Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Road Ahead

It's hard to believe we're almost ready to ring in the new year, and it's exciting to contemplate the coming year.

2014 was the hardest year of my life, so by comparison 2015 was manageable.  It's important to pause, and this past year I savored many moments along the way.   

It's always good to keep the road in front of you.  In 2015 there were still plenty of bumps and curves, but I never landed in the ditch. Sometimes we measure our accomplishments by what didn't happen instead of what did.  It's all a matter of perspective.

Who knows what this crazy world has in store for 2016.  Look ahead, keep your eyes on the road and enjoy the ride.  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No More Napping

I've made up my mind to be done with this lingering cold.  My endless stockinette stitch project has reached a point where I have to pay attention.  That means all the knitting I did while I was "resting" has paid off.

It also means now I can't nod off while I'm working on it.  I've reached the armhole edges, and it's time for a little I-cord bind off.  See arrow.  

I can't be drifting in and out of sleep while I do this.  Last night I had to rip out one row because I wasn't paying attention.  At that point I called it a day and went to bed.  This morning I'm refreshed and 
ready . . . ready for I-cord.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holiday Lull

I hope everyone had a delightful long holiday weekend.  We had a stress-free celebration with plenty of food, drink, sweets and presents. On Christmas Day I was cutting it close on some of the cooking.  By that I mean I completely forgot I had to cook some items for the main meal.  My daughters rose to the occasion and divvied up the work while I issued instructions.  Thanks to the girls, it all worked out in the end.

The cold I've had for two weeks continued to plague me throughout the weekend.  I had planned on a relaxing weekend with plenty of knitting time, but instead I did more napping than knitting.  I spent most of my knitting time with a stockinette project - perfect for nodding off 

This is what I really wanted to be working on.

It's a sweet little lace project.  I got it up and running only to realize that keeping track of the pattern was going to make my head explode. I scheduled a quiet work week between Christmas and New Year's Day.  This project will come in handy.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Cheer

More than once this morning I heard the phrase, "Mom, you still have a lot of work to do."  Yes, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes, the vacuum cleaner should be running on a continuous loop and the dining room table is buried.  

The kids scattered to all their various activities, and I'll pull everything together on the home front.  But first I took a few minutes for this.

These are for a couple of the post-holiday projects I have planned.  I could have wound more, but this is all I needed to take the edge off. Tomorrow when the dust settles, I'll be ready.

Holiday cheer to those who celebrate.  Maybe your festivities be merry and bright.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's a Start

This morning I've been making my last shopping list.  I have to venture out for one final run to the grocery stores.  I'm not looking forward to the traffic, the parking, the lines and the general chaos. Maybe after another cup of coffee I'll feel better about the situation.

When I went to bed last night, there was all sorts of activity in the kitchen.  This is the sight that greeted me in the morning.

My daughter was the cookie elf.  She got this whole baking thing started, and there's more in the works this morning.  I don't want to break the spell, so I'm just going to stay out of the way.  Now if only I could find a cleaning elf . . . 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last but Not Least

On Saturday I had my last event of 2015 - the Handmade Holiday Market sponsored by gather here.  It was a fun day all around.

Very soon gather here will be moving just a few blocks to the heart of Inman Square, and the market was held at the new store.  It's still a little rough, but you get the general idea.  The new shop is a great space with plenty of room.  This is an exciting time for the community that has grown with gather here.

Relocating costs money, and the shop has a Kickstarter campaign running to help cover expenses.  They've posted a really cute video. Check it out.

The Christmas holiday is upon us, and the last few shopping days are here.  

If you're at your wit's end and don't know what to get the knitter on your shopping list, I have gift certificates available.  Point your family members in this direction if you want one for yourself.

Today is the shortest day of the year, and we'll be decorating our tree. Embrace the dark, light a candle.  Happy Winter Solstice!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bouncing Back

I'm coming up for air after being under the weather for a good 24 hours or so.  Over the last couple weeks, I've been in contact with so many people who are sick, and I did my best to steer clear of the germs, but it was inevitable that eventually they would catch up with me.

Laying low definitely threw my schedule out of whack, and I'll be picking up the pieces for the next couple days, but the worst is over. In-between napping and feeling just plain miserable, I was able to knit a few rounds.  And that's all I needed to finish this.

3 Color Cashmere Cowl.  A quick bath, a little shaping . . . ready to go in no time.  This project was entertaining all around - mixing and matching colors, plenty of variety.  It was a good on-the-go project, and already I feel lost without it.

The yarn is Bertha Sport, colorways Cloud, Raven and Peacock.  The pattern is written for fingering weight, but I did a substitution and reduced the number of stitches.

A quick PSA.  If you're in the Boston area, tomorrow is the Handmade Holiday Market sponsored by gather here.  This year the event is in Inman Square at 1343 Cambridge St and runs from 11:00 - 6:00. They've put together a diverse collection of vendors, and I'm honored to be one of them.  Stop by and enjoy the festive fun.

For this week's color inspiration . . . 

A yellow spark.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Here's an Idea . . .

I've been struggling to find my holiday spirit this year.  The rush is on now, and I haven't lifted a finger to do any decorating or baking.  I had some help earlier in the week when my son and his girlfriend put lights up around the house.  We did get a tree yesterday, but it's still outside. I need to put clean and rearrange living room on my to-do list  to make room for said tree.  All of that is going to take a bigger block of time than I have available right now.

We celebrated one December birthday and have another one coming up this weekend.  That will involve more planning, preparation, cooking and shopping.  The kids have talked about baking on more than one occasion and I was hopeful it might actually happen, but so far we don't have one cookie in our possession.  I bought all the necessary ingredients.  Maybe I should put the recipes on the counter to see if I can jumpstart the process.

Clearly I need to make efficient use of my time if I'm going to pull everything together.  This is one step in that direction.

A Coloring Book for Knitters.

I got a few of these for the knitters on my holiday list.  Yes, I also got one for myself, but I put it away.  This is no time for distractions. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

SSK Revisited

Last week I mentioned I was having an issue with my left-leaning decreases.

This is the back of the offending project before I ripped it 
out . . . twice.  You can't see it here, but there are mirror decreases for shaping.  I was cruising right along, diligently doing my decreases. My left-leaning ones were a little sloppy, but I was sure blocking would help.  A couple more inches after this picture was taken, I had to admit that blocking wasn't going to miraculously fix the situation, so I ripped it out.

It was time to adjust my ssk.  For some time now, my preferred method for ssk has been slip, yank, twist, knit.  See the link for all the details.  This method has served me well, and I've been happy with the results.  But for this project, I was left with a sloppy, jagged line.  I think it's a combination of the yarn and the sharp contrast with k2tog which always leaves a straight, smooth line.

I did a little experimenting and reverted to one of my old ssk 
methods - slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to purl, knit them together through the back loop.  I got to work right away and knit up several inches with the ssk adjustment.  The left line was better, but it still looked sloppy when compared to the k2tog line on the other side.  I still wasn't satisfied.

Back to the drawing board.  I ripped it out again and did a little more research.  I stumbled across this post from Wendy at Muddy Sheep. She claimed that if you work that ssk stitch through the back loop on the next row, it will smooth everything out.  Depending on your pattern, this will either be a purl through the back loop or a knit through the back loop.  I tried her suggestion with my slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to purl ssk, and it made a noticeable difference.  

If you really want to get in deep, Wendy also mentioned this video from Cat Bordhi.  Cat recommends slipping a stitch in the row below the ssk to create a "hungry" stitch.  I tried this method too, but it didn't create the neat stitches I was looking for - maybe because I'm working back and forth, not in the round.  I haven't totally discounted Cat's method and will probably experiment with it some more.

For now, working that ssk stitch through the back loop has made my left-leaning decreases much neater.

Third time's a charm.

Here's a quick bonus.  Tin Can Knits is celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas by offering a free pattern every day from now until December 25.  Today's free pattern is Antler Mittens.  Check it out.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Color Puzzle

I've been working on an experiment with the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl. Instead of picking the colors before I cast on, I've been making my color selections as I go.  I'm working with Bertha Sport and started with Cloud.  When it came time for the second color, I debated but finally chose Raven.

I had plenty of time with the two grays to contemplate the third color. At first I was tempted to go with a red.  Then I briefly flipped to a yellow, but I've done a lot with gray and yellow, so I abandoned that notion.  

In the end I settled on Peacock.  It feels like I found the last piece to a puzzle.  I'm smitten with this color combination, and now that all the decisions have been made, I can put my knitting on autopilot.

The other day I took a short walk along the beach.  I enjoy these 
off-peak visits to the water . . . peace and quiet.  I came across a pile that had washed up on shore.  This week's color inspiration reminds me of some of my yarn messes.

A colorful tangle.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Off the Tracks

My day started with a visit from the appliance repair guy, and he completely derailed my morning.  The good news:  The repair guy was able to get the dryer running on a temporary basis while he orders a part.  The bad news:  Knitting pics will have to wait until later in the week.

Never fear, I do have something to share.  The world is full of so much destruction and devastation these days, but here's a glimmer of hope. Designer Bristol Ivy is donating 50% of her December pattern sales to charity.  Buy a pattern, spread the word, share the light.  

With that I'm off to get ready.  Today is my daughter's birthday, and we have a date this afternoon.  She has an extended celebration planned with more festivities this weekend, but today it's just the two of us.  I'm savoring the moments . . . 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Random on Monday

I'm starting fresh with a new day, a new week.  I fell off the Get To Work Book bandwagon a couple weeks ago, but today I'm jumping back on.  

This is what happens when I don't pay attention to my planning.  The dyeing schedule becomes unwieldy, yarn arrives and I don't know what it's for, I lose perspective on how many new booth samples I can really churn out between now and January.  I need to organize the chaos, and this handy book will keep me on the straight and narrow.

The swatch is for a situation I have with wonky decreases.  I'm digging deep to sort it out . . . one thing leads to another.  I'll report my findings.

Last call for Yarn Knot Socks.  

The December installment of the sock club will be shipping soon, and there's still room for a few more.  I'm excited with the 
base . . . something new and different.  Treat yourself or a knitting buddy.  Click on the link for details.

Friday, December 4, 2015

No Color Commitments

Gray is trending in my knitting world.

Usually I plot out my project colors before I cast on, but this time around I'm sorting it out as I knit.  

I started knitting with the light gray.  I thought I would be inspired before I needed the second color, but it didn't come together that way. A couple days ago I dyed more colors in this yarn base, and that generated some good possibilities for this project.  It was a tough decision, but I'm going with more gray.  I'll add another color to the mix, but I can wait before making my final decision.  I'm enjoying this process of no predetermined color commitments.

At the end of a gray day (or, especially after a series of gray days), a glimpse of the sun is a welcome sight.  My color inspiration for this week . . .

Sunshine breaking through at sunset.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Matching the Weather

This morning I woke up to a raw, wet, gray day.  I stopped in the kitchen long enough to retrieve a cup of coffee and quickly decided my duties as a scullery maid could wait until later.  Since I didn't have any pressing plans, I retreated to my knitting and an audio book.

This is just the beginning, and it echoes today's weather.  I need to add a couple colors and am still considering the options.  This decision is going to require some dyeing.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Recharged and Ready

The Monday after a long, holiday weekend can be a tough transition. On Saturday I heard rumblings that the leftovers were almost gone - a sure sign that the party's over.

I didn't take the whole weekend off, but I did change the workflow a little.  That's all I needed to recharge my battery.

This is how my weekend photo shoot ended.

I got a bit distracted and started playing around with different color combinations.  I'm tempted to keep this one.

Today is the last day for the Shop Small® discount. 

You'll find all the details on the website.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Shop Small®

After an enjoyable holiday yesterday, I'm slowly easing into Friday with pie breakfast and coffee.  I sense a cold lurking in the background, but I'm ready to tackle another day.

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.  This is a good opportunity for shoppers to support small, local businesses.  I'm participating again this year by offering 10% off all online orders.  See the website for details.  Note:  This offer does not include Yarn Knot subscriptions or gift certificates.

In-between all the grocery shopping, cooking and general merriment, I squeezed in some time for knitting.

And so it grows.  I'm still not sure I have enough yarn for this project. 
I need to knit a little more to determine if my calculations were way off base or spot on.  I have my fingers crossed and am curious to see how it's all going to unfold.  For now, I'll keep on knitting.

I'm still enjoying the late fall colors, and this one one took me by surprise.  This week's color inspiration . . . 

Pinks with a splash of orange.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us.  People are rushing, and tempers are short.  Traffic is worse than usual, and I've lost count of how many accidents and near accidents I've seen this week.  Last night I thought a dispute at the rotary between two drivers would turn into a brawl.  

It's time to hit the pause button and reflect.  The world is a crazy place, and it seems even more so these days.  There are challenges around every corner, and peace is even further from our grasp.

In spite of all the evil in the world, it's important to remember the 
good . . . family, friends, health, community.

While I bake and cook, I'll be focusing on the good.  Grateful . . . today and every day.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Magic

Monday is hitting me hard . . . a mad dash to get ready for Thanksgiving.  I'm cooking and that involves shopping for groceries. 
I only have potatoes and squash on hand, so I have a long way to go.

Usually I'm more organized and don't have to go near a store the week of the holiday.  I don't know how it happened, but my planning skills failed me this time around.  I'm off to forage and deal with packed parking lots and crabby clerks.

I leave you with this to brighten your Monday.

The magic of minis.

Friday, November 20, 2015

In Defense of Designers

Warning:  Today I'm getting on my soapbox.  Designers have to be paid for their work.  This seems like an obvious statement, but for some reason it gets lost in translation out there in the world of commerce.

I sell patterns in my booth as a courtesy to customers who want to walk away with yarn and pattern in hand - a complete project package. I buy patterns and sell them to customers for the same price they would pay online.  I make very little on pattern sales, and it's hardly worth the effort, but I do it for customer service.

"Is the pattern free?"  I can't tell you how many times customers have asked me that question.  No, the pattern isn't free.  I buy the 
patterns - each and every copy.  I don't just print them out from a single PDF.  If you want a copy, you can buy it from me.  Or you can go online and buy it.

"That booth over there has free patterns."  If the pattern is their design and they want to offer it for free, that's their choice.  But if the rights to that pattern belong to someone else, I hope they paid for each and every copy they're giving away.

"Can you just email the pattern to me?"  Sorry.  No, I can't do that either.  The designer doesn't get paid if I email you a PDF.

All of this banter seems rather absurd when someone is spending over $100 on yarn and is quibbling over a few more dollars for the pattern.

We live in a knitting world full of patterns.  Ravelry is bursting with ideas, inspiration and creativity.  The notion that we have to pay for all the work it takes to document those ideas should be a no-brainer.  If we want to encourage that creativity, we need to pay for it.  

And yet, I hear variations on this theme time and time again.  "I just spent $200 on yarn. And I got the pattern for free."  That's cheating the designer out of hard-earned compensation . . . not something to brag about.

My sense is that most designers aren't getting rich on patterns.  They do it for the love of designing.  And for all their hard work and effort, they need to be compensated.  I think about this issue a lot.  Often it's simmering on the back burner, and every once in a while it boils over. I've gotten so exasperated with the concept of "free" patterns that I'm considering not offering patterns any more.  But that won't solve the issue.  Designers have to be paid, and knitters are the ones to do it. Rant over.

Since I'm talking about designers, do you know about Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2015?  Over 300 designers have banded together to offer discounts on select patterns through November 27.  Just in time for holiday knitting.  There are also games and prizes . . . see the link for details.

Thanks to some strong wind most of the trees are naked.  Fall is winding down, but I spotted this the other day . . . this week's color inspiration.

Remnants of summer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Confession

It was bound to happen.

I've been working away on the project I started late last week.  I've made some progress, but it's not as much as I could have made.

No, instead I got a bit distracted with this.

I've started another project and have pulled yarn for at least one more. When I was making the round of festivals this fall, I gathered so many new project ideas.  That's both a blessing and a curse.  My travel schedule has calmed down now, and I'm going in several different directions at once.  I want to cast on everything . . . right now.

I'm going to let myself roll with this for a few more days.  The project frenzy is bound to peter out.  In the meantime there's a lot of gray in that pile, and I know just what I need to balance it out.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Snapshots from Montpelier

Over the weekend I made a quick trip to Montpelier, Vermont.

The wind was howling . . . a blustery November day.

Complete with a few snow flurries.

My destination . . . 

Yarn.  This shop had been on my list of potential field trips for a while, so I was delighted with the invitation to have a trunk show.

Yarn has a charming space with a well-rounded selection of fiber goodies.

And they have an enthusiastic bunch of knitters.

ZickZack Scarf.

The Mitten Advent Calendar under construction.  When it's finished, it will be on display in the shop.

Jane's Provence Shawl.  Isn't it lovely?  The flowers alone took hours and hours. 

Thanks to everyone who came out.  I enjoyed the 
conversation - sharing ideas and inspiration.  It was a wonderful afternoon.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Change of Plans

The other day I had yarn and a pattern and was ready to start a new project.  I had a little extra time on my hands, so before I actually cast on, I decided to poke around on Ravelry for a bit.  I had an idea for a completely different project and wanted to check out the details.

It didn't take much time to find the information I was looking for, but, as so often happens, one click led to another and before long I was considering a different pattern for the yarn in front of me.  If I had cast on before I had opened up Ravelry, I probably wouldn't have considered switching patterns.  But since my needles were still empty, I had just enough wiggle room to contemplate something else.

My dilemma was compounded by the fact that I might not have enough yarn for the new pattern.  I would definitely have to make it shorter than the pattern suggested, so I would save some yardage there.  And I could make the pockets out of contrasting yarn or not make them at all - more yardage saved.  I did more calculations and went back and forth umpteen times.

In the end I decided to try the new pattern.  After all that number crunching, this pattern would nag me.  I'm just getting started, so I don't know yet if my numbers are lying.  If they are, I can always rip it out.  

My color inspiration for this week . . . 

Perfect pink.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Several of my work projects are stalled, so it's nice to balance things with a finished knitting project.


I'm smitten with this hat.  That means I'll have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't go missing.  My daughters have a habit of borrowing.  

Wurm is similar in style to my Rikke Hat . . . slouchy, comfortable, easy to wear.

The brim is hemmed . . . a detail that I love.  The yarn is Bertha Sport, colorway IPA.  There's been a run on this yarn and supplies are low. As soon as I restock, I'll post it to the website.

It's a raw, rainy day here.  I think it might be time for a new knitting project.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Snapshots from Fiber Festival of New England

I'm in a fog this morning . . . must be a fiber hangover.  I had a whirlwind weekend at Fiber Festival of New England.  Here's a peek.

Every time I see bobbin lace in production, I marvel that it's not a massive tangle of thread.  It's always interesting to hear the backstory.  The woman working on this piece was a potter.  She took up bobbin lace because she wanted a craft that didn't require a whole room full of equipment.

Gradient packs from Romney Ridge Farm.

A unicorn from A Fistful of Felt stopped by to visit the booth.  

And then there were buttons from Jane Quimby.

I have a real weakness for buttons and could have gone missing for a couple hours.  It's a good thing I only had a few minutes to browse.

Thanks to everyone who turned out.  I appreciate all the show and tell items that people brought to the booth and enjoyed chatting with each and every one of you.  It was a lovely weekend.

One final note.  If you're planning to attend Knitting Weekend in January, this is the last week for early bird rates.  See the website for details.