Category Archives: knitting

Knit: Momoka

This was intended as a surprise Christmas gift for my daughter, who began ballet lessons this past fall. But I wrapped it up and gave it to her without sleeves, because the pattern was absolutely eating yarn and I had to order another ball and I wasn’t sure I’d get the same dye lot (I did, thank you, Jimmy Beans Wool!), so just in case I’d have alternated balls on the sleeves. But it’s just as well, because it was much easier to knit the sleeves with periodic tryings-on to check them. Anyway, let me back up a minute. The pattern is Momoka, and it’s knit in Classic Elite Song (in Ballerina, of course), and here it is, on the girl. (Ravelry notes here.)

Momoka ballet sweater at

Front view

Momoka ballet sweater at

Back view

I admit to some frustration with this pattern, which was written in a bit of a wordy way and didn’t give an accurate estimate of how much yarn to buy (I bought more than listed, was on gauge, and still needed to get another skein). I changed the sleeve decreases too, from every 7th round to every 4th, so my girl didn’t look like she had wings. I’m glad I have the know-how to adjust patterns when necessary but more and more often I find I need to do that with a pattern I’ve purchased, and it annoys me every time, because if I’m buying a pattern, it’s because I didn’t want to have to think much about what I’m doing. I have the ability to create a sweater pattern, but I just wanted to knit one. Ah well. It’s done now and she’s happy with it, even if she’s only wearing it to class, not in class, because she’s a warm-blooded girl.

Knit: Arden Mitts

Arden mitts at

One of my new friends here in Annapolis, who also happens to be an artist, admired some knitting of mine and proposed a barter, pottery for knitting. I’ve never knit for money, but a barter sounded like a great idea. (Why won’t I knit for money? Because when you add up the cost of supplies and my time, I’d need to price it higher than most people would want to pay.) We talked about possible knits, and she decided upon fingerless mitts with long cuffs, to go with a three-quarter-sleeve coat she owns. After looking at several patterns and yarn possibilities, here’s the result–which she is modeling in the pottery studio, where I dropped them off to her. (She expressed concern about the state of her fingernails in this photo. However, those are hands that make. We love those kinds of hands, right?)


Pattern: Arden, knit pretty much as written.

Yarn: Madelintosh Tosh Vintage, colorway Red Phoenix, close to two skeins.

Needles: US 7.

This was a pay-attention sort of knit, just because of the cabling. But not overall difficult, and the result is gorgeous.

Candy Cane Mittens

candy cane mittens at

“Mama,” said my middle child last winter, “can I have mittens striped like candy canes?”

“Sure,” says I, and I began to knit. He didn’t like the striping. There was no talking about it, and so I quit knitting the mittens.

This fall: Lather, rinse, repeat. “I don’t knit for tyrants,” I told him. After a while–and some other, non-tyrant-related knitting–I told him I’d happily knit him solid mittens, but I wasn’t fooling with all those loose ends from striping. But he wanted red and white striped mittens. And then I signed up to offer an after-school program and enlisted him as a helper and offered to pay him in knits–specifically, striped mittens, even though they’re a big pain with all those ends to weave in. The class began January 5 and was slated to end February 9 after five sessions; however, we’ve only managed two because school keeps getting cancelled on Mondays due to snow. It didn’t seem fair to make him wait for the mittens though, so there they are, with all those annoying ends woven in and everything.

He loves them.

And thus ends a rather quick post. What else to say? February sucks my soul. Snow, grey days, snow, shoveling, cold, snow. Why haven’t we moved yet? Why, indeed. I tell myself that all the many annoyances would feel less so if it weren’t February, cold, and snowy. I try to hold my tongue and keep perspective. What seems overwhelming in February is merely a trifle in July. July will come.

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation

* I cooked a lot of food. Really, a lot. We joked my Italian was showing. We had my husband’s family here for Christmas Eve dinner and it was really, really nice. I’d hoped we could make that happen, since we won’t all be living in the same state by next Christmas. Then I cooked more just for us five on Christmas Day–my first roast beef! It was fabulous, just like I remembered from childhood. For some reason, even though I rarely eat red meat, I was craving roast beef with gravy, so I checked the Internet and talked to my butcher and made one. Yum.

* I read and read and read. I can’t even tell you much of what, because I don’t keep track of titles. I thought it might be nice to keep a list this year, but it’s January 2nd as I type this and I’ve already finished two books and begun a third this year and I suspect I will get tired of writing down titles by the end of the month, if not sooner.

Double Wave mitts at

* I knit a pair of mitts from my own design, sewed my daughter a pair of leggings (successfully–and I have fabric to make more), and sewed myself a jersey knit thermal shirt. I took this picture and then noticed the streaky bathroom mirror. It’s clean now.

sewn jersey shirt at

* I moved all my Art Together zines from e-junkie to Payhip, which is taking care of VAT. I also decided upon a topic for the next issue. I hadn’t started working on a winter issue yet, not knowing whether it would even be possible to sell it. So it will probably be a late winter or even spring issue, but I have an idea I’m excited about, and that’s the first, most important step. Anyway, I’m really glad an option materialized that would work for me to continue selling it without having to deal with other countries’ confusing tax laws. (My own country’s confusing tax laws are bad enough.)

* I chose ADVENTURE as my word for 2015. I want to view this move to a new state as an adventure for all of us!

* I began Lisa Sonora’s 30-Day Journal Project. Mmmm, we’ll see. I’ve found I’m not so good at doing one thing daily for any amount of time. I like to do rather a lot of creative-type things (plus all that reading), and I typically do at least something creative every day but not the same thing. So we’ll see.

* We spent a lot of time at home, happily. Reading, making things, watching movies, playing games–the boys are both very into Magic and Minecraft.

I hope you’re having a gentle entry into 2015. I’m not looking forward to returning to the regular schedule on Monday. I’ve so enjoyed our slow and easy mornings!

Just Knitting

It’s November in New England and all I want to do is knit.

pile of knitting

To that end, I have added three pairs of Evangeline mitts (modified to my liking) and a Saroyan scarf to the gift closet stash. I keep thinking I should be drawing or painting or coming up with another stamp or linocut design…. but all I really want to do is knit, so I’m going with it. (I also want to sew, a little bit. I have fabric for dresses for my 6yo, but the first pattern I bought was awful so now I’m modifying something else and, oh, it’s a long story. I haven’t gotten up the courage to cut the material yet.) I’m just going to trust the process, indulge what I feel pulled to do, and let my brain work on stuff in the background. Usually a period of relative restfulness (knitting is very restful, especially when it’s old familiar patterns) ends with a creative burst.

But, speaking of those old familiar patterns….I’ve modified those Evangeline mitts so much that almost all that’s left is the cable pattern. So, I thought, why not fool around a bit with a basic mitten pattern and a stitch dictionary and see if I can come up with something completely unique? Occasionally I get asked if I sell the mitts and I always say no, because strictly speaking, it’s not my pattern. It would be nice to have the option, I suppose.

cabled mitt in progress

So I guess I’m not being totally dormant on the creative front.

In other news, I’m vacuuming every other day, we’ve only had one showing so far, and I’ll be burying St. Joseph upside down any day now. I have thought about Christmas exactly Not At All. Our six-year-old is sounding out words and beginning to read and losing teeth. Our oldest will be thirteen in less than two weeks and that’s going well some days. And on Saturday I’ll be getting on a train to New Haven to meet someone in person that I’ve only spoken to online. (Aside to my kids: Don’t do that.) So in general, you know, despite the real estate uncertainty, things are pretty good here.

The Gift Knitting Has Begun

My brain needs some soothing knitting, the kind of thing I barely have to focus on but have to focus on enough to hopefully quiet the hamster that’s running around on his wheel in there. Every time I cross something off my to-do list I think of something to add. Our youngest is turning six this month and since it’s her first year in school, we invited all the girls in her class over for a Frozen-themed birthday party, and then we’ll list the house a few days later. That sounds reasonable, right? Plus there’s Halloween this month and the things We Always Do (corn maze, carving Jack o’Lanterns, costume design). My husband is traveling quite a bit. The boys have a big-deal belt test this weekend. Something’s going to have to give, and hopefully it’s not my sanity.

So, knitting. I like to have a supply of gifts for the village–you know, the ancillary people in our kids’ lives. Our 10yo has a couple of those people working with him right now, and I’m not sure if these will be holiday gifts or good-bye-and-thank-you-so-much gifts, but either way, I want to make sure they’re ready and waiting. First up, Evangeline, a fingerless mitt pattern that I adjusted to suit my own tastes. I can practically knit it in my sleep, I’ve made it so often.

Evangeline knit mitt at

I modeled on my own hand, of course, because it looks so much better on.

One of the recipients seems like a scarf person to me, so I began another Saroyan. This is also a pattern I’ve made more than once, so even though I’m following line by line, it’s not terribly taxing.

Saroyan in progress at

Here, I’ve done one repeat on the straight section.

I’ll probably make more mitts to have on hand, although my youngest’s teacher already has a pair from when my middle child was in her class…but my oldest’s teachers don’t have any of my knitting yet. We’ll see how it goes. There is much left to do in the half of October which remains.

Making + Listening::14/2014

Lots of photos to share this week, some of which are better than others in terms of quality. First up, my daughter’s embroidery from a few weeks ago, that I have neglected to share. She drew on the felt with the nifty disappearing-ink fabric marker and then embroidered over her lines. (We just don’t go in for embroidering other people’s patterns here!)

5yo's embroidery at

Drawing and embroidery by G, age 5.

This is a fairy–the semi-circles on the sides are wings. I love this–she has preserved her own drawing in fabric and floss!! (I helped with the eyes–I did the French knots. But she did the rest herself.) This was completely her idea. I think of all those Pinterest-type projects that have adults transferring kids’ drawings to fabric to embroider or turn into pillows and I look at my daughter’s self-created, self-directed activity with her own drawing that she then embroidered herself, and it’s just perfection. So much better than if I had embroidered it. Her small capable hands did this.

Those wonderful hands of hers also learned how to use the knitting tower this week.

using the knitting tower at

Blurry cell-phone picture of G using the knitting tower.

We’ve had this for years and years and neither boy was ever much interested, but, much like her mama, G likes to make things with her hands, and she took to this right away. While she was sitting there finger knitting, I was working on a knotted, beaded ankle bracelet.

knotted anklet in progress at

Another blurry cell phone picture, of my knotted anklet in progress.

This started with making a beachy bracelet out of string while we were at the beach one day, using directions from the book Summer Crafts by Marjorie Galen (a used bookstore find several years ago, and I love it; it also inspired our hot rocks).

Beachy knotted bracelet at

Beachy bracelet.

After making that one, I made a few more (just to keep my hands busy), and then I wondered if I could add beads. I have a necklace purchased a while ago that looks very similar to this simple knotting, but with beads. So I bought some thin hemp string and got to work. This is the finished anklet (and I’m out of body lotion for my legs, as I’m sure you can tell by this close-up photo).

knotted beaded anklet at


We’re not done yet! I also finished a baby sweater and hat this week. It’s for one of my husband’s co-workers. Gah it’s so cute!!

baby sweater + hat at

The details are on Ravelry. I hardly knit at all these days unless I’m making something as a gift. It was nice to pick up the needles again–this little sweater worked up fast, too. I began it on the second day of the Tour de France, and they’re not done cycling yet.

Finally, yesterday I added “draw and paint sunflowers” on my to-do list. Do you do that–add on the fun things to your list, to give the same importance as the chores? I do. I cleaned the bathrooms yesterday as well, but I made sure drawing and painting was also a priority. My daughter sat next to me and we both quietly looked, drew, and painted for quite some time. Here’s my finished page.

Sunflower sketchbook page at

As for listening, I got to hear the most amazing (and at times inane) conversations Tuesday as we sat in traffic on 95. We visited the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and instead of 90 minutes each way it was at least two hours. That’s a lot of car time! (Thanks, Massachusetts, for the construction.) My boys finished the books they’d brought well before we got anywhere near home, so they began discussing who they’d pick for a multi-universe superhero all-star team (that’s what it sounded like, anyway–both DC and Marvel characters, who would your top 20 be and why?). After a while they exhausted that topic and moved onto discussing which body part they’d willingly give up if necessary. (My practical 12yo said appendix. Mine’s already been removed and I don’t miss it at all.) That conversation quickly veered into the surreal. Four hours of driving with three kids. The things you overhear.

Phew! I’m linking up with Jen again this week. How about you? What are you making? Overhear any good conversations lately?

Another Baby Sweater + Hat Set

baby sweater

Very quickly here to share the (finally) finished baby sweater and hat for my eldest’s teacher, who is due in April. (So look at me go! Finished with time to spare!) This has actually been done for a couple of weeks, waiting for me to get on with weaving in ends and knitting a hat and sewing on buttons–which are handpainted, from Peace Fleece, and they’ve been in my button stash for about ten years or so.

Other details: The sweater pattern is Assisted Hatching, the hat pattern is Ashen, the yarn is Tosh Vintage in denim, the needles were US size 7, and the cuteness is undeniable. That about sums it up.

And just a quick post because I’m also working on a custom order, wanting to try out some new soy-based ink, putting together the printmaking issue of the zine and thinking you will really like it, and solo parenting for the week. I’ll pop in again soon. Have a great Monday!

Making + Listening::2/2014

A bit of our making this week:

banana bread at

Gluten-free banana bread, zoomed in and on macro so hopefully you can’t see that my stove-top is less-than-spotless.

spies at

My 9yo occasionally gathers the denizens of his room for meetings, grouped by their responsibilities. These, as you can see, are the spies, which I’m sharing because I enjoy that the rat is in this group. Most of the dragons are in charge of the treasury, obviously, but that purple and green one is small, so he gets to be a spy.

magnastix 2 at magnastix 1 at

Because my husband is away, my two younger kids came with me to physical therapy on Tuesday. The therapist let them play with this vintage magnetic building game that they use with patients who are working on fine-motor control. My kids asked me to take photos before they had to clean up and put it away. I only had my cell phone camera with me and was hooked up to the electrical stimulation machine when I took the picture, so I think we can forgive the blurriness of the first photo.

sweater in progress at

I’ve been knitting a baby sweater this week, just like this one, except for the color, of course, which is this really lovely light blue. We hope it’s acceptable for either a girl or a boy (we certainly think so), “we” being the 12yo and I, because it’s for his teacher. This shows my progress as of Wednesday afternoon after his orthodontist appointment, during which time I knit happily and quietly in a corner of the waiting room while my other two kids amused themselves with the New Things To Them provided for waiting siblings.

We have one more doctor’s appointment this week, if you can believe it, to the asthma + allergy clinic in the city, after which we plan to visit the Big Art Store. That would be making the best of a trip to the city.

As for listening, it’s been the 80s station pretty much anytime music is on. When no other adult is walking through the door for eleven days straight, you need something to keep you moving forward–and even dancing in the living room every so often. (“Your physical therapist won’t be happy,” my 5yo-going-on-30 informs me. “Probably not,” I reply, and then introduce the concept of air guitar.)

I’m linking up with Dawn again this week, of course. How’s your making been going?

Making + Listening::1/2014

Check out that shorthand up there! This is the first Making + Listening post of 2014, and we’ll see if I can remember I did that next week. Lots of making went on here over the holiday break, including two pairs of flannel jammie pants and two new skirts for the girl. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, one half of our dining room table was given over to sewing and the other to cookie decoration…not a bad way to spend the day before Christmas. But all that is practically ancient history by now. I have pictures of the more recently created stuff for you instead.

thank you RAK mail art at

Karen at Mail Me Some Art suggested that January be Random Act of Kindness mail art month, and that sounded like a great idea to me. I have some previously made background-only postcards on hand, so I added the elephant and the text and a note to the librarians at our local library and sent it along. If you want to join in, Karen has all the details here.

Right before Christmas, we received a box of nature goodies from Dawn. Sadly, our nature swap partner disappeared after receiving our box, so Dawn and her kids stepped in to make sure my kiddos got a box in return. It included this great sea urchin test, something we’ve never found on our beaches (although they do live in our waters).

sea urchin test at

It’s sitting in the center of our dining room table, which is where all our best nature finds eventually end up, so it was in sight and on hand when I was looking for something to draw. Look at that texture! I had to give it a try.

sea urchin sketch at

Remember the socks I began for my oldest a month ago, and then put aside for some Christmas knitting? They were lingering, and I was feeling guilty, and maybe a little unmotivated. Well, I finished the first one and began the next one right away, as you do. I knit on it steadily while watching playoff football, and this was the progress after one day’s knitting: half a sock.

sock in progress at

The next day, I finished it while watching the BCS Championship Game. It’s extremely convenient that two of my hobbies–watching sports and knitting–are so complementary.

finished socks at

These aren’t everyday socks. He wants warm handknit socks to wear to bed. I told him Tuesday morning that they were done, but I needed to take a picture before he could have them. (He didn’t bat an eyelash. He knows this by now.) They were on his bed when he got home from school. He bounded upstairs to tell me, “Those socks are AMAZING!” I will always knit for him, obviously.

Also this week, I tried out a new zippered pocket size. I have a bunch of 4″ zippers and I wanted to try a vertically oriented pencil pouch. This is the result.

vertical pencil pouch at

It’s a little longer than most pencils and pens, but it’s the perfect size for double-pointed knitting needles still in their original packaging.

DPN pouch at

I often need more than one set of DPNs, for instance, when I’m knitting mittens. I like to keep them in their pouches so I don’t lose any, but then I have them rattling around in my bag. The pouch I use to hold my knitting tools–a purchased one, long ago, in my Early Years of knitting–isn’t long enough to hold DPNs in their pouches. I think this might be a little deep for pens and pencils. I need to actually use it for a while to decide. I think it’s just right for DPNs, however.

I think I’m mostly caught up now, except for letting you know that I’m pleased to be amongst the contributors for the upcoming issue of Kindred: Nest, available for pre-order here. That list looks so impressive, and I can’t wait to hold the magazine in hand.

As for the listening part of this post, I could use suggestions of new music. I seem to be listening to the same five or so albums, interspersed with much older stuff. What’s your favorite, sort-of-recent album or band?

(Linking up with Dawn again this week!)