Good Leftovers

Hi Mom,

I've been knitting many small projects lately, with leftover yarns in particular. I finished up a Useful Gift which will remain a secret for now, and I knit a Foliage:

A quick hat

This was a very easy, quick knit. I used leftovers from the Lamb's Pride Worsted you gave me for Christmas for the felted bag a couple (three!) Christmases ago. The hat is nice and warm, and just loose enough that it doesn't squish my hair.

I also used the other leftovers from that project for these little mittens for afghans for Afghans:


I started with the mitten on the right, knitting plain purple mittens, but when it was clear I wasn't going to have enough purple I started mixing in the green, then went back and added green to the plain purple mitten. I hope at least one Afghan child doesn't mind asymmetry in mittens.



Yes, Wheek Can!

Dear Mom,

It's been a big week. I caught Caroline doing a little last-minute campaigning yesterday - who knew she had developed political opinions? Must be all that NPR I have on around here.

And I finished some socks - I'm calling these my Blue State socks.

Align CenterFall Socks

I knit them using the Garter Rib pattern from "Sensational Knitted Socks," and the yarn you gave me when we visited this summer. It's Stahlsche Wolle Socka Sport & Strumpf, and the finished Strümpfe feel very nice indeed.




book sale finds
Dear Mom,

I found some good books at a library sale on Thursday. I've especially been enjoying this version of "A Child's Christmas in Wales," illustrated by one of our favorites, Trina Schart Hyman. I only recently (maybe last year?) put two and two together about Dylan Thomas and the PBS Christmas special we loved to watch, and this book does not disappoint. It is charming.

new books
Almost as charming as the circumstances through which I acquired this other kids' book this week. We were driving back from the garden last weekend, going a slightly different way to admire the changing leaves and old houses, when we saw two little girls run over to edge of the curb (stopping carefully before the street), and wave at us. They had 8 1/2x 11" pieces of paper taped to their shirts, upon which was written, in pencil, "Book Sale." I pulled the Buick over.

I asked them which of their books they thought my three year-old niece might like, and one of the girls picked out this one (and I think she did a good job). I handed them the money, which they directed me to put in the jar labeled "Jar for $," then I asked them why they were selling their books. "For the animal shelter!" they said. I said that was great, and that I had gotten my guinea pig from the shelter. They liked that. "I got my kitty there!" one said, and the other said she was going to get her puppy there.

But back to "A Child's Christmas in Wales" - I will bring this book to our Christmas, and we'll have a good time reading it. Here are the
"Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all. . ."
'Useful Gifts'

And, of course, Auntie Hannah, "who liked port," in the garden "singing like a big-bosomed thrush."
'Auntie Hannah, who liked port'

And the cats! There's a very satisfying number of cats represented in the illustrations. You'll just have to wait to see, and then you will also have "Good King Wenceslas" stuck in your head.

We also did a bit of autumnal festive cooking this week. This is the "Stuffed Pumpkin Stew" recipe from the Oct. 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living, and it was wonderful! But we needed a family of Welsh proportions to help us eat it because I'm still finishing the last of it. It wasn't a simple recipe, but also not difficult - just a lot of vegetable prep.

Pumpkin stew

How are the 'collars' this year?



White in the Garden

Rose of Sharon

Lilly of the Valley


Love, Mom


Delicious Yellow

Yellow Delicious

Dear Mom,

The cardigan is coming along, although I slowed down significantly after finishing the body up to the point where the sleeves will be attached. Because I'm tinkering with gauge a little bit, some experimenting has been necessary to ensure that the sleeve is a wearable circumference.

Fall continues in full swing here, deliciously. We are making weekly trips to the orchard to pick bags of apples, and the produce at the farmers' market is wonderful. Our garden fall crops have also been producing really well - we're eating arugula, cress, lettuce, mustard greens and radishes from the garden right now.

Apple Pie

I made a pie on Saturday with some of the apples I picked the day before. The yellow delicious apples turned almost saffron-colored inside the pie. I took it to an impromptu gathering where it disappeared very quickly, so I think I need to make at least one more this fall.




Dear Mom,

The weather has turned here at last, catching up to the calendar.

Tangled Yoke Cardigan

I'd like to have this finished by Election Day. Do you think I can do it? I started it last Friday.



Two (three) Quilts

Dear Mom,

I think we're probably all still getting caught up from last weekend. These are two of the little quilts I made for some of the birthday celebrants. There's a third, too, but no picture - I was finishing up the quilting and binding in the car on the way up, naturally.

This one was for our artist. I wanted to make something that was art-like.

Small Quilt 1

So I made a quilt of an apple in front of a river, in front of a hilly village. The round shapes of the applique'd apple and circles echo the swirling curves of the village print and the batik. We are located in front of the quilt, with the apple aloft, wondering if we have thrown the apple in the river or if we are merely in mid-toss, soon to catch the apple in our outstretched hand. The distinctive formal juxtapositions create a playful feeling that is contained and codified by the assymmetrical border and bias plaid binding; the optical suggestions of the spatial relationships suggest a participation in the critical dialogues of late. (It's an Art Critique Generator!)

This is E's quilt: I had a different goal - just to make something that would be a little weird, and interesting to look at if one were, say, sick in bed for a few days.

Small Quilt 2

All of these fabrics are vintage, except for the black square, and the striped backing/binding. The radish, village, and blue flowered fabric were given to me by my friend Mary. I found the block pattern in a quilting magazine, and liked how simple it was. Good for weird fabrics, those simple blocks. The third quilt "quotes" some of the fabrics used in both of these.

Keeping things small and weird,


Some Smalls

Dear Mom,

These mittens were a bit of a disaster. Do you remember that reindeer hat I knit when I was first learning? The hat that had a circumference more suited to a sweater than a head? These mittens are a little like that.


They look deceptively ok, just lying there like that. What you might not be able to tell from this picture is that each of these mittens is twice as long as my hand. I thought I was knitting at a nice firm gauge (these were going to be for afghans for Afghans, and I wanted them to be as warm as possible), and I knit these mittens fast and happily, threw them in some water to wash, pulled them out -- and then the yarn relaxed and they grew and became mittens that perhaps might have been suitable for Paganini, or those long-fingered aliens. The pattern (Spiral Ribbed mittens) is from Homespun, Handknit, and is my favorite pattern for mittens. Because of the construction of the thumb, the mittens can be worn on either hand, but the rib pattern makes this kind of design more comfortable than it often is on other mittens.

I'll keep them and use them as an outer layer for snow-shoveling, I guess. I cast on again right away for a second pair, but screwed those up, too, so I ripped and moved on to something small and gauge-less until I feel ready to come back to mittens.

I realized, at some point, that I'd been having an informal Knitter's Almanac-y summer. In June, I made the Ganomy hat. In July, I knit a simple shawl while traveling, although it wasn't a Pi shawl.
Christmas Fiddle Faddle

So I made some Christmas Fiddle-Faddle (August's project) with some odds and ends. I don't know if I'll keep going with the Almanac in September, as delicious as warm wool leggings sound.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!


Piscatorial pictorial presentation

Good Morning Gwen,

We have had a bit of a theme running through the household the last few weeks.

One fish:
Two Fish:
Three Fish:School of Fish:

These fish were knit by the owner and employees of Millicent's Yarns and More. The fancy fish making a run on the worm is my work also. Joanna did the lovely eye 'make-up' and embellishments on many of the fish before they made their modelling debut. The pattern is published by FiberSpace. Each fish is a unique creation using 100% wool so they felt with a tight surface.

Some other fish spent a vacation at my house too.

Fishie #1 (apologies to Katie for chopping off her head, though her toes appear later)

Fishie #2 (with Gramma-helper)as J works at Beach Sitting 101

I think I see gills on this one.

Love, Mom


Dear Mom,

Last weekend was a sweet one - one dear college roommate married, other old college friends seen and visited with, riding the train south towards home through the familiar blufflands along the Mississippi.

Linen Guest Towels

This was my present to the bride and groom - two linen hand towels for their bathroom (pattern - Moss Grid Hand Towels from Mason-Dixon Knitting). These were a fairly quick knit, but even so, I spent most of the last day before I left furiously knitting to get the second one finished up and into the washing machine. The linen softened up so wonderfully after washing.

While knitting these, I kept thinking of Krtek and his little flaxen pants. My Czech family had a children's book version of this story, and it was a favorite with everyone. I've found it on Youtube auf Deutsch - of course, it really should be Czech.

mit zwo groschen Taschen,


Summer Stripes

from the garden

Dear Mom,

I took these pictures this week and noticed a theme. Above is some basil from the garden plot, and the first of the "Jolly Jester" marigolds to bloom.

a visitor to the table

I found this little guy crawling along the very edge of a page of a book that was open on my kitchen table. I don't know what he is, do you? I believe he came in on a bouquet of flowers from the farmers' market last week - I even think I saw him at the beginning of the week, when he was just a little inchworm sized thing. A diet of flowers seems to have agreed with him. I put him outside, and watched his feet cling and uncling as he moved onto the very edge of a leaf.

simple shawl

I finished the shawl for afghans for Afghans I'd been working on at your house last month. I used mostly leftover Brown Sheep Naturespun sport wool, leftover from the Heartland Shawl I just completed (the orange was the rejected border color), and the socks that I made you for Christmas several years ago. I knew the shawl would drape well, since the Heartland Shawl does so well, which made it ideal for a shawl that will be used as a head-covering.

simple shawl

I improvised a really simple pattern (garter stitch borders on the long edges in a contrasting color, and tiny garter stitch borders on the short edges). I thought about adding a purple band to the short edges, too, but decided against it since I like the way the stripes trail off the edge of the shawl. I ended up blocking it twice to make sure it met the minimum width requirements - it shrunk in a little bit widthwise the first time, when I just laid it out without any pinning, and was a little under 20". Pinning it out the second time around opened up the garter stitch border and easily got it back up to size.

This made for ideal vacation knitting - no pattern to keep track of, simple enough to knit in any situation, didn't suffer when it got a little splashed on a boat ride. I'll be happy to get this mailed off first thing tomorrow!

Love, Gwen


Long Winter

Dear Mom,

This winter, I thought my desire to knit was dwindling.

Heartland Shawl

I knit on just one thing.

Heartland Shawl

I knew it was a very big thing,

Heartland Shawl

but I hadn't realized just how big it was until I finally finished it in June, and blocked it on my bed. I was so relieved! It was huge! Suddenly it was clear what I'd been doing all winter. I hadn't lost any desire to knit - I just couldn't see what I was making.

Heartland Shawl

Here's the Heartland Shawl from Folk Shawls, modeled on some local restored prairie heartland. The body of the shawl is Brown Sheep Naturespun sport, color Catblue, and the border is Louisa Harding Kimono Angora Pure. I learned two things from the border: that blue is sometimes really hard to match with other colors, and that angora fuzzies get caught in my contacts and the back of my throat while I'm knitting it. But the pink is perfect, and the border is so soft - the contrast in textures works, and I will wear this shawl on cold mornings and evenings this fall and winter all the time.

But next winter I think I'll pencil in some small, quick projects for February, just to avoid the same mistake. Maybe some goofy hats.

A silly hat
Ganomy Hat, from EZ's Knitter's Almanac
Black Oak Wool 2 ply