Monday, March 26, 2007


Tomorrow is HWWLLB's birthday. In celebration, I decided to knit him a cupcake (using the adorable pattern from One Skein). Not to mention there's a toy knit-a-long going on right now (ahem).

Green! I like green. HWWLLB likes green. So I cast on for the cup part using some leftover green cotton. And of course, it needed to be a chocolate cupcake, because chocolate is one of HWWLLB's favorites (though I have to say, the man is not picky about cake).

Do you know what you get when you combine a green cup with a chocolate cake top? Here's a hint:


Look closer...


You get a momerath.

I couldn't help it. I wanted a cupcake, but the momerath just took over. I think its spirit was already inhabiting that fluffy fur yarn. Or maybe it was those mushrooms in the lasagna last night...

Now I think I'll have to make a whole village of them.

P.S.: Can't you just see them here?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

little things

First things first: a news flash! Jenn has started a toy knit-a-long! Yes, a knit-a-long for those who are making toys. You must join. We all must join. Let the parade of cuteness commence!


Spring time is always a chaotic time for me at work and in my community commitments. Renewal, rebirth, reinvigoration, and lots of work. In all the craziness, little things are really important to me; small pleasures that quiet the space around me.


Walking in the woods and listening to bird song: Sunday and Monday we walked in the high Pisgahs - the mountains of southwestern North Carolina - and heard many birds calling out for mates. I have a beautiful song! I can build a snug little nest! Pick me!


Knitting a little: in the car, a few minutes early in the morning when it is still very quiet, late in the evening when the pair of owls in our neighborhood are hooting. I like having a project with a destination, but no deadline. This will be a Green Gable for me to wear in the warm weather.

Tea: morning tea with the cats and the newspaper keeping me company, mid-morning tea with my co-worker, afternoon tea in front of the computer, after-work tea with the news... very hot, milky and a little sweet... I can't imagine these busy days without tea breaks.

Sew Green: It's a thrill to have a new source of inspiration. I am thinking of participating in the 40-hour drought... could you do it? I think I may drink more water in a day than you're allowed to use in the 40-hour period...


Watching the garden grow: these little sprouts will be radishes.

Friday, March 16, 2007

free pattern friday: organic guernsey

OG guernsey 1

I really like neutral colors on babies. I also really like knitting with organic cotton, especially when making garments for little ones. This little pullover features both, with some simple detailing to make it special. Buttons at the front collar make this easy to get baby in and out of, and the basic shape makes it work for a girl or boy.

If you're knitting for a little girl and like some frills, you can add an I-cord flower or some other embellishment to sweeten the sweater just a little. But don't go wild - this garment's appeal is in its simplicity.

[Edited 1/1/2010 to correct error in Row 1]

  • 3 skeins Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton (100g, 150yd), shown in color #82, nut
  • US size 7 circular needles and DPN's
  • US size 5 circular needles and DPN's
  • 3 3/4-inch buttons
  • tapestry needle
  • scrap yarn to hold sleeve stitches
  • stitch markers
gauge: 14 st and 22 rows / 4 inches

size: 6 (12, 18) mos

measurements: chest circumference: 19 (21, 23) inches; back length: 10-1/2 (11-1/2, 13) inches

pattern notes:
  • this sweater is worked top-down, knit in the round.
  • make all increases (inc) by knitting into the front and back of the stitch (Kfb).
  • as you begin the sweater, you will be knitting the front and back sections in seed stitch (K1 P1 on the first row, and on all successive rows, K the P's and P the K's), and the the sleeve sections in stockinette st (K on the front, P on the back).

starting at the neckline
Using larger circular needles, CO 2, place first marker, CO 8 (8, 9), PM, CO 10 (13, 14), PM, CO 8 (8, 9), PM, CO2. Total CO st: 30 (33, 36).

Row 1: Kfb of first stitch. Kfb of the stitch before the next marker, slip marker, Kfb. K to 1 st before next marker, Kfb, slip marker, Kfb. K1P1 to 1 st before next marker, Kfb, slip marker, Kfb. K to 1 st before next marker, Kfb, slip marker, Kfb. Kfb of last stitch.
Row 2: Purl all st st in the sleeve sections (between markers 1 and 2, and between markers 3 and 4). In the front & back sections (outer sections and the section between markers 2 and 3), knit in seed st (K all P's and P all K's).

Continue in this manner, increasing at the first and last stitch of every RS row, and increasing before and after every marker on the RS rows, remembering to use seed st in the front & back sections and stockinette in the sleeve sections. For the seam stitches (the stitches on either side of each marker), always K on the RS and P on the WS.

Continue until you have 18 (19, 20) st in the back section. From this point on, do not increase the first & last stitch of the row anymore (you will continue increasing at the markers, however).

Next RS row, patt to end of first row, then CO 2 st to the needle tip at the end of the row. Turn work and patt to end, then CO 2 st to needle tip at the end of the row. Continue knitting as you did before, increasing on the RS rows (but not at the first & last st). Continue until there are 30 (33, 36) st between the two markers in the back section.

divide for sleeves
Next RS row: Patt to M, remove, K1. Place shoulder st (to next M) on a piece of scrap yarn to hold for later. CO 3 (4, 4) st to the tip of the needle. Join to back section, patt to next M, K1. Place rem shoulder st (to next M) on scrap yarn. CO 3 (4, 4) st. Patt to end.

Cont in patt 5 rows more (all your stitches are now in seed st).

join to knit in the round
Next RS row: Change to stockinette st. K to the end of the row, CO 2, PM, join to K in the round. K in round in st st until garment measures 9-1/2 (10-1/2, 12) in. from back neck.

Change to smaller needles and knit 1 in. in K1P1 rib. BO loosely using larger needles.

Using larger DPN's, place the sleeve stitches from scrap yarn onto the needles, then join the yarn and pick up the 3 (4, 4) armpit st that you cast on when dividing for sleeves. PM for start of round. K 4 rnds.
Dec row: K1, SSK, K to last 3 st, K2 tog, K1 (2 st dec).
K 2 (3, 4) rounds, dec 2 as above.

Continue decreasing 2 st every 3 (4, 5) rows until 18 (20, 22) st rem. K until sleeve measures 6 (6-1/2, 7) in. from armpit.

Change to smaller DPN's. K1P1 rib until sleeve measures 7 (7-1/2, 8) in. BO loosely using larger needles.

OG guernsey 3

placket & collar

Left side placket: Using smaller circular needle, pick up 12 (14, 16) st (you will be picking up around 3 out of every 4 st).
R1: K1 P1 rib.
R2 (buttonhole row): K1, YO, K2 tog. Patt 3 (4, 5) st. YO, K2 tog. Patt 3 (4, 5) st. YO, K2 tog. Patt to end.
R3: K1P1 rib. BO loosely using larger needle.

(Note: When making the buttonhole row, it may make more sense to use a P2tog - rather than a K2tog - to maintain your ribbing. Use whichever is appropriate).

Right side placket: Pick up 12 (14, 16) st along the right slit. Knit 3 rows in K1 P1 rib. BO loosely using larger needle.

OG guernsey 4

Using the smaller circular needles, beginning at the right placket, pick up 3 st from the right side placket. Pick up all right front st, all right shoulder st, all back st, all left shoulder st, all left front st, and 3 placket st from the left side. Knit 3 rows in K1 P1 rib. BO loosely using larger needle.

Sew down the plackets with the left side (buttonhole side) on top.
Mark placement for 3 buttons and sew buttons into place.
Weave in loose ends.

OG guernsey 5

important notice: This is a free pattern and you are welcome to use it for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce this pattern to sell, and you may not sell what you make with it. You may donate what you make with it to charity, and you may use it for charity fundraisers only if 100% of the proceeds are donated to the charity (and by charity I don't mean your kid's college fund). Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


It feels like I have crossed some sort of finish line, and there are prizes.

Last week was a crazy, crazy week at work. Many long hours, many late nights, many piles of paper strewn about my office. But since crossing that finish line Friday morning, there have been many rewards, including a Friday afternoon nap to make up for some of the sleep deprivation.

More prizes:

pullover flair sleeve view

The pullover is finished! This is just a quick peek, because it needs blocking, but hopefully soon you'll see it on me!

OG guernsey 2

Finally finished, a little baby sweater that I started before christmas and then forgot about. I'll be posting the pattern for this guy on Friday.

I had time to finish it in the car during a trip to...


...Mary Jo's, the Mecca of fabrics.

In the photo above, you see just a tiny smattering of the many fine faux furs available at Mary Jo's. This place is such a treat. I don't sew much, but I sure do appreciate the aisles and aisles of gabardines and linens, walls of buttons, whole sections of different kinds of interfacing. My mom must have bought ten pounds of serger thread (we made the pilgrimage in honor of her birthday). She bought gabardine to make herself a blazer, and I bought some beautiful green Italian linen from which she will make me a Donna Karan suit (see, more prizes).


One of my favorite things about Mary Jo's is all the hand-lettered signs. There are no computers to be seen anywhere in this place, and if you ask a salesperson for help, trust me, they'll know what they're talking about. This is no big-box store, this is the real deal, a throwback to an earlier era when mothers taught their daughters how to sew perfect inverted pleats. I know there are a few other Mary Jo's admirers out there who are going to chime in with their stories... the place is a wonder.

To top it off, on Sunday while listening to my most favorite radio show, Geet Bazaar, I won tickets to see Anoushka Shankar! Really! I was the eighth caller! This was the second time I have ever called a radio station to win anything, and the second time I have won the tickets (the first time was to see the Butchies, which I won from WXYC). There are real advantages to college radio, among them no commercials and less competition for fabulous prizes.

And then came sew green. Will the parade of prizes never end?

Monday, March 12, 2007

new growth

Today is a very exciting day! Today is the launch of sew green.

lettuce sprouts

We have been working away in our secret underground laboratory with scissors, thread and paste, cameras, felt and yarn to create a new blog about crafting a more sustainable future. sew green is a collaboration among eleven women, all artists and crafters, using our creativity to find new ways out of toxic consumerism and share what we learn along the way.

I am really delighted and kind of sheepish about collaborating with the other ten women who are part of this project: shash, bugheart, gracia & louise, lisa solomon, Hayley Alaska, cindy jaswal, Ashb, tracy and shari. They are all so inspiring in their own chosen mediums already; now we all get to learn from each other as enviros as well. I hope you'll come visit!

green clothesline

Thursday, March 08, 2007



This is Rana. She's a froggy sock monster.

I made her this week as a gift for a new friend. She was a little more complicated than most of the other sock monsters I've made, because she actually has toes. Not quite all the toes she should have, so maybe she's having some problems with parasites, I don't know. But I really enjoyed making her boggly eyes, and sewing the froggy mouth.


She has kind of a Mona Lisa smile, don't you think?

You may already know that around the globe, frogs and other amphibians are in serious trouble. About a third of the world's amphibian species are in serious decline. Scientists think that more than 160 species have gone extinct in the last few decades.

There are a lot of reasons: habitat loss, global climate change, diminished resistance to pathogens in the environment, and of course all the nasty pollutants in the water bodies where amphibians live. Scientists are not only finding that frog populations are declining, but that freaky things are happening to frogs - missing and extra limbs, hermaphroditism, and immunicological problems.

I'm doing my part by making frogs out of old socks - but somehow I don't think that's going to cut it.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

secret pal 10 questionnaire

After a long hiatus, I've decided to become a Secret Pal again. I have a childish fascination with the US Postal Service and its delightful habit of leaving unexpected packages on my doorstep that will not allow me to stay away from Secret Pal any longer. Also I just want to make new friends.

Now for the exciting part: My answers to the Secret Pal 10 questionnaire. To all those of you who are not my future Secret Pal, I'd suggest navigating to another, more interesting site now, like maybe the growth rates of naked mole rats, or a dictionary of Quenya. Scintillating reading ahoy!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Does anyone like acrylic? Me neither. Though a nice acrylic/wooly blend is often just what the doctor ordered for easy-care garments (like kids' sweaters). My favorite fiber by far is alpaca, but I enjoy all kinds of natural fibers like merino wool, linen blends, silk blends, cotton blends and I just tried a soysilk/wool blend that I loved. I think I may be allergic to bamboo, and I just can't handle mohair, the exquisite itch from hell, beautiful as it is.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Let's see... theoretically the straight needles are in a vase, and the DPN's and circulars are in a train case, but in reality they are spread across every bag and corner of my house.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I am a medium in everything - height, weight, clothes and knitting skill level. Intermediate for sure. I've been knitting for about 5 years and was cajoled into it by my dear friend bugheart who wanted to start a Stitch & Bitch group but didn't know any other knitters. My, how times have changed!

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Yes, I have one at Alibris.

5. What's your favorite scent?

Smelly things are problematic for me. I like how many lovely things smell, but fakey perfume smells give me terrible headaches. A Yankee Candle sends me straight into conniptions. But a bunch of dried lavender? Heavenly.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Is there anything other than chocolate?

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I don't spin. I want to spin! Do you spin? How do I get started with this spinning? etc. I do a lot of other crafts. I sew occasionally, especially when making sock monsters or curtains for my house. I make a little jewelry now and then out of recycled costume jewelry. I like to make stuff rather than buy it - cookies, get-well cards, rain barrels, t-shirts, handbags, you get the idea. I like to make stuff.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Bring it all on! MP3s! Whatever! I like it. I like rock n'roll, vintage country, vintage blues, vintage anything, world music, worldbeat remixes, the songs they play on the 80's alternative retro station, jazz, funk, old R & B, anything but that teeny-bopper pop stuff the kids today are listening to. Ick! Kids today.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

Favorites: warm earth tones. Hate: pastels. Love: black, red. Hate: cotton-candy pink. If you're into this sort of lingo, I'm a summer-fall kind of gal. Death to spring colors! (Except on flowers, they look pretty good in a spring palette).

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Happily living in sin with one man and two cats.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes. Unless they are in the aforementioned deathly spring colors, in which case no. But generally speaking, yes.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Socks, baby sweaters, socks, beer cozies, socks and crazy bright kids' stuff.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A sweater for ME! This is very rare. I'm knitting Pullover Flair from IK Spring 2006.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Circular, for sure. Generally I knit with bamboo, but for socks I'm a big fan of the Addi Turbo.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yes and/or yes.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

I don't think I have anything that goes back before Christmas. I'm generally pretty good about finishing projects.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving is a good one.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

No, but I love throwing out other people's collections.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I've been hearing big things about the patterns of Phildar, and if you run across any women's sweater/accessory patterns from the 1910's - 40's, let me know! I would really like to get a copy of "Designing Knitwear" by Deborah Newton one day. I subscribe to Interweave Knits, and often pick up copies of Vogue Knitting and its various little-sister publications like Knit.1.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Yes! I want to learn to make short-rows without the bumps showing. I want to learn to spin and dye yarn. I want to learn about Alpaca husbandry so that I can move to the Andes and live out my days surrounded by fuzzy friends who give me yarn to play with.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Heck yes I am! Also, I wear a size 8 shoe.

23. When is your birthday?

July 25th, but I won't be upset if you don't send me an alpaca. I think it's too hot here for them, anyway.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

pullover progress

Slowly but surely, the pullover is coming along. Back on February 1st it was just a couple of rows of ribbing, packed into my carry-on bag and harboring big dreams for the idle hands on airplane after airplane. It did grow on the plane rides, but of course my idle moments never yield the yardage that I dream they will. But I'm approaching the finish line now; I can almost taste the sweet nectar of sweater-completion...


I like this bottom-up method of sweater knitting, despite some of its obvious problems (like not being able to try on the garment til the very end). I especially enjoyed the part when you join the sleeves-knit-in-the-round to the body-knit-in-the-round. It was worth pausing over this moment in the construction to record the last moment that sleeves and body existed as three separate entities, about to be worked into one (yoked together, har har), never to be distinct from one another again.


There was some bleary-eyed frogging this week (isn't there always?) as my sucky math skills were showcased in the form of a neverending yoke which seemed to get smaller by degrees so tiny they might have been imaginary. My whole weekend of knitting was torn out in about ten minutes, but I didn't cry (and I didn't even imbibe, because I am nursing a cold). Strength, people - I am a paragon of strength! (And mucous).

The moment of truth is approaching... soon I will be able to try it on and see whether the groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of frogging and knitting, or the arrival of sweater weather.

And of course, if you too are working on the Pullover Flair, you can share all your travails on the lil' tiny knitalong over on flickr...