dad friendly

Well, hello!  Knitionary has been a bit quiet this spring and I have missed you all so much!  It's been hectic for me these last few months, with what seemed like a year's worth of activities and deadlines smooshed into two months.  All that is mostly behind me now, and I'm looking forward to a slow paced July and August.  This morning I'm heading off to my knitting group for two lovely hours of knitting and chatting with some very lovely ladies I've know forever.  We started this group years ago when we had school children.  We'd send the kids off to school, play a few sets of tennis, then head to the coffee shop for coffee and knitting.  Now we are all grandmothers, most have given up tennis (I have) and the group has grown to a dozen old friends.  We send out an email Sunday night to see who is coming and today it looks like we have a good group.  So nice, can't wait!  Next, my husband and I are going to see a movie.  He's going to pick it...either Entourage or the new earthquake movie.  We go early afternoon most Mondays and have popcorn and candy for lunch.  I love it!  After that I think we are heading to Costco to stock up.  Now doesn't that sound like the best day ever?

As for this blog, I like to post twice a week.  That seems to be a manageable pace where I can keep my content blog-worthy, at least, that's what I think!  I have some great posts planned, full of knitting, parties and giveaways.  I felt this Father's Day table was a good way to ease myself back into blogging.   I was really happy with the animal theme.  The place mat set is from Belle Banquet.  I have a few sets of these for different seasons and they are sturdy, shiny and gorgeous.  The saffron buffet plates are from Pottery Barn.  I have them in several colors, just fantastic for entertaining: cheap, big and sturdy!  It looks like the saffron is no longer available but they come in many other beautiful colors.  The bee glasses were found at World Market.  We have all three sizes and use them for every day.  The botanist's vases and holder is something I found a while ago in a cute store in my little town.  I hemmed and hawed over buying it, but did, and now it's something I use almost every time I pick flowers.  It fits perfectly on my small table, and a few blossoms make a big show!  Check out this site (sorry, you may have to give them your email address, but they swear they don't share it) for some very fun, similar vases.   I like this one and this round one and this teensy one.  As for food, we had a very dad-friendly menu: salsa and chips, steak and taties, veg and salad, and an ollalieberry crumble for dessert.  The best thing about the table is  not pictured, and that was the lovely people sitting around it, five of my most favorite people in the world.  Yep!

xo Kristen

For the flower lovers, from left, orange nasturtiums, lavendar, magnolia blossoms and a wild yellow lily.


be my baby

Long time readers might say, uh-oh, Kristen knit another owl sweater!  But I never tire of this pattern! When I ask a new grandma what sweater she would like for her newest grand-baby, she almost always says, "The owl, please!"  This little sweater shows up at a lot of baby showers and always gets oodles of ohs and ahs.  I especially like it in gray, because it's a nice color for any time of year and it's sweet for either boy or girl, so it can get passed on down easily.

Even though making owls from cables has been around for decades, the first person to write it into a pattern was Janice Straker, Penny Straker's mother.  I knit my first one 30 years ago for my son, and I knew even then it had been around for ages.  A classic like this never goes out of style.  The pattern uses simple cables to make the adorable owls.  The pattern I used is written for babies, and there is also one sized for children.  I have both patterns and have knit them many times and I highly recommend them.  Both are shaped so perfectly, with a round tummy for the baby size, and a more trim, longer shape for the child's sizes. This one is the 12 month size.  It's my favorite size to knit for a baby gift because by the time babies fit into a 12 month sweater, they are sitting up and smiling and showing off their hand knits nicely!  This yarn is the popular workhorse yarn, Rowan Wool/Cotton 4-ply.  When I give a sweater as a gift, I give care instructions.  I cannot imagine asking a busy young mother to hand wash a sweater, so when I knit for baby, I only knit with machine washable yarn.  The right buttons are super important.  Next time you go button shopping, if you find tiny, two-holed buttons, buy quite a bit and keep them in your button box for the next time you make an owl sweater.  Because I know you will make one or two.  It's too adorable, right?  I personally don't think a baby's wardrobe is complete without an Owl Cardigan!  Shopping links are at the end.

No matter how precise you try to sew on the eyes, they alway have such individual personalities.  Their expressions crack me up.

My Ravelry project page


Recap of TNNA

While it's still fresh in my mind, I wanted to write a little recap of my visit to the 2015 Spring/Summer National Needleart Association convention held last weekend in Columbus, Ohio where yarn manufacturers and designers gather to show their new fall and winter products.  I'll try not to gush too much, but I do have stars in my eyes because my weekend, and this week too, has been this knitter's dream.  First, my roomie was the adorable Jen Geigley of the popular Hey Jen Renee blog and the designer of the crazy-famous GAP-tastic Cowl. We had so much fun getting to know each other and got on like gangbusters.  That we are both such knitting freaks made the show a slice of heaven.  We got to see and feel, and just b r e a t h e in all the new and beautiful products we'll be seeing in the retail stores this fall.

What will we be seeing?  Luscious fiber, and lots of it.  I saw little of the wild and crazy art yarns of the past, and more yarn that focused on bringing soft, washable, long wearing, knitable yarn with natural fiber composition to the home knitter: yarn that is both opulent and easy care.  We are lucky.  I don't know if I noticed a color trend, but my eyes naturally fell on the beautifully muted soft colors that I love.  There are some gorgeous tweeds and natural blends that will make you melt.  We'll see some swank sparkle, a bit restrained, more Grace Kelly than Las Vegas showgirl. I felt the sweater designs to be focused more on fit and structure with minute details that whisper elegance.  With that said, there was still plenty of the slouchy, weekend wear that we all love; but to be on trend, make that boyfriend sweater in an opulent yarn.  You'll easily find one that is machine washable and hard-wearing.  Amazing, right?

I wasn't surprised to find that Rowan's large booth, smack in the middle of the room, was the most beautiful.  Their new fall yarns were elegantly displayed surrounded by a dozen sweaters on mannequins.  Champagne and strawberries were served while brand manager Kate Buller showed their new wares.  Maybe it sounds silly, but I felt the need to pinch myself, how did I find myself here in this knitter's paradise?  I was having way too much fun!  As for Rowan, their new designs were simply the most beautiful; both Jen and I were ready to cast on for a least a half dozen.  In July I'll be able to share more yarn and pattern details, but be prepared for elegant blends and next-to-skin softness combined with easy care.  There is some twinkly, glimmery sparkle to be sprinkled in a little or a lot, you'll swoon.  Can't wait.

Show highlights include meeting Isolde Teague who is a bit firecracker and a lot genius in the form of a chatty sprite. The sweater she is modeling below will be out soon and has some amazing knitting techniques for fit.  She explained her ingenious raglan shaping, and while it will be easy to execute with the pattern, I just do not know how she managed to think it up.  I asked just that, "How in the world did that technique come to you?"  Her answer was simple, "I don't know, I'm just lucky and that sort of thing just pops into my head!"  She is absolutely adorable and a knitting Einstein we are lucky to have.  We met Olga walking through the show and stopped her to admire her latest wrap that she was modeling.  She explained it's modular construction, and again, she is another knitting genius.  She was with Meri, a very sweet and gentle lady and the owner of the beautiful online knitting magazine, Amirisu.  Nicki Epstein had a charming booth and was a total doll.  A very talented knitwear designer, to me she is best known for her popular knitted flower and embellishment books, and her sweet American Girl Doll fairytale doll clothes book.  She had every one displayed and Jen and I spent a good amount of time ogling!   Oh, and we met the Ravelry gang and they are just as fun and friendly as you would think.  Jen is posing below with the gang, only missing Jess who was outside with her baby! Only five people run the entire Rav empire!  How can that be?

Nicky Epstein

knitted patchwork tee pee

Isolde Teague

Me and the completely lovable Martin Storey.

Wait, there's more!  Martin Storey, one of the head designers at Rowan, and the consummate English gentleman, and possibly the sweetest, kindest man on the planet, came to my town and my local yarn store, Uncommon Threads, right after TNNA.  He taught two workshops over two days, and being the groupie I am, I took both!  That night my husband and I took him out to dinner, then next day after class, my girlfriend Leah of the stylish Yarn Stylist blog, and I squired Martin around San Francisco, ending up at the Cliff House overlooking the Pacific for dinner.  To share time with this special guy, whose creativity never ceases, was a thrill.  He has some awesome books coming out this fall and next year. We had so much fun, but not enough time, but he promised to come back!

Martin sharing tips.

Hard to tell, but Golden Gate Bridge is in the background.

One class was about fair isle and making these little trees.  More on that later.

The other class was about beading and no-cable-needle cables.  Beading is easy peasy.  More on that later!

If you are a reader from Columbus, Ohio, I want you to know that I loved your city.  It's beautiful!

My blog has been a bit neglected these last weeks, perhaps months, and things continue to be busy until July.  Any blogger will tell you that when things get crazy, the poor blog is the first thing to go!  This summer I plan on getting back to regular blogging, I miss it!  I have some fantastic giveaways planned, and new things to show, so stay tuned!