29 March 2011

Skill + 1UP (2KCBWDAY2)

This post is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

The past year has been more about gaining skills and confidence in knitwear design and pattern writing than about gaining any one knitting skill (I'm pretty good with cables, lace, and my stranded work improves, but I have yet to tackle entrelac, and socks just don't drive me wild). And I think it's safe to say I hit my big goal of getting published. Having Knitty publish Turn of the Glass hasn't changed my life in an obvious way (no one is beating at my door with a big contract to sign, hehe), but it affirmed my decision (alright, my falling into this) to pursue knitwear design, to even think it was an option. It's also so exciting to know other people like your work, and I love seeing everyone else's version of the sweater, since knitting is such a personal hobby.

This was pretty huge for me. For years and years I introduced myself as a whatever-my-current-title-in-publishing was, and then for a while it was as a "temporarily retired person". Since reaching adulthood I've worked, and worked hard, to make things (and make them more appealing). I've liked doing it, and it was difficult to let that go when I had to. But knitting was a saving grace there.

And now I usually say I'm a knitwear designer and waggle a shawl in their face!

As for my skills, pattern writing has been an interesting challenge. The other day I was working on the hat that's coming soon and just before I sent it off to my tech editor I realized that I hadn't mentioned the two different needles called for in the materials list at all. So, what would a new knitter do? "Why did she make me get those two different kinds of needles? I've never used one of those before. Ack!" These are the kinds of things I have to remember. An experienced knitter would probably know to cast on with the circular needle and then switch to the DPNs as decreases make it difficult to move the stitches around. But a newer knitter, perhaps one who had never knit anything in the round before, would be stumped. Just as in my days in academic publishing I had to learn about the different ways people take in information (fascinating stuff, seriously), now I have to remember that knitters may come to my patterns from all different levels of experience and skills.

I've also become more willing to rip things out (see my recent frogging post) when they're not right, re-knit, drop stitches and repair things on the needles, and just plain being confident that I can manipulate the stitches and fabric to become what I envision. I'm also working on my vision being realistic as far as what the yarn/fabric can do.

28 March 2011

A Take of Two Yarns* (2KCBWDAY1)

This post is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011.

Have you ever knit with linen yarn? The first time I tried knitting up some Louet Linen I broke a favorite needle. Granted, it was a plastic Bryspun, not a metal needle, but still, it was a disheartening experience. On top of that, as a fairly new knitter, it was difficult to handle this yarn, so wiry, so rough, nothing like the soft merinos I had grown fond of with their bounce and sheen. I put the three skeins in the back of my stash and did my best to forget about them.

However, a few years later, continuing to hear about what a great yarn this Louet Linen is, I tried again. This time I was more prepared for the hand, and I grabbed a Hiya Hiya metal needle - no chance of breakage there, unless I ran the needle over with a tractor. I re-swatched, and the knitting wasn't terrible. I think my additional experience as a knitter helped. Then I washed the swatch, as Louet recommends, in the washing machine and threw it in the dryer. Holy smokes! It went from crispy and rough to soft and drapey. Now I understood what everyone had been talking about. From the swatch I worked up a pattern (coming soon) and knit up a sweater that I wore all last summer. It only gets better with washing! I have some more, and I'm debating whether to wash the skeins before working with them. It's still a tough, strong yarn, and I kind of enjoyed the magic of putting the finished item through the washing machine. We'll see.

Just goes to show that sometimes you should give yarn a second chance.

*I guess this ended up being a tale of the same yarn at two different times.

Froggy went a-courtin' (Sunday's post - am I caught up yet?)

Sweater frogging
I finally admitted to myself that the Ditto sweater I knit last summer, with ribbing at the bottom hem and no waist-shaping, just didn't flatter my figure. And it was time to reclaim the six skeins of Berocco Vintage that went into it (along with some pretty mother-of-pearl buttons). Above you can see me, mid-frog. The balls of yarn behind my knit kit are from the front bands.

I wasnt' sure how well the yarn would frog, since I had put the sweater through the washing machine a few times - Vintage is a blend of acrylic, wool, and nylon - but it went smoothly. There was an occasional, tenacious pill of wool fibers, but nothing that a little tug wouldn't fix, and the yarn still feels "whole" as I'm reknitting.

What am I knitting? It's a new pattern for my first collection. I knit this one before but gave it to my nephew (and don't think it's quite fair to ask a baby to give back his blankie), so I need a new one. It's going fairly quickly and, hopefully, will be finished by the time the Knitpicks yarn arrives for my first IDP pattern.

27 March 2011

Kittehs (Saturday's post)

When you run out of things to blog about, blog about your creatures, right? Well, not really. I probably have other things I could blog about, but a comment from Ellen on Isobel's Pipit sweater (and the cat in one of the photos) made me realize that I hadn't properly introduced our kittens to the blog. I'd uploaded a twitpic  (I'll wait while you go see them as kittens - George was so little!) back in October after they came home with us, but they hadn't actually appeared here. Without further ado, meet George and Henry!

George behind the couch

Henry lounging

After mourning Riley we decided we'd better get some new furballs to liven up the place, and, boy, do these two deliver! George was only eight weeks old when we brought him home mid-October, and Henry was about five months old. We were all attracted to George at the adoption site but were told that we had to take both. I was a little worried when the adoption coordinator told us not to leave George alone with Henry for a while, since he was bigger and didn't know his own strength

But it turns out that red-headed Georgis is the savage beasty of the two, while Henry is just a big sweetie. I joke that George is the looker, and Henry the lover. But Henry is a handsome boy, just a little unconventional, whereas there is a kitten on a t-shirt in the copier place window that Penelope points out as "Georgie" every time we walk by - he's more "standard". Henry will just stare sweetly at you with those eyelinered eyes until you start petting him, at which point he'll flop over on his side and drool. Loverboy.

George is a bit more of a wild child, though he's the one who sleeps ON my neck most every night. He purrs like a lawnmower every time you get near him, which I've come to believe is some sort of disarm-the-human defense mechanism. George, it also seems, is a woolpig. I can't leave any knitting or even a skein of yarn unprotected anywhere or he will attack it, drag it around, and chew on it. Totally bad for feline digestive tracts, I know! Luckily, he doesn't seem to have ingested more than a bite here or there, and I am now much more careful about the yarn.

I still miss Riley (and Penelope is going through a phase where, whenever she's upset, she says she misses Riley, rather than saying what has really upset her), but these two fuzzy heads have worked their way into our hearts. And, as you can see from the above photos, settling in to Riley's old spots, particularly George who is in the Riley evening locale on the table behind my spot on the couch.

Blogger of the Day: Robin Hunter (Friday's post)

[Yes, I've slacked the last few days but am making up for it before this week's extravaganza.]

If you're interested in the business of knitwear design, particularly in the perspectives of a wide variety of today's knitterati (not sure how I got in there, but let's go with it), be sure to bookmark Robin Hunter's How to become a Professional Knitter. And don't forget to go back through her archives. Annie Modesitt, Teva Durham, Nancy Bush, Shirley Paden, Jared Flood, Stefanie Japel, and many more! On top of all these great interviews, Robin also touches on all sorts of topics related to the biz, from creativity to bust darts to feeling good about your own unique shape and making the most of it. I'm always learning things from Robin's blog, and it makes me think.

24 March 2011

So very tired

Wow, who knew that going to the Museum of Natural History could make for such an exhausting day? It was fun to go with Isobel, a couple of her friends, and their moms (who are my friends, too), and I finally got to visit the Hall of Minerals and Hall of Gems (not quite Hope Diamond, but sparkly and minerally and cool, nonetheless).

Lunch at Shake Shack UWS only made things better, as did the sun coming out. Errands and whatnot in the afternoon until it was time to go to the dance studio, at which point I realized that I was getting really tired and had spent the entire day on my feet in my beloved-but-heavy LL Bean Shearling boots (I have the gumshoes but may have to give these moccasins a try). Have I mentioned these before? They are brilliant and warm and this is the second winter I have worn them just about every day. No slipping, they come high enough up on the foot to keep slushy puddles out, fantastic. Just wish they weren't lace-ups, but I do know how to tie my shoes.

But very little knitting happened today, except while waiting at Isobel's tap and ballet classes (she has to choose one after this semester - we're not doing both after this). It's a re-knit of my nephew's baby blanket as a test for a pattern. I really like the pattern because it is so symmetrical, and if you read your knitting just a little, the stitches basically tell you what to do, and I'm pretty sure that's not just because I'm knitting this a second time.

Hope this goes quickly, as I'm itching to knit a sweater. Hehe.

Dilemma (Wednesday's post)

So, there is a job posting on the boards right now for an Assistant Editor at Vogue Knitting:

Company:SoHo Publishing Company
New York, New York
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: $30,000 to $35,000
Ad Expires: 
April 22, 2011
Job ID:1241551


Publisher of knitting magazines seeks a creative, responsible full-time, in-house assistant editor to perform myriad editorial duties. Candidate must possess superior editing, reporting, writing and knitting skills. Responsibilities include conceiving story ideas and design concepts and working on photo shoots. Genuine interest in the knitting industry essential. One to three years of experience at a magazine or book publisher required. IF YOU ARE NOT AN EXPERIENCED KNITTER OR CROCHETER, PLEASE DO NOT APPLY.

Well, it's not really a dilemma, since the pay is far below what makes economic sense for our family, and VK's offices are pretty far away from Morningside Heights. I wonder if it would even make sense for a younger person living near the office.

It's pretty funny that they require knitting/crochet experience and yet, as Julie points out every issue, they can't even bother to swatch up the yarns they profile - perhaps it's a stylistic choice in the magazine, but it doesn't convey much information about a yarn to show a picture of a ball/skein when a little time would give a swatch that shows how it looks when knit up, which is what we knitters, ultimately, are interested in. Also, I think they are expecting an awful lot of experience for fairly low compensation. I would love the experience of working at a magazine, especially one focussed on knitting, but I guess I'll have to wait until I start my own ;)

22 March 2011


I was putting the finishing touches on a pattern (you might have seen the prototype in the pictures from the Highline - it's going to be called Night Watch Cap) tonight before sending it off to my tech editor when I realized there were a couple of bits of text that would be better as links (URLs and a mailto). I know those can be added in Acrobat but I had a feeling I could do them in InDesign. So, I found the options to do it, and it worked! Had to tweak things a little to get them looking nice (the programming on that bit seems a little clunky - you can't edit the hyperlink or its appearance once you've created it), but I was pleased with this little thing that everyone who uses InDesign probably knew about three years ago. Pleased to have figured it out, and pleased to have gotten it to do what I want. Kind of like how I feel about knitting.

Back in the day I was more of a bleeding edge girl when it came to technology. I went to conferences and had programmer friends (including the guy who put the monster easter egg in QuarkXPress - hi, Ed!) and worked for O'Reilly & Associates, for goodness' sake. But these days I prefer to stay away from bleeding edges. Guess it's the mom thing.

21 March 2011

Rainy day + Red Cross donation

Nick's back to work, but the girls are still home, which is a tough time for a cold, rainy day. We made it through pretty well, even ended up cleaning a bunch of things out of their room (along with some dust bunnies that are trying to throttle me - ah, allergies). I haven't knit yet today but keep looking at the swatch of tosh Pashmina I worked up yesterday. Not sure if the needle size is right (may need to go down to a US3) and not sure if my idea is going to work up the way I imagined. Just not sure. So, I should go work on a couple of patterns.

I also donated some money to the Red Cross. In the interest of making a larger donation, I will donate 50% of all pattern sales until the end of April to the Red Cross. If you've been thinking about getting a pattern (or helping out with the terrible events in Japan), now is the time. I will add this information to all my pattern pages on Ravelry, too. Thanks in advance!

FO: Sidecar Mittens (Sunday's post)

Realized in bed last night that I'd forgotten to actually write the blog post for which Nick had snapped these pics. Lazily, I did not get up and write the post, so you, poor things, had to wait until this morning.

Anyway, these are Sidecar Mittens, a great little $3 pattern written by Thea, worked on Malabrigo Silky Merino.

Sidecar mittens
Boston fan, incognito

I didn't do the undercuff, since my attempt at gauge wasn't the best, and the mittens are a little bigger than they should be (completely user error on my part). But I like them a little loose, since they are spring mittens. I might make another pair, going down a needle size, for next winter or make a complete inner mitten with the Malabrigo Sock in Persia that was supposed to go under the lacy cuff to line the whole thing and make them twice as warm.

A fun and quick knit, I made them in just a few days. [Ravelry details]

19 March 2011


And I wondered what I was going to blog about today (the birthday party Isobel attended at Chelsea Piers was interesting but not particularly blog-worthy - I am a terrible bowler, though I do have fun), and then my friend Emily invited me to join Pinterest. Just what I need: roll Flickr, Etsy, Facebook, and your favorite food/home/style/knit blogs into one, and Ravelry for those of us who spend days scrolling through patterns. And I thought I had trouble tearing myself away from my computer before!

I think it's a great tool. Now, I just have to figure out how to pin all those beautiful things I've been saving to my hard drive. Guess I need a rainy day once the kids are back in school.

18 March 2011

March Madness

I don't think it gets much better than this. What a gorgeous day! We went to the Highline this morning with the kids and then checked out Chelsea Market (I was overwhelmed by the options and ended up eating nothing there - crazy!), which I had also never been to. Top it off with some park time in the afternoon and dinner at Mel's Burger Bar with friends. Seriously close to perfect.

And, frighteningly, not a stitch knit. What is going on? I think I'm kind of stuck on my next design project, since I have some seriously gorgeous yarn waiting (tosh pashmina in Bloomsbury, which is such a me color I'm struggling to create the perfect project for it, as well as tosh vintage and lace, both in the makes-you-crazy-it's-so-gorgeous Fragrant colorway) but have a pattern that needs to be re-knit since I gifted the first version. But it's hard to knuckle down to re-do something on such a beautiful spring break day.

Anyway, here are some snaps from this morning's adventure, including the new hat (pattern coming soon):

On the Highline


Lounging on the tracks with my new 'do

Night Watch Cap

17 March 2011

Sunshine Day

What a gorgeous day! And tomorrow is supposed to be even better.

Oddly enough, I haven't knit a stitch today. But I did write up a pattern. On my phone. While we were enjoying the fresh air and sunshine on campus. It's for the hat I knit up over the weekend, and I really like it, which is funny, considering the weather is too lovely to contemplate wearing a warm hat like this.

But I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow of the hat and a light sweater I finished last week because we're going to check out the Highline. I'm very excited, since I've never been, and we thought it would be a fun thing to do with the kids before Nick has to get back to teaching. And the pictures will be even better because I finally got a haircut today (ah, the exciting life of a WAHM).

So, visuals tomorrow, folks. Hope you had a great day, too.

16 March 2011

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Yesterday was a long blur of time in the car punctuated by visits to some special places.

After hitting up Au Bon Pain, the Harvard Bookstore, and J. August, we bid Harvard Square farewell and drove up Routes 1 and 128 to one of the cutest yarn stores in New England, Yarns in the Farms. Sadly, Jill and Carolyn weren't there, but Jill's lovely daughter Anna was womanning the shop, which is as colorful and yarn-stuffed as ever, though probably not quite as stuffed as it had been over the weekend for the North Shore Yarn Crawl. And the cherry on top was that Captain Dusty's, the ice cream shop across the street, had just recently opened for the season - always a sure sign of spring. We did the naughty thing you're never supposed to do with your kids and had ice cream for lunch. Whoohoo, Spring Break!

Since we'd already hauled our offspring up to Beverly Farms, I decided it was best to go up to Gloucester now and not regret it later. We drove past my old house and then went in search of Coveted Yarn, which was also filled with yarn, including some yarns dyed by the owners sister right there on Cape Ann. Unfortunately for my stash I was pretty wiped, so only some cute buttons came home for the BSJ that's knit up but needs to be assembled:

Yes, that bright blue lump of knitting will soon be an adorable baby-filled jacket!

On our way back to New York we stopped in New Haven for some pizza. This time we tried Sally's (named for Salvatore Consiglio, not some chick named Sally), which is very much an old school family operation with signed photographs and letters from The Chairman of the Board himself and lots of Syracuse football plaques. The pizza (or should I say apizza) was yummy; however, things moved very slowly since there was only one man taking orders, writing up checks, and talking with the regulars, of which there seemed to be many happily eating their apizzas. My white clam was delicious (no mozz!). We'll try Modern Pizza next time (gotta try 'em all, you know), but if you've got the time and want to try wood-fired apizza, give Sally's a try.

So, now we're back in New York for the rest of Spring Break. Happily, the weather is supposed to improve over the rest of the week, and I did a lot of housework today, so I'll be free to play!

Knitblogger of the day: Babycocktails (3/15/11)

[Blogging the day after I should, since yesterday (Tuesday) was another travel day.]

Monday morning Penelope and I got to meet up with one of my favorite knitbloggers, Thea Colman of Babycocktails fame. We met some time back when Thea came down to New York City, and we did a mini yarn crawl with Colleen, Subway Knitter extraordinaire. Luckily, Thea had a little time for coffee, knitting, and designer shop talk in the midst of selling her house, so we met up at a groovy (and huge, especially by NYC standards) coffee shop, Diesel Cafe in Davis Square. We were too busy having fun and chatting to take any pictures, so you'll have to use your imagination :)

We did a little show-and-tell, Thea gave Penelope a little paper cocktail umbrella, which helped Miss P warm up to Thea, talked about how we do what we do. I even got a sneak peek inside Thea's design notebook. It's so interesting to see and discuss how we do things. Thea and I are more seat-of-the-pants types when it comes to designing, working out a lot of the details on the needles, while Thea's friend Amy Herzog of Fit-to-Flatter fame has everything written and spreadsheeted out before she knits a stitch.

I would love to hand the same yarn to a bunch of different designers and see what they come up with. I bet no two would be alike.

After a delicious latte topped with one of those foam designs (sort of a leafy branch thing), we stopped in to the Davis Sq. Goodwill to see what adventurous bargains they might have. There was even a dress form in the window Thea and I both noticed. But all I found was a big Spongebob coloring book for Penelope. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the racks and racks of clothes, I think.

Penelope was a trooper on the T, and I even got to grab a burrito from Anna's Taqueria (one of my favorites) for lunch.

14 March 2011

Blogger of the day: The Ravell'd Sleave

What better day to select for mentioning my friend Bridget's blog than today, her birthday!

Bridget's blog is always interesting to read. She's got lovable furballs (including Riley's twin brother from another mother, Jetsam), a passion for Christmas, and monthly book reports with lots of great books you may want to check out yourself. Plus she was a docent at Eastern State, an historic penitentiary, in 2009 - be sure to go back in the archives and read about it. Seriously entertaining.

Be sure to go on over there and wish her a happy one. Happy birthday, Bridget! Keep up the good blog :)

Sunday Travelling

Perhaps there is a good reason not to travel on Sundays...

We drove up to Cambridge so Isobel could see her father and Nick could visit the rare book library at Harvard for some research on his own book. Penelope and I came along for the ride. Unfortunately, said little person got sick, not once, but twice, on the way up. Ick. But what are you going to do with a child who think yogurt and milk are a good breakfast? Personally, I need some starch (cereal, bread, waffle) to keep my stomach settled. Needless to say, we were all a bit frazzled by the end of the journey. While I'm sorry not to have made plans to see some of our family friends, it probably was for the best.

I did start working on a hat pattern in the car, though, and am really enjoying it. It's a watch cap but with a little more going on that will give it a few wearing options, if that makes sense. And I think this hat is going to be part of a small collection of patterns I am going to put together and publish in a booklet, or at least an e-book. They will be available individually, as well, but I think I have enough of a theme going to put them together.

Because, really, after all my years in book publishing, I should be able to do this. I've been a copy editor, writer/editor, production assistant, advertising designer, marketing specialist, graphic designer, web designer, and art director. I think I have the bases covered, don't you? So, I've been trying to get myself organized (hence, all those project sheets on my bulletin board to visualize the work completed and the work yet to be done). I'll keep you posted, obviously, and hope that actually mentioning it here on the blog will push me to make it happen.

MIA? AWOL? I'm back (Saturday's post)

Wow, laziness got the best of me on Saturday, but I will make up for it.

We had a beautiful, sunny day in New York, so all of us escorted Stephen to his ballet lesson, and then we played at the awesome new Union Square playground. We even saw a butterfly sunning itself on a park bench.

While at Union Square I checked out the farmer's market, which is much larger than the one up by Columbia. Even the stands of the vendors we see at our market are larger at this one. Of course I found the yarn vendors! And a skein of Catskill Merino's Saxon Merino Undyed Lace yarn came home with me. I was so tickled by it that I wound it up into a ball right there in the playground. Soft and creamy, just a little bit of chaff here and there. Absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it (just 225 yds), but it is ready to go when I do.


11 March 2011


Man, are Baby Surprise Jackets fun to knit! Especially when using yummy yarn. I worked one up over the past few days and hope to get some buttons tomorrow, at which point I'll take a picture (it's too dark now to show off the rich blue of the Lapis colorway).

The morning with the book making kids was fun, especially with Penelope on hand to keep everyone on their toes, so we have books to show, too. Again, too dark now to see all the glitter Isobel put on her handmade piece of paper. She's a girl who loves her sparkle. Wonder where she got that from :)

10 March 2011

Glue Fingers

I helped out at Isobel's school today and ended up with Elmer's Glue all over my fingers. Can you remember the last time that happened to you?

At the kids' school the week before Spring Break is called IPW (Integrated Project Week), and groups of students and teachers (in our case ten and two) get together to explore a topic not usually covered in the curriculum for a week. Isobel chose Papermaking and Bookmaking, and I made the "mistake" of mentioning my years of book making experience (albeit on a larger scale, usually having pressmen do the dirty work) to Isobel's teachers, one of whom is leading Isobel's IPW. I said I would come for a morning to help out when they were putting together their books, since an extra pair of adult hands would be helpful when you've got ten first and second graders, glue, and sewing needles.

I ended up spending all day there and am going back tomorrow morning to help finish up their projects, which have to be done before the school Showcase begins at 1pm. Penelope is going to help, too. I'm already exhausted :)

But it's been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed spending time with the kids and seeing how they all (teachers and students) interact together in the classroom, albeit not during a typical day. First and second graders are still so squirmy. Some of them gnaw on their shirts (they are still teething, after all). Sometimes they are so excited about their ideas that they forget to raise their hands. And they all want my help. They love interacting with adults who are willing to sit down at their little tables. The teachers are patient and kind and fair yet also human and with high expectations for how the kids should handle themselves and faith in what these children can do. I'm always impressed with how great the teachers and staff at the school are, but this was a special treat for me. A day on the inside, if you will.

I helped out with accordion books for half the kids at the beginning of the day and ended up making my own, which I'm excited about*. And late in the afternoon we decided to "go for it" and make classic bound books, too, which the other half had made in the morning. We managed to get everyone's boards attached to book cloth spines and wrap the boards before the day was done. Tomorrow we'll sew signatures together and attach the book blocks and endpapers to the boards. So much fun. And it was so neat to see how excited the kids were about their books, especially after we copied/shrunk the stories they've been working on all week so they could paste them into their books.

I'll show you my work (and Isobel's) after we get to bring everything home tomorrow. Until then, go smear some Elmer's on your hands and then peel it off. It is still as fun as ever.

*Back in my publishing days when people still bought books at their local book store, the highlight of my job, much as I enjoyed the designing and directing and whatnot, was when I got to make little packaging models. The box manufacturers would send me files showing how the eventual box would be printed on a sheet of cardboard. I would print this out on a piece of letter paper, cut it out on the die-lines, fold it on the fold lines and put together a wee sample of what the box would be like. That way I could understand where to place the graphics on the big sheet that would eventually be cut and folded into a package. I always loved my little models, probably because it was a chance to get out the Exacto knife and tape. But it was also because you turned this simple sheet of paper, with a few folds and cuts, into something completely different. Guess I kind of do that now with sticks and string. See, fun!

09 March 2011

Where the Magic Happens

Thought you all might be interested in seeing where I work:
The Magic Factory
So, this is it. My desk is in a corner of the living/dining area right by the kitchen. It's in the middle of everything but out of the way, if that makes sense.

The desk itself is one of those build-your-own from IKEA (I know, they're all "build it yourself", but I chose the top and legs, which are little bookshelves). As you can see the desk has a glass top, so I can tuck things underneath for display - nothing very pretty right now (knitting mags, notebooks, a cutting mat, clippings from magazines, my scales). There's also the laptop (an antique PowerBook G4 - I keep changing my mind on what I want, then having to save more money, then spending some of it on something else, then having to save more, then having to decide all over again because all the new models are coming out soon); it works-ish, and that's what counts right now.

Since the kids are on Spring Break for the next two weeks, I'm trying to come up with some things we can do so I won't ... you know ... go crazy. Ahem. So, on the desk there's a copy of The Best Things to Do in New York City: 1001 Ideas, which is a really entertaining and informative book. I came up with a bunch of things I'd like to do with the kids, some of which I hadn't known about before. Did you know that there is a botanical garden on Staten Island, and it has a garden designed like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (one of my all-time favorite books)? And the Queens County Farm Museum raises heritage breed sheep! I may actually be excited about Spring Break.

You may also notice Little Red Riding Penelope's picnic basket, the hand-crafted tinker toy-esque and index card versions of 3-D Rectangular Prisms Isobel made in school, my swift, my Palm Pre on its Touchstone (best charger ever, and a great little phone - I really like the keyboard), and a bag from Knitty City.

What else? My file thingy with folders for the kids, client stuff, clippings of decorating ideas and three sets of Farrow and Ball paint chips collected over the years - their paint names are as delightful as their hues. My pencil cup is a lovely bit of Burleigh Ironstone I bought when the Stonewall Kitchen at the Atrium Mall closed, and is filled with colored pencils, Sharpie Fine markers (note to self: I need more of those), a nail file, and various scissors, which no one else is allowed to touch. Peeking out behind the laptop is a giant, pale blue, plastic clothespin holding tax info and a picture of Isobel from last summer. I should add pictures of Penelope, Stephen, and Nick, shouldn't I?

On the walls are my "Comfort on the North Shore Line" poster from the Chicago Historical Society (hey, I bought it when it was still a Society - I know it's a full-blown Museum now, though I haven't visited, but I should next time I'm in town) and an IKEA bulletin board covered with project sheets to keep me focussed on in-process work (otherwise I would fly off in a million directions and never get anything done), sizing chart information, and Isobel's school schedule, since they have a two-week schedule, and I could never keep it all in my head. I'm happy I remember to pick her up on the days I'm supposed to pick her up. There used to be more (and more interesting) things on the board, but the cats  took it into their heads that the ephemera must be attacked and taken down. It was not pretty, nor was what I said to the cats. Even still, one of the project sheets has been gnawed on and the schedule comes down once a week or so.

There's a red, rolling set of drawers from IKEA that fits underneath the desk and holds computer cords, notecards, old notebooks, and other paraphenalia (sewing kit, *my* tape, *my* glue stick - shhh, don't tell the kids about that) that would fly all over if not contained. I've started to put some of my knitting books on the shelves, which have mostly held the "tall" kids books until now (if you have kids, you know that invariably there are those books that will not fit on your regular shelves). And what desk in a kid-home would be complete without little tea and coffee cups from IKEA to corral pins and a seam ripper and bits of ribbon? Mine, of course, are pale blue, which the girls don't seem to miss at all.

The lamp is Nick's and used to sit on the piano until I inherited my grandmother's brass lamp. I'll have to give you more of an apartment tour in future posts, I guess.

So, this is where pattern writing, blog posting, and all that email sending take place. Magic ;)

08 March 2011

Winner: In the Shallows and STR Nyame contest

I know I promised to announce the winner this morning, but I went to the gym - I really need to get in shape! Thanks to the random number generator, the winner is

Michele said...

that color is gorgeous! this would be great knit up as your In The Shallows shawl.

no signs of spring here yet. we had blizzard conditions again this morning. tomorrow i think i will go buy myself an orchid plant because i'm dying to have something around that's growing.

Thanks so much for you comment, Michele! Please send me an email with your mailing address (lovely Blogger won't give me your email address), and I'll send the yarn to you. And be sure to include your Ravelry ID, if you have one, so I can add In the Shallows to your library.

I'm mulling over another contest - let you know tomorrow. In the meantime I have to go work on a Baby Surprise Jacket for a new baby who surprised his parents by arriving a month early. It's madelinetosh Sock in Lapis, and I am in love with the color!

07 March 2011

FO: Grés

Some of you who "knew" me over on Purly may remember my Twitter Sweater adventure of last October and this January (looks like there is one more set of tweets to be consolidated - soon). I'm not sure if I will write up a pattern, since I tweeted what I did as I went along, but I thought you might want to see some pictures, which I took while messing around with my camera, tripod, and remote:

Grés body

Grés sleeve

Grés cuff


06 March 2011


Nick just asked me if I'd blogged today, and I've been so busy on a graphic design idea that I forgot! Eep, indeed. We had a quiet day at home, since the March lion has been in full roar all day. Cupcakes were made and decorated with lots of sugary bits by someone blonde. And not much else happened. I didn't even knit much. Shocking, I know. I'll blog more tomorrow, perhaps about the Grés sweater - it's been finished long enough.

05 March 2011

2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

In case you're not up for blogging every day like a few of us are trying for March, you may want to consider blogging the week of 28 March to 3 April with Eskimimi and friends. Lovely reader Karen blogged about it, inspiring me to join. I took a look at the daily topics and am already excited about blogging on those days (and also feel a little inspired to blog about some other things before then).

So, think about joining the group. I cut down my blogroll recently, when I was becoming overwhelmed with information (Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, blogs - ack!), but think I cut out too many knitting blogs, so I'm hoping to find more good reads that week.

Not much else to report today, since I think I'm coming down with something. I don't feel sick per se but fell asleep on the couch this afternoon while Isobel and I were watching a movie during quiet time, which makes it the second time this week I've napped, and I never nap. Seriously, I'm pretty incapable of napping, though I can go back to sleep in the morning like a champ. Sadly, that's difficult to achieve often with little people around. Nick usually gets up with them on the weekend so I can sleep in until eight - he's my hero.

By the way, thanks for all the comments so far on the giveaway post. I love hearing about the arrival of Spring. We had a beautiful, sunny morning here, though the wind started to whip around this afternoon. All the snow is gone (kind of hard to believe, considering how much we got this winter), and Isobel's class found crocus/tulip/daffodil tips coming up in Riverside Park a few days ago.

04 March 2011

Giveaway of the Day: In the Shallows + STR Med in Nyame

The first giveaway was so much fun that I've decided to keep it going. Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win a copy of my pattern In the Shallows and a skein of Socks That Rock Mediumweight yarn in the Nyame colorway (look at all the different yarns Tina will dye in this colorway!), which would be perfect for the plain or fancy version of the shawlette (or split the skein in half and make two mini versions!).

This skein is from The Fold, which is halfway between my parents' and where my grandparents all lived in Illinois. If you haven't been to The Fold and you are in Chicagoland for some reason, try to go. It's out in the middle of some fields in the Chicago ex-urbs, and, more importantly, it's filled with Blue Moon Fiber Arts, other yarns that I heartlessly ignore when I'm there, lots of fiber for spinning, wheels, spindles, dyestuffs, you name it, and, most importantly, Toni Neil the proprietress. I have acquired a number of special yarns from Toni on my way back from visiting my grandmother, including the yarn for the Grés sweater I'll blog about soon. This Nyame skein has been waiting it's turn patiently, but in the spirit of Spring I've decided to send it out into the world (as well as the spirit of Keri's decluttering post). How much pale blue yarn does one girl need? I'm going to share!

As you can see, it's in the skein now, but I would be happy to wind it for you. So, leave a comment on this post, and you will be entered to win. Why not mention what signs of Spring you're seeing in your part of the world? Tell your friends! And I will announce the winner on Tuesday morning (8 March 2011).

Contest winner for The Natural Knitter

And the Random Number generator says the winner is:

Yolande said...
There must be something in the air. I have never liked walking, but this January saw me finally get on my treadmill and get myself moving every day. I'm quite amazed at myself...hope it continues :-)

Congratulation, Yolande! Please send me your mailing address, and I'll visit the post office ASAP.

03 March 2011

Ravelry meet-up

I was really excited to see that Knitty City (my madtosh connection here in NYC - it is an addiction!) was hosting a Ravelry meet-up tonight from 6-8. Lucky for me, Nick was kind enough to wrangle the girls for dinner and bedtime so i could go. And even luckier for me that it was really cold today, so I could wear my Turn of the Glass without looking like a complete twit.

Everyone was very nice, and I love how there are knitters (and crocheters) there of all variety: age, skill level, pattern interest (you know, some people are obsessed with socks, some love anything in Wollmeise - must ask my sister to get me some while she's in Berlin - and some are into garter stitch). That last one is actually me, working on a possible Knitty submission. We'll see; I had to frog a big chunk of it today but am pretty sure I'm on the right track now. Now, I have to admit here to all of you that I am shy. No, really, I'm kind of a big dork, perhaps especially the past few years. I think my social muscles don't get the same workout these days - I'm home with the kids a lot and most of the grown-ups I hang out with are other moms and dads, so we reflexively talk about them. But, I got over myself tonight and had a good time with people I didn't know.

I'm looking forward to going again next month, since this is now going to be a regular thing. Yay! Between my kids'-school based knitting group that meets joyfully but sporadically and this Ravelry meet-up, perhaps I'll get back in social shape, at least with the knitters.

02 March 2011

Knitblogger of the day: Canary Knits

In an effort to start my new blog home off on the proper foot, I've joined CanaryKnits and some other bloggers in blogging every day for the month of March. So, I thought today would be a good day to profile the knitblogger and designer who profiles independent designers. And you're in for a feathery treat if you visit her blog today, since she's featured her new zebra finches.

Teresa not only profiles independent designers every Friday, she is a designer herself. She has self-published the booklet Little Seasonals recently with Hannah Poon and has a pattern - the alluring Milk Maiden - featured in Julie Turjoman's Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere.

Short and sweet today, since we're hosting a playdate for Isobel. Tomorrow everyone will be at school, so hopefully (after a workout) I'll be able to write a little more, perhaps even post a picture. After I exercise, of course!

Many thanks to yesterday's commenters, some of whom I didn't know before. Remember, you can still comment on yesterday's post until Friday morning, when I will announce the winner and the next giveaway!

01 March 2011

Welcome! And a contest.

Today is the day! I've "moved blog" to this address and hope to blog long and often here from now on. To celebrate I'm going to have my first contest (how embarrassing to blog for so long without hosting a contest).

How about we talk about "firsts" and turning over new leaves and such? In addition to moving to the new blog, today I went to the gym. Can you believe it? Generally, I pride myself on my laziness, but it's time to get back in shape. So, I walked and jogged on the track and took a look at all the equipment they have (it's the Columbia gym, so they have a ton of stuff for all those kids). There was a Vinyasa Yoga class going on in one of the studios while I was there, and I may have to see if I can arrange my schedule to take it, though I'd rather do Hatha to start. Anyway, that's my new leaf today.

For the contest, I have an extra copy of the wonderful book The Natural Knitter (link will take you to Amazon; go here to check it out on Ravelry). It's a lovely book (and a shame that Barbara Albright passed away before it even came out), with a nice variety of patterns and lots of interesting information about plant and animal fibers, as well as a little bit on dying and spinning. It looks like Potter Craft may be taking this book out of print.
The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use, and Knit Natural Fibers from Alpaca to Yak

To enter, leave a comment about what new things you're doing as Spring comes our way on this post before 9am on Friday March 4th. On Friday I will announce the randomly selected winner. And be sure to keep reading for more contests and knitting news.

Thanks and happy knitting!

Moving House/Blog

If you are reading this, it is time to change your feed/bookmark. As of 1 March 2011 I will blog at kathleendames.blogspot.com, so be sure to join me over there. Thanks and happy knitting!