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April 2015

A Giveaway

Update: Giveaway ends 12:00 midnight Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday, April 29th.

I spent the better part of my knitting weekend sewing a fabric lining into a knitted clutch I made from some sentimental but itchy wool I have been hauling around for the past zillion years.

I will post no photos of my work. I don’t need your pity. And pity it would be, I assure you.

The lesson I learned is this: an eight-year old can probably sew better than I can. Especially if they have attended a Montessori school where the curriculum emphasizes that kind of thing.

On the flip side, my sentimental but itchy yarn is now something useful. The Excedrin (my sixth food group.. ) in my purse will now have a new home.

And if anyone inquires, I will tell them the clutch was a gift from my little niece Zelda (between you and me, I have no such niece).  I have a whole story concoted about how it was the product of her fourth grade art project. Yada yada yada.


I have a giveaway today. I am cleaning out my stash. I am offering the lucky winner six skeins of Louisa Harding’s Merletto (six green and two pink). I knit with this yarn a lot and loved the bit of glimmer, although I think it is now discontinued.  To enter, simply leave a comment below. Please note I will not be able to do international shipping. Sadly the winner will thus have to be a US resident. Sorry.

Good luck!

Non-Felted Slippers by Yuko Nakamura

Non-felted slipperes by Yuko Nakamura. Awesome slipper project.

I have been doing some spring yarn cleaning and organization to prepare for my annual birthday yarn purchase. For the most part, my stash is not out of control, largely confined to a single basket. I have heard tale of far worse.

In need of a smaller birthday gift for a girlfriend, I was impulsively inspired by Yuko Nakamura’s non-felted slipper pattern.


The pink yarn is handspun and was gifted to me via my husband’s friend Beth. Imagine a woman in her early 60s (I am guessing) pulling up relatively unannounced in your driveway on a Harley motorcycle…Then she hops off and pulls a six back of beer out of one saddle bag and several skeins of her own handspun (from her very own sheep nonetheless)  from the other saddle bag.

That is Beth.

She is  retired UPS driver who has outlived three husbands.

And she knits. And spins. And, thankfully, gifts. Quite the lady.

I have been carting the off-white yarn around since 1998. It’s true. I have only been to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Fool Festival once as a fluke. I attended college near Rhinebeck, New York and randomly ended up at the festival when a fellow knitter mentioned she heard there would be a bunch of yarn for sale at the Rhinebeck fair grounds. We had know idea what we were doing. It was simply a whim.  

I really do not remember too much about the day…it was so incredibly long ago. I just remember buying this plain handspun with hopes of knitting my first sweater. By today’s standards, I think the yarn was very affordable…but back then I was making $5.25/hour minimum wage, and the $40 or $60 I probably spent felt like such a crazy, huge splurge. The yarn has always felt so valuable to me (even though it really isn’t) that I have carted it around with me for the past 17 years across many states. I did once knit most of the intended sweater…but I vaguely recall it was too small. I unraveled the work and kept the yarn.

For a long time, I would use the yarn as beginner material to teach friends how to knit. It is well suited that way, and I didn’t mind gifting a ball here and there. Recently I have started to knit with it again (including my quince fingerless gloves), and I have to say I really like the yarn. It is not the least bit itchy, and you can really feel the lanolin in every stitch. It is a slower yarn to knit with, compared to a lot of the more modern yarns I typically use.

It feels good to use these two yarns together, both so storied. Much preferred to collecting dust in the hall closet.

I intend to make a second pair soon using a different shade of Beth’s handspun for the bottoms and more 1998 Rhinebeck yarn for the body.

Twist Shawl Now Available in Spanish

If I ever win the lottery, I think I would travel aimlessly around the world and learn different languages, even if they aren’t “useful.” (Also, I would get a massage every day.)

First, of course, I would learn Italian while wandering cobbled streets of some ancient city, taste testing gelato.

I would love to give learning Thai a try also. Although it seems like that would be more difficult.

And perhaps Japanese.

The list goes on, but eventually I would make my way to Spain and resurrect my passion for a language I once knew well: Spanish.

Spanish is such a great language. English grammar totally baffled me until I learned Spanish. Isn’t that weird?

All the same, my favorite Twist Shawl pattern has now been translated into Spanish, and I couldn’t be more pleased.


Knitters of the world unite.


Enjoy ladies. Enjoy.


The Most Important Hat

Knitting for toddlers can be tricky business. Last year, I knit my son Reed his second hat (the first was knit before he was born), and it wasn’t too warmly received. He’s sported it a handful of times, most notably on a summer camping trip with super chilly nights. Over all, it seemed like he could take it or leave it.  

Earlier this spring, I knit two pairs of the Purl Soho garter stitch earflap hats for girlfriends who recently birthed new children. Reed was my knitwear model.

Apparently the hat caught on, because he spent a month randomly asking when I was going to knit him a hat. We’d be driving down the highway, and I’d hear a tiny voice from the back seat inquire, Mama knit me hat?

His lack of a new hat seemed to be wearing on him…He pondered this missing accessory with great persistence. And what kind of a mother was I? Knitting new hats for everyone except my own child?  

After a solid month of inquiry, I sat down and knit his hat, which was warmly received, bless his little heart.

I found the yarn in my scrap basket.  It was unlabeled, and I could not for the life of me remember what I had knit with the first half of the skein. It was like watching a movie where you recognize the actor from somewhere but you spend the entire movie trying to figure out where. You know that feeling, right? 

 Finally, it hit me just as I was wrapping up the hat. The skein was  Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted left over from my demo pair of Coon Creek Fingerless Gloves. 

My brain does work after all. 




On Knitting from the Middle of Nowhere

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The truth of the matter is that we all knit from somewhere. Our place, wherever it may be, is woven into our stitches, perhaps not always visible with the naked eye, but it’s there all the same.

I live in the Middle of Nowhere. Seriously. I love it. Northern California. (And not the Northern California that’s right above San Francisco. We’re way north of there…like almost all the way to Oregon.) It’s gorgeous here. We have the Trinity River, which is crystal clear with world class swimming holes and great fishing spots. There are little organic farms and wineries tucked away here and there. It’s so idyllic. And rugid. This place is beautiful. It takes my breath away every single day.

We are so blessed with such a beautiful home. Each year, our vegetable garden is huge! We garden nearly year round. We planted sixteen different types of tomatoes last year. Our yard boasts 20  fruit trees including peaches, nectarines, persimmons, apricots and more. Oh, and we have kiwis! And pomegranates! And figs! I typically can up a storm and quickly proceed to doubt the great myth of the modern homemaker. Why is standing over three giant pots of boiling water in my sweltering kitchen fun when it is 100 degrees out?

Uh. Yeah.

Plus there’s my flower garden. I could have a whole other blog dedicated to just my flower garden.

You get the picture. It’s paradise. We love it.

Unless I happen to be burned out on pulling weeds. It happens.

There are some challenges to living in the Middle of Nowhere. For example, it takes an hour to drive to a respectable grocery store over a scenic, twisty-turny highway with spotty cell reception. Also an hour to work. Each way. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes to drive to my yarn store.


Like I said, it’s remote. But I could do worse. I could have to fly in an Alaskan bush plane to get to the yarn store. So there’s that.

In this modern age, I truly don’t find rural living too incredibly limiting. I can find almost anything on Amazon and it ships to me “for free” in two days using Amazon Prime. Sometimes I don’t even have much reason to leave the house, except to visit friends and neighbors.

I love that we get to raise our child with so much room to roam. He gets to wander down the driveway and feed the neighbors’ alpacas, horses and goats. He finds sticks and pretends they’re fishing poles…gently wrapping poor, innocent worms around the tips to “bait his hook” before flinging the slimy creatures helplessly into the sticker bushes for his big cast. It’s a great place to live when you are two.

And it’s a great place from which to knit.

Planning My Year of Yarn

Something magical happens each April.

The skies part. The  sun beams through. My little yarn store offers me 30% off an entire  purchase just because it is my birthday this month.

Happy birthday to me. 30% is quite a respectable discount as far as I am concerned.

Most years I forget and miss the opportunity. Last year, however, I capitalized on the moment and saved what seemed like a bundle…although I had no clear plan and, giddy with yarn adrenaline, randomly dumped skeins of yarn, mostly Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, into my shopping basket.

I didn’t have patterns in mind, nor did I know how much yarn I would need for a project. So I just guessed. As it seemed, I erred on the high side (better that than the low side) and ended up with an extra skein of each color after knitting my sweaters last summer.

Yes, I am one of those weird people that knits sweaters in the squelching heat of summer. What can I say.

This year will be different. I have a plan. I have combed through my Favorites queue in Ravelry and picked out four tops that I most favor. I think four is an ambitious but potentially realistic number of larger projects for me to knit (note two don’t even have long sleeves) within the year, on top of creating my own designs and random smaller projects such as hats and shawls that are also awaiting my attention in my Ravelry queue.

I know my LYS doesn’t carry all the yarn recommended in the patterns, so I might have to go a little rogue and pick something similar, but at least I will know an approximate yardage.

I am tempted purchase yarn online as well. I know my LYS doesn’t carry Quince and Co., and I really want to try it after all the positive online buzz. We’ll see…

The year’s projects are below. All photos are via the designers from their Ravelry pattern page and are shared with the intent of positive promotion for each pattern.

Waterlily by Meghan Fernandes $9.50 EUR for an issue of Pom Pom

Katya Frankel Kitty’s Chemise $7.50 for the issue of Jane Austen Knits

Dolores by Dawn Catanzaro $6.00

Hiroko Fukatsu’s Polaris $6.65

Translating the Twist Shawl

Good news, ladies. Good news.

My favorite Twist Shawl pattern has been successfully translated into German and Dutch.

Thus, if you know anyone who does not speak English and instead prefers their knitting patterns in one of those two languages, please spread the word.




I have been wanting to translate some of my patterns for a while now. As in, two years kind-of-a-while.


All good things take time.

How many more years until I actually clean out and organize the hall closet? Let’s not even go there…


One day I just got the itch and, with great uncertainty, posted in a couple of random threads in Ravelry forums, and BAM! Within a matter of hours, I had emails from knitters around the world offering up their services.

Ravelry is amazing that way. I was so surprised. It was my first time using a forum. I had no idea what to expect. Apparently the forums are well used, granted I did offer to pay for the translations, which perhaps boosted my response rate.

All the same. Wow.

I am still holding my breath to see if the translations pay off. Either way, I am proud of myself for finally getting it together to take the big leap.


I find myself so struck by how the world is really one great big place held together by threads of yarn–people knitting from all over the globe. A common language of shared stitches. Global peace may still be a ways out. But global knitting, well, that is alive and well.

Alive and well.

Peace, harmony, and happy knitting from one continent to another.


Knitting a New Cowl

Realizing I could knit while laying down was a came changer for me. Sadly, it only took me a decade and a half to figure that one out. Now I can lay down on the sofa, put on a show or a movie, and more fully relax at the end of the day.

Knitting in the car, on the other hand, is a different story. I know some of you are fabulous car knitters, makes yards and yards of progress on family roads trips. I, however, have found I can only get a handful of rows in before I start to feel like carsickness is heading my way. Is knitting in the car like reading in the car? If you can’t read without getting carsick, it is reasonable to assume you also can’t knit without getting carsick?My Tart Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light is knitting up like a dream. I have a cowl on the needles for my mom and expect I am more than halfway done. I chose a simple pattern (of my own brain’s inner workings…scary in there), but I keep looking at it and wondering if it is TOO simple. I think I will have to wait until after blocking to know one way or the other. It’s been years since I have gifted my mom something knitted, and I am looking forward to surprising her with this.

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