Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Haiku

all of the cousins
sunny snowy Christmas morn
skating and ice boats

Saturday, December 22, 2007

11th Hour Christmas

I finished knitting these stockings on Christmas Eve 2003. The winter was so cold, we all moved into our Avion Trailer, the big sister to the Airstream. We had a crazy silver glitter tree with flashing disco lights, a gift from dear friends.

Though our house had burned down in January, the fog in my head still hadn't cleared in regards to Christmas, especially the need for stockings. The kids each chose their favorite all-over patterns from "Knitting in the Nordic Tradition" by Vibeke Lind, one of my all-time favorite books. The yarn is Peace Fleece, which has the best red ever, and a green so dark it is almost black. My only mistake? Making the stockings so big, Santa has a hard time filling them. Lots of apples and oranges on Christmas morn.

We are all safe and happy in the house we built ourselves. Block by Durisol block, stacked like legos by the family, filled with cement. Not likely to burn anytime soon!

Out of adversity comes ingenuity and strength. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Inside Outside

Oh the comforts of home, I always wish I could be snowbound.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

for megan young

Because she knows. If you don't already visit her at the scent of water you really should.

Oatmeal is all thats on the agenda this snowy day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Craft Imitates Work

Funny how these things happen. I was thinking of knitting a mitten, and decided to choose colors I usually don't. Coming into work today, I was struck how Alison Langley's photographs have influenced my craft. Does the wavy edge not resemble the splashing seas? Do the needles not mimic the thrusting bowsprit and towering mast?

So when people take pause when I tell them my "day job", let them take a look at this symbiosis!

This sweet stitch called Fishtail is from Folk Knitting in Estonia, by Nancy Bush, one of my favorite authors, and also a great teacher, if you're every lucky enough to get the chance. I think Fishtail would make a nice sleeve cuff, or a fold up on a hat. I love the wavy bit. So many things to knit, so little time, so many crashing waves.

OK...scolling down, I see I do use these colors....why do I think I don't?... I use them when I think of my daughter Sophie's blue eyes that turn to grey.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Instant Mittens Embellished

They are called Instant Mittens, and I whipped them up and embroidered one in a flash last March I believe. It took until today to finish the embroidery on the right hand one. I get "Second Sock Syndrome" bad. In this case "Second Mitten Embroidery Syndrome". To avoid it I've invested in a couple of sets of needles in the same sizes so I can begin both of a pair of anything, at the same time. That embroidery though....I like it in bursts. I know now, I'd better finish it in one fell swoop, or it will languish for months, allowing me to lose the decorative yarn in the meantime.

The Instant Mitten pattern calls for 2 strands of yarn, but in this case I used one strand of Brown Sheep Chunky. I embroidered with 2ply jumper-weight shetland wool. After all this time I'm so pleased with the result, I might try and squeeze in another pair before Christmas. And I'll do the decorating in one sitting. I hope!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

First Snow!

Let's see, it only took me 10 months to finish my Dr. Seuss socks. I need them today. See my snowy road?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Gems Mitts Finished!

It is so cold in the office, I wear them all the time.
Alison Langley's Nautical Images Gallery opened last night; all our hard work paid off with a fun opening party!
Now back to work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'll Try

The holiday season has begun. What to do?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Summer Seven

This was in the mail! An invitation to an art opening.

"We'll go!" I think.

After all, we're in the painting. I'm talking to Ada, second from the left and my husband in the Green Acres overalls stands next to me. Vincent, is wearing black jeans. I'm not sure of the others, I don't think we even met them. This was back in 1993. It was a really hot summer. The BBC filmed us for some show called Beauty, which we never saw.

A chance to see this giant canvas (7.5' x 12') [230 x 370] would be fun, so lets go! We don't want to miss this opportunity. With an invitation from the artist, Alex Katz, himself!

Except it is in Milan. Italy. Oh well. The show is up until February. But we'll miss the party.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not True

I have always harbored the idea that if I lived alone, my house would be as neat as a pin. A place for everything, everything in its place. As it turns out, there is just yarn everywhere. And pencils, magazines, knitting, fashion and art books on every surface, tape measures everywhere, and maybe not balled socks and power tools, but a litter of stitch markers and dangerous pins.

I would move in a bed and just live in the kitchen if it were only me.

Guess what? A clever woman made a sensational necklace using the knitted eyeball pattern, she's entered whipup's whiplash contest. Take a look and be prepared to be awed, it is so very Prada!

Monday, November 12, 2007


A lot of people were wondering what to make out of the leftovers from their December Lights Tam, including me. The answer was right in front of us! On the page just next to the tam, are Donna Kay's demure Little Gems Mitts, in a soft grey patterned with heathered juju-bee colors. (I know, can juju-bees be heathered?) The unfortunate reality of a cold office and a need to please, drove me to whip up this wild little number. It hardly looks the same! Shocking really. Trés 80's! Very Fiorucci! Klimt gone mad.

What I did: I have small hands, so after the ribbing I only increased 4 sts to make 60 sts, therefore eliminating 1 pattern repeat.
Color substitutes:
Granite= Magenta
Clyde Blue=Blue
Sapphire=Blue too!
SPECIAL NOTE! I used Red as the background for the blue rounds, ie the plain rounds before and after the pattern rows. I also used Red for the thumb, and sort of wish I'd used it for the fingers.

Hmmmm....since I decreased the total stitches I had to change the fingers....for the pinky I used 6 sts, picking up 2 between fingers, ring 7 sts, picking up 3 between fingers, middle 8 sts, picking up 2 sts between fingers, index 9 sts, picking up 1 sts between fingers.

Now I just have to make the other one. My hands have been so cold, I think I'll start tonight. I believe I should have plenty of yarn.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hello Visitors!

Hi everybody! I've been having a constant thrill lately. I subscribe to Statcounter, which keeps track of visitors to your blog. I look at it occasionally, when I'm feeling lonley and unloved. The 50 or so daily visitors always cheer me even if they don't comment, its nice to "meet"them here. I can click a line which displays the national flags of all my visitors, and a map view with little exclamation points to mark their spot on the globe.
Last week, all of a sudden there were 156 visitors before breakfast. I felt like the White Queen (who has imagined as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast). What it was: my favorite Craft site, the ultra-groovy WhipUp mentioned my Knitted Olive Tutorial! I was honored and bursting with pride. Wait Wait! It gets even better. I mentioned my Gruesome Knitted Eyeballs for Halloween in the "what are you making forum" and a little later, on Halloween they included my eyeball photograph and the link.

The snowball effect ensued: the cool Craftzine Blog pictured the eyeballs, some place in France has a link, Rachels Kniting Room, a yahoo group mentioned the olives and the eyeballs The place that hands down, brings the most visitors is Knitting Pattern Central, thousands of people know about this great place, patterns for everything, and all the links. To think I'd been missing this amazing resource! Knitters Review listed my Little Arrowhead Lace Scarf pattern. The latest place to list the eyeballs, which will make lovely cat-toys and stocking-stuffers by the way, is in Sweden! Hej då!

And a big thank you to everyone who links to me too! I'm kind of slow and disorganized in my linking, but if you email me I'll be sure and include you eventually! I hope to alphabetize them too...but that may prove to be too much for this Luddite.

The map above shows where some of my visitors hale from; the more exotic ones (to me, not to them) are Kazakhstan, Iran, Brunei, Slovenia, Guam (but I know who that is!) Venezuela, South Africa, Tasmania, not to mention the great place names in the US and Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But then I'm one of those people who likes to read the Zip Code book.

Since most of my readers are knitters, here's a glimpse of how to make a knitted hat into a tam! I wash the old thing, (this is one of my first, using genius-math-wiz-kaleidoscope-loving, Mary Rowe's wonderful Knitted Tams Book). I block the fuzzy thing on a 9" Russel Wright Iroquois dinner plate in Ice Blue. If I want a 10" circumference I use one of his Steubenville plates, Bean Brown is my favorite, but it broke, so I use Cedar Green.

Thanks for stopping by!

create your own visited countries map

Sunday, November 04, 2007

If You Walk in the Woods, You need a Hunting Hat

When I heard the first shots ring out last month I hit the dirt. Had I forgotten about hunting season? Just bird hunting season, for which, in theory you don't need to wear blaze orange, humans not usually being mistaken for birds. In anticipation of Deer Hunting season I started in making more hats, adding to our collection.

Our visitors often are unaware that they might look like a deer to a hunter, so I like to provide lots of hats.

Wool is my favorite, so we're safe and warm. Bartlettyarns Maine Wool in Blaze Orange is my yarn of choice. I get it at Unique One, Sweaters and Yarn, in Camden, and I know they ship. This year I also had some bright orange, Princess, by Classic Elite, which I made into a feminine watch cap, with a simple scalloped edge I found in Nicky Epsteins, Knitting on the Edge.

Not a hunter? Never mind, in the woods you need to wear blaze orange.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gruesome Knitted Eyeballs for Halloween

At our house we like to offer these on a plate. I offer you a free pattern!

For a shiny new PDF version of the pattern please visit me at: and click on "Free Stuff"!

If you would like a visual aid, please visit my Knitted Olive Tutorial. It is made much the same way.

As it turns out there are quite a few knitted eyeballs rolling around the planet:
insubordiknit has beautiful multiple felted ones nestled in a mass of bloody guts, softly felted bloody guts.
kitkatknit has a beautiful shot of knit-art "sushi with eyeballs" scrumtious!
domiknitrix has a great all-purpose Large (22") eyeball with a downlaodable pattern.
Knitzelmade a nice one for a Doctor's office, with correctly placed muscles!
Shari suggested filling them with catnip, for catnip eyeballs! Brilliant!
BlondeAmbitionKnits has a nice veiny one.
Please comment if you eyeball any more!

I Love This

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yarn and Leaf Love at Downtown Yarns

So I totally lost this post. I'm trying again. Some of the pictures didn't show up on safari so I'm trying again.

It was a love letter to Downtown Yarns on Avenue A in the East Village of NYC. My old neighborhood, which used to be considered so dangerous cab drivers wouldn't even take me the whole way home. They often made me get out on 2nd Avenue.

The neighborhood has changed so much, and definitely improved with the addition of a wonderful yarn shop!!! The best one ever:
Downtown Yarns, at 45 Avenue A, is a narrow yet spacious little shop with yarn to the rafters, accessed by a roly library ladder. Mary, a gem, who was holding down the fort, is friendly and knowledgeable. I didn't get the name of the other madly knitting knitter, but she was available with cheerful comments. The project samples are varied and inspiring, that lace slip-dress* from Rowan, the tiered skirt from Loets, funny little creatures and other great patterns they make-up themselves.

So if you're in the old neighborhood stop by, or better yet make it a plan! You can visit the Bistro on Avenue B for lunch! Or walk down to Katz's for old-times sake. (2nd Avenue Deli is gone, but rumored to be opening soon in the 20's somewhere.)

The Yarns:

Blue: Jamie Harmon, naturally dyed, 150 yds, says wool yarn, but has a picture of a bunny on it and feels like it has some angora in it. No color # its wispy blue sky.
Yellow: malabrigo, Kettle Dyed Pure Merino Wool, 216 yards, Sauterne 22,a rich lucious yellow, from Uruguay
Red:Punta Del Este Yarns, Mericash Solid, 80% Merino Wool, 20% Mongolian Cashmere, SOL370, an unbeleivaby beautiful red।

*link to knitting Iris's beautiful verison with lovely photographs.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Adorable City

I was lucky to visit NYC for a job-related trip. I was even luckier to have my son come along. We attended a great conflict-photographer, Samantha Appleton's opening party, visited another friend's new office where live-feed from around the world comes in constantly, attended the trade show where we took workshops, visited a few other friends.....and I managed to squeeze a yarn shop visit into the jam-packed 60 hr adventure!

Downtown Yarns, very sweet, lots of yarn, the nicest people! Kindly recommended by Eliza.

Next trip, I take pictures and knit a little!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pink and Brown Mitten

At last a bit of time to finish the unfinished. Do you believe that only the thumb was unfinished on this pair of mittens? It must have gotten warm in a hurry last spring, though I recall deep, late, snowfall.

A simple pleasing repeat makes up this mitten by Inger Fredholm, from her delightful self-published book Knitting With A Smile.

I used a watermelon pink and a dusty brown from Frog Tree Alpaca, which I think is actually merino, I've lost the ball bands.

Friday, October 05, 2007


We're having a lovely fall. Granted much of mine has been spent in a darkened room looking at images on a computer screen, seeing high summer on the high seas!

Step outside and all is changing.... red, yellow, and gold with brilliant blue skies. We took a trek to the bog behind our house to seek out ingredients for dinner. Lucky rewards: chanterelles, though not as plentiful as last year, and cranberries! Many different speckled colors, hard not to eat them all right on the spot.

The colors sort of just soak in. I find myself reaching for the deep maroon and the mustard yarn, with just a speck of brilliant green...future fun!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Coveted Cover!

Thrilled! Speechless!

So here's the info you probably already have:

December Lights Tam
by Mary Jane Mucklestone

Finished Size 18" head circumference at brim; 10" diameter at widest point.
Yarn Rauma Finullgarn, 100% wool; 180 yd [165 m]/50 g): #445 rose, #456 magenta, #424 red, *#४६05 blue, #430 green, #455 lime, #498 olive, #454 chartreuse, 1 ball each. Yarn distributed by Nordic Fiber Arts.
Needles Ribbing—size 2 (2.75 mm): 16" circular (cir). Body—size 3 (3.25 mm): 16" cir and set of 4 or 5 double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions Markers (m); tapestry needle; 10" diameter foam core disk or plate.
Gauge 26 sts and 28 rnds = 4" in color-work patt on larger needle.

It is really zippy and fun to make. My favorite kind of project, and the yarn is my new absolute favorite.
And don't worry about left over yarn, think of it as a bonus! Mittens...another hat (in opposite colors) or the useful and decorative wrister

I am sorry about the price of the yarn dear readers. I know all about scrimping and saving for yarn. I would buy one skein of shetland, (which was once $4.20) a every week or 2 and religiously scour the sale bins and thrift stores for my favorite yarns. I eventually worked in a yarn shop to be near the stuff and get a discount. I love fine shetland-like yarns, and when you design, they send them to you! I do try to limit the colors when I write patterns, but when I knit for myself I use even more colors.

Don't hesitate to change the colors with what you have on hand, choosing your own colors is really the most fun of all.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Moving Day

Moving Day, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

I got to fly in a helicopter for work. At first it was a lot of waiting due to alarming thunderstorms. Then it was the fear of flying which was quickly dispelled once airborne. At first you hover like in the Jetsons. Then fly so low along the coast! Crazy fun. Then shooting the site. Waiting out the fog on a nearby island, and going in again! Using a super-cool zoom lens!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wheeled Cottage

wheeled cottage, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

And now for something completely different...not knitting, not yacht photography....House Moving...facinating....yet slow as watching paint dry or grass grow. How it is possible that it's exciting is a mystery. But it is.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Office

tan+white, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

Good Morning! Its the routine again...years since I've done it this way. Guess What? I love it. Love it!
Only, little time to knit.

Design happens constantly in head.
Head lies on pillow at night and dreams.

No worries.
Will find time.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Too Many Candles

Happy Birthday to the best egg ever!
It all goes by so quickly. On the one hand it is a little weepy-sad ... on the other, it's whew! thank god he's made it this far and we're not out of the woods yet!

For pictures of the delicious group-effort gnocci visit my friend at thyme and shallots.
But be forewarned...You'll be hungry!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sneak Preview

Again, you don't get much.

Just a tease!

GGH Mystik, 54%cotton, 46% viscose, 50g=121yds

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Why is she posting pictures of pretty posies you may ask?

One word:


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Jean Talon

My creation, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

So it wasn't all Poutine and fried food. We visited Jean Talon, one of the great food markets of Montreal.

The Quebec trip was a mad rush and flurry of activity, worth every ounce of energy.

Brief posts I agree, but at least a post! with yummy things to look at.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guess Where?

Can you guess where I went this weekend?

Study the focus of the image at left.....the gravy is the give away.

Cheese curds would have been a clue too.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Orange and Pink Tower of Joy

Orange and Pink Tower, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

I have a new camera! Through my job! My wonderful boss decided that Christmas comes in August. August is when, in 5th grade, my best friend, Laurie and I started singing Christmas Carols so it makes perfect sense.

I am riding on a cloud of "how did I get so lucky" wonder and joy.

Of course it is a serious camera this time; no more point and shoot when working for a photographer! She's an excellent teacher and I also have my son to help me...for a little bit longer...

The only snag is that now I need a better computer, or more memory at the very least. So for the time being, this blog is brought to you by our favorite sponsor: flickr.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thank You Sally Mann

And thank you Alison, for taking me to Sally's lecture.
I've always loved her work, from the time I first saw it and it caused such a ruckus. I had kids younger than hers, and I too was living in the woods letting the kids run naked...not much thought to was hot and no one was around...and if there was, they were friends, what's the big deal? Plus I loved her kids, their direct stares...the deep pools of their eyes. I was comforted to know someone else was making art just where they lived...Her art was right in front of her.... her life.
She's not a disappointment in person either. Small and spunky, yet large in feeling and mind. Words are not my strong suit, I wish I could describe her presence better. She was refreshingly normal, direct and pretense.
And she keeps at it, no matter what life throws in the way. A good spirit.

You'll be happy to know her kids turned out fine.

I leave you with my favorite Sally Mann image....if I have to choose....

Night Blooming Cereus

Monday, August 13, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I guess you could call me a Luddite. I design on the needle, never use a computer....I sketch first....usually...Next I chart...Then I swatch....a lot...I make frenzied calculations....I draw up a schematic....And then I begin.
I am often using yarns I haven't used before and I find the nature of every yarn is different, some have lots of stretch, some stay firmly in place...Some are lofty and light, others heavy and solid. Still others are coarse until you wash them..I always wash my swatches. I never know until I knit with a new yarn how it will behave. I can guess, but it's crazy how those little balls will surprise me!
And then, swatch done, knitting happily away, I periodically take the item off the needle to see how it's coming along, and have you guessed what happens next?
Despite all the prep work, the yarn has done it's own thing, gotten VERRRY wide, or sometimes it is a stiff little tube, suitable for a Christmas cracker.

So I rip it out and start again. With new calculations.

and sometimes I'll have to rip it out again.

Not always...but lots of times,

There you have it.

PS. My camera is broken and I'm filled with panic and lazy sorrow at the same time

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Do You Wind Your Yarn?

How do you wind your yarn? This is my usual technique...the knees. I have a beautiful Swedish swift, and once had a little twirly ball-winder, but needs arise away from home...or I'm too lazy to go upstairs and dig it out. I always have my knees avaliable no matter where I may journey.
My other trick is to wind the yarn around my thumb, keeping a hollow center, with the beginning of the yarn easy to snatch. This way I have a pull-from-the-center ball. Voila!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Agnes Coy Airmail

Agnes Coy Airmail, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

I have long been an admirer of Alison at so tread softly. She's an English girl who moved to the wilds of New Zealand, 12,000 miles from home. She lives with her husband and dear kitty Trumpet, in an adorable cottage which she is fixing up in the most serene and beautiful way. Careful attention to detail. For a while now she has been threatening to open an etsy shop, lucky for us it is presently in full swing.

I was the extra-lucky first shopper! I ordered a simple lavendar heart fashioned from exquisite vintage linen. So sweet and sweetly scented. Since I was the first customer, Alison kindly sent along a bonus treat...the beautiful felted purse she painstakingly made at Girl Friday night! I wish you could see all the beautiful details, the pom-pom zipper pull attached with buttonhole stitch...I the macrame of forest elves! The wee bloom of buttons, the subtle shading of turquoise, a little more green at the edges (she has better pictures of it).

Thank You Alison! It is heart, felt and button love here in Maine!

So hurry to her shop now, you will thank me! And don't forget to visit her blog.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Show and Tell: Mirepoix Bodice

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

At long last you can see what I was working on so long ago. Remember the wormy ends? I am pretty pleased with how it looks in the Interweave Knits 2007 Fall Preview (scroll waaaay down to Mirepoix Bodice). The model is maybe a bit large for it. The sweater was designed for and fits my daughter to perfection. She is a little pin of a thing. When Gina first told me the pictures were up...I about died... an image where the sweater was clearly too small was featured......the dreaded boob-bisection...horrors! Fortunately that picture was quickly replaced for the one above where the stylist yanked it into place.... Anyway the close up is lovely.

PS: Friends have told me Sophie has an "athletic college girl figure", that describing her as a "pin" gave the wrong, skin and bones impression, that "fit and healthy" and "Sports Illustrated Model"(she'll love that!) were better descriptions .
If you're thinking of making this one, try it on as you go, don't start the armholes before the lower half or two-thirds of your breasts are covered. For a custom fit, adding one peerie pattern may be enough, or you may need a peerie and a border. Another note, you really have to nail the steeking with a sewing machine since the yarn is a superwash and does not stick together at all, if you are afraid, you can go back and forth on the bodice.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

On Design

Just when I think I'll never publish anything again, opportunity knocks!

It goes this way: the call goes out for new designs, sometimes with criteria sometimes not. There is a deadline and a date given when you should hear back one way or the other.

Furious activity follows, swatching madly, sketching, calculations are made, until a nice little "submissions packet" is assembled. I like to have 3 designs for each query. For each of these designs, I include a swatch, a sketch, schematics and a "look book". I always spend too long daydreaming and end up with a wild time-crunch.

Then nothing. Time passes, life gets nutty, the 'hear by' date comes and goes, leaving me feeling a little blue. Life goes along, new jobs, holidays, it gets where I can't even really remember what I submitted, and wham! 2 designs accepted! Yippee Skippy! and maybe the 3rd...later.

That's where I am now. Only the designs almost always have to be re-designed with whatever yarn the higher powers decide on. Often very nice yarn with a completely different color palette and a different weight....So, the photo above is my approach to deciding the new color scheme. I hunker down with my inspiration; favorite books, old and new magazines, fabric swatches and the new yarn card. I pull off strands and lay them next to one another, first one group, then another. When I get a couple of groups that I like, I carry them around with me. Today they came out to brunch, in different light they look different. I hone it down to a final group with a couple of spare options. Now I'll request the selected colors and pray they have not been discontinued. When the new yarn arrives, round 2 begins, swatching for size, finding out how the new yarn behaves and seeing how the colors actually react with each other in real life!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sanquar Hat

Sanquar Hat, originally uploaded by maryjanemidgemink.

Show and tell for a recent, finally finished item. Inspired by the traditional knitting of Sanquhar Scotland. Using leftover Louets Gems, a very stretchy yarn to begin with,made a hat to acomodate large heads or heads with much hair. With 144 stitches and an 18 st pattern repeat, I think a finer yarn would be the answer for a smaller hat. I apologize for the brevity of my posts but "air-time" is fleeting this season!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


It's been a topsy -turvy world around here. Two steps forward and one step back kinda world. But oh my, we get to enjoy the scenery a little longer that way eh? Just don't get caught in a storm.
I have a little time to myself again and so intend to finish some of those nagging unfinished projects which actually look quite nice to see this time round.
My favorite flickr group just started a new with color combinations. And there right in front of me were this week's colors on my favorite tools!

My daughter's laptop has saved the day. Poo on the stupid internet connection and poo on the iphoto on my computer that has lost all the pictures. Poo!