1. Proof that Dr. G’s Memory Vest Makes People Happy

    January 21, 2013 by Carol

    Mission accomplished!

    Being a goal-oriented person, I am pleased to have not only finished my husband’s Dr G’s Memory Vest (pattern by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops), but also to have accomplished my goal of knitting a sweater for each person in my immediate family this season.

    Except myself.  I am not neglecting myself.  I do not buy into the Martyr Mother role!  And winter is not over yet.  I will cast on for my new sweater any day now.  I just have to make a decision on which pattern…  Isn’t sifting Ravelry for a pattern the best part anyway?

    Back to the vest.  On a friend’s suggestion, I went with Aslan Trends Del Cerro yarn.  It was one of those yarns that seemed like it would work, but so did not – at first.  I wanted to make a medium, which would have given Matt some negative ease in the fit, but after casting on and knitting for a few inches, it was clear that it was coming out way too small.  So I threw my naughty knitting into the corner for a few days ripped it out and knit the vest in the extra-large size.


    Well hallelujah and all that jazz because it ended being a great fit!  It’s approximately 43” around the chest, which is about what size the medium was supposed to be.  I’d like to claim awesome knitting ninja powers, but I suspect I just got lucky.  The false start made for a good gauge swatch as well.  The one tricky spot was the v-neck; I had to rewrite the decreases because of the difference in my row gauge.  Row gauge didn’t give me a problem in the other parts of the sweater.

    Don’t get me wrong about the Del Cerro, either.  It’s a great yarn.  It is comprised of many small plies and it is very bouncy and squishy.  It was just a bit splitty in the knitting up, but not so much that I am put off using it in the future.  The important feature of this yarn: It has GREAT stitch definition for all those cables.  I hope down the road that it doesn’t fuzz over so much that the cables become blurred, but if it does, oh well – there are more vests to be knit and there is a life-cycle to all these knitted goods.

    Coincidentally, Matt’s first opportunity to wear this was on his birthday last week.  We had to go out and get a new white button down and everything.


    Donut Mondae at Zingerman’s Roadhouse ~ what more could a person ask for?!

    Dah-ling, you look mah-velous!  Happy Birthday!

  2. Well, well, well…

    November 15, 2012 by Carol

    It has been a quiet year (here, anyway) with a beautiful, but hard-to-read theme.

    How about we change things up?

    A new theme and renewed purpose.

    After thirteen years–lucky, lucky thirteen–working in traditional publishing, I am stretching my wings to encompass the online realm.  Right now, let us simply enjoy each other’s company, shall we?  In two years’ time, my little people will all be in school and I will be able to devote myself to my freelance career fulltime.  Yikes!  So this is the time to enjoy.  The time when my seven-year-old son still says “I love you, Mom,” while we’re walking home from school (as he did today).

    What have you been enjoying lately?

    I’ve been sinking deeper and deeper into the soft abyss of spinning.  I have been blessed to borrow two spinning wheels and be given another–simultaneously–this past year.  Talk about wow.  So it is time to give back before there’s some sort of karmic backlash, like a rubberband snapping back into my face.

    The borrowed wheels are an Ashford Traveller (very easy to spin on!) and a Majacraft Suzie Pro (the Cadillac of spinning wheels, as one friend put it).  Then someone was cleaning her house and gifted me with a Louet S15 that she had bought second-hand and never used.  It needed love and repairs but–OMG!  It was mine!

    Through my local fiber guild, Spinner’s Flock, I got in touch with Linda of Cape House Farms, a local Louet dealer.  She fixed my baby up right and told me it was more than 30 years old.  I went straight from Linda’s beautiful property to Knit Night, my heart so light and bubbly with excitement, my arms full of combed Border Leicester that she gave me to play with–and I discovered that I couldn’t spin on this wheel to save my life!

    Cue violins.  Pass the antacids.

    Luckily there is always knitting to get my back (love you BFF!) so I wasn’t empty-handed that evening.  But after closing down the coffeeshop, I stayed up late doing research.  I learned that most Louets, the S15 included, are bobbin-led wheels.  The other two I’ve been using are flyer-led.  I made a few small adjustments to my drafting and treadeling and–behold!–Rapunzel is back in the house.

    Rapunzel reference aside, I make no great claims to my spinning quality.  I am simply enjoying the process.  First question out of everyone’s mouth when I show them my spinning is “what are you going to make?”  Fair enough.  If you asked me about the angle of twist or Z/S spin, I would just look at you cross-eyed anyway.  But I have no answer to this popular question.  I left the last guild meeting wearing my latest skeins of yarn like a cowl and that worked well enough.

    Until I got too warm.

  3. Stripe it like there’s no tomorrow

    April 30, 2012 by Carol

    You can't knit just two!

    In my experience, creation falls into two categories: quick and slow.  Whether one is writing a story or building a piece of furniture, some things come together in a flash of frenzied inspiration, while others must cook for a long, long time.  This sock pattern falls into the latter category.  I have noodled out and knit up versions of it since December 2008 when it made it’s debut as a multicolor striped slipper sock for my brother’s girlfriend.

    The organizing principle: what tiny balls of leftover yarn are in the bottom of my Wool-Ease basket?

    Although I love the funky multicolor stripey-ness, this early sock needed to be knit at a tighter gauge to be more durable.

    First I had a detour into some Harry Potter themed House Socks, which gave me the name, but were still too loose.

    Slytherin or Gryffindor?


    A few years later, I got around to reworking the numbers and quickly had these!

    This combo of green and blue makes my eyes happy.


    Before giving them over to the whole wide world, I had some friends test it out.  Thank you, friends!

    Alison Denomme


    Allison Phelps


    Casey Braun -- her first socks ever! Wow!


    Melissa White


    Heidi Lemon


    Abbey Buckley

    More views and more socks are available on the pattern’s Ravelry page!  It is with great pleasure that I give you House Socks!  Enjoy! Please be in touch if you have any questions.  Via Ravelry is best way to contact me.

  4. When Life Gives You Lemons…

    February 3, 2012 by Carol

    …you knit a doll blanket with ridiculously cutesy yarn!


    Today I went to the yarn shop — with my preschooler — thinking to indulge myself in a single beautiful skein of something to make something with.  (I was deliberately keeping my options open.)  And there she was, being such a good girl in such a grown up store, skipping down all the aisles, pointing out every single pink skein and squealing with delight over them all.

    The conclusion was obvious and I am really enjoying this diversion knit.  I thought I was busy last year, with a husband in grad school, both of us working, a kid at home, and a kid in school, but we have managed to take it up a notch this year.  Oy.

    I have been reduced to hiding in my bedroom on a Friday afternoon, knitting pink yarn, and watching Downton Abbey.

    Of course when I write it down it doesn’t sound bad at all.  Perhaps I do have a sense of self preservation.

    The yarn is Plymouth Encore Colorspun in the poetically named color #7722.  Now, if you don’t mind, the blue stripe is waiting…

  5. Piedra Del Sol / Sunstone

    February 2, 2012 by Carol

    In observance of Brigit, a poem (actually, part of a poem because this is a very long poem):

    Piedra del sol (Sunstone) by Octavio Paz

    I want to go on, to go further, and cannot:

    as each moment was dropping into another

    I dreamt the dreams of dreamless stones,

    and there at the end of the years like stones

    I heard my blood, singing in its prison,

    and the sea sang with a murmur of light,

    one by one the walls gave way,

    all of the doors were broken down,

    and the sun came bursting through my forehead,

    it tore apart my closed lids,

    cut loose my being from its wrappers,

    and pulled me out of myself to wake me

    from this animal sleep and its centuries of stone,

    and the sun’s magic of mirrors revived

    a crystal willow, a poplar of water,

    a tall fountain the wind arches over,

    a tree deep-rooted yet dancing still,

    a course of a river that turns, moves on,

    doubles back, and comes full circle,

    forever arriving:

    New sweater just in time for spring!

  6. Mental Note: Remember this Forever

    January 21, 2012 by Carol

    This morning my almost-three-year-old daughter climbed into our bed, vaulting herself into that much coveted nook between mom and dad.  As she snuggled in deeper, she beamed at both of us and said: “You guys are my BEST FRIENDS … ever!”

    Goooooood morning!

    What a nice way to wake up in the morning!

    If you’re here for the knitting, rest assured I have good news.  Spiral Yoke is DONE, has been donned and found worthy, and took a trip to the spa.  After a lavender-scented bubble bath, she is now resting (and drying) on the dining room table.  Photos to follow.

  7. Review: The Native Star

    January 5, 2012 by Carol

    I like weird books.  Not necessarily weird for weird sake but mainstream fiction about sad people having sad sex and going to fourteen funerals is kinda why I couldn’t stomach the thought of an English degree.  The world is a crazy place!  The glass is half full!  And reading is for entertainment.  The first thing the Sumerians wrote about was beer and folk tales so c’mon people!  Let’s have fun with it.

    The cover art does not suck, eh?

    The Native Star is M.K. Hobson‘s debut novel, published by Ballantine Spectra in August 2010.  I know Hobson’s name from my volunteer work with BroadUniverse, an organization that promotes women writers & editors within the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing.  (Is that a disclosure?  I do not know the author at all.)  So when I saw this book on the shelf at my local indy bookshop, I read the blurb and said, “Heck yeah! This sounds like fun.”

    Set in an alternate 1880s United States, Hobson’s novel follows a backwoods witch and an urbane warlock who must race across the country just ahead of government-funded, ultra-menacing blood sorcerers.  The action is exciting, the magic has meaning, the romance is not sappy or heavy-handed, and Hobson’s language is precise.  She also sets us up for a sequel (The Hidden Goddess, released eight months ago) that did not leave me feeling irritated and oversold.  Instead, I was running to my computer to look up the deets.

    My one beef — because no review is complete unless the reviewer complains about something, right? — is that the subplot about Dag was kind of left hanging.  Maybe Hobson covers this in the second book, but that seems unlikely.

    Not a fan of fantasy?  I promise you, if you can manage the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Harry Potter heptalogy (the books, NOT the movies!) then this will not be too weird.  And it would make a good film.



  8. Vegetal Dreams

    January 4, 2012 by Carol

    To the uninitiated, this would seem an odd time to talk about the garden, but for those with the itch, this is our hidden season.  The one full of seed catalogs and vegetal dreams and grandiose plans.

    First of all: this balmy “winter” made it possible for me to finish bagging my 58th through 65th bags of leaves in mid-December, long after the yard waste truck stopped trundling through on trash day.  (I dumped them on the sleeping vegetable garden.  The worms will thank me later.)  The unseasonably warm weather makes me think I should get a jump on the spring cleaning.  For example, herding the pots of probably-dead plants tucked throughout the garden, terminally waiting to be planted.  Or picking toys out of the sandbox.  The ones that haven’t filled with water, frozen, and burst, that is.  Those can stay and provide some color to our brown winter.

    Second of all: I received my first SERIOUS garden tool as a gift from my husband this year: Felco hand pruners.  This is the kind of tool you wipe clean after every use and even oil and sharpen occasionally.  I got a cool leather sheath for it and even a tiny tool that is supposed to help take it apart (it’s rather wee; I am in doubt).  Monster thistle, you watch out!  Now I’m cooking with gas!

    Speaking of gas, my husband got a flame-thrower thingy from a friend who understands his manly need to torch offending vegetation.  Why bend over and pull a weed when one can simply push a button…?  No I am not sneering.  My inner villan is rubbing her hands together with glee!

    Thirdly: I renewed my Mother Earth News subscription today.  I freakin’ love that magazine.  When I discovered it several years ago, I was floored.  Here it was, the magazine of my people!  I didn’t realize so many other people thought like me — all DIY and loving the planet and homesteading and more liberal than the liberals — and I live in a college town.

    Just goes to show… we aren’t alone.  Ever.  We aren’t even all that unique (having kids made this really clear).  If you have a thought, someone somewhere is thinking the same thing.  And we haven’t even touched on the multiverse.

    It is amazing to realize how many friends are out there that you haven’t met yet.

  9. Swirly

    January 2, 2012 by Carol

    I am now into the yoke of the Spiral Yoke Sweater.

    Spiral Yoke detail

    my stitches are a travelin'

    another crappy, "oops, where went my daylight?" photo

    I could be done (this is a theme, no?) if I weren’t distracted with some quickie knits here and there.

    For example, I made warmish socks for my skinny boy:

    worsted weight on little feet makes quick work

    These are knit in leftover bits of Lion Brand Wool-Ease for washability and warmth.  They may be only 20% wool but that’s 20% more than all of his other socks.  The couple of handknit pair he has are in intense rotation so I decided to help a boy out.  These made a good traveling project for the month of December now that I am done knitting sleeves (ahem) for my sweater.  I think I could make a pair in 2-3 evenings of knitting if I weren’t busy with a sweater.  And I don’t sit still much while I knit.

    I have been abstaining from resolutions and major project declarations so far this new year.  Not because I think it’s a useless exercise.  I am seeking clarity.  December was too busy for inward reflection.  I am a gal who appreciates a little naval-gazing, so I am at least glad to have finished December and begun January.

    Now, back to my sweater and my Harry Potter movie marathon. (I’m halfway through.  The movies, that is.)

  10. Happy New Year!

    January 1, 2012 by Carol

    I spent the last hour of 2011 trying to spend money on my business.  How about you?

    For the self-employed, I cannot recommend this method of supply management.

    I really hope I don’t regret my new business card design in the morning.

    Now that it is after midnight and I am buzzed on caffeine (another bottle of new year’s champagne rests warm and unopened atop my fridge), I figure I have some time to burn before I will be able to sleep … and you know what I want to do?

    This will mark me as a giant yarn nerd if nothing has so far.

    I want to make a big pile of sock yarn on my dining room table.  I want to look at it all at once and dream about the things I will make in 2012.

    Who’s with me?

    I am thinking, for the first time ever, that maybe all my sock yarn won’t become socks.  Hmmm… hmmmm!