Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside (and inside, too)

Well, it's not that bad, but still pretty bad.

As I write this, I'm wrapped in an afghan. Because our heater has broken. Again.
Not quite three years ago, our heater stopped working in the middle of winter. It was the thermal coupling that needed to be replaced. And then the chimney needed to be re-lined because the collapsing chimney innards was causing the coupling to keep shorting out. We had all that done.

And now today, I realized that it was pretty damned cold in the house, and the radiators were stone cold. So the very nice heating guy came out and replaced the thermal coupling (again), and said that this shouldn't be happening so soon after replacing it, and maybe it was the gas valve that was causing the problem. And we wouldn't want that because replacing the gas valve is going to cost more.

And guess what? Even with a new thermal coupling, the heater still wouldn't kick on's the gas valve that needs to be replaced!!

Tomorrow, Mike will call me and let me know when he can put in a new gas valve and how much it will cost. Can I let him know right now that it doesn't matter how much it will cost? Am I going to call around to get a second opinion while it's in the mid-30s during the day? Or am I going to say, just do it and get the (f)sucker fixed?

Thank heavens for afghans that I can wrap around me. And for handknit woolen socks that I can wear to bed tonight.

Oh, and to make everything sweeter, Chuck, our new cat, is very helpful, and got into the heater closet and helped Mike with the thermal coupling. Now Chuck's little white paws and belly are totally gray and disgusting.

Thank you, Chuck, for sharing your soot with us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Today I finished: this "semester" of our class at ASB (on winter break until January 12); Brendan's scarf since he's probably coming for latkes on Friday night and I can't give all the kids knitted things and have nothing for Brendan; my latest pair of socks for Warm Woolies; an earwarmer for Michael: the weather is supposed to be some 20 degrees colder tomorrow than today so I think he can use it.

Tomorrow I start my swatches for the Great Wall of Yarn.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Etsy Shop

In addition to and Ravelry and Knitting 911, I now have re-opened my Etsy shop to sell handknit neck cozies, shawls, and wraps.

And as of September 2010, the Etsy shop is closed because no one bought anything.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Feet

Today is the official start of winter: I put on handknit socks.

From winter to winter, I forget how cold my feet get. And how good it feels to wear handknit socks. Today I remembered. My feet are encased in simple handknit socks, and I feel good all over. Now I get to re-introduce myself to the socks that made me so happy last winter; they've been waiting patiently in their box on my closet shelf, and now they get their chance to do what they do best: make my feet warm. And happy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Business

New business started today: Knitting 911.

I'm available for helping with knitting projects, deciphering instructions, finishing projects, and custom knitting.

The name comes from my friend, Joan, calling me with knitting questions and asking, "Is this Knitting 911?" when I answer the phone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's Make a Sweater: Part III

I finished knitting last night, and bound off. And I am very pleased with the fit.

Today, I went shopping for buttons. First, I went to the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet on 4th Street; I refer to this store as "the wall of buttons" because that's what the south wall of the store is: floor to ceiling boxes of buttons. Hundreds of boxes filled with metal buttons, wood buttons, plastic, dressy, classic, funky buttons; big buttons, small, round, square, toggle, novelty buttons. Every color, solid, clear, opaque.

After half an hour of looking, I was completely overwhelmed and ready to have a meltdown. Seriously. I was beginning to feel like Robin Williams in "Moscow on the Hudson" when he's in the supermarket to buy coffee and he passes out because there are too many choices: Coffe, coffee, coffee, boom! he's on the floor.

I knew that I didn't want a solid button in any of the colors in the yarn----too matchy. I also knew that I didn't want anything glittery, shiney, or too fancy as the yarn is very homespun looking.

So when I couldn't think any more at all, I went up the street to Zoll's. They are very good at looking at whatever garment I bring in (usually for about a count of 10), and then they reach for a box and say, "How about this?" and nine times out of ten, it's perfect. This was a little more difficult, but after a couple of minutes, the absolute perfect button was found.

Tomorrow I'll get photos of the sweater taken and posted; today it was gray and the light was impossible for photography. And I want to show this off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let's Make A Sweater: Part II

Day Two: I've made it to the end of the sleeves/armhole.

A k2, p2 ribbing forms the neck, with a buttonhole worked on the 4th row. I changed to St st keeping the first and last 6 sts in garter stitch for the borders. My set-up row went like this: k7 for the left front, PM in next stitch, k12 for the left sleeve, PM in next stitch, k28 for the back, PM in next stitch, k12 for the right sleeve, PM in next stitch, k19 for the right front (remember I want an asymmetrical closure).

I worked yo increases until I had 22 stitches on the left front, making sure I worked a buttonhole in every 6th garter ridge. I worked four rows of k1, p1 ribbing on size 8 needles (this is where interchangeables come in so handy: I was able to keep the body on the size 9 needles and work the ribbing on the smaller size; perfect!). Then I bound off the sleeve stitches.

I cast on 4 stitches under each arm and am plan on going down to the size 8 needles in a couple of inches, just to bring the body in a little without having to think hard about shaping.

It's looking pretty good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Let's Make A Sweater

I'm not very good at sketching out designs before I start them. I have the idea, the image in my knitting brain, and I play around directly with the yarn. This leads to a lot of starting and ripping back, and starting and ripping back.

Sometimes I get it on the second or third try.

I'm on try number four now for this sweater.

I want a top-down, short sleeved sweater that buttons asymmetrically. I'm working with a worsted-weight wool and size 8 needles for the ribbing and size 9 needles for the body. I'm getting a loose 4 sts/1" on the size 9 and like the fabric. So that's good.

Try number one involved casting on 86 stitches as this number worked for me before with a similar gauged sweater. But I second-guessed myself, and somehow figured that I needed to cast on more stitches to accommodate the right front being wider than the left from.

So try number two involved casting on 114 stitches (WTF?). Waaay too many stitches.

Try number three had me going down to 94 stitches, and while it was okay, it really would be a better fit if it were a little smaller.

Try number four is 82 stitches.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I Love....

...knitting from the top down.

The latest reason is that it was so easy to modify this sweater that I made back in June:

I was happy with the original, but a couple of weeks ago, when I wore it, I realized that a couple of things bothered me: the length of the sleeves and the buttons.

Because it was worked from the top down, it was simple to unravel the sleeves back to the start of the ribbing, make the sleeves longer and a little more tapered, and then finish up with ribbing. I could keep trying on the sweater until the sleeves were exactly the right length.

Then I realized that I wanted a collar, picked up the stitches around the edge of the neck, and got that just right.

The hardest part was the buttons: while I liked the original buttons, I felt they were a little too dressy/sparkly for the tweed. After going through my button stash several times, I finally came up with the right buttons.

Now I really love my sweater.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Travel Projects

As we head into the holiday season and travel looms for many of us, what travel projects do you take with you?

My go-to travel project is baby socks. Let me know what yours is.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giant Stocking

The pattern for the Giant Stocking is available through Ravelry for free, so you can download it now.

Have fun!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stitches Recap

Stitches was all that I wanted it to be this year.

The Connecticut Convention Center is new, interesting, plenty of very nice, well-maintained bathrooms, and the Mariott Hotel (which is connected to the Center) is also nice and new. We had a corner room on the 17th floor with great views that looked east and south. The hotel was very welcoming: our room keys had the Stitches logo on the backs, and the light-up sign board outside the center had the Stitches info rotating on it. The overall feeling was that the convention center and the hotel were glad to see us, which is not always the sense at other hotels.

I took a 6-hour design class with Barry Klein from Trendsetter Yarns. He is delightful: very knowledgeable, and he's able to impart that knowledge with humor and great patience with those students who either don't get it or ask kind of dumb questions. The first half of the class was spent using yarns together to see how they work. He encouraged us to pick yarns we wouldn't normally choose; initally I found it very hard to choose the yarns, then I jumped in, grabbed a safety yarn and two that I wouldn't use in a million years. My swatches turned out beautifully.

The second part of the class was no knitting (fine for me because I did something to my wrist),rather it was looking at pictures of clothing while Barry talked about what detail(s) drew him in. Usually, when I look at a photo in a catalog, I look at the whole sweater and think about how I can replicate it. Barry had us thinking about detail: in fact, take those photos that you like, cut them up, and then pick different pieces of them: cuff, collar, drape, etc. It really opened my mind up.

My last class was with Edie Eckman and again was no knitting: Where do they get those numbers? Interesting class in how to figure how much yarn you need, etc., etc.

The Marketplace seemed a little more subdued this year: I don't know if it was because the space was bigger so the show seemed huddled in it or whether there were fewer vendors. There were a lot of new, more local vendors, and some of the regulars (like Brooks Farm) weren't there because of a conflict in scheduling.

I got some yarn at WEBS (and was able to share my gift cards with Colleen), a few skeins at the half-price place, and my big splurge was from Coloratura Yarns: a huge skein of worsted weight merino and silk in a blue/lavender/white colorway. What drew me in to their booth was the sample sweater in that yarn: a cable-fronted long (almost tunic length) sweater with a ribbed collar. It was gorgeous. I went back later to check the pattern sizing; the measurements for the smallest size sounded too big, but Bjorn said "Try it on". I did, and it was amazing. I looked and felt 20 years younger. The guys who own Coloratura said I should have worn it in the Fashion Show the night before. And that did it: the cash came out of my wallet as soon as I took off the sample.

And I won a book at the Fashion Show: Jane Slicer-Smith's new book which has wonderful designs in it.

Now to Hartford: the downtown is not at all residential the way Philadelphia is, so after the rush hour, it's pretty dead. Colleen and I had located a restaurant a few blocks away and weren't afraid to walk (like many non-urban attendees). We found the streets to be empty of people, but well-lit and there was a lot of car traffic. The most difficult/annoying part of the walk was how long we had to wait at traffic lights for the pedestrian crossing lights. Not a walker-friendly city. We had dinner the first night at City Steam, excellent burgers, relaxing atmosphere.

On Friday afternoon, after our classes, we walked over to the Wadsworth Atheneum to see the Allure of Lace exhibit, a small (two room) exhibit that was packed with visual and mental stimulation. There was no knitted lace, but it was inspiring and interesting nonetheless. We were curious as to why Stitches didn't do any cross-promotion on this, and I found out later that if we had presented our Stitches badges we would have gotten half-price off. Oh well.

Friday evening was the Fashion Show and Dinner, and as they have for several years, the two events are divided rather than rolled in to one. Obama was in the area so the traffic was bad and the models were delayed, so the show was late getting started which meant that dinner was late getting going. The food was much better than at Baltimore, but it was just served too late.

Saturday night we went back to City Steam and then had our private, in-room show and tell where we each take turns laying out our purchases and describing them. Much, much fun.

Sunday was a leisurely breakfast, check out, load the car, and then a last swing around the Marketplace; we stayed for the Grand Prize drawing which neither of us won, and then headed home.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Patterns and Stitches

Now that my knitting for StellaPop is finished, I can focus on my own designs. I returned to a design I had started before the push of knitting full-sized sweaters in sock weight yarn hit, and here it is: my Unisex Striped Hoodie, available (again) on Ravelry.

The construction of this sweater required taking detailed notes so that it made sense, and there was a certain amount of frogging and re-working. Also, my initial concept of varied stripes didn't look as good in reality as it did in my mind (what does?).

I feel like I've gotten my design mojo back as I'm going full speed ahead with another design. That will have to wait until I get back from.....

Stitches East!

Tomorrow, Colleen and I drive up to Hartford for classes, shopping, knitting talk, hanging out, shopping, touching yarn, shopping. We both feel like kids on Christmas Eve.

And speaking of Christmas, New Year's follows, and for this year, my resolution is start to knit my way through Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and write about the patterns and the experience here. There are 500 different patterns in this book which means more than one a day; I don't think that's going to happen, so we're probably looking at a two-year project. And along the way, I'm going to learn more about how yarn sits on the needles than I ever imagined, even after all these years of knitting. Between this and my 50-Sock project and designing, I think I can keep myself busy and out of trouble.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Current Work, Patterns, and Yarn

I've been busy, working on knitting for StellaPop and also working on my own designs.

My Sunset Lace Stole is in my Ravelry Store (and you all know how easy it is to join Ravelry). This turned out very well, and I'm pleased because I can wear it as a stole or as a scarf in this transitional weather. The yarn is Article 960 from Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing, color #128 Passion, and it is wonderful: fine, light weight mercerized cotton with a great hand and an amazing color progression.

I also put out my pattern for Binky Buddy, also available in my Ravelry Store, and I think it's a good one, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feliz aniversario

Today, four years ago, Allie and I were flying down to Houston, changing planes to go on to Leon, being picked up in Leon and driven to San Miguel.

The next few days were some of the most intense of my life, up to that point. Other than bringing Allie in to the world, leaving her in a foreign country was the hardest thing I had done with her. Sometimes I still can't believe that we actually let her do this. But as she reminds me,

"I had a great time and I didn't get hurt."

Feliz aniversario, Allie, and may you always have a great time and not get hurt.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Although it's not Passover, we have been beset by plagues.

A couple of weeks ago, on the eve of going down to Charleston, I noticed a splotch on my chest, just below my collarbone. I thought something bit me. I also had a couple of red dots on my shins, which I thought was a reaction to the sun, melanin-deprived person that I am. The splotch on my chest sequed in to a splotch with rings and different colors; someone remarked that it looked like a tick bite (from where????) and someone else remarked that it looked like.......ringworm.

So here we go with the pros and cons of the Internet: I was able to access images of ringworm, and shithook----that's what was on my chest. Oh great. And on top of that, I had some other rash on my legs and arms. Terrific.

Then Henry had some weird stuff on his face, and thanks to the Internet, I was pretty sure he had himself a case of ringworm. And this all meant that Chuck, the newest addition to our family, had brought ringworm with him from the shelter and given it to me and Henry. Oh shit.

I got an appointment to take Henry to the vet, and I knew this was not going to be easy: the last time I took him in, I thought I was going to have a stroke, carrying him over there. He weighs 22 pounds without the cat carrier. I work out. He's still heavy. Then I realized that Chuck really should get checked out, too, unless I wanted to make two trips to the vet.

So we came up with Pet Solutions:

It's Patent Pending so don't rip off the idea.

It got us to the vet. I was given lotion to smear on their faces twice a day, and shampoo that I'm supposed to bathe each of them twice a week with. The smearing part is easy. The shampoo part sucks.

And I still had this itchy rash on my arms and legs. The chest splotch was subsiding, but the extremeties were still extreme.

Back to the Internet. And I'm 100% sure that what I have isAtypical Pityriasis Rosea which presents with a "herald" patch, very often mistaken for ringworm (!!!), and a rash. There's nothing to be done. It clears up in 6-8 weeks. It seems to be easing up, at least on the legs. We're at two and a half weeks now. I think there's hope.

Meanwhile, Henry's face looks like crap and doesn't seem to be improving; I sometimes think it may be getting worse which means another trip to the vet using Pet Solutions to get there.

If it's not the Parenting Train, it's the Pet Train.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Big Pile of Yarn Crap

So a couple of days ago I was so pleased with myself for doing the short-row, set-in, top-down sleeve on my sweater. Today I finished the sweater and began sewing the side seams, and guess what? I discovered that I had knitted a crap sweater.

The sleeve caps look like crap, and over all, the finished product just doesn't make it. The wonkiness that I thought would be ok just isn't; it's ugly and misshapen.

I have started and re-started this sweater so many times. I want a gray cardigan that looks amazing with one great deep red button.

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I was going to end up making (yet) another
Mr Greenjeans. I was trying to avoid falling back on that terrific pattern that never fails and be creative and make something new, but my first instincts were the right ones: Mr Greenjeans has never failed me.

Tomorrow I will frog the sweater (which is shoved in my workroom wastebasket), rewind the wool, and begin, again, with Mr Greenjeans.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be happy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

50 Sock Project

When I travel, I need a small, portable, mindless project. In July, when we went up to Massachussetts, I started my Sock Project which is to make baby socks and send them toWarm Woolies. That week, I made five pairs of socks and sent them off.

At first, it was an open-ended project, but I realized that I liked being able to put a percentage-of-completeness on my project entry on Ravelry. I decided that I'm going to make fifty pairs.

This weekend, down in Charleston, I made one and a half pairs.

Anyone who wants to join in and match me (or get competitive and out-do me) is welcome to. There are a lot of cold feet out there. Warm them up.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Technique

I've added a new technique to my knitting repetoire: the shoulder-down-set-in sleeve with short-row cap shaping.

At the first Stitches East where I took classes, one class covered this technique: the teacher was very thorough, got all the information across, but yelled the entire three hours. I was exhausted and had a splitting headache (as did other students) by the time the class was over. From that point on, I associated the technique with the headache.

In addition to the stole pattern I'm working out, I have another project on my needles, one that involves set-in sleeves. I hate sewing in sleeves, and I hate the seam that results. All of a sudden, the short-row technique bubbled up out of my locked box of knitting secrets: I can do that!

And I did.

The first sleeve has a little bit of wonkiness where I worked back picking up the wraps, but if I do the same thing on the second sleeve, it will look deliberate. And I'll know what not to do the next time around.

I love it when I figure something out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Knitting

Now that the gigantic Christmas stocking is finished, I had time to spend straightening up my workroom and putting things (and my brain) in order.

I have a cone of gorgeous sport-weight cotton (scroll down and check out the color Passion) that has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be turned into something wonderful. I've been working on a stole, starting and re-starting it a few times to get the stitch pattern and the over-all shape in the right combination. Today, I think I got it.

It's nice to work with fine, light, smooth yarn, especially in this heat, and especially after The Stocking.

It's interesting what kick-starts the design process: I've had this yarn for several months and kept looking at it and thinking about it, with ideas floating in and out. Then last week, in a cosmetics ad of all places, I saw a dress that was similar in color and had a ridged bodice. BAM! I knew what I wanted to do with the yarn.

Funny how the brain works.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Woodstock Weekend

So this past weekend was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (no need to say The Woodstock Music Festival, is there?). I wasn't there. I was in Toronto being live-in nanny for my baby nephew: mom was working as a secretary and dad was being stoned just about 24/7, and I was learning child care on the fly. Where I wanted to be was in Guadalajara with my boyfriend; he had made plans with a friend to take classes there before we started dating, and I really wanted to go with him. But I had no money and no guts, and there wasn't room in their car, so instead I got to take a bus to Toronto and change diapers.

Woodstock happened while I was up north, and it didn't register on anyone's radar until a couple of buses of Canadian teenagers and their adult chaperones were held at the US border because our customs people didn't want to let them in. One of the chaperones was originally from Luxemburg and compared the US customs people to the Nazis who had occupied Luxemburg during WWII. That made the news.

So my Woodstock experience was being taken off the bus at the US/Canada border with a couple of other kids; I guess we looked like hippies (I wasn't wearing a dress, carrying a nice handbag and my hair wasn't in a flip). And we were all searched and questioned----got to make sure that we're not bringing drugs or subversive thoughts in.

And where are we all now? That would make an interesting documentary.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Knitting Squirrels in My Brain

I have knitting squirrels in my head. They work like this: I get an idea for a design, plot it out, and start working on it. I think it looks pretty good and the pattern writing is going well. Immediately, the knitting squirrels wake up and start running in circles in my brain. Their chatter is very distracting: what about this design? are you sure this is what you want to do? how would it look if you did this? how would it look if you did that? how about you rip it out and start over and do this instead?

And lo and behold, what was a pretty clear, straight forward idea and design suddenly becomes A BIG DEAL.

Sometimes it's very difficult to shut those squirrels up and make them lie down, go back to sleep, and leave me alone.

Does anyone else have knitting squirrels in their heads? Or knitting monkeys? Hamsters? Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Blankie or Not To Blankie....

I'm kind of having second thoughts about the Blankie. I like winding little balls of different yarns and arranging them by color and thinking about it, but I don't actually like the process of knitting all those little mitered squares and having to figure out what color comes next. It's too much like quilting, and I finally learned that I don't like quilting (again, I like looking at the fabric and sorting the fabric but not putting it all together).

The thought of making a scarf or a stole came to mind----not quite as large and open-ended as an entire Blankie. I like to know where the end of a project is, and an entire blanket (or even afghan) is a little too ambiguous for me.

We'll see.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


And I'm finished.

Goodness gracious, that was a lot of yarn! As I progressed, it got heavier and more unwieldy, of course---kind of like knitting an afghan but in the round. What an experience.

I wrote up the pattern and tomorrow will turn it all in.

But enough about knitting (for now). Let's talk about Chuck.

Chuck is an amazing cat. I would almost say that he's Sheila reincarnated. He's not as vocal as she was, but he is certainly as sharp. He is very sweet and affectionate without being in your face about it, very loving. Also very curious. As soon as something is open (drawer, door, mouth, whatever), he is all over it and trying to get in it and check it out.

He and Henry are actually getting along well---there is some wrestling and tussling that goes on, but it's not vicious. I think big old fat hairy Henry is happy to finally have someone he can play with and hang out with, someone he doesn't feel that he has to either torment or avoid.

Happy cat days are ahead of us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


And I made it to the heel and turned the heel this morning. Now I just have to soldier through the foot and the toe.

What's challenging about this (besides being sooooo big) is that when my usual mode of sock knitting is on double points. Whether I'm aware of it or not, each needle orients me to where I am on the sock; shifting my brain to orient the sock on a circular needle isn't impossible, but I'm aware of having to "translate" the parts of the sock as I go along. I don't know if that makes sense (barely makes sense to me), but I just know that I feel as if I'm patting my head and rubbing my stomach.

Foot and heel, then I'm done.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to Big

So it's back to supersized sock today. Last night, I ripped it all out and started over with a striped ribbing (much better than the seed stitch for the top), and am plugging away. I think I have about 12" to go until the heel, and that, I'm hoping, will not be too difficult to do. I've done so many human-scaled short row heels that I have confidence that I'll be able to fudge my way through a giant one. I keep telling myself that this doesn't have to fit anyone. Or anyone that I know.

For perspective: the sock is 22" across at the ribbing, and 20" long as knit so far.
It's going to be a lot bigger.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ping Pong

Big/little, big/little.....

I started the day working on the gi-normous Christmas stocking (size 15 needles), but had to put it on hold as I need clarification from the designer as to what she wants: the parameters were just vague enough that I thought I free rein, given the yarns and stitch suggestions I had been given. But having sent a photo of the WIP, I got an email suggesting that some aspects be changed; now I need a response to either my email or phone message so that I can continue working.

So, in the meantime, I went back to working on my Blankie (size 2 needles). I'm starting each square with a dark brown; it makes it easier for me to place random squares next to each other with this brown buffer. Otherwise, I was stuck and obsessing about each freaking little square.

Big/little, big/little.....

Maybe tomorrow will be a big day.

I Can See Clearly Now

Back in April, I was feeling very much like I had nothing to say, so why say anything? And who was reading this, anyway? But now that I'm off statins (again) because they cause depression in me (again), even the natural ones found in red rice yeast, my mind is clearer, and there's purpose in life again.

And a lot happened over the last three months: I've gotten a few more designs up and out there, especially for Flo at Elmore Pisgah; two of my freebies from For the Love of Yarn are in the top 100 favorite patterns in their categories (Baby and Child) on Ravelry (but my Sachiko Baby Kimono dropped out of the top 100 in the last couple of days, and that's a whole different post); I struggled mightily with a pattern/sample for StellaPop (which I cried "Uncle" over), and now I'm working on a mammoth Christmas stocking for StellaPop which is supposedly for the Anthropology winter or holiday catalog.

I made six pairs of baby socks that I sent off to Warm Woolies; I joined a knitting group which is made up of younger (much younger) knitters who are rowdy, fun, warm, and welcoming, and who have recruited me to the cult of the blankie (click on All About the Blankie).

Our wonderful tuxedo cat of 17.5 years, Sheila, died which was very sad. We now have a tuxedo kitten, Chuck,who is terrific. I think from here on in it's tuxedos all the way (sorry, Henry: even with all your wonderful white hugeness, tuxedos rule).

I went on a personal knitting binge and got a couple of sweaters finished that will be staple parts of my fall wardrobe. It's supposed to hit 98 today, but that definitely won't last forever.

We spent a long weekend in Charleston visiting Jon and Rebecca and are going back at the end of next week.

I made a dynamite sweet cherry cobbler and several equally good blueberry cobblers.

Now it's time to knit on the enormous Christmas stocking and see how it progresses.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beauty Shop Art Show

Here are some shots of Allie's work hanging in the Beauty Shop Cafe.

She does beautiful work. We're very proud of her.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Where Did this Month Go????

Whoa---I just realized how long it's been since I posted. And a lot has happened, at least in my knitting life.

The creative juices have been flowing---you could call it a flood---and several designs have poured out: all available on Ravelry or in kit form at Peaches-Creme. I've got the Bluebell Lace Capelet, the Button Beanie, and Duet happening. I've gotten very good response from these designs/patterns on Ravelry and from Flo at Elmore-Pisgah.
And in my personal life, Allie has a show up at Beauty Shop Cafe until April 15: some of the portraits she's done plus new collage/drawings that are wonderful. The opening was this past Friday night, and there was a very good turn out of friends and neighborhood people. Jon, who runs the cafe, is terrific, and hosted a very nice opening with delicious cheeses, fruit, and wine. I'll definitely be back there to try their grilled-cheese-to-order.

Only a few more weeks until we visit Jon and Rebecca in Charleston! Can't wait.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tops & Toes Interview with Kara Gott

Here we are at day three of the Blog Tour.

I'm pleased and excited to be one of the designers in Tops & Toes: A Whimsical Collection to Delight Hat & Sock Knitters, and to be part of this blog tour. This is my first inclusion in a collection of designs, my first blog tour, and my first venture into designing for adults, so we're in ground-breaking territory here. It's been a real delight for me to work with Kara from DRG, and I'm happy to share my knitting thoughts here.

Kara: Hi Erika, thanks for inviting me to your blog. I’d love to chat with you a bit about your two designs in Tops & Toes: A Whimscial Collection To Delight Hat & Sock Knitters. Can you tell me a bit about your inspiration behind the Funky Chunky Cloche?

Erika: My inspiration for the Funky Chunky Cloche came from having designed a baby beanie using the classic Quaker Rib pattern, and I wanted to play with this stitch pattern and see what other possibilities there were, especially relating to an adult-sized head.

Kara: When you designed this hat, why did you choose a chunky yarn? Do you think this would be a good project for a new knitter, and why?

Erika: I thought the pattern was better suited to a heavier yarn rather than a fine one as I envisioned a certain fabric and felt that the chunky yarn would fill this vision. A chunky yarn is a great choice for a new knitter because the project gets finished quickly; the sooner you see results, the more encouraged you are to move on to the next project or the next technique. It's a real confidence builder to hold a finished object and know that you made this.

Kara: The choice of Colinette Iona was a great choice for this design. The colors are so bright and vibrant. How did you like working with this yarn?

Erika: It's a lovely yarn. Having a project that takes just one skein really allows you to indulge and pick a special, out-of-the-ordinary yarn like this. When I began knitting seriously thirty years ago, the range of yarns available was pretty limited. Now, between the different fibers (who had heard of bamboo yarn thirty years ago?!), textures and wonderful colors, it's a fiber-ohlic's dream come true.

Kara: Now onto the Corkscrew Tam. Can you also tell me a bit about this hat. I love the whimsical corkscrew on the top. What inspired you to create this design?

Erika: A lot of my inspiration comes from vintage and classic designs, and I love to update the simple shapes with modern color choices and interesting finishes. I had used the corckscrew element in another design and thought that this was a great match of classic and whimsy.

Kara: Did you make this hat using a circular needle, or double-pointed needles? If you had your choice, what would you prefer to work with, and why?

Erika: I used both circular and double-pointed needles on the Tam. When making hats, I'm more comfortable using a circular needle, switching to double-points when working the decreases. But when I'm making socks, I'm more comfortable using double-points. It seems to be a project-specific choice for me.

Kara: How long have you been designing knitwear, and what are your favorite things to design?

Erika: Almost twenty years ago, my knitting hobby began to seque into my knitting career. That's when I began designing and making baby and children's items that I sold at regional craft shows. Five years ago, I dropped out of the craft show circuit, started my online business,, and began to focus more on design than on production. I love designing baby items because they're compact, quick to finish, and just out-and-out cute. I guess I'm practicing for when I've got grandchildren to knit for!

Kara: Have you been published in any other books or magazines? Tell me a little about your background, and what brought you to knitting.

Erika: My designs have appeared in different on-line knitting publications: KnitNet, For the Love of Yarn, The Daily Knitter, in the up-coming Spring 2009 issue of Knotions; I've designed for WEBS' Valley Yarns; and last year, I put together a book of my designs for babies: Head to To Knits: 23 Designs to Knit for Baby which is available through

I grew up in a family where handwork surrounded me: my grandmother knit and quilted; my mother (an artist and illustrator) sewed, quilted, and did needlepoint (her own designs). I learned to sew and knit at a fairly young age, and while sewing dropped by the wayside, knitting has become my focus---my real calling. In terms of design, I'm pretty much self-taught, focusing on simple, classic shapes and clear colors with minimal finishing.

Thank you, Kara, for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. It's always great to get together with other knitters, virtually or face-to-face.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Designs

The Spring 2009 issue of Knotions will be online tomorrow (the preview is up now), and my Rainbow Chain Carriage Blanket is one of the patterns:

There are so many great patterns in this issue----I'm pleased to be part of it!

And I overcame my ENS, and got this design up and available from my Ravelry store:

I'm very fortunate to be living next door to a family with four kids (all cute and photogenic), so when I need a quick model, I just have to look over the wall between our yards and see who's around and is the right size. Yesterday, Hannah was willing to do a photo-shoot for me and saved the day. Her youngest brother, Sam, modeled my Mini Rej Vest.

Now underway is another design using Peaches & Creme, and a baby sweater for Matt's baby who is due next month, using my Telemark Pullover pattern and some stash yarn. Looking good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tops & Toes Blog Tour

Tops & Toes is being released soon! I've gotten my preview copy, and what a great collection of hats and socks this is! I feel very honored to be included in this and in the blog tour that will be taking place.

From February 21 through March 3, you can visit the blogs of several of the designers and find out what inspires them.

Here's the schedule so far:

2/21 Sarah Wilson
2/22 Jennifer Tallapeneni
2/23 ME--so come back then
2/24 Erssie Major
2/25 Ann Squire
2/26 Faina Goberstein
2/27 Celeste Pinheiro
2/28 Kara Gott Warner - editor of Tops & Toes
3/1 Joanne Seiff
3/2 Cindy Moore
3/3 Sean Higgens

(and I'll be making updates as needed)

This will be a fun couple of days of mid-winter surfing. And get a copy of the book---there are so many great projects between the covers!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


ENS: Empty Needle Syndrome.

Mine is usually in remission as my regular mode of working is to have (at least) three projects going at once: a design being worked out; a pair of socks; a sweater for someone. And while these three are underway, there are always a couple in mind, ready to go.

Occasionally, I realize with a start that all of these projects are finished---OTN---off the needles and for whatever reason, I haven't lined up at least two of the next three. That's when ENS flares up and all my nerve endings are twitching and raging until I can come up with two projects to get started.

Today I have ENS. The socks are finished, the sweater is being blocked, and the latest design worked out well and is completed.

So now I turn to Ravelry and have a cup of tea while I browse patterns and think about what yarn(s) are calling to me. Do I make another sweater? Do I try out a scarf or shawl idea? What do I want/need to make next?

I think I need to trot upstairs and look at my yarn bins and see what talks to me


No photos for this post--the memory is gruesome enough.

Yesterday, Allie tripped on a flight on concrete steps at school, taking the full brunt of the fall on her mouth (having a 20-25 pound book bag on her back didn't help with the forward thrust). She gashed her lip, and her two upper front teeth need to be reconstructed.

The afternoon was spent in two different hospitals: the emergency room of one, and the oral surgery clinic of another to have her lip sewn up. As bad as it all is, here's what's good: she didn't break anything except her teeth; the whole event took 4 1/2 hours from fall to when we brought her to our house; our next door neighbor is a dentist who came over, checked her out, and promised to fast-track her as soon as her lip is healed enough; she just finished a two-week marathon of getting an independent study added to her schedule to maintain her full-time student status and thus continue to be covered by our health insurance.

She has a history of smacking her face/teeth into things, but that pretty much stopped once she got glasses and her lack of depth perception was dealt with. But we did have a couple of toddler-being-rushed-to-the-dentist incidents (no teeth lost) and there were several incidents in pre-school where she ran into playground equipment (pre-glasses). I hadn't seen her with the swollen cut lip in a long, long time, so it was an extra shock to the system, as I remembered all those other face smashes.

What a day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

On "Valuing Our Work"

Annie Modesitt, designer, knitter, wise woman, has posted this in her blog. Knitters and designers, read it and take strength from it. Publishers and editors, read it and sit up and take notice.

The overt message is for us, as designers, to value our work enough to demand that publishers compensate us fairly, especially in this world of paid downloadable patterns vs free downloadable patterns.

But for me, there is also a covert message for us to value our work enough that the outside, non-knitting world recognizes that what we do has merit and weight. Over the past four years, I've moved out of the craft-show circuit where I had something to show for my day's work (bins of sweaters and hats, a show schedule, signs, a receipt book, etc.).

Now, I'm dealing with intangibles: an on-line business selling kits and patterns that don't exist until someone makes a purchase; designing for yarn stores and on-line publications; ideas in sketch books. Often, there's nothing to point to at the end of the day and say, Look, this is what I did today. Or it's hard to convey the rush I get when 100 people on Ravelry favorited a new design.

Tangible/intangible. Real world/the tubes of the internet.

Being invisible makes it difficult to be heard. Not being heard makes it difficult to be taken seriously (by non-knitters; knitters get it).

Years ago, my daughter made reference to "Mom's hobby job". Being young, that was how she was able to express how my hobby had become my job, but put in those specific words and in the context of adult jobs, that phrase summed up how much of society looked at what I did.

Even today, when I have my own workroom and take what I do seriously, I still get the phone call in the middle of the day, asking if I can pick up pants at the cleaners, run an errand, help someone out. I know I wouldn't get these phone calls if I left the house every morning and had a "real" job.

I am assertive about what I do, even if people glaze over when I respond to their question of what do I do. No, it's not high-powered or easily pigeon-holed; it's a legitimate career; it's what I do.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Good Day In Knitting Land

A. I finished Jon's sweater, and it turned out great. Pictures will be forthcoming.

B. I mended a sweater I made for Rebecca a couple of years ago, and mended and washed Jon's favorite black cotton pullover. These will be sent along with the new sweater.

C. In the last two days, I've had great response on Ravelry from two of my designs: Mini Rej Vest which is listed in my Ravelry store, and the Cabled Button Wrap that I did for WEBS (boy, has that gotten a good response!). This was the wrap that was on the display racks at WEBS' booth at Stitches in Baltimore.

D. I talked with Flo at Peaches-Creme about working with them on designs.

E. I'll be participating in a Blog Tour later this month for the up-coming publication of Tops & Toes from DRG (I've got two hats in it!).

So I'm feeling pretty good and knitful.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Love the One You're With

Seems as if I fall in love/lust with whatever new yarn I'm working with. Is it possible to have one-project stands with yarn? If so, I guess I'm a yarn slut.

The latest yarn that I want to spend all my time with is Kraemer Yarn's Tatamy Tweed:

Sport weight, cotton/acrylic blend, soft, wonderful colors, excellent yardage for the price----what more can I say?

Almost thirty years ago, I knit a sweater for my husband (it's ok---we were already married so it didn't turn into the sweater-that-killed-the-relationship). It got passed down to my son a few years ago, and he loved it (except that it was wool---slightly scratchy Shetland). He asked me to remake the sweater but just not in wool. I was very excited to see the colors for Tatamy Tweed and find that I could put together just about identical colors for the recreation. The gauge is spot-on identical to the original sweater, which is another terrific plus.

I started knitting yesterday, using the Knitting Fool's Simple Worked-from-the-Top Raglan calculator; so far, so good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy Feet

After taking six months to finish one pair of socks, I'm now back in sock mode. I finished the socks I started in May and then rolled right on to finish three pairs back to back. Today I'll start number pair number four.

I've used OnLine, Red Heart Heart& Sole, and Malabrigo for the most recent pairs. I love the Malabrigo, but I think the Heart & Sole is a good workhorse sock yarn---the acrylic blend and aloe are a big plus. Heart & Sole and KnitPicks Essentials go in the washer (not the dryer---I'm not that reckless) and come out looking fine, so that's what endears them to me.

I do have the hand-washing of socks down pretty well: a nice soak in Woolite, a gentle wringing out, then laying them on a towel on the guest bed and covering them with another towel (to prevent big fat Henry from wallowing on them). When I was first making socks, I thought that the care of these beauties would be a bit much, but it really isn't.
Next to try out is Patons Kroy.

And I'm still in love with my KnitPicks double points----so smooth and pointy and easy to work with.

Somedays, I honestly feel that I want to put the designing on hold big time and just knit socks. Now wouldn't that be self-indulgent?