lightning tee

The Madeira Vandyke Lace stitch pattern immediately caught my interest as soon as I saw it in the wonderfully useful Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard. No doubt because it looks a lot like lightning bolts to me, which brings to mind those unpredictable thunder and lightning storms that occur frequently around this time of year. Perfect for a summer tee. This was knitted from the bottom up, in the round up to the underarms. Then the front and back were knitted flat and joined together with a three needle bind-off. 1x1 ribbing was used for the bottom hem, neck and arm openings. Waist shaping was not necessary due to the nature of the stitch pattern. I knitted this with about 3 inches of positive ease, out of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, an 80% cotton/20% merino blend. The color is a vibrant blue which is so hard to capture in photos but is one of my favorite shades of blue. It would be very easy and fun to adapt this basic tee formula for other stitch patterns in the book. All that is needed is a good gauge swatch and a little basic math. I really   how this turned out. ⚡⚡⚡


blog hop - creativity

Last week, Steph invited me to participate in a blog-hop about a topic that is nearest and dearest to my heart: creativity. Speaking of which, her blog is one of my favorite sources of inspiration for beautiful knits, witty writing and other hi jinks.

1.  What have been the doings/makings/scribblings at your desk/making table this week?

There is a jumble of crafty things on my desk this week. Here is the breakdown:

* 365 Things to Make and Do is a constant source of fun projects to make with the little guy. We especially love the ones involving bugs and pirates.

* Can't wait to get started on these mini embroidery kits.

* Another pin-loom coaster in progress.

* A random assortment of knitting which includes sweater ornaments, a newly started summer top, my Hitofude cardigan which is in desperate need of attention and...

* The ever-present hexipuffs.

2.  Where are you currently finding your inspiration?

The answer to this question is pretty cliched, but I find inspiration everywhere. Well, maybe not in the hubby's messy garage or my laundry room, but in everyday things like....my garden, or the hydrangeas growing just outside the front door, or the bunnies who claim our backyard for themselves, or my nieces and their budding sense of style, or the little guy's funny renditions of his favorite songs. I could go on & on & on. Also, there are so many wonderfully inspiring blogs that I love to visit. It is oftentimes very difficult to stay focused on my current projects when I see all of the beautiful knits/crochet/sewing, etc. that abound on these blogs. And then there's Ravelry. It is embarrassing to admit how many hours I spend ogling all of the gorgeous projects and patterns there.

3.  How important is being creative to you and how do you blend this with your work-life-family balance?

It is a constant juggling act most days, but I try to fit in a little time for knitting, listening to music or reading every day. Since I work pretty long shifts (12 to 14 hours), I consider myself lucky if I can knit just 15 minutes before bedtime. But then there are days filled to the brim with making, knitting, and other fun things. So it all balances out in the end. I also think it is important to teach by example. Seeing his parents knitting or creating funny motorcycle videos shows the little guy how much fun making things can be. I love seeing him caught up in his own creative ventures....most recently, composing hilarious lyrics to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody :)

Thanks, Steph, for letting me join in the fun! And now I would like to keep the blog-hop ball rolling by inviting Chris and Kepanie to play along. I so enjoy visiting their blogs and reading about their adventures in life and knitting.


warped & unfocused

Sorry for yet another random disorganized post. That's just the kind of summer we're having lately.

I took my niece to Warped Tour recently and boy, was it a long exhausting day! Although I managed to sneak in some knitting, there was really no chance to sit and relax. And I definitely felt my age while standing in the midst of a bunch of screaming teenage girls going hysterical over this band full of cuties. Front row center with a sea of kids crowd surfing over me. But it was worth it when I saw the smiles of happiness on my niece's face.

Last week, the little guy and I went to the ocean to soak up the sun and play in the waves. The time went by much too fast and now we are going through a bit of beach withdrawal. The cure? Lots of ice cream, a Miyazaki film fest and many trips to the pool. And for me, a new toy:

The name says it all. I can pretty much zoom through a square in about 15 minutes. I am starting out with a simple coaster pattern from the Purl Bee, since mixing summery brights with neutrals is always fun no matter the craft.

The knitting basket is quite full at the moment. There hasn't been much motivation to finish anything this past month. I have been working on a little bit of this or that whenever the mood strikes. Need to buckle down and actually get some things off the needles in August. The last thing I want is to still be knitting with linen or cotton when the weather turns cooler. But also finding it difficult to stay focused lately. Do you have the same problem around this time of year?


hello July

I can't believe how fast June went by. Kinda like those elusive lightning bugs that I used to try to catch when I was little. We have lots of fun things planned for July. Really looking forward to some upcoming music concerts and carnivals, plus a return trip to the ocean in a few weeks. And everyday, we are trying to fit in some making of one kind or another. Today, there was this dangerously delicious mug cake recipe. The little guy went wild with the sprinkles. Can't say that I blame him one bit because you can never have too many sprinkles (or vanilla bean ice cream or blueberries) on top of a mug cake. Yum! In the knitting basket, I have a new sweater in the works using that stitch pattern that I fell for in Up, Down, All-Around. I wish that I can bottle up this bright summery blue color. Utterly captivating, although hard to photograph. I also did a little bit of non-knitting lately. Isn't it funny how we knitters label all those other crafts? Or is it just me? But it was a nice little break to make something not out of yarn for a change. Now I am obsessed with these bamboo jewelry kits from Red Gate Stitchery. I am not much of a jewelry wearer but these are so sweet and unique looking.

What fun things are in the stars for you this month?


a recipe from the garden

I continue to be amazed, grateful and delighted by this little garden of mine. Mainly because before this year, everything that I attempted to grow pretty much didn't, with the exception of weeds mint & rosemary. So it has been very thrilling to be greeted by all the thriving plants this season and to be able to enjoy their offerings. The strawberries were a big yummy hit with everyone, so next year we will be planting lots more of those. Nothing like fresh strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream to herald in summer. Now that strawberry season is over, we are looking forward to the tomatoes ripening. I already have a stockpile of fresh mozzarella waiting to be made into Caprese salad. And a few weeks ago, I think I scared the neighbors with my shout of glee when I spied a couple of eensy weensy baby watermelons among the jack and the beanstalk like vines. Yeah, call me a gardening newbie, but little things like that really add sunshine to my days. And now that the herbs are coming in full-blown, I need to start thinking of ways to use them. Please let me know if you have any good recipes or ideas for fresh basil, thyme, Italian parsley or lavender. The last will be interesting to experiment with, since I have never used it in cooking. Today, we are enjoying one of my favorite sandwiches of all time, pan bagnat, which is a specialty of Nice, France.

There are many versions of this sandwich floating around. Here's how I make mine:

one large crusty round loaf of bread 
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
one clove garlic, minced
freshly cracked black pepper
kosher salt
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained
a couple of anchovy filets (optional)
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced in half
one small red onion, sliced thin
one ripe tomato, sliced 
a large handful of fresh basil

Cut the loaf of bread in half. Pull out some of the bread's interiors from both the top and bottom halves. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil and red wine vinegar on both halves. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper, then the minced garlic. Lightly flake the tuna and spread it onto the bottom half. Then layer on the anchovies (if using), eggs, red onions, tomato slices and basil.Cover with the top half and tightly wrap the sandwich in some plastic wrap. Press down gently but firmly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

*sometimes I also add in some chopped kalamata or nicoise olives, red bell pepper slices, radishes, cucumbers, capers (depending on what I have on hand and what I'm in the mood for).