Ring in the New

You didn't think I would go a whole week without showing off another Botanic Hat, now did you? This is the fourth and probably the last one for a while. It will be donated to the local shelter. I took the pictures of the hat at night using my Ott-lite (without flash) just to see how they would turn out. I think that it's a good option for when natural sunlight is not possible. Also shown are the Give a Hoot mittens that I made for my two nieces, which went over really well. And that's the last of this year's FO's. Here's to a New Year of bright possibilities and more crafty adventures! Help us to ring it in properly by visiting Tami's blog for FO Friday.


Cookies and Tea

My Christmas weekend was peacefully spent at home with loved ones. I am happy to report that the knitted gifts were very much appreciated. That's always a relief since one never knows how handmade gifts will be received in this era of electronics and gadgetry. Now that the holiday knitting is finished for another year, I can turn my attention to the most appreciative recipient of my knitting efforts: me. Currently on the needles is Turmeric designed by the talented Veera Valimaki. I had casted on for this back in October but took a hiatus due to the gift knitting. Now I'm back to it in full swing, having completed the yoke and divided for the sleeves. Another self-indulgent project is a repeat knit of the Shawl Collared Cowl by Alana Dakos. I had knitted the first one for my little sister and almost gave into the urge to keep it and buy her cheese instead. Now I can have one for myself, guilt-free. The week after Christmas is a little difficult for me, mainly because I enjoy the anticipation and bustle of preparing for the holidays so much. The transition to non-holiday mode is always helped by making myself something warm and cozy. Plus leftover cookies and lots of tea! Add in inspiration from these crafty bloggers at TAMI'S AMIS and I'll be back to my normal self in no time!


EIP Wednesday

This will be a very picture heavy WIP Wednesday with TAMI'S AMIS or in my case, Elving in Progress. I wanted to share some finished gifts before they get wrapped and put under the tree. The Beaded Gathered Scarf for Grandma L. (my mother-in-law) is finally done. My very own yarn angel in the form of the lovely owner of my LYS gifted me with half a skein of the green mohair/silk yarn to finish the last 12 rows. The scarf will be joining the knitted bead bracelet as part of a gift set. The bracelet was so much fun to knit and I see more jewelry making in the near future. There is also another Botanic Hat ready for giving. My little boy is test driving it out and I think it meets with his approval. I have the fourth and final one on the needles now. It's such a relief to be almost done with the gift knitting! Hope everyone has a happy, safe and peaceful holiday!


Heck With The Malls!

I am totally excited to post my first FO Friday with TAMI'S AMIS! Here are some gifts that are hot off the needles. This Shawl Collared Cowl is intended for my little sister. The pattern is very well written and lots of fun to knit. I have some yarn and buttons to make one for myself, so looking forward to knitting this again. Speaking of repeat knits, here are two examples of my current obsession, the Botanic Hat. I love the different results that you can achieve with this pattern just by switching yarns. It's also reversible which is too cool. I am looking forward to gifting these to my little boy and hubby. Hopefully there will be more presents to display next week, none of which requiring frantic trips to the mall! Have a fun weekend everyone!


Where are those elves when you need them?

Let's start with the good news: I managed to finish knitting 3 gifts yesterday. Now for the bad news: there's still 3 more gifts left to be done. This is not including the never ending beaded scarf that was started in October and is still not done because, despite my optimism, a big ball of mohair yarn must eventually come to an end. Yes, I ran out of yarn yesterday with only 12 rows remaining. If this scarf was just for me, I wouldn't care about the two ends being a little mismatched or making it a little shorter. However, since it's a gift for a special lady, those 12 rows will have to be finished. So with only 10 days left till Christmas, there's still 2 more Botanic Hats to knit, 1 pair of Give a Hoot mittens still in need of thumbs, and some mohair/silk yarn to magically spin up (since I don't know how to spin). Plus, 18 cards to make and send, a gazillion presents to wrap and a partridge in a pear tree.

Tune into TAMI'S blog for more holiday crafting drama....



This is Henry, from the pattern Henri the Knitted Bear by Rachel Borello. He was meant to cast a cheerful glow over the tree, but ended up looking like he has a bad case of indigestion from eating one too many holiday cookies. The hardest part of knitting softies is getting their expressions to turn out the way you intended. Oh well, maybe Henry just doesn't care for smittens. Or maybe his grumpiness is from missing a pair of legs and an arm. Sorry Henry, but those will have to wait because there are many more gifts to knit. I am almost finished with another Botanic Hat. This one is knitted out of Ultra Alpaca and Poems yarn. Really loving the subtle effect of these yarns knitted together. Then onwards to Grandma L.'s knitted bead bracelet. Here's a preview of the beads that will be used. Not much time left, so hopefully this will knit up quickly. (Check out these crafty ladies at TAMI'S blog for WIP Wednesdays).


Sofitel's Second FO

Over the past year, I have been teaching my two nieces (ages 9 and 11) how to knit and crochet with mixed results. Although Bleach (the older one) is extremely artistic and loves to draw, she is also completely enamored of her various electronic gadgets and has a hard time being unplugged from them. So asking her to sit for short periods of time with a ball of yarn and 2 sticks was like sending her back into the Stone Age. I had more success with my niece Sofitel. Now there's a girl after my own yarn loving heart! After her very first crochet lesson, she created her own ball of crocheted art yarn which I knitted up into a bag for her. We then moved onto knitting lessons which resulted in her first FO, a garter stitch scarf for her mom. She was so very proud of that scarf! She then asked me if I could buy her some yarn for her next project, a knitted purse. I, of course, said yes! and even offered to look on ravelry for some patterns for her. Well, the yarn was happily accepted, but she said that she would come up with her own pattern for the purse. Can you believe it?!! So here I present to you Sofitel's Knit on the Fly Purse. It makes this knitting aunt proud every time I look at it.
(On the needles is her WIP, a coaster knitted out of some more crocheted yarn she made)


Tree Trimming, Disco Style

It's Raining Men FO's! I have been diligently working on my holiday knits, even finishing some of them. I just need to snap some pictures to share them on FO Fridays. In the meantime, there is the pressing need to trim the sadly naked tree in my living room. This year, I am smitten with (you guessed it) SMITTENS! Oh, if only I had known about smittens a few months ago! Then there could have been 24 of them lined up to count down the days till Christmas. But at least there will be a few to dress up the tree this season. You just got to love a project that goes fast and uses stash yarn. Here's a picture of the advent calendar we are using this year. It is made out of some paper gift sacks picked up at the craft store. Add some decorative stickers, stencil in the numbers and hang up with some clothes pins. They might not be smittens but my little boy doesn't care, as long as they hold the all important treats! (They also can be reused as gift tags. Just punch out a hole, add a little something sweet inside, and string with a bit of ribbon or yarn).

Put on some Bee Gees and your elevator platforms, then disco on over to TAMI'S blog for some groovy WIP's!


Joyous Jelly Beans

holiday loot

Who needs a calender when you have Trader Joe's? During the week after Thanksgiving, while most people are braving the crowds at the mall, you can find me at my favorite hangout sampling the free chocolates and tea. Happy Holidays and Joyous Jelly Beans!


Giving Thanks

I am thankful for so many things. In these tough economic times, I am thankful for a comfortable home and steady income. I am thankful for having my family close to my heart even if some of them are halfway around the world. I am thankful for having a patient and understanding husband who is my helpmeet in all things (except the housecleaning), who gives me space to enjoy my hobbies even if he still doesn't know the difference between wool and acrylic. I am thankful for my precocious little boy who allows me to see the world through his unique point of view. Happy Thanksgiving!


Surf's Up!

My little boy must have been programmed at birth to be a surfer dude. He would wear flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts in the middle of winter if he could get away with it. So showering him with hand knitted sweaters has never been an option. The only way he indulges his knitting mama with her yarn thing is by letting me knit him hats. This holiday I have chosen the BOTANIC HAT pattern by STEPHEN WEST, which is super exciting for several reasons. I have had a knitting crush on Monsieur West for the longest time. I think that he has such a unique and modern point of view. This pattern also uses slipped stitches which is one of my favorite ways of working with colors and textures. Slipped stitches always make me feel clever and I am never one to pass up the opportunity to feel smart. Plus, the hat is reversible, which is always a fun feature. And in addition to all that, I can "borrow" it because my little boy has an adult sized noggin. Here he is showing off the EAR COZIES that I knitted him last year.

Head on over to TAMI'S blog for WIP Wednesdays, flip-flops are optional.


History Repeating Itself

 knitting ninjas!

While hanging out with my two nieces and their friend, we became involved in a heated discussion about music. They are currently into a band called the Black Veil Brides. I told them that speed guitars and shrieking was not my cup of tea. To which they responded that I was a nerdy knitter with uncool taste in music. Being a nerdy knitter is a badge of honor in my book, but having uncool taste in music?!! That went straight through the heart! Just as I was getting ready to respond to their insult, the constant stream of corny Vietnamese love ballads that my parents used to play during every childhood road trip popped into my mind. I kept my mouth shut.

(artwork by my niece Bleach)


My Sister Extraordinaire

which ones?

My little sister is one of those people who knows how to do everything. She sews, quilts, crochets, knits, crafts, cooks, bakes, gardens, and (I suspect) even makes her own dog food. And she does all these things beautifully and effortlessly. So you will understand that she was the last person I thought of when I saw this wonderful pattern knitted up at my LYS. It was greedily going to be mine, mine, mine! But then, inconveniently, holiday knitter's guilt crept in. I started to wonder if my sister extraordinaire ever was given a handmade anything because it was just assumed that she could make it herself. So this year I will be gifting her with a SHAWL COLLARED COWL by ALANA DAKOS of NEVER NOT KNITTING. I am using Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande (sooo soft, plus quick to knit up). I, of course, also picked up two skeins and some buttons to make one for myself (knitter's guilt is so fleeting).
For more projects to add to your ever growing knitting list, go to TAMI'S blog for WIP Wednesdays


Perfect Excuse

There are days when I just want to stay home and do nothing but knit. Okay, so that's everyday. But to do this, I sometimes need an excuse. Here's where this recipe for what I call "Perfect Excuse Beef Stew" comes in handy. It's by the extremely witty cookbook author Ann Hodgman. You will need:

2 pounds suitable-for-stew beef, cut into 1&1/2-inch cubes
6 carrots, cut into thick slices
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 large baking potato, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1 10-to-11 ounce can Campbell's Tomato Bisque Soup (or regular Tomato Soup if you can't find
Tomato Bisque) and food snobs need not sneer...this is really the best base for this soup
1/2 to 3/4 soup can water, depending on wether you prefer thick or thin stew
*I also add a cup of green peas towards the end because we are a pea loving family

Here's what I do:
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees
In a heavy, lidded casserole that holds about 2&1/2 quarts, combine everything and stir until well mixed. Cover the casserole first with a tight layer of foil and then with the lid. And then here comes the "perfect excuse" part.....bake the stew for FIVE hours! Yup, that's 5 whole hours of "Oh, honey, I can't go to Home Depot to buy that plunger you need because I have dinner in the oven." That's 5 whole hours of knitting & playing time with my little boy with the added bonus of a wonderfully tasting stew to show for it!

Warning: do not overuse! They will catch on and decide to boycott.


Peaceful Solitude

Went for an early morning walk,

then made a pot of tea for one,

spent some time with these,

and then knitted some more of this. A morning well spent!

Grab yourself a cuppa and head on over to TAMI'S blog for some crafty goodness.


Let It Snow

Look what just came in the mail! It's the Snow Day felt ornament kit by Alicia Paulson. She's the creator of so many beautiful sewing, embroidery and crochet patterns. You can find her website HERE. She also has a wonderful blog that I love to read, HERE. Can you tell that I'm a fan? Anyways, I love handmade Christmas ornaments. They just represent everything good about the holidays to me. My tree might be a little mismatched and goofy looking with all sorts of things that I made or collected over the years, but it holds many memories. I try to knit or craft a few things for it every year to add to the memories. And now my little boy has added a few of his own little creations, too!


A Field Study*

Broken Rib Socks

Grapevine by Heidi Kirrmaier

There are as many species of knitters out in the wild as there are fishes in the sea. But some commonalities do exist. The first major subspecies observed share a trait call "startitis". These knitters tend to impulsively cast on for any and all projects that catches their eyes. They usually have multiple projects on the needles, but that does not prevent them from starting more. As for finishing any of these projects? That would require another study altogether. Then there is the (extremely rare) subspecies that have maybe at the most two projects going at once. One for travel knitting and one that requires more concentration. They have the compulsion to FINISH these projects before they can cast on for another. Did I mention that sightings of this subspecies are EXTREMELY rare? And then there is a subspecies that possibly is a hybrid of the two listed above. These knitters have a reasonable number of works in progress, say 9 or 10. Not too many that they can't finish any of them (so they tell themselves) but not too little that other knitters would consider them strange. The problem with these knitters is that they GET BORED with their current WIP's very easily. For example, they might stop knitting a pair of socks just at the point where decreasing for the toes begin and the dreaded Kitchener stitch comes into play (exhibit A). Some of their WIP's might be finished save for a missing sleeve (exhibit B). For more examples of any of the above subspecies (you be the judge) go to TAMI'S blog.

*no harm was done to any knitters in the making of this study


Start Your Engines.....

It's November 1st. The official start of Christmas Knitting Season! This year, I made things a little bit easier for myself by finishing some gifts early. But never fear, there will still be a dramatic last minute dash to the finish line! What's Christmas knitting without a little stress and drama to spice things up, after all? My finished objects so far are a couple of scarves for my nieces, a hat for my nephew, and a pair of mittens. My elf list still includes another pair of mittens, a hat for my little boy, a couple of toys, a scarf and bracelet set and The Socks. Wish me luck! What's on your elf list?


Go Forth and Eat Candy

Jack-o-lanterns, candy corn, fall leaves
Goblins and witches, trick or treat
Bright eyes and shining smiles
Have a spooky Halloween!

Okay, enough with the torturous attempt at poetry. But Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It brings back so many great childhood memories for me (The only bad memory was when my oldest brother decided to dress up as the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz). Here's a sweater that I knitted a few years ago in honor of the holiday. It's the FEBRUARY LADY SWEATER but my little boy renamed it "bats". The gull lace pattern does look like little bats in this color, don't you think? Well, we're almost ready to go forth and eat candy, just as soon as my little boy decides on a costume (race car driver, Jedi Knight, Top Chef, or Cookie Monster?)


The Hat

My hubby wears a size 13 shoe and he wants me to knit him a pair of wool socks. This is only the second request that he has ever made for a hand knitted item from me. Here's the problem: I have only ever finished two pairs of socks in my life and they were for my size 7 feet. I thought about reminding him of The Hat Incident in order to get out of knitting these socks. A few years ago, he asked me to knit him a winter hat. No problem! I made a nice simple rib hat out of Brown Sheep bulky yarn in sable. Quick and easy. He wore it quietly for a month or so. One day as I was taking the laundry out of the dryer, I reached in and pulled out what looked like roadkill. It was The Hat. He had put it in the wash to "shrink" it a bit. From that day on he wore that crazy looking hat on his head, proudly telling anyone who would listen that his wife had knitted it for him. Let's just say that The Hat has been buried. Hopefully, The Socks will have a happier ending. Any suggestions for a quick and easy men's sock pattern?


Grandma's Gotta Have Some Bling!

I saw a lovely version of this gathered scarf knitted up at my LYS and knew that it would make a great Christmas gift for Grandma L. The owner had added a few rows of bead work to jazz things up a bit. But just 2 sections of beading? Nope, Grandma needs a lot more bling than that! A whole scarf's worth! You can view the pattern on ravelry HERE. Check THIS out for a good demo on adding beads to your knitting using a crochet hook. As luck would have it, my LYS is offering a class on knitted beaded jewelry in November. Looks like Grandma's gonna have some more bling!