Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

No ice this Christmas
Kids versus Parents soccer
Of course the kids win

Merry Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Haiku

A shocking pink tam
From flying silver needles
Happy Christmas gift

Inspired by Jungle Dream Pagoda.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pink!

Pink! Nothing else needs to be said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Invasion of the Thingies


With an almost eerie nonchalance, the thingies creep into the most innocent of projects: a baby cap. Alien thingies firmly sprout from the top. How does it happen? When does it happen? Most of all, why does it happen? My guess is it suits the recipient or in this case, his parents, who are, most definitely thingy people, (and I mean that in a good way) ... so when you're not really paying attention... there they are, on top.




Baby Thingy Cap

I used 1 ball of Samoa, from GGH, 50%cotton, 50% microfiber: 104 yds/50g, I think the color is 56 but I lost the ball band...Cambridge blue. It's a nice and springy yarn, but tends to show every pause in your knitting, don't sweat it, it'll even out with blocking and wearing.
Size: infant/toddler, 16" circumference.
Gauge: 16sts and 14 rows= 4"
Needles: 16" size 4 and 5 circular needles, 1 set size 5 double pointed needles and if you’re fussy 1 set smaller dp needles, say 4 or 3 for the thingies.
Notions: stitch markers, tapestry needle

With size 4 circular needles cast on 64 sts. Join w/o twisting. K in Pearl Stitch (Row 1:k1, p1; Row 2: p1, k1) for about and inch, 5 or 6 rows. Increase row; with size 5 needle, k, increasing 6 sts evenly around (70 sts). Continue in stockinet st (k every row) for about 3.25 inches. Set up for double decreases: * k13 Place Marker (PM) k1, PM*, repeat between *'s 4 more times. This marks off the stitches that you will be making double decreases on either side of, for a nice 5 pointed star top (reminding me of Dr.Seuss's Sneeches, with stars upon thars); as follows: ** k2 together, k to with in 2 sts of marker, slip slip knit; slip marker, k1, slip marker**, repeat between **'s 4 more times. K 2 rows, repeat Dec row, twice. K1 dec row, k1 row stockinet until 10 sts remain. Now I like the I cord for my thingies to be just 3 sts, and I just wanted 3 on this hat, so I knit 2 together and then k 2 (for 3 sts on needle) and launched into the first thingy. Make 2 more I cords with the remaining 6 sts. On this wee hat the I cords are about 1.5" long. Fasten off and weave in the ends.

After you make one why not make one to give away? Save the Children has an Action Kit which will tell you how. While you're in the true mood of the season, visit The Scent of Green Bananas, one of my favorite food blogs and follow the links for Menu For Hope.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thingy Hat

This is the hat I traded for garlic. I love to trade. I don't really enjoy specific commands on my knitting, however. The garlic farmer wanted "thingies" on the top of his hat. I don't generally do thingies. Some people are thingy champion masters, constructing a whole career out of doing thingies, and doing it beautifully and artistically and interestingly.... I just don't really do them myself, I leave it to the Thingy Experts.....After all that, I do rather like my wee touch-of-thingy on this classic watch cap. I hope the farmer does.
The yarn is called Friendz Blendz. It is hand dyed, 50%mohair and 50%wool; 200yds/3.57 oz.; color TN-2; from Friends Folly Farm out of Monmouth, Maine. It is deliciously soft and machine washable to boot!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fresh Shrimp


It is a happy day when the shrimp trucks are out. The cheery red lettered signs announce one of the most sweet and succulent gems of the sea: Fresh Maine Shrimp. In our family we cook them all kinds of ways, from gumbo to crepes, but by far everyone's favorite is the easiest to prepare.
We toss the whole shrimp in olive oil, salt and pepper. Let them soak while we fire up the grill and just put 'em on when its hot! Turn them once and serve.
Everyone peels their own. It is messy so provide dishtowels for napkins. A big bowl of shrimp, a bowl for shells, a salad and bread or rice, and voila! Dinner!
This year we're able to grill right in our kitchen, not a snowbank outside. Our Vermont Castings stove (Uncle Henry's free for the taking) opens right up front, making it easy to accommodate a grill. It's fun to tend the shrimp over the glowing coals, comfortably perched on a 3 legged stool.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tools of the Trade

These are my tools. Sketch book, a graph paper book, a mini-graphpaper-Moleskine and a post-it note. Missing is a pencil with a good eraser.
This week all my spare time has been spent trying to figure out why I can't post from home anymore, or just occasionally. Hate'n it! My time would have been better spent knitting.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tie One On




My cute apron is just the ticket for a gloomy day. Guaranteed to cheer me up, even today, with wonky blog-posting troubles and the first snow of the season. My thing to whip up while wearing the apron is Crazy Chocolate Cake.

When the holidays are over and there are no eggs or butter in the house, this cake comes to the rescue! The best part, since it is mixed in the pan, there's not much to clean up!






Crazy Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water

Sift dry ingredients into a 9" cake pan. Make three holes in dry ingredients. Pour 1/3 of each liquid (except water) in each hole. Pour water over all and mix with a fork until smooth. Bake for 30 min. Top with frosting of your choice, but its also good plain.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Apologies


I've been having big trouble with Blogger and haven't been able to use Firefox, which has all the Bold and italics and picture options. Not to mention a groovy, handy dandy links ability . I used Safari for the 1st Mitten Post, then when I tried the Pattern it wouldn't work so I resorted to Internet Explorer which won't allow me any pictures. When I get it sorted out (cross your fingers) I'll re-post with the original layout and easy to read pattern...Sorry!

Instant Mittens












Instant Mittens

Aka: Stash Busters

Finished Size: Womens Small, Womans Medium, Womans Large,(9.5 “[24cm],10” [25.5 cm],10.5”26.5cm])
Yarn: 100-ish yds of each of 2 yarns of your choice ***, to roughly equal a bulky weight yarn.
Needles: 1 set size 9 dpn
Notions
: marker; stitch holder; tapestry needle
Gauge: 14sts and 20 rows=4” [10 cm]

Mitten (make 2)

With 2 strands of yarn cast on 28 sts. Arrange sts evenly onto 3 dp needles, place marker and join taking care not to twist sts. Work in k1 p1 ribbing for 15 rnds or 3” (7.5mm). K 10 rnds (2” [5m]) in Stockinette stitch (knit every rnd).

Divide for Thumb Opening: Slip first 4 sts onto a holder, cast on 4 sts, knit to end of rnd.

Body: Continue in St st until piece measures 1.5” (3 cm) less than desired length (about 8’[20 cm] for WS, 8.5’ [21.5 cm] for WM, 9” [23 cm] for WL).

Shape Top: 1st dec rnd: k2 k2tog around. K next rnd. 2nd dec rnd: k1 k2 tog around. K next rnd. 3rd dec rnd: k2 tog around. 4th dec rnd: k2tog. Cut yarn and draw tail through remaining sts. Pull together tightly and fasten off.

Thumb: Slip the 4 sts from holder onto a dpn. With second dpn pick up 6 sts from around thumbhole. Arrange sts evenly on 3 dpn. Place marker and join. K until thumb measures 1” less than desired length (about 10 rnds or 2” [5 cm] for WS, 12 rnds or 2.25” [5.5 cm] for WM, or 14 rnds or 2.75” [7cm] for W L). 1st dec rnd: k1 k2tog around, end k 1 (7sts). K next rnd. 2nd dec rnd: k2 tog around. Cut yarn and draw tail through remaining sts. Pull together tightly and fasten off.

Finishing: With tapestry needle weave in all ends.

So go at it! Attack the stash or visit your favorite yarn shop and check out the sale bins, or buy just one skein of that luscious mohair you've always wanted to use.

***Yarn Note For my blue green mittens (center) I used 1 skein Bartlettyarns, Lake Blue (4 oz, 200yds), and 1 skein Ironstone English Mohair, Color 725 (2oz,125yds). The balls above are what I had left. I seem to remember using Classic Elite Le Gran Mohair which has only 90 yds in a ball. In fact the germ of these mittens was from freebie pattern that I think used that yarn....I use any old yarn, if you are a relaxed sort like I am and you seem to be running short of something, you can just add a stripe of some other color and call it a design choice.

The beautiful pink version was made from plyed homespun and commercial boucle, spun, dyed and plyed by the "sadly blogless Tracy". She once made me a fabulous mile long (really) narrow scarf that I wore till Isadora Duncan issues prevailed and I wound it into a ball, awaiting the perfect moment.
For more yarn tips check out the post below, Eleventh Hour Mittens.

A new embellished, embroidered version can be found here: Embellished Mittens.

Eleventh Hour Mittens




Whew, did the holiday whirl you into a different world? Ours was travel and storms and food and fun and fear and angst and exhaustion and surprises and happiness. And more food! I squeezed in what little knitting I could, working on these mittens which can be put down and picked up again without much fuss. I use 2 strands of yarn from my stash held together to produce a bulky or chunky weight. I think having one strand of mohair is the most forgiving, allowing one to race along with abandon, never worrying about even stitches. Each mitten is made the same with almost no shaping.

I always have some yarn lying around that I am at loss when it comes to using it. Lime green mohair for instance, unless I'm transported back to CBGBs in 1979 I don't think I really want to wear a garment made out of it, but it was too irresistible to let languish in the sale bin (maybe I will want to look like Cheetah Chrome sometime soon)... Then I've got odd balls of this and that, not enough to really make much of anything. These are just the materials for Eleventh Hour Mittens. You can mix it up with wonderful results, someone will love them. You don't have to worry too much about gauge, someone will fit them.
To begin, I'll give you the women’s sizes. They are easy to modify yourself after you've knit a pair. I'll try and get the child sizes up soon and also the mans pair I'm working on.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fair Isle ?

I am planning to give you all a simple last minute gift pattern, however the camera has gone missing. I think I know who might have it in his backpack. Which is at school.

So for variety I offer a view of this fair isle hat. Some of you may notice it's similar to Fair Isle 101
from Interweave Knits Winter 2005 issue.
I have lots of Heilo from Dale of Norway, I love it and collect it, so when faced with a gentleman who wanted to make sure his ears were warm, but wanted fair isle patterns, I came up this "foldy" hat. Many layers of warmth.

About the term fair isle knitting, I'm with Nancy Bush and the rest of the crowd who believe it should only be descriptive of the traditional 2 color knitting originating in Fair Isle, one of the isles of Shetland. Unfortunately, in the wider world it has come to mean any colorful stranded knitting. Pick up any magazine or catalog, even ones geared to knitting and you'll see the term used this way. I've resigned myself to this. I wish it could at least be refined to mean only 2 colors in a row....But I guess anything is better than the latest Urban Outfitters catalog where "fair isle" knitting is called intarsia!

Stay tuned for a free and easy pattern, perfect for the holiday rush!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Petit Fours











My dear friend Petula mentioned that she is ever so fond of petit fours, so naturally I have to offer some for her breakfast today. Along with the Candy Tam she admires. I must admit I've used this blog thus far to practice using my camera. I'm still learning. And its really fun! Digital so I can shoot and shoot and shoot some more. I intend to include much more knitting content here so don't abandon me. I've been knitting away on "must do projects" and haven't had a lot of time to experiment lately.

I'll offer my best advice on color first: just try it! Really, its only yarn after all, you can always rip it out. Or, put it away for a little while and you might find in a week or two you love it. If you still don't like it you can felt it and turn it into stylish and stunning bootliners. Or it can linger around as an example of an absolutely loathsome color combination. Sometimes embracing the ugliness some how makes me love things just for being ugly.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An Apple a Day

These were the best Macoun apples, and in such a pretty bag too. The legendary Johnny Appleseed was mostly planting trees for hard cider, not pies!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Aqua Velva

Alice and I pass a dilapidated trailer on our woodland walk. I love the faded color of the blue paint and the robust rusty rust. We make up stories about the porcupine family who call this place home.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Deadline

What does one do with a deadline looming? Have a photo-shoot with vegetables, screw around on the computer trying to learn the html code in 15 minutes, iron dish towels, let the fire go out so you have to build a new one, with wet kindling. Take the dog for a walk. Forget to eat and get cranky. Sit down to write the pattern and visit favorite blogs instead. Read your mail. Reply, with new pictures you decided you could just take quickly. Edit them in Photoshop, which you figure you can learn in 15 minutes. Post them all wrong. Check your mail again. Look at the damp blocked pieces that won't dry because the fire went out. All that. And this picture is for Chris, proof positive of why he's the one behind the camera. Squash for a model indeed!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Re-arrange the House


Yippee! The shake up in the House of Representatives inspired me to re-arrange my house.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

VOTE

I'm lucky, in my little village we still use paper ballots and pencils.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mouse House


Please see the lovely little mouse house found in a closet. Only the softest and palest wools were chosen. Careful observation will reveal a sales slip from my favorite yarn shop!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

From Where?

You might think that a photograph would be the jumping off point for my designs. I suppose it can be, but it usually works the other way around. I walk in the woods just about every day, with Alice. I soak up the colors, and the smells and sounds too. I keep it all stored inside and it guides my choices. Not consciously, just like a slow soaking in. Afterwards it's easy to see the influence of the season.

Why is it some places smell like honey? Is it a plant or a varmint? I'm thinking a hidden varmint, because the odor seems to move. Its hard to capture an odor in a piece of knitting, or a sound for that matter, but I think a little creeps in.

We visited the pond again today and saw these bright yellow sprigs emerging from the water. Sets the brain to percolate!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tam Tam Club



The Fall has been bright and blue for the most part, punctuated by soaking rainy spells. The colors are the inspiration for Jane's Beret. I give you the beginning and the end! Fun from start to finish. Especially because of the recipient; its the Firedoglake beret!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Walk With Alice


Meet Alice, truffle hound. At home and on the hunt.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fall Means Chanterelles


The mighty hunters went out and this was their bounty.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Real July


Only it is August. The cherries were super-abundant this year. After weeks of rain, they ripened all at once, overnight. Exactly corresponding to the time no one in the family could pick them, provided they could even reach them, the tree is now so tall. Sophie made a couple of Pies and the Uber-husband (who picked most of them) pitted and preserved the rest in Eau de Vie, a french spirit, crystal clear and probably deadly-potent. No cooking involved, they'll keep for years. So I got some bright red alpaca and also pretty grass green. I'm going to knit me some little birdies.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sweet Darlings


Here they are the beloved off-spring, soon to be springing off.
Sophie to Montreal for school.
Nick to Germany for a visit with Freddy.

Just Right for July

In my baby steps twords blogability I give you the photo that elbowed its way in.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Everything's better in color

If only I could figure out the picture bit. Must ask my savvy friend Petula.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

challenged!

At long last, a Post! I'm going postal. I tried to change the blah blah blah, to the slightly less dull "living in color" but alas, it seems blah blah blah is here to stay. I am really one of the adults in the Snoopy cartoons...sigh...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Who can turn the world on with her smile?


Hi! I'm Mary Jane.
That's me on the right.
I design knitting patterns, like the fabulous outfit that I'm wearing here. I'm especially proud of the detachable waterfall/loincloth accessory, although it does hinder my movement a bit.
I don't know what this big rusty thing is that I'm straddling, but doesn't it look great draped with my handmade accoutrement? Sure it does!
It looks so good that I almost don't mind that my wall-t0-wall ecru berber is ruined.

Test Post

testing 1, 2, 3