Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chunky cowl

I had to take a break from the never ending lap blanket that I've been working on and knit something fun and easy and fast on big needles. I used one skein of chunky Noro Furisode, an online impulse buy from a while back, to make a cowl based on this super simple Ravelry pattern.

Update 12/13 : If you are interested in purchasing Furisode, it is on sale right now at Webs for $11.95 per skein, marked down from $17.95.

It was good to complete a project from start to finish in one weekend. It helped me remember how fun knitting can be when you aren't desperately trying to get a semi-big project done by Christmas day. Last week I got so tired of that blanket that I started daydreaming about paying someone to finish it.

That was my first time using Furisode, a blend of silk and cotton with a little wool thrown in, and it felt so wonderful in my hands that I think I will intentionally buy a few more skeins. I would love to knit a few more of those cowls and give them away as gifts.

Charlie was born to be a cat model-- when asked nicely he will hold perfectly still and look at the camera. Now if I could only get him to wear my knits instead of only allowing me to drape them over him.

Have you heard of Zentangle? Apparently it has been around for years, but I just heard about it recently. Tonight I spent some time on YouTube watching instructional videos and then gave it a shot (above). The first few attempts were not great, but I'm inspired by some of the gorgeous patterns I've seen online and want to keep at it. Plus I love that feeling of going in to a sort of crafty trance and creating from that place.

My niece Lily is six months old now. She is sitting up by herself and starting to eat a little bit of fruit and veggies. Here is the little monkey at bedtime in her crib, not sleepy at all.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

19 More Days of Autumn

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly around the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot

We've been having gusty windstorms here the last several days, blowing the last of the yellow leaves off the trees and creating a floor of gold in the streets and yards. Winter solstice is December 22nd, so there are just 19 more days left of autumn, but every year it seems to me that winter begins on December 1st, no matter what the official start day is.

I took these photos of a persimmon tree in San Juan Bautista last week while I was there browsing antique stores. The bright leaves and deep-orange fruit were a glorious sight.

There were more than a few blossoms in the gardens we passed by. I love the delicate papery look and lavender color of this flower, although I don't know its name.

Still working away on the grandma-inspired lap blanket for my mother. Like the blankets I have knit previously, I've gotten attached to it and don't want to let it go ... but I will. Next year I hope to knit one for myself.

Happy last days of autumn to you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Owl song

Snowy Owl by Geninne at Geninne's Art Blog .

you are
a treasure
made of sparkling
diamonds and hollyhock
you are
the lingering
scent of pine needles
and salty air
you are
sweet like
tumbling water and
smooth grey stones
you are
brave like
stepping off the shore
you are
to be celebrated
like owl song.

a poem from me to you

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Soft Bunny

Did you have a happy Halloween? I didn't get any trick or treaters, as usual, so I'm working on polishing off the bowl of Tootsie Pops and miniature Hershey bars by myself. Poor, poor, me.

Last Sunday I took time out from my two big knitting projects to make this little bunny from the book Vintage Knits for Modern Babies . Love, love, love that book. It's where the pattern for the crossover jacket came from.

The bunny only took an afternoon to knit, which is one reason I wanted to knit it. It's going to be a while before the blanket and sweater I am working on are done, and I really needed some knitstant gratification.

The funny thing is, it almost took me longer to embroider the french knot eyes and nose than it did to knit the entire bunny. I checked out three different embroidery tutorials and just couldn't get it. Finally I came up with my own funky way of making the knot that sort of worked.

I'm sure you can guess who the bunny is for.

♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Have a safe and spooky night!

Love from Stacy, Charlie, and Apollo

PS. No cats experienced sugar overload in the creation of this post. It is artwork from a greeting card :o)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Little Lily on the Prairie

I'm still working on my niece Lily's red sweater, so I don't have any new knitting to show you. I thought you might like to see the professional photos my sister Hil (Lily's mom) had taken recently. We call her Little Lily on the Prairie in these photos because of the cute bonnet she is wearing.

I love this first photo because it reminds me of my grandmother, who is her namesake.

Lily is the most smiley, giggly baby I have ever met. When she smiles, it makes your heart flutter. She is now able to roll over from her back to her belly and it looks like she will start crawling any day now.

Crane artwork by Brigette Clough

Speaking of birds, I'm excited to tell you that later next week I am going to the Sandhill Crane Festival in Lodi. I'm going on two different wildlife tours, and one is an early morning Delta birding cruise. You might remember my trip to see the cranes on my own last year. I'm excited to be participating in the festival this year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Treat Boxes

About a year ago I lost my creative mojo for most of the crafts I used to love, like artist trading cards and mixed media collage. My poor craft supplies have sat abandoned in the closet, wondering if I was ever going to play with them again. I'm happy to report (to both you and my craft supplies) that my desire for crafting has been rekindled.

I'm not sure exactly how it happened-- boredom, loneliness, of just a random surge of creative energy, but last week I found myself wanting to make stuff again, stuff that doesn't involve yarn and knitting needles, and I wanted to do it with other people rather than alone at my table. Fortunately there is a creative arts lounge not too far from home, so I took a class on how to make Halloween treat boxes.

It turned out I was the only one in the class, which was okay because I'm pretty shy in large groups. The instructor, Alexis, was super nice with lots of patience. The two of us sat at a big table and she taught me how to do die cuts, fold the paper in to boxes, make rosettes, and other fun little techniques I enjoyed learning.

The boxes are the perfect size for four miniature Hershey bars.

On a different subject, these photos were taken with my new iPhone. When I tried to use my trusty pink digital camera this morning, I discovered it was no longer working. I'm quite surprised at how well the photos turned out using the iPhone, although I did touch them up in Picnik.

I don't know what is going on. In the last month I have broken so many items by spilling hot coffee or dropping or stepping on them. So far the list includes my netbook, Kindle, eye glasses, cell phone, and now my camera.

I will have to be extra careful with the iPhone until the clumsy spell is broken.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Works in progress

I have two enjoyable projects on the needles right now. One is this lap blanket for my mom. I'm using Encore Colorspun and intentionally selected an old-fashioned color scheme because I want it to look like something my grandmother would have knit. You might remember the story behind this from a post back in June (scroll to the end of the post).

I'm hoping to have it done in December so I can give it to her for the holidays.

The second project is a sweater for my niece Lily. The pattern is from the book 60 Quick Baby Knits, which was recommended by the nice lady at my LYS. It has lots of adorable patterns.

Lily's will be red with white accents.

I had such a great time tonight at a "creative arts lounge" making treat boxes for Halloween. I'll take photos tomorrow and post them soon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Respite and adventure

The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
somewhere where they can be quiet,
alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.
I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
-Anne Frank

Not long ago, feeling disconnected from nature and depleted from being endlessly wired in to technology, I decided to spend a few nights at a Buddhist retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains.

The retreat center offers two types of lodging-- small, private rooms and yurts (similar to a tent cabin) away from the main buildings in a towering redwood grove. While trying to decide which type of lodging I wanted to stay in, I felt a tiny shiver of fear at staying alone in a yurt in a secluded forest, so I went with that. Something inside of me was craving both respite and adventure.

During the day, I hiked through the forest. On the trails I came across little altars and statues placed on rocks and tucked under trees. My favorite hike was the Eight Verses Pilgrimage Trail. Each of the verses are printed on a sign and spaced evenly throughout the trail with a nearby bench for sitting and reflecting.

There were offerings on top of some of the signs, like sea shells, medallions, stones, and bouquets of flowers.

The retreat was exactly what I needed. Time alone in a spiritually-nourishing, natural setting, where I could gaze up at the trees and listen to birds and reconnect with what is important to me.

This statue of St. Francis stood at a crossroads on a forest trail, placed there by the retreat center and used as a landmark on the hike to the yurt campsite.

Every time I came across him, he was a reassuring presence, letting me know I was on the right path.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crossover Jacket

Ta da! I knit my first baby crossover jacket last week. The pattern is from the wonderful book, Vintage Knits for Modern Babies , a gift from a thoughtful friend. I added the pink crochet edging on the sleeves and went with matching pink buttons.

The jacket fits my four-month-old niece Lily perfectly.

Who, by the way, has started smiling and laughing.

My heart is melting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Faux Fair Isle Baby Hat

This is my second attempt at knitting a hat in the round and it turned out quite well. Instead of struggling with my arch enemy, DPNs, I used my lovely Harmony circular needles and only switched to the [stupid] DPNs when I absolutely had to.

Inspired by this KnitPicks video, Learn to Speed Knit!, I used the continental style and completed it faster than I would have using my standard slowpokey style. The tension is even, too, which is nice for a change.

I love the Fair Isle effect of the Snuggly Baby Crofter yarn and look forward to knitting more projects with it.

This hat pattern is based on another KnitPicks video, How to Knit a Hat. I'm just getting into knitting videos and have been surprised at how helpful they are.

Hope you are enjoying the change of seasons. It's beautiful here in Northern California with the first touch of autumn in the air.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

About that little knit jumper ...

Remember this jumper from my last post? The size was supposed to be for a one year old, but it turns out it fits three month old Lily now. In fact, it could be a couple inches longer.

My friend Rachel left a comment on that last post saying that a "one year old size" isn't really meant to fit a one year old baby. Sure enough she was right.

It was hot out last Sunday when this pic was taken, so Lily is wearing it as a summer dress.

Isn't she the most beautiful baby in the whole wide world?

I wanted to mention I've fallen in love with Knit Picks Harmony Wood Circular Needles. My local yarn store just started carrying them, so I took them for a test drive. Oh my. Not only are they cool-looking with waves of color, they are lightweight, sharp, and seamless.

I am really enjoying knitting in the round these days.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer Knitting Projects

It seems like I did lots of knitting over the summer, but when I looked through my bag of finished projects, there wasn't all that much. (But I actually have a bag of finished projects, so that is something!)

Just today I finished knitting this jumper for my niece Lily. Like most of my projects, it looks better photographed than in real life. But it does feel good to have seen it through to the end, even if the tension is uneven and there are holes where I switched colors. The pattern is Little Girl's Jumper or Sundress. Lily will have to wait until she is one year old to wear it.

By the way, here is Lily. She is three months old now and so beautiful.

I taught myself new stitches this summer, and this one worked out well for a kitchen towel. It's a little scary, but I can't remember which stitch this is and where I got it from. Yikes.

These are cotton swatches knit in new-to-me stitches from my Vogue Stitchionary. I'll probably give them to my sister to use as baby wash cloths.

What did you make this summer?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Soap Bag Knitting Pattern

My friend Sheila sent me this fun, quickie pattern for a soap bag. Her niece makes handmade soap and needed a way to enhance her sales, so Sheila designed the sack for her.

"The nice thing about the sack," says Sheila, "is if you use a wash cloth or one of those net scrubbies when you shower, you can take the soap sack right in to the shower with you. For children or elderly who have a hard time hanging on to that slippery bar of soap, the sack keeps the soap from slipping out of your fingers. I love the gentle exfoliating as well."

I knit Sheila's soap bag last weekend and enjoyed the combination of stockinette, YO's, and drop stitches. Plus I was able to finish the bag in under two hours. The soap I used is E. Barrett & Company French Soap in Ocean and it smells heavenly.


25 yards worsted weight 100% cotton
Size US 7 knitting needles
Ribbon, raffia or yarn for use as a drawstring

To knit the soap sack:

Cast on 15 stitches.

Rows 1 - 4: Knit in stockinette.

Row 5: *K2TOG, YO* ending with a YO and then knit the last stitch.

Row 6: Purl

Rows 7 - 10: Knit in stockinette.

Row 11: Knit across row, wrapping each stitch twice around the needle when forming the stitch.

Row 12: Purl, dropping each stitch.

Repeat these 12 rows two more times.

Knit four rows stockinette.

Knit one row *K2TOG, YO* ending with a YO and then knit the last stitch.

Starting with a purl row, knit four rows stockinette.

Bind off. You will have a total of four YO rows and three drop stitch rows. The third drop stitch row is the bottom of the bag.

Seam sides of bag using mattress stitch being careful to line up the YO rows and the drop stitch rows.

Weave a piece of ribbon, raffia or yarn through the top row of YO's, insert soap and tie the drawstring.

* * *

If there are any errors in this pattern they are mine, so feel free to let me know in the comments or at and I will make corrections.

If you would like to talk to Sheila, the designer of the pattern, please contact her at

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In my little corner of the world

It's hot, hot, hot here this weekend. Too hot to venture outside, which has been sort of nice because it gives me time to knit and read and generally hang out at home. I'm working on several knitting projects, and one of my favorites is this little daisy stitch face cloth.

I fell in love with this stitch when I first started knitting years ago but didn't quite have the skills to manage it. When I ran across it in my Vogue Stitchionary yesterday I felt my heart skip a beat and decided to try it. It involves purling three stitches together twice, which is fairly easy as long as you don't knit too tightly.

I'm also working on a meshy scarf in delicious Hazel Knits sock yarn.

It's been far too long since I've read a real book (as opposed to fake books on Kindle). I picked up the novel A Guide to the Birds of East Africa a while back at Anthropologie of all places and finally started reading it this weekend. The story is adorable.

I've been craving the ocean and really wanted to go to the beach this weekend. However, between the heat and the holiday crowds, there is big potential for nightmare traffic jams so I've been staying away. I may get there early tomorrow since it's my last chance before returning to work. This photo is the Santa Cruz Boardwalk from my day trip last weekend. Just can't get enough of the California coast this summer.

Before I moved to my current place, I never saw a live skunk. Now I am seeing them almost every evening, mainly eating the cat food someone leaves out for strays (cats, not skunks). I love wildlife, even the smelly kind, so it's been fun watching them amble about the creekside trails. Two days ago I actually startled one (startled myself pretty good, too), and it scurried off without spraying me, thank goodness. This photo isn't one of my skunks, but as far as I can tell they all look the same. Cute.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend in your little corner of the world, too. If you are in the states, happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lily's lacy blanket

I recently finished knitting a feather & fan blanket for my 4-week old niece, Lily. It's funny that I avoided knitting blankets for so long because it turns out I really enjoy it. It is soothing to knit long, simple rows and I just loved seeing my sister wrap the finished blanket around Lily in preparation for a walk.

The blanket is knit with Plymouth Encore yarn, a worsted blend of acrylic and wool that you can machine wash and dry. I used about two skeins for a total of approx. 400 yards.

I have a new appreciation for hand knit blankets for another reason. My mom is in a skilled nursing facility recovering from surgery, and the first time I went to visit her she asked me if I had a knit blanket she could use while she was there. When I said I didn't, she asked my dad to bring her an old afghan knit by her mother decades ago. It was touching that she didn't want any old blanket, she wanted one knit by hand by a loved one. I think it's time to get started on a blanket for her.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Drop Stitch Scarf Knitting Pattern

The first thing I ever learned to knit was a garter stitch scarf. The second thing was a drop stitch scarf. It was exciting to have learned a new trick (wrapping the yarn around the needle two times per stitch and then dropping it on the next row), although back in those days I was so focused on perfection that I usually ended up frogging it. Drop stitch isn't about perfection, it's about ... well, dropping perfection. Knit with variegated Noro yarn gives it a casual, rustic look.

This pattern is a slightly revised version of one I acquired from my local yarn shop. It is a very, very common pattern so I feel okay posting it here. The scarf is knit in Noro Taiyo, which I find softer than Kureyon, and is approx. 70 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Note 1/7/12: Today I saw a similar scarf for sale in an upscale women's clothing catalog. The retail price was $109. Feels good knowing I can make my own for the cost of a skein of yarn.


Noro Taiyo (one skein, 220 yards) or Noro Kureyon (two skeins, 110 yards each). Taiyo is a cotton/silk/nylon/wool blend and Kureyon is 100% wool. Both are Aran weight.

Size US 11 needles

To knit the drop stitch scarf:

With a cast on of 20 stitches, knit two rows.

On the third row, knit across the row wrapping the yarn twice around the needle for each stitch. (The way I do it is insert the right needle in to the stitch on the left needle, wrap the yarn around the right needle twice and then complete the stitch.)

On the fourth row, knit across, dropping the double-wrapped stitch as you go. (In other words, knit the double-wrapped stitch as if it were a regular old single-wrapped stitch and ignore how big and clumsy it looks.)

The scarf will look quite imperfect as you go, but don't let that bother you. Just give the drop stitched rows a gentle tug once in a while to pull down the long stitches.

Repeat the four rows until your scarf reaches the desired length and end on rows two and three.

You can easily modify this pattern by changing the needle size, increasing or decreasing the number of stitches you cast on and/or the number of garter stitch rows between drop stitched rows.