Monday, January 31, 2011


Picnics in meadows with spring flowers and cow pies. Walks in ferny glens. Skinny dipping in cold mountain streams. Vacations on the Jersey shore. Hiking in the Swiss Alps. These are my best memories of my father's sister, Aunt Jane. She had a degree in botany from Mt. Holyoke college, way back in the day when women didn't do that. She was invariably generous, proper, polite, and patient. On the very rare occasions when she did get annoyed, her most extreme epithet was "Well! Mercy!"

She liked children, but never married or had any of her own. This worked out very well for my sister and me, because she lived nearby, and she liked spending time with us. She was constantly conspiring with my parents to take us on "outings"- usually picnics or hikes in wild places- which we city kids absolutely adored. It was from Aunt Jane I learned how to tell Dutchman's Breeches from Bleeding Hearts. She knew a lot about birds too, and so from her I also learned how to tell ibis from egrets, pipers from plovers. Her love of nature embedded itself in our hearts, and got passed on to the next generation- my and my sister's children- as well.

Aunt Jane taught me how to pee in the woods! Aunt Jane taught me to knit!!!!

As the years flew by, Aunt Jane moved to a retirement community, and arthritis slowed her down. My interest in knitting blossomed, and I made her a lace Faroese shawl to take the chill off those winter evenings in Pennsylvania. It seemed appropriate that it had little lace flowers on it! This is it on the blocking board. It was a beautiful soft wool, sort of plum colored. Aunt Jane loved it!

More years flew by, and Alzheimer's stole her memories. Aunt Jane gave away the shawl to an admiring stranger in an act of spontaneous generosity. I was sorry to lose it, but remain glad to know that someone somewhere loves it.

I'm in a shawl-making binge right now (have you guessed?). It's time to make another Faroese flower shawl. I'm making it out of the exact same wool, but this time it's lilac in color, and I'm going to place beads in the edging. Here is a photo, but it sure doesn't look like much now! I know it won't really "bloom" until after it is finished and blocked.


Sunday, January 30, 2011


My daughter celebrated her 16th birthday this weekend. I crocheted these little doodads for her out of my hand dyed crochet thread. The camellia below is sewn to a hair clip. The pattern is available HERE. The pattern for the earrings above right is available HERE. The hand dyed crochet thread is available for sale HERE.

And since she is on a scarf-loving kick, I knit her up one of my original patterns from Knitpicks Chroma in "lollipop" and "Galapagos". Please note that the stripes are horizontal on one side of the scarf, and vertical on the other! The pattern is free and available HERE.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


The shawl with the edging from Hell is finished! Here it is on the blocking board, which is exactly four feet on a side. I love the way it came out, but it seemed like that edging would never end!

If you are stupid enough to try this yourself, here is the chart I used (click to enlarge)


Friday, January 14, 2011


For years knitters have enjoyed the beautiful color shifting yarns like Noro Kureyon, Crystal Palace Mochi, and others. They were beautiful and fun to knit with, but expensive. Knitpicks, a company that offers yarns at much lower prices, just came out with their hot new Noro spinoff Chroma. Lots of people want to know how it knits up, and how it does in the wash. Here are my answers:

1. It is much softer than Noro!

2. It is less fuzzy than Mochi.

3. You can buy a big 100g ball with 198 yards for $8.99.

4. The colorways aren't as nice, but some are not bad. Shown above is "Galapagos" in worsted weight on the left, and fingering weight on the right. My favorite is "Lollipop".

5. My sample was colorfast in the wash, but boy does it felt!!!!

At left is a swatch I knitted up with Chroma worsted. I used #8 needles and 20 stitches. It is unblocked, and measures a little over four inches square. Click to enlarge.

At right is the same swatch after a gentle hand washing. The stitches have relaxed a little, and it is a bit fuzzier. The dimensions have not changed.

Finally, here is the same poor swatch after a vigorous washing and some serious agitation. We have shrinking and felting!! This is a great thing if you want felt, it is a bad thing if your hand knit socks accidently get run through the washer. Beware!


Monday, January 10, 2011


I am making my fourth shawl. I have always wanted a shawl. I made THIS ONE for my Aunt Jane. I made THIS ONE for my friend Susan. And I just finished THIS ONE for my mother in law. MY TURN!

I fell in love with the Curlicue Shawl when I saw this photo on Ravelry, and decided this was it. I love working with Mini Mochi, and these are my favorite colors. How could I go wrong? Well, um...

I did buy the yarn and knit up the shawl. It was a fun project, and I loved making it. It is done. I tried it on, and, well, it was tiny! Didn't even cover my elbows. I know "shawlettes" are in fashion these days, but I do prefer them longer. Then I saw THIS SHAWL as a demo at my local yarn shop, and from it I got the great idea- I'll just knit a pretty lace edging onto the curlicue shawl, and then it will be long enough!

I found my edging in Lesley Stanfield's The New Knitting Stitch Library, stitch #291. Of course lace edgings are designed to be knit onto a straight edge, and the edge of the curlicue shawl is zig-zagged. I could have made it straight, if I had planned ahead, but I didn't. So I had to figure out how to modify the shape of the edging to fit into the zig-zag border. It wasn't that hard on paper, so off I went.

It's coming out well, but it's slow and finicky. It took me many hours to make the tiny bit in the photo below, the part that is draped over the cat. One section done, eight more to go. It's a long way around, baby.


Thursday, January 6, 2011


Some years ago I discovered this wonderful braided cable stitch, and designed a sweater around it. It didn't take me long to figure out that the resulting fabric was way too thick, tight, and warm for a sweater, and I realized I probably wouldn't be able to bend my arms! Back to the drawing board! It turned out to work much better as a warm, bombproof hat, so I made one for my niece. She liked it a lot, and hammed up for the camera with her horse in this pose.

The pattern was published in Knitnet internet magazine, in November 2001. Since then Knitnet has gone down the tubes of the recession. I am pleased to be able to offer this popular pattern once again on Ravelry. The link is HERE.