licorice for baby

I'm invited to a baby shower in early January so I took a little break from my Christmas knitting--which is going great thank goodness--and knit a Gingersnap with machine washable Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Do you have a go-to baby sweater pattern?
 I have three patterns I go to again and again:

The Totally Free/Totally Adorable Cardi (I've made 8!)
Penny Straker's original Baby Owl Cardigan (I've made 6!)
 and my original pattern, Gingersnap--Licorice is my 5th.

I love the Pure Wool Superwash line from Rowan for all family knits.  It's economical with great yardage and it's machine washable.  I've made a few sweaters for me with it, also many baby sweaters and now making a vest for my son.  When gifting a hand knit, especially to a new mom, practical sweater care is essential.  I cannot imagine handing over a sweater and asking a new mom (or my son!) to hand wash it.  Let's be honest!  The ball band doesn't recommend it, but I put this wool in the dryer with no ill effects.  Here's what I do:  Turn inside out, place in a mesh sweater bag and wash in cool water on gentle cycle.  Next, pop in the dryer on low and take out before it's fully dry and finish drying flat.  I have to admit I've missed that last step and dried it fully in the dryer and they were fine. 

Edited to add:  A reader just asked me what machine washable yarns I like for baby.  My answer:  I am a Rowan fan all the way. For cotton I like their Handknit Cotton, it's a worsted weight and the All Seasons Cotton is more like an Aran and is fantastic. They have Softknit Cotton as their machine washable DK yarn. Many cottons can be hard on your hands, tiring your hands easily.  Not these.  If you've had bad luck with cotton you'll be surprised how easy these cottons are to knit.  I can knit for hours with these cottons and not get tired hands. Their machine washable fingering weight cotton is Summerlite and they plan on expanding that line soon. Lately I've been using the new Pure Wool Superwash line in DK and Worsted weight (Licorice above) and have been really happy with those. They also have a superwash Superfine Merino in fingering, DK and Aran weight. I don't want to forget the elegant Baby Merino Silk DK, also machine washable.  I'm a Rowan fan because they are consistently high quality and well priced.  You can get cheaper yarn but your garment will suffer in the end, plus, knitting with finer yarn is a tactile experience that is a gift you should give yourself.  I've knit all of the above yarns many times and love them all.  I think you'll have a hard time deciding which is best for your baby pattern!  Your Rowan stockist or any of the great online knitting shops will carry all of these popular yarns.

 Here's my Ravelry project page for Licorice.

On Thanksgiving we were invited to my girlfriend's son's home to celebrate with their family and friends.  We were a large and very fun group, from age 9 to 86. I fell in love with Caleb, who totally cracked me up.  A few years ago my girlfriend started a tradition of taking each grandchild when they turn 13 on a special trip to Europe--Paris, Rome, Prague, wherever, their choice.  Can you imagine how much fun this guy will be?

The new rescue puppy totally got the idea of his first Thanksgiving and his role in it.
He kept the kitchen floor spotless and jumped in to help wherever and whenever he was needed.

Lat week we stayed the night in Paso Robles while we were driving back from visiting our daughter in Southern California.  We hadn't stopped in Paso in years even though we love that town and it's not that far away from us.  We took an afternoon to drive through the Paso Robles countryside, quiet during mid-week and golden after the fall harvest.  There were so many wineries and olive orchards to stop for samples--these days it rivals the Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino area--but we limited ourselves to one winery visit only.  The Croad Winery was recommended to us and I recommend it to you.  We ended up bringing home some awesome wine to serve over the holidays. We stayed at the Paso Robles Inn which we love.  They've placed hammocks with wineglass holders all around the property.  We definitely took advantage of that and sipped wine next to a brook and gazed at the ancient oaks and gigantic olives that dot the property.  We MUST visit Paso more often.
I named the baby sweater after the candy my husband loves so much.  The Paso Robles Inn is across from the downtown square with all the shops and restaurants within walking distance--such as Powell's Candy Shop.  Here's my guy checking out the licorice section.


May I show off my town a bit?  Everyone thinks California has no seasonal color, but we have a lot of it! My town of Los Altos has hundreds of Chinese Pistasche trees lining our downtown streets, plus thousands more throughout the neighborhoods.  The colors change from gold to orange to red from October through December.  The bright leaves stay on the trees for what seems like months. It's pretty spectacular.  We have a large one in our back yard and it sports all three colors at once before it finally goes entirely scarlet.  During the summer they are marvelous shade trees.  While the Chinese Pistasche and tall red maples secure that Los Altos will have plenty of fall color, we're flush with the native California Live Oaks, immense redwoods plus the olive and apricot trees that are part of the valley's agricultural past.  I love my town.

To my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!  I know many of you reading this right now might be smelling the roasting turkey.  I love Thanksgiving Day!  Besides being a graceful celebration, it ushers in the holiday season and all the beauty, love, and hope that surrounds it.  And this season, I imagine we're all going to be seeking that out, more than ever.  I hope you are surrounded by those you love.  Peace.

The corner of Main St. and Third St. looking towards San Antonio Road.  See the clouds?  We got some rain!

State St., looking towards Wells Fargo Bank, Costume Bank on the right.
The same corner of Main and Third on a sunny day.

Third St., walking from State to Main.

Even the parking lot behind Main St. is spectacular!

The parking lot behind State.

Not a Chinese Pistasche, but one of the many maples on Los Altos Avenue.

These little dudes snuggled on a bench under a red blanket while waiting for mom to get out of the shop.

Not all of the trees, but many of them, get these nut-like berries.  Our tree gets them and the squirrels love them.

Here's my favorite store!  Uncommon Threads on State. St.

On Second St., looking down State.  Uncommon Threads on the right.

The tree in my back garden always gets color a bit late--it's just starting to turn but it will be scarlet too.

Links for more reading:


Christmas Countdown

I'm shaking a bit as I write this, knowing that all these projects below--and a few more I haven't pictured--have a deadline.  And that edict is coming from me, a knitter who absolutely hates putting time frames on knitting projects.  But a Christmas gift is a timely thing, and I have ruined one past Christmas Eve by staying up late trying to finish a knitted gift, only to crash at 2AM with it unfinished. To make sure that won't happen this year, all other knitting has been banished, and only these projects will get any attention in November and December!  I have a few car trips (where I'll be the passenger!) and a long train trip planned before Christmas and these are my travel knits for sure.

I finished the Amy Herzog Options KAL and hopefully will have a modeled picture to share soon.  I love it, and loved knitting with the yarn--so much so that I purchased more to make the Floyd Vest from Martin Storey for my son.

The Owl Ways Scarf and Chouette Hat from Ekaterina Blanchard of KatyTricot is for my 15-year-old granddaughter who thought these were just so funny and cute.  I'm using some stash-with-no-name that feels like a homespun wool.  Check out Ekaterina's Rav store.  She has some very clever designs.  Annie also asked for some fingerless gloves and headbands and think those will go pretty fast.

Two Harbors Poncho by Sarah Smuland is for my daughter.  This is my first time using this Columbia from Imperial Yarn.  It has a very hearty hand.  I'm liking it--it's nicely spongy!

IF, and only IF it looks like I'm not going to have a problem finishing the above gifts, then I'll see if I can finish this for me.  I try to wear a touch of red every day during the holidays so would love to have this done.  This is Bevin, from Kim Hargreaves Hush.  It's an over-sized boyfriend cardigan using that lovely Rowan Brushed Fleece.  Last year I ordered 10 skeins knowing that I would have to make another coat with this lovely stuff.  The pattern I chose needs only 9 and that one extra skein became the anchor and the inspiration for the hot red/claret/pink color combo for the Tower Of Yarn giveaway.  If you haven't entered, there is still time--I'm keeping it open for a few more days.  Go here to enter.  Good luck!

I'm finished with my Options KAL Pullover, love it, and also finished Dulwich in Rowan Alpaca Merino DK plus just finished a hot pink poncho for Annie.  I hope to have modeled pictures very soon.  If you're also waist deep in Christmas projects, take a deep breath, stay calm and knit on!  xo Kristen

I often write my posts ahead of time, sometimes weeks in advance.  This post was written last week and scheduled to publish Monday AM.  But after the events last Friday, I had to come back and say hello.  I'm just so heartbroken that Paris has been targeted again.  I've been watching my share of CNN, and I'm sure just like you, can make no sense of this tragedy.  This has gone on for too long--killing and raping, how can this sick behavior be tolerated any longer?

tower of yarn giveaway

Yay!  It's that time of year--time for another tower of yarn giveaway!  I've had some fun collecting Rowan yarns (in hot reds and pinks this time) to celebrate some blog milestones.  This is my favorite giveaway to have, as it includes some of my favorite yarns--yarns that knit beautifully and wear beautifully--and happen to be some of the most gorgeous yarns available for hand knitters today.  I'm thrilled to share these with you and wish you good luck!  The descriptions are below, plus plenty of ideas for what you can do with one skein.  The end of the post describes how to enter the giveaway.

This is my wobbliest tower ever.  Even kebab skewers didn't help much.  
It fell dozens of times before I could get it to stay.  I just couldn't breath!

My towers are usually blue, but I decided to go a different direction.  How do you like these hot colors?

Let me tell you about each of these from top to bottom:

Summerlite 4-ply was introduced Spring/2015.  It's a lovely, soft, fingering weight yarn made from the finest Egyptian Giza cotton.  The very soft hand makes a fine, even fabric; it's like no other cotton you've knit with before.  One skein is enough to make the Diamond Purse from the Rowan Swarovski Evening Collection.  Look for Rowan to add to the Summerlite line in 2016.  100% cotton, machine wash.

Softknit Cotton is a DK weight with a chain construction and beautiful drape.  It's easy to achieve an even tension and looks great in cables.  Light and cool, it's an easy-care, machine-washable blend of cotton, 92% and polyamide, 8%.

Wool Cotton DK, a 50/50 wool/cotton blend, is another easy-care machine-washable yarn.  Great for year-round knits, it's a favorite of mine for children's knits.  It comes in a fingering weight too.  Great stitch definition and is another yarn that's easy on the hands for a great knitting experience! 

Baby Merino Silk DK is just that, a blend of soft merino wool and silk that is machine-washable and another favorite of mine for children's knits.  I've just put a sweater's worth (for me!) of a bright blue on my Christmas wish list!  Combine the above pink Softknit, the orange Wool Cotton and this claret Baby Merino Silk DK for a totally adorable/totally free striped baby sweater!  It will be beautiful!

Kid Classic, ahh, you beautiful yarn you.  A blend of wool and kid mohair, this is perhaps one of my favorite yarns to knit.  I have some deep, almost black navy in my stash to knit a bolero as soon as my Christmas knitting is finito!  Kid classic acts like a bull-dog--it wears like iron and resists pilling, yet lives like a lady--the fabric is elegant, downy, and simply gorgeous.  The color I've chosen is a sexy, deep, wine/purple.  With one skein you can whip out several pairs of my Boot Cuffs for stocking stuffers this year.

Brushed Fleece, so maybe I saved the best for last.  I discovered Brushed Fleece because I wanted to make this coat.  Had to.  Even though I thought I was allergic to big needles, I found that I loved the knitting experience of Brushed Fleece.  It's bulky but uncommonly light weight, like it's been jet-puffed with air.  The resulting fabric is soft enough to wear next to the skin and light-weight enough to make a big over-sized coat without heaviness--your coat won't stretch out with added weight--there is none!  I am in the process of making another coat, more like a big boyfriend sweater, using this red.  I'm hoping to have it done by Christmas, but my gifts are a priority right now--wish me luck!  What can you make with one skein?  Perhaps a hat, definitely some boot cuffs or wristies.  Either way, you'll at least have fun petting it!

It's easy to enter.  Just leave a comment below (one comment per reader) and LEAVE ME YOUR CONTACT INFO!  Don't forget that little thing because you can't win if I can't find you.  Either your Rav id or email address will work just fine.  For a second chance to win, go to the Knitionary Facebook page, and under the post that has the Tower of Yarn picture, make a comment.  I'll leave this open for about a week.  Good luck, and thank you for reading!