here's looking at you 2015

Although I thoroughly enjoy the excitement, togetherness and fun that surrounds Christmas, it's the quietness and peace of the week after that is my favorite part of the holidays. The guests are gone, the house is still relatively clean and the fridge is full of yummy leftovers. There's nothing too pressing that needs to be done. I love having the time to reflect on the year just past and to set some goals for the new year ahead.

The overriding theme for 2015 was knitalongs. Such a surprise to see that I had participated in ten KAL's! I guess my inner social butterfly was waiting until this year to find its wings and fly :)

Also taking note of the fact that there were a lot fewer finished objects this year than in previous years. However, I can honestly say that I love every single thing that came off the needles. Both the process of making them and the items themselves gave comfort/pleasure/peace in a year that saw many personal challenges.

For 2016, I intend to keep things pretty simple: continue to whittle down the stash, knit garments that can be easily incorporated into my everyday wardrobe, dust off the oh-so-rusty crochet skills, knit down the WIP pile that's been slowly growing over the past few months:

.... and most importantly, have FUN!

Wishing you all a happy, creative, healthy and peaceful New Year! Thank you for all of your kindness and friendship!


merry & bright

Wishing you a merry and bright holiday! I'll be knitting away on some presents during our annual Christmas Eve movie marathon. Hopefully more progress will be made on this cowl by the time the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears.


selfish knitting syndrome

sugarplum skyp sock for me

cowl for my sister

These two pictures say it all: I've been struck with selfish knitting syndrome at the most inconvenient time. With just one week before Christmas, instead of the gift knitting I should be doing, there have been too many happy hours spent working on all of my own projects. Today, reality set in and I anxiously cast on a cowl for my sister. A very long cowl using this pattern. I know she will love it but it is going to come down to the wire. Plus, I have a cute gift planned for my brother-in-law which isn't even on the needles yet. I have a feeling that I will be burning the midnight oil in order to get everything finished. Otherwise, there will be quite a few IOU's handed out on Christmas morning.

So, how is your gift knitting coming along? Is it winding down or are you just getting started? Hopefully you managed to plan better than I did. If not, these cute & free printable IOU's (plus gift tags and care instruction labels) can be found here. Happy elving and remember to have fun!


in the mood for ....








.... in other words, all the things! I think that the more hectic life gets around here, the more new and shiny distractions are needed to cope with the stress. But it's all good and I am so grateful for the craziness of my work and home life. Also grateful for all of you who have hung in there with my sporadic blogging this year. So, what's new? Are holiday preparations and knitting/crafting/baking in full swing or are you in denial? I love this time of year and have been trying to fit in as much holiday merrymaking as possible with my two guys. The house is decorated, none of the shopping is done, and there will be cookies coming out of the oven soon. Seems like I'm right on schedule ;)


geometric cowichan-styled vest

It's done! And I love it! Huge sigh of relief....because there was a lot of trepidation going into this year's Fringe and Friends Knitalong. Although I love the pattern that Karen had chosen for many reasons, I am basically a lazy knitter at heart. The thought of tackling a stranded project knitted flat while trapping every other float and written in the Japanese style in one size using super bulky yarn....well, it kind of left me dizzy. But every once in a while, you need a project that has the potential to kick your butt, so to speak. Knitting on the edge and all that.

I went into this project with an unusual-for-me amount of planning and preparation. Here are some of the mods that I found made the process more enjoyable to knit and the finished vest more wearable:

* I down-sized the pattern to fit my petite frame by shooting for a gauge of 3 sts per inch versus the 2.5 sts per inch called for in the pattern. My row gauge was also smaller in order to make the length shorter (13.5 sts per 4 inches vs. 12.5 sts). Also knitted the bottom ribbing a little shorter.

* I knitted the body in one piece to the underarms, which kept the amount of yarn ends to a minimum and made for less fussy finishing.

* Although I knitted all of the armhole edgings, collar and front bands at the same time as the body as called for in the pattern, I took advantage of my Addi clicks & switched out the size 13 needles (used for knitting the body) for size 11 needles (used for the edgings, collar and bands) as I went along. This worked like a charm to neaten everything up.

* Believe it or not, the easiest and most enjoyable part of this project was learning how to trap floats on right & wrong sides using just my right hand. Pretty proud of this:



The 2015 Fringe and Friends Knitalong is currently underway and the theme for this year is Cowichan-inspired knits. The chosen pattern is the Geometric Cowichan-styled Vest from the Japanese yarn and pattern company Pierrot. It looks to be a fun but daunting knit for many reasons, so a little pre-project planning was called for in order to make the process more enjoyable. Here's what I came up with so far:

=> Since the pattern is written in the Japanese-style, with the instructions mainly consisting of a page of schematics & several charts which outline the pattern stitch by stitch, a way to keep track of the charts is a must. Dusting off the magnetic chart-keeper that I had bought years ago and never used plus some highlighter tape.

=> The vest is knitted at a super-bulky gauge so I am using three strands of a worsted weight yarn held together. I decided to ball up the yarn ahead of time instead of pulling from three skeins while knitting. Boy, has this made a huge difference! Now the project is more portable and there are less skeins to manage at once (and less tangles).

=> Also trying my hand at catching floats every other stitch. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if the project was knitted in the round instead of flat. But since I am not very familiar with how to do this on the purl rows, I ended up making a cheat sheet of instructions after viewing these helpful series of videos by Andrea Rangel on Instagram. I had to adapt the instructions from two-handed stranded knitting to how I knit colorwork (both yarns carried in the right-hand).

Do you fun-proof your more complicated projects too? What kinds of things do you do? Oh, almost forgot the most important tip: take lots of tea/chocolate breaks :)


skyp socks

It was hard to stop myself from taking way too many pictures of these socks. Let me count all the reasons why they are making me so happy:

They only took a little over a month to finish (and not three years!)
The awesome yarn (knitpicks felici sport) was given to me by one of the sweet knitters from my knitting group.
Colorful stripes. 'Nuff said.
I love ribbed socks but they are dull as dishwater to knit. Luckily, I found this simple skyp sock pattern to be quite engaging and addictive. It says a lot about a sock pattern when the knitter wants to cast on for the second sock right after finishing the first.
I couldn't help but secretly chuckle at all the odd looks I was getting from strangers whenever I happened to be knitting on these in public, especially when I started mumbling slip-knit-yarnover-pass!

I was happy enough with how the first sock turned out except for two things: the cast-on was a little too tight and those darn gusset holes. After a bit of research on the internet, I was able to find easy fixes for both. On the second sock, I used the alternating long-tail/Old Norwegian cast-on that I learned from knitting the Hermaness Hat pattern. It is a nice looking and sturdy cast-on with more stretchiness than just a long-tail cast-on. As for those gusset holes, this little trick worked like a charm. Can you spot the one without the hole? Pretty nifty, huh?
Lastly and most importantly, these socks will hopefully offer warmth & comfort to someone in need of both.

If you are interested in knitting a pair of socks or have some hand knitted socks in need of a home, please visit Tracey's blog post for more info on how you can help. And thank you for indulging me on my newbie sock love :)


fall woolens

Can you believe that it's already the last day of September? This month has just flown by. There has been a lot of knitting on little projects here lately and today I have a couple of new fall woolens to share with you.

First up is Laurus, the fourth hat in the fringehatalong. It was a quick and simple knit with a cute little bit of colorwork thrown in. I decided to go with a brown/cream marled yarn for the main color combined with a kelly green contrasting yarn. I like the outdoorsy vibe of the finished hat.

Next is a pair of fingerless mitts that I modified from this cute mitten project that I saw on Ravelry. I love how the fake thrums look like little hearts. I used a super soft bulky roving yarn in the stash that had a lovely mix of autumn colors. These feel pretty great to wear and I can't wait for the chilly fall days ahead!

Do you have any fun fall projects in the works? I've been itching to get started on a new sweater but can't decide on a pattern. In the meantime, there are still plenty of small wips to keep me busy. Happy knitting and have a great rest of the week :)


morning mist

The name of this pattern fits it to a tee: quiet peaceful serene. Knitted in one of my favorite summer yarns, Hempathy, it was the perfect beach take along project. The only thing that caused just a tiny bit of angst was my decision to pass on the fun color block effect. Even now, I can't believe that I let a chance to play with colors slip by! Oh well, there's always the next one. I would totally knit this well-written pattern again.

Have you ever regretted a color choice for a project? What did you end up doing? Although the off-white color is ho-hum boring, it does show off that pretty lace pattern rather well.

I think that this simple top will get worn quite a bit during the warmer months.


knitting en plein air

I was all set to show you some new fall knitting projects but with temps in the high eighties and the humidity going through the roof, it looks like those will have to wait. Not complaining too much because with beautiful views like these, it's hard to stay mad at summer for hanging around a little longer.

I love watching the slow transition from summer to autumn that happens here on the island, the little glimpses of gold and red among the still bright green leaves and the blue skies looking over it all.

So on days like these, the best thing to do is to find a quiet comfy spot in the shade, preferably with a small knitting project or two, and just breathe it all in. And the two projects keeping me company today?

The first is a fun stripey pair of Simple Skyp Socks that I was inspired to cast on for after reading this post on the lovely Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons blog. It was a call to help her friend Tracey in collecting much needed socks for homeless shelters in the Washington DC area. More info can be found here if you are interested in helping. Despite averaging a pair of socks every three years, I am determined to whip these out in less than a month. Some of you might be wondering if it wouldn't be easier to just buy a pack of socks to donate? Yes, it would be easier and I do intend to supplement my handknit socks with packs of men, women and kids sized store bought ones. But the merits of wool socks was recently made clear to me after reading this post. (And now my toes and feet are suffering from a bad case of FOMO** I might turn into a regular sock knitter after all!)

The second little project on the needles is the first of a pair of fake thrummed fingerless mitts. I wish that you could feel how soft this roving yarn is!

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

**fear of missing out



Can you hear my huge sigh of frustration? There has been more frogging than knitting going on around here lately and it's making me mighty grumpy. You know that knitting has taken over your life when everything that goes wrong can be blamed on it. Forgot to update the kid's lunch account? (should have done a proper gauge swatch before casting on for these cute Fee-bee mitts) ... started dinner at the last minute and found out that a couple of essential ingredients were missing? (the lace cuff was looking too big and messy) ... forgot to pay the cable bill? (kept on knitting despite it all) ... the air-conditioner stopped working? (ended up admitting defeat & ripping out the entire project).

So this morning, I decided a do-over was in order. After putting the little guy on the bus and drinking a huge mug of coffee, I escaped to my secret knitting spot, enjoying the beautiful water views along the way (while ignoring the frogs croaking rip-it rip-it). The clouds cleared and the sun came out.

A couple of blissful hours of knitting on Morning Mist did wonders to lift my mood.

With a clearer head and calmer heart, I have decided to ditch the Fee-bee mitts for now and just play around with some pretty autumn colors from my stash. 

I hope that this week (and your knitting) has been kind to you!


hermaness worsted

Presenting the third hat in the fringehatalong series and my favorite so far: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston.

I love the look of the simple Shetland lace pattern knitted up in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. The colorway is Almanac which is a gorgeous dark blue with bright blue flecks that seem to glow. Would love to knit a big cozy sweater with this yarn! It's so lightweight but with a rustic feel and very warm. I did have one occurrence of a breakage in yarn while working the crown decreases but no other issues. And now that I've fallen down the Brooklyn Tweed rabbit hole, there are some fall knitting plans in the works involving Loft:

Like my back-to-school haul? Toms sheep sneakers, Knerdshop knitting bag, Midwestern Knits book, Brooklyn Tweed Loft.

Also, the fourth hat in the fringehatalong was just announced last week. Can't wait to pick out some colors for this one. Not to mention the second Fringe and Friends Knitalong coming this fall. Must knit faster!



Sorry for the long silence this month, but things have been a bit topsy-turvy here lately. I had to make an emergency trip to Vietnam (due to some health issues with my dad) and just came back a week ago. Re-entry into real life has been difficult but hopefully things will get back to a normal routine soon. Making the most of the last couple of weeks of summer vacation. Can't believe that school will be starting soon! Where has the summer gone? Time to get those warm weather WIP's off the needles in order to make way for all the new Fall knits.

I finally finished my Hitofude after knitting on it off and on for over a year. Just happy that it fits, although there's not a lot of wiggle room in the upper body.

The yarn is Quince & co. Sparrow, a linen yarn with beautiful drape and colors but not a lot of give. I would definitely knit this clever and fun pattern again with the same yarn, but in the next size up and in a more neutral color. This rose color is pretty but an off-white or grey cardi would be worn more often. Can't recommend this pattern highly enough, especially if you are in the market for a knit that can be easily worked on over a long span of time. The lace pattern is easily memorized and intuitive. Just make sure to keep track of where you last left off in the pattern.

Looking forward to catching up with everyone's August happenings. Hope that it's been a good month for you all :)


colors of summer

Started some new projects! The Shelter is for the third hat in the fringehatalong. I figured I should finish this one before the fourth pattern is announced in August. So far so good. I love lace patterns that are simple to memorize. Just finished with the lace back panel for the Morning Mist tee. A little concerned about how big it's looking, so planning on giving it a good soak and then some time in the dryer. My past experiences with Hempathy is that it tightens up a bit after a wash and dry. Fingers crossed!

There are lots of marigolds popping up in the garden. The tomatoes are also starting to come in. I should keep better notes of what varieties were planted. One tomato plant that I thought were just of the plain cherry variety are coming up a rose color. Pretty and sweet but I have no idea what kind they are. I also need to trim out my hydrangea bushes. They are taking over the front yard!

And as you can probably figure out from the Camp Tolt goodies: 1) I went on a little shopping spree 2) which might have involved the purchasing of some yarn and 3) another item can be checked off the summer bucket list. I hope that you too are enjoying every minute of this beautiful summer :)


havra shawl & summer bucket list update

Can't believe that it is already the middle of July! This summer is just cruising along too fast. There are still a couple of items to be checked off from the summer bucket list. We have yet to go camping but hopefully that will be in the stars soon. Unfortunately for my waistline, I have managed to eat ice cream everyday (high priority item on the list as far as the little guy is concerned) and grilling up a storm (tonight's dinner of grilled lime coconut chicken with coconut rice and grilled pineapple was particularly delicious). And happily, the beach knitting this summer has been pretty productive. I even finished the shawl for the Shetland Trader MKAL, now named Havra, in a reasonable amount of time.

I am completely thrilled with how it turned out. Gudrun Johnston is such a wonderful designer with a great sense of style. With any MKAL, one has to have a lot of trust and confidence in the designer. It can be both thrilling and scary, depending on your knitting personality. The knitting on this was pure pleasure. The pattern was very intuitive and I love the strong lines created by the combination of garter and twisted stitches. The only hiccup was running out of yarn in the middle of the last clue. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on another skein. I knitted the small size but the shawl blocked out to be a little larger, which was a happy accident in gauge.

Ending this post with some knitting eyecandy of the highest order. I was lucky to have won a pair of mittens handknitted by Chrisknits which arrived on Monday.

Aren't they gorgeous!!! Can't wait to wear them this winter.


on the verge

the view from terrapin beach, a mile's walk from my house

Summer around these parts includes lots of trips to the ocean which is happily less than two hours away. Even though we are lucky to have several beautiful local beaches here on the island, there's just something so compelling about the vast expanse of sand and sea and the pounding waves only to be found at the shore. Plus there's the boardwalk fries, ice cream, fudge and salt water taffy. I am missing it already! Also love all the beach knitting that was achieved while we were there last week and now I am finding myself on the verge of finishing a couple of projects:

just the bind off & blocking left on the Shetland Trader MKAL shawl

hitofude cardigan

Can't wait to get started on a couple of new projects as soon as these are done. I've got the yarn already lined up for a Morning Mist tee. Simple stockinette with a cute lace detail on the back. Perfect beach knitting project.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend for those of you who celebrate. I just ordered my first grill and can't wait to try all of the yummy summer recipes that I've been collecting over the years. Grilled pineapples...chicken kebabs...flank steaks....! What is your favorite thing to cook on the grill? Would love any recipe suggestions/links you might have.