Saturday, January 30, 2010

it's so cold...

...but the sun was out to play!::: eating cinnamon roll bread ::: thanks to Beth
::: knitting on a neighborly ::: thanks to Jennifer and Larissa
::: reading & cuddling ::: I can't wait until she's old enough for Pippi
::: drinking hot tea ::: St.John's Good Mood Tea, Traditional Medicinal
::: listening to some good stories ::: thanks to NPR
::: hoping that you are cozy & warm wherever you are ::: really!

eta: thanks to Heather too!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


More hearts! I heart Elizabeth Zimmermann! Her patterns with their indirect directions (if you've ever knit from her writing, you know it's not really an oxymoron) empower a knitter to think through a construction and adapt it as desired.

I give you, for instance, the Heart Hat from her book Knitting Workshop (scroll down to find it). In the book, she refers to the hat for an example on applications for i-cord (the cord formed from knitting a small number of stitches circularly). I-cord encircles the neck opening and face opening of the Heart Hat. In the photo-caption in the book, it refers to the pattern in the index. If you go to the pattern, you will find the instructions for an adult-sized hat or a heart-shaped elbow patch. Great! But what if you want to make a baby-sized hat??? Elizabeth would probably tell you to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and figure it out. That might seem a bit harsh at first, but really, if you've read through her books (which often read like prose) then you have the tools you need to figure it out: that garter stitch maintains proportion when scaled down or up; that a simple percentage system (which she outlines for you) can yield a custom-fit sweater; that algebra and geometry have true application in the real world (of knitting).

So, channeling my inner-Elizabeth and with my fingers crossed, I forged ahead to make a Heart Hat in a baby size using dk-weight yarn and size US size 4 needles. Guess what? It worked!
This sweet little hat fits loosely on a newborn baby! Sweet M will be able to wear this hat all winter (we still have a lot to go, I'm afraid). I tipped the i-cord ties with the rose wool, and I think it makes them look dipped... love-dipped!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Not me, him! This little guy has found his way home to the Pacific Northwest to live with my oldest sister's family. One of my nephews has a crabbing licence, how cool is that?! The whole family goes camping & crabbing whenever they get the chance. So when I saw the pattern for this fellow on Knitty, I knew that one day this would make a good gift for the family who crabs together!
The pattern is excellent and it was very fun to knit this crustacean. I didn't even mind all those legs! I think the top shell is my favorite part with its curved rim above the mouth (formed with shortrows) and the bobbles that make him lumpy. Although, the pincher claws are pretty awesome too. I'm so glad I had someone to make this for! He's going to have a good life.
And about me being crabby, actually I think it's just me being tired. After the holidays, the new year brings a bunch of birthdays, resuming the family schedule, and gray days one after another. And once all that busy-ness subsides but the gray remains, I have a tendency to fall into a lull and at the same time keep looking out for a flash of brightness. If there happens to be such a flash, I'll lunge for it (thus the heartfelt tutorial) and then return to that more watchful state. That's where I am now, looking around and seeing some really beautiful light and wondering which direction to go next.
What direction are you headed in right now?

ps - Thank you for all the kind words about the heartfelt tutorial! I had fun putting together my first tutorial. I've put a link to it in the side-bar so it'll be easy to find later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

heartfelt tutorial

So today I am going to take you step-by-step through making a felt heart pouch. Brace yourself, there are many photos and directions. I hope you like it!You will need some wool felt and embroidery floss in any colors that please you or your Valentine(s), scissors, a hand-sewing needle, and a heart-shaped pattern.The pattern I use is 2" wide and just shy of 2" tall. I cut it in the good ol' fold-a-piece-of-paper-in-half-and-cut-half-a-heart-shape way. Once I came up with a heart that was just right, I transferred it onto a piece of cardstock (aka magazine subsciption insert), cut it out, and use it repeatedly.Using a ball-point pen, trace around the pattern onto the felt twice. Cut out the two felt hearts.I'm going to show you how my mother taught me to thread a needle a looooong time ago. (If you click on that crazy collage, it will get bigger and be easier to see). Separate out three strands of embroidery floss. Fold the floss over the needle and pinch the floss and needle so you can barely see the folded floss. Slide out the needle. Now slip the eye of the needle over the barely visible fold of floss, and the fold should slide through the eye! Maybe you knew how to do that. That's a bit of Mom Magic that I have never forgotten. A while back, I came across Heather Bailey's brilliant knot technique (scroll down through her sidebar for a tutorial). I had a way I made knots forever before, but now I can't remember it because Heather's way is so great!Now you can stitch a design on one of the felt hearts, or both if your heart desires. ;) I've done monograms in back-stitch or split-stitch, French-knot sprinkles, sashiko type stitches, chain-stitch flowers.... It is really up to you!Here's how I make a French knot. Send the threaded needle through the felt where you want a little 3-D dot. Lay the needle flat against the felt and wrap the floss around the needle. In this case, I went around three times, but two or four could also work. Then carefully point the needle back into the felt very close to where the needle came out in the first place. Tug the floss to snug the wraps around the needle close to the felt. Draw your thread through, keeping an eye on the wraps, maybe use your thumbnail to keep them from going astray. Ta-da!!! A sweet little French knot! Sprinkle them around as you like.

Once you've got the embellishments in a way that makes your heart sing (!), it's time to sew the front and back together. I use blanket-stitch because I like the way it looks and how it finishes the opening.
Let me qualify this back-stitch lesson with "this is how I rigged up starting a back-stitch" because there is probably a slicker way that doesn't leave a double thickness of floss on the first stitch. If you know another way, do tell!

Start stitching at the top of the left "hump" (as you look at it). To hide the knot, start on the inside and draw the needle through the back piece, around to the front, and through both.

So send the needle backwards under the floss of the first stitch.Then come to the front and stitch from front to back.
Before you pull the stitch snug, send the needle through the loop the forms. Pull until the loop lays down over the gap between the front and back. Continue in this manner around the heart until you get to the top of the other "hump".

At this point, blanket-stitch only the edge of the front piece.When you get to the other "hump", send the needle under the very first stich to create the horizontal "laying down" part of the stitch. Now continue with the blanket-stitching on the back piece.When you come to the other "hump" again, send the needle under the last stitch that joined the front and back.To secure the end, send the needle under that same stitch once more, but before pulling it snug, put the needle through the loop twice, then tug slowly. A knot will form; again, you may need to guide the knot with your fingernail to keep it from travelling up your thread away from the stitch. Now, slide the needle through a nearby edge of the felt, keeping the needle within the thickness of the felt (not sandwiched between the two pieces), poke the needle out again, and snip the floss close to the felt. This will bury the floss within the felt. Finally, tuck a token of your affection inside, and you are done! I find these wee dark chocolates at our local food co-op. I vaguely recall finding some milk chocolate pieces too. An old key would be sweet. Or those pewter tokens. A little love note...
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments, and I'll answer there, it'll serve as a reference spot. If you make some pouches, I hope you have fun. Maybe send me a picture. I'd love that!

heart felt

Oh, I know, silly pun, heart felt... heart-felt, but I couldn't resist!I was trying to ease into the Valentine's Day mood, not wanting to rush anyone (including myself) or cause any panic, so I made a few quick heart-type items and sprinkled pictures of them around my spaces here on the internet. Subtle, suggestive, and satisfying! And now that Alison has got me all revved up about hearts and flowers and all things Valentine-y, there's no stopping me! ;) So, about the felt hearts... I found this Little Hearts pattern on Ravelry last spring, queued it up, and actually remembered it was there last week! With my Stash-0-Plenty of Cascade 220, I knit up a few; they knit up quickly. Once I stuffed them, Hana and I felted them. They felt so great while we mushed them around, sort of bread dough-like or baby thigh-like, you know? Anyway, I've got the pattern memorized now, and four more are waiting for their turn in the sink. I'm planning to embroider on some of them, but they are so cute plain, that I will try to keep from decorating all of them. I think you should make some too!

But wait! There's more! A few years ago, I made these valentines for my family and for a craft/bake sale at school.I'm going to make some more today, and I'll document the process for a tutorial. The project involves felt, scissors, embroidery floss, a needle, and chocolate! I'm guessing if you're reading here, you love all those things and might want to check it out! I hope you will! See you tomorrow...


Monday, January 18, 2010


Kindness is like magic, if you ask me. I believe in the adage, One good turn deserves another. I am fortunate to have been on the receiving end of much magic lately.

Last spring I wrote about my huswif project and told you about how generous Theresa was with encouragement and guidance. Well, her kindness has been constant since that time in the forms of reading here, commenting, and thereby encouraging me further. For those gifts I am humbly grateful. In December, she hosted a give-away which I entered, fingers crossed, and considering her large readership, I figured I didn't have much chance of winning. I did not win. Jokingly, I posted a "whine" comment, and she took pity on me! (or probably more accurately, she saw an opportunity to be generous!) The give-away was for some goodies from Namaste, a company that specializes in knitting bags in some beautiful colors and styles. Bag Lady that I am, I had no Namaste bags in my collection. Well, Theresa remedied that and then some! Look what she sent me for not winning but whining:

Now, I do not advocate whining, I have a five year old, and she'd be the first to tell you that my hearing is unusually poor if a request is made in whiny-voice. I thought maybe I'd get a chuckle out of Theresa with the whine, but, wow! She sent me a parcel with a colorful, handy Namaste Catalina pouch, a purple Namaste totebag (did you know purple is my fave?), and two skeins of Noro Blossom which is soft and jewel-y and gorgeous! All that, out of the kindness of her heart, her generous heart. Thank you, Theresa. <3

And also from her generous spirit, sprouted the idea of a Magic Yarn Ball Swap a'la Knitalong. The participants (it took me about 20 seconds to join that fun!) were assigned a swap partner, and we each wound a Magic Ball to send. My swap partner, Britt, was so quick! The guidelines for the swap allowed us until January, so my last-minute tendencies found me sending my Magic Ball on Saturday. I had fun hiding items inside, and I hope Britt enjoys it to its very core! Here is the ball I received:

Do you see those very curious bits of paper? I've been dying to find out what's inside this ball, but I've been waiting until I sent her Magic Ball, it only seemed right. I'm planning on casting on for a pair of JCasa fingerless mitts today. Thank you, Britt! <3

Of course, you noticed that delicious pile of flannel goodness that the Magic Ball is perched upon... more generosity! My knitting group recently gathered for our holiday celebration (better late than never), and the Girls rolled my birthday in there too! It's a bunch of Anna Maria Horner flannel from her new Folksy Flannel line and the cherries are from Sandi Henderson's Farmers Market line. I'm looking forward to some happy sewing time and all the comfy-ness this fabric will yield! We're planning a pj pants sew-a-thon sometime soon. :) Thank you, thank you, knitting Girls!

So, about that saying, One good turn deserves another:

Theresa, I've sent a wee little something. :)

Britt, your Magic Ball is on its way. :)

Knitting Girls, let's make some pj's! :)

xoxo - Annri

Friday, January 15, 2010

my rock star

Today is our rockstar's fifteenth birthday! It boggles my mind how time has passed and how in some ways it hasn't budged. I remember what I ate (or at least tried to eat) the day before he was born; I remember the path of the walk Brian & I took during early labor; I remember the strangely warm weather, the mist of that day; the gentle encouragement of the delivery team; the way that in an instant, I became his mother. It could have been yesterday, but so much has transpired since. What a blessing in the form of a child, our boy.

As requested, he received his own dino!This little guy dreams of an NBA career.And rock & roll fame. How else does our fifteen year old wish to celebrate? Ride the city bus downtown after school, eat fun food, play a basketball game, and go out for pizza late. Oh, and chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for the team and loyal fans, please. No problem. Wishes will be granted!

Happy Birthday, dear Koji!!! I love you.

ETA: additional requests: rice balls and a win!

... oh, and Nancy, I did finally get out of my pj's! ;)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

color infusion!

I have noticed a pattern in my knitting project color preferences which follows the seasons. Spring whispers, "Pink, bright green, clear blue." Summer inspires me to choose watered down bright shades: sky blue and dusty pink. In the autumn, orange, purple, green, grey and brown call to me, "knit me! knit me!" Then winter shouts out, "Anything bright & cheery, please!" It happened last year, I recall clearly. And here I go again!I would never argue that anyone has a better color sense than Mother Nature, but I could be convinced that the color folks who dye Malabrigo must have some kind of hot-line to Mother Nature's palettes. I've just started another Lyalya Hoodie in Malabrigo shade Flora. And I often have knitting at my side in the kitchen (what, don't you?). So the yarn was sitting on the counter, waiting patiently while I sauteed, and when I turned around I noticed that some of the fruit in the fruit bowl were nuzzling the yarn. I wasn't surprised and I don't blame them. Grapefruit pink & gold, Honeycrisp red & pink, Orange, well, orange! Totally yummy!

This hoodie is going to be a gift for a friend's Little who will soon be two. Shhhh... don't tell. I would like to introduce you to this very talented & beautiful friend and mother. Her name is Nancy Melet-Daly. We met about twelve years ago, when I received a pair of her silver hand-linked earrings which were on display at a cafe where the sprout of a knitting clutch was forming. At the time of receiving the earrings, I only knew her name and her work. Perhaps two weeks later, Nancy showed up at our weekly meet-up with her knitting! A friendship was born. Many knit-nights later and many, many earrings, necklaces and bracelets later, I am proud to say that we remain friends, I won't say "more than ever" because it's never about degrees with Nancy, she's an all or nothing kind of friend. I admire so many things about Nancy; the way she conducts her business, her family and friends, her hair, her jewelry, her sweet child, her home, and I could go on... Check out her site, check out her Etsy shop, heck, give her a call! She will welcome you with open arms and treat you like a good friend. Oh, and just in case you're wondering what this has to do with my color infusion post (besides the hoodie), just look at this vintage glass goodness or this:
Slipping this bracelet on this morning was just the infusion of cheery color that I was craving! Thank you, Nancy, I love you.

I hope you're having a colorful day! xo

ETA: When I say, "...all or nothing..." I mean that once you are Nancy's friend, you might as well be family, because she loves you just like you were. <3

Monday, January 11, 2010

the view from here... quiet today. When I feel overwhelmed, I find it helps to look up. These are some of the great trees we have in our yard. They serve us in so many ways: bearing fruit, lending branches to climb, creating shade, breaking the winter winds, sprouting branches & leaves & cones & acorns to play with, offering kindling, and improving our point of view. I really love these trees.

What helps you to refocus?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

bottle this

I wish I could bottle the creativity that bubbles over from her. All of this in one day. One very good day.Finished a hat for Molly. She'll need her own Ravelry page soon. ;-)Built a playgym for the dollhouse kids.Figured out that you can hopscotch with snowshoes on! Thanks, Aunty!


On my creativity front, I finished a couple of hats. Two heads worth of Malabrigo goodness!
On the left, a Felicity in the Whales Road colorway (just imagine the whales' journey). I'm hoping that blocking will relax the wool so the hat will fit an adult head. In the meantime, it's super cute on Hana. On the right, another Lyalya Hoodie. Hopefully, this one won't meet the same fate as the first! I used what was left of the Cuarenta colorway with some Teal. It is a great hat pattern and the wool is so soft she never complains of itches. {details on my Ravelry page}

I have been starting projects like crazy. I'm noticing that I get this startitis every mid-winter, once the knitted gifts are all given, usually in January sometime - ahem. Yesterday, I began a pair of Give a Hoot mittens for myself. They're almost done! It is an awesome pattern. I'm using the same Morehouse Farms Merino 3-ply that I used for Dad's leg warmer. Simply cozy!
Here's a pic of the first owl sans button eyes; I really hope the button stash is up to this job. I had to hunt for a while to find my cable needle; it had been a while since cables came off my needles. Someday, I'm going to make this owl-y goodness too! I hope you're having a cozy weekend. After our re-entry week and getting back to our usual school, work, play schedule I've ended up with a head cold, nothing serious, but enough to keep me quietly knitting. I'm kind of enjoying it. I know you understand.

best - Annri

Thursday, January 7, 2010

for dad

I knit a leg-warmer for my father, it fit him perfectly, and this makes me so happy I could cry. It is my father's story to tell, but I will condense it thusly:

My dad had both his legs amputated two years ago; one above the knee, one below. The longer leg often ends up uncovered by a lap blanket and gets cold. It occured to me that a warmer of some form was what he needed. I should not have waited so long. When he tried it on today, we were both really pleased. I will not wait so long to knit him another one. :) {details on my Ravelry page}

Also in the picture, yumminess thusly:

Cranberry Oatmeal Struesel Bars
1 12oz bag cranberries
3/4 c water
3/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground mace
1 c packed brown sugar
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c butter at room temp
1 1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
::: cook first group of ingredients in a saucepan to boil, then simmer for 5 mins until the berries pop; remove from heat, add mace & salt
::: grease 7"x11" pan; preheat oven to 375 deg F
::: in a large bowl, combine second group of ingredients; add butter and mix, using hands until no small lumps remain; add oatmeal & walnuts
::: press half of the oatmeal mixture into the pan, bake for 10 mins; remove and spread cranberry mixture on top; sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture
::: bake for 25 mins, until lightly browned
::: cool in pan on rack; once cooled, cut into bars.

yum. yum. extra yum. {I stumbled upon this recipe on the internet sometime last year, I can't retrace/retrace where, sorry.}

Monday, January 4, 2010

don't play with your food!

Just kidding! Play all you want! Because these three squares are meant to be played with. :)

Sometime around the age of two, Hana received a generous, timely, we-can't-believe-our luck! hand me down gift of a beautiful wooden play kitchen. She has loved that toy so much! It's a rare day that goes by without Hana cooking up some kind of goodness there. At first, dry millet, a jar of little felt balls, water, and strong imagination were all the "food" she needed. However, by the time of her fourth birthday (she's five now), some real food was requested. So for her birthday I made her some of the food below. The invitation for her party were in the form of a simple menu, and guests were asked to rsvp with their "order". Between rsvp date and the party I got busy making, and each guest was presented their "order" as part of their party favor from Hana's Cafe party. It was so much fun!On the daily menu at Hana's Cafe: for breakfast, a shortstack of pancakes with maple syrup and a pat of butter. Yum. {knitted and felted from this pattern but smaller with Rowan Scottish Tweed DK, free-hand felt syrup & butter}Then for lunch, a mixed greens salad with carrots, cucumber slices, mushrooms, and peas. Yum. {lettuce & mini carrots with Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted, cucumbers with Debbie Bliss cotton and Nature Spun worsted, mushrooms & peas were handmade gifts from a friend who knew the party theme, big carrot wet felted with Peace Fleece roving}Sushi for dinner! Salmon roll, cucumber roll, tuna roll, and salmon roe! Yum. {rice & fish in rolls needle-felted from Peace Fleece roving and wrapped with black nori/felt, little roe pieces wet felted into tiny balls then onto the rice, then wrapped} This sushi is a recent addition to the fare at Hana's cafe, you know, for the more mature chef. ;-)Dessert! Yea! An oreo-type cookie. Extra-Yum! {amigurumi cookie from Brown Sheep Nature Spun & Cascade 220 and a wee bit of felt & embroidery floss} This cute cookie is really one of Hana's dad's holiday gifts (he's an oreo fiend from way back), but he has "allowed" her to play with it in her kitchen.

For the party invitations, we also offered pasta with tomato sauce. I made bowtie pasta with white felt cut in small rectangles (approx 1"x1.5") with two long sides cut with regular scissors and the two short sides cut with pinking shears. I pinched the center and stitched it a few times to secure it; about ten pieces makes a nice serving. The tomato sauce was a "splat" shaped piece of felt. As is the way with the cobbler's children, Hana's kitchen hasn't received its delivery of pasta from the distributor, but don't worry, I'm on it! :)

I'm posting about this play food now because the colder weather means indoor play is gaining favor. As I put my mind to sprucing up her play areas to expand her options, I thought it would be nice to share these ideas with you. There are few things better than a little one witnessing the creation of a toy (or anything for that matter) just for them, or by them!

Just food for thought! {Gah! I can't believe I just typed that, but that's me, so there you go!}

xo - Annri