In From the Cold

It was a rare sunny day—cold and crisp yesterday. I spent it scraping the dense moss off the roof of our shed and discovered the weather vane atop it had fallen. Probably knocked down by the unusually strong winds of late or perhaps the recent (standing dead) tree removal by our neighbors that I’m glad to see gone–else they crush my garage. Either way, it felt like some of the charm of our little home was lost and I was in the doldrums.

The shed is old, smells of gasoline (used to be mower storage, no doubt) and full of spiders. It’s also slated for demolition once we get around to it. So why clean the roof? It got me outside and though I probably should have demossed the grass, I was too lazy to drive to the island hardware store for lime.


I came in feeling cold with my hands unscrubbably dirty (no knitting for me!). I donned my George Hancock while pondering knitting another. What weighted me down was thinking of all the yarn I’ve purchased for things I want to make, meanwhile I’m still buried under my grandmother’s stash.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

I’ve donated the bulk of it to various good causes, but there always seems to be more, and more, and more. In spite of that, I keep buying more, and more, and more yarn that I want, though not all my purchases have worked out. For example, a few years ago I bought 5000 (not a typo; 2 X 2500) yards of variegated lace weight yarn. What was I thinking!

Enter Stephen West—a warm, wonderful character if you’ve not had the pleasure. I’ve bumped into him in various knitting venues—not that he’d remember, or that it matters. The upshot is that he’s a force of nature and one cannot help but be buoyed just thinking about him and his knitting designs!

So what perks up a PNW gal on a gray Sunday? A free knitting pattern called Garter Squish for a warm blanket he describes as “eats delicious yarn in no time at all, leaving lots of empty space in your yarn box or cabinet or room to fill with new wooly acquisitions.”

I queued two of them—one for an easy-care acrylic throw and another for wool—all of the yarn from grandma’s stash.

I have looked at this pattern for ages, since he first he published it. Only now do I really see its immeasurable value—busting the winter blues, making yarn quickly and easily disappear, and creating warm wooly throws for our little house. Stay tuned for upcoming photos.

Who knows, I might just be able to use the lace weight yarn with his Marled Mania Leggings pattern.

So many problems solved!


Bring on the Spring!

I’ve been off on work travels for 2 1/2 weeks in India and I fell love (all over again) with the clothes, colors and food. Since getting back, I’ve been missing the sun and heat of Bengaluru and Chennai.  With all the dark, cool, and rainy PNW, I’ve never struggled so much to get over my jetlag.

The taste of sunshine and bright colors has made me impatient for Spring. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled with Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of a long winter.

To counteract this unfortunate prediction, I went yarn shopping for spring colors–many of which were on close out (yay!). To chase away the pacific northwest gray days, I arranged them as a spring flower and a Japanese maple.


Now if only I could find time to knit!

How are you planning to get through the long winter?

Instep Hug

Who doesn’t want a “hug” each time they put on a pair of socks?

I wish I could say that the idea was “original”, but the reality is that I got it from a pair of fasciitis plantar socks I purchased that had tight ribbing at the instep.

These are another pair of “Fool Socks” for my dad and I thought I’d give him the warmth in two ways–a thick 100% wool sock with a bit more comfort, like a hug, on the inseam.

Since I have not seen this “embellishment” on any sock pattern, I thought I’d share it here.

These are toe-up socks, but it can work in either direction. In my case, after finishing the toe (12 rows) and the broad part of the foot (20 rows), I reduced the pattern by 4 (one each side, front and back), knit one row straight and then knit a 1×1 rib for 20 rows before increasing for the ankle on these toe-up socks–same as the ribbing on the ankle. To get all of the details (including the “tulip-top”) you can check out my Ravelry project page.


They look a bit funny, to be sure, but they feel… comforting. And can’t we all do with a bit more comfort in our lives?

10 Question Challenge

Happy Years Eve!!

Picking this up from NothingButKnit’s blog. For crafters this year here are a few challenging questions you can have fun answering, followed by my Q&A:

  1. Your earliest memory of sewing/crafting?
  2. What is your most beautiful make?
  3. What is your most challenging make?
  4. Your most unpractical make that you like but can’t really wear/use?
  5. What is your most worn/used make?
  6. If you had no limits, what would you like to create?
  7. What is your favourite material to work with?
  8. What is the next technique you would like to learn?
  9. What is the topmost item on your sewing/crafting wish list?
  10. What is one sewing/crafting challenge you want to take for the year 2018?

Try posting it on your blog!

  1. Your earliest memory of sewing/crafting? – Knitting garter stitch slippers when I was 6 years old for my parents for Christmas.
  2. What is your most beautiful make? – My George Hancock out of Tosh DK in worn denim.
  3. What is your most challenging make? The third pair of socks I knit, which have since been frogged.
  4. Your most unpractical make that you like but can’t really wear/use? A beaded hitchhiker scarf out of scratchy sock yarn on the recommended needles. No drape whatsoever. Whenever I put it on, I take it right back off. Beautiful and pointless. If only I’d gone up one needle size I’d probably wear it more.
  5. What is your most worn/used make? My 16 cable hat which is why I don’t understand why I gave the first one away!
  6. If you had no limits, what would you like to create? A arm knitted afghan out of roving about 3-4 times the size of this pattern. I want a KING sized one–not a throw.
  7. What is your favourite material to work with? Superwash Merino wool in DK or worsted weight. Totally forgiving while knitting and washable–especially Zen Garden Serenity DK.
  8. What is the next technique you would like to learn? Weaving. I even have a loom, but I haven’t set it up yet.
  9. What is the topmost item on your sewing/crafting wish list? Better yarn storage.
  10. What is one sewing/crafting challenge you want to take for the year 2018? I’d like to: A. knit more yarn than I buy and B. Give away all of my circular needles.

Is It Done Yet?

I remember the long car rides of my youth riding unseatbelted in the back of my dad’s Lincoln Continental. He always thought seat belts were “dangerous” that they’d cut you in half in a car accident (we are talking about waist belts). He’d had the car lovingly restored, painted a darkish silver, high-polish chrome handles on the suicide doors and reupholstered in white leather.

Though my father knew little about fixing cars, it was his love for them that instilled a similar passion in me. I could name any car on the road—especially the sports cars. And I got fairly adept at looking after them myself before they got so complicated.

Later, when I started racing, driving to the track, I’d get that same feeling, the impatient “Are we there yet?” I’d anxiously grip and ungrip the wheel anticipating the fear and fun to come.

run channel

A few years back I sold my racecar to a collector and doubled down on knitting and kayaking. Both are safer and considerably cheaper habits!

I’m ¾ of the way through another project and sadly I’m gripped with the desire to put it down or get it over with. And that feels like the wrong way to look at the situation. I know I’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment when it’s done, but right now, I’m in the doldrums of a 1×1 rib to the finish line.

I wish I were a faster knitter!!

Fool Socks

One might get the idea that I only knit socks these days. Not true! I’ve got another George Hancock on the needles (a merging of Georgetown and Hancock patterns by Hannah Fettig). Since it is for me, it’s been resting for a while. I was finding such variation in Dachshund Tosh DK, that I’m alternating three skeins at a time instead of two each row after I noticed the obvious striping.


And speaking of stripes…

When I was growing up, my father always seemed to love wearing the colors of bright red and blue *together*—particularly in longitudinal stripes. I remember several shirts and even a pair of red-blue striped jeans he wore to threads.

When we visited his parents, his mother used to tell him he looked like a fool—so in my mind, the colors and stripes were linked. I used to think he went out of his way to find striped blue and red pants and shirts just to irritate her. But he’s kept it up (mostly buying bright red shirts to wear with his blue jeans) even after she passed away so it’s clearly a genuine preference.

“Fool socks” were born based on a Vogue Knitting Boot Socks pattern by Ruth Tobacco with added stripes in alternated toes and heels to just give it a bit more tomfoolery.


It was an overnight ship to get them home to Idaho in time for his December 23rd b-day and I’ve knit little else due to my work and teaching load this past Fall. To me they look a bit cat-in-the-hat (like my Dr. Seuss Capelet).

What can I say? We are a crazy lot!

I didn’t have time to snap a picture before I sent the completed pair off to him. Here’s hoping my mom with snap a pic while they are afoot!

Any crazy knitting for the crazy people in your life?

Lurid Socks?

The sock saga continues. With the titillating toe-ups done, I have another notch on my sock blocks. The only trouble with them is that they came out a bit more mottled than I expected—but they turned out beautifully. I’m now a huge fan of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK. So soft! So snuggly. So warm. I wish they fit me—but they don’t.


The bee is in my bonnet now that I’ve found a pattern that works and is easy to follow. It’s worsted weight, so they go fast, but that also means they are not for daily use. Nick still wears the heck out of them–usually as socks around the house, now that things are a bit chilly.

I’ll probably revisit the fingering weight later since he’s wearing quickly through the two pair I knit a while back. For now I’ll try to knit a few of these for Christmas/birthday presents since I’m feeling a bit more confident about them as a project.

And to think… Some people use sock knitting as a place to start learning how to knit.

My first knitting project was garter slippers similar to these, which are vastly easier than sock.

What was your first project?

Black Friday Yarn Buying Binge

I like to shop local. Knit Fit gave me that chance and I did break the piggy bank.  And it didn’t help that there was a huge close out at my local JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts the same weekend. And though some of my purchases seem a bit mainstream–you must remember—Cascade Yarns are based in Seattle.

I’ve been telling myself that they are for Christmas gifts and for the most part that’s true. But the reality is that most of my recent purchases are serendipitous (I have no project in mind) or because the yarn was sumptuous. I just had to have it. Given I skipped all of the other yarn events this year, I suspect it was inevitable.

Let’s just call it a bit of retail therapy.


A Really Useful Gift for a Knitter

My mind has been on gifts for Christmas. In fact, I’m a bit worried how I’ll complete all the presents I’ve planned to make. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of some yarn for some of those gifts–hoping it will arrive before Thanksgiving when I’ll finally have some time to knit.

This past weekend I went to Knit Fit in Seattle and picked up a few of the skeins I need, but some are still in transit. Meanwhile I took a master class on decreases and increases, because I’m always struggling to know which one to use when and what each one looks like and is best for certain projects.

On the wrist of the instructor, Andrea Rangel, had on a tool I truly coveted. It’s the one thing I’m always wanting close to hand, but isn’t handy—a measuring tape. Instead of it being in a toolkit there it was as a fashionable bracelet on her wrist.

When I got home I made a quick search and discovered they are made in Oregon by a company called ILOVEHANDLES. For a mere 19.95, I think it’s a beautiful, affordable gift for any knitter in your life.