here's looking at you 2014

2014 finished projects (and yay! 4 original designs!)

I hope that you are all continuing to enjoy your holiday festivities. Our days have been quiet and peaceful, just the way I like them. After a whirlwind visit from Grandma L. we have been settling in to a calm, relaxing routine this holiday break: sleeping in, quiet play and lots of movies & knitting time. The only personal drama being a bit of a Poor Rudolph Hat withdrawal which resulted in the creation of these mini ornaments. And look! I finally figured out how to use my Clover pom pom maker. Such a clever device, although I have a tendency to overly fuss and trim the resulting pom poms too much.

I also finished a pair of mittens for my niece just in the nick of time (they were literally cast off on Christmas morning). She had sweetly requested a pair of blue mittens but I over thought the project and could not decide which shade of blue to use. So I decided to raid the stash and came up with three shades with a pleasing gradient effect. The mittens were a mash up of two patterns: the Cozy Purl Ridge Mittens with its afterthought thumb construction and the beautifully simple colourwork from the Hiro Mittens design. They were a big hit with the niece and I might knit up a pair for myself in the same colors in order to use up more of the stash.

In fact, looking back on the projects from this past year, knitting from the stash was a common theme. Giving myself a pat on the back for this, although at the same time, I am not so proud of the basketful of WIP's and UFO's carrying over into the New Year. I think that my low FO count this year is mainly due to having too many projects going on at once. At one point there were four or five sweaters simultaneously on the needles even. So the main goal for January and February is to come to terms with my impulsivity and to deal with these on-going projects one way or another. Either finishing them or ruthlessly frogging them, because they are putting a damper on my knitting mojo right now. So the big lesson learned in 2014 and the goal set forth for 2015? Be more mindful of what gets put on the needles!

What kinds of creative goals are in the works for you in the new year? Any lessons learned from this past year? Here's to a brilliantly fun 2015 and thank you for continuing to share in this creative journey. You are all a constant inspiration to me!



Have you been following along with the Yarn Harlot's holiday posts this season? I read with interest how she organized all of her holiday gifting, making, decorating, etc. on a color-coded spreadsheet. How awesome is that? So unlike my wacky method, which is to procrastinate until one week before the big day and then cram all of my shopping and gift wrapping into a couple of days. Although the one advantage to my method is that after those few {intense, stressful, hectic} days are over, I get to relax and savor the fun holiday stuff like baking, decorating, holiday movie watching and of course, knitting. I kept the gift knitting list short and sweet this year, with an emphasis on using yarn from the stash.

❄ A couple of cowls:

For these cowls, I decided to shorten my Candy Ribbon design. These were much quicker to knit than the original longer version.

❄ A trio of Rudolph Hats, two of which you've already seen. I saved my most favorite version for last:

Pop Rudolph!

Now all that's left is a pair of mittens and maybe a few fun ornaments if there's time. But first, some hot cocoa and tree gazing is in order. Look closely and you'll see the sweet surprise that arrived in the post. Thanks Steph! Little Mousie has already made himself quite at home!



We are taking things slow and easy this holiday season. No point in rushing through the days to get everything checked off the list. It will all get done eventually. Right now, I am enjoying the little things that make this time of year so special.

Decking the halls with some festive ornaments and greenery:

Knitting away on a few more gifts while taking frequent breaks to plan next year's projects. So many gorgeous knitting books and magazines have been arriving at my doorstep recently (not pictured is Yokes by Kate Davies which I am so crushing on at the moment):

Wrapping up some handmade presents. This is the hubby's Rudolph Hat in classic outdoorsy colors:

I also finished mine, but will wait until the next post to show you. There's still time after all.


punk rudolph

I hope that everyone who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely even though I had to work a half day. Being in the healthcare profession, it is a given that weekends & holidays are not necessarily days/nights off. But I do think that it's sad to see Thanksgiving Day, the one major holiday that has traditionally not been overly commercialized, is now not the case. The shopping malls and big box stores around us were all opened yesterday. And the ones who were closed had early openings on Black Friday. It has been a number of years since I have ventured out of the house on Black Friday. Can't imagine waking up that early to shop! Or standing in those kinds of lines for anything other than a concert ticket to a favorite band or let's be honest....yarn! I would much rather stay home and knit gifts for my loved ones. "What kinds of gifts" you might be asking? Oh, how 'bout a Punk Rudolph Hat?!? 

Is it my imagination or does my beginner's attempt at bobbles make these guys look like reinducks?

It's the perfect holiday headgear for a little guy who loves to follow the beat of his own drums and adores singing along to loud boisterous music. This free pattern is by the fabulous chrisknits. I love how she incorporated the adorable reindeer chart originally used for a sweater into a hat in three sizes. Yes, even adults are not left out of all this reindeer cuteness! In fact, Punk Rudolph was knit in the adult size since the little guy has a huge noggin for his age. All the yarns used were from the stash. Sometimes shopping from the stash can lead to some unexpected color choices. This one even surprised me! Now off to do more stash diving for the hubby's hat. And then mine. Knitting a couple of reindeer hats on Black Friday....now that's punk!

One big pompom coming right up as soon as I figure out how to use my Clover pompom maker


spirograph headband

I love small & practical knits like this spirograph headband. Especially since I usually wear my hair up in a ponytail or bun. This quick to knit accessory keeps my head and ears nice and toasty while corralling my unmanageable hair. A definite winner!

It seems that winter is arriving a little early this year...cold & windy here in Maryland, but at least we were lucky to miss out on all that snow. My MIL lives near Buffalo, NY where they are getting pounded by massive lake effect snow storms. My heart goes out to everyone there and pray for their safety. I went to college in Buffalo but was lucky to have never experienced such a storm.

(check out all the Friday Finishes over at chrisknits)


quiet november

Savoring these beautiful quiet days of autumn before they come to an end all too quickly:

Putting the garden to sleep & enjoying one last harvest

Making some holiday knitting plans: a trio of Reindeer Hats

Preparing for winter: Spirograph Headband

Living in the moment


favorite fall sweater in my #projectsweaterchest

I think that the weather is finally cooperating with my fall sweater knitting plans because there was a decided nip in the air this morning. Finally an opportunity to throw on some of my wool sweaters! Here are a couple in the #projectsweaterchest that bring to mind spiced pumpkin lattes, apple pies and trick-or-treating.

The outrageous autumn leaf-like colors of Noro Kureyon...the slightly scratchy reassuring feeling of rustic wool against my skin...some of my very favorite wooden buttons...is it any wonder that I dream about my Spoked Cardigan in the dark cold days of winter? In fact, as soon as the fall weather arrives, this is the first sweater that I reach for.

This next sweater will always remind me of Halloween because the little guy used to call it my bat sweater everytime I wore it. I guess the gull-lace looks like little bats, especially in this darkish black/brown/blue colorway.

It's one of those annoying sweaters that is kind of hard to wear since one can easily be mistaken for wearing a baby garment. But I do enjoy looking at the many many FLS projects on Ravelry in order to get styling ideas. So far, I love seeing it worn over a pretty dress...definitely need more dresses in the wardrobe!

Do you have a favorite fall handknit? Or one that is difficult to style?


the battle of the brights in my #projectsweaterchest

It's all about color today on this second installment of #projectsweaterchest. The brighter the better...or is it? Usually when I think of sweaters that get worn a lot, I think of ones knitted in more neutral colors like grey or tan or grey or black or grey.

But surprisingly, this loud green cardigan is in heavy rotation year round. My favorite way to wear it is with one of the many grey or navy tops in my closet. It adds a much needed pop of color during the winter months, yet also feels just right during those early chilly days of Spring. The vibrant green also pairs well with purple or royal blue for an added burst of color and fun. I have always been tempted to knit another version in...you guessed it...grey. The pattern is Nanook by Heidi Kirrmaier, knitted in Quince & Co. Lark in the snap pea colorway. It's a good one.

Sadly, not all brightly colored sweaters get as much attention or admiration. I can count on 2 fingers the number of yellow items in my closet. The above sweater was a classic case of not thinking before casting on. Granted the yellow looked more like a vivid gold in the skein, but still, what on earth was I thinking to knit a retro looking sweater which would have been adorable in black or grey (like this example) but instead I chose to go with yellow resulting in a giant lemon of a sweater? The only thing preventing me from frogging this one is the fantasy that one day many many years from now, a little girl, possibly one of my great great granddaughters or grand nieces, will discover this sweater buried deep in the chest, exclaim with delight and use it for playing dress-up. So back in the sweater chest it will go.


cover knitting

A few weeks ago I was browsing the internet when I came across this knitted beanie on the American Eagle website. It had a cool destroyed effect that was similar to a hat that I had admired on the Wool and the Gang website. Instead of shelling out the money to buy either, I decided to try to recreate my own version, 'cause homemade apple pies taste a lot better than store bought ones. Plus, I already had plenty of apples to make one ;)


I think it came out pretty good, considering that it's just a simple 1x1 ribbed slouchy beanie decorated with controlled dropped stitches. But as with any good cover, the fun part is putting your own stamp on it:

and mend

I have been kinda obsessed with visible mending, as you can tell by my newly created Pinterest board on the subject. There is a whole lot of excellent information out there on the subject. For this particular hat, I used a combination of swiss darning, weaving and simple embroidery to make something that looks like a feather or flower or leaf? Not quite sure, but I like it.

excuse me while I contemplate my next cover knit


you know it's time to...

...try on your Amanda when people start complimenting you on that baby sweater you are knitting.

Whew, it fits!


knitting along

shhhhh.....I know that I already have a million things on the needles, but the Amanda knitalong over at Fringe Association is too tempting to resist. The energy and enthusiasm that Karen has put into this is infectious and I am looking forward to learning so many things from the most excellent panel of experts that are also knitting along. Here are the deets on my Amanda so far:

yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in the dove heather colorway. A terrific workhorse yarn at a budget friendly price point.
swatch: US size 6 & 5. I was initially dreading swatching for this project but this detailed post by Kate Gagnon Osborn really helped to guide me through the process of knitting & measuring a cable swatch. 
cast-on: the easy, fast & reliable long-tail.
size/ease: size 35 medium since I want a little positive ease. 
concerns/trepidations: keeping the knitting energy flowing smoothly...and getting this knitted before the season is over, since the last heavily cabled sweater I made (Aidez) took nearly a year to finish!
body construction: using the same approach as for my Aidez: knitting the body in one piece & the sleeves flat two-at-a-time. Also plan on incorporating faux seams for the body.
button bands: really excited to try out the button band as written. It looks lovely in the project photo so fingers crossed!
other mods: none so far, but who knows? That's half the fun! Here's a close-up of how I am keeping things from going haywire:

color coordinated highlighter tape + talking stitch markers = scary organizational skillz or just plain scary?



Uniform is such an appropriate name for this cardigan. Simple, relaxed, classic and oh so easy to wear with my daily uniform of jeans + t + sneakers. I love how modern the exaggerated garter stitch borders look. The inset pockets add a sporty touch to an otherwise simple design. What makes this pattern so fun is that there are many options for creating the cardigan of your dreams, just by changing up the length, sweater shaping, fit of the sleeves, pockets, neckbands, etc. I could easily knit a dozen sweaters with just this one pattern. Plus, how cool would it be to switch out the garter stitch borders for something a little bit more fancy or maybe add some colorwork? I am looking forward to revisiting this pattern in the future. For this version, I chose to knit the shorter body length, straight waist shaping, fitted sleeves, simple neckband and inset pockets. I also added some positive ease in order to achieve a relaxed fit, which will come in handy when the weather gets cooler and the hula halter top gets traded in for a flannel shirt.

The cardigan is designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge, whose work I am pretty much in love with at the moment. Every one of her sweaters would be a welcome addition to my #projectsweaterchest.



Never in a million years could I own a drawerful of hand knitted socks (seeing that it takes me three years and counting to finish a pair), but a cedar chest filled to the brim with hand knitted sweaters? Yes, please. You know what they say about the everlasting memories of first love? In terms of knitting, my first love will always be sweaters. Knitting a sweater is like reading a good novel. In the beginning, there's the excitement and anticipation of entering a new world filled with interesting characters and settings. Then, as the storyline unfolds and the plot thickens, you become invested in the characters and their struggles, joys and outcomes. Sometimes the story meanders along, allowing you to savor the experience. Other times, the book thunders ahead at a rapid pace, your heart racing towards the conclusion. Will it be the happy predictable ending? Or will you have encountered so many unexpected twists and turns along the way that the ending leaves you at a loss, flustered and ready to throw the book across the room? Or maybe it made for some self-reflection and yearning for more. In my sweater knitting experience, all of the above have occurred at one point or another. And that's why I love it so.

Last week, Susan B. Anderson posted about her new #projectsweaterchest. I was immediately hooked and thought it would be fun to join in here and on Instagram. She is starting by listing ten of her favorites, two in each post. I am not sure if I have ten favorites so I am showing a few of my duds for fun.

First of the favorites: You have probably seen me wearing my Vitamin D in past knit.where posts. Talk about an easy sweater to throw on over a simple tank or tee. The yarn is Frog Tree Picoboo, a cotton & bamboo blend with amazing drape and softness. This cardigan makes for a wonderful layering piece and I wear it year round. I especially love the radial eyelet increases and teal color. It is also designed by one of my all-time favorite designers, Heidi Kirrmaier.

And now for the dud: Oh 28thirty, how I loved you in 2009! But fashion is fickle and there is just no place for a midriff-baring sweater with armadillo-like sleeves in my 2014 life right now. 'Tis a shame really, since you rose from the ashes of a once-frogged dud yourself. Maybe the third time's the charm? I would dearly love to reuse the lovely Peace Fleece tweed yarn and those gorgeous wooden buttons.


welcome september

Whew, finally there's a quiet moment to catch up on things! So many highs and lows in the past week and a half. We celebrated the little guy's birthday, aced the first week of school, enjoyed a visit from grandma L. (my MIL), and said a teary farewell to my parents. They are heading back to Vietnam for a few years. But looking on the bright side, I am planning on visiting them next March and already counting down the months until then. Still, it will be a big adjustment for us not to be able to see and talk to them everyday. And I also will dearly miss my mom's cooking. She taught me how to make her pho noodle soup and some other favorite recipes before she left and I took copious notes of all her secrets. Just looking at these recipes is a comfort. As is knitting, reading etc.

Finally dug out my neglected Uniform cardigan and seamed up the sleeves. But now I am undecided as to what neckband to knit. Should I go with the casual/relaxed simple band or the dressier shaped band? 

Also had plans to join the leethal adventure knit-a-long, but only made it through the first section before ripping it out. I have decided that mystery KAL's are not my cup of tea, at least for right now. Not knowing where my knitting efforts were heading was more stressful than enjoyable, plus I kept cheating ;)

On the reading front, I am re-visiting the Outlander books while devouring the first few episodes of the television series. It has been so fun to see the characters and story come to life on the screen. Also loving the period costumes and settings. I started a Pinterest board for the handknits popping up here and there in the episodes so far. There are already a few patterns on ravelry to recreate some of these...Claire's chunky garter stitch cowl (here and here), her rustic shrug, and mitts


:: daydream knits :: back to school edition

Bohemian Tee

Getting ready for back to school this week. Where has the summer gone? Poor little guy, next Monday is his birthday which is also the first day of school. Every kid's worst nightmare, huh? But hopefully if the weather holds up, we can celebrate on Sunday with a trip to the water park or beach. Better yet, Grandma L. will be making a brief visit this weekend. In between the school shopping and getting the house ready, I am knitting away on my summer projects. Easier said than done, especially when all of the Fall knitting magazines are tempting me to cast on something warm and woolly. So as the linen yarn glides through my fingers and off the needles, daydreams of fisherman sweaters and toasty colorwork mitts and hats are swirling around in my head. Ssshhh, don't tell the little guy, but I love back to school time ;) What kinds of projects are you daydreaming about right now?


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?