Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hunter Socks!

I finished Hubby's Hunter Socks! And we had a little photo shoot today. ☻

Hubby's socks...

Me on Hubby's lap...


With Sarah, my shotgun (which was unloaded and pointed in a safe direction, with the safety on)...
Totally off-topic: OMG, I need to go on a diet after Christmas! Yikes!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Check out my new socks! These are the sockweight version of my Hunter Socks. I'm working on another pair of worsted weight ones for my Hubby. And I'm writing the pattern as I go. 
 And I took a three-day break from the Hunter Socks, to make this!
It's not my own design, though I did alter the pattern considerably. My mother-in-law made beautiful Christmas stockings for everyone in the family; Hubby and me, our kids, Hubby's sister and brother. But she passed away five years ago. Well, Hubby's sis just had her first baby in September. Since Grandma isn't around to make it, and every baby needs her own special handmade stocking, I made this one for her. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Patterns!

I've already talked about these patterns, so I'll make this a short post. 

Willow Carroldine is available on Knit Picks for $2.99.
 Cathie is also on Knit Picks, for $1.99.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

R and R Shawl

I finished my R&R Shawl sample!
 It took one intensive week of knitting, and seven skeins of KP Galileo, which I raved about in the previous post. I am in love with this yarn; it is so silky and soft and warm.
And the color is true in these photos; this is what "Luminous" really looks like. On KP's website, it looks much lighter. Not that I'm complaining; it's a gorgeous color. It just wasn't what I expected. I can't wait to see some of the other colors in person.

Oh, and again, these photos were taken by Angel. Her photography skills are really coming along. She managed to not cut my head off, and to get a few good shots as well. ☻

The election is only a week away! Get out there and vote for R&R!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yarn Review: Knit Picks Galileo

I haven't done any yarn reviews before, but I've fallen in love with this new yarn, and feel I must share.

Knit Picks recently introduced a new yarn: Galileo. It's a 50/50 Merino/Bamboo blend in a sport weight. I'm using it to make a large shawl. It's a wonderful yarn. It has the soft warmth of Merino and the silky coolness of Bamboo. The colors are terrific. I'm using "Luminous", which is actually a bit darker than the photo on the website; it's a rich teal. Galileo glides smoothly on the needles, and has great stitch definition even on the size 8 needles I'm using. I chose it because I wanted to see if it was similar to Caron Spa, which is a DK weight bamboo/acrylic blend. I like Galileo better, because Spa is a bit splitty, and Galileo doesn't have that problem. This yarn is $4.99 for a 50 gram ball. Considering the quality of the yarn, I think that is a very reasonable price. I'm going to save up and get enough for a sweater.

This photo is of my current project. It's not blocked, and the sun was shining on the piece. I'll post more pics of the shawl when it's finished and blocked.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cathie is done!

I finally finished my Cathie scarf! 
 I decided to make it a bit shorter than I usually do for scarves. It was supposed to be done three months ago. Now the pattern is finished, and in the hands of Knit Picks.

Here's a closeup:

And now I'm on to other designs. I'm almost halfway done with my R&R Shawl sample; and should have yarn waiting for me when I get home, to make Hunter Socks. I've got a friend proofreading my Willow Carroldine pattern before I send it in. 

If I knit fast enough, can I count it as exercise?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Willow Carroldine

I finally finished my Knit Picks sample of Willow Carroldine! It's named after my brand-new niece, whom I haven't met yet, but hope to later today or tomorrow.
I'm writing up the pattern now, hoping to get it submitted before the girls and I head to Kansas to visit my family. We're leaving this weekend, and we're very excited. ☺

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hunter Socks

Hubby was a little jealous that I'm always making stuff for other people. He wanted me to knit him something. Specifically, socks. For hunting. Now, Hubby has enormous feet, which is why I hadn't made him any socks previously. But since they're for hunting, he wanted them thick. I decided I could use worsted-weight yarn and knit them at a very tight gauge. I asked Hubby what color he wanted. Orange, of course! As if you would use any other color for hunting socks! And he wanted them to be long enough to reach to the top of his boots. He didn't want them to be too fancy. He would probably have been satisfied with plain stockinette socks. But I wouldn't.
I have made one pair of "boring"(aka stockinette) socks. They took for.e.ver. I didn't enjoy working on them. I set them aside several times, in favor of more interesting projects. But patterns for worsted-weight men's-size socks are hard to find. I found one, on Knit Picks. It was a free pattern, and I discovered why after downloading it. It was a basic sock recipe, more of a tutorial than a pattern. It left all the math up to the knitter. I get that some people like patterns like that, but I don't. If I'm going to have to do all the math myself, I might as well design my own pattern. So I did.
I came up with a single-color argyle design, and designed Hubby's socks. Each sock took two skeins of Knit Picks Swish Worsted yarn. They turned out a little goofy-looking, as I adjusted the argyle design halfway through, but they'll do for the design proposal.
Now I'm working on tweaking the design and writing up the proposal. I'm going to write it for both worsted-weight in men's size, and sock-weight in women's size. I think I'll request green yarns, since they don't have anything that looks like camouflage...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

R and R

I've recently found my knitting mojo, which had been on a little hiatus. I'm hanging on tight to it, so it doesn't go walkabout again. I had a design idea that had been bouncing around in my brain for a while, and I finally decided to put it into yarn. I used Caron Spa, which is a bamboo/acrylic blend. I love Spa; it's so silky and comfy. I had five skeins of the colorway "Ocean Spray", which is a gorgeous light turquoise. Now I have one and a half...and a big, silky, warm shawl.
It's perfect for those chilly autumn days when you want to just curl up with a shawl and a book.
  I used similar construction to a triangular shawl, but made it with three sections instead of two. It stays on my shoulders much better, and has a lot more fabric to wrap around myself.
I designed this with Knit Picks' new bamboo blend in mind. I think it will look amazing in Galileo Yarn. The name of the pattern is R&R Shawl, and I sent in a design proposal to Knit Picks yesterday.

Now I'm back to working on my Cathie scarf, and my unnamed baby blanket. I need to get those two projects done before I start any more. I have chronic start-itis.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In defense of homeschooling.

I’ve been confronted recently by several non-homeschoolers, who seem to be offended by my decision to teach my own children. I’ve discovered, through these encounters, that I’m too polite. I stand there, quiet, and acknowledge their opinion and their right to it. But I don’t argue with them, because I’m not good at arguing. And I wondered this morning, whether my silence might be taken as agreement, an idea that horrifies me. Because I don’t agree. Not only do I not agree, I am offended by these nosy nellies, who think they’re going to convince me to abandon the choice I made after much consideration and prayer to do what they want. Well, guess what, nosy nellies! I won’t.

First of all, my decision to homeschool is not a condemnation of your decision not to. If you don’t believe you can, you probably shouldn’t. But know this, I have no more patience than you do…unless you have as much patience as my husband, in which case, I do. My children do sometimes drive me crazy, just like yours do to you, but that doesn’t preclude me from keeping them home and teaching them. In fact, I see it as a challenge. I will get through to them, and help them to become responsible. By the time they leave home, they will know how to behave properly in various situations; whether or not they choose to at that point is up to them. They will know how to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds; they are already more proficient at it than I was as at their ages.

I homeschool for many reasons, so the likelihood of your convincing me not to, based on one or two arguments is slim to none. I enjoy teaching my children. I love it. When their eyes light up and they say, “I get it now!”, it’s like no other feeling in the world. I have successfully taught three children to read, including myself at the age of three. My youngest daughter is in the process of learning to read now, and she is taking to it a bit more slowly than her sisters did. That doesn’t mean that I’m not succeeding, it means that we need to move more slowly. And we have the freedom to do that, because we have a classroom with three students instead of thirty. Each of my students can work at their own pace, without any stigma attached to taking their time. They don’t have to feel bored when they finish earlier than their classmates, like I did…or take that extra time thinking up trouble, like my brother did. Yes, my siblings and I were in public school for a period of time, so I know whereof I speak when I talk about the drawbacks of the public school system.

I attended public school for six years. In that time, I had some good teachers, and some bad. Miss G, my first grade teacher, was very understanding when I let her know on the first day of school that I could already read, and had been doing so for three years. She gave me more challenging books, and essentially let me work independently, so that she could focus on the students who needed more help than I did. I loved Miss G. Mrs H, my second grade teacher, was not as understanding. She saw me as just one of many students, and didn’t have the time or inclination to give me more work. So while I did still learn because I was determined to do so, I wasn’t as encouraged as I had been in first grade. I call Mrs H an average teacher. My third grade teacher, Mrs C, was one of the bad ones. She routinely lied to parents about what she was teaching their children. She had everyone do exactly the same work, regardless of whether they needed to spend more time or less time on a subject. She had certain students to whom she showed favoritism. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs W, was fresh out of college, and had never been a teacher before. She seemed overwhelmed by the size of the class, and while I’m sure she did her best, she was out of her depth. I call her an average teacher; my mom calls her one of the bad ones. My fifth-grade teacher, Mr G, was the worst one I had. He was very much into “New Age” and Native American religions, and he felt it was his job to teach these to his students. He was more concerned with students’ penmanship than with their understanding of math and science. In fact, he threatened to hold back any students whose handwriting didn’t meet his standard, which was very high. I don’t know whether he actually did; I barely got a passing grade in penmanship. My sixth grade teacher, another Mrs W, was an excellent teacher. She encouraged students to do extra-credit work, and spent extra time with those who needed it. Strong work ethic was rewarded in her class.

When I was in sixth grade, my little brother was in third, and was assigned to an experimental combination class “taught” by two co-teachers, one of whom was the same Mrs C I’d had in third grade. My mother stopped by that class one day to take T to a dentist appointment, and was shocked to see sixty third, fourth and fifth grade students in an uproar and not a single teacher in the classroom. The room was chaos, and it was a while before the teachers returned from wherever they’d been. Mom decided then and there that T would not stay in that class if she had anything to say about it. She requested that he be moved to a traditional third grade class, of which the school had two. The principal refused, saying that there was no room in the other classes. My mother responded by taking T home, and teaching him herself. After three weeks, the principal “found” room in one of the classes for T, and my mom graciously returned him to the school to finish out the year. But she and my dad remained unimpressed with the school, and discussed taking all of us out of it. They informed us near the end of the summer, that none of us would be going back, and that only my oldest brother would stay in public high school, because my mom didn’t think she could teach him what he needed.

My first year being homeschooled was difficult. I had been looking forward to going to middle school, so I was angry. I missed my friends. But as the year wore on, I realized that I did still get time to see my old friends. And I made many new friends in the local homeschool group. And I discovered that I was finally able to learn at my own pace, and enjoy learning. I remember that towards the end of that school year, or the beginning of the next, I read an article about homeschooling in the local newspaper.  It was mostly objective, but still managed to paint homeschoolers as weirdos who would probably have a hard time getting into college. With no prompting from my parents or friends, I wrote a letter to the editor, which appeared in the next week’s edition. I don’t remember all of what I said, but I won’t forget this line: “I’ve spent six years in public school, and one in homeschool, and I learned more this past year than all of the others put together.” My peers were amazed that I’d had the moxie to write to the paper. My parents were proud of me. My friends (of all ages) from church and the homeschool group were very supportive of what I’d written.

I was homeschooled until the end of high school. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college, and I didn’t know what I would want to study anyway. So I didn’t go to college. Sometimes I regret that. I wish I had been able to go. I had thought about going to a Christian college(because I am a Christian), but again there was the issue of money. I didn’t have any. My family lived from paycheck to paycheck, but at least we didn’t have debt, other than the house. I wasn’t willing to go deep into debt to spend four years figuring out what I wanted out of life. I have ideas now of what I would study if I had the time and money to go to college. Maybe when the kids are grown.  But the fact that I don’t have as much formal education as some people doesn’t mean I can’t teach my own children. I am fully aware that they may eventually need something more than what I can offer, but I don’t believe that putting them in public school full-time is the answer.

I got married young, and was a mother at the age of twenty. When my oldest child turned two, all of my local friends began asking me what preschool I would send her to. The suggestion that I would send my two-year-old away to learn letters and numbers, colors and shapes shocked me. So I started telling them that we were homeschooling for preschool. My husband thought it was silly, but went along with it. We didn’t have a bunch of money sitting around to use for preschool anyway, especially when anyone can teach their own child such basic things. When she was four, we briefly considered public school. We lived in a small town, which in some people’s minds means “excellent school”. But I didn’t want to give up that precious time with my girl. My husband agreed to “let” me continue homeschooling her for kindergarten, and said we’d consider at the end of the year whether we should continue. She learned to read that year, and by the end of the year(when she was five) she was reading chapter books, and becoming proficient at adding and subtracting. He realized that I was indeed succeeding, and that our daughter was learning more quickly than she would if she were in public school.

Now I’m homeschooling all three of our children, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We have a lifestyle of learning. Everything is a learning experience. Grocery shopping is an exercise in mental math. Driving to Grandpa’s is a chance to discuss safe driving, even though none of them are near the age to actually begin driving. Building a deck is a study in design, and a chance to become familiar with tools; just because they’re girls, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn to fix things and build things. Ants in the kitchen are a chance to do an experiment regarding the best way to eradicate them. Cooking together is an opportunity to learn about meal planning. Creating a garden is both design and science, as we learn about what different plants need to grow well.

To answer some of the silly questions we get:
·         -Yes, it’s legal. And we are following the laws for our state, regardless of whether we think the laws are overly restrictive.
·         -No, I don’t need a college degree in order to homeschool my children. I’m not teaching them college after all!
·         -If there’s something I didn’t learn in school or forgot since I learned it, I can learn or relearn it alongside my children. I am in fact “smarter than a fifth grader”.
·         -Yes, we do use curricula. In fact, we spend all summer reading reviews, planning and ordering our supplies ourselves.
·         -We don’t do this because it’s cheaper. In fact, it’s more expensive, because the taxpayers don’t provide for our needs.
·         -We don’t keep our kids locked in the house. We actually spend more time going places and doing things than your children do, because we have the time.
·         -Yes, our kids do have friends. In fact, all three of them are more outgoing than I am.
·         -Yes, we do sometimes homeschool in our van.
·         -We do occasionally stay in pajamas all day, but it doesn’t happen very often.
·         -No, we don’t “go easy” on our students and let them skate by with mediocre work. We actually tend to hold them to a higher standard, because not only are homeschoolers judged by whether they are on pace with their peers, we as their teachers are judged as well. People expect us to fail, so they’re watching closely for when we do.
·         -Yes, we do sometimes fail. Partly because we sometimes set unreasonable goals for ourselves. But when we fail, we think the same way as Edison when he was asked why he didn’t give up on his light bulb after failing so many times. We’ve just learned something that doesn’t work for us. We try again, or try a different way.
·         -Homeschoolers do not have a difficult time getting into college; in fact, colleges are very receptive to homeschoolers now. They’re realizing how well-adjusted most homeschoolers are, and how well they learn and adapt.

To answer some of the questions about “why” we do this:
·         -I don’t like that the public school has excluded religion, especially Christianity. In our school, we start with prayer and read our Bibles together each day, and nobody can object.
·         -I disagree with several of the things that are routinely taught in public school as fact, e.g. evolutionary theories and global warming and other liberal bravo sierra.
·         -The system is full of stupidity on the part of administration. For example:
          I'm sure more examples will come to light as the new school year wears on.
·        - I don’t believe that kids have to be bullied in order to be able to tolerate rude people when they grow up. I don’t tolerate bullying in our school.
·         -My children are each other’s best friends, and I love that.
·         -I don’t believe in segregating children by age; if they must be segregated at all, it should be by ability.
·         -I think children should be taught the basics, or as they were once called, the “3 Rs: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic”. Yes, I am aware that they don’t all actually start with R. Either way, public schools aren’t doing so well teaching those; our local school failed to meet the Federal standard last year, for the second year in a row.
·         -I think children should also have the opportunity to pursue their interests. My oldest daughter is fascinated by sharks, so she recorded almost all of “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel, and is working her way through the episodes. My middle daughter is interested in building things, so when I said that I was planning on building a playhouse for the girls at some point(probably next summer), she enthusiastically told me she would help, and drew up a few designs. My youngest daughter loves word search puzzles, even though she doesn’t take the time to really read each word she’s finding. The puzzles help her with thinking analytically. These are just a few examples of how I’m able to encourage their interests. If they were in public school, they wouldn’t have time for such things.
·         -If they were in public school, I’d be helping them with homework every evening anyway.
·         -I would miss them. Simply put, I’m not one of those moms who hates summer vacation and sings “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” when school starts up again. I enjoy being with my children, and taking advantage of teachable moments whenever they happen. If they were at school all day, and spending an hour or two every evening doing homework, I would get maybe two hours of just spending time with them before bed. I don’t think I’d enjoy that.
·         -I believe kids should be taught to respect others, and let’s face it, the school system fails miserably at teaching that, especially when it comes to respecting parents.
·         -Then there’s the all-important issue of peer pressure. There is no peer pressure in our school. I know, some people think it’s important for teens to deal with it, but the fact is they’re more likely to give in to it than to stand up to it. My kids don’t have to figure out how they “fit in”; they can just be themselves. I’m sure they will face peer pressure in sports and activities and such as they get older. Having had time to know who they are and what they think and believe, they’ll be less likely to give in.
·         -Along the same lines, there’s the problem of school violence. It doesn’t exist in our school. I don’t have to be afraid that someone will bring a weapon to school and put my kids at risk, or that they’ll get beat up on the bus.

To sum up: I’m not weird because I homeschool. I’m a weirdo who homeschools. I’ve been weird for as long as I can remember. I taught myself to read when I was three. I used to bring along my big Study Bible to first grade and lead Bible studies on the playground during recess. In third grade, I chose my best friend by looking around the classroom and seeing who looked lonely. Vanessa was a little slow and crosseyed, and so she was picked on by the other kids. I decided she needed a friend, and I would be it. Same thing in fourth grade; I met Amy, who had a swollen lip; it was a birthmark, and the kids teased her mercilessly. I stood up for her, and said whoever teased Amy would have a swollen lip to match. Luckily the threat worked, and I never had to make good on it, but Amy and I were best friends for two years until she moved away. I was weird in public school. I continued to be weird when I was homeschooled, and I’m still weird now that I’m the homeschooling mom. My weirdness is not because of homeschooling. And my kids are not destined to be weirdos because they’re homeschooled, but I’d be just fine with it if they were.

“Normal is just a setting on the dryer.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Theresa Nichole

My latest pattern is up!

Theresa Nichole is a tank top for girls. It's knit in Knit Picks CotLin DK, which is a wonderful warm-weather yarn. It's a fairly simple pattern; the lace hibiscus is the hardest part. So if you can knit lace, you can make this tank top! It includes even sizes 6-12. The one Angel is modeling is a size 8. The pattern is $1.99 on Knit Picks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

I’ve had an attitude problem for about a year. Last summer, my husband started talking about moving “back home”, which as far as I was concerned, meant “Siberia”. Okay, so it’s not actually Siberia; it’s North Dakota. Which, to me, is the same thing. I made him aware that I didn’t want to live in North Dakota; never had wanted to and never would want to. I hated living in the “middle of nowhere” when we lived in western Kansas. But my husband didn’t care. He’d made up his mind, and when my husband makes up his mind, his mind’s made up. So he found a job, we started the process of getting a house built, and we moved to Siberia. We spent the first 6 months living with my husband’s dad. We were very grateful to him for opening his home to us, but it was frustrating, for all of us. Before this, our visits had always been 1-2 weeks, and that was long enough in my opinion. I like his dad as long as we don’t talk politics, but 6 months of living in someone else’s house was, shall we say, less than ideal.

During those six months, I spent hours every day on the phone, coordinating builders and workmen, and trying to stay connected with our realtor back in Texas who was attempting to find a buyer for our home there. I detest talking on the phone, so this was no fun. And I’m forgetful, so I inevitably forgot certain calls I was supposed to make, even though I did my best to keep track in my notebook. And when I did, my husband would yell and complain, and basically act like a toddler. He expected me to handle everything having to do with the house, in addition to keeping our three children from destroying my father-in-law’s home, and this put a lot of pressure on me.

So…there I was, in the middle of nowhere, where I never wanted to live, forced to spend hours talking on the phone, and not even to people I liked. I was angry. All the time. And extremely resentful of my husband. He had thrown “our plan” out the window in favor of “his plan”. It wasn’t a postponement of our plan, it was a crumbling up and throwing away of our plan. And it hurt. He’d hurt my feelings in many ways before, but nothing like this. I was crushed. So I resented him with every little thing that bothered me.

Every time I drove an hour and a half to get to Walmart I grumbled and complained. And I did the same on the drive home as well. Every time I went to one of the two tiny grocery stores in town(ten miles away), I grumbled because there wasn’t any place to park in their postage-stamp-sized parking lots. And I grumbled because they didn’t always have what I wanted, so I’d have to wait until the next time I had a full day to drive to Walmart again. Every time I went anywhere, I grumbled because of the abundance of idiots on the road. And I still do sometimes, though I try not to.

And then there was church. I loved our church in Texas. It was awesome. The kids loved their classes, and I loved the worship services. The music was upbeat and worshipful. The pastor preached in blue jeans to make everyone feel comfortable regardless of what they wore, and his sermons were interesting, relevant and funny. Even when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and the whole church (about 7000 people) came together to support them and beg God to spare her life, it was easy to worship, easy to trust God. We knew He was in control, and that Laura would be healed one way or another, and she was. Miracles happened all the time in that church. Every week, people turned to God and confessed their need for Him. When we were worshipping, many times I was reminded of when Moses went up Mt Sinai and God told him to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. My husband sometimes looked at me funny when I bent to put my shoes back on after worship, but I didn’t care. I experienced God. It was easy when we were at that church.

When we moved, I dreaded church. I knew that there was no choice involved in where we would go. We would attend the church where our babies were baptized(something I didn’t and don’t believe in, but gave into for the sake of my marriage), where my husband and his siblings were baptized, where my father-in-law and his siblings were baptized. The style of the service was not at all to my liking. Stand up, sit down, recite this, read along with that. And then there was the “music”. I put it in quotation marks, because there were times when it didn’t resemble music in the least. Atonal hymns, with verses that could have been written by Yoda, so jumbled the sentences were. And the organist, bless her heart, played the best she could; she picked a tempo and stuck with it for the most part. Unfortunately the congregation(about 40-50 people on any given Sunday) was not any good at following, and they sang about 10 beats slower than she played. I swear, this church could turn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” into a dirge. And most of the church members were only there for the “important” services: Christmas, Easter, and whenever someone in their family was to be baptized. And then there were the sermons. I can’t tell you much about them because I had a hard time staying awake during them. The pastor preached in a pompous-sounding monotone, and never once said anything that I could use to change myself and draw closer to God. I found myself getting more and more depressed every Sunday. And every other day of the week as well.

What saved my life was a Christian radio station. My ten-year-old discovered that there was one, though the signal wasn’t great. I don’t like other kinds of music much, except for classical music, so I have one preset on my car radio, that Christian station. Sometimes, all I need is a good upbeat song like “This is the Stuff” so that I can sing along and car-dance like a crazy person. Sometimes I need to hear something about how deeply the Father loves me, or something about how awesome our God is and that there is no one like Him.

The song that changed my perspective was “Blessings” by Laura Story. I’d heard it before, even sang along back when we lived in Texas, because I thought it was a beautiful and poignant song, but not because I could really relate to the message. Now I can. I almost started bawling in the car when it came on, but I didn’t want to freak out my kids. And besides, I need to stay focused on the road with all those idiots on it.

What God said to me through that song was: “I know you hate it here, but this is where you’re supposed to be right now. It was easy for you to love Me and worship Me when you were in Houston. I want you to do it here, where it’s hard. I want to be your Everything still.”

I’m not saying that I’ve figured it all out, or that I love living in Siberia(or that I ever will), but I think I’ve found the reason God wants me here: to draw me closer to Him, to teach me to rely on Him alone.
And I admit, I’m still hoping He’ll want me somewhere else someday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Yes, I know, it's been weeks since I posted anything. That's partly because I took a few days off from knitting to do laundry and gardening and housework. And it's partly because my progress has been slow on the projects I have been working on. But I finally have an in-progress picture of my latest: Sydney Claire!  It's about 18 inches long, and I'm planning on making it about 40-45, so I've got a long way to go.
 It's a baby blanket for my newest niece, and it bears her name.  I'm using KP Brava (100% acrylic), which is better than most acrylics I've tried, but still acrylic. Which means it's not among my favorite yarns to work with. But since Sydney's mommy is not a knitter and probably won't have the time for special care fibers, since she has a special needs baby, I decided washability was more important.  Sydney was born almost 7 weeks ago, and just went home from the hospital right before Mother's Day.  She was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.  She'll have a lot of challenges ahead of her, but she's a fighter. And isn't she adorable??
My brother Steve and his wife Mandy are so happy to finally have their little bear cub(they're huge Chicago Bears fans) home! I've got to get this blanket done pronto, so I can go meet her!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grace Irene

My latest pattern is up on Knit Picks!  I know I've already posted about "Grace Irene", but now it's official.

The pattern is available here for $1.99.  This is a very easy pattern and it goes really quickly! I found it hard to put these down while I was working on them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Pattern!

My newest pattern is up! This is Sisterhood. It's my tribute to the Bunker Babes. I love y'all, ladies!
 The pattern is available here for $2.99.  
This is my most challenging pattern to date; it is definitely not a "beginner" level pattern.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Photo Shoot

We finally got a warm enough day for a photo shoot. After an early false spring, we got a couple weeks of cold, windy weather.  Anyway, here's a few of the pics we took today...

Princess, wearing "Grace Irene". I am aware that her tank is a bit low in front. I think I'm going to shorten the straps, then take some more pics.
 Here are Princess and Kitty, each wearing "Grace Irene". I wanted a shot that showed both the front and the back at once, so I made tanks for both of them.
 And last but not least, here's Angel, wearing "Theresa Nichole". This tank looks so great on her. 
I still need to decide what other sizes to include in the pattern. I don't want to go much smaller, since the hibiscus motif is so large. If I wrote the pattern for a size 2 or even a 4, the flower would be too big to be clearly seen.  So I'm considering going larger with the pattern, maybe including a 12 and 14.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A peek into my designing process

I'm working on my pattern "Grace Irene". 
It's a cabled tank top for little girls. I actually designed it a couple of years ago, but didn't keep notes, or do more than one size.  So I'm figuring that out now. 

I had to swatch, because I made the original in worsted weight and decided to change the pattern to work with DK weight. I wanted to use Knit Picks CotLin yarn, which is a nice cotton/linen blend DK yarn. So that was the first obstacle. 

Second obstacle: this yarn has no elastic whatsoever, so it doesn't respond like the cotton/acrylic I had used the last time I made one of these. So instead of being form-fitting, it's loose and drapey. Which is fine; I just had to adjust my expectations.  

Next hurdle: figuring out the different sizes. I had to choose a cast-on number that was divisible by 6, because I wanted to use a 4x2 ribbing. Then I had to figure out where exactly I wanted the cable columns for each size. I couldn't just pick at random, because I wanted them to go up the straps and connect in the back by grafting in pattern. If done right, the front and back should be identical.

I didn't do it right. I forgot an important detail regarding which way to cross the cables. They don't match up how I wanted them to. So this one definitely has a front and a back. I'm going to make another one so I can get this problem rectified. Fortunately, my test-knitter hadn't started yet by the time I discovered the issue, so hers will be right.

Even with the mistake, this turned out pretty cute, if I do say so. 

And now I'm also working on my next design "Theresa Nichole"...maybe I'll give y'all a glimpse in another post. I just had to frog and start over on this one, so I'm thinking it's going to give me a few problems too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Drive-by blogging

I've got my garden started inside!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Felted Potholders

I made some terrific felted potholders recently, but forgot to download the photos from my camera until today. So now I can give you the little tutorial I had planned on writing. Better late than never.  Of course, I forgot how many stitches I cast on. So technically, this isn't a pattern, just a how-to.

I used 100% non-superwash wool. It was Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (worsted) in a discontinued color called Tomato. I think I used a US8 needle.

I started with the tubular caston, and I used an even number. Here's a video tutorial by Ysolda Teague. But instead of doing ribbing after completing the caston, I knitted tubular stockinette. The way to do that is to [Slip1, Knit1] repeat across. And every row is done the same way. I wanted square potholders, so I knit long rectangles, roughly 150% as long as wide. When I felt they were long enough, I used the tubular bindoff. Here's a written tutorial by TechKnitter. I started where she says "Phase 3: Grafting". You can see the measurements of the potholders in the photo below.
 Being relatively inexperienced at felting, I wasn't sure how well these tubular rectangles would felt. I was afraid that the two sides wouldn't felt together to make a nice flat piece, so I basted them with sewing thread. Not sure whether that was necessary, but it didn't hurt.
 Then I ran them through the washer with some jeans. Twice. I have a front-loader, so it doesn't agitate much. They didn't come out perfectly square, but I think they're close enough! So I pinned them out to dry. Here's the after-felting pic:
 And then, since I didn't want plain, boring potholders, I crocheted some tiny snowflakes out of white laceweight wool. After blocking them, I needle-felted them on to the potholders. I had never needle-felted before, and I enjoyed it. It was very easy, and I love the finished product.
 So there you have it: how-to make felted potholders.

In other knitting news, I finished the Sisterhood Blanket! The color isn't quite right on this pic. I'll take more pics once it's dry.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blanket in progress, and other projects

I'm currently working on another baby blanket. This one is a Knit Picks sample. I've written the pattern, and I just have to finish the blanket so I can take pictures. In the meantime, here's an in-progress pic:
It's the same design as the purple one: Sisterhood. It's my tribute to the Bunker Babes. I don't know who will be getting the blanket when it's done; maybe my sister-in-law, or my half-sister-in-law, if one of them has a girl. The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Tonal worsted. The colorway is "Queen Anne", which is a really pretty blend of pinks, peaches and light oranges. Reminds me of a sunrise. I promise I'll get some better pics to show off the color when it's done. 
It's about halfway done now. I just finished the second skein of yarn. Due to the cables and the shape, this blanket takes a lot of yarn: 4 100gram skeins of worsted wool. The Knit Picks people asked if I'd like to try their new acrylic (Brava) for this, but I declined. I really don't enjoy working with acrylics, so I only use them when I have to, and only on small projects. I told them I'd be glad to design something smaller for Brava.
Meanwhile, I'm working on two summer designs: a tank top with a lace hibiscus on the front and back, and a tank top with cables that run up the front, over the straps, and down the back. Both will be for children, though I may eventually adapt the ideas for adult sizes. I'm planning on using KP CotLin DK yarn for both; it sounds like a perfect yarn for summer clothes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I am posting from our new house. That's right, after two months, we finally have internet! We also have a phone number, which I'm going to have to memorize. But we don't have a phone to plug in yet; we haven't had a landline in about ten years. Hubby is going to stop at his dad's place on his way home and see if he has an extra phone lying around somewhere. Hubby pointed out that he wants the "old-fashioned" kind of phone; one that only plugs into the phone jack and not also into an electrical outlet...because if the power goes out, we wouldn't be able to use the one plugged into the outlet...and I just thought of this now: how in the world did we survive the past ten years without an old-fashioned landline??? Oh, that's right, we had cell phones. And we still do. I think we'll be able to deal with power outages just fine. Haha.

Anyway, I'm glad to finally have internet at the house. Driving to Hubby's dad's place to use his internet was getting old. The connection here is slow, since we're out in the middle of nowhere and the signal has to travel a long way. So that will take some getting used to. I've tested it out on Netflix, and I am able to watch streaming video, but I can't be on Facebook at the same time. And I can't surf other pages while a page is loading. Yes, I'm a multitasker, so this is annoying. But I'll learn to live with it, because I don't have any other option.

Well, I have to go plug in my laptop now, since I've pretty much drained it watching MacGyver. And I believe I hear Laundry calling my name...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Undercover Reader

My latest pattern, Undercover Reader, is up on Knit Picks!
This cover fits the basic Kindle, and should also fit other e-readers of similar size. It has a lot of stretch, so as long as the dimensions are close, it should fit.  The pattern is available here for $1.99.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Finally moved in!

We spent our first night in the new house! This is the sight that greeted us this morning...
Today we're packing and cleaning and doing laundry and packing and cleaning at Hubby's dad's place.  We have a lot of stuff here.  I had forgotten how much... Hubby left a little while ago with a full pickup load to drop at the house, and then he's coming back to help some more.  It's been a long day, and it's not over yet.

Back to work!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finished baby blanket!

Here's my second completed project for 2012!
I apologize for the bad photo; I'll take some pics outside later if the sun ever decides to come out.

I had to use a contrast color for the edging, because I ran out of the purple.  Fortunately, I had one skein of the same yarn in a lovely cream color, and it turned out to be just enough.  So I used four skeins of Paton's Classic Wool (3 in "That's Purple" and 1 in "Winter White").  The needles were size US8.  And I think I've decided on the name for this design: Sisterhood Baby Blanket.  This one is for my dear friend and Bunker sister Monica.  We're sisters despite the fact that we haven't met...yet!  Now that we're only about eight hours apart, we're going to have to meet soon. ☻

Editing the post to add this better picture.  You can see the cables much more clearly here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baby blanket in progress

As promised, here's a pic of my newest design!
It's about halfway done.  It's going to be about 40 inches wide at the points, since it's a hexagon.  It's close to 30 now, which is about the width of the other baby blankets I've designed, but they were squares.  This one looks like it's for a doll at 30 inches, so I must keep knitting.  I really like how it's turning out.  It's a pretty simple design, at least in my head... I started with the braided cable in the center of each panel.  As it grew, I added the rope cable that twists toward the braid, then another rope that twists away from the other one...then another braid, and more ropes....etc.  I think writing this one up is going to be trickier than knitting it.  It doesn't have a name yet.  I thought of naming it after the baby it's going to be for, but the baby isn't born yet, and doesn't have a name.  Unless this blanket takes another five months to make, I'm going to have to come up with another idea.

In other knitting news, I've been dealing with my UFOs.  I frogged the original swatch for the above blanket; it was a square, in a yarn that I didn't have enough of to make a blanket anyway.  I was just swatching, about a year ago, and hadn't ever done anything with the swatch.  So now I have a reclaimed ball of green wool, and an empty needle. ☻  
And I dug out an eyelash yarn monstrosity that I'd started three years ago.  Angel wanted a fun fur blanket in pink and purple stripes.  I had gotten three stripes done, and my hands said "NO MORE!" so I put it away for three years.  Finally, I told Angel the other day that I wasn't going to finish it, and it wouldn't coordinate with her new turquoise and brown bedroom anyway.  Fun fur does not like to be frogged, so I just bound it off.  I suggested it could be a doll blanket, but she decided to add a button or pin and make it a capelet.  Silly girl looks like a Yeti that someone threw koolaid on.  But it's out of my UFO bin!    And I gave her the leftover yarn.  
And sadly, I discovered that my white lace stole-in-progress was full of holes.  Apparently some evil insect found it very yummy.  I frogged most of it, but only recovered a small ball of yarn, as most of it came off in short, unusable pieces.  Fortunately, I hadn't gotten very far on it, and the balls of yarn in the ziploc didn't look like they'd been touched, so I should still have enough of that lovely laceweight to make a small shawl.  And I've started charting for that design...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

To welcome the new year, I present my first project, knitted entirely this year. ☺
The pattern is Twisted Tambini by my dear friend Andrea.  I used Paton's Decor wool blend in "chocolate", and US8 needles.  I'm considering making another one with smaller needles, because this is kinda enormous on my head.  But it'll keep me warm, and that's what matters!  I love this design.  The reversible cables on the brim were a bit tricky, since I'd never used that technique before.  The result is terrific, and I love how the brim cables transition seamlessly to the main body cables.  You can't see the crown of the hat in this pic, but that's okay, because I messed up somewhere in there, and couldn't figure out where, so I just faked it.  I don't think anyone will know unless I tell them.  Keep my secret, okay?

In other news, we have our stuff, and it's in our house!  There's still some organizing to be done, and lots of painting.  I started the painting yesterday, with Princess and Kitty's room; pink, of course.  Angel and I will do her room this morning; turquoise.  I'll do the bathroom and laundry room in the same turquoise, and then I'll have to calculate how much beige to buy for the rest of the rooms.  I'm thinking a five-gallon bucket of satin finish, and two gallons of semi-gloss...but I'm not going to just go with my guess.  Made that mistake before...

Anyway, we're still staying at my father-in-law's house, since we won't have tv service until the 12th, or internet until heaven-knows-when, and Hubby has forgotten how to live without those things.  But FIL has gone to his winter home in Arizona, so we have the house to ourselves, and we can take our time moving all of our stuff to our new place.

Hmmm...what else did I forget to post about while I was busy in December?  I turned 31, and Princess turned 7...Merry Christmas...we celebrated Christmas with Hubby's family, but at least I got to call my family.  The girls and I are planning on driving down to Kansas at the end of January to visit them. ☺

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: I started working on a new baby blanket design; it's about halfway done.  I'll post a pic in my next post.  I've got to run now; time for paint!