Sunday, August 30, 2009

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Great story in my favorite genre, historical fiction. This is a tale of two girls who's lifetime friendship is tested by social class and misunderstandings in 19th century China.

I found the descriptions of foot-binding fascinating and horrifying. The story itself was endearing and I found myself constantly wanting to read more to see what happened next. I read this over just a few days.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Three Cups of Tea by Grag Mortenson and David Oliver Renin

Incredibly inspiring and yet difficult to get through. This is the true story of one man's mission to promote peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan by providing a new generation a balanced education. Greg Mortenson truly understands what will provide lasting peace in this area and provide long-term security to the US, and it is not military action, it is education.

Despite the endearing story, I found the writing style at times difficult to read and this took me awhile to finish, as I had to be in the right mood to sit down and plod though.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sneak Peak

Here is a sneak peak at a secret project....

I love working with this soft cotton yarn.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Something's Blocking

Haven't had a finished object in awhile but......something's blocking!

And tommorrow onto seaming. This is my least favorite part of a project, but I do find it satisfying to watch the crude panels of a project seam up into a beautiful finished item.....
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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Patchwork tote

This past week, I decided that because I could not find the exact sundresses that I wanted for my upcoming trip to Hawaii this fall, I would make some.

I order to free myself up to work on sundresses (and my sewing machine) this got finished this week.

Pattern: The City Bag by Fabric Central

This lined bag was a project for which all the patchwork squares came pre-cut, allowing me to focus solely on my sewing skills. I sewed when I was younger, but like knitting, never had the patience for it to stick.

By the time I got to the end of the bag, even my top stitching looked even and impressive if I do say so myself. (There are a lot of inside seams that were less than stellar, but luckily they are hidden).

Overall, I am pleased with this project, although I may choose a heavier interfacing next time for a sturdier bag. However, it is a perfect knitting bag!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Slowly but surely....

Baby Smock Jacket is coming along and the first front panel is going much quicker than the back. Perhaps because I have master the art of knitting and reading at the same time, which means I can work on this and read Eclipse at the same time!

This only works for ribbing, stockinette, or seed stitch, anything more complicated requires full knitting attention.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Snowflakes for Spring

I promised pictures. These have been off the needles for awhile, but it took awhile to block them (I had to buy sock blockers) and then the weather was not cooperative for pictures.

Pattern: Snowflake Socks by Chrissy Gardiner (Interweave Knits Fall 2007)
Yarn: Reynolds Soft Sea Wool, 1 skein of each color.
Needles: Size 2 circular needles
Started: March 13 2008
Completed: March 29 2009

This was my first stranded project, and I used the opportunity to master the two-handed technique, using my right hand for the main color and my left for the contrasting color.

The first sock was knit a little tight as I got comfortable with the new technique. By the time I started the second sock, I had loosened up considerably, and therefore, the second sock ended up being significantly bigger. So much so that I had to block the second sock on a different sized sock blocker!

I should have gone down a needle size for the second sock; but alas, I did not realize until it was too late.

However, they are very warm and comfortable. I will definitely be wearing these around the house, different sizes and all.

And what stranded post would be complete without a little guts and glory! The inside...I think it is almost as pretty as the outside.

Notice my new purchase in the above photo. I got these lovely sock blockers from the Loopy Ewe. I made a deal with myself if I finished these socks I was allowed to buy these, as blockers are especially needed with stranded projects. I bought a pair in my size and a single blocker in all the other sizes they had so that I can block socks for anyone else I knit for. I love the sheep at the top.
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Sunday, April 05, 2009


I stayed away from this series for a long time because it was geared toward adolescents. However, after it seemed like everyone I know recommended reading them, I decided to take the plunge and immerse myself in the Twilight saga. I was pleasantly suprised. This was an engaging page-turner that I really enjoyed. Many have compared the series to Harry Potter, and though not as good, they have the same appeal of being a thrill-packed, engaging story that though geared toward a younger crowd, can also be enjoyed by adults.

Before I was halfway through the book I had already bought the remaining 3 books in the series, knowing that there was no chance that once I finished the first that I could stay away from finding out where the series would lead.

I will be adding the movie to my Netflix queue soon. I can't wait to see how they translated this one to the screen.

As the risk of being cliche: I've been bitten.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tangled Basket

In taking of stock of where I am with finishing the projects on my needles:
a) Secret Gift Project AKA Hemlock Ring Blanket Finished
b) Snowflake Socks Finished (pictures to follow soon)
c) Bell Sleeved Jacket (65% complete)
d) Flower Basket Shawl (45% complete)
e) Baby Mary Janes (10% complete)
f) Smock Jacket (30% complete)

I have been making a serious commitment to FBS over the last few weeks and am up to 275 stitches. Unfortunately when I started the first row of the next repeat I noticed that one of my flower baskets from the previous round was not quite right. Feeling supremely confident in my lace knitting abilities, I decided that instead of ripping out the whole last round back to my lifeline (and then re-knitting all those stitches), surely I could just drop the affected section and knit it back up again on double points, leaving the rest of my perfectly correct flower baskets intact?

Alas, after 5 attempts last night, my malformed flower basket is still in disarray. It was not as easy as it might seem. I finally walked away from it and into the warm comfort of some Twilight reading. Once my mind is rested I will return to the basket and perhaps be able to do what I set out to do. But for now, it is only vampires for me.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shades of Grey

This has been complete for awhile now, but was a secret and needed to get to its intended recipient before I posted about it.

Pattern: Hemlock Ring Blanket by Jared Flood
Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool 2 skeins (956 Yards) Color 8049 a dark grey
Started: December 13 2008 : January 18 2009
Needle: Size 10

I am quite pleased with the final project and am yet again amazed by the power of blocking lace, even with worsted weight yarn.

This was a wedding/shower gift for friends who were married in November, but I have a feeling I will be knitting one for our home in the future.

I basically just kept knitting as far as the two skeins wound take me for a slightly larger lap blanket, and almost payed for it. I finished with 6 inches of yarn to spare.

I took the pattern to Row 75 of the Charted feather and fan pattern for a total of 121 total rows.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Resolutions kept and broken

So I continue to buy yarn, despite my resolution to shop from my stash, but this one is for a gift, so in my mind it doesn't really count anyway.

This is Frog Tree Picoboo, a cotton-bamboo mix that comes in a variety of somewhat tradional, but rich versions of baby colors. It is delightfully soft.

I also played around a bit with my light box for this one. This photo is taken with a lamp shining through from above, and the camera flash from in front. If you are interested, see my posting from last year about my homemade version and where to find more info online to make your own.

In other news, I completed my second of six projects on my needles. Snowflake Socks are done, but need a good blocking. I think I am going to break down and buy some sock blockers for these. I am also making steady progress on the Smock Jacket.

Our trip to Italy next week should provide me with ample plane and train knitting and reading time.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Simply Irresitable....

I took a trip over to Wool Gathering the other week in Kennett Square on my way to meet my husband to watch a swim meet followed by dinner in West Chester. I couldn't resist this colorway of the Be Sweet Magic Ball called Camouflage.

And of course picked up two skeins of Manos del Uruguay in a green colorway. I may make a My-So-Called-Scarf with this.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This is one of the best books I have read in awhile. A story about an orphaned vet who mistakenly ends up on a circus train during the depression, I could not put this one down. I finished it in less than 5 days.

The story is well researched and has a twist. From the opening, you think you know where the story is going, only to find out that you only things aren't as they seem.

I alternately loved and hated the characters, and found myself reading for hours on end just to find out where the story would lead.

I did not realize the parallels with the biblical story of Jacob until the end. It is certainly not the story of Jacob, but does use some twist on biblical names, and some of the events that happened to Jacob in the bible are similar to events that happened to Jacob in the book.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Darker and more mellow than his previous books, I did not find this one as laugh out loud entertaining as some of Sedaris' previous work. Still an entertaining read, I especially enjoyed the 'Smoking Section'.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


No pictures to show, but my weekend was filled with a fair amount of knitting due to my husband being in Annapolis this weekend for a tux fitting/ghost pub crawl, and the fact that I wasn't feeling all that well, so I didn't push myself to do my usual weekend workouts.

I worked on three different projects: I did a few repeats of my Flower Basket Shawl, for some lighter knitting during movie watching I worked on the Smock Jacket with some easy moss stitch. Today I worked a bit on my Snowflake socks and am now through the heel and into the gusset. I need to free up my size 2 circulars for later in the Smock Jacket.

My husband has charged himself to help me in my resolution to finish what is on my needles by discouraging me from starting any new projects. Except, or course baby gifts for some upcoming little ones on the way. For this he will whole-heartedly encourage me to cast-on.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Toy

This arrived on Wednesday. So far, so good. I haven't sewn in awhile, so I grabbed a precut project to do to learn how to use my machine.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009


This is how much yarn I had left over at the end of my secret project. The ball was looking like I had a lot to go, but about halfway through the castoff row, I started to worry. That skein was looking awfully small. Would I make it of have to rip back? With 600 stitches in the last round, this would be no small feat. And with the 600 stitches translating into 3600 bind-off stitches, I had no way to accurately judge if I had enough yarn or not....Luckily I made it, with 6 inches of yarn to spare.

It is blocking now and is lovely.

In other news, I went into Joanne Fabrics to buy blocking pins on Saturday and walked out having ordered a sewing machine. I couldn't help myself, I found fabric that would make the perfect drapes to match my new bedding, and I have been unable to find the perfect drapes anywhere. But not owning a sewing machine presents a problem. I could do the project on my mother's machine, but she doesn't live here, and our visits are usually too short to accomplish such a project. So I meandered to the sewing machine section intending just to look....I should have known I would buy one as soon as I saw that just too perfect fabric.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

When the cat's away....

Saturday was a lovely day. Hubby had to go to work, so I planned out a wonderful day for myself while he was away. In the morning I went running in Fairmount Park with the Philly Runners and went to the coffee shop with the group after my 8.5 miles and had a cup of hot cocoa and caught up with some friends.

Then I spent the afternoon at my favorite yarn shop Slip Knot working at the large back table on my Mary Jane baby socks. And of course, I no sooner made the resolution to shop from my stash than I found this:

Artful Yarns Cliche
A cotton/linen/acrylic blend in this stunning green.
And, what? It's on sale!? Seven skeins later and I had made my first yarn purchase of the year.

I even had a project picked out for it before I even left the store:
Lotus Blossom Tank by Sahron Shoji
From the Best of Interweave Knits Book

I will probably knit it with some modifications as laid out by Lickety Knit to increase the length of the tank and make the bust shaping more flattering.

Of course this is more of a summer/spring project, so this will not ruin my resolution to finish what is already on my needles.

My husband stared in disbelief when I came home with my spoils and just said, "But, we have so much yarn already." Exactly.
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Friday, January 02, 2009

The Gathering by Anne Enright

This was one of the more disappointing books I have read in awhile. I am one who actually does often judge a book by its cover, or at least pick a book by its cover, and this one looked intriguing and even won an award. Who could go wrong? Although Enright's use of language is beautiful, the plot of this story about grief and deception in a large Irish family is lacking at best. I also found the main characters inconsistencies and contradictions to be distracting. While I realize that her inconsistencies are purposeful (so as to show the nature of childhood memories and the imagined stories we develop about our ancestors), I didn't trust the narrator's story because of it. This took me awhile to get through, but I finally did complete it and am glad to move on to the next book.

A leap of frog and a lot of unfinished business.

Here is a recent finished project of mine. This frog hat was knit for a coworker's child so that she could match dad's outfit for Philadelphia's Mummer Parade.

Pattern: Frog Hat (Free Cascade Yarns Pattern)
Filatura Di Crosa Baby Zarella 1 ball each in colorway 1 & 15, plus some scrap worsted weight black yarn
Needle Size: Size 8 for Cast-on and Size 6 for body of the hat
Size: 6 months

Next are two projects that probably you probably won't see for awhile, as I am trying to finish a secret gift project, and have many other projects on the needles that need to be finished.

This one is a pair of Mary Janes from pattern 18305 in Dale of Norway Baby Designs/ Dalegarn #183 knit with what else but Baby Ull

Next is the Smock Coat from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby Book knit with Knit Picks Shine Sport.

Since it is the beginning of the new year and I had set a few goals for myself last year, I decided to revisit those goals and see how I did and make some new knitting goals for 2009.
In 2008 I kept my knitting goals simple due to my crazy school schedule. They were:

1. Try fair isle - I already have some yarn and all the tools I need.
2. Finish at least 1 sweater
3. Delve further into lace knitting : I plan to try the flower basket shawl, and have yarn to do at least 1 more shawl (maybe a Niebling)

Well I did try fair isle with my snowflake socks, and actually had some success. Unfortunately these socks remain unfinished, but as I will discuss later in the post I have a plan for my unfinished business.

I did finish 1 sweater with my FLS, but I also have an unfinished Bell Sleeved Jacket to complete. I just couldn't resist the bandwagon for the FLS!

As far as the lace knitting goes, I finished my Branching out Scarf and started a Flower Basket Shawl, but alas this project too remains in the unfinished category. I have delved into some worsted weight lace, such as FLS, and my current secret gift project as well. As for Niebling, well.....I purchased a Niebling pattern (Lyra) while I could get my hot little hands on it at a reasonable price. Maybe someday I will knit it.

Okay, so I tried out a lot of my resolutions, but have had a little trouble with follow through.

My knitting resolutions for 2009? Well number 1 is no surprise, but here they are:

1. Finish my unfinished business. I have many projects on the needles that I need to finish before I get swept up in all that new project fever. In order of how I will do this
a) Secret Gift Project (70% complete)
b) Snowflake Socks (65% complete)
c) Bell Sleeved Jacket (65% complete)
d) Flower Basket Shawl (20% complete)
e) Baby Mary Janes (10% complete)
f) Smock Jacket (10% complete)

Of course, I always like to have about 3 projects on my needles at all times anyway, so there may be some overlap. Usually I have 1 lace project, 1 sweater or bigger project and 1 small project like socks that is very portable on my needles at all times to fit different knitting situations.

2. Socks. I have developed a habit of collecting skeins of sock yarn. Everywhere we go, I find the local yarn store and find a skein that reminds me of the place we visited or that has a simply beautiful dye job. I need to get in the habit of using these skeins to make even more beautiful socks to keep my feet warm.

3. Knit my man a sweater. Gasp! I have been married for over a year, and have not knit my husband anything except a hat. Although my husband is generally not into sweaters, I did find a pattern that appeals to him in the Best of Interweave Knits book called Cambridge Jacket by Ann Budd. I think it is about time to knit my man a sweater. (And maybe some Dashing mitts as well).

4. Shop from my stash. I have a lot of yarn. Probably not as much as some of you, but even so. I currently have enough yarn for 3 sweaters in addition to the yarn to finish the sweater on my needles. I also have enough yarn to knit about 9 pairs of socks, and 3 shawls. I also have a lot of skeins that would be great for smaller projects.

5. Try Mobius knitting. I have had my eye on the Cat Bordhi Mobius Cowl for awhile, and already have a skein of variegated yarn picked out for it.

6. Try Entrelac knitting. I may start with a pair of socks, but I also have the Forest Path Stole in the back of my mind.

7. Knit more, now that I have the time.

There are a lot of other things I want to accomplish, but for now this seems like a reasonable list of goals. I look forward to a year of knitting in 2009.