Listening to Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper" while it rains and ices.
The rough, rugged beauty.

Happy Holidays to everyone.


Holiday Rush

Whew! Really busy right now!

Was in London for work. Had a great visit with the delightful Ali! Such effervescence and charm. A truly wonderful addition to the universe. Meeting a great blog friend takes the edge off of an intense, week-long training program.

Thanks Ali! :-)

Not too much else to report on. Many confidential projects. Did finish this Christmas stocking for sweet little Diego.

Used my classic sock pattern with a center cable pirated from the Lana Grossa Bingo Chine "Turnbacks" (aka Legwarmers). A great, hearty yarn and a cable I really like.

Next time I'll add fewer stitches to the heel. I think it looks a tad thick. I'll also limit myself to one color of red. Think the bright with the heathered looks a little messy. Knit and Learn :-)

Hope you all are having Happy Holidays!


It's snowing this morning. Just enough to be lovely. Poor little Ham (our cat) isn't wild about it. He wants to be out, but he really prefers to be in. I've tried to tell him that all the mice are sleeping but he doesn't seem convinved.

Heading over to London today for a training program. Without my guys until Saturday. Will miss them like crazy.

Been emailing with Ali and think I might be able to buy her a belated birthday drink. I met Ali through Swap-bot. The Kids Cooking swap was my first and I really enjoyed putting together a package for her and her boys.

This will be my first meeting of a friend from the blogosphere. I'm feeling a lot of pressure to be "interesting". Think I'll just stick with being my regular self. Pretty sure Ali will be fine with that :-)

Since I won't be able to post this week, keep yourselves occupied with the pure genius of Cute with Chris. His blog is also fantastic.



"Have you been playing with Mama's camera?"

"No, Papa did."


Recent stash enhancement - all for Holiday presents. Two new skeins of Lorna's Laces, one DK and one fingering, and two skeins of Rowan Soft for the Lucinda Guy Mousies. I've already tried the intarsia version and hated it.

Today I hope to hit a new LYS for some bobbins that will make it easier. Any hints on how to manage the prone-to-tangling mess will be greatly appreciated.

So the real problem is that with the Holidays approaching, most of the items currently under construction require special security clearance for viewing. Sorry folks, no sneak previews here. Do not open until Christmas. That kind of thing.

That being said, there are a couple of friends who don't know about the blog so...

One pair of little socks for Baby Setsuko when she gets here in January. Made with Lorna's Laces Shepherds Socks, a delectable superwash wool. Improvments in this model include a cable cast-on. Not too hard too master and a great way to start a sock. Much more elastic than the traditional italian cast-on. And pretty.

Donna emailed that she got her Japanese Lunch bags. And speaking of swaps...

From the dishcloth swap. How stinking cute is this!!! Completely in love with it. It's destined for the sink today. My dishes will be so pleased.

And to close things out and begin to compensate for my recent absence, a meme (my first) pirated from the blog of my brother, the illustrious 10%. He's a total dream.

1] What is your middle name?

2] What color is your mailbox?

3] Are you available?
For what? I won't help you move, and I am happily married, so no. (answer stolen from 10%)

4] Have you ever hit a deer?
Grazed her

5] Do you have to drive over a bridge to get home?
Depends on from where I'm driving

6] Do you get the paper delivered to your house in the morning?
Only on Sunday - NYT and St. Paul Pioneer Press (really only good for the Target circular)

7] Who checks the mail in your house?
We all do

8] Do you have a small driveway?
Not by the standards out here in the country

9] Do you know anyone with the same ringtone as you?
Someone must. It would be too wierd if I were the only one in the world to choose that particular jingle from the limited range of options.

10] What do you do first in the morning?
Wake up

11] What brand is your printer?
Samsung for laser and Epson for photo

11] Have you ever shot at your neighbor or your neighbor's pet for any reason?
No - now ask my neighbor the same question. OK - he was really aiming for the chipmunk but our barn and tree-line were rained with buckshot. Call me picky, but I'm counting it.

12] Do you enjoy fighting with people?

13] Is your hair naturally straight or curly?

14] Who was your kindergarten teacher?
No idea

15] Are you taller than your mother?
Yep - but she's shrinking

16] Do you have a favorite word?
Really fond of munificent

17] Are you God?
Aren't we all? Namaste, baby.

18] What do you do to get over a broken heart?
Roll on the floor and listen to Hank Williams.

19] Do you have a deep dark secret?

20] Do you enjoy writing in colored pens?
Yes - really like green

21] Does anything hurt on your body right now?

22] Do you often cry during a movie?

23] Do you hate your life?
I love our life. I can't believe how fortunate I am.

24] Do you get mad easily?
No, but when I do I burn hot and fast

25] What is your biggest pet peeve?
I'm intolerant of intolerance. Haven't really figured out how to reconcile that one, either.

26] What is your away message?
Our 2-yr old and I left it. He's really cute.

27] Do any of your friends have kids?
A few

28] Who should pay on the first date?
It all evens out in the end

29] How many years older than you are you willing to date?
I don't think my hubby would appreciate me dating anyone

30] Do you have any friends?

31] Do you have any mean friends?
No, but sometimes my nice friends accidently do mean things

32] What is the ugliest color in your opinion?
It's all contextual

33] Have you ever liked someone who all your friends couldn't stand?

34] Have you ever felt like driving off a cliff?

35] Do you itch your ears?
No but I've scratched them (thanks 10%).

36] What brand are the pant/jeans you are wearing right now?
Katayone Adeli - they're my favorites and I fear they're wearing out.

46] Do you like your dad?
Yes, sometimes, however, I don't like his behavior.

47] Do you have any TV shows on DVD?

48] Are you wearing makeup?

49]Do you have a tattoo?
No, on a technicality. However, if the word were plural... :-)

50] Do you know how to draw?

51] Who is your hero?
My husband

52] Who did you last IM?
My husband

53] Do you work a lot of hours?

54] What do you do when you are stressed out?
Knit or drink. The two together can be disastrous

55] Who was the last person to call you?
My sister

56] Is there anything you regret?
Yes, but in the wise words of Poi Dog Pondering, "Thanksgiving for every wrong move that made it right."

57] Do you know where your family name originated from?

58] Is there an animal that creeps you out?
Can't think of one

59] What was the last thing you did for fun?
Building Lego towers with the little guy this morning

60] Last time you cried?
Listening to a Judd and Maggie song, but I wasn't sad


PxTx - the post-event-preview

A Halloween pumpkin for the road. Pay no attention to the unfinished deck project in the background . I'm sure completion is imminent.

Someone might mention to my husband that most people build decks out of wood and don't have 5000 lb granite picnic tables.

I'm bragging not complaining. :-)

Now that Halloween is over it really feels like we're launching into the Holidays.

Last night was "Practice Thanksgiving" (aka PxTx) - the annual event Julie and I host. This is an international blog (international blog of mystery) and I know that not everyone celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday. I offer, to you all, PxTx - a holiday where one practices preparing and consuming a Thanksgiving meal. You can also practice being thankful :-)

More later on PxTx debrief - menu and related items. Today, however, 2 year olds don't care if their Mama's go to bed too late or have a glass (or 3) too many of the bubbly. Thus I only have the energy for Nigella Lawson's "Cheesecakelets" for breakfast.

And a quick peek at a dishcloth for my dishcloth swap. Lots to pop in the mail tomorrow. Will report soon.


It comes as no surprise.

I adore my power symbol and may get one for myself for Christmas, in July.
BTW - I knew you would think that :-)

Your Birthdate: April 7

You are an island. You don't need anyone else to make you happy.
And though you see yourself as a loner, people are drawn to you.
Deep and sensitive, you tend to impress others with your insights.
You also tend to be psychic - so listen to that inner voice!

Your strength: Your self sufficiency

Your weakness: You despise authority

Your power color: Maroon

Your power symbol: Hammer

Your power month: July


Solid Ground

As promised, the Lorna's socks are complete!

They look great and feel even better. Holy Cow! Those are some big feet!

Love knitting socks so much. Started some for Viki's new baby. When little Setsuko arrives in January she'll have some sweet warm woolies to keep her piggies toastie.

SPOILER (Don't look, Donna):

Ready to ship a couple bags to the ever patient Donna.

The trouble will be choosing with which I can bear to part.

Really happy with how they've turned out. Bias tape and French Seams. Going to make another set out of the beautiful blues that Donna sent to initiate the swap. Tell me when you're sick of seeing these :-)

Next stop: The large handbag. The gathering may kill me.

AND: The Christmas List


I'll be back...

Taking the short one to visit his grands and great-grands.
Between that and the insane workload/travel schedule for The Job I won't be able to post next week.

I promise a fruitfull return of completed projects and carved pumpkins.
You know those socks will get done on the plane.

Please don't abandon me.


Oui, Oui, Oui!

Aha! Thanks to Sarah, total genius, for the tip. The solution to all my problems (if only): French Seams.

What a dream!! This is my first attempt and I'm so happy. Of course, this means that I've constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed these bags three times. Totally worth it, but I really don't want to rip anymore seams.

Super clean and super simple. No fraying edges. Stronger constitution. So glad I did this before finishing the "big bag" which will follow soon after.

Also trying to loosely baste the bias tape top edging before sewing it down. Then I'll remove the basting. I know that, technically, you're supposed to sew one side, then the other but want to (1) shorten the process and (2) have only one row of stitching.

Learned so much participating in SockWars. Made conceptual leaps of fundamental understanding and have been able to translate those learnings into real impact for future socks. These are of the Lorna's Laces Shepherds Socks.

Improvements include:
  • Picking up an extra stitch btw side and front needles for the heel gusset, doing an extra K2tog twisted to "close the gap"
  • Continuation of the rib (k3, p2) pattern across the top of the foot
  • Banded toe decreases
Wait till you see these puppies in action. Polished! I may be up to entering socks in the State Fair next year. So bold.

Certainly running out of days for taking photos out on the picnic table. It did snow all day last Wed and more is sure to come.

A couple of the fruits of our labor. Soons to be carved for Halloween.

Picked tons of winter squash and gourds today. Need a final herb harvest. Already saved the basil. Still have rosemary, thyme, and rosemary. Enough to keep all our friends in good seasoning all winter.


More lunch

Working on the lunch bags for Donna (and myself :)
The learning continues. This is a practice run implementing minor improvements before sewing the official swap bags. Improvements are mostly around the use of bias tape. Would love some feedback/tips on utilization.

Above is the finished bag in standing, tied position. Really like this presentation. Constructed with the fabric inside-out so the brightness is on the inside. The subtlety meshes well with the simplicity of the finished bag.

It's technically "wrong-side-out". I'm making those for Donna with the fabric "right-side-out".

Finished bag - standing and open. You can really see the contrast of colors interior v. exterior. Note bias tape on the internal bottom seam. Didn't use it on the side seams but will moving forward. In addition to a nice finish it should add just a touch more structure. Haven't quite figured out how to negotiate the intersection between tape and stitching.

Also don't know is how to well treat the bias tape ends. They're so "frazzly". Tips?

On the outer, handle edge I attempted to fold the tape under and sew it down. Amateurish. Is it an issue of practice or am I missing crucial technical knowledge?

Last night while watching "Zorro" (don't ask) and working on these I started dreaming of them on a larger scale. Hmmm...


Glorious Destruction

Thank you, Lady Cairean, for such a justifiable demise. Note the toe fuzz on the right foot. Already I've been wearing them like crazy. Such a lovely pattern. These are a righteous Aussie Merino. Feel like I should send the Lady a gift in return. Ideas?

I'll now begin work on the lunch bags for Donna (check out her chic new 'do'). Really looking forward to sewing them. I've envisioned some improvements.

Two bunnies have planned a sweets swap! One Nuttn and one Wierd. Should be good! We've got some wacky Minnesota specific stuff.

Had a fantastic NYC gals' weekend with two of my dearest. Tons of walking, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (with an unexpected Chili Pepper Festival), heavenly meals (Hasaki and Noodle Pudding are spots I never miss when I visit), and fabulous Vivienne Westwood acquisitions from the Century 21 location in Brooklyn. I'm so happy to be home...

Autumn really is upon us. One of the sugar maples in the front yard has lost all her foliage. Her brother is a little slower, but he's all golden now. The frogs are out. Every night I turn on the porch light, watch them climb the windows and graze at the ensuing moth buffet. It's a little stressful - I can't decide which side I'm rooting for :-)


Beautiful Weapons

Mailed to my target today. And I still live. Recent blog comment from my assassin warns of impending doom. Fear I won't last much longer *gasp*.

Apologies for the wrinkly sock above. Promise that it's as well formed as it's brother below. Notice the rain drops on the picnic table. Had to make quick flight to the indoors. The light in there just doesn't make for good photos.

Heading off to NYC for the weekend. Guilty about taking a trip without my hubbie and little guy. But not guilty enough to cancel :-) Thus, I leave you with some maple pecan muffins for sustenance until I return.


International Sock of Doom

Sock One is done. The Lorna's Swirl DK is an absolute dream to knit. After the tournament I may have to acquire additional for knitting a pair for home. :-)

Of course, I'm assigned a target with size 11 feet. Jeez! Very kindly she's already sent me her mailing address. Prepare to die!

Poor YarnMonkey's been having a time of it what with a hurricane harassing Belfast, techie troubles and 700+ eager knitters on her heels.

Keep the faith dearest Monkey. 1400 bare feet stand behind you :-)

Sweet (literally) choco cake in honor of sweet (figuratively) hubbies birthday. Used a ridiculously easy recipe from Nigella Lawson's FEAST. Just dump all the ingredients in the food processor and whir away. Even for the frosting! Felt like a cheater.

Cake sits on a gorgeous cake plate painted by my Nana. At some point will have to highlight some of her talents here.

Edifying view of changing foliage from our living room window. Picked apples this weekend. The cortlands are ripe. I feel a baked apple pancake in our near future. 2-year-olds across the land rejoice. Heavenly!


Swaps and a finished project

Supreme swap package from Dons. I adore these fabrics! We arranged that she would send fabric and, in return, I'd make her some of those little japanese lunch bags. She's requested them of the white fabric with tiny pink roses. Since I gifted the original bags to Z's lovely AnnaNanna I may have to make myself a set out of the blues for keeps.

Can't wait to get started on Dons swap-return (have you already noticed that I'm great at starting things? :-) As the great SockWars begin on Friday, my sewing for her may have to wait until I've been assassinated. Most likely, it won't take long.

In addition to the lovely swap, Dons also included a giftie. Such a gorgeous apron (top photo includes the CD for scale). Best described as ample. Long (ideal for a tall gal like myself) and great "wrapage". Almost all the way around. Feels nice and snug. Great for someone inclined to wipe her hands on her pants while cooking (I know I shouldn't, but I do).

And the fabric! Her note said to use "as is" or to cut up for the fabric. Don't think I could desecrate it...

Completed the chenille washcloth. Happy with the pattern and think it will work out well (if it will hold up and dry sometime this century). Feels quite luxurious. Added a little loop for hanging in the shower. Sent it home with my friend, Linda. She'll send a report back on its utility.

Discovered that I don't really enjoy working with chenille. It's a little "sticky" if you know what I mean.



Recent stash additions include (clockwise from left) Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock yarn in Clay, Lorna's Laces Swirl DK in Douglas Fir, Fortissima Color Socka Color in German, and Blue Sky Alpacas 100% Alpaca Sport Weight in Color 47 - a delectable green. All are dedicated to socks!

A couple came from my LYS and a couple from www.littleknits.com, a super site with lovely wares and supreme service.

Figure the Lorna's DK or Blue Sky will work for Sock Wars. Will be checking my gauge tonight. Emailed yarnmonkey to suggest that SockWars have a gift for the first person to be assassinated and offered to donate some sock yarn to the cause. We'll see what she says.

Was recently inspired by Echoes of a Dream and her dishcloth obsession. I, too, adore handknit washcloths. Been making them from standard cotton for some time... but then "got to thinkin."

Is it total insanity to make one of cotton chenille? Determined that it's only partial insanity which, quite simply, is no obstacle for me :-)

Anyone ever done this? Thoughts?


Compare and Contrast

It's the end of summer rush and everything seems to be happening at once. The garden is urgently spitting out produce. We have an obscene number of winter squash. Our near future certainly holds risotto and soup. Chard's doing well. As are okra, zucchini, carrots, beets. Too numerous to mention.

And the berries. Oh yes... the berries. These are the first that have made it into the house. A two-year-old berry fiend generally consume every available as it comes off the cane. Some are even consumed a little prematurely.
"Sour", he says, smiling sweetly and reaching for another.

Back to the baby socks. Here they are, side by side, old (above) and new (below). The new version with the ribbing are much more functional. Really don't fall off baby feet. The old version have a much nicer sculptural shape. Their striping pattern is more pleasing. Plus, everything looks better photographed on our old faded picnic table and deck :-)

Sock Wars registration is now closed now (over 700 participants!) and we've gotten our material assignments. I've never before knit socks with anything but fingering weight yarn so am enthusiastic about knitting with DK. Pattern distributed near months end. I'm anxious and eager.


Cute as a...

...pair of little baby socks. Forgot to add a little modification that adds greatly to baby socks - ribbing around the ankle to help those little socks stay on those little feet. Already cast on another pair and will shortly demonstrate the benfits in a compare/contrast.

Signed up for yarnmonkey's Sock Wars! There's still time to join (deadline Sept. 8)
The rules:

1. The first rule of Sock Wars is, you must talk about Sock Wars
2. The second rule of Sock Wars is, you MUST talk about Sock Wars.
(no really, for this to be a success we need as many combatants as possible)
3. Two socks to a fight
4. One fight at a time
5. No shirts, no shoes, just socks
6. Fights will go on as long as they have to
7. If this is your first time in Sock Wars, you have to fight.

Hard core!!!

Finished a felted bag from the Alterknits idea to salvage a thrift store sweater. OK, but not great. Gave it to my friend Tamsie for her son to carry rocks in :-)

And lastly, had a great time at the State Fair. Peterwas an excellent guide (in spite of the roughing up at the hands of the Fair administration) and, as always, Julie is a great Fair partner. We had a completely relaxed and informative time. Did you know there is a Newspaper Museum inside the fair? Or how much fun one can have watching the great moves at the Dance Dance Revolution game? Heavenly. Consumed some deep fried pickles, deep fried cheese curds, apple cider pops and pronto pups. Perfectly American.

There's a lovely yarn booth inside the Empire Commons Building where you can see the Butter Heads, eery representations of Princess Kay of the Milkyway and her minions. This is a super soft 25% Mohair, 70% VIrgin Wool, 5% Cashmere that's destined to warm my neck through the upcoming winter. Or I'll knit a scarf and give it away. Curse of the Woman who makes things! :-)