Friday, June 29, 2007


Another Angel Session for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, another story of heartbreak. We are always so incredibly honored and blessed to take part in this wonderful non-profit program. The call came in about baby Travis, born full term by caesarean section and only upon delivery was it discovered that this beautiful baby boy was stillborn.

It did, as it always does, impact my life. I've been thinking for some time about what we as a community of knitters and crocheters can do for these families and this organization. I know there are a lot of charities around the world where you can give your time and talent--- I hope that you will consider giving to this one.

WeeAngels is the Giving Opportunity sponsored by the Knitting Contessa and is a chance to contribute love from your heart directly to a family who has lost a child. Accepted items are:
  • bonnets
  • booties
  • blankets/bereavement wrappers
they may be:

Knitted or Crocheted Any yarn you choose, please use pastel colors

Sizes: It is a common misconception that many of the babies are premature, and this is not always the case. There are quite a few infants that are stillborn at full term. Sizes for bonnets and booties are needed from the very tiny to large.

Patterns: Your choice, simple is best. There is a large amount on the Internet as free downloads if you need inspiration.

Please send the Wee Angel garments to:
Knitting Contessa
1709 Park Avenue
Second Floor
St. Louis, MO 63104

These lovingly created baby items will be distributed to photographers from around the country that are involved in Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep so that the knitting and crocheting community can bless families in need around the country.

Please contribute, yarn really does make love!

Take a button........ spread the word!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cat Bordhi Fan club

Oh yes............. fan club indeed, I think I might be the honorary Chief at the moment! Why, the curious Blitter asks???? I was struggling with 'that sock'............... and it was really making me crazy. I had just about decided that the whole 2 circs thing was just not going to be, not at all. It had settled into my mind about as well as high school algebra (and for those of you who do not know me, that was just a total bust!) At the end of my rope I took a big chance, knowing that many of the Knitting Notables are pretty hard to reach, much less the hope of having them actually contact you back! So, with frustrations at the forefront I sent her an email asking (begging? pleading?) for any help at all in my gusset torments. And VOILA, she emailed back! With answers! Actually, she was kind as can be, very sweet and sympathetic AND helpful! Last night (without alcoholic fortification, even though that seemed like a good idea) I barricaded myself in the sewing room and sat down with the darn sock. I even put in a lifeline of contrasting yarn 'just in case' yet again I got turned around and had to riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip back. I printed out her oh so helpful email and enlarged the font to gigundo, in red even! And as I sat there going oh so slowly, seeing what was at first glance a real mess.............. well it all worked out. Perfectly so! My socks are now crusing down the foot and soon I shall have a PAIR. I still think that part of the instructions need to say that "this is not going to look like it is going to work out with those needles all funkipated and the sock all crazy............ but it does". It does! How thrilled am I????


Thanks Cat, you are the greatest! I can't wait for the new book due out soon, and I will be there with bells on to take any class you offer! If you are that wonderful via email, you must be an absolutely incredible teacher!

That is a pic of the little garden Buddha, he's crying out to hold my gorgeous socks from the circs. If it weren't raining out there I'd hop out and we'd do the happy dance together!

I was giving some thought to making some toe up lace socks on dpi's with the new yarn....... but now I'm reconsidering!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Poster Child for M&M's

I ate M&M's this week and I felt really bad about it. Okay, the truth and all of it is that I ate M&M's TWICE this week, and we won't even discuss eating out while working on the move of the storage unit. Beer was involved. Feeling bad about chocolate is really ridiculous, but I did have a guilty feeling. Until today. As my loyal Blitters know, I walk 6 mornings a week for 4 to 5 miles. To Kathy Smith. Baby, as the lady I passed in the park yesterday said "I MOVE". But the guilt remained, I just feel as if I work too darn hard to screw it up with bouts of unabashed chocolate. Sigh. If you noticed though, I said FELT bad about it, until this morning. Walking my normal route dodging bird poop, dealing with the hotter than crap temperatures and ignoring crackheads---- I do that every day, and really I don't complain. Well, much. Today when I got back from the walk I knew that it was a work from home day, always a treat. Except that the yard needed to be mowed and was several days past it's peak, high grass, heat, tired............... well you get it. So before I rolled up my sleeves to WORK, after an hour and a half of walking, and hearing the air conditioning call my name, I mowed. Have I mentioned that I have a push lawnmower? It is wonderfully 'green', I can't help but feel virtuous when I push my little mower over my small city yard and groom it. Today there was no virtue whatsoever, it was hell! Each push of the mower required all of my body weight, it was an extremely hard slog. ACK! But I persevered and after more sweat than I thought was humanly possible, the yard is mowed. I've showered and am happily sitting in a/c working. Mostly. Those M&M's? They are gone, every bit of them, they have been removed from my body and I no longer carry the guilt of their chocolatey delights. Personally, I'm holding out to be the Knitting Face of M&M's.....hey it could happen! I would love to teach Red and Yellow how to knit, I think they'd be good at it and I bet they would show their appreciation by keeping me in chocolate forever! I vote for an entire ad campaign, M&M's as yummy row counters, treats for finishing projects, energy to keep you working on your project, the list goes on!

I stopped by my local LYS yesterday morning, the fantastic Knitorious, it happens to be right down the road from Target as well as a great little nursery so it was an excellent hour of errands. I picked up a ball of off white baby yarn to try a few little preemie caps and of course sock yarn called my name. I found a gorgeous skein of Bearfoot in Sierra. I love the earthy colors and the 25% mohair makes this such a wonderful yarn. Of course, I had to swatch it last night, now I can't wait to get them going. Which will (or should) make me get that last sock off the needles.

Tomorrow a special post on Why I Love Cat Bordhi.......... stay tuned.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Maybe it is just moi........

Aunt Bee Photo from

I have an amusing little ditty to share, well at least it is amusing to me--- it has been said that my sense of humor is a tad to the left. To which I reply, why seriously, there hasn't been a Knitter out there that isn't a little, well strange if the truth be told. Just strange. (In an incredibly good way of course!)

I'm coming in today from the final bits of moving the contents of the storage facility to the basement. It is hotter than blazes and twice as humid, and to say that I'm perspiring gently would be an all out lie. LIE! I have not had the opportunity to pick up my knitting all day long, or even read a lovely knitting blog or two. I'm tense. My next door neighbor, who is delightfully new to the neighborhood is, bless her heart, just about the most naive thing you have ever met. When she moved in she told me that she "hailed from a town like Mayberry". Generally speaking, I like Mayberry, it is a lovely place to visit and that Opie sure is a cute kid. Mind you, I live in the city in an historic neighborhood, a 100 year old home oozing with charm and all of the ensuing repair problems. I thought to myself when Andy's sister moved in, you come from a place so far removed from the Beaten Path it makes the sticks look well populated, why in the world would you move here? I repeat, it is the C.I.T.Y. But that is neither here or there. She looks at me today and says, "Wow, so what was the parade Sunday?" Mind you, the start of the parade is 3 blocks up so it is impossible not to miss. If you don't notice the bright and cheery floats you might turn your head for a 6 foot 5 gal with hairy legs, a red wig a fuschia ballgown and a tiara so tall and sparkly it makes Miss Universe feel neglected. My reply was concise, and I thought well to the point. "Pride." And her reply was even more to the point........... "I don't get it". Yup, Mayberry. Bless her heart (did I already say that?) "Yes hon, Pride, you know, Gay Pride? The parade is this time every year, thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life descend on the neighborhood to watch and have a great time. Why, even the Mayor himself always comes with the Fire Chief....the Macy's float, the Whole Foods folks delivering water and snacks as they pass on the route, wonderful stuff!" And (I know I am being really repetitive but I simply must say it again) Bless Her Heart, her response was, "I don't know what that means." Did this woman fall off the turnip truck? Seriously, I am flummoxed. With a smile and great gentleness, "You know, men and women who love other men and women?" This was met with a totally blank stare. My neighbor has children, I am assuming that she understands the fundamentals of procreation and has perhaps once seen Will and Grace or Ellen, can it be a really big stretch? I think so. I tried to make her understand, and I really think I might have succeeded. At least I hope so. It does make me wonder because I introduced myself before she actually moved in and gave her the Cliff Notes. Now of course, I think she believes that two librarians live here (I'm too old and out of shape to be a gym teacher). No telling what she thinks of the other domestic partners in the neighborhood.

It's completely okay; next year she will be there front and center wearing an equality t-shirt and commenting on how really, really good the drag queens look. I will maintain then as I maintain now, this woman does NOT knit. Or if she wields the needles at all she only knits scarves and they're probably all acrylic. Bless her heart.

The halfa' baby sweater in the herb garden.... just brushing up against the sage and the rosemary smells so wonderful!

My baby sweater in progress is ready to go on holders now and the other half is soon to be cast on. It is sweet as pie and I think I might have to let my dog prance around the house in it (she has been looking so wistfully at it) and the baby would NEVER know! Right? I have to put it in gear, regardless of my day working like a bloody stevadore----- July 1st is coming and Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi Shawl is going to be cast on for the new year of monthly challenges with the group from the mind of Kelley Petkun. If you haven't seen that shawl it makes a baby sweater look like my next door neighbor's scarf. All together now.............. bless her heart.

Knitting Proud

What I really wanted to do Sunday morning was to sit inside curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and my baby sweater and just knit the world away. The skies were a bit gray and the weatherman (who never lies, right???) said that the day should be mostly dry. So, I put my knitting aside and got dressed to walk a few blocks with my partner and about 50,000 of my closest friends to watch the annual Pride Parade here in St. Louis. 10 a.m ---blitters.......... the crowd thickened, people were drinking, and party was the order of the day. Having left my 20's behind more than a couple of years ago let's just say that I am far less of a partier than I used to be (hence the desire to sit and knit instead of guzzling Hurricanes long before Noon!). The parade began with a few sprinkles that quickly turned into a deluge. I am not enchanted with standing in a downpour let me tell you, it was just hard to have a good time. I assure you that I would have spent far less time on my hair if I would have known that it would soon be dripping wet. As the parade passed the sad tissue paper floats were drooping and the hand-lettered signs were running--- although not quite as much as the pancake makeup on the flamboyant drag-queens. Poor Things. (Which I have to tell you was pretty funny!) After I was sufficiently wet, and frankly more than a little bit cranky, the rain stopped and the parade finished. All in all it was a wonderful parade, lots of people having a great time and enjoying Pride.

I came home after a late lunch with friends and sat with my knitting at a barbeque............ ahhhhhhhhhhh. It was such fun to sit and chat, laugh and enjoy the early evening with socks in my hands.

I'd been thinking of the blog and then happened upon Amy's blog over at Knitty,
also with a Pride theme! It just blew me away------- June is Pride month after all, and happy Pride to all. It is the most wonderful thing to be part of the knitting community, we are a wonderful collage of stitches and all of us deeply appreciate and understand that we're all important and respected.

Very cool indeed.

I won't be knitting a lot today, but moving stuff from the storage unit to the re-organized basement. I figure all the money saved on the storage facility can better be spent on yarn! :) That is my reality as I head out the door on this hot and humid day. I'll be thinking of knitting anyway, and later on that cup of tea and my needles will call my name.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Oh Elizabeth & Baby Blue

I have to confess, it has been hard the past couple of days to work on the sweater for my niece's first child, a beautiful baby boy. Don't get me wrong, I am passionate about knitting, and equally crazy (okay, almost) about her adorable child. It is just that after John-Luke this week, well, that sweet angel couldn't help but change me---- they all do. But cast on I did. I am for the most part a 'minimal stash' knitter---- at least at this point and so project selection is different for me than for many other rabid knitters. When I moved from Hawaii I left a lot of stash yarn and fabrics behind for friends, it was quite simply too expensive to ship. Plus it gave me tremendous incentive to rebuild my stash--- that doesn't come along too often.I brought just the stuff I was really zooney about. So I've been building slowly and actually USE much of my stash as it comes in. My Large Stash friends tell me I am either: a. not knitting enough or b. what the hell is wrong with me anyway and/or c. PLEASE don't tell their significant other that this is how I am merrily knitting my way through life! I didn't really want to purchase yarn for this sweater, I wanted to save a yarn purchase for something higher on the fun scale. I don't really know what that is but we've already discussed the fact that I set my own rules and this is just one of them!!! I had two choices in stash, a yellowy/ivory cotton, and this soft greeny/bluey/ivory varigated cotton/acrylic. I chose the latter. I mean, it is a baby sweater that I'm giving away to a woman who did not major in laundry. She would not lovingly hand-wash a baby sweater so it either wouldn't get worn or the sweater would be ruinedin short order. For me, it has to have some acrylic in it, much as I don't have them on the top of my list, when it comes to baby yarn this one is quite nice. So it is in the process of being knit and at the 2/3 point 'up the arm funnel' the little stinker is still on dpi's instead of more comfortably on circs. Sigh. I remember that now.

My other sock, the lonely child, is sitting on it's two circs pouting. I can hear it although it really doesn't bother me. Yet.

With two projects in the works, I joined a new group I'm really excited about AND bought yarn for it! During my (very hot) walk this morning I listened to Kelly Petkun from Knit Picks. She mentioned Julie Powell and the Julie-Julia Project............... which I've followed for a long time now being a fan of the late Julia Child as well as Julie Powell. Kelly needed focus and structure for her knitting and having just read Julie's book she decided to follow a knitting icon and do much the same thing of a year of work that gives rise to satisfaction as well as improved knitting. I have been much in the same boat so the podcast today and Kelly's solution fell on very fertile soil (and needles). I adore Elizabeth Zimmerman, I still treasure my signed copy of "Knitting Around", and purchased another copy of "Knitter's Almanac" to carry in my knit bag. I will join the Yahoo group and Kelly on this years journey of knitting one of EZ's projects a month and having wonderful companionship on the journey. I love that! Of course, the stash lace weight was one ball of pink (why is all of my stash pink, I can't figure that out!) so I had to order yarn. Being a Company Gal I ordered from Knit Picks, a lovely lace weight "Shadow", suggested by Kelley, in merino. I couldn't decide on colorways so I chose two. HEY--- remember my stash is light, it is OKAY! :) When it arrives I will decide on my EZ shawl from the Campfire Heather or the Redwood Forest, they both look very yummy.

Perhaps I'm beginning to lose the control over stash and projects that I've been so vigilant and justly proud of? Mmmmmhmmmmmm, here it comes. The sound you hear is the one of the dam bursting.

For those of you interested in the Year with Elizabeth Project, you can find a link at Kelly's blog at

I'm continuing to give thought to a project for the babies that have passed away before they have a chance to live with us on earth. I'm getting close so please stay tuned as it will be a project for all of us. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Angel John-Luke

My sweet Blitters know that I'm the Creative Director for a wonderful photography studio, and I have to say that most of what we do is to capture joy, laughter, giggles, and bliss. But there is the other side of sadness that causes me to take a breath today and remember that joy comes from different places. The studio 'gives back', that is to say that we proudly participate in the national non-profit organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. "This is the place where NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP gently provides a helping hand and a healing heart. NILMDTS offers a vital service to our community. For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives." While these Angel Sessions can be heartbreaking, my partner always walks away blessed by the love and compassion of these special families. The images and the stories behind them bless me as well as I see the photos and hear the families though them.

I know that I could personally not take these photos, I have such admiration for my partner! What she provides to those families with her gentle manner is beyond words. I do know that I am moved more with each session. Angel John-Luke was delivered at a little before 2 a.m. this morning, his parents knew months ago that he was not going to have the opportunities that other little boys have in this world. We have waited for him to come for several weeks and when the call came the photographer was ready. Unfortunately, this happens more frequently than most people know, in the hospital this morning were 2 other families sharing the same sorrow.

I'm sharing this for two reasons. First, please--- count your blessings and pass one on! Secondly, I know that I simply have to do something for these babies, these families and this wonderful program. I'm not sure how it will look at this point, but know that I am going to put something together. Until then my friends---- be saving your scraps of yarn, prepare your heart and hands to take part in an outreach and perhaps together we can all do something that really counts.

After all, love through our needles is what we do best! Right?

I have a new project on my needles but I think I'll wait to talk about it............... my focus is elsewhere today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Publicly Knitting

So I knit in public on the special day assigned just to that extraordinary effort. I took my portable little bag, cute as it was, and sat down on the sidewalk in an outdoor restaurant location. I ordered and calmly (with much chic!) took out my sock-in-progress, and knit away. It has been a couple of weeks since the day assigned to knitting in public and I keep thinking----- why in the world did such a day occur and why do we need a special day for it? If it is educating the non-knitting masses I say just get out there and knit for pete's sake! So much has been said about feeling strange when knitting in public---- or getting comments, etc. I have to tell you, I do knit socially, and 'out' and never have much at all in the way of anything special. Maybe it is just me! After all one of the things that I've worked hard at is to come to a place in my life where I really don't care what people think of me.

Okay, most of the time. I do find it very uncomfortable----even horrific---- when people don't like me. Why doesn't everyone love me? I am a lovable and fabulous person after all!!!!!

So, keep on knitting---- get out there and do what pleases you, knit what and when you want. Life is just too short to do otherwise.

I just finished another tote bag for my knitting (speaking of knitting in public). I am addicted to lovely bags for no other reason than I just like to have a nice variety to carry around. I mean, you have to coordinate with your outfits---- right? This one is from the Cat Bordhi pattern available at her website, and the yarn is Fleece Artist. I have the bones of two more bags in the sewing room as well, creations that have no pattern except for the one I'm working out as I go. They are not-knitted and really fab, I'll share as they come along.

In another vein of knitting, rather sorrowful----- I removed the yarn from 3/4 of an entire sock last night. There was no graceful frogging, no elegant picking, no dainty stitch removal, heck no. I think I'm very close to giving up on my socks on circs and going back to my dependable dpi's. I hate to say it, I've been SO devoted to learning this technique. But alas------ the last bit just did me in yesterday and the entire knitted sock right up to the incredibly addlepated gusset is now wound right back onto the ball. Sigh. I would pick up my dpi's if I didn't already have a sock from the circs completed and needing a match. So I'm taking a breath today, getting caught back up into the Zen of it all. Sometimes that is just hard fought!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Dirter

No matter how you dress it up........................ it is still a DIRTER. Do you know why in the world I call the empty toilet paper tube a DIRTER? Easy, when you hold it up to your lips you can make a delightful trumpet-like sound "dirter-ter-der-der-derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"!!!!!!!!! Crowing happily with childlike abandon, it even gives the dogs a bit of a spook! Yes the Dirter, or as it is known in my kingdom, the Well Priced Ballwinder! Believe me, it is not a fast ball-winder by any stretch of the imagination, the store-bought crank versions are much speedier as they take up the slack yarn from a skein and zippily wind it into a nice smooth ball, don't for one moment believe that they don't! My dirter however does an excellent job! You cut a slit into one edge of the cardboard tube (happy to be of new and exciting knitting service) and pull an edge of the yard over the side and down into the tube. Then holding the Dirter you wind around and around and around (and around) until you have exhausted all of the yarn in the skein. Tuck in the last end on the front of the ball and pull the ball off the Dirter. Voila! A lovely, compact, flat bottomed ball of yarn for your project. The best part is that it gives your arms a workout too, I like to think it helps that funny little jiggy part of the arms that continues waving long after you have said hello a bit of incentive not to be so wobbly! Dirters are plentiful, cheap, quite Green in their recyclable nature, if you lose one they can be replaced in a moment's notice. There is always a Dirter around somewhere! And the best part is that whenever you wind your beautiful yarn for a project it gives you a fabulous opportunity to play a little tune to amaze your friends and family. Ah, yes......... the crazy knitting lady who plays the toilet paper tube!

I urge you, compel you, lovingly beseech you to make a Dirter today! It is bound to give you a laugh that you can share with others. Actually it is quite amazing how many people did not know what this humble object was called, maybe you didn't even know! Even those of you in the community of knitters who have those sleek and sassy ball-winders, take the opportunity to go a little low-tech............

Embrace the Dirter!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alchemy of another kind

Kitchen alchemy to be specific! I know, I know, there are so many knitters that don't cook, or cook as little as possible. Time is short, there are rows to be knit and being in the kitchen just doesn't cut it. Well, not so fast there gentle Blitter* (a Blitter* is a knitting Blog reader). Well spent time in the kitchen actually goes a long way!
  • Good food to eat
  • Points scored with your family and/or special person
  • It is relaxing if you try to enjoy it!
I am one of the last remaining dinosaurs on the planet who actually majored in Home Economics in college! The upside of this little known fact is that I can cook well and do it quickly, and that I really am a superb nurturer. The down side is that when you are known to be a good cook, people actually expect you to do it! Go figure! If you choose to cook just a few wonderful, indulgent items those that share your life will actually give you more time for those things you love, may even barter off chores you hate for yummy treats, and they will just rise up and call you blessed if you deliver a few well timed specialties!

I recommend Decadent Chocolate Cake! It is almost as easy as putting together a mix, the sounds from the kitchen will make you a fan club, and best of all, you will love it. Think of it as the ultimate treat when you have finished a particularly difficult pattern on the sweater you are working on----- or as a carrot at the end of the stick when you have to work the Kitchener stitch, or even as a treat just because you by golly deserve it!

I baked said Decadent Chocolate Cake today. I could be totally knitterly and say that I baked it in honor of the Yarn Harlot's birthday, but I did not. I actually baked it to score some bartering points with my neighbor, who also wants to learn to knit. I think of it as well spent time, AND I get the benefit too! Give it a try, tell me how you like it! Let them eat cake!!

Decadent Chocolate Cake

2 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cups of really good dark cocoa
1 3/4 cups of flour, all-purpose
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of whole milk (skim works if you don't have whole)
1/2 cup of veggie oil
2 large eggs
1 cup of very hot coffee (microwave it if you need to)

Preheat the oven to 350
Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans

Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the very hot coffee noting that the cake batter will be of a thinner consistency than you might be used to.
Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and slide into the preheated oven. Bake 30-35 minutes until a cake tester (wooden pick, or even dry spaghetti) comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Let cool.

Killer Frosting

6 tablespoons of really soft butter
1/2 cup of really good cocoa
2 2/3 cups of confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup of whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla

Beat the butter. Combine the sugar and cocoa and add it alternately with the milk, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla. Beat until it is nice and creamy and ready to spread, you might have to add a bit more milk if necessary.

Frost and wait for the adoration to begin!

In other good news of the day, Knitting Daily finally went live. The site from Interweave has been long awaited by many and looks like it is going to be an excellent offering.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two socks make a pair & Miscellaneous Guilt

Unless I begin knitting for those with one foot instead of a pair I think I'm going to have to learn to deal with One Sock Remorse. I look so happily on my one completed sock, then I think ACK, I have to knit a twin. Double ACK. I have to say that this time is the worst case of Solo Sock Syndrome I have experienced to date. I think I have few options:

  • ignore it entirely and don't make another
  • cast it on immediately and just plow through it
  • start another project and come back to the orphaned sock
  • take a nap
  • eat M&M's

I can't eat the chocolate, it will set me off into a self pitying splurge of guilt. Ignoring my sock plight generally doesn't work for me, not does the opposite go go bunny idea. (I'm either black or white, go or stop, there just isn't too much in the middle for me). I would LOVE to start my wee sweater. Really. But frankly, I'm afraid if I do that I will never come back to this sock.

It is sort of new for me to even be contemplating that it is OKAY on some level to leave a project half-finished. Maybe it is a new me? A new phase? I'm not sure what it is but know that I'm crankily working it out.

The photo above is my new baby. I collect sewing machines and this one found it's way into the house last night. Lucky me, I had a friend who called to GIVE it away. Her friend was cleaning out the attic and didn't want it, did I? Of course I did, you can never have too many for no other good reason than just because. It isn't a Featherweight or anything, but it is a lovely machine in good working order. The pic is from that artsy angle dontchaknow....I really should have given you the full view. I don't know why I commented on the functionality of the machine, I mean it isn't like I'm going to USE it or anything. I'm going to dust it and enjoy looking at it. Well, okay I'm not exactly going to dust it either, at least regularly. Because I have a new machine that I didn't have to pay for I think that means I can take a trip to Etsy. (I know you agree!) There is a butterscotch yarn that would look scrumptious on tootsies! Of course, there are dozens of other options as well. What I should be doing is marching in to get that other pair of socks underway.

I'm not a great 'Social Knitter', are you? It seems that knitters divide into two camps, those that take their knitting everywhere and knit whenever they have a spare second and those that only knit when they are properly ensconced in their own little castle. I share citizenship with both continents, I carry my knitting everywhere (mostly because my knitting bag is so dipdog cute!) but I don't knit "with people". You know. I don't have the luxury of long meetings where I can knit and purl away, most of my work is not really Knit Friendly. And then when I'm with people, I always feel really guilty that I'm not gazing into their eyes in rapt attention. Sort of like Solo Sock Syndrome Guilt.

I really should get over it!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stitch Pattern Subjects

(image Lion Brand Yarns)

I admit it, I love looking at complex stitch patterns. I was even more in the mood because of a TiVo'ed Knitty Gritty from last week that featured some great and complex stitches by guest Lily Chin. Lily (of fastest crocheter fame) had some wonderful knit swatches that were truly inspiring. In the barrage of e-mail, among them was the weekly blurb from Lion Brand Yarns, a girl can never have too much knitting inspiration after all! Their stitch of the week was the "Ring of Fire", shown above. I have just the place for this.......... of course that project is pretty far down in the list! Just for the sake of remaining friends, shall we agree NOT to discuss 'The List'? You know, I won't talk about yours if you don't talk about mine. Really and truly, it does all work out for the best this way!

Ring of Fire: (thanks Lion Brand)

(worked over 12 sts)


Rows 1, 3, 17, 19, 21 and 23 (RS) K3, [p1, k1] twice, p1, k4.
Rows 2, 4, 16, 18, 20 and 22
P3, [k1, p1] 2 times, k1, p4.
Row 5 Sl 3 sts to cn and hold to back, p1, k1, p1; k3 from cn., Sl 3 sts to cn and hold to front, k3; k1, p1, k1 from cn.
Rows 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 K1, p1, k1, p7, k1, p1.
Rows 7, 9, 11 and 13 P1, k1, p1, k7, p1, k1.
Row 15 3 sts to cn and hold to front, k3, p1, k1, p1 from cn., Sl 3 sts to cn and hold to back, k1, p1, k1; k3 from cn.
Row 24 Rep row 2.
Rep rows 1–24.

Note: this is a generic pattern for creating this cable. For a single cable it would be 12 stitches. In the example shown, there is one repeat of the stitch with 12 stitches are on either side, so you'd need to cast on 32 (12 + 12 + 12) stitches and knit 12 stitches before and after the pattern.

opposites attract

Click for explanation and illustration

cn = cable needle sl = slip
k = knit rep = repeat(s)(ing)
k2tog = knit 2 together RS = right side
p = purl WS = wrong side
st(s) = stitch(es)

I think I have narrowed my selection down for that baby sweater I've been going on about lately. Yes, I'm going to have to knit Babies and Bears (but please tell me what YOUR go-to sweater pattern for wee ones is) and I have found a luscious blue in the stash. I would be happy to tell you what it WAS exactly, but....... sigh........... somehow the band from the ball has been stolen in the dark of night by marauding sprites that live to keep me in the confused and quizzical state. Suffice it to say that I am 80% sure that is what I will use. The other 20%? Of course it is absolutely necessary to go to the LYS just to be sure. After all, I would not want to cheat my niece or the darling little one from a sweater that is even MORE fabulous, now would I? Of course not. And, if I happen to purchase another yarn entirely for yet another unnamed project, well that is okay too. I'll just tuck it away for another day! To use or just to own, it is all perfectly lovely!

No Men Please

I miss spinning terribly, I really do! I actually think about it a lot, how it feels when the carded fleece feels when it passes through your fingers in it's way through the wheel, the soft and rhythmic sound of the process of spinning, the state of mind that can define peace----- yes, spinning! My first foray into spinning was 28 years ago when I was living in South Jersey, back in the days before Bruce was Boss. I found the then sleepy town of Mullica Hill and a shop there that gave spinning lessons, among other interesting things. So I learned all about fleece and purchased one, picked up a pair of curved back carders and set out to sort, clean, card and make ready my fleece for spinning. I was infatuated! After only one lesson on the wheel at the shop I knew that I was going to have to purchase one and I settled on a lovely Ashford Traveler. Not then (nor now) being known as a technical or assembly required girl it was an effort to put that baby together, but oh it was a thing of beauty when completed. My first efforts were clunky chunkies but I loved them. By the time I got through that fleece I had dyed wool, spun lovely yarn in several weights, plied colors and generally become a Spinner. The clunky chunkies became parts of my handweaving, I had a floor loom that made my heart sing then too. The finer yarn became sweaters, scarves and socks, and one fabulous lacey shawl that lives in my memory in technicolor. I hauled that wheel everywhere, it traveled with me for a year when I felt as if I lived on the road. The wheel came into many a hotel room with me and the hotel maids would giggle at the places I found to hang the washed yarn.

I do not own a spinning wheel any more, how deeply sad is that? For many years I lived in Hawaii and fleece and spinning was far from my mind, seemingly impractical. The Ashford did reside in my sewing/craft room, while the Louet floor loom had been sold, sadly not to have made the trip across the Pacific. My beloved Ashford met it's untimely demise one day at the hands of the man that was in my life at that time. Horrible really, that a human being would be such a twit to find breaking things that meant a great deal to me such a pleasure. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was shocked, amazed, hurt, angry, and more (as you can imagine). But then it is why he's an ex, and quite happily so.

I am currently (and forever more) man-less. My children have grown up into lovely people (even though they frown on the possibility of their Mother getting a tattoo) and I have entered into a time that is mine. That is not to say that I think everyone should give up men, this is no more true than the fact that everyone should only knit green socks! It's all about the love, about what works for us as individuals and how we accept and support each other. Isn't it great that knitters as a community are generally such fantastic people?

I think that someday I will own another spinning wheel, it's probably in my future. I really am not wild about the use of drop spindles, somehow this klutzy woman has an awful time with them. So I'll just continue to daydream about spinning, maybe I'll even go to Border's today after work and pick up Spin-Off. Or maybe I'll just finally finish that sock and move on with it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

and on it goes

I don't know why in the world I decided to knit these on a size 3 needle.............. it seemed like such a good idea at the time. My recipient liked the swatch, it was 'birkenstocky'............ but to be honest I think I'd be happier with them on a 2. Oh well, we don't always get what we want now do we?

Off today, I love it-- even though it means less puttering than I'd like. I dug out my favorite babies sweater pattern, it is just so earthy, so Elizabeth Zimmerman-esque! It is "Cottage Creations Babies & Bears Sweater". Of course, since this is an indie pattern house and I purchased it back in 1990 I Googled them to see if they were even still around. Well, I didn't find a website but I did find the complete gamut of patterns listed on quite a few websites, Babies & Bears among them. I'm still rather singlemindedly pursuing a baby knit.............

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Old Enough

Happy Saturday to the 'blitters'................ may you find lovely weather, abundant health, enough in your coffers to keep you in yarn, and with time to knit! Who could add more to such a blessing?

Thanks to Dharmafey from Socks in the City for the amusing comment on the blog! Yes my dear, I think that in my experience almost all knitters (and creative sorts in general) have very short attention spans---- and yes isn't it wonderful that we are so easily distracted by pretty yarn and the like? Giving up sleep......... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it is hard to recommend, yes it is. I am probably old enough to be your mother (a young mother, don't get me wrong) and sleep is just flat highly overrated! When I was young I could sleep until my tiara tarnished----- and now, I log about 5 hours a night. Mind you, I'm not terribly productive at midnight, but I am awake! Perhaps it is not the giving up of sleep that will add stitches to my needles but something along the lines of better late night focus??? Of course I could give up walking, that would add about an hour and a half back into my day! That won't work because it is the time I listen to knitting podcasts after I have sufficiently sweated myself silly with fast paced intervals of huffing and puffing, as well as just time to clear out the work and breathe in the abundance. Thank you blitters for having the graciousness and ultimate kind hearts not to mention that my walking is to make my butt smaller. We all cling to our own realities!

As I walked home today I listened to Lime and Violet------ good silly banter for tired legs. I was reminded again that I am old enough to be their Mother. Their young and sexy, tiara wearing mother. The sign up list starts here girls, who needs a Mum? Advice...... chatter, laughter.... no judgment, ahhhhhhhhhh!

I have such a hankering to start a baby sweater! My favorite niece just had her first child, a sweet little blue flavored baby--- adorable! I have been thinking of exactly what to make him, and going through piles of patterns, clippings, and envelopes. I'm getting close to narrowing it down and have promised myself NOT to fall back on my very favorite baby sweater in the world, I need to expand my horizons no matter how much I adore it! While walking today (sweating profusely and red faced puffing) I passed a (young) Mother (thin) running (!!!!) behind one of those fancy schmancy sleek baby strollers with her iPod on. I wondered if she was listening to a knitting podcast, and judging by her expression decided that she was probably not. I smiled and waggled my fingers at the darling hat-wearing baby. As we passed each other this most amazing, lovely fragrance wafted past me! BABY! Fresh, clean, powdered, incredibly fantastic baby smell! Delicious! I then laughed out loud, and thankfully didn't trip over my own two feet when I wondered if in my walking wake the baby didn't wrinkle up her cute little nose and think--- GAK, what an awful smell from that walking woman!!!

I'm getting very excited for my Knitters Virtual Vacation------ I'm thinking of all sorts of wonderful things with which to spoil my knitter, well besides the obligatory tiara of course! :) I got a good laugh from Hapagirl who commented that she was not to blame for getting me into this! How, she asks is SHE to blame??? Oh dear Hapagirl (my own daughter is a hapa girl), in a late night (why I am not needlelifically productive) knitting blog roam I found you and because you had your questionnaire up I followed the link and, well here we are. I think we shall rephrase from BLAME to thank!

I have gotten precious little knitting done the past couple of days, much to my slight crankyness. In my working life I'm the Creative Director for a wedding photographer and I've been up to my ears in brides. This is (as you can imagine) not always easy nor stress-free! Today's bride should be delightful, at least this is again my reality and I'm clinging to it. I did get my socks a wee bit further along after a bit of Reverse Knitting. Remind me again how much lovelier circular needle knitting for socks is????? I got all discombobulated after turning the heel, don't ask me how. Please! But after a trip to see my friend Sandy at Knitorious I think my head is turned back around now. I will be knitting away after the wedding today, you can count on it. Bet I get to that baby sweater soon too!!! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Virtual Vacation

Okay, I admit it! I LOVE SWAPS!!! Over the years I have swapped strips of themed fabric each month, yarn, scarves, etc. LOVE IT! It is so much fun it makes me grin just thinking about it! If you are a knitter that has not swapped goodies, I recommend it highly! This particular swap matches you up with someone anywhere in the world, and you send (and are sent) at least one skein of yarn, edible yummies, and things that tell the story of where you live/what is unique about your city/state. Fun yes? All you need to do is to go to and send an email that says "I'm In" and fill out the questionnaire on your blog or by email if you are blogless. (Are there knitters that don't have blogs? I think not!) My questionnaire follows:

1. If you could visit any state in the US, which would it be and why? Montana. I've only driven through (once) and I found it tremendously appealing. The wide open spaces, miles of sheep, etc. Mind you, I only want to go in the warmer months of the year!

2. If you could visit any country in the world, other than your own, which would it be and why?
ITALY! I am desperate to go to Italy, it is so beautiful. We don't even need to mention that there is pasta and a language that sounds very Contessa-like!

3. Have you ever driven across several states/providence/countries? Yes. I drove across the U.S. 10 years ago from Florida, up the east coast to Virginia, across the mid-section of the U.S. and up and across to my final destination of Seattle.

4. Have you ever visited someplace you consider exotic? Where was it? Korea.

5. What was your favorite "travel" vacation? Why? Australia and New Zealand via LAX, with a stop on the way home on Maui. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, what's not to like?

6. Have you ever played tourist in your own home city/state (if international, country)? Explain.
I play tourist in every city I've ever lived in when friends and family come to visit. I think it is the best way to show others the sites.

7. Are you a museum visitor, beach comer or an amusement seeker? Beaches for me! I don't take off my tiara when I go, but believe me--- it is my favorite!

8. What's your favorite type of yarn? Sock yarn! Seriously, it would have to be wool, if socky-- then superwash.

9. What's your least favorite type of yarn? Sparklies or acrylics.

10. What items do you like to knit/crochet? Socks, bags, wraps, a sweater or two. I want to try my hand at mittens to wear walking this winter.

11. What do you pack, knit/crochet wise when you go on vacation? You can't beat a pair of socks. Something that you can just 'drift' with, not have to think too much about pattern, etc.

12. What other crafts do you do/would like to do other than Knit/Crochet? I am a reformed quilter, and I do love to hang out in the sewing room even though nothing of consequence has come out of there in some time.

13. Are you allergic to anything? (Yarn wise or treat wise) No allergies.

14. What is your favorite color? Least Favorite? My favorite color would be RED and my least favorite would be orange.

15. Sweet or Savory (Treat not personality)? Sweet. NO, savory! On second thought, sweet, but when it comes right down to it........................ :)

16. Anything else we are forgetting to ask that you think your partner desperately needs to know? Not really........... and despite the moniker, I'm down to earth, funny, and generally love life!
And, just so you know (Questionnaire aside) I am still lusting after that tattoo!!! Seriously, what in the world has come over me??? During my walk today I thought a lot about it and to see if I could take my mind off of it, on the way home from work I went to one of my favorite yarn shops. I spent money, I relaxed, I enjoyed. Still I lust. I'm beginning to wonder how long it will be before I succumb!

I am still working on my socks.............. they have not had a lot of attention from me in the past couple of days, well, not as much as I would like anyway! When I get to the grafting part I just get sort of cranky.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Underachiever--- who me?

I never thought of myself as an underachiever, it just never crossed my mind! I did the High School and College thing in 6 years, married, had children while working or generally running my world, engaged in many activities and of course knitted my way through it all. On my walk today I re-listened to the first podcast from Socks in the City. I said 're-listened' because somehow I forgot to load my iPod this morning before heading out the door and other than the BompBompBomp of the walking music I had precious little to listen to. I love Socks in the City, it is fun and gentle, inspiring and humerous. Carrie Berocco (dharmafey) does a great job with her podcast ( (there are 7 installments with show notes to date) although she makes me feel completely inadequate! I recall the first time I listened to her sock focused podcast, I thought she was engaging and did make me want to knit a heckuva lot faster so that I could get more done. The second time through I realized that this woman knits her doggone pants off and I by comparison am a slacker. A SLACKER! Imagine if you will, me pounding down the sidewalk through the lovely park knowing full well that no matter how I try I will not belong to over 6 knit-alongs and sock exchange groups, with several different things on my needles.

That brings me to dealing with the knitter I am----- while I believe that owning many different yarns is not hoarding but building stash for a rainy day as well as contributing to the worldwide knitting economy---- projects are generally meant to be finished in the knitting world! Two projects at once, that is my limit or I just lose all semblance of a productive working life much less keep up with mundane yet necessary things like laundry and dusting. (If you thought that the Contessa had STAFF for such a thing, please continue on in your reality!) One project that requires a bit more mental and effort and concentration, and one that is an easy socialize while you knit sort of thing. Quilts are another story in production and I hold fast to the notion that there can be many, many tops in production that may never see completion at all, sigh.

I'm going to have to ask how she (or anyone.....) does this? Is she uber organized? Does she have a short attention span? Is she one of those women who is able to Do It All? Or in fact, does she give up sleep?

I'm turning a heel today on the socks on my needle and am mentally planning a 'fluff project' for my friend the Thin and Trendy one. It is a little shoulder shrug knit in a chunky glitzy yarn with a contrasting glitz woven through the holes. I'm thinking that it would be fabulous knit in a black glamour yarn with faux suede for the emphasis.

Apparently it is okay in my world to plan a million things as long as they are not executed. That brings me to the image today, a very Zen pond at a favorite getaway in Asheville North Carolina. Maybe if I concentrate on the peace and quiet I can just knit my socks and quiet my racing mind.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Deriving Inspiration

Yes I know... you're wondering how my walk was this morning after the bird poop incident. I was probably over-cautious and tried to avoid trees, which on my route is impossible. But after I relaxed the walk was wonderful and poop free. I really couldn't wait to get to the end of the walk so I could switch my iPod to listen to the podcast from Knit Picks. The installment I listened to today was about Continental vs. English knitting for the most part. I knit English because as much as I have tried I can't manage Continental knitting to save my soul! I agree with Kelley Petkun (of podcast fame) that Continental looks so much less conspicuous and it does look like less effort than 'throwing' the stitches a la English. Of course the thoughts that occur while I'm walking are always encased in those endorphins that cause the flush of "I can do that!" to happen quite easily. I guess that will be my goal, to try to 're-teach' myself to knit in the Continental manner. I've been knitting for many years so it may be impossible-- I have tried before and failed miserably.

The photos above are of my friend Danielle's new tattoo. Isn't it fantastic? "INSPIRE" is perfect for Nell, as anyone who knows her would agree wholeheartedly. You would never know that Nell is 22, she seems much older and is of course more responsible and mature than many of us. Okay, all of us. She does inspire everyone (and I mean everyone) she meets, the whole world just becomes her fan club! As she goes into the field of education she will inspire her students as well as the faculty she works with to be the best people they can be. And, I say with a laugh, because she is so doggone responsible she smiles when she says that 'just in case' her gorgeous ink can be covered up with a watch band! HA! She doesn't knit at all, nor does she want to learn, a fact that perplexes me at many levels. She does adore and appreciate knitting but is more than happy to watch the activity rather than participate in it. I won't give up in my quest to teach her though! Let me just be honest and say that I love her tattoo so much that I want one. A lot. I think about it all the time as a matter of fact, I want to get in my car and go get one. I want mine to say something also unique and personal and ultimately defining. There are only two things that keep me from this, one is the fact that you can just imagine how dang much it hurt by looking at it (and Nell says it hurt more than you can imagine!), and then of course is the fact that it IS forever. Like always. My kids would not rise up and call me blessed they would add a few words of their own to describe their Mother that go way beyond weird.

Of course, that is three things. And come to think about it, why should I start caring NOW that my kids thing I'm a titch odd?

I took a fabulous felted bag OFF my needles last night! Okay, the felting came after the casting off of course, but let me tell you, it is great! I am a late night internet shopper and somehow when I'm tired and mesmerized by the glow of the computer screen I am easily swayed. That is what happened when I found the cute knitted Denise bag patterns by Cat Bordhi. ( Being the owner of Denise needles and loving them (in addition to my Addi Turbo's in the sizes smaller than my Denise kit), I thought that the pattern was perfect and I ordered it. The yarn is Fleece Artist Hand Dyed Blue Face Leicester Aran in the colorway Tiger, a warm meld of tuscan gold, oranges, greens and yellows-- really yummy. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of knitting the bag, it was easy enough to really zip through and yet the applied I-Cord around the handles and top of the bag were a lot of fun as well. I'll be putting in my zipper and pocket later on and ready to use my cute little bag. I think it needs a felted flower or two, we'll see! The whole project has inspired me to knit a felt hat so if you have any favorite patterns or ideas please let me know.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Flying Feet

It is a sad thing to think about, but no less true. At a certain age (which the Contessa most assuredly IS), the body needs to be fed less and exercised more. After all, knitting which is the grand passion of life is rather a sedentary sport! So, I get out of bed early in the morning and walk. Let me clarify that to say that my early may not be your early, nor the early of many people around the world--- my early is 7 a.m. By the time I feed my dogs, who thankfully do not shed enough hair to spin into yarn and get out the door it is about 7:45. Or so.

Today I laced up my shoes and stuck a claw in my hair to keep my bangs out of my sweat, slung my iPod lanyard around my neck and headed out the door. As much as I would love to say that I am very Zen about walking and keep pace with the sound of the click clacking of my knitting needles in my mind---- that would be silly. First, although I am a rather fast knitter, I am not fast enough to challenge my feet to shake some calories loose from the rest of me. Then there is the consideration that my needles are not loud enough. That is a good thing and it happened mainly when I began to knit like a Contessa, giving up those cheap inflexible circular needles that now drive me crazy. If knitting is a passion, then I believe that we owe ourself and our craft the very best in tools. Can you say Addi Turbo needles? Ah, I thought so! I am crazy about my Addi's, they are light, flexible, fast and oh so quiet. Not that the sound of knitting ever actually caused a distraction elsewhere in the room---- but the silence of said Turbo's really does allow for other thoughts to propagate nicely. I walk to Kathy Smith and her Walk Fit soundtrack, levels one through three. I'm on level one if you must know. Ms. Smith is older than I am, and to my sorrow is in better shape than I will probably ever be. I like to think that she does not spend any time at all in the lovely pursuit of creating rows of knit and purl stitches. With her voice and that beat in my ears I set out and have a wonderful walk for an hour. Lately I have added in an extra mile and a half or so because I've been having an enjoyable listen to various knitting podcasts. To the uninformed Blitters, google the topic for some interesting choices or start with one of my favorites at

This morning was a bit different however, I had rounded the block and was halfway to the park, the tempo (and my feet) were picking up the pace and I was ready to let my feet fly. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Early in my walk, before I have to hunker down and totally focus on moving my feet and pumping my arms or I will just melt into a puddle on the sidewalk, I usually give a thought or two to the project that is on my needles. So in that relaxed and up tempo state imagine my shock as I passed under a tree to see (and feel) an unavoidable splatter. It hit my forehead, ran down my nose and landed (in two spots) on my clean white t-shirt. The "it" was of course bird poop. BIRD POOP DAMMIT! I'd use the "F" word if I weren't convinced that it was very un-Contessa like to engage in it's use. Well, in public anyway. I was transported away from my Zen walk, the thoughts of my knitting, the plans for my day after my walk and other happy bits. It was absolutely disgusting. DISGUSTING. I used my sleeve to wipe off my face, gak----- and decided that I had no choice but to turn around and go home for a clean t-shirt. I'm sure I saw the neighbors peering out their windows at my now crap splattered shirt and having a good chuckle over their coffee and danish. Once changed with the offending item of clothing soaking in the sink I was off again.

I took the other way around the block just in case the bird was a juvie with a bad attitude and the penchant to inflict yet more pain and embarrassment. The t-shirt took two runs through the washing machine with bleach to remove the stain.

On my needles however lives such a pleasure! My first pair of socks! Well in many years that is, and not on 'those' needles. I finally succumbed to knitting a pair of socks on circular needles a la Cat Bordhi. The needles are 24 inch size 2's in my beloved Addi Turbo's, and the yarn is a self patterning creation from On Line. I tell you that yarn is just a miracle the way it gives the look of a zillion bobbins of yarn and much greater concentration than the 2x2 rib I'm happily knitting away on. Using the two circs for the first time was a bit troublesome, but I'm proud to say that now they feel quite comfortable and I think I'm quite happy to leave my double-pointed's behind.

I can let the nightmare of the bird poop get behind me more easily if I don't know for a fact that Kathy Smith knits so if you know this fact, maybe you shouldn't let me know? Wikipedia tells me that she is 5'9" and weighs 135 pounds and really---- I just can't take anything else!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Knitting Contessa

Another knitting blog? Among so many? And the answer is of course, there is always room for another voice an additional blessing.

The Knitting Contessa adds her voice of passionate and sometimes irreverence---- bits of humor, questions, comments and always honest chatter to the blogging community of knitters---- the Contessa welcomes her Blitters! (1)

(1) Blitters- Blogging Knitters: Crazy, spunky, interested, worldwide creatures who create fabulous things with yarn and needles