hubby proposed to me.

Also on my mind:

Check out the Lady Knits blog, she is destashing some nice items.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton is available now on LibriVox. Elizabeth Klett reads this one and so far my Christmas wish is that she records a hundred more audio books for me (us) to enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I have fallen prey to a crafty sickness. The virus had remained dormant and nearly forgotten until I saw this, this , and this. Go ahead, look but come right back or the bug will get you too! Oh how could I not want to make the perfect Advent calendar that would, in all of it's handmade goodness, impart a magical cheer and mirth upon my family that would withstand even the most concentrated holiday crankiness?

I took heavy inspiration from Megan's joke calendar. Armed with craft paper, scissors, and yarn, I set out to make the aforementioned calendar of wonder and awe.

About three minutes into the cutting, writing jokes on each ornament, and tying knots, reality set in. The kids fell apart over who could hold the scissors, why I wouldn't share the jokes all at once, and well, everything. I finished the project about seven hours later. We laughed at the jokes as we hung them all at once on the tree rather than one a day like I had planned. Planning. Fatal mistake in Mom terms. Should only plan ahead snacks and diapers, not traditions.

I was a bit bummed until I read this post by Left -Handed Housewife. I laughed out loud over the first sentence, then cried a little through the rest, and ended up smiling and contented that I am not alone in this madness, and I will do this to myself all over again next year. Thanks for the perspective Frances.

This makes it all worth it:

Friday, November 30, 2007


During lunch, the topic of conversation moved from the usual "stop throwing that and sit down!" to Christmas decorations. Miss A and I have been putting out small items for the past few days, but as the fifteen feet tall Santa and robotic reindeer have begun to invade the neighbor's yard, we acknowledged the fact that the outside of our home sure is dark at night. The conversation was short and to the point. "If you don't put up the lights right now, I will scream forever." (Miss A is in a threat stage.)

So, to disengage the inevitable ugly scene that was sure to commence at any second, I sprang to action. I had purchased a box of Gingerbread Family cookies and icing a week ago. Distraction is my most reliable weapon against the preschool terror threat . I think I will design a Super Mom belt like Batman's except, you know, not so bulky.

We all resembled the cookies when the kids had finished. Smiling, covered in gel, sprinkles, and me, well, I always feel like I'm missing half my brain.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Here is the progress on my Cozy V-Neck. I love this yarn and happily knit away when I am not knitting Big Secret Gifts. This is what you see:

This is what I see. Little Man directs almost all of my indoor photos. He studiously arranged the yarn and became frustrated when the props wouldn't cooperate with his artistic vision. So he did what most would do. He speared it with a pencil and screamed. I was almost fired for that once.

I have also laughed aloud in hushed museums as I imagine an apprentice of da Vinci shooing away pigeons from a balcony, or Vermeer's wince at womens' shrieks when a toddler knocks over a chamber pot. Do you think there was a servant swatting at bees around Monet?

I finished listening to the LibriVox recording of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence. I cried at the end. Really, I always shed big tears for Archer and his old fashioned immobility. That guy just drives me mad; I respect and despise him. Great story every time I read it.

I am toying with the idea of downloading Dickens's A Christmas Carol to listen to while I knit at night, but I don't know. It's so ...Dickensian... I have to be in the right mood.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Kneadful Things

Hope your Thanksgiving was as delicious and filled with friends as mine was. The kids helped me bake bread. The recipe can be found here. I could knead and bake bread all day. The combo of labor, patience, and pay off is appealing to me. I really love how all of my senses are engaged. A thick slice with cold butter and coarse salt is my favorite breakfast.

I received a wonderful package from a wonderful friend. Marmee sent a box full of scrappy yarn, fabric, and Andes mints. Notice the candy missing from the picture. Sweets don't last long around here. Thank you to Marmee and her family, y'all made my day!
The yarn will be knit into some wee mittens and such after Christmas.

Does everyone feel like this? That life as we know it is on hold until After Christmas? I have to laugh because I am a January junkie. I love the holidays, don't get me wrong, but nothing calls my name like the blank page of January. I know one thing I am really looking forward to finding out after Christmas: the winner of The Lady Knits contest. I hope you all enter and I win. ;)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cabled Raglan

Miss A is a dramatic child. She is prone to making up long stories, jubilant dancing, and method acting. She loves to have her "scenes" videotaped and instantly replayed. Over and over and over. Dancing and singing for total strangers? Yes! Posing for a requested picture? No no no.

Despite chasing her down and bribing her to not make that face and put her tongue back in her mouth, I was able to snap a couple shots of her in the green sweater. The belly sticking out photo is her favorite by the way.

Miss A's Cabled Raglan
2 skeins Vanna's Choice in olive
#8 & 6 circulars and DPN's
based on the child's neck down pullover pattern by Knitting Pure and Simple
I started with the ribbed collar rather than add it at the end. I also made a very wide neck since this will be passed down to brother and he has a big head. What is almost boat necked on Miss A will be crew neck on Little Man.

I also added an 8/10 cable to the front panel. This is an easy and quick sweater that can be modified so many ways.

I once used this pattern to make the 3 month size and I think it only took me 2 days to make it. Keep in mind for quick baby gifts.

Thanks to my Dad, brother , and Max the dog for visiting. We had a great time and hope to see you all again soon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Acorn love

The transition from brown to gold on the top of an acorn is exactly the color of this yarn. Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes in 'amber heather'. I will knit this up into my Cozy V Neck sweater from Fitted Knits. Too bad I can't finish it before turkey day, the stretchy ribbing would come in handy after the feast.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The leaves outside are blazing with color. A cold wind has arrived, setting those leaves free to dance and scatter. I knew this day would come, the day that I realize the leaves can't stay this lovely forever, but I am still a bit melancholy about it. I was delighted however to find the moss hasn't thought to sleep just yet.

The little green sweater only needs arms. I am hoping to finish this up over the weekend. If this wind keeps up, she'll need it sooner than I thought. Keep warm, friends.

Monday, November 12, 2007


There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton



chasing rays


Soak up the autumn light; you'll require its memory to warm the long winter's night.

Friday, November 9, 2007


ever growing Inuksuk

I am pleased to hear I have gained a few readers as enchanted with literature as I am. My daily activities don't afford me any time to sit quietly long enough to read so I do more listening to books lately. I can be found curled up in a cozy chair, with iPod and knitting at hand, working late into the night.

I am drawn these days to classic novels, mostly written by women about women. I think in my solo days I would lose myself in a book. Now I actually find myself reflected in the heroines and their differing small lives. I appreciate the fact the authoresses wrote about the worlds from which they came, skillfully rendering an archive of the physical environs as well as the vernacular and subtle whims of those populating these places in time. I recently commented to my mother that I love to revisit a novel every few years. The impressions Austen's Pride and Prejudice left on my 15, 25, and now almost 35 year old self are so different I think one becomes sage not from counting the passing of years, but accepting we are constantly changing as much as we think we are staying the same.

Before I forget, congratulations to Harper Lee, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her Pulitzer Prize winning book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Ms. Lee encapsulated a point in American history as seen through the eyes of an innocent child, exploding a tradition of human ignorance. Very powerful and a definite must read.

Feel free to offer reading suggestions... I am always searching for new material.

The cabled raglan is knitting up nicely. These little sweaters don't take long and are fun to modify. I chose an 8/10 cable for the front of Miss A's. Basically, the cable is worked over 8 stitches (with two purl stitches on either side) and cabled every 10 rows. She likes it so mama is happy.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Do you tilt towards windmills like Don Quixote? I do. Just had a wonderful date with my Little Man in the backyard. We live in a blustery valley and the wind was really whipping around the yard, sneaking up and racing off with my sun warmed cheeks. I could probably power my entire home with a little windmill placed just so to the right of the patio. I would even put a gnome there to keep watch for tilt prone interlopers. Somehow I don't think my Orwellian neighborhood association would go for it.

I am chugging along on the Big Secret Gifts (production knitting as Ashley so aptly puts it) and am going to start a simple sweater for Miss A. The pattern is a much loved one from Knitting Pure and Simple that can be found here. The yarn is Vanna's Choice in olive. I always knit the kiddos sweaters in acrylic so I am not hand washing daily. One of these days I will try out some merino super wash. Anyone tried this yet? I usually add cables to liven the miles of stockinette up.

Energy has been on my mind. I keep thinking about the projects I want to start...throw quilt, fingerless mitts, hats, and scarves...and then I remember my creative thinking far exceeds my energy output. I will get to these ideas eventually, but for today, I will share some other people's creative energy with you.

Check out:

Elliphantom Knits amazing (free) Herringbone Mitten pattern. Great gift idea.

House on Hill Road's cheerful mitts. I want to print a copy of her photo and hang it on my wall.

Ysolda's newest pattern for sale, Elijah the knit elephant. I want to cry he is so cute.

ducks under a truck

Sunday, November 4, 2007


We took a drive this weekend because I wanted a picture of the valley I live in from the top of the mountain. Unfortunately people seem to own this view and you can only see it while driving by at 40 mph. I did snap a pic of the view down the other side of the bluff. The creek generously affords me a more intimate view and the kids love to linger there as much as I do.

I listened to a segment on Studio 360 this morning about the novelist Yann Martel's ( Life of Pi )vow to send a novel and letter to Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, every 2 weeks through the duration of his Ministry. Martel's reasons for this, as well as the list of books and correspondence, can be found here.

I am enjoying Martel's selections, however I am most pleasurably taken by his letters. They are so unique, interesting, and poetic, I am envious of the Prime Minister. Most of you know how fond I am of written correspondence. A truly great letter will enthrall the reader yet leave them wanting a little more. A sense of mystery in the guise of wit and shared experiences is essential in letters. I think I have a little crush on Yann Martel now.

Speaking of mystery, this weekend marks the 7th anniversary of Hubby proposing to me. I am still clueless as to why he asked, but he did, and I thank him for that. Love you sweetie.

Another important anniversary passed on Saturday. Happy Wedding Anniversary, Sean and Susan. I know an ocean separates us, but I keep you both in my pocket and think of you often. Sean has the distinction of being the one person with whom I feel the highest compulsion to make laugh. If I succeed and am rewarded with his nodding chuckle, I feel like I have accomplished conversational greatness. He has also come dangerously close to figuring me out so I have to keep a step ahead of him at all times.

And just to drive Hubby nuts... my feet. Finished Cape Cod socks. Chowda, anyone?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November Calling

The new American Gothic

The kids had a fun filled day with a school party, mom's group party ( thanks, Kathy!), and trick or treating. They both fell asleep with candy and glow sticks in hand. I have always loved Halloween, but when did it become an all month long event? I was a little over it by the time the actual day arrived.

Not to freak you out, but November just invited himself over for the next month or so. Has this year flown by for you too?

I finished the Cape Cod socks and will post a picture soon. I am patiently awaiting my yarn order so I can dive into gift knitting mode. I did cast on for the Cozy V neck sweater from Fitted Knits, but am unsure about my yarn choice. I'll let you see pics if I decide to keep the project going.

Finished listening to Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I highly recommend this book either in print or recording. Braddon's attention to detail was spot on without being overkill and the twists caught me by surprise once or twice.

I really appreciate a novel that solicits an audible reaction from me. That isn't easy to do and I find most (popular) books I have read are so flat I feel I haven't gained anything from reading them. These novels are the cheetos of the literary world. I think I am enjoying them but feel empty and a bit stupid after consuming them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Peer Pressure

Thank you all for the sleeve suggestions . I was powerfully swayed by the majority of votes for ribbing. This may be the first time I have done something I've been told to do. I really have an awful tendency to do the opposite of what is suggested, just because I can, but I am happy to have listened and acted on this issue. Of course, I couldn't just add the ribbing and be done with it. I still wanted a little something I purled a row, knit 2 rows,then added ribbing. I think it is cute.

The next couple of days are full of Halloween goodness and a visit from my mom (hi, Mom!) I am looking forward to the parties, school events,costumes, and candy.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mint Leaf Tee

Thank you for all of the sock sympathy. The toe up didn't work for me this time, but I will not be defeated. The dreary weather over the past few days has been a catalyst for finished objects. Nothing is as comforting as the rainy drizzle, hot coffee, snuggly blankets, and a lap full of knitting.

Hi. I'm a rainy day picture.

Mint Leaf Tee

Based on this pattern

1 hank of Brooks Farm Duet

size 4 and 6 circular needles

I am so happy with this little sweater. The yarn is soft and fluffy with a rustic spin. There are thick/ thin spots and I like the nubby texture. I cannot for the life of me get a photo of the true colorway. I knit as directed only adding ribbing to the bottom and neckline. The rolled neckline was a bit too close to the 80's ripped sweatshirt look and I am no Alex Owens.

I haven't blocked it yet because I need your advice dear readers. Should I add the ribbing to the sleeves or leave them rolled? Discuss.

This is the lace panel. Wouldn't this look great on some kilt hose? I have ordered a bunch of yarn for holiday gifts. I am making everyone I know a cable knit toilet paper cozy! Just kidding.

I really am waiting on yarn for gift making. Which is of the surprise variety, so you won't be seeing it yet. I will be publicly knitting a sweater from Stefanie Japel's book Fitted Knits. Whenever I decide which of the fabulous designs I want to make first.

Ooh, this weather reminds me of a favorite: Overcast by Baudelaire.

Happy Weekend!