Monday, September 29, 2008

Time for scarves

The weather turned just a little chilly and suddenly I have an intense drive to knit warm things fast. Maybe I've tapped into my primitive roots to prepare for the long winter ahead? Can you predict how long the winter will be by the number of warm things a knitter knits before the first snow flies - sort of like squirrels and their nut stores? Or am I just a nut?
This gorgeous pink scarf is based on the woven scarf from 101 Designer One Skein Wonders. The one in the book used verigated yarn, which looks really great - but I like the pattern just as much with a solid yarn. The yarn is Lamb's Pride Bulky. The scarf is a little short because I had just about 3/4 of a skein. What you can't see from the picture is how thick it is - no cold northwind will be penetrating this lovely accessory! The pattern looks complicated, but it's really easy - and it knits up fast. This one took about two movies and a few moments while cooking.
Although I really do like the scarf and I think the color is perfect for the 3 yo who has claimed it, I'll be perfectly happy if she doesn't get to wear it for several more months! Since we're not skiing all that much, I must confess that I'm not a big fan of winter. There are just too many extra things to find and do in the morning - boots, coats, mittens etc. At least it makes me appreciate the warm months much more.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

new hat and yarn review

Here is one more little hat for our good friend "charity." It will be sent to Innocent, maker of smoothies in England, which will pop the hat on a bottle and donate a portion of the proceeds to help provide heat for the elderly. Given the temperature today, I can appreciate the need for warmth. I hate being cold so I hate the thought of anyone else being cold and not being able to afford heat.

It's a simple hat with yarn overs (and k2tog) to make eyelets for a yarn string or ribbon.

The yarn is Oasis - 100 percent SOYSILk from SWTC - It looks sort of like cotton. It's soft to the touch. And it knits like a dream. It's got just the right amount of stretchiness. On the little hat, the colors came out as pretty stripes of mixed colors - orange and red in one, purple and violet in the next. I'd like to make a me-sized hat, but alas I had only a sample of the yarn brought by my good friend Allison. She's got some wee hats that are worth taking a look at also.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Goodbye Summer

As if on cue for the first day of Fall, the weather turned cold and the sky is gray. It's that chilly, snow-is -in-the-air sort gray (although hopefully the white stuff is still many, many weeks away). But at least the last day of summer was sunny and warm enough for some time at the beach.

DH asked if it was a good summer. I would say yes. Easy? Not by a long shot. Getting anything done with little people (who felt no need to get anything done) around all the time was extremely challenging. Still, I feel like I had a superb summer that left me ready for fall.
The top ten things about this summer:
1. It was warm, but not too much so - we only turned the air conditioner on once or maybe twice.
2. We vacationed in CT for two weeks and it only rained once.
3. I learned to take a fish off the hook because my 6 yo really, really wanted to go fishing and there was no one else to do it. We also learned you can catch fish with marshmellows.
4. I got to spend 2 weeks in Wisconsin with my folks and celebrated my niece's graduation from high school (although I'm confused, because I'm fairly certain she was just in second grade last year)
5. My children found good activities - one enjoyed camp, another hung out at the beach, one found the basketball courts and the other two were happy wit their programs.
6. I learned how to use the grill. I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but at least I can turn it on and make a hamburger.
7. The little ones are older, so I was able to get back to biking, which I love. I'm very happy to report that I didn't forget how to ride.
8. Because the little ones are older and can be trusted to be out front without running into the street, I was able to spend more time in the garden. As a result, the flowers are still going strong.
9. Having been getting up by 6:30 a.m. to get everyone to school, I really appreciated being able to sleep in a little.
And last, but not least: 10. Our local hot dog shop started selling Almond Joy Ice Cream, which is hands down my favorite. I can usually only find it when we are on vacation in CT.
How was your summer?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's just my bag

My good friend Allison from the left coast sent me a great kit for a bag. I admired it a good long time while finishing up some other projects before I cast on. Had I known how much fun it would be to knit, I wouldn't have waited. It's a soothing blend of k2togs and yos - just the thing to calm the mind in the midst of a hurricane during which the wind is yelling, "hey you with the needles, I'm talking to you. Are you just going to sit there and ignore me?" (Anyone who has teens will understand).

The solid green compliments the verigated yarn perfectly. It's super stretchy - it can hold at least a dozen stuffed animals. I'm thinking that it will help with my never ending quest for organization - it will be assigned an activity- soccer or swimming or beach time. Then again, it's so compact, it would be easy enough to carry along to have as an extra bag.

I highly recommend the pattern, The Everlasting Bagstopper from It's a quick knit and a sturdy bag.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

yummy money saving recipe

In a brave attempt at frugality, dh who does all the grocery shopping is trying to buy to a strict menu. It's a grand plan but sometimes leaves the cupboards a bit barren since we aren't skilled at it yet. Last night, I had the hamburger already thawed when I realized we didn't have all the ingredients for my planned dinner. We were missing things for my second and third choices as well. So here is what I came up with: The Family Favorite Mish Mash
To make, you will need:

1 can of tomato soup
1 pound of ground beef
rice (two cups of dry rice and four cups of water for a family of 7 - make what you need)
1/2 an onion chopped (really small for our family)
2 teaspoons garlic
worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 cup of cheddar cheese (more or less to taste)
1 cup of a frozen veggie - corn would probably be best, but broccoli will do.

In one pot - Cook the rice with the can of tomato soup and vegetable and 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce.
Meanwhile - brown the beef with the onion and garlic - drain the grease when it's done.

Once the rice is cooked, combine it with the beef and cheese. Add a little more cheese on top for decoration if desired.

I think it might be more flavorful to combine browned beef with the dry rice and other ingredients and then bake it for 20 minutes or until rice is soft. I'll try that next time.

Send over any ideas for a better name

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I can't stop

These are too much fun! This one is called "Pumpkin" for obvious reasons. It's worsted weight (cascade 220) with size 7 needles. I used 20 stitches - the garter base is 6.5 centimeters but the ribbed portion (p1k3) is just barely 5. The little caps are supposed to be 5 -7 cenitmeters. With fewer stitches, I finished in the time it took dh to read the little ones their bed time stories.


Warning - wee hats are addictive

Plucked from the Garden - this little flower is made out of some bits left from a hat and mitten set I made for myself last year.
The Luck of the Irish - the green of a shamrock bearing a ring of gold.
Could also be titled "Go Packers"

After knitting one small hat and seeing how ridiculously quick the project is for something so gosh darned cute, I decided to try another. And then another. I've got plans whirling around in my head for a few more too.

They take less than an hour and don't require a lot of concentration. They require very little bits of yarn so they're perfect for using up odds and ends. They're also a great canvas for experimentation. Try out a lace pattern or practice intarsia. The best part is that it's all for a good cause. The hats will be sent to Innocent, a UK company that will put them on their drinks and then set aside a portion of the proceeds to help provide heat for grandmas and grandpas.

To see another version, check out the Mason Dixon blog. They also have a pattern posted for a reusable shopping bag that is from their new book, Mason-Dixon, Knitting Outside of the Lines. This one looks to be as good and jam packed as their last one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lots o' little hats for charity

I told my little ones I was knitting a little hat for charity.

Can you guess their response?

"Who is Charity?"

Here's the deal - the folks at a drink company called "Innocent" are collecting tiny caps that they will put on the bottles for a special sale. 50p of the sale (really no clue what that is in dollars) will be donated to help pay for heat for the elderly. Not only is that a really gosh darned nice thing to do, this is a gosh darned fun project. There are patterns at the Innocent site along with a ton of pictures of gosh darned cute hats.

DH just shook his head when I explained what I was doing, but even he admitted that it was "sort of cute in a weird way" when it was popped on a bottle. There are photos of much more creative ones on the Innocent website - it's worth a visit whether or not you get bitten by the little hat bug.

The patterns call for 28 stitches - not sure what size needles or yarn since it's in British English. I used sock yarn with size 2 needles and cast on 30 stitches. I did a coin lace pattern, which seems to be my favorite lately - mostly because I've memorized it. I think it's just barely wide enough. Maybe a dk weight would have been better.

The good ladies at Mason Dixon Knitting are collecting the hats in the U.S. for a big send over to the UK. You can email them off their site for an address.

The days are shorter and the nights are cooler here in New England, but the garden is still going strong.

Friday, September 12, 2008

fashion redux

Has anyone else noticed that legwarmers are making a comeback as a fashion statement?
As a knitter, I'm thrilled to have another item that could be knitted - especially as the popularity of ponchos has declined.
This is a simple project yet holds endless possibilities for true creativity.

As a wearer of fashion, however, I'm not sure that I'm ready to embrace this trend.

Monday, September 08, 2008

All around the world

My Children and I have been introduced to Moomin, Mymble and Little My. They are delightful creatures with wonderful adventures in a tongue-twisty story described by Finnish author Tove Jansson. He is Finland's answer to Dr. Seuss. This is the fun of Secret Pal - connecting with someone through knitting and then discovering other bits of our world. My pal has also introduced me to Lin - a wonderful linen yarn with a gorgeous sheen. As you can see, I couldn't wait to swatch - it's a coin lace pattern that I've used on baby hats. I was curious to see how it would play out on this yarn, which has no elasticity.

She also sent some lovely blue sock yarn. It's "superwashvillaa" and "polymidia." I don't know Finnish, but I'll take a guess that it is superwash wool and polyester. Regardless, it's going to be fun to knit.

There were also some darling teddybear needle caps in the package, which is good since I never know what's going to happen with my needles when they aren't in my hands given how many hands are in the house.

My 6 yo dd is as delighted as I am with the SecretPal concept. She likes to help me open the package and look through everything. She has a well developed taste for yarn for someone her age. She is also fascinated to hear about where the pal is from. "Who is my Secret Pal going to be when I grow up?" she asked me recently.

So, to my Finnish Secret Pal - thank you very much for the fabulous package. I really appreciate how much you've spoiled us.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Transitions stink (sometimes)

This explains all the sand in her hair!
Do you remember that show "Let's Make Deal?" You would get something and then the host would let you trade it in for the chance to get something even better? "Do you want what's behind curtain number one? Curtain number two? Or curtain number 3?" You would be standing there with a crock pot in your hand and you could trade it in for a great new ride - maybe a new car, maybe a donkey.
I could never have gone on that show. I would have spent the entire episode trying to make a decision. I'd weigh all the possibilities. I'd consult with the person sitting next to me. I'd wander up a few rows to ask the lady in the funny hat what she thought I should do. I'd go over the benefits and pitfalls with the host. I'd make a list of comparing my options side by side. Then I'd start the process all over again.
You can only imagine how bad I can be when it comes to an even bigger decision like whether or not to switch to a new preschool. I agonized for months. Literally. Agonized. My friends were so tired of hearing about it they'd switch the subject as soon as they heard the word "pre." I'd make up my mind and then unmake it. I put off until the absolute last minute and then I put it off a little longer.
Why was it so hard?
It hit me this morning on the second to last day at the old school. I felt so sad as we went there - even though I really like the new school and I think it will be a good fit for my dd. I'm leaving behind people who I've really come to care about over the last six years. Teachers who've helped raise two of my children and parents who've become friends. Some I will see because we've become close, but I won't run into them in the mornings or at pick up.
When I bumped into one of those good friends this morning, I realized how much I value being able to say a quick hi and have a short chat about some insignificant (or significant) event. This is a big shift for us - like moving, changing jobs or even switching to a new coffee shop.
It's interesting to me that as a transition approaches, suddenly the things we are leaving behind look so much better than they did when we made the decision to leave!
The advantage of real life over the game show, of course, is that I've had a chance to look behind all the curtains. I'm fairly certain that I'm not getting the donkey.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


You know why these animals look so happy and relaxed? Because they're not trying to keep up with three six-year-olds hyped up on granola bars and pure excitement over the pending start of first grade!
What to do with children who have way too much energy? Let them loose at the Stone Zoo, of course. They can run and scream to their hearts content. Which they did. They bounced from one animal to the next just as thrilled as if they were seeing it for the very first time. Amazingly, their enthusiasm remained unabted throughout the entire day.
Today the children are "caged up" in a brick building at the top of the hill learning to read and write (I hope). The first day is so thrilling as they catch up with their friends and figure out their new routines. This morning was good because everyone (even the big kids) seemed generally happy to be going back to school. This afternoon may bring discord as the reality of homework and routine set in, but I'm going to bask in the moment of a peaceful house hold!
Trips to the zoo like this make me want to be a designer! The colors, the intricate patterns, the expressions of the animals just beg to be translated into some fabulous knitted masterpiece. That will have to wait since I have troubles even following simple directions. Of course if I'm designing the piece, then there are no directions to follow, right? Hmmmm...