bear hunts and crackers

Hello Friends,

First, I hope this post finds you healthy and safe while we are navigating this exceptional time together. Learning new ways to do things and changing old habits while living in our own real-life version of The Twilight Zone has been challenging, hasn't it? Scary too. I know most of you are sheltering in place; we are entering our fourth week. If you aren't sheltering in place, it most likely means you are on the front lines, either in health care, leadership, food distribution or other essential services, and I THANK YOU, and if you are living on a reduced paycheck, my heart aches for you. Bless you all.

We are well here and are watching our 2 1/2 year old grandson during the day while his parents work from home. I know so many of you are working from home AND taking care of small children AND home schooling and I feel for you. Our kids are so grateful that they have their workdays distraction-free and we are so happy to be able to help out. And little Carter is having a dandy time. It's a win win win all around. We have worked out a daily schedule that suits us all really well. Our day is peppered with plenty of one-on-one play time, little snippets of learning time, crafts or cooking with grammy, house repairs or chores with papa, and a good, long walk to one of the local schools to run on the grass and climb the little hills. We are quite certain we have found where the Big Bad Wolf lives and every day we try to flush him out. After lunch we are all so pooped we are ready for story time and a nap. 

Here are a few things that have helped me these last three weeks:

I haven't been able to get very interested in TV these days and instead have been listening to audiobooks from the library. I have the free Libby app on my phone. Download it now! You can borrow books to listen to or read, and they are free! Libby is the easiest library app I have found. Here are some books I've enjoyed the last few months:

To Kill a Mockingbird, read by Sissy Spacek--a real treat to hear her gorgeous southern drawl.
The Dutch House read by Tom Hanks
The Silent Patient
The Great Alone
The Wife Between Us
The Flight Attendant
Something in the Water
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
The Other Mrs.
The Coddling of the American Mind
The Book of Essie
The Secrets We Kept
Small Great Things is what I'm listening to right now.

You and I can't go to church at this time so I invite you to attend my church in the comfort of your home--curled up on your sofa in your pjs with a cup of coffee, like me! I think you will adore my inspirational pastor, Pastor Hurmon Hamilton. There are three live-streamed services on Sunday mornings--8:30, 10:15 and noon PST. Please join me this Sunday to be inspired and lifted up up up. Here's the link: New Beginnings Community Church. Please let me know if you "attend".

The knitting community has been awesome. Many online shops are offering discounts and free shipping. Call your local yarn shop as they may be doing the same AND offering curbside pickup. One thing is certain, your lys needs your support right now.

Designers have been offering free or deeply discounted patterns. If you follow my Facebook page, you're aware that every day I post free patterns. If my posts don't appear in your daily feed (because of some kind of algorithm that I don't understand), try to pop onto the actual page every day. I'll be posting free patterns as fast as I can find them and they almost always have a deadline and a code, so please read the text and act quickly. If you don't often go on Facebook, I encourage you to click on my link right now and scroll down the page. Some of the free patterns are incredible and are often free indefinitely.

Aren't we so lucky that we love to knit?

I think my biggest aha moment came last week when I decided to cook my big meal at noon time. Now for our lunch we have roasted chicken with vegetables, pork chops with homemade applesauce, Thai fish cakes; whatever my son, the designated once-a-week shopper, can find at the picked-over grocery store. I make plenty, then after Carter leaves I can relax and knit and when dinner time rolls around I just heat up our lunch leftovers.

Carter loves to cook and bake, but we don't just make muffins or cookies. We made Ottolenghi's olive oil crackers last week. Carter loved them and my husband said they had a lot of personality which is a nice compliment for a humble cracker. Older kids or littles with supervision can definitely make crackers!

The other day Carter chopped all the carrots for our chicken soup with this inexpensive kitchen gadget that I cannot live without. I'm on my second one because I wore out the first one.

Carter and I also made a cheese souffle together. True, he's only two, but he was very enthusiastic of the science behind watching the egg whites fluff up and turn snowy white and finding out why. If you've never made a souffle, make one with your kids! If they are like my grandson and love eggs and cheese, they will gobble it up. I always use Julia Child's classic recipe and trust me, it's much easier than it looks.

Every day we go on a bear hunt. If you don't have one yet in your neighborhood, start one up and ask everyone to keep their bears out until the isolation is over. Bear hunts have gone global!

Make a no-sew face mask tutorial HERE.

Well, that's it for now. I wanted to check in to wish you all the very best and to let you know I care and hope that you are all safe and calm. I'll leave you with this poem by Kitty O'Mear.

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
- Kitty O'Mear
The Kaffe Striped Afghan knit in Rowan Felted Tweed DK is pure knitting comfort.

New acquisition for the Passagiata Wrap.

Stash yarn gathered for Corners, Edges and Stripes.

LOVE this! A test of the adult version of The Alaskan Pullover. It's totally fab.

When I feel like I really want to concentrate I work on Poet.

A test for Libby Jonson for a summer sweater.

The guys doing chores together. My swift was squeaky, the air vents needed cleaning and so did the kitchen floor!

We used this awesome recipe for homemade puffy paint. We halved it because I am worried about my flour supply!

We use this safety step stool several times a day. It safely brings him up to counter height. 
He was enthralled with the chopper.

Big or small, friendly or fierce, we are finding bears everywhere!

I'd love to hear from you.
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Hello! This is a quick post to share a sweater I finished a few months ago and never got around to blogging about. Fiskur is knit top down in the round with the most fun and fast little colorwork pattern made by slipping stitches in a magical way so it creates little flying fish around the yoke. Such a fun knit! I remember modifying the neck quite a lot and opting for just a simple crew neckline. I added a few German short rows at the back neck to raise it a bit. I made the smallest size which was 31" bust, but was able to make it closer to a 34" because my gauge was 22 sts. per 4" instead of 24. Having a larger gauge will make a sweater larger, so you will have to knit a smaller size if you want it to fit. The yarn was Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino, their answer to Debbie Bliss' Baby Cashermerino. Rowan says this yarn is a sport but I really think it's more of a DK weight. The fabric was way too tight at 24 st. per 4" and looked better at 22". That's why I knit the smallest size! The yarn is lovely to knit and baby soft next to the skin. On my sweater the sleeves were too blousy! I had to heavily decrease them as I was knitting them down but was happy enough with the fit in the end. The sleeves also came out too short, my miscalculation, but before I add an inch to the cuff I'm going to block it first to see if I can't add an inch that way. It's a superwash yarn so should be very stretchy out of a water bath. Because of that I have a love/hate affair with superwash yarns: love that they can be washed in the washing machine, but dislike their stretchy tendencies. I usually pop superwash sweaters in the dryer for a bit to get them back into shape. Either way, fixing too-short cuffs is an easy fix. It's a casual and warm everyday type of sweater and I'm happy with it. Take care! xo Kristen

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Love Note

My Love Note. 💕 It took me a wee while to jump on the bandwagon, but when I realized I had the yarn already in my stash and knowing Love Note would be a quickie, I did jump. The pattern IS a quickie for sure and very easy. The lace bit is a snap and would be ok for a beginner. I was in between a 34" and 38"; what I wanted was a perfect 36". I did not want the lace to stretch across my bust so had to have some positive ease but didn't want an oversized look either. I also did not want the lace to go down into the bust area. I cast on for a 38" and used the following modifications to achieve a 36".

The gauge was 16 sts. per 4" and by changing my gauge to 20 sts. per 4" I was able to tighten up the pattern (and tighten up the fabric too which I prefer). I also cast on less stitches at the sleeve separation. The neck is worked last. The sweater is knit top-down with a provisional cast on. When the sweater is finished, you pick up the neck stitches and customize away, creating a wide neck or crew neck or anything in between. To achieve a crew neck I knit two rounds, then worked a few sets of German short rows at the back to raise the back neck, then knit a few more rounds making decreases (at first I made too many and I couldn't get it over my head!) then knit my k1, p1 ribbing. I was chilly when I was knitting the neck and felt I wanted my neck to be nice and warm. If I decide later to make it a bit more open and wide, it will be an easy fix. I'll wear it a time or two before I decide. I also added length to the sleeves and body.

As per pattern I held two yarns together, a lace weight and a fingering weight. The lace was a frothy strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Cream. The fingering was Tusken Knits Fife in the pinky color, Cordelia. It has waves of mottled color with splotches of a blacky-brown. Adding the KSH softened the colors and gave the fabric a hazy pink sky effect. The two worked beautifully together, but then again, adding KSH to any yarn is a good thing! 

Sending love out to my readers. I hope you are having a good good day! xo Kristen

purchase Love Note pattern by Tin Can Knits here or here
purchase Tusken Knits Yarn here

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When I first saw Fade Neve by Andrea Mowry I knew I wanted to make it in cotton with shorter sleeves for a summer sweater. I'm not a person who usually loves bobbles, but this quirky pattern spoke to me. The original look of the pattern is adorable, but I knew if I were to make it work on me, I'd have to make it a little more low key: beige in color and more fitted. That might just sound a little too vanilla, but I love plain old vanilla knits. Since I wasn't going to fade colors I thought the stockinette side would be prettier, and since I knit stockinette I decided to go with bobbles instead of nupps. The pattern is very easy to follow and super fun to knit. The bobble rows were my favorite part! Rowan Summerite Cotton DK is divine--like knitting with velvet. If you fear cotton being hard on your hands (cotton gets a bad rap in that department) try this! It's easy to knit! Hooray! I love wearing beige and white together in summer so I imagine I'll be wearing this often. These are my white jeans but I have some nice white linen pants that I'll wear with this too, plus regular blue jeans. Wearability: 10.

A few notes on fit from my Ravelry page: I knit the smallest size and used needles US 4 and 6. I separated  body and sleeves on row 44. To make it a little more fitted I cast on only 5 stitches at sleeve separation, not 11. I may end up adding a little bit of length to the ribbing, but I'll wait until I start wearing it in summer to decide.

Recipe for Small and Tidy Bobble:
Row 1- K FBFB (4 sts) 
Row 2- P 4 
Row 3- K2tog 2X (2 sts now on R needle) 
Row 4- Slip R st over L st 
One bobble made.

We had Carter for a few days last week. One morning we went downtown to run a few errands. While I was holding his hand and walking so slowly through town, I noticed other grandparents too with their grandchildren. We were ALL moving slowly and I imagine they felt just like me and were only too happy to slow down and savor the moment. We smiled at each other and gave admiring winks. Proud grandparents have their own little club and it makes me laugh.

I promised him a stop at the bakery if he was very good. They had a fire lit on the front patio and it was so cozy. In this picture it looks like he's daydreaming but he was actually carefully watching a couple try to get off their bikes and not too successfully lean them against a pole. This tiny incident translated into a good half hour of conversation. Time slows down when I'm with him and I love it.

To make a comment scroll down or click here.  I love it when you do, however I do know that it's difficult to make comments on my posts. So many of you have written to me in frustration and I'm so sorry about that. I'll try to look into it again and see what I can do. Maybe my readers cannot get through to comment on my posts, but the scammers certainly can. Arggh. Unwanted comments appear on all my social media spots. Several years ago I had to remove the ability for people to post videos or pictures on Knitionary's Facebook because of all the terrible stuff that was getting posted.  I gave up completely on Twitter as I couldn't stop the sex ads. Ugh.

what to knit on Super Bowl Sunday--the contenders

While everyone else is trying to figure out what they'll be eating on Super Bowl Sunday, you and I are trying to figure out what we'll be KNITTING on that long noisy day of TV watching. Here are my contenders:

I'm making a snow white summer sweater out of the velvety Rowan Summerlite 4 ply cotton and it needs just a little bit of a contrast color at the cuffs, collar and hem. Below are my contrast color choices from my collection of fingering weight cottons, but who am I kidding, I'll probably choose beige. (This is actually not a contender as it is a test knit and I don't even have the pattern yet!)

Below is also from my stash, a lovely DK weight from Rowan that I will knit Le Marche des Artistes, a new pattern from Stella Egidi. This is not really a contender as I haven't actually started it yet and I don't think I will for a while, but I wanted to show it to you!

Below is Poet by Sari Nordland using some gorgeous Biches and Buches Le Petite Lambswool. The entire sweater is covered in the most beautiful lace pattern. It's a project I pick up when it's quiet and I have time to concentrate and can simply enjoy the process of knitting. It's definitely an "alone" project so not a contender for noisy Super Bowl Sunday.

Definitely a possibility below. Ground Pepper from Suvi Sumoli is knit in Leading Men's set of 5 graduated silver speckles. I bought this kit three years ago at Stitches West and it's high time I finish it. I'm just knitting down in the round fading the speckle set as I go. A contender for sure.

I  jumped on the bandwagon of Kaffe's new striped shawl. No pattern in hand, just taking my own stab at it using my stash of Felted Tweed with some purchased brights. This is knit entirely in garter stitch so this will be my project to knit in the dark when we go to the movies or my project to knit whenever I want a burst of happy color in my life. This will be an enormous shawl or a happy picnic blanket. I adore knitting garter with Felted Tweed. I imagine it will take years to make. No hurry. And guess what? I don't think I have enough yarn!

I have a feeling that Neve below will be the Super Bowl winner. I might finish the body tonight and tomorrow tackle the sleeves. I think I can finish it this weekend! This is Andrea Mowry's newest pattern. Her's is faded with long sleeves, reverse stockinette and nupps in wool. Mine is solid color, shorter sleeves, stockinette with small bobbles in cotton. It's a happy and pleasant knit, and the yarn, Rowan Summerlite DK is like holding velvet in your hands. 

As for our Super Bowl Sunday food, we are having an unconventional (but husband approved) buffet of spiced nuts, avocado, shrimp and cucumber salad, and lettuce wraps with spicy Korean beef. Can you tell we are trying to lose some holiday weight around here? 💪 We are having some guests so I think my husband is going to break down and buy some wings from the deli as a nod to having at least one traditional football food. 

Today is the most adorable wash day ever! Muddy cuffs on every sleeve. Purple paint. White frosting. Grass stains. Dried up crud of something, maybe batter or play doh? It made me laugh to see the remnants of his busy week all over his sweaters. 💗 Super grammy got it all out.

Very soon I'll be starting a monthly series called A Year In The Garden where I'll show you just what's going on month to month in my Northern California garden. I had such high hopes for this series, but then January just got away from me! On to February!

Go Niners!

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Meet Me At Midnight

Hello! For the last week I've had only ONE project to work on. While I was waiting for a pattern to be ready to test knit I finished my Kidsilk Haze shawl. I love knitting the mosaic stitch and love using Kidsilk Haze so it was purely delightful knitting in every way. I knit the yarn double. If you ever get the chance to knit KSH double, it is heaven. When doubled it knits up similar to dk weight or light worsted weight depending on your needle size and what kind of fabric you want. My gauge must have been off because I had to knit another band of stockinette to make sure it was big enough. I do like my shawls big and cozy. The pattern is well written and fun. If you are looking for a gorgeous colorwork/mosaic shawl, I think you'd love knitting Midnight. Mosaic is the easiest colorwork of all. Do't be intimidated! You can do it. Mosaic uses only one color per row and everyone who tries it has great success.

Rowan's Kidsilk Haze is super popular and can be found at your local Rowan stockist or online at a zillion places. I made this with Kidsilk Haze Eclipse. For Eclipse, Rowan added a thin metallic thread to add sparkle. Eclipse is discontinued now but every once in a while I find it online. It's hard to show the sparkle in these pictures, but it's pretty gorgeous in person. 


Now that this is done and since I'm still waiting for the test pattern, I have cast on for two projects--one easy garter stitch travel project and a lace sweater that needs concentration so that one will be staying at home. It's nice feeling caught up with my knitting and having only two or three projects on my needles feels totally manageable. I'm really going to try and keep it that way. :)

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