Brimfield and Knitting ALL THE THINGS

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Today you get a recap of our trip to Brimfield as well as an update on my knitting of all the things. And a near-miss disaster.

Last week was the first Brimfield antique show/flea market of the season.  Paul and I try to go to all of them (May, July –ugh, hot– and September).  This time it was a perfect Brimfield day – overcast with a mild temperature – and we stayed for much longer than we usually do, racking up over 22,000 steps (per our Fitbits).  Usually the sun/heat gets the best of us and we are gone after our usual Pilgrim sandwich/falafel wrap lunch at 11:00.  This time we left at 3:30pm after arriving at 8:30am!

We found all kinds of stuff!  Before I show you what we got, here is what we didn’t get….

A lot of hands:

A personalized play oven/stove and fridge:

Mary in a bathtub and on the half-shell:

A lot of bells:

You can barely see the two shoppers in the tent, but they were ringing them all.

Here is what we did get:

Three stools and a traffic light:

The yellow stools are not as old as the red one but they are still old.  They are joining the free one we got last weekend (in the back of that picture).  Paul will be busy.  And he has always wanted a traffic light for his garage.  You know, there are a lot of cars in there so he needs it. Ha!

Then there is the glassware:

The set of four with the pretty blue flowers were a find for Paul’s mom since she has broken some glasses lately and told us to keep an eye out for some.  The two blue Capri glasses are joining the other four we got several years ago. They look horrible against the yellow table but trust me, they are a very pretty blue.

The Fire-King butter dish is something I obsessed over at the Bouckville/Madison antique show and regretted not getting so when I saw it here, I snapped it up.  I know, it’s just a butter dish.  BUT IT IS A COOL BUTTER DISH! It is not overly huge like a lot of butter dishes these days.  It fits a stick of butter just right.

I got the creamer on the left by mistake.  Found that one first, thinking it would go with our square blue Fire-King dishes.  Then I saw the one on the right and realized that is the one that would match.  The one on the left will be going on ebay.

Last is the framed advertisement of a Buick Special Wagon.  Because it’s cool.

That’s all.  We found a lot this time – some trips we go home with nothing but kettle corn.  Which we did not get this time, opting to share a HUGE m&m cookie instead.  We both wished we didn’t share it – it was yummy.

In knitting news, I have started ALL THE THINGS:

And I’m very close to finishing my Puerto Montt shawl:

Just need to finish up that left wingy thing.  I love how it is turning out!

Finally, the Dazzling Dishcloths class I taught last weekend was small but fun!

They got a great start on their Almost Lost Washcloths!

How about this for a start to my day today?….. I had a near miss disaster this morning with the Broken Path shawl (the green one in the picture up there)….

Believe it or not, once it was all untangled (after I was swearing up a storm for not double-checking and making sure all the projects were safely on the coffee table and not dangling over the edge), everything is fine and I won’t even have to cut the yarn to fix anything.  Amazing.  Another win for the Roomba for not messing it up.  Except now that thingy that the yarn is wrapped around isn’t spinning…

Ok, and I just counted my knitting works-in-progress and I’ve hit an all-time high of 18.  That’s bonkers.  I better get knitting.



3 (Maybe 4) Patterns That Made the Cut to Cure My Startitis

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So in my last post I told you all about the patterns I was going to start immediately.  And now plans have changed slightly.  After I calmed down for a minute (one really can get caught up in the excitement of starting new knitting patterns), I realized that in order for me to get started on ALL THE THINGS, I really needed to finish a couple of things that needed to be done for classes.  Or, at least put a pretty good dent in them.

I am trucking along on my Puerto Montt and my A Gentle Diversion, but they don’t look different enough to show you a picture.

And I DID finish my Tangled Lace Shawl thanks to some quiet knitting time in front of the warm fire.  On the very cold May-supposed-to-be-warm-by-now day last weekend:

I love how it turned out after some blocking time.  See how scrunched up it looks up there?  This is what blocking does:


On to my starting plans…. here are the 3 patterns that made the final cut to help cure my startitis:

1) The Shawl Society II: Fairy Hill Shawl and I am either going to use my Periwinkle Sheep Rhinebeck 2016 colorway or my blue Madelinetosh Tosh Sock:


2) The Broken Path MKAL(Mystery Knit-a–long) by Alicia Plummer and I’m using Frog Tree Meriboo from deep stash:

3) The Starting Point Joji Mystery Wrap KAL by Joji (pronounced ho-hee) Locatelli and these are the five colors I’m using:

Apparently we will be using most of each of these skeins — 1,700-ish yards.

As you see, two of these, I have no idea what they will look like.  That’s a leap of faith!  I love both designers though, and, in fact, Joji came out with another new pattern and THAT may also be getting started soon.  It is called I See Spring and 99% of the reason I want to knit it is because of the name and my wishing for spring weather.  The other 99% is how cute it is. (Yes, I know that adds up to 198%)  I just need to find some yarn….

In other news, the big town tag sale was last weekend.  We scored this stool for FREE:

It’s pretty beat up but Paul will work his magic (read: many hours of sandblasting, welding, painting and upholstering) and it will be beautiful.  And then it will be for sale!

And I got a ricer for 50 cents:

And this pile of books from the Altamont Library book sale for $3-ish:

Actually there are a few missing from this picture because we went back at night and picked through the not-sold books and I found some more!

Then we needed a treat for after our long day so we got these to take home:

Peanut Butter Overload and Strawberry Shortcake in a jelly jar!  (They were yummy.  How creative is that??)

And if walking 9,000 steps in a morning wasn’t enough, that afternoon we got about 6,000 more when we headed up to the Washington County Fairgrounds’ Antique Fair / Flea Market:

The only thing we got there, though, was a contribution to my breakfast of champions for this week:

(The kettle corn, not the trail mix.)

And somewhere in the past week or so we got this despite the aforementioned cold May-supposed-to-be-warm-by-now days:

Also delish.

Stay tuned for details on starting my startitis-curing patterns…

P.S. If you want to be sure not to miss any of the Lizy Tish Knits…Among Other Things blog, you can sign up to get an email when a new post is up (click up there on the sidebar).



8 Knitting Patterns I’m Using to Deal With My Start-itis

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Well, it’s that time of year again…. the time when I want to start ALL THE THINGS…. IMMEDIATELY.  And I say that like it is this particular time of year when this happens but that’s not really the case.  It happens pretty sporadically and this is just one of those times.  Does this happen to you?  If so, then you probably don’t need this list because you already have your own overwhelming list.  If not, then these are just some great pattern suggestions and ones that I currently love. **Note the use of the word “currently” — then ask me next week!  So I’ve got 8 knitting patterns to tell you about.

I started Puerto Montt by Martina Behm:

This is a new pattern by one of my favorite designers.  As with a lot of her patterns, it has an interesting construction but it is still fairly straightforward.  The other night, I was knitting it and realized this:

A new kind of knitting/pj camouflage.  Ha!

Then there was the A Gentle Diversion pattern that I absolutely had to start when a knitting shop friend showed it to me at knit night:

She made me buy yarn for it too.  Thanks Sue Z.!  This has a pretty and interesting stitch pattern that is really very easy.

I’m hoping to have both of these as classes in the summer.  Stay tuned, local peeps!

Speaking of knitting friends who drag you into knitting projects (totally willingly), Lisa made me sign up to participate in the Joji Mystery Wrap KnitalongIt only takes around 1,750 yards of fingering weight yarn so I figured that was totally do-able. (she says as if there are 80 hours in a day and she has 10 hands)

And then she showed me the Brooklet cowl and I really want to start that one.  I might even have my yarn picked out:

I’ve also been cooking along with my Tangled Lace Shawl which I am just loving:

Almost done! (sort of) I’m teaching the class in a couple of weeks – there are still openings if you are interested.

Like I don’t have enough already on my plate, I also found these that I’m dying to start:

Caine : a pretty worsted weight shawl

Holey Comfort: a cute fingering weight sweater

And to top it all off I signed up for/purchased the ebook for season two of Curious Handmade’s The Shawl Society.  I participated in season 1 and while I didn’t knit all 6 shawls, the patterns are gorgeous and I will someday knit them all.  I’m excited to see what the next 6 will be.  One shawl pattern will be released each month for six months.  Knitalongs and prizes for each during that month.  FUN!

There you have it, the 8 knitting patterns that I’m currently obsessed with and planning on starting, and maybe now your are, too.  You’re welcome. Check them out and let me know what you think of them!  Are you going to try any?



This and That

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Some tidbits from the past couple of weeks….

A package arrived from England!  

My Hedgerow Yarns order of sock yarn in the Apple Blossom colorway to knit my Apple Blossom socks by Helen Stewart.  It came in the most lovely packaging and included extra treats: a little sachet of lavender (a moth deterrent in case you were interested), a bag of tea, and Fizzers (fizzing Smarties!).

And here is the yarn:

Now I just have to wait for my square needles to arrive and I’ll be ready to restart the socks!

Speaking of socks, here are the beginnings of the most recent Two Socks on One Circular Needle class:

Off to a great start!

In food news, after a failed attempt on the day they opened (due to rain and, despite the rain, an extremely long line), Paul and I went to Jumpin’ Jack’s for the first time this season.

So good. (It was raining again, but the line was short!)

And I found my most recent tea obsession:

Stash Tea Breakfast In Paris : Lavender, bergamot and vanilla. So yummy.

Forgot to show you my stack of books obtained at the library book sale we went to in Virginia:

Our town library book sale is coming up in a couple of weeks so I better get reading.

In DIY news, here is Paul’s most recent rehabbed 1950’s stool, sandblasted, painted and reupholstered:

Sold on my Facebook page in 8 minutes!

And here are our next projects to rehab:

Habitat for Humanity Re-Store is our new favorite place.

And lastly,  some signs of spring are arriving in our yard.  The mallard couple stopped by for their yearly visit:

We’ve got a family of four turtles floating around in the pond too.

And beautiful sunsets, which are happening around 7:30 these days:

I’m so happy for the nicer weather!

Next time, hoping to show you some knitting, possibly my finished Tangled Shawl!


Another Knitting Lesson Learned

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Remember a few posts back when I/we learned a knitting lesson about needle sizing?  The one where I ran out of yarn and I thought it was because of the square needle?  Let’s revisit the square needle issue, shall we?

Okay, but first, I have to let you know that I have apparently become obsessed with the Apple Blossom Socks.

I’ve been knitting them during my breaks….

…and in the car on the way to Virginia this weekend.  I just love the look of the pattern and I’ve been so excited about them, even doing my usual knitting two socks at the same time, each on a set of double pointed needles.  The only reservation I had was my choice of yarn. I love the yarn itself – I’ve knit a pair of socks with it before – and I loke the colors but I really liked the green version in the pattern picture, and I couldn’t find a green I liked. But I decided that I would just keep looking for a green version and knit another pair!

So, we get to Virginia and I’m knitting along during evening conversation.  I pick them up the next morning to knit while I wait for everyone else to wake up.  And I noticed something:

One is smaller than the other.  Skinner and shorter. By a lot.  I realized that it was because of the square needles I was using on the right.  I had read, as I said in that previous blog post, that many people have to go up a needle size with the square needles because their gauge is too tight when they use the suggested needle size.  But in my previous cowl experience, that was not the case, so I used the size 2 that was recommended.  When I decided to start the second one and knit them at the same time, I picked up a round set of double points in the same size.  They clearly do not get the same gauge.

And so, the negotiating began — with the help of my sister-in-law who is also a knitter and, like me, would not want to start over. She said, “Will anyone really notice since they are on your feet?”  Nope.  Just what I needed to hear!  So, I happily thought I would just keep going.

But, then I decided to put those little bits on my feet.  The one on the right fit over my toes and on the top part of my foot, but was definitely tighter.  I began to worry that it would not fit over my instep where the sock needs to stretch the most.  I hemmed.  And hawed.  And sat.  And looked at them for quite some time.  Since I was, at that point, not wiling to chance the fact that I would be really, really, really mad if the one sock didn’t fit, and I didn’t want to have to knit a third sock…..

Luckily, we were headed to Fibre Space, the local yarn shop, and I could look for square needles there.  And some green yarn that I would like better.

Then, the most ridiculous, never-thought-it-would-happen thing happened.  We went to the yarn shop and I didn’t buy any yarn.  Paul had a heart attack when I told him.  They didn’t have square needles there and there was no yarn that was jumping out at  me that day.  None.  At all. I have no idea why.

But, I did see a beautiful display of local-to-me Periwinkle Sheep yarn there!

Karin comes up with the most beautiful colors and that Hyacinth in the middle is one of my favorites. So that was fun. [I buy that at my local yarn shop to keep it all local!]

So, knitting lesson learned that square needles really do get a different gauge than round needles of the same size. To make up for not buying anything at the yarn shop, I ordered square needles from the porch when we got back to the house:

We had a lovely afternoon sitting on the porch and chatting and knitting while Paul and his brother did this:

It was beautiful weather and such a nice change from our rainy/snowy weather we had to drive through to get there:

That was the view the whole way there.

We went on some nice walks and saw cherry blossoms:

And just some pretty flowers and green stuff (we don’t even know what that is up here these days – everything is just mono-brown):

I was so excited to see purple flowers and green grass and green trees and then my sister-in-law said, “Well, that’s a holly tree, but….”  Didn’t matter – it was GREEN and there was GREEN GRASS! And BLUE SKY!

The other fun thing we did was have my mother-in-law teach us her family recipe for “the doll cookies”:

These are Italian cookies that have frosting and I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. There was no recipe so she said it as we went along and I wrote it down.  They were yummy!

So, not just a knitting lesson learned, a family cookie recipe learned.  And on the car ride home, because I did not buy any yarn, I ordered the exact yarn that was used for the Apple Blossom socks.  It is coming from England!  I am ridiculously excited. See?  Obsessed.



Sunday Meal Planning

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For us to eat healthy, Sunday meal planning and prepping has become really helpful. I posted about this pretty recently with some great recipes we made.  It also helps to have some things already done so that on our busy days, preparing a healthy dinner isn’t as hard. Sometimes it works out really well (like that day) and sometimes….. it just doesn’t.  This weekend, it was a mixed bag.

We went to the grocery store and got all our supplies.  Lots of fresh veggies and fruit. (And some other stuff I’ll tell you about later.)

Paul made a big bowl of salad that we will dip into for several days:

Can I just say that our salad spinner is the best salad spinner ever?  (Find it here: ZYLISS salad spinner) I have broken no less than three salad spinners.  One with a rip-cord and two with a round cylinder to push down.  This one has a lever and just works so great.  Salad spinners can be a little pricey but I think they are well worth the time and aggravation it saves in trying to dry lettuce the other way (pick any other way).  Also, if the other way is using a ton of paper towels, a salad spinner is much better for the environment!

Next up was a Crock Pot Mexican Casserole from Well Plate (Again.  Yes, it’s one of my new favorite food blogs!).



Very healthy with ground turkey, quinoa, beans, and lots of veggies.  And so tasty! Even better with a little extra cheese, scallions and cilantro on top!

Our attempt at healthy pizza for our meal planning Sunday was only mildly successful.  We decided to make it relatively healthy by using a wheat pizza dough. Thus, we were skeptical from the start.  We are MAJOR fans of pizza.  Thin, charred crust is the best! [We someday would like a stone, wood fired pizza oven so we can make pizza just like Pepe’s in New Haven.] However….. since we are trying to be somewhat health conscious, we decided to try the wheat.  But, the wheat crust was not the only issue….

We have a pizza stone (a Pampered Chef Rectangular Stone 12″ x 15″):

….which we decided to try for the first time.  While it was heating up in a screaming hot 500 degree oven (and creating lots of smoke because of the cooking spray it said to put on there), we put the pizza together.

Issue #1: We did not have a pizza peel.  So we decided to use the back of a cookie sheet so we could slide the pizza off onto the stone (Ha!).

[Notice the addition of the pepperoni to our “healthy” pizza?]

Issue #2: We did not have any cornmeal to put under the pizza to make it slide off the cookie sheet.  So we used a bunch of flour.

How did that work out you ask? Ha!

It didn’t.  Into the oven went the cookie sheet, on top of the stone.

It came out only ok.  It looked pretty good, and that charred pepperoni was the bomb. The wheat crust? Meh.

Issue #3: We were not patient enough to let the dough rest and we should have so that we could make the crust thinner.  It would have been better.  As it was, it was pretty doughy (and wheat-y) in the middle.

We will keep trying.  We will get a pizza peel.  We will get some cornmeal.  We will figure out how to use that pizza stone.  We will not have wheat crust again.

The last thing I made was a pan of Tollhouse cookie bars for our friend Tyler who is coming to work in town this week.  He is a carpenter and makes beautiful post and beam buildings (his company is Pioneer Post and Beam). They have chickens (and pigs and cows and a horse) which are laying 2 dozen eggs a day (!!) and he is bringing us some since he will be in the area.  He likes my cookies so he gets them in exchange for the eggs:

A last note about our grocery store trip in which we purchased healthy stuff:

We got suckered, and it’s all because they came out with the s’mores version.  And the tip from the girl scout behind the table who said to put them in the microwave.  To be honest, they weren’t all that I wanted them to be.  They could work on making the “marshmallow” taste more like marshmallow.

Isn’t stopping me from having them on my afternoon break though:

(I’m starting my second Apple Blossom sock before I finish my first one, so I won’t not knit the second one. And in case you are remembering my last post in which I showed you a picture of the class I taught on how to knit two socks at the same time…. I actually don’t like to knit my socks that way! Double points are just my favorite.)

So, meal planning this week didn’t go as well as we would have liked but we’ll keep trying. Paul is having fun learning new recipes!  Do you do any meal planning for your busy week?

Trellis Ponytail Hat

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Wow, this Trellis Ponytail Hat / Messy Bun Hat was a quick knit! (find the pattern here) Even for me, since I’m trying to knit slowly.  It is one of those addicting patterns where, as you are knitting, you can’t wait to see how the pattern is working and how the trellis pattern emerges.  I teased you in my last post with this picture of my afternoon break as I was working on it:

The whole idea behind these hats (of which there are many patterns out there now) is that if you want to wear at nice warm hat, but your ponytail is in the way, you can make your ponytail stick out the back.  You can adjust the button opening based on whether you wear your ponytail up high or down low.  Very practical and you get a cool hat too!

Once I got the technique down, it was done in a flash:

[I just figured out how to do these nifty galleries for pictures, so you don’t have to scroll as much.  You’re welcome.]

If the yarn looks familiar, it is the same Malabrigo Rios I used to make the Misty Blue sweater.  I only needed a little bit of the second skein to finish the sweater and there was more than enough left over to make the hat.  I will say it again:  I. Love. This. Yarn.

This pattern is knit completely flat (not in the round) and uses slipped stitches (and switched stitches) to make the trellis pattern.  For the life of me, when I started, I couldn’t figure out what the heck was happening.  But then the pattern actually started emerging and I figured I was doing it right.

The “switched stitches” involves dropping a stitch off the needle – and letting it hang out there – then slipping another stitch, then putting the dropped stitch back on your needle.  Nerve wracking to say the least, especially in the beginning.  Once you get going, it’s no big deal.  Until you realize your numbers aren’t right and somehow a stitch got dropped not on purpose. [That might have happened to me.]  A cable needle would be helpful if you are just too nervous to do it this way.

Really the biggest feat for me was the five buttons that needed to be put on this hat. FIVE. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I really dislike sewing on buttons.  I will put a shawl pin in a cardigan or just leave it open in order to not sew on buttons.  But this hat being what it is, meaning you can’t remotely wear it without the buttons, I needed to do them.

So, the best way of doing this was with a spoonful of sugar – the sugar in this case being the Wednesday night knit-in at The Spinning Room yarn shop, where I could chat away with everyone and work on my buttons at the same time.  And as it happened, I needed to sew buttons on the sweater too (more buttons):

[This picture makes the yarn look gray.]

So that was EIGHT buttons I sewed on.  In a row.  If you follow me on Instagram, I posted that picture right after I was done, proclaiming I needed some sort of reward for that!  By the way I recently found this YouTube video for how to sew on a button and it is a much better way than I was doing.

A Digression:

Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been posting things I’ve been doing on my breaks during the day…

The other day the King Arthur Flour catalog came. My kryptonite. I love almost everything in there and every time I get it I want to bake all the things.

During this morning’s break I worked on my Apple Blossom Socks by Helen Stewart.  I showed those to you in my last post, too.  I couldn’t get them out of my mind, so, since I happened to be at the yarn shop on Wednesday (how fortuitous), I picked up the skein of Happy Feet 100 Splash that I have been looking at forever.  The yarn in the pattern is speckled, but I’m slightly worried that my yarn might be too speckle-y.  Stay tuned.

Another Digression (not at all related):

Take a look at the progress made by the students in my Two Socks on One Circular Needle class that finished up last night:

Well on their way to finishing two socks at once!

Back to the Trellis Ponytail Hat:

This ponytail hat was a fun knit and it was great to learn a new technique.  What do you think of the ponytail hat in general – the idea of it?  Do you have someone you would knit it for? [I’ll be offering this one as a class in May/June-ish.]


New Food Blog Discoveries: Three Delicious Recipes

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Are you looking for something new and different to have for dinner or as a treat? I might have some options for you! This week as I was doing my regular blog trolling, I came up with three delicious recipes to try.  Ok, really two –  one was a recipe that I was inspired to bring back when I was trolling the blogs.

I’m a big blog reader (because I am a blogger after all – have to keep up with my peeps), having several that I follow pretty regularly. Some of those include: The Yarn Harlot (I follow her VERY regularly – she is my blogging idol and I love her), Attic 24, Smitten Kitchen, Shutterbean and The Pioneer Woman.

Now and then, I stumble upon something new. Sometimes one blog will recommend another blog. And sometimes there is Facebook, throwing something in my face.

Recipe #1:

The first recipe came about when I stumbled upon the Well Plated blog.  She has got great recipes that are healthy and yummy.

She had these wonderful looking Irish Soda Bread Muffins and I knew I had to make them:

This recipe called for using part wheat flour and part white flour but I only had white.  It also called for caraway seeds which I also did not have.  But I did have the yogurt and currants and everything else!

These were so easy to make and very delicious. Especially warm, right from the oven, with butter. And surprisingly they did not stick in my muffin pan! I am notorious for not greasing the pan well and having to dig out the muffins in chunks.  I’m keeping the Well Plated blog on my regular list.

Recipe #2:

The second recipe came courtesy of a Facebook video from Delish: Bundt Pan Roast Chicken.  Sounds strange and it was strange to put together….

Potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic get chopped up, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and put into the bottom of the bundt pan.

Then, stuff the chicken with lemon and more rosemary and thyme, cover the hole in the pan with foil and stick the chicken on top:

(It just looks kind of creepy, sitting upright like that.)

But it turned out great, cooking in just one hour and ten minutes:

A little less browned on the bottom parts than I would like.  But, it wasn’t dried out like my previous attempts at chicken cooking so I’m guessing either the bundt pan/sitting upright had something to do with it.  Or I just got lucky.  And the vegetables were done perfectly.

Very tasty and I’ll definitely make it again.  My bundt pan worked very well for what I believe is the first time.  I have never made a cake in it!

Recipe #3:

The third recipe was actually an old standby and inspired by all the St. Patrick’s Day corned beef cooking I was seeing.  Good old corned beef hash and eggs:

My mother-in-law makes a traditional boiled dinner of corned beef, potatoes and cabbage every year.  She always saves us some corned beef and potatoes (we are not fans of cooked cabbage).  We chop them up and fry them until crispy.  Throw eggs on top (I’m still trying to master the perfect over medium fried egg) and dinner is done.  YUM!  There is nothing like it, especially if you get the corned beef crispy enough.

I’ve also recently discovered the Dessert for Two blog.  She makes everything in smaller portions, enough for two people and not having a ton of leftovers. Six inch cakes; 6 muffins instead of 12; casseroles made in 8×8 pans (or individual dishes), not 9×13 pans.  That is great for us, because sometimes it is hard to eat chicken casserole four times in a week! Yes, we could freeze it, but then we say, “Oh, we have that chicken casserole…yeah, let’s make something else.”  Sometimes it is just. too. much.

So, there you have it, three delicious recipes! Are you inspired to make any of these? Or have any good recipes you have found recently?

A Last Tidbit: Knitting

By the way, I think I’m going to have another finished knitting item to show you on Friday!  Sneak peek from my “Afternoon Break” instagram post yesterday:

And I’m dying to start these, from Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade podcast:

Apple Blossom Socks by Helen Stewart

Apple Blossom Socks by Helen Stewart.

Apple Blossom Socks.  Becuase they sound spring-y and they look spring-y and I need that right about now since it is 22 degrees outside.

6 Tips for Overcoming a Challenging Knitting Pattern

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Seeing a challenging knitting pattern that, from the outset, looks really complicated can be very intimidating.  For example, it may be several pages long, have two charts, each with a different number of rows, to be knit at the same time, as well as increases to be knit at certain intervals.

Makes you want to run the other way right?  But you don’t have to. These challenges don’t have to stop you from knitting it!  Here are a few tips to help you through.  I also have an example of what I did with a complicated pattern.

Tip #1:  Breathe.  A few deep breaths before reading through the pattern will help calm your brain down which is probably shouting, “Danger! Too hard! Don’t do it! RUN!”

Tip #2:  Read through the whole pattern to get an idea of what will be entailed.  Jumping right in without reading through the whole pattern may set you up for failure.  There is often a direction “at the same time” which occurs further along in the pattern, but is something you are supposed to already be doing by the time you read it!

Tip #3:  Map out your rows.  When a pattern has several charts as well as instructions for increasing, it helps to map out how you will accomplish your rows. Writing down each row, along with the corresponding chart rows, in a chart format or just in rows on your scrap paper will help tease out the confusion (see my example below).

Tip #4:  Cross off each row on your map as it is completed so there is no question as to what row you are on if you put your project down for a while.

Tip #5:  Keep breathing! One row at a time and you will get there.

Tip #6:  If you are still confused about how to organize your rows/charts, stop in at your local yarn shop and ask for a little help!  Most shops are happy to take a few minutes to help walk you through what to do and get you on your way.  [If it is a particularly complicated pattern that will take more than 10 minutes or so, they may suggest you schedule a private lesson.  Private lessons are great for quality one-on-one instruction and well worth the cost.]

I recently found a challenging knitting pattern – an adorable baby sweater pattern which was 7 pages long, had two different charts, that had two different repeat lengths, that needed to be knit at the same time (at different parts of the same row) while knitting from the top down and increasing at four locations on my needle.  Whew!  The challenge was:  How do I keep track of all this?

Once I had worked out a system for keeping track of two charts and increases, it went quickly.  To work out the system, first I took a deep breath!  I read through the whole pattern to understand what would be happening throughout the project. For example, in this pattern the back chart is only knit once but the front chart is knitted throughout.  That bit of information would help me get organized.

Next, I made a little map/chart for the rows I would need to knit. I lined up the two rows I needed to repeat for the increases with the rows of each of the knitting charts like so:


Look at the first number for the increase row, then follow the numbers vertically down for what you will need to do on the rest of that row.  You will see that after row 14 of each of the charts it gets interesting.  You are still working on the first (and only) repeat of the back chart but you need to start over at the beginning of the front chart.  Making a little chart like this to keep track made the process soooooo much easier to complete.

*The “EVEN” means to work even (no more increases).

Challenge accepted and challenging knitting pattern overcome! I finished the Misty Blue baby (and child) sweater yesterday and I can’t say enough how cute it is.  See for yourself:

See? So cute right???  I just love the back lace detail.  It’s something a little unexpected.

This Misty Blue pattern goes from 0-6 mos up to 9-10yrs in sizing.  You can make it with long or short sleeves.  The cute butterfly buttons are a little too big for my buttonholes so I’ll be searching for another set.

For those who are local, this will be a class offered at The Spinning Room yarn shop in June and I’ll teach you all these tips in person.

I did also overcome another knitting challenge — the one where I couldn’t knit for a long time because of my elbow tendinitis. HOORAY! After much rest and heat and stretches and REST, I’m able to knit for some pretty good lengths of time.  I still need to stop before I want to, in order to rest, but the elbows are much better!  I am using this FUTURO Tennis Elbow Support which really helps.  I also use this FUTURO Energising Support Glove. I have used the glove for several years already as it just gives some nice support to your hand when you are knitting for a long time. (click on those links to get them on Amazon)

Boy does it feel good to actually be making some progress on knitting projects!

What do you do when you find a challenging knitting pattern?  Ignore it and find a different pattern? Run? Try it?

Knitting Lesson: Knowing When to Move On

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How do you know when to move on from a knitting pattern that just isn’t working? You are excited about a knitting pattern and you are excited about the yarn, but it’s not going your way.  Do you keep trying?  Do you try a different yarn?  Do you look for another pattern to knit?

Luckily (??), I have an example for you!

The Background of My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

A couple of weeks ago, I started the Diamond Tempest Cowl with the impossibly soft and wonderful-to-knit-with Cascade Baby Llama Chunky yarn.  It had a great pattern to it and I thought it would make a great knitting class in learning how to do right twists (RT) and left twists (LT).  And the yarn! Sooo great.

BUT, there was the game of yarn chicken, in which I lost, running out of yarn with two rounds and the bind off still to do:

This was completely my fault for using the wrong needle size and not checking my gauge.  So, out it came and I started over, changing my needle size and checking my gauge.  My gauge was a tiny bit tighter than suggested, which was okay, because that meant I would need less yarn.  It also meant that my cowl would be a tiny bit smaller but that was okay too.

When I got halfway through the pattern, I weighed my yarn to make sure I was in the clear, and that I wouldn’t run out of yarn again:

The Decision Point in My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

I had exactly half my ball of yarn left.  In any normal circumstance in which I am the only one affected by this cowl, this would be fine.  If it was really that close at the end, I could cut out one round and it would be fine.  However, since this is going to be for a class I’ll be teaching, I need to keep my students in mind.  Several things come into play:

  1. If I had gotten the correct gauge, I probably would have run out of yarn again.
  2. In a knitting pattern there really should be a buffer in terms of yardage needed.  This allows for differing knitting tensions of the people working this pattern.  Adding 10-15% to the amount used in the sample is a general rule.
  3. You may ask, “Why not just get more yarn?”  And the reason is that this is supposed to be a one-skein project.  To spend money on another skein of yarn, just to need 2-3 rounds worth is just not practical to ask students to do.
  4. I did not want to ask the students to modify the pattern. They are coming to class to learn the pattern that they saw and liked, not how to modify it.  (That’s another class I guess!)

At that point, I decided I had done my due diligence to make this yarn and pattern choice work together. I did not want to change the yarn I was using because I love working with it. The only option was to abandon that particular knitting pattern and find another quick, chunky cowl to make for a class.

The Solution to My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

I found the Airy Alpaca Cowl:


The yardage needed was 100 yards, and while there was not a range in the pattern, I knew that I had a buffer with my yarn (which was 109 yards).

It knit up quickly!

The end result is great.  It is not what I wanted starting out, but I did still get to use this wonderful yarn. I got a wonderfully cozy and soft cowl, that was quick to knit.  I can work the Diamond Tempest Cowl another time when I’m sure I have enough yarn!

Extra Bit of Knitting Info:

By the way, here is the difference between pre-blocking and post-blocking:

Before blocking:

After blocking:

Can you tell the difference?  This example is a little subtle, but you can mostly see it in the middle pattern.  The diagonal sections are laying flatter and allowing the holes to open up and be shown more.


Have you ever had to abandon a pattern or yarn for some reason?