Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas

Per usual, we came slamming into Christmas. Although in truth, we were more ahead of the game than usual. The cards had been sent, all the shopping and some wrapping was done and cookies were distributed to the neighbors. Now, all the presents have been unwrapped, the games have been played, most of the cookies have been eaten and it's time to get serious again about running! Only, we got socked with a wicked snow storm today. Pretty to look at, fun to play in but not conducive to hitting the pavement!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why I love knitting

I got to go out with my girlfriends tonight for some fun frivoliti and a good old fashioned Yankee Swap. Me, being the creative type, whipped up a quick, cute little felted bag, labled it "emergency kit" and filled it with chocolate. One night of knitting using yarn on hand. A close friend picked it and was over the moon. How awesome is that. My gift was just as fun but more in the unmentionable category...

forgot to take pics, but here's the pattern link:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It is Christmas

I've decided I need a change in attitude. I've been feeling a bit holiday overwhelmed. Sort of like heading toward a wall at 102 miles an hour with no breaks. Can't get it all done fast enough and I want to just sit back and enjoy Christmas instead of running so fast I can't soak it all up. Then I realized - Christmas is here. I'm not preparing for something, I'm in it. This is it -- all the shopping, writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, making holiday school bags, visiting Santa, making sure a little elf moves every night ... we're here and I can either savor it or let it fly right by me. I feel like there is so much to do to get ready - but "getting ready" is Christmas, not something to be rushed through.

The harsh reality is that my regular life is so busy that you throw something like Christmas in and it seems nearly impossible. I wasn't wasting time before so how can I fit anything more in? Be that as it may, here we are - trying to make this season special.

According to my Christmas philosophy, it's already half over :( But, it's been good so far - we went to cut down our own tree, I've gotten together with cousins in Boston, we've saw the trees lit in our little down town center, I've gotten private shopping trips with each of my girls and I've already gotten a few holiday cards.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Pine Mouth"? Really?

This morning I swigged down a cup of milk my dd left on the counter and I nearly gagged it tasted so spoiled. It was vaguely troubling because it was fresh milk and hadn't been out long. Then the cracker I ate to get rid of the taste was bitter. So was the clementine. So what is the one thing that has to taste good when nothing else does? Chocolate of course. The sweet taste of chocolate on my tongue was a relief for about ten seconds until it too turned bitter. Same thing all day no matter what I ate. Allergic reaction? Fatal illness? Fearing that I was doomed forever, I turned to the Internet to find that there are others like me with this sudden bitter mouth onset. The culprit?
Pine nuts apparently. I had a few the other day when I was trying to decide if they would go with salmon.
This is just one of the many articles I found:

It's a chef's worst nightmare: to wake up one morning to find that food has lost its flavor -- that every morsel to cross your lips tastes bitter, metallic, and inedible.

Pine Mouth
Virtually undocumented before 2009, "pine mouth", a bizarre taste distrubance, has been brought to... Expand
(Getty Images)

This was the fate of San Francisco-based chef and food critic Jenna VanGrowski, 30, who suffered from a bizarre taste disturbance last month known as "pine mouth."

Though she didn't know it at the time, the bitter aftertaste that came with anything she ate was due to a rare and seemingly random reaction to eating pine nuts. She snacked on some two days before.

Various "palate cleansing" foods failed to get rid of the metallic aftertaste, known medically as metallogeusia.

When even the taste of toothpaste was "almost unbearable," she says she started to worry.

"I'm a chef, so I started getting really scared and frustrated because I need to be able to taste to do what I do. I had no idea what the heck was going on."

Van Growski works for ChefsBest, an organization that judges food products.

But as she soon found, she was not alone.

A quick Google search uncovered dozens of others on blogs and Facebook reporting her same symptoms and calling it "pine mouth syndrome."

The cause? It seemed the handful of pine nuts she snacked on days prior was the unlikely culprit. (the rest of the story.....)

I share this first because I want a pity party - it's the holidays for crying out loud. This is the time to be eating all sorts of scrumptious things. (Then again, maybe this is a blessing?) and second just in case it happens to you or anyone you love, you can assure them that they aren't dying and that it will (most likely) go away.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Internet Shopping bleh

I love the idea of Internet shopping - no crowds, no parking, no stops for OMG priced gas, BUT, then I get the message from Littleknits that they aren't shipping the orange yarn I ordered more than a week ago after hunting through bunches of stores both land and online until Friday. The cousin for whom I needed it to make a scarf is coming on Saturday to celebrate Christmas. Hmmm. Without a time machine, I am obviously not going to have the present done on time!

Then another package I ordered to be sent to my mother in Wisconsin for her birthday arrived here, in Massachusetts. So much for the free shipping, which lured me in to ordering it in the first place.

Still, I know she will love it - no spoilers though, mom!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hats R Fun

Maybe it's just the cold weather, but I have an undeniable urge to knit hats. This is my first of the year. I finished it during an overnight stint with DD17 in the ER while watching an endless loop of Wizard's of Waverly place. I loved the color, loved the concept, but on my head it looked more sloppy than slouchy. The yarn just didn't have enough stretch so it just sort of plopped on my head. Not wanting to frog and not having any other brilliant patterns in mind, I came up with an alternative - a fleece lining for the headband part. It's now stretchy and warm. The pattern is based on a formula from Crazy Aunt Purl.

The photo was taken by DD17 having recovered from the infection that sent us to the ER. We were out chopping down the Christmas tree that is now sitting rolled up tightly on our porch because we haven't had the time to put it up. How sad is that - we cut a tree so it will be fresher and then let it sit. Deep sigh.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving

Ravelry seems to have taken over the knitting world. And I love it for many reasons, but it has pulled people - including me - away from our blogs and that I don't like. I enjoyed being able to catch up with the lives of my cyber friends. I had a good little circle going. Now, I'm out of touch. We're on Facebook, but that doesn't accomodate the long updates and doesn't seem to engender much by way or a knitting discussion. Ravelry forums are good for discussions, but not great for catching up. So here I am again.

I am once again faced with the realization that Christmas is just weeks away and that suddenly I have a desire to knit bunches of presents for people. I probably don't have the time and I am now obsessing about pattern and yarn and the clock is ticking and ticking. I just have to somehow convince the over enthusiastic part of me who seems to have no sense of time that world peace does not rest on my success at knitting the perfect present for everyone in my life.

My plans right now are simply an orange scarf for my cousin who joked long ago about me knitting him one to replace one he'd lost. The challenge was that what he described was bright traffic cone orange. This is a tough color to find in an acceptable yarn - one that is soft, machine washable and not cheap acrylic. Finger's crossed, I found it on mail order.

Then there will be a pair of green mittens. This was supposed to be a green hat, but then I found out the intended recipient doesn't really like knitted hats - she's more of a bowler gal. I could felt one, but the yarn I have is washable!

And maybe, just maybe, pink felted slippers for the girls. I have to first find a pattern I like well enough and then find the time.

Also maybe, some knitted tree ornaments. The likes of which I've made one. Very cute, very easy, but still takes time.

The other photo is of the sky in my little town shortly before our annual Christmas Tree lighting.

Monday, September 20, 2010

make overs

For the past several months, I have been renovating my studio. It is in a room that was once used as a tiny kitchen. For years, I made do with what had been there - ugly pea green tiles on the wall and ugly dirty green tiles on the floor. It was hard to feel creative and energized when I spent much of my time there thinking about how much I hated the colors. It didn't help that it was considered the junk room or that I am just not naturally a neat person and I had way too much stuff for the space. One Saturday a friend offered to keep the kids for the afternoon. My husband and I got so giddy with the thought of actually having free time that we launched into tearing down the tiles. What we didn't stop to think about was that we had just two hours and we were embarking on a job that was going to take about a hundred times that! Adding to the challenge was that beyond getting rid of the tiles and the ugly metal cabinets, we weren't really sure what to do with the space. I had visions but the man who had to do the work couldn't quite see them the same way. I think I've watched too many home decorating shows where the designers toss a few ideas at the carpenter who then works his magic and voila, a beautiful room. DH is handy, but not a carpenter by trade. I'm not a professional designer or even a very good amateur one and we're not on a television show. If we were, the project would have been done in an hour instead of the months it has taken us!
Still, I am inspired by those shows and by all the creative makeovers I see on and other people's blogs. So here, finally, is one of my own. This was a garden shelf that we bought at the unfinished furniture store years ago. It sat unfinished because I couldn't figure out what to do with it. I decided to keep it in the room because it's quirky and I need storage. I wanted it to look finished, but I wanted to retain the shabby chic feel. So, I gave it a white wash with a gel stain. This allows the grain of the wood to show through. Then, I took the back off and painted it the color of the wall. To add a little more flare, I used wall stickers of the Eiffel tower and flowers that came with it. Even though I put stuff on the shelves, you can still see the stickers in the behind them. This also gives me an incentive to not let the shelves get junked up!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

bagging it

The kids came up with a great idea for the last day of school - bags that they could have their friends sing.

They looked at me with their bright shining eyes and asked ever so sweetly, every so slyly if I couldn't help them sew the bags they had in mind.

My studio is mid-renovation (as it has been for month) my supplies are scattered about the house. I have no idea where any suitable material is, but they are so earnest and it is the end of second grade.

I sacrificed a pillow case. Finding time was another matter. One sweet child , friend of dd, gave up movie time to sew hers! The other, my own dd, managed to squeeze it in just before bed time on the night before the last day of school. (a little too much like me sometimes) and that left just the bag for the one who couldn't stay to finish the project. Which meant me up late sewing a little bag the night before the last day of school!

It's on them to remembe the permanent markers and get the signatures!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

class addendum

I was supposed to be paid for the class. It's not that I care all that much about the money. Money is good, don't get me wrong, but I certainly wasn't doing it for that. Still, money buys yarn and yarn is good. The problem is that I'm not a teacher and most of the people who do the afterschool program are so they didn't know what to do with me. First, I had to fill out reams of paperwork. Then, I had to go on line to take an ethics course that all government employees have to take. It was part course, part quiz with tough questions like if you are on the planning board is it okay to take money from someone who is applying for a building permit? Do they really think that the people taking bribes are doing so only because they don't know any better? And, if you're the sort who would take a bribe, is taking a course going to change your mind?

I was a little worried about not passing, but it turns out that if you get the answer wrong, you get to go back and fix it. Whew. I don't always perform well under pressure.

I've finally taken the test, but I still have to go back to the office with the document to prove it. Until then, no money. No money, no yarn. I sort of kind of have my eye on this Cashmere I saw in Connecticut a few months back. The shop had the softest, prettiest stole I've ever seen. The pattern takes just two skeins. At a mere $50 each, that would pretty much be the entire check. This project would definitely require lifelines!
My latest accomplishments lately have been in the sewing room rather than on sticks:

These were for a Birthday swap sent to a fellow Red Sox fan. The flat bag clips on to a loop inside the tote. The draw string project bag has a zippered pocket on the outside. It's from a tutorial on bag designer Terry Atkinson's blog. Very fun pattern and much less complicated than it looks

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank goodness for spit splicing

I have sadly said goodbye to my blossoming knitters, although that is a somewhat generous description. Only one child actually finished a project. It was a very small and very lopsided little coin purse. But she was as proud as if it were a high end fashion designer handbag, as she should have been, of course.

The problem in finishing the project was that she, on the advice from another student, had cut the yarn after she finished the last row. One of the best decision I made, however, was to use not-superwash real wool. That meant a little bit of spit (ewwww, say my students) and a lot of rubbing and we're back on our way to casting off. (A friend pointed out that I could have used the crochet cast off, but that's a new one to me).

A few of the other seemed to sort of get the idea. I think a couple more weeks or a couple more hours of sitting with them and they would have gotten it. They could all do it with some help, but sadly, I can't split myself into seven! At least they all seemed to have fun, and at the end of the day, isn't that the most important thing? Next year or in a few years when they see some needles and yarn, I hope they remember liking knitting and that they believed me when I told them they could do it. I would do it again in a heart beat. I don't think I would do much differently. It just takes time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The teacher learns

I must admit that my capacity for patience has been exceeded by several of my young pupil's lack of fine motor skills and abilityto focus. A couple of the second graders have gotten the hang of it but the others are struggling. They get the concept but they seem unable to bring the new loop through the old loop. I think they could get it with a few more lessons, but we have just one left. I had hoped we'd complete little purses or small bunnies, but now I'll settle for them being able to knit a few rows.

This last week, two students were absent attending communion rehearsal. I thought that would make things go more smoothly but amazingly, there was still an intense amount of energy. They are having fun and that is the most important thing. I, being ever driven, want them to learn and forge ahead, but I do recognize that they are only 7 and 8. There is plenty of time for them to pack their schedules so full that multi tasking will become a way of life. For now, they are goofy and happy to chase balls of yarn off the table and around the floor, so why not? They have years and years of productivity ahead of them.

Of course I want them to leave accomplished novice knitters. I want them to be able to cast on, knit and cast off with finesse, but that just is not possible for all of them right now. They have, however, learned to make a slip knot, finger knit and cast on. It's a good start. They've seen wool and they've been smitten with the wonderful colors. They have plans in their head for what they would like to make and they have a sense of how to do that. This is all good. So, though we're not as far along as I'd like, I think the class was a success for all of us. They learned some things about knitting and I learned a whole lot about teaching. I would do it again in a heart beat.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Patience Learned

I have gone through my life with the unexamined belief that patience is something you either have or you don't have. This class has changed my mind.

I think instead that patience is more like fitness - you can become more patient with practice and determination. Last week when I was trying to explain something for the fifteenth time, I could feel my frustration rising and sarcasm bubbling in my brain. But I took a deep breath and searched my brain for yet another way to explain the same thing.

Honestly, with five children, I've had a lot of practice with this patience thing. I'm not the most patient person in the world or even as patient as I would like to be, but I do believe I'm better than when I started. Maybe it comes from exercising empathy. The more you try to put yourself in another person's shoes, the more patient you can be with that person. That and deep breathing!

So far, all six students can make a slip knot and do the backward loop cast on. From there, we've got issues. One kid is going gang busters, but I think she came to class knowing how to knit. After demonstrating over and over and holding hands to show them the process, I think I finally hit on an explanation that works. I tell them there is an old loop on the left hand needle. Put the right hand needle through that loop. Wrap the yarn around the needle to make a new loop. Pull the needle through the old loop. Then the old loop can hop off the needle. I found that it seemed to work best if I stopped and asked them to point out several times where the old loop was and where the new loop was and then explain to me what had to happen.

I think at least three were getting the hang of it by the end of the class. Just two more to go. I wish I could sign them up for another 6 weeks, but summer is coming too soon!

My own knitting has been slowed by a need to detangle the yarn DP (dear puppy) tangled on a romp through the house. Amazing how much damage can be done in such a short time. It's taken literally hours. The thing that keeps me going is that it's strangely meditative and engaging. I wouldn't think detangling yarn would keep my attention, but it does. Not that I would recommend it.

I may be doing more of it - these girls in my class have managed to make some pretty snarly messes of the balls I sent home with them. I honestly didn't know it was possible to get yarn into the jumble that they've made!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lessons learned class day 3

Okay, here is my big lesson for the day - if you are going to send 6 8yo's home with their own knitting needles, make sure to bring extras to the next class, because there will be some who don't remember to bring them back!
So I had four students with needles and two without. Time for plan B - how about more finger knitting? This time with more fingers. I hadn't expected to teach this, so I hadn't done a lot of practicing on it, which meant I was a little rusty. Thankfully, one of the students was quite adept at the technique. I had her demonstrate it figuring in part that she would speak their language better. Low and behold, I learned something from her! My way of doing it involved wrapping the yarn around the fingers twice and then lifting the bottom strand over the top. She wrapped four times and then lifted the bottom two over the top. This makes for a thicker cord.

Only one student had done any significant knitting over the break - she had three inches on the needles already. A couple had at least remembered how to do the backward loop cast on.

I worked with three students who had needles on the actual knittng. Holy mokes does this take a lot of patience and then some! I explained, I demonstrated, I explained, I literally held their hands. I don't mind at all, but I can sense them getting frustrated with themselves. I know they want to just be able to knit, but as with so many things in life, we just have to go through the process of learning how first. And then, we have to practice, practice, practice to get good at it.

Despite the challenge, they all seem to be having fun.

I have been getting just a little knitting done myself. This friendly croc was a gift for my nephew. I have to admit that I started it in July. I am happy to say that it took just 9 months...
This sweet little doll is from a eleather for a Ravelry Wee Swap. Isn't she just darling? The hat has a tiny little flower on it. And that itty bitty sock just blows me away.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Class Day 2

I thought I was fully prepared to face my seven little will-be knitters having already gotten a taste of their rambuctioness and silliness. I spent more than an hour making balls of yarn I bought for the class (note that if you want to turn one skein of Cascade 220 into three, it's 220 feet per ball. Being a bit math challenged, I actually converted to feet and then divided by three to get the number of feet I needed!) I even untangled bunches of yarn that had become nearly hopelessly tangled by dp (dear puppy) during an unsupervised romp. I then diligently printed out instructions and practiced. I opted for the long tail cast on figuring that it is a quick way to get loops on the needle and it would be easy enough for them to learn quickly.


I had it all broken down into easy peasy steps - or at least what I thought were easy peasy steps. I was met with a uniform chorus sung by seven of, "Huh? What are we supposed to do? I don't get it." When I started to hear "I can't knit," I started to get worried. I know that a kid can get discouraged easily if she feels she can't accomplish the goal.

Thirty minutes into the class, I scrapped the cast on and switched to the backward loop. I don't like it for learning since it's so loose, but there wasn't time to teach the knitted cast on and I really needed them to make some progress. It's relatively easy to learn - certainly easier than what I was trying to do anyway. Most of them got it but we had just 15 minutes for the actual knitting part. I can now definitively report that this is not nearly enough time. Just as my young students were sort of starting to get it, their parents were arriving to take them home. I guess the good thing is that none of them wanted to leave when the class was over! (My apologies to all parents who were in a hurry)

We now have a two week hiatus for Spring Break. I wonder if some parents are going to learn how to knit just so they can help the kids along?

I need to remember to get more pink yarn. I probably could have gotten away with getting only pink yarn!

This is a good exercise for me in seeing how far I've come as a knitter. I remember those early, frustrating days of wanting to whip through even just a simple square. I also remember becoming totally addicted once I finally got the hang of it. Now I'm just trying to spready the love!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Knitting Kids

I think there are exactly 52 ways to mess up a slip knot and my seven students discovered each and every one of them. I expected that teaching this fundamental element of knitting might be a little challenging, but I didn't realize it would take up more than half of the class.
They are, at least, an enthusiastic bunch of girls who got just a little frustrated at not getting the knot immediately. Mostly they just seemed to have fun trying. I will say that I am glad there are no more than seven, however!
I tried showing them everyway I could think of - setting the loop on the table, wrapping the yarn around their hands and wrapping it just around their fingers. There are just only so many ways to explain it. We had barely enough time to learn that and basic one-finger finger knitting. I'd hoped to move on to four-finger finger knitting but that just wasn't going to happen. I also made the grave mistake of thinking that 15 minutes was enough time to teach pompoms. Oh no, not by a long shot. I was frantically trying to tie off bundles of yarn one at a time when parents were arriving and wondering (like I used to) why the teacher was taking so long to send them to the lobby! I think I sent everyone home with at least a little bit of yarn to practice on.
The highlight was when the cooking class in the next room started to get loud. One little girl said, "They're out of control. We're calm because we're knitting. Knitting calms you down."
Yes, that's a large part of why I knit it calms me down (when I'm not getting frustrated from having read the pattern wrong or dropped a stitch while frogging.)
P.S. I will confirm that it generally helps if you read the directions. I finally did that for the yarn meter - now I know why my count was so far off!

Monday, April 05, 2010


So I've chosen four bright colors of Cascade 220. I have 7 students. That means splitting up skeins. That means I finally get to use the yarn meter my wonderful husband bought me for Christmas (with heavy hinting). The thing is, it measures feet. Skeins and patterns are in yards. I know, how hard can it be - three feet to a yard, right? It's just that I can't do these things in my head. I tried to recruit DS into helping, but he was too absorbed with posting to facebook.
Class starts tomorrow. Finger knitting and pom poms? I'm planning on saving the Cascade for the real project. I'll get them started with my scraps. I don't have much left - I'd given away bunches to my older daughter's class before I knew I'd be doing this. Even so, everywhere I look there are little bits!
So, will they knit outside of class? I probably shouldn't expect that. They have a lot going on and homework, plus moms who probably don't knit.
I'm excited and nervous all at the same time!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Indecision Central

It's all well and good to think about teaching knitting in the abstract. Teaching one-one-one is pretty simple -round up some needles and spare yarn. But now I've got a real class on my hands. A class that needs structure and organization. And supplies.

I have a hard enough time picking out yarn and patterns for myself and now I have to do it for six little people I've never met! White? Pink? Blue? Purple? Verigated? Wool? Superwash? Six skeins of the same color? Six different colors? I've loaded, unloaded and reloaded my virtual shopping cart several times already! I'm spending more time stressing about this than I will spend teaching.

I forgot that I don't like this part of teaching a class - choosing the supplies. This is the only thing I don't like about teaching beading classes. I drive myself crazy trying to make sure that I'll have the right color for everyone.

In this case I have just $10 per student and six weeks so I have to think ahead to the projects.

The class starts Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Game On

I got word today that at least six young'uns have signed up for my little o' knitting class, so here we's all too real now. I have to get serious. I have to plan. I have to buy supplies. I have to figure out what I'm doing so I can show them!

I think I'm going to start with finger knitting. It's a little more like crochet than knitting but it's yarn and loops so I figure it's a good introduction. I've been practicing. I made my daughter and her reluctant friend learn and I cornered a 9-year-old in the waiting room.

I think I've got the slip knot down - make a pond (loop the yarn into a circle) and then go fishing (for the yarn).

Then on to the finger knitting - still working on that explanation.

So that is either the first ten minutes or the first class. I really have no idea how fast (or slow) these kids will catch on. Then what? One seasoned instructor suggested casting on for them. Then once they learn to knit, it's easier to teach the knitted cast on.

I think a book mark to start - maybe knit the long way so they can have long rows. Then a small bag maybe? Pot holder? Head band? Oh my goodness, I'm actually going to have to make decisions about what someone else will knit? I have a hard enough time deciding what I should knit!

I also have to buy supplies. Needles, of course. Yarn, obviously. Needles? Pins? Ruler? Row Counter? What's absolutely essential?

This should be interesting...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marine life

For those who are big on things small, Ravelry has a wee-sock exchange group. Every month, members are paired up to exchange tiny footwear and other goodies all in good fun. The theme for March was marine life. This is certain to spark some creative thinking since socks don't normallygo swimming, right? My partner certainly got creative with a mermaid sock, a seahorse and a starfish. Amazing what yarn can be turned into.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I usually say I learned to knit a few years back when my little ones were littler. I rememered recently, however, that I really learned to knit when I was a youngster. There were some community classes offered at the local school. My parents took woodworking and I took knitting. I started but never finished a pair of mittens.

Still, maybe that early instruction set a pathway in my brain that made it easier when I took it up as an adult. So, I feel it's only fair to pay back. Which means that when I found out they couldn't find a kntting instructor for an after school program at my daughter's school I felt obliged to raise my hand.

Do I have enough patience? We'll see. First, we need to have at least six kids. If that doesn't happen, I'm off the hook. Not that I really want to be. I'm kind of excited about this. I did successfully teach Z to knit at age 7.

I think we'll start with finger knitting - it's essentially crochet without a hook. I decided today to experiment on my daughter and her friend. The slip knot was much harder for them to learn than I expected. The rest was a little bit trickier than I anticipated as well.

I will, however, have six weeks.

I'm now scouting for simple, quick patterns. Any suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something is fishy

The theme for the Wee Sock exchange this month was marine life.

Initially, I was thinking about a mermaid sock with a flipper but it morphed into a tiny flipper sock. Very much fun to design on this scale - everything goes so quickly.

I am also going to take credit for the warm spell as of late. I just finally finished a pair of half mitts to match my cabled hat. I've been wanting to make these all year round, but just recently got to it! Now, we're ready for shorts, hah hah.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I keep telling the kids that they have to put their things away or the puppy will get it. Now, in my defense, this yarn was sort of put away - it was in a stuffed in a bin. Apparently, it's great fun to tip over the bin and pull out and then scatter the contents. DH says Purl just wishes she had thumbs so she could knit!
And the rest of this isn't Purl - it's me. We impulsively decided to renovate the office/studio. At first it was going to be just some paint, but it was going to be so much work to get the room ready for that, we decided to gut the room! At this point, most people would sort and then pack everything up. But it had taken us so long to get to this point, we were afraid we would change our minds if we didn't decisively launch into the project. I moved everything out of the room as fast as possible while Dh chiseled ugly green tiles off the walls putting us well past the point of no return.
This isn't the most organized way to become organized, but sometimes, you just have to take a leap. Already, I've sent all (yes I said all) of the knitting magazines to my daughter's school, where they have a knitting school. I've also packed up several bags of material and at least two unfinished projects for a charity pick up. These are things that have been in my closet for years and years. I feel some angst at sending them away being taught to always finish what you start. But I don't want them anymore. I'm not sure that I ever did. Sometimes I think I start things just to see if can do it and once I know I can, I lose interest. Of course, by this time I've usually invested beaucoup $$ and hours into the project. So it's tempting to just tuck it away for some day when I have hours and hours of extra time on my hands (as if that day will ever come). This time, however, I'm letting go of the guilt and the stuff to make way for new stuff and, hopefully, a wave of creativity.
I will keep my favorite yarn books and the good yarn that I've collected. I've come to the belief that yarn isn't just for knitting - it's for collecting too. It's good to be surrounded by wonderful yarn. I hope someday to find the right project for all of it, but in the meanwhile, I'll just enjoy the color and the texture and the potential it holds.

Friday, February 26, 2010

dog gone it

Isn't she cute? It's gosh darn lucky for her that she is, cause...
This is how I think yarn should be:

This is how my puppy Purl thinks it should be:

Thankfully, it isn't one of those kinky yarns that folds in on itself and gets all tangeld so I was able to undo the damage with relative ease. (Thank goodness also for the ball winder - if I didn't already have one, I'd certainly be getting one!)

I'm not sure what this yarn will become. I bought it for the capitan's hat, but in looking at the pattern again, I think it is just a tad too bulky. Maybe the yarn harlot's unoriginal pattern.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Not only are these mice fun to knit, it turns out they are great toys for standing in line at Disney World! Dd was perfectly content to set up an entire fantasy world while we slowly moved along waiting for the next ride or show. That made everything more pleasant. The last picture is the wildlife at Disney. What a great place to be a squirrel!

The pattern for the mouse can be found at Just scroll down a ways. The doll is a blast to knit too - pics coming soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One of my prizes for finishing the sweater was a great apron and a bunch of cupcake cooking supplies, which arrived today just a head of the kiddos getting sent home early for a giantsnow storm (which was just rain for most of the afternoon)

Perfect activity. Some how, miraculously, I had all the ingredients for the cupcakes – but just enough butter. I used a “Boston Cupcake” recipe that called for mace, which adds great flavor. I filled up the 12 baking cups as the recipe specified and wondered briefly why I had extra batter, but I figured that happens. Well, half way through the cooking time I figured out why - I’d added twice as much milk as called for! It turns out, however, that this is okay, it just takes way, way, way longer to cook! But they are so worth the wait.

Then for the frosting – again miraculously, we had enough powdered sugar, but not really enough butter. I found a recipe that would work anyway – hot water and powdered sugar, but why stop there? I added what little butter I had left, some milk and Fluff! I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a frosting recipe calling for Fluff, but it works pretty darn good. The kids loved it. Of course, how could they not with all that sugar?

If you're interested, here's the recipe:

2 tablespoons of hot water, 1 tablespoon of vanilla in a bowl.

Mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Add 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of half and half (or milk)

Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Fluff

Add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if it doesn't look thick enough.

Add a few dabs of food coloring if desired.

It occurred to me later that I could just have used the fluff.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I've had no time to post and little time to knit because I've been doing double duty around here. DH was sent to Haiti last Friday to write about Harvard's humanitarian efforts there. After reading what he has written, I'm glad he went. He is a marvelous writer who can show readers with his words what he sees. And, it's so important to see what is going on there! These doctors have created hospitals out of virtually nothing. They are doing it on largely on their own dime. They didn't take the time to raise funds, they put up their own money and took off hoping to work out the finances later. They are giving up so much to take care of some of the poorest and neediest people in the world under some of the harshest conditions in the world. I may be giving up some free time, but it's nothing compared to what these people are enduring. If you are looking for a worthy cause or a way to help - this is it.

Al's first article:

FOND PARISIEN, HAITI — Nearly a month after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, paramedic Anthony Croese looked into the crowd outside a destroyed orphanage near Port-au-Prince and spotted an emaciated baby cradled in his father’s arms.
The baby looked far too tiny for his eight months of life, and a short conversation explained why. His mother died in the Jan. 12 quake, and his father, Emilio Eliassaint, in the weeks since had been feeding him sugar water, devoid of the nutrients in mother’s milk.
Croese, who feared the baby wouldn’t survive long on such a diet, bundled him into a car and sent him to a field hospital that has sprung up amid the thorny trees and dried grass at Fond Parisien, near the border with the Dominican Republic. full article

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mousie Mania

What could be better to follow up a long complicated pattern than a really quick easy one? Enter the mouse. I found it during the great sweater race and even enticed Allison to take a side tour to knit one (sorry about that).

This one is for a special certain 4 year old who loves yellow!

Check out this site: for the mouse pattern, a darling bear pattern and a delightful doll.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mr.Greenjeans complete

I told my friend Allison and Bonnie that I wanted to knit a sweater this year, so they challenged me to a race. First one done gets a prize from the other two. Who could resist such a challenge? We all used the same yarn, but different patterns. Mine is Mr. Greenjeans from
I wanted something with special details but knit from the top down to avoid seaming, which I hate because I don't really know how to do it. I also knew from all my reading is that the advantage of top down is that you can try it on as you go to make sure the size is right. That's a great idea if you know what the heck you are doing, which I don't. I tried it on at several points and it always seemed fine. Except that it really wasn't. It's too big. Not a lot too big, maybe a size or so. I will admit that I didn't actually check measurements - I just assumed I should use the size I usually wear.
I modified the collar, making it a shawl collar using short rows. It doesn't fold over like it should and keeps coming around to being flat. I wonder if I should have done the short rows at the edge of the collar instead of closer to the body?
I'm also not terribly pleased with where the button falls. It's not quite as flattering to my body type as I had hoped. This is one of the disadvantages of not being able to try on a style before you spend hours and hours knitting it!
Overall, however. I love the color and the yarn is wonderfully soft and warm.
I am also thrilled to be done. which I am only because of the motivation of my friends. Being in a race helped me stay focused and put off other projects that would otherwise have distracted me.
I am now more determined than ever to figure out how to design my own patterns. So often, I like some of this one and some of that one. I want to become proficient in putting all the pieces together.
Oh, and by the way, yes - I did "win" :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A mistake discovered - what to do if you find a hole

So I was knitting along on a sweater the other night - the one in which I'm in a race with two other friends to finish (The first one done gets a prize from the other two) - and I notice that I seem to have created a gap between stitches. At first, I wanted to believe that it was just a normal space caused by uneven stithces. Afterall, I'm in a race and I was in the middle of the collar, which is 238 stitches.

This has happened to me before only I didn't have enough experience then to realize that something was wrong. First, I checked for a dropped stitch, which of course would have been easy to fix. Alas, there was none. I thought about keeping on and figuring out later, but I know from experience that's never a good idea. So I pondered. The hole looked vaguely familiar - like something achieved during making short rows. Then it dawned on me. There was a reason why when I had gotten to the end of the previous row that I felt like I was on the wrong side - because I was. As I was knitting that row, the puppy did what puppies shouldn't do in the house so I promptly dropped the work and took care of her business. Then I plopped back down and a little too carelessly picked up my work and took off, only I'd taken off in the wrong direction! I didn't pay close enough attention and turned the work in the middle of the row, just like you would for a short row only I didn't want one at this point. There is only one way to fix this - tinking back to where the work was turned. I didn't actually time it, but I'm fairly certain that it takes three or four times longer to tink than to knit. I was relieved, at least to discover that I had correctly diagnosed the problem.

I'm sharing this story not only to brag a little but also as a warning/guide for my fellow knitters who have to stop in the middle of the row or who find an unexpected gap.
Here is the aforementioned puppy - doesn't she look so innocent?

Monday, January 25, 2010

We love Santa

You should wish you were at our house today. CJ and I have been baking with the supplies Santa brought for Christmas. I'm not entirely certain, but I think Santa must have dusted them with magic powder because everything seems to taste just a little bit better than usual!

Our favorite is he square muffin pans. What will they come up with next? I'm not entirely sure there is any advantage to them, but they certainly are fun. We used them today for apple muffins. I think CJ might have preferred chocolate chip. Maybe next time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The business of Yarn

Part of my day job is writing a column for the Boston Herald about small business. Every now and then, I find a way to sneak in a bit of yarn talk.... afterall, fiber is as much a business as anything else!

Doing good can be good for business
Charity gives customers incentive to buy
By Jennifer Heldt Powell / Small Business Matters

It can be difficult to entice shoppers into a store in the dead of a chilly winter when they’re still tallying up their Christmas bills, but last weekend Yarns in the Farm in Beverly was hopping.
Yarn enthusiasts were drawn in by a “reverse sale.” Ten percent of everything they bought was sent to Haiti to help earthquake victims. Full Article

Sunday, January 17, 2010

gratuitous dog pics

Too tired to write too much - puppy is an early riser. I'm hoping some exercise will help her sleep! We spent a good chunk of the day at Nahant Beach. We managed to get out before the rain.