Wednesday, December 18, 2013

bread (a cop-out)

I just bought the last present I am going to buy, I have packed up the treats to send to school tomorrow, and I'm putting off an awkward e-mail. I didn't want to leave December with no entries, and I really wanted to write about all the baking and candy making, but eh energy. So instead, here is the collage picture I made of making my grandmother's Swedish Rye bread. bread college

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I have been spending a fair amount of time recently planning for my holiday baking. Every year I bake a bunch of goodies and use those to fill treat "baskets" for the girls' auxiliary teachers (math teach, social studies, art, PE, spanish, and the principal are all on the list). ANd then, if you've been reading a while, you know I like to knit something for the teachers.

This year one of my daughters has a male teacher, which means lacy scarf is out, but warm scarf remains a possibility. The other daughter has a very hip young teacher, and I have been racking my brain for some hip knit scarf. I have not made any progress with this, and had resigned myself to gift cards and maybe making each of them an ipad holder (since the school has provided ipads to the teachers and students ). You know though how sometimes something just comes along that blows all your plans out of the water in a totally cool way? Well that happened today when the girls each brought home a letter from their teachers, suggesting that in lieu of holiday gifts, they'd like to suggest a donation to a charity.

Ok not just any charity. Their classes have all been reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, which tells two stories, one of Salva in 1985 and Nya, in 2008. Both stories highlight the need for safe secure drinking water in a region often fraught with conflicts, sometimes over this very water. It is a really good book, and if you have never read it, I would encourage you to do so. Anyway Salva is a real person, who after escaping Sudan (sorry spoiler!) started a foundation to dig wells in South SudanWater for South Sudan is that charity, and the one the teachers would like to encourage. So even though there must have been a bunch of dust hitting us, as the kids told me this, I managed to choke out that yes, indeed we could do this. Knitting problem solved!

However, both girls were all sad about not giving teachers something. "Can we still bake?" they both asked. Oh yeah we can. If we didn't what would I eat all through December? This time, I think I'll make a more sizable portion for each of their teachers.

So now, I am concentrating on that list. So far, I have:
Hard candy in either a variety of fruit or peppermint. Or maybe fruit and peppermint, I have no idea.
Peppermint Marshmallows I made these last year and by the end, I was hoarding them.
Sea Salt carmels yes, this recipe was in Oprah magazine. I don't care. I made these last year and they didn't set so I ate them all myself to save anyone from eating them. They were particularly good on a trefoil cookie, covered in one melted dove dark chocolate. I think I need to cook them a little more this year
Truffles. Last year I wasn't happy with how they turned out. This year, I may dip them in milk chocolate. I'll try to update with this recipe and the recipe for the next item
Spiced Pecans. The recipe is from my husband's grandma, and I was sure I had shared it before, but I can't find it. Anyway, I love these, I have a batch in the freezer now because oatmeal tastes oh so good with them.

When I think about all these things, they are all good but the tastes don't really form any sort of theme. This, I tell you, bothers me. It really does because it feels like what it truly is, which is--here is a bunch of stuff I love making and eating--Merry Christmas! I suppose I shouldn't let that bother me, no one has ever said--yuck these don't have a theme. I couldn't get a hold of any trefoils this year either. Maybe I'll make a shortbread if the caramels don't come out again. Sound be a fun December.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I wish there were progress to report on the dahlia cardigan. I wish there were knitting to show. I did finish the first sleeve, but then hesitated to start the second. A bunch of reasons held it up. One, I was scared that the sleeves might not be far enough apart to fit my arms. Second, the yarn I was using developed a huge tangle. I decided, thus, to take a break and use my knitting time to untangle the ball. That took a while, it was a huge mess. It did give me time to decide what I might do if indeed the arm holes are not far enough apart.

Instead, I've been doing more sewing as of late. An early snow weather day last week found me at the fabric store my MIL makes samples for (she needed to show off her grand babies). Each girl was bribed with a fat quarter (they love them) and while they decided, I found some fabric I needed. And then I found a cute pattern for a bag.

The pattern you can see at the whistlepig website. it is this iPad carry case. It seemed like fate when I realized I had a frequent buyer card that made the pattern and all the fabric for it $3!

Of course I didn't actually get to start on it until I had completed Barbie dresses for each girl. DSCN2078

The green was a fat quarter purchased that day, the red came from my daughter's stash. (grandma does this often)

My fabric had to wait until everyone went back to school. So far I have it cut. DSCN2083

Hopefully, I'll get more done soon. I was thinking that if this pattern works well it might, in a different color, make a good teacher gift.

Friday, November 08, 2013

My first (major) knitting project

I have already told the story of how I learned to knit from my grandmother when I was 11 or 12. The headband I made is still in use to hold hair back while washing my face, or applying moisturizer. (You can read the story), but basically due to impatience on both my grandma's and my part, I didn't knit anything again for 20 years.

first project I wanted to write more about that project,because I felt this sense of connection to my grandma as she taught me to knit. It is kind of hard, though, for me to write much about my grandma in November. Not only did she pass away in November, but I spent much of that last November thinking that she "wouldn't survive the night." In the end, I decided I'd pick up after the 20 year hiatus.

So, almost eleven years ago I found myself 400 miles away from all of my family, with infant twin girls. After a really rough first year of motherhood, my wonderful husband wanted to gift me for my birthday with some sort of "fun get out of the house class type thing." He gave up trying to surprise me, in part because he was kind of stumped as to what I would like. It just so happened that he was looking at quilting classes at a store that also offered "learn to knit." I'm not sure what made me say--This! I want to relearn to knit. Maybe it was remembering that closeness I felt when my grandma tried teaching me a skill that she had. I wanted a skill I could someday teach to my children or grandchildren.

So off I went with a ball of acrylic yarn and US size 8 needles to my first class. Over the next four weeks we learned to knit, to cast on (cable and knit cast ons), to purl, to decrease, to yarn over, and to bind off. We learned how to read patterns. We made dishcloths!

knit baby

I don't use dishcloths, but I made several of the two patterns we learned. I gave dishcloths to my mom, who did use them. I did keep the first two though.


Where the story gets more interesting is here. I finished the class, knowing all the basic skills and having only made 4 dishcloths (plus the 20 year old headband) and I decided to knit a sweater. Actually two sweaters, one for each of my now toddling daughters. I asked the instructor on the last class if that was even a thing I could do at this point and she gave me wise wise words of advice:

Take the pattern one step at a time.

Sure, there are a whole page of directions but really the first step? Cast on. After that one step at a time.

So I went to the library and browsed patterns from books and found this great Debbie Bliss book. Then I didn't write down the name of the book or the pattern, so it is forgotten through time. I balked at buying *that* much baby cashmerino and so found a cheaper and more washable yarn substitution. Of course not knowing anything about what baby cashmerino felt like, I picked instead a sock yarn in baby colors and then had to go up to size 3 or 4 needles to "get gauge." So yes, I got gauge, but the fabric that it created was much looser and airier than what the original pattern called for. And since I didn't get row gauge (because really how could I--the yarn I picked was so much thinner than baby cashmerino) they ended up a little bigger than I intended. But hey, the longer to fit them in right? Um yeah.

Tip: don't just match the stitch gauge, but attempt to get row gauge too.

Yarn substitution tip: Try to match your yarn to the other characteristics of the original yarn first sweaters They came out huge. I think I made the 2T size and they look like maybe 4T. Also, even though I was "careful" about the sleeve directions, I ended up with four sleeves that were all different lengths. The funny part? every sleeve was too long. Every single one. In this picture I have lined up the sleeves at the top.


My knitting instructor invited all of us to come in and visit her during the store's holiday open house later that year, and I asked her how to get the sleeves to all come out the same length. Her tip was:

Knit both sleeves at the same time

I have done this and it does really work if you are the kind of person who forgets to decrease when you are supposed to. Although if you are the kind of person who gets yarn tangled up, then it may not work that well for you.

In the end though, learning to knit was about trying to recapture some of that closeness that I felt with my grandma. And perhaps make things that would make my family feel loved and warm. And even though the first sweaters didn't quite come out the way I would have wanted them to, knitting has given me so much. Not just (eventually) warm knitted stuff, but also the closeness I wanted. I don't have pictures of my grandma and I knitting, and I don't have pictures of my daughters and I knitting. But I do have one of my mom and I knitting. And you can tell we are having a blast with it.

Mom and me

Submitted for Knitting Daily's Blog it to win it contest

The Prizes I picked are:
Penny the panda kit

Ashbury knitted mitts kit in hunter

Best of Knitscene

Sockupied one sock two ways firefly kit

2006-2011 Interweave knits Holiday gifts CD collection

I picked the above prizes for various reasons. I have a panda girl, I love knitscene, and it is time to start making holiday gifts.

Friday, November 01, 2013

halloween recap

Ahhh November! A time to gracefully make the transition from "pumpkin all the things" to "peppermint all the things." A time to go from the craziness of Halloween costumes, into the craziness of Christmas gifts.

But before we make that transition, there are some ends to tie up. So without further ado, here is the rundown/smackdown of the Halloween costume craziness.

Ever since Nov. 1, 2012, one of my daughters has been wanting to be Hermione Granger for Halloween. And this did not waver (as it does with her sister who has wanted to be statue of liberty, a toothbrush, a penguin, a flamingo, and a tube of toothpaste--all in the last 3 months!) and so this is how I came to find myself weeping in frustration in Joann's In early September. Every year of the last 15 years there has been a pattern for some version of Harry Potter. Sure they might call it magical wizards, but you and I know that it is Harry. Sadly, this is the year that every pattern company decided no one wanted to be Harry Potter (although tell that to the TWO other girls in my daughter's class who ALSO went as Hermione). But hey no biggie right, Hermione needs a grey vest, a white shirt, a grey skirt, a gryffendor tie, and a robe. How hard can this be? Well. I started strong by finding the perfect skirt pattern. Then I found a great sweater vest/white shirt combo at Salvation army. Eventually, I found an adult robe pattern (yes, only adults now want to be Harry Potter evidently--as this was entitled something like "Wizarding world!"). I decided to fake it on the tie, and found bias tape in the perfect shades. I even had my MIL print out the Gryffendor crest of fabric, which I fused to the robe!

The skirt was to be my undoing. The skirt pattern was up to a girls size 14, but pattern sizes often bear little or no resemblance to "real" sizes (by this I mean sizes of clothes you can buy). And thusly neither of my girls is little enough to be a size 14--despite the fact that they both wear that size. I had my Tim Gunn moment, in which I decide to make it work even if I needed to work every spare moment the last week. And then! OK back up a little here.

One weekend, I was frustrated with the general state of the house, and my inability to actually sew on weekends (do you KNOW how many barbie clothes will be requested if I get within a foot of my sewing machine when the girls are home?) I decided to clean out my closet and once and for all stop kidding myself about some of the items in there. One such item: My interview suit. When I was first out of Graduate school, I splurged on the perfect librarian suit in which I would interview and land the perfect librarian job. That was 20 years ago. I am neither that size nor that style anymore and furthermore: I never will be. Well, I may be that size again, but I doubt I'll want the huge shoulder pads. Heck, I get that size again and need a suit, I'll splurge again! So I dumped it in the bag and set the bags in the basement awaiting a trip to Goodwill.

In my frustration over the skirt, I passed that goodwill bag and it hit me! That skirt is grey. That skirt should fit my daughter! That skirt would work in a pinch. And guess what--the day before Halloween IS a pinch. And lo and behold it did. And so I present Hermione with a candy corn over her face because this is the Internet:

The other daughter is a tad indecisive. But I make them decide when patterns go on sale in early September. And she did waffle a little, but I talked her into this adorable teen monster . (as an aside, do you want to know how whack pattern sizing is. This pattern which to me looks so tweenish--was barely big/wide enough for my admittedly tall 10 year old) She of course wanted her own spin. One eye please, in green and pink and blue. And aside from the silky fur making a huge mess, this went together easily. And even with that mess, I would totally make this again.

Seriously, how cute is that!

She is happy--even though I put a smiley over her face.

And now trick or treating is over (we being of strong stuff and never postpone halloween for a little rain! And thankfully, it was only a little rain--despite the deluge and gale force winds predicted) and we can move on to the craziness of Christmas.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Part of me hesitates to update since I do not want to take the time to take some photos and upload them. And what is a craft blog without some photos of craft? But alas, if this is going to be updated, it probably needs to be photo-less. So I present you with a photo free project update.

Halloween costumes: I started late this year. I have two costumes to make: a monster and Hermione Granger. The monster had a vest, skirt, leg warmers and mitts. All sewed. All with a pattern. Hermione, oh sigh. For years I've seen patterns for Harry Potter characters, but the year my daughter wants to be Hermione, there are none. So, I'm faking it. Hermione needs a skirt, a tie, and a robe. I bought a grey vest/white shirt. I looked for a tie in the right colors, but couldn't find one. I did buy this pattern for the robe. I also bought a plain skirt pattern, so I could make it to match the grey in the sweater I bought. I decided that I'd make the tie out of bias tape.
So that said as of today, I have the monster costume done with the small exception of velcro on the vest. I have also learned that Silky fur fleece will make your house look like you murdered a muppet. But now the sewing room has been thoroughly vacuumed. I am starting on the robe very soon.

Dahlia sweater: I have the sides finished which means that I am hesitating. Why am I hesitating? Well, the next step is to unzip the afterthought spots for the sleeves. At that point I need to do two things:
Try it on and make sure it is long enough and
Read the pattern

Hopefully, I'll get past both of these, because I really want the sweater!

Friday, October 11, 2013


I think I have said before that I am real product knitter. Sure I like the process, I find the endless stockinette soothing at times, I find socks to be this great way to achieve a particular kind of meditation, BUT what I like best is that at the end of all that, I get a new sweater or pair of socks. And often times I pick projects because I really really want that thing--be it socks or sweaters or scarves.

This is why I started knitting the dahlia cardigan way back in... gosh Ravelry says June! I wanted that sweater for the early fall when you don't need (I almost spelled need "kneed" as if every N sound needs the silent k because knit and knitter and knitting all have it. I KNOW!) a heavy wool sweater, but you do need something light to throw on to make that transition. I thought of course that it would be done by the time the weather turned.

Well the weather has turned, and every day for the last week I have thought I need my Dahlia cardigan. I even saw at Kohl's a sweater that was similar in construction (without a fancy lace back --but still a lace back) and nearly bought it (darn that Kohl's cash!). I held back because "Dude! you are almost done with that puppy!"

Except I'm not. I just started last night the edging on the left front. I still have SLEEVES to make for pete's sake! And that's if I made the fronts long enough.


I did put lifelines in. I may be stupid, but I learn from my mistakes.

Mainly I've been busy working on halloween costumes. I feel totally far behind, I wanted to finish one costume up this week, and while technically I have 2 days before the week is up, my children do not have school today, so week over! I will leave you with a peek of how messy the fabric is for the costume I had hoped to finish.

This is what I looked like after cutting the pattern out.fuzz

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I was going to write this entry in the car dealership while waiting for them to diagnose the "weird burning smell" (front axel bearing thingy), but there were too many people in the waiting room to whip out my computer and start typing madly away. I could have knit and people watched too, but these were the most boring people ever. I read my book instead.

I am steadily working away on my Dahlia cardigan, I currently have one side done and I am working towards getting to the other side.

I have had a lot of ups and downs with this sweater. First off the center panel took forever for me to make it past the 7th row. Things kept slipping off the needles or getting twisted or what have you. I conservatively estimate that it took me 20 tries to get past row 7. Then I had trouble because of gauge.

What happened was that because of the construction of the sweater and because the center lace panel turned out so big, it meant that bottom and top panels that I used to check gauge were so tall that the sweater would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 inches from my neck to where it ended. Basically a HUGE droopy sweater. Obviously, I didn't want a huge droopy sweater, so I went and looked really hard at the pattern and figured, hmmm I can kind of wing this! So that's what I did.

If you want to have a better idea of what I'm talking about, you should check out the Interweave knits blog post on it. What I decided was that the little strips that you knit separately and then join to the life stitches of your lace panel to create a huge opening that then becomes the side, well those could be shorter. Like shorter than the smallest size. The only rub would be figureing where the afterthought sleeve should go.

So I eyeballed it. dahlia

and I don't think i did terrible, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. So guess what? I ripped it out. And I started over. I left the top section as it was, but I made the bottom section as long as the smallest size. I had the armhole where I wanted it, so I just figured out where that would be with the new size and bam I was knitting. Knitting stockinette over a huge number of stitches.

Dahlia in progress

(Sorry about the picture quality, but I actually want to finish this entry).

I'm now starting to make my way to the other side. Although, I broke one of the needles I was using (sat on it--or rather kneed it) AGAIN. Also the miles of stockinette looming ahead is making me wish for a car trip or something.

Just in time to start using all my free time on Halloween.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fixing a shirt or two

What I did on my summer vacation part 2.

Maybe you all know this, but if you shop at Kohl's during set times and you spend $50 or more you get $10 Kohl's cash to redeem later. Maybe you think this is a scam. Maybe you've been at the checkout and your total came to $46 and you were tempted to run back for one more thing. Well, this summer I discovered that if you come back with your $46 receipt later and buy $4 they will give you the Kohl's cash. I discovered this when I did this and the next day decided that while my girls were in camp, I would buy them each a shirt from the slut juniors section. I picked what I thought was an innocuous enough shirt--a v-neck that says Hogwarts. Bought two and skedaddled.

So imagine my horror when I discovered V-neck in juniors section means cleavage bearing. How low was it?


That's one daughter wearing it with a shirt underneath.

But at this point there is no returning them (not the least of which was the Kohl's cash) because both girls are in LOVE with the idea of owning a Harry Potter Hogwarts shirt! And really the shirts fit every where else. So I got a little creative.

First I took the shirts to the fabric store and found, to my delight, t-shirt fabric in the exact same yellow!
Is that a match or what?!

I bought half a yard, but really I only needed a quarter. I then hemmed one end and sewed it across the v-neck.
We won't mention that I had that color of thread. I did though--isn't THAT crazy.

Then I basically sewed all along the edges were the original stitching was--along the pin line here: after

I wish I had an after picture, because it turned out great. Both girls love these shirts, neither looks provocative, and my mother in law actually asked me what the problem was with the shirts--she hadn't realized I had FIXED them.

I do have to add though that I am majorly disappointed with the juniors section at Kohl's. My girls are 10, they are tall for their age and are aging out of children's clothes really fast. The juniors section is full of short shorts and these v-necks and camis. We actually had better luck for shirts in the petite section--although many of those are kind of matronly. There has to be in my mind a middle ground, otherwise I'm not sure I'll ever shop enough to get Kohl's cash again.

P.S. Spent my KC on a new vacuum that I think I love more than I should.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


One of the problems of not blogging for a long time, is that you aren't sure if you should start withe the projects you finished in your absence or the projects you are working on now. At least that's my problem. I think though I'll solve it by dealing with the now and hopefully catching up now that I have more time.

Oh who am I kidding, every summer it is the same for me. I spend summers with the children, being present, doing things and not really spending too much time in front of the computer. I put off all non-essential stuff saying--I'll get to it when school starts. And then school does start and I spend September rushing around like mad catching up from the last three months of neglect.

So we had lots of fun this summer, and I have two projects I want to write about at a later time, but now I want to talk about the issue that has taken over my life lately: canning.

Maybe this always happens and I just don't notice it but this year peaches AND tomatoes are both in high season at the same time. Last year I canned both for the first time ever and let me tell you--it was a long hard winter rationing out the peaches and tomatoes. So this year, I decided to make more. Last Saturday we purchased a bushel of peaches from our favorite orchard Christofferson Farms(sorry facebook link), and I spent labor day and the first day of school chopping, peeling, pitting and canning.

How many peaches in a bushel you say?

After filling 15 cans, I had only made a dent:

So maybe a bushel was going overboard. Maybe.

For the record, I had done a small batch a few weeks ago, and a batch of honey spiced peaches too. I gave away 2 jars of the first batch in a thank you basket I made for an aunt who invited us to spend a few days at her cottage on Lake Michigan so I have now 31 jars of regular peaches, and three honey spiced.

I made one batch of jam earlier too. I have enough peaches left to either freeze, make more jam, or make lassi for dinner tonight (to go with the eggplant curry (you can see the eggplant in the first picture).

One thing I like about canning, besides what people usually say they like about canning (it tastes better, you know what is in it, no metal cans, etc.) is how it gives me a real appreciation for the past. Particularly women of my grandmother's generation, who canned from their gardens to support their families. Canning is hard--I estimate I spent 6 hours on those 30 jars (all pints). My back ached, my fingers got chapped, and I was stuck at home on some really nice cool days. And all those jars? Well we eat basically a quart at a sitting between the four of us, so that's two pints every time we have them. So those 30 jars represent 15 meals. Out of how many in a year? I could never ever can enough food to exclusively feed us. And I don't think my ancestors did either--although I'm sure they ate less. But it gives you a real appreciation for just how much work can go into feeding your family.

Today I am off to pick tomatoes at our CSA. I love love love our CSA. In addition to the fresh vegetables (and melons) grown and handed out every week (buffet style so you don't get stuck with tons of stuff you don't like--even though I do it like a buffet and sample), during high season you can go out to the farm and pick if you are putting up. So a month ago, people who pickle could go out and pick bushels of cucumbers. I don't pickle. I do make sauce and can tomatoes though so, now that tomatoes are bountiful, I get to do the real farm to table thing.


Friday, August 09, 2013

summer update

I have my adjustments made on the dahlia cardigan, but I don't have time at the moment to photograph it and detail the ideas. I'm knitting away though, and perhaps next week when my children go to camp for three whole days, I'll have time to write an entry with pictures about actual knitting (although who knows, they are in camp 18 total hours, and I already have 20 hours worth of stuff I want to do while they are gone).

We have been crafting though. I bribed encouraged my children to participate in our running program last week by offering to buy 2 colors of dye and white t-shirts if they would run all three days with no complaining. We made it mostly and so on Saturday we had tie-dye day. Of course tie-dye day is only fun if you invite ALL your friends (glad I bought the 5 pack of t-shirts). It was "the most fun ever!" according to the participants. It wasn't bad for me either even though I did all the hard work and clean up. These are the evidence of the best day. faces cropped/blurred, t-shirts still wet (and vivid. They faded a bit in the wash)


I have two children, but for some reason only one picture would upload to flickr.:

The other thing we are doing a lot of is watching turkeys stroll through the neighborhood:
turkeys--growing up

They scared a jogger just minutes after I took these, he did the wildest double take!

And of course, we love butterflies here. Usually we don't get a lot of different species in town. I think all the pesticides/herbicides/heavy weeding that happens in town (plus mowing, we don't have meadows) means that it is rare to see much beyond white sulfurs. Although we have also seen eastern tiger swallowtails. Generally we don't get too close. Today though we caught this guy:
red spotted admiral open red spotted admiral closed

We photographed him/her and released. My butterfly book, entomologist friend, and google all agree: red spotted purple admiral

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

summer update

I have a short 15 minutes before I need to get lunch together for the children. That's how summer has been. One long meal prep followed by cleanup and then meal prep again.

Ok it isn't quite that bad, mostly, we do a lot of stuff in the mornings, including prep stuff for supper, and then head out to the pool for the afternoons. But it does feel like I am spending a lot of time on food. And these next few weeks it will go into hyper overload with corn to be frozen and peaches to be dealt with in addition to the very regular meals. I've already tackled strawberries (5 batches of freezer jam and a half batch of strawberry lemonade), and cherries (one batch of jam, and I lost count how many quarts frozen for crisp)

In the evenings after the kitchen is tidied (doesn't that sound domestic), I've been chilling with my knitting. I finished the lace panel for the Dahlia sweater:
lace panel

And as expected from someone who didn't "take time to check her gauge" it is a bit bigger than the pattern suggests. I have a 16X17 inch "square" instead of the 13 inch they recommend. I did check gauge (by knitting up the next two pieces) and turns out that I really need to do some reworking. If I continue and make what the pattern says, I'll end up with a sweater that is 29 inches long on the back. So, I need to make the pieces shorter. At least I think I do. I need to read a little more ahead and see if I can figure out the construction.

I'm hoping that I can get it worked out because I really want this sweater.

In the meantime, I leave you with the turkey mama and her two getting bigger babies that wandered through the backyard today. They live somewhere in the neighborhood, as this is about the 3rd visit we've had.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

summer sweater

Most people knit socks in the summer. And I like knitting socks, don't get me wrong, but this summer, I thought I'd try something a little different: a sweater.

*So I cast on for the dahlia cardigan. And then I made a mistake and had to rip that out. repeat from * 8 times.

It starts as a provisional cast on--no problem. With 4 stitches: no problem. Increase to 8: no problem, Join in the round and start the lace pattern: problem. I actually think the fact that it was 8 stitches and trying to manage 3 dpns and yarn over was some sort of issue.

After like 10 tries I got to the point in the lace where I thought I finally had it, but then was off 2 stitches. I think that was row 5 or something.

Finally I made it to row 7, was again off a stitch but was able to tink back to the error. And so now I have the beginnings of the center medallion:

dahlia I am hoping to get past all the tricky stuff before we have another long car trip. And I'm hoping to finish this in time for cooler weather. We'll see. Right now I haven't even decided which size I'm going to make, I thought I'd see how big my medallion turned out. How's that for disaster waiting to happen?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finished socks

 Here we are the end of June and full into all the regular summer stuff: kids fighting, kids claiming to be bored, and being sick.  What? Your summers aren't filled with this?
I did manage to catch a cold timing it just so that I was most miserable the day the pool opened for the summer (a mere two days after school got out) and ended up at Urgent care over the weekend because, after 10 days, I just could not stand one minute of being sick.  Three hours after starting on antibiotics I started to feel better.  Seriously.

It is strawberry season, and so I have begun the freezer jam.  So far I've made three batches.  I want to make 2 or 3 more.  I mention this because I can't find anywhere, how many I made last year and that number was nearly perfect.  I also delved into canning although not with strawberry jam, but rather Strawberry lemonade.  I made half a batch, and had a little leftover after filling three pints, and so we got to try it and YYYUUUUMMMM!  I've been doing the jam over time, so as not to get tired of it, but with being under the weather, well let's just say I have spent more than my fair share of this "vacation" feeling tired and overwhelmed.

We also took a small trip, traveling to a concert venue in Grand Rapids that has outdoor concerts.  I sat and knit my way through the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.  It was quite perfect for me, to sit surrounded by my happy children, listening to excellent music and knitting a sock.  And it was a LOT of knitting time, so much so I finished the socks.
So of course now it is too hot to actually wear socks, but they will be a nice surprise when the weather turns in September.
I knit these with Lorna's laces Shepherd sock, I thought Lake view but the tag says Icehouse.  I used size US 1 needles and a basic toe up pattern, with a heel flap, short row heel.  I finished with Jenny's Surprisingly Stretchy bindoff, which  I found I liked doing.

Now I am debating the next project, as I finished the socks before I had plans for anything else.  I have some ideas though, so now that I am on the mend from my cold, and nearing the end of strawberry jam season, I'm sure I'll have something soon.

Friday, June 07, 2013

first knits

Today I don't want to talk so much about my knitting as I do about my daughter's knitting. My daughter is 10, loves purple and has really taken to knitting (she has a twin sister who has shown interest in crochet, but hasn't focused on it). She made a garter stitch scarf for her American Girl and then we tried to think of a project where she could purl.

Back in the day, when I was slightly older than she is (11 or 12 maybe) My grandma taught me to knit and purl (but not to cast on or cast off or weave in ends) by having me make a project from a book. I chose a headband thinking I'd be oh so cool in it. I still have it and as first projects go it isn't terrible. It is though quite weird that I'd pick a headband as my first project, as I have never ever in my life looked good in a headband. I still have it though and mostly use it when washing my face. Some pictures:

and: first project

However, this daughter looks great in headbands. We thought about replicating mine, only in purple, but honestly I can't recall the pattern. While it sort of looks garter stitch, I distinctly remember purling. What I had her do was a knit purl combo. I was thinking knit two rows, purl one, but she was way more random about it. And honestly, it doesn't curl and looks pretty neat. She only worked on it a few rows every night as I read to her (which makes it sound like a domestic scene from the nineteenth century, especially when you consider the other daughter was usually drawing) but I doubt 19th century domesticity featured the fantasy novels we currently are reading (Ranger's Apprentice, for anyone who cares).

Last night I showed her how to sew it up, and this morning she wanted to wear it. As she was getting ready I said--aren't you forgetting something? And I grabbed her camera and shot a few shots of her wearing it. She looks darling, you'll have to trust me.

Monday, May 20, 2013


So ok today I was flipping through e-mail only half paying attention as I flipped through the mostly ads, but then, well then I saw an e-mail from Interweave knits extolling the virtues of the Dahlia cardigan.

And I remembered that I had that issue. I remembered that I have DK yarn that wants to be a sweater. I remembered that I liked that pattern when it was first published. And I remembered that I wanted to tackle some lace.

I sense a project coming on.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


So, a while back I was really in a funk. I didn't know what to knit, was having trouble picking a project, and basically feeling bleh about everything. The grey sweater was supposed to pull me out of it, and maybe it did. It at least got me to the socks which continue to just fly off the needles.

However, I have been having the strangest thoughts lately.
I want to knit something lacy.
Something complicated.
Something shawl-like.
I have yarn, because I happen to like to collect lace weight yarn. Laceweight and sock yarn compose a big chunk of my stash

But I am stuck.

Do I knit a triangular shawl or round?
Something fussy or with an easy repeat?

And is a complicated lace shawl something I'll wear?*

Do I really want to haul around a chart all summer?

Will I really have the concentration for that with the kids around?

For now, I'm scrolling through Ravelry, and looking through books ( I have several lace books) which may be the fun part of this anyway.

* I mentioned that I wanted to make a lace shawl on FB and instructed everyone to please stop me. One friend of mine wondered if I was worried about looking too granny like. But I think I might be going for ethereal.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I think that officially I have given up on my gray India print henley.

I had taken it along on our spring break trip back early April and ripped it our because of the stitch count. I started over on April 5th and got the counts right and then joined for the round and.... yes, twisted my stitches. Since I needed to take it off the needles anyway, I tried it on and it was too small.

I haven't unknit it yet, it is still sitting across the room where I threw it.

I think though, that I am done trying to make that pattern fit that yarn. I love the pattern, and someday I will find a yarn worthy. For now, the grey yarn still longs to be a sweater, and perhaps one day it will. For the time being, I have decided to knit some socks.

For my birthday I treated myself to some knitters dream carbonz. I initially got the 1.5 size to replace my harmony needles that broke, but when I was playing with them and this lorna's laces yarn I had I wasn't happy with the fabric. My LYS has trouble keeping the carbonz in stock, but on my spring break trip we visited my mom's LYS. And I still had birthday money left (although not enough--that store was GORGEOUS!) so I bought the size 1.

I did the heel a little differently than I normally do on toe-up socks. And I had some frustration with that (I actually took this sock on a field trip and in the car on the way home, ripped out the whole heel and started over). I'm pretty happy now, although I know the second sock might be a bit different.

I don't think I've said enough about the yarn. I LOVE lorna's laces sock yarn. I believe this colorway is lakeview. socks

Monday, May 06, 2013


Somehow May arrived and while I have been meaning to write this here entry for a few weeks now, I am only just realizing that perhaps I'll have to write it in stages or something so it will get posted before next September. Two weeks ago our town, like much of the midwest, experienced a period of heavy rain. It rained A LOT. The river, which had gone a few feet above flood stage mere weeks earlier due to heavy snow melt, rose again. And rose, and rose some more. Predictions were that it would crest a full 10 feet over flood stage, beating the 100 year flood by a foot. Everyone in town was told to expect water and or sewage, as the wastewater treatment plat was having trouble keeping up. And so we prepared by pulling everything in our basement off the floor (since we don't live in the flood zone, we were not expecting much). My sewing room and the kids art room is in the finished basement. We spent some hurried time going through things, and I loaded the car with donations for goodwill (mostly had been sitting in the laundry room waiting). I also threw away two garbage bags full of stuff, some I may or may not have snuck away from the children. In the end, it looked a lot like this: Prepared That's my side of the basement.
I also got to vacuum which was much needed.

On the other unfinished side of the basement, we store our treasures from days past. My husband got all of those boxes off the floor and then started wondering if he couldn't consolidate them. "Archivists hate me," he hollered up at one point. He did intermingle our high school stuff and got rid of 2 or three boxes. And he found this quilt:


Now, it is his family that quilts so I was sure this was not mine. (My family does yarn stuff, so if my grandma had made this it would have been a crocheted afghan.) It has no label and he asked me if I knew whose it was. I did not. It has written in what looks like sharpie in one corner "1977." I asked my mother in law and she confirms that she did not make this, but my husband's grandma did. AND she hand quilted it. But how sad that she only used a sharpie to indicate date. It isn't the most lovely quilt I've ever seen and parts of it are clearly polyester fabric, so it isn't particularly soft or anything. But still it is an important lesson for quilters every where (including me): LABEL.

And yes, I am guilty of this as I hate doing labels. But you know what, if Grandma G had put a label on this thing we'd know for sure that she pieced and quilted it. We might even know why. Instead, I'm going to make a label for it that says Probably quilted by."

And yes, I said I was guilty of it. I have a quilt on my guest bed that also needs a label. I guess I'd better dig through those piles to get to my sewing machine and get cracking.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

gray sweater and jams

Well I certainly didn't mean to take a month break on blogging. I did however, spend most of March really struggling with knitting, in a way that I have not ever done.

I did start the India Print Henley I mentioned in the last entry. I struggled so much with it too. Something about adding stitches at the increases (raglans) and still trying to follow a chart. Sometimes you added stitches on both sides of the chart, and you didn't start at the beginning of the chart, all of which made me confused.

I finally did get it going though, and realizing how to read the simple pattern in such a way that I could figure out where to start pretty easily. And then we went on a trip and I took it along. So I should be showing a you a progress picture with a lot of progress right?

Well, let me tell you about the mid-winter freezer jam I made instead. Although I don't have pictures of that either.
I had a bunch of peaches in the freezer that I put there to make smoothies, Lassis and crips with. However, our Indian food consumption is not what it was last winter (we are trying to eat in more, get the kids to eat what we eat and the Indian take away place has consistency problems that I don't feel like dealing with). Meanwhile, I was running low on jam. So I decided to make peach jam from my frozen peaches. And it worked.... sort of. I generally don't worry about browning in the freezer peaches, so I didn't put anything on them. So they turned a delightful brown. So yeah, I have brown peach jam. Tastes good though.

I also was able to finally find the mangos I like again, and even though I am the only one who appreciated last year's mango jam, I decided to make it again. Wow, when I went back to look I see I made that jam in late April last year and here I thought I was late! I had it in my head that I made that in February. Anyway, I did have the last minute UGH I don't have enough Certo moment when it was time to add it and had to run to an unfamiliar grocery store to get it (baking aisle!)

Ok the reason I wanted a jam interlude is this, when we got to my mom's house on our spring break trip, it was time to "divide body and sleeves" and I discovered that I had done two things a) made an uneven number of increases so my fronts had the right amount of stitches but the sleeves and backs were all 4 off and b) missed the set of instructions that have you NOT increasing at the raglans every RS row all the time, but rather 21 times and THEN every other RS row 3 times or something. So I ...

ripped. it. out.

Yes pause for a moment and consider that. I ripped nearly 200 yards of yarn because I knew the mistake was near the top. And I started over--5 days ago.

The good thing is that this time around I didn't struggle with the lace pattern and it actually looks much much better.

Still no pictures though.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I'm still sort of stuck in my "What do I knit?" rut. I say sort of because, I sort of decided what to knit, but am still swatching, thinking, and doing the algebra necessary to perhaps pull it off.

I picked some grey Sidar DK country style yarn from my stash that I had gotten a long long time ago to make a different sweater. and decided that a top down sweater from Ann Budd's newest book Knitter's Handy Book of Top Down Sweaters. If you don't know about Ann's handy book of patterns collections, you really should. They are wonderful books full of all the math and directions you'd need to make sweaters, socks, hats, or mittens from virtually any yarn. They also make great templates for your own designs. You knit a gauge swatch decide a size and she lays out all the numbers you need.

This book also has a number of "copycat" patterns, some by other designers. One of these copycat patterns India Print Henley, really speaks to me. But in the vein of this book, I want to change a few things. For one, I only want the lace pattern at the top. And for another, I'm not getting gauge the pattern is calling for, hence the math. I think I have it figured up so if my gauge stays the same after washing I can make the smallest size and have it come out to my size (which is not the smallest).

At the same time, the book Knits that Fit that I requested from the library came in. I'm reading the fit part, and planning to make something from that book.

But the most exciting thing is that Saturday, I took a hand spinning class. I learned how to spin on a drop spindle. While I am hilariously bad at it, I do enjoy it. I know--practice, practice, practice will help me get better. So far, I've made a tiny bit of yarn, too little yardage to actually knit, but I still have more roving from the class, so hopefully I'll have enough to... well I don't rightly know what. drop spindle

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


So yeah, I'm having a huge creative block. I really have no idea what I want to knit next. It seems to me that my knitting life is sort of a "when it rains it pours" kind of thing. Usually, if I am excited about a project, I'm also excited about 20 projects and have a serious case of starter-its, followed by.... well a drought.

I have new needles, some spiffy knitters pride Carbonz dpns, in size 1.5 to replace my harmony dpns. And I love them, but....
they are a little off size wise. I mean I get that 1.5 is tricky as it is technically 2.5mm diameter, but these are closer to a US size 2. I don't use size 2 very often, as I like tighter knit socks usually. And I would have gotten straight US size 1 except my LYS was out. I do have birthday money though, so I may go back. And I have US size 1 needles so this in itself isn't holding me back. In fact I even have another set of US 1.5.

It is just I kind of wanted to use those new needles.

Except I don't want to make socks.
I should because I love hand knit socks, I wear hand knit socks 95% of the winter (exceptions being when I run, and when I need to wear my tennis shoes--like this volunteer stint I have caretaking butterflies with my knitting/running friend. That's my hand holding the orchard swallowtail). So you'd THINK I'd always need more socks. And I kind of do, I just don't want to make any right now.

See I'm kind of bummed at some of my socks and how fast they are wearing. I mean I fixed actual HOLES in a sock that I've only had for two years (I checked my ravelry link. Or here's the flickr link ). And I put a lot of work into those socks. And even though I KNOW that was a case where I was blinded by the pretty colors into not noticing that it was essentially knit picks sock yarn (which don't get me wrong, I like, but I don't put that much work into knit picks sock yarn anymore), I just feel all mournful about socks.

I did dig out some stash Lorna's laces and wound up a skein (and tried out my new needles and SWORE at how loose the stitches looked) and I know Lorna's laces last for freaking ever, because the very first socks I ever made were Lorna's laces and while I have repaired them, let's just say it was more than 2 years later and was not nearly that damaged. And I may get back to those because I did walk past it this morning and think "oh pretty. Oh lovely. pretty pretty yarn." (yes, it was as creepy as it sounds)

I also have some really nice yarn. I won some buffalo gold earth lite in red. I intended to make a cowl or something but I wore the skein around my neck for a while (shut UP) and found it to scratchy for my neck. And I dug it out this week because the newest Interweave knits has a pattern for a set of fingerless gloves that I thought would be perfect for this yarn. It was Inlaid lace mitts. But the gauge is wrong. Really wrong. Like I don't think going down a few needle sizes (I think we'd be talking US 00) is going to help.

I also have some nice laceweights hanging around the stash. Some Helen's lace, sea silk and one whose name I can't remember and I'm too lazy to dig it out and look--but trust me same category. But I'm a little burned out on lace. I need a project I can carry around.

And so I thought sweater. I bought some yarn to make a red sweater after seeing a red sweater that I LOVED in Knits that Fit, but before I buy the book, I'd like to look at it again and make sure, and maybe swatch. The library has it, that's where I saw it originally. But it is checked out and not due back for two weeks. I have a hold though so maybe it will come in faster.

I also have yarn to make that pesky dollar and a half cardigan but I'm afraid that if I knit this it will be: a) a pain and b) not a sweater that will magically transform me into the model.

I have a few more chunks of yarn in sweater amounts, but nothing that excites me. I guess I'll just keep thumbing though my books and magazines until something strikes me.

What do you do when you hit a knitting drought?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


I must confess that since finishing my rick socks, I've been at a loss as to what to knit next. Me, the person who has always had a project going, has sat for the last 3 days with nothing to knit. Oh I've swatched and darned a sock, but really for three days nothing. It is something I'll write about later.

For now here are the details on the rick socks: Pattern: Rick found in Sock Innovation by cookie A.

Yarn: Cascade heritage in a purple that seems to be discontinued. Used most of one skein

needles: 1.5 us My knit picks harmony dpns, now retired due to a chip: chip

They took two months but I love them!

purple rick

Thursday, February 28, 2013


I set a goal of finishing my rick socks by my birthday, and last night, with hours to spare, I did it.


More later, there is cake to eat.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Yes I am still knitting on my rick socks. There is a spot on the foot where the diagonal pattern shifts and goes the other way, and I messed this up (and my lifeline was 6 rows back and I was lazy). Eventually I couldn't stand it and ripped back, so I lost maybe 15 rounds. But I'm back to where I was when I ripped and it looks much better. I can not believe how long it has taken me to get these socks done.

My twin daughters are turning 10 next week. And ten is a funny age. Ten is your first decade and honestly it seems to me a perfect time to look back and see what a different person I have become, what a different family my husband and I have become. I realized in this nostalgic look back that although I technically knew how to knit, I never did (and I had no idea to get started beyond handing yarn and needles to my grandmother). I also never made homemade jam (That came about when we made baby food). I certainly never canned anything.

Basically my children have made me a hippy domestic goddess. or something

One thing I had done before they were born, was sew. I don't do quilts often (I never really did), but I used to make all my own pj pants. I started because at the time you couldn't really find flannel pajamas in stores. In fact the pattern I prefer for me is a homemade one made from an old pair I had that fell apart. Now of course, you can buy flannel PJ pants for very little (I bought I pair I need to hem for $1!! NEW!). But I still like to make them.

My girls at ten are tall, and one is very skinny and the other is a little husky. What this means is that I can not find PJs to fit them beyond nightgowns. If I buy their size they are too big on one and tight on the other. So over presidents day weekend I noticed that JoAnne Fabrics had Simplicity patterns on sale for $1 and I picked up three different pajama patterns. Flannel was on sale as well for $3 a yard and so I did what any rational person would do and I bought some, even though I KNEW I had flannel at home.

And I set to work making pants. PJ pants!

This pair has been worn three nights in a row, and the recipient requested that instead of making the top to match, I should do another pair. I have no picture of the second pair, but they were also well received (In fact she was all--when are you going to finish MINE! and has declared them "comfier than I thought").

I have a feeling there are more PJ pants in my future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


When you don't have a finished object to show off, it can be hard to think of what to knit blog about. Because seriously how many times can one write "still knitting on those socks!" "Got another row done last night!" or "whew turned a heel!"without people abandoning you.

But I am still knitting. It isn't a very portable project so I am going very very slow. Ok and it is lace so there is another reason for slow. And yesterday I ran into a problem where I seem to have an extra stitch. But mostly this has been a problem:

Yes, one of my dpns is cracked! And I sat on the spare that came with this set and broke it so, this is it. And every time I come to it the row takes a major long time because it snags a LOT.

Regardless, I'm turning the heel today--I've saved the only portable part for an outing in which I have to do basically nothing for a half hour.

Old photo:


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Work proceeds on the rick socks, I've managed to complete the right sock and have started on the left.

You might have heard though that last week the midwest got bitterly cold. I mean bitterly. Here in Michigan was no exception. We had several days in a row where we deemed it too cold to walk the one block to school (seriously). And in the midst of this we discovered the girls did not have scarves.

I KNOW!! I couldn't believe it either. And then some well meaning family member suggested I buy them scarves. I swooned.

Actually I picked up my big needles (size 11--was the biggest circs I had) and some stash yarn and created not a scarf but a cowl:


Which worked well for one girl--who loves purple more than anything, but the other one has been balking at pink and girly things lately. So a trip to Michael's and an good afternoon of knitting later and she too had a cowl:


Several teachers oohed and ahhed over them and I realized that hey, these would have made easy teacher gifts. Nothing like realizing that a month after the fact.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the reward entry

Yesterday, I managed to accomplish a lot of stuff on my to do list. My treadmill workout seemed easier, I stayed within my calorie allotment despite eating out, I ordered new glasses, figured out how to manage a part of the sock that was driving me nuts (more on that in a minute) and managed to take a "refraction" picture (This is a picture where you can see a picture in a small drop of water--and it can be tricky to pull off):
panda stalks bamboo

So today I am rewarding myself by putting aside the gazillion things I *should* be doing, and do something I *want* to do. (which if you haven't guessed is this entry)

So, the socks. Back at Christmas we planned a small car trip (12 hours in the car all told) and I had recently finished a pair of toe up regular socks (the purple stripes last entry) and so I thought that I wanted a portable project, but I didn't want "regular plain socks". Evidently I don't do anything halfway because before I knew it I had packed Sock Innovation, my harmony DPN pack and a skein of cascade Heritage (in purple solid).

I picked out the pattern Rick somewhere along the way and cast on in the car. The ribbing went fine, and soon I had started on the lace. And soon I ripped back to the ribbing. And then I started the lace again. And then I got distracted and pulled a needle out of stitches, couldn't find them again, and ripped back to the ribbing. Then I started the lace again and we reached our destination. By this time I think I had about 2 inches of lace.

So we did our trip thing, got back int he car to go home, and I pulled out the knitting. I was doing well, so well. Then I don't even know what happened but suddenly instead of 60 stitches on the needles I had 59. I tried back tracking, but couldn't find where I had dropped them. I was devastated and not sure what to do--do I rip, do I tink? And then a driver in the next lane pointed out we had a flat tire. After that car knitting just didn't happen. We pulled over at the next town took everything out of the car, changed the tire, loaded everyone back in and by then it was getting dark, we were all wound up and nervous about driving home on the spare (oh and 2 low tires--which we fixed at the next exit).

Back home it was clear, I needed to rip back to the ribbing, and start using lifelines. After the lifelines, I only have had one "swear incident" (as my husband calls them), in which I was getting ready to put in a lifeline and again pulled the needle out of 20 stitches--but 8 rows lost and it didn't take me near the ribbing.


So then I'm knitting away happily, I do the heel and it looks good, then I pick up the gusset stitches and for some reason it is easier than I remembered (probably because the pattern gives no number of stitches to pick up (which is sensible, it really doesn't matter) and then I start across the top of the foot--which continues the lace. For some reason I no longer had the 32 stitches I had put aside when I did the heel, I now had 31. (insert cosmic scream here)

However, while I was waiting for the eye doctor yesterday it clicked for me--it had dropped at one end. Quickly I figured out which end and made my peace with the idea that that row might look a tiny bit funny and suddenly I had a sock again.

Now I'm debating the need for a lifeline in the one lace row (I think I need one) and slowly moving along.

All this work and I still have to do the left sock (yes the socks are mirror image patterns--it is going to be totally cool).

sock close