Friday, December 21, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joining with SouleMama.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Knitting Owl

Isn't it adorable? This needle felted owl was a Chanukah gift from my sister. I love it! Check out ScratchCrafts's etsy store for more cuteness.

She  gave me this yarn bowl too, which I also love. It's nice and big, perfect for my semi-chunky cotton projects.

PS. Wouldn't "The Knitting Owl" be a great name for a yarn shop?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pistachio Cake

Yesterday I made a cake from scratch for the first time ever. I've never been a very good cook and the limited amount of baking I've done has always been with mixes, so this was kind of a big deal. Both of my sisters are really good cooks and I'm getting tired of being the one who brings canned food and grocery store desserts to family get-togethers.

The recipe for this cake is from the book Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of the Rose Bakery . I found it on Amazon and ordered a copy for my sister for Chanukah, and when it arrived I liked it so much I bought myself a copy, too.  If you are interested in making it but don't want to buy the book, there is a similar recipe on a blog called Little Loaves.

I selected this recipe because I am a total pistachio fiend. It was challenging and fun to make. The recipe called for ground pistachios, so I bought hulled, raw ones at Whole Foods and "ground" them with a hammer since I don't have a food processor (yet). I also had to beat the batter by hand because I don't have a mixer (yet). I also zested and juiced a lemon for the first time (easy-peasy because I bought a zester).

The cake was delicious. I added extra sugar to the topping because I thought it was too lemony, but I wouldn't do that again. Other than that, it was tasty and satisfying along with a cup of after-dinner coffee.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mendocino Ruffle Scarf

Last summer I spent a wonderful weekend on the Mendocino Coast, one of my favorite get-away spots. I stopped in at the Mendocino Yarn Shop and ended up getting a quickie lesson on how to knit one of those ruffle scarves that have become so popular lately. It's easy and fast to knit, two of the things I look for in a knitting project.

The yarn is Katia Triana, and it looks like this when you buy it:

And it looks like this when you pull the strands apart:

The trick is to knit in to the spaces along the edge of the yarn. Here is a good YouTube tutorial. I wouldn't worry too much about a lifeline like she recommends-- mistakes blend right in to the ruffles, which is another nice thing about this pattern.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lily at 18 months

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I was very very very happy to become an aunt last year. I haven't posted any pics of my niece Lily in about six months, so .... here she is!

Lily is walking, talking (a bit), and is as adorable as ever. This photo was taken this evening. I had to stop by and see her for a few minutes because I was craving a hug.

She loves books. This evening I read her a book about babies and furry animals three times in a row at her request.

She is one happy little girl.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hats for twins

When I first learned to knit, which has been about eight years now, I made tons of baby hats. It was good practice for learning how to purl and how to sew seams. Since I had no babies in my life, I ended up donating them to Planned Parenthood and my county hospital. I had little patience for finishing knitting projects, so they ended up being teeny tiny little hats that could be completed in a day or two. I'm not sure if the folks I donated them to ever passed them on to new mothers or just shook their head and discreetly tossed them in the bin.

My skills in hat knitting have improved a bit since then-- I can spend more than a couple day knitting a hat without abandoning it.  These two hats are for my co-worker, who is pregnant with twins. The pattern is a simple one that is knit flat and seamed up. While I have knit a couple hats in the round in the past, I still prefer the two-needle method. I love the little stems on top of these hats.

The yarn is Malabrigo Silky Merino, which is my new favorite. It is like soft, fluffy clouds in your hands and knits up like a dream. Each hat takes less than one skein, and there might even be enough left for a pair of matching booties.

The pattern was given to me by a friend. I tried to find a similar one online that I can link to, but to my surprise I couldn't find one. The closest I could find is here and here

I might make some modifications to the pattern that I used and post it in a week or two.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back in the saddle again

Thank you everyone for your encouragement after I shared my knitting failure. I took your advice and got back on the horse this weekend, making this super simple dish scrubby/face cloth/wash cloth/whatever. It felt good to just knit a little something without caring about how it turned out.

I've been on a reading binge the last few weeks. Are you familiar with Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, also known as SARK? She is a funny, endearing, inspiring artist who has written many wonderful books. I recently read her last two books, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper and Glad No Matter What .  They are completely handwritten in bright colors.

If you are a writer in need of inspiration and would like to join a supportive online community, SARK offers the Write it Now (WINS) program. There are tele-classes, interviews with writers and publishers, a forum for sharing and asking for support, and more.  To learn more, visit PlanetSark or sign up for the free live phone call with SARK this Thursday. The next session starts in July.

Another terrific book I've been reading is Scout, Atticus & Boo , personal essays from a variety of people such as Oprah, Wally Lamb, and Tom Brokaw, about the impact the book To Kill a Mockingbird had on them. Wow is it good. If you are a fan of Mockingbird, I recommend this book.

There are more books, but I will save them for next time. I also have some knitting projects in mind to start pretty soon, so hopefully I will have something knitting-related to share in the coming weeks.

What are you reading?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Friday Fail

There hasn't been much knitting going on around here, so I thought I would share my last completed project (well, semi-completed). It was a failure.

Do you remember the lace shrug I raced to finish before Lily's first birthday?

I knit it to go with this dress that I bought her online from It was touch and go for a while, but I managed to sort of finish it in time for her birthday party. It's supposed to have a ribbed neckline, but I left it off.

Here's a shot of the back. It's pretty, but I have to admit I am not a fan of shrugs. They seem a bit silly. I considered knitting a cardigan, but decided a shrug would be faster and easier to complete.

The dress was a little big, and the shrug was waaaaaaaay too small. There was no way to get both of her arms in the sleeves. I'm sure the problem was me and not the pattern.

I haven't felt like knitting very much since the shrug fail, but I'm hoping that is going to change. Today I listened to a 2010 interview with knitting designer Nicky Epstein that inspired me. She is funny and down-to-earth and has great stories to tell.

If you would like to listen to the interview,  you can find the free podcast on the CRAFTCAST website and on iTunes. If you want to download it from iTunes, search for "Craftcast" and look for podcast #34.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.  -John Muir

I'm back from Yosemite. It was a wonderful trip.  I've been to the park lots of times as both a child and an adult, but this time I saw mountains and rivers and lakes I'd never seen before. I even saw a new bird, a yellow-headed blackbird.

I loved waking up to this view each morning.  It was hard to come back home and no longer be surrounded by massive granite walls, meadows, and meandering streams.

Meanwhile, my niece turned one year old. Here she is unwrapping gifts. Lily can stand up by herself now and walk while holding on to something. She says "thank you" and is still delighted by a game of patty-cake, especially when I "mark it with a B" and gently poke her belly.

I am honored to have been a recent guest blogger at Stitch & Unwind. Please check out my post, "Ten Tips for Dealing with the Knitting Doldrums."

Happy warm days to you,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lacy lace

The race is on to finish the Victorian Lace Shrug in time for Lily's birthday party on Sunday. I'd  hoped to be further along by now, but I'm knitting even more slowly than my usual snail pace so that I don't make mistakes and have to rip out rows.

I wrote out all 26 rows in a notebook to make it easier to follow along. Do you ever do that? I'm not great with charts, so this works well for me.  

This photo is from a Yosemite travel site
Something very, very exciting is coming up soon ... a trip to Yosemite! I'm counting down the days. I haven't been there since I got in to birdwatching about six years ago and I'm looking forward to early morning birding.  Hoping to see woodpeckers and (fingers crossed) maybe even an owl or two!

I'm sorry I haven't been visiting your blogs lately. I'm a bit overwhelmed with a big project at work and don't have the energy to spend time on the computer at home after being on it all day long at the office. Hopefully things will get back to normal in a couple weeks.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Searching for the perfect shrug

While browsing online for baby clothes for my niece Lily several weeks ago, I found a cute flowered dress that I had to buy for her one year birthday coming up at the end of the month. The dress is sleeveless, so I decided to knit a matching shrug in blue that would bring out her eyes.

The dress arrived, the yarn arrived, but I could not for the life of me decide on a pattern for the shrug. Searching through my knitting books and the Ravelry database became a nightly obsession --  I don't even want to think about all of the hours I wasted spent on it. At one point I tried to convince myself to just buy a matching shrug (like this one from Zara) so I could move on with my knitting life, but in the end couldn't bring myself to do it.

This weekend I finally decided on this Victorian Lace Baby Shrug. The yarn is Berroco Pure Pima cotton in the color St. Bart (love!). It is such a relief to have finally stopped searching and started knitting!

I'm almost done reading the biography  Jane Austen: A Life Revealed . I'm so glad that I bought the physical book rather than the ebook. The clear, simple writing and the smooth matte finish of the pages make me feel like I'm reading a far more interesting version of my fifth grade history book. This book might be dull to those who have read other biographies of Jane (or don't have kind memories of their elementary school text books), but it is my first and I am enjoying it so much.

These little owl stitch markers arrived in the mail recently from the Hide and Sheep Etsy store. Are they not the cutest?

Just had to get a family shot.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Light knitting and reading

Just some light knitting going on here. I'm working on this scarf in a pattern I made up that uses several different types of stitches.

I started knitting it in Vita, a blend of recycled cotton and cashmere, but ran out of it and decided to finish with a skein of Mulberry silk in my stash. I don't know who the scarf is for, which usually leads to a lack of motivation to finish it, but the variety of stitches is keeping it interesting. There is something about seed stitch that I love so much.

I went to a real bookstore and bought a few real books recently, which was a nice change from e-books, which just don't hold that same magic. Plus it felt good to support an independent bookstore in my neighborhood. Just finished reading When Women Were Birds , a beautiful non-fiction book from author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams.

Before Terry's mother passed away, she gave her daughter instructions on where to find her journals and asked Terry to read them after she was gone. When Terry sat down to read them, she found every single one of her mother's journal was blank. It broke her heart, and this short, wise book is a reflection on why her very spiritual and loving mother would have done that.

Are you reading anything good right now?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rose Garden

Just a quick hello and some photos to share. I had fun participating in Knitting and Crochet Blog week and enjoyed meeting so many new bloggers. I tried to visit everyone who left a comment during the week, but between writing posts and making the rounds, I got a little behind. A big thank you to everyone that stopped by.

These photos were taken over the weekend at the Municipal Rose Garden. The roses are in bloom and the garden is otherworldly.  There were multiple wedding parties there for photography sessions and lots of families wandering around, taking in the vivid colors and heady scents. I had the most wonderful time. Thank you, justjenn, for reminding me it was time to go.

Have a good week.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day Five: Crafting my Perfect Day (3KCBWDAY5)

For today's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week post, I'm going with the wild card topic, describing my perfect knitting day.

On my perfect knitting day, I'm staying in a house on the beach with a deck that overlooks the ocean. I knit something fairly mindless with long rows so I can frequently look out over the water, checking for birds, whales, and dolphins.

When I need a break, I drive to the local yarn shop and in indulge in whatever I want-- yarn, needles, magazines, books, etc.

I have a delicious, healthy lunch at a little cafe and browse through a knitting book while I eat.

At some point I take a delicious nap.

I keep a journal and pen by my side all day in case I get an idea for my own design.

When the day ends I crawl in to a soft, comfy bed and fall asleep with the sound of waves crashing outside my window.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day Four: Seasonality (3KCBWDAY4)

The topic for day four of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is "knitting for all seasons."

A lightweight scarf knit with my favorite yarn, Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton/Silk.
 I live in Northern California where it never really gets cold enough for heavy wool garments. Plus I don't like the way wool feels against my skin, so I tend to knit with blends of pima cotton and silk or bamboo.

A cotton crossover sweater knit for my niece, Lily
I mainly knit lightweight accessories all year round, although with the recent arrival of my niece I have started making baby sweaters, which I love.

Cotton daisy stitch wash cloth
I also knit a lot of cotton wash cloths. I love using my own handmade cloths to wash my face at night and I like to give them as gifts, too, along with scented soap.

Other accessories I like to knit are small bags and flowers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day Three: Knitting Hero (3KCBWDAY3)

The assignment for day three of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is to write about someone in fiber crafts that inspires you.

"Knitting is where I give the wild woman inside of me free rein. If she wants to be the wise woman as well, that's fine; if not, also fine. I no longer care that my kitchen cupboards are stuffed with yarn, and my  closets with half-finished projects  ... At this point in my life I say: Judge me if you dare."  - Susan Gordon Lydon, Knitting Heaven and Earth .

One of my heroes is Susan Gordon Lydon, author of Knitting Heaven and Earth, which I credit for making me fall in love with knitting. It is a deeply spiritual, moving book about Susan's love of knitting and how it was almost like a wise, supportive companion accompanying her on a journey of love and loss. Her writing is beyond superb; this is one of the few books I've read multiple times and plan to read again and again.

Susan was one of the founding editors of Rolling Stone magazine and the author of The Knitting Sutra and Take the Long Way Home. She died from cancer in 2005, the same year Knitting Heaven and Earth was published. To read more about Susan's accomplishments, her colorful life, and the challenges she faced, see this article from SFGate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day Two: Photography Challenge (3KCBWDAY2)

The theme for the second day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is photography.  We were asked to create an imaginative story or scene related to our craft.

I knew right away that I wanted to feature my soft bunny, but coming up with a scene wasn't so easy, so I took her outside for a photo shoot. She posed in the grass, on a tree branch, in a pink geranium plant, and more. After looking over all the photos, I decided this one is my favorite. She looks so pretty with flowers in her hair.

To see more photos for today's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week challenge, copy the code 3KCBWDAY2 in a search engine and check out the results.

Update: If you'd like to nominate my soft bunny photo for a prize, please go here . Thank you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day One: Color (3KCBWDAY1)

The theme for the first day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is color, which worked out perfectly because I am in the midst of knitting this very colorful ruffle scarf. (Disclaimer: The color has been enhanced a bit with PicMonkey, an awesome free photo editing tool.)

In my every day life, I tend to shy away from color. I am a quiet person who doesn't like a lot of attention, and my closet is dominated by greys and blacks that make me feel safely invisible at work and play. But when I knit, I often go with variegated yarn in shades ranging from ocean blue to hot pink and revel in the unfolding of color as my project grows. The idea of knitting in grey and black is unappealing.

This orange scarf is an anomaly. I don't think I've ever knit or worn this color. I bought the yarn because I was oddly drawn to a photo on Ravelry of a lace shawl  that was knit with it. The color is called "Flame," and I think it will be perfect on days when being safely invisible is just unacceptable.

To read more Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts about color, do a Google search on 3KCBWDAY1.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Red Matinee Jacket

The Matinee Jacket  I knit for my niece Lily is washed, blocked, and seamed. I just need to find one more matching yellow button and she will be good to go for a Disney movie opening or perhaps an afternoon performance of a Broadway show. 

It was a relatively quick, easy knit, with just a few issues that were due to my inexperience with sweaters. Note to self: When casting on and binding off, leave looooong strands of yarn to use for sewing the seams. I didn't do this and ended up having to weave in about a zillion ends, which is one of my least favorite things about knitting.

Speaking of Lily, here is a photo of her taken earlier today. She is eleven months old now and getting so big. I'm looking forward to her first birthday next month so I can give her the basket full of gifts I've been collecting for the occasion.

I know I've been gone for a while. Not sure what happened, just needed a break I guess. I do plan on participating in Knit and Crochet Blog Week next week and would love it if you did, too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Extra Yarn

Last Saturday night was a rainy cold one, and I had a craving for pizza. I tried to talk myself out of it-- too chilly out there, the roads are too wet, and goodness knows I need to eat more salad, not pizza. But the craving wouldn't listen to reason so I bundled up and headed for Pizza My Heart. (Have you ever had their Big Sur pizza? YUM.)

Boy am I glad I went. The independent bookstore a few doors down, Hicklebee's, was promoting the children's book Extra Yarn , and apparently decided to yarn bomb their own store.

At first I only noticed one window display, but the longer I stood there with a goofy smile on my face, the more yarn I noticed.

Extra Yarn is the story of a little girl in a dreary world who finds a colorful box of yarn that changes everything when she begins to knit for people, animals, buildings, and trees.

I can totally relate to that.



Friday, March 23, 2012

This Moment

A Friday ritual. No words, just one photo of a special moment during the week that I want to savor and remember.

Joining with Soule Mama.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Potato Chip Scarf

Last Sunday I met my friend Dogwood for lunch, and while we waited for our table at the Cheesecake Factory she taught me how to make this highly addictive (and easy peasy) scarf.

Apparently this scarf goes by many names. I like "Potato Chip Scarf" best, probably because I like potato chips in general.  The pattern can be found at the blog Free Motion.

I'm knitting it with a skein of hand painted silk I bought at Stitches last year that I am absolutely in love with. At one point I had buyer's remorse for purchasing yet another single skein of yarn just because it was pretty, but now I'm so glad I splurged.

 Thank you, Dogwood, for teaching me this pattern!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pieces of red

Thank you everyone for your nice words about my last "This Moment" photo. A few people asked what Lily is wrapped in-- it's the Forest Canopy shawl I knit a few years ago. Some day I hope to give it to her, if she wants it. It's special to me because it's the first lace shawl I ever knit.

Square pieces of red are piling up for the matinee jacket. It's such an enjoyable knit. I'm working on sleeves now, and it won't be long before I'm putting the pieces together. Wish me luck!
I saw so many cute things made with fabric at Stitches West a few weeks ago that I became obsessed with finding cloth napkins to buy on Etsy. These kittens from  Cottage Daydreams seemed perfect. I'm not sure if I will keep them for myself or give them away as a gift.
Photo from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012
Last night while laying in bed and browsing the latest issue of Vogue Knits,  this oversized pullover caught my eye. After studying the pattern I decided I actually have the skills to knit it (we'll see). The yarn is a cotton/soy blend called Soja, which I've never seen or heard of, so I ordered one ball online to make sure it is soft enough for my skin and easy enough for my fingers to knit with. If it passes those two tests, I think I'm going to make it.