my smokey goldie

I know I always tell you that I love my latest sweater, but I do love this!  I always knit with yarn I love and take pains to make sure I like the fit.  Goldie is meant to be oversized and blousy, but I wanted to reign in that feature a bit.  I made my dolmans smaller, in fact made the entire sweater smaller by casting on less stitches.  My notes are terrible so I can't share exactly what I did, but the sweater is one inch narrower than the smallest size and a has about 3 inches less in the dolman area.   I then had to pick up less stitches when I did the ribbing on the sleeves.  I did however keep the low wide V.  I love that feature.  My friend made Goldie and warned, "Don't freak out when you are almost done with only the neck ribbing to finish.  You'll try it on and the V will be practically down to your navel!"  She advised, "Just pick up the stitches like the pattern says and the ribbing will bring it in to a less exposed and more lady-like V!" Also, because I'm always changing things up a bit here and there, when I pick up stitches, I rarely pay attention to how many stitches the pattern tells me I should pick up.  I pick up 2 stitches for every 3, or 3 for every 4.  I play around with this as every pattern and yarn and stitch you use will determine which ratio looks best. Ripping out is part of knitting after all, so I don't hesitate to do that little thing if necesary!

The fabric is MAGNIFICENT--two lace weights held together: Rowan's Kidsilk Eclipse and Fine Lace.  You know I'm all about using fine fiber as I can't see spending time knitting with anything less than wonderful.  These two stranded together make a dense, fuzzy, slightly sparkly, and heavenly dk weight fabric.  It was easy to knit and I don't remember it being needle fussy.  I've seen quite a few patterns using these two together; Kim Hargreaves especially likes this combo.  The fabric is a bit warm and the low V and the shorter sleeves keep me from getting too warm here in California.  It's elegant to wear out in the evening with my faux leather pencil skirt, pearls, and spike heels, but is great with jeans too.  Very versatile!  I love this pattern so much and ever since it was finished I'd been thinking about how I could make this for summer.  My LYS had a sale so I purchased 8 skeins of bright pink Rowan Panama (man, I love that stuff) and have cast on.  You may know Panama as a fingering weight yarn, but for me it knits more as a sport weight.  When subbing yarn in patterns, it's important to know how the yarn knits up for YOU and the way YOU knit.  Panama has a lot of drape and I thought it would be perfect for this pattern, and I'm able to get gauge.  Since I want my summer sweater to fit similarly to this one, I occasionally lay one on top of the other to make sure I'm making the same size (since I didn't take any notes, ugh!)

The links!

The pattern is Goldie from Kim Hargreaves Honey Book
Rowan Fine Lace
My Rav project page has all the details

I have some fun news to share; there are some nice giveaways coming to Knitionary in March!  First, there is a book giveaway--you will swoon--it's so sweet and dear--I cannot wait to show it to you.  Also: the best, by far, most useful, by far, sweater de-piller EVER invented. I've been using mine for years.  And I have three to give away.  Yep.  Stay tuned.  xo


best travel project discovered

So what is the best travel project ever?  I'm pretty much an expert on this subject and while I know many of you are shouting "socks" or "Citron" or "Easy Folded Poncho"; and I do agree that they are all great for travel knitting...I did, however, find a project that bested them all by far: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl.  In her book she tells you why she also thinks it's the best, and I agree on all points:  1.  It takes lightweight fingering weight wool so takes precious little luggage space.  2.  It takes forever to knit, so it doesn't matter how long your vacation is, you needn't worry about running out of knitting.  3.  It's purely mindless knitting in the round so you can chat with friends, read a map, etc., unless you want to add fancy lace, and I didn't as I really truly needed it to be mindless.  I did, however, add a few inches of gull lace before the bind off.  4.  Because it's mindless, it picks up and puts down quickly and easily; you'll never have to figure out where you are.  5.  Lastly, it folds up into itself with the yarn inside like a hobo's bindle, and off we go together, into the plane, the train and the automobile.  Carefreeeee, tra la la.

I had 14 skeins (1680 yds.) of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4 ply in Lime and knit until I had one skein left, then started the gull lace edging (also in the book) leaving a bit for the bind-off.  This yarn has been in my stash for years and it's one of those old Rowan discontinued classics that I'd been saving/hoarding for the perfect project.  When we recovered our living room wing chairs in this fabric with it's inky gray/navy and limey/pucey green medallion, I thought, hmmm, don't I have yarn in this color?  Of course I do!  It makes a nice afghan.

I think you can find Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl formula in several of her publications, but I got the pattern/recipe/formula from her little book, The Knitter's Almanac.  It's quite old, but it's still in print and a must for every knitter's library.  It's got some classics in it, plus her style of writing is so endearing, it reads as a bedtime book.  Sweet dreams!

Sugarfoot, free pattern

I have a new pattern for you, Sugarfoot, a summer top with a baby-doll flared skirt for the 18" doll.  It's knit top down in one piece in DK weight yarn and is a beginner pattern. 

I started with one skein of Rowan's new summer yarn, Tetra Cotton, in my hand.  It's 100% cotton with a chain construction and feels very soft and cool in the skein.  I knit a small swatch and realized it's beautiful drape and silky feel would be perfect for the flare skirted top I had sketched out in my knitting notebook.  Usually with one sample skein, I can try out a new yarn and at the same time make up a new pattern for the popular 18" doll. Win-win for me and my doll, (and you too because I wrote it out and giving it to you for free.)

Tetra Cotton is lightweight and very cool, and I can imagine would be weightless for a summer top.  Yarns like this with chain construction take a plain and simple needle so pull out your dull tipped bamboos for this.  Too pointy and you risk a snag, too slick and the yarn will knit too fast and be slippy.  But the right needle, I used Clovers, will have you sailing through the knitting. 

Many knitters of doll clothes are beginners and I'm confident a beginner will have success with this pattern. Just follow the directions, step by step, and you'll be fine.  If you are not sure about a stitch, head to the internet but PM me with any questions if you get stuck. If you are subbing yarn for this pattern, it's best if you use something that has a bit of drape so the flares will flow gently from the bodice.  I had enough leftover yarn that I could have made this long sleeved, or could have added length and made a dress.  I can't wait to see what you do with this pattern!  All links are at the end.

I took a design workshop from Marie Wallin at the Rowan Mill.  Everything starts out with a sketch, then you work your way through the process of choosing the yarn, the stitches, and the construction. After knitting the garment, and that includes ripping out quite a lot and taking notes throughout, I write up the pattern and send it to test knitters.  Their eagle eyes find my mistakes, big and small, and voila!  Doll pattern is all ready for ya!  Did I make it sound easy?  I didn't mean too.  It's not for me and doll clothes are about all I can manage right now!

Sugarfoot, free pattern download on Ravelry
Clover Needles, I used the 16" circulars

Why the name?  My husband is a whistler, and it's my job to guess what he's whistling.  Then I'm supposed to sing along, (no way can I whistle along.)  Very often we're jammin' away to old TV series themes from the 50s (consider yourself lucky you're not around us during these times.)  We grew up on westerns like Rawhide, Rifleman, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, and Cheyenne. I know I'm missing dozens more like Bonanza (Hoss and his family lived behind our house when I was growing up), Maverick, and Have Gun Will Travel.  What else?  You're probably not old enough to remember any of them, but they were GREAT.  It's funny that decades later, my husband and I can still remember the tunes, even if not so much the lyrics.  So, I make up lyrics.  Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, sassy talkin', fancy walkin' Sugarfoot.  My husband frowns at me, "Are you sure those are the lyrics?"  Oh yes, I'm positive!  I looked them up and here are the real lyrics:

Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot,
Carefree as the tumbleweeds, ajoggin' along with a heart full of song
And a rifle and a volume of the law.

Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, never underestimate a Sugarfoot,
Once you got his dander up, ain't no one who's quicker on the draw.

You'll find him on the side of law and order,
From the Mexicali border, to the rolling hills of Arkansaw

Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy lopin', cattle ropin' Sugarfoot,
Ridin' down to cattle town, a-joggin' a-long with a heart full of song
And a rifle and a volume of the law.

Will Hutchins was "Sugarfoot".  You can SING ALONG!

a bread basket and a new beginning

My daughter loves dogs, always has a dog, but has never had a puppy.  She rescues senior dogs.  Like older children, older dogs are among the last to be adopted, if at all.  Choosing a senior dog to adopt can be a bit of a challenge.  You almost never know their back story or any of their history as very often they are strays.  The vet can look at their teeth to get a good idea of their age, but that and their gender are about the only things you'll really know about them. It's almost like their lives before the rescue shelter doesn't exist.  They do, however, come with a mixed bag of peculiarities that come from that unknown past and every one has to adjust. One thing that is amazing though, once surrounded by love, these dogs seem to take no time at all to adapting to their new homes.  God certainly loves these little creatures. 

Gertie is part black lab and is about 11 years old.  We think.  She has been with the family for 5 years and is the perfect dog: polite, patient and loving; an old soul who is completely content and comfy with her family.  Paris, who looks like she has a bit of terrier in her, is the newest family member.  She is three.  We think.  She has been with her family for one week and is trying to find her place.  She is very quiet, undemanding and prefers to stay out of the way.    It will be interesting to see her personality emerge as she feels more comfortable in her new surroundings.  

Gertie has been up to visit her grandparents many times and is very at ease with us, our house, and garden and makes herself at home right away.  She's funny--she knows she's on vacation and plans on having a good old time!  With Paris, it's been a little different.  We are just two more strangers to get used to, plus another strange house to navigate.  She has been laying low pretty much, observing more and not getting into the action. Enter grammy's hand knitted bread basket. When I knew she was coming I fished it out and put it on the floor and she immediately curled up inside.  It's a safe place to snuggle down into and watch the activity around you and not have to be part of it, but I'm predicting it won't be long before she starts to strut around.  

The bread basket pattern comes from Simple Projects for Cozy Homes by Sarah Hatton.  It's one of those books where you'll want to make every project, for yourself and as gifts.  The photography is beautiful and the projects are simple and fast.  Below are my favorites.  I knit my bread basket/dog bed with Rowan Big Wool in the color Linen.  I have more yarn so I can let Paris take her bed home and I'll make a new one for me.  Both the book and the yarn are widely available at your Rowan stockist and online.

By the way, I had the flu last week and it completely kicked me on my keester.  I don't remember ever being that sick.  I ended up getting pneumonia on top of it, and this is even though I religiously get the flu shot every year and I've had the pneumonia vaccination.  Apparently the flu shot this time missed the mark, and the pneumonia shot I got does not cover this kind of pneumonia.  I have spent the entire week feeling bad bad bad and sleeping sleeping sleeping.  I'm getting better, but this recovery business is so slow going.  I wish I could say I was knitting a lot, but before today I couldn't concentrate enough for simple garter stitch.  Anyway, the good news is that I am on the mend!  xo Kristen


farm animals to knit and announcing the winners!

The Knitting and Stitching Show has a fun competition this year.  I lifted this from their site:

Twistedthread invites you to enter The Knitted Farm Competition in conjunction with 'Knit Your Own Farm' by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, published by Pavilion. Four knitting patterns from the book (cow, pig, sheep and lamb) are available to download by scrolling down and clicking on the links below. But we do welcome all additional farm animals too, all we ask is that they fit with the scale of the four animals below. For advice on scale please call 020 7688 6830.

Buy your copy of 'Knit Your Own Farm' for onyl £10 including free P&P (RRP: £12.99). Order from and enter discount code FARM2015 at the checkout.

Prizes will be offered for the most innovative and best executed knitted item. Judging will take place on Wednesday 4th March 2015. Fabulous prizes are provided by Black Sheep Wools.

Prizes are:

1st prize: £200 in vouchers to spend with Black Sheep Wools*.
2nd prize: £100 in vouchers to spend with Black Sheep Wools*.
3rd prize: £50 in vouchers to spend with Black Sheep Wools*.

The farm animal pattern downloads are free!  Take this link and scroll down to the "Patterns to Download" section.

The winners for the pairs of tickets to The Knitting and Stitching Show are:  deborahbanham, CablingKaren, warbler01, Fab79, and sbellingham.  Congratulations!  I'm contacting you either with an email or through Rav, and if you could send me your address I'll have the tickets mailed to you.  I wish I could go with you!


Huckleberry Friend, free pattern for an 18" doll

This dolly ensemble came out of necessity. I simply had to find a use for the leftover bits from the Martin Storey Afghan KAL and the Kaffe Fassett KAL.  Both afghans used the new Rowan Pure Wool Worsted which is not only sturdy enough for afghans but sturdy enough and soft enough for children's clothing and their dolls.  The Huckleberry Friend PDF is free (see below) and contains the pattern for the hat, cardigan, and pleated skirt and will fit an 18" doll such as an American Girl doll or similar.  The entire ensemble is knit on two needles, but I've included directions to knit the hat and skirt in the round if you prefer. The sweater is knit top down, and can be knit with stripes or in a solid color.  You can knit all three pieces with less than one skein of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted plus small amounts of the contrasting four colors for the stripes.  I think it would be fun to make this in school colors.  Your little girl will be able to keep her dolly warm and colorful when she dresses her in Huckleberry Friend!  Sized for an 18" doll.  All the links are at the end of the post.

Why the name?  When I was in high school, an older, popular boy took to calling me Huckleberry.  As in, "Hey, how ya doin' today, Huckleberry?" I would blush crimson at the attention.  Occasionally between class, he would come up from behind, swoop up my books and say, "Where are ya goin' Huckleberry?  I'll walk you to class." Not only was I flabbergasted at him even noticing me but I couldn't get over how kind he was.  Was I in the presence of the rarest of gems--the teenage gentleman?  He was pure California boy from tip to toe: turquoise eyes, shaggy, sun bleached hair with a beautiful smile, plus athletic, funny, and friendly, and was the heartthrob of the entire female high school population. I was thrilled to be singled out by him but admit to spending endless hours puzzling over why he called me Huckleberry.  OK, so it was certain he didn't know my name, but I finally decided that I was happy with any attention,  Huckleberry or not.

I really don't remember seeing him very often; we attended a big Los Angeles county high school filled with baby boomers and we were in the thousands.  I don't remember where he sat at lunch and I never had a class with him.  As the semesters passed and my self-confidence grew a teensy bit, I finally summoned the nerve to ask him why he called me Huckleberry.  He said, "Oh I don't know, I like the name.  My mom is always singing that song, 'Moon River', so I guess it comes from that.  But it's OK, right?"  He had a look of concern on his face, but yes, I assured him, it was a nice name.

So why am I telling you this story?  I often think about him, certainly when I hear Moon River. It was so long ago, yet to this day the memory can make me smile. When I became the mother of a teenage boy I used to imagine my old school mate singing that song with his mom; how sweet!  I can almost hear his mother encouraging her teenage son to pay attention to a shy girl; perhaps carry her books or give her a compliment.  I too encouraged my son to be kind.  He was naturally outgoing and friendly, and I told him how even something as small as a smile and a hello could make someone feel special. And we don't know what little old thing may turn into a lifelong memory, do we?  Because in the end, it's the small things that are the big things, right? 

After high school I lost track of him but a while ago through Facebook I heard he died some years back.  I was grief-sticken, as in my mind he was a smiling, beautiful young teenager who could never get sick and die. I'm certain he had grown into the kind of man who would appreciate knowing how much his attention meant to me.  

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

Now we must get back to knitting.
The free Huckleberry Friend PDF is here.
You can queue it on Ravelry!
 Machine washable Rowan Pure Wool Worsted link here.
Moon River was sung by Audrey Hepburn in the movie,
 Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Andy Williams recorded it in 1961.
Have a listen to this beautiful performance.  Made me cry.

Even writing a pattern as simple as this take a village.
I had awesome test knitters who helped me so much, thanks guys!