Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Team In Training

Well, there's no news to report on the knitting or 3 Kittens scene today, so I thought I'd update you on the "fitness" portion of my blog.

First, I finally tested for and received my black belt in karate on December 2. It took 4 1/2 years and four surgeries to get this far - but I still feel it was worth it. I know my husband took some photos of me during the exam, but I don't have access to them right now. Of course, there were only about 40 of us testing for our first degree black belts, and my husband was about as far away from me as you could possibly get, so you wouldn't really be able to tell it was me in a photo anyway!

Second, I'm running a marathon in 2 1/2 weeks. YIKES! Last year, I walked the Nike Women's Marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training in support of my sister-in-law, Peggy King, who was battling lymphoma. I had a great time training for the marathon with my friend, Margaret Kelberer, and all my other teammates, plus I was able to raise almost $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Here's a photo of me and Margaret at the end of the marathon:
The marathon was in October, and Peggy lost her battle in December. So now I'm training with Team in Training to run the P.F. Chang's Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix on January 14th in memory of Peggy. We had our longest training run this past Saturday - 20 miles! I'm happy to say that I finished the run with no problems, albeit very slowly! Plus, even more importantly, my fundraising is going gang-busters. I've raised just over $51,000!! Most of that has been through family, but alot of my friends and friends of Peggy have pitched in. Check out my fundraising website for more info. It's a great cause, and training for the marathons has boosted my confidence - I figure if an overweight 43-year old with bad knees and high blood pressure can run a marathon, anyone can! And, I know that raising the money for LLS made Peggy really proud of me, which makes me feel great.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Camera

I got a new digital camera for Christmas! Yippee! Now I can finally have photos on my blog again. Bet you're thrilled, too!

I spent a lot of last minute knitting before Christmas. I swear every year that I'm not going to do that, but I decided with about 2 weeks left before Christmas that I wanted to make a pair of felted slippers for my son who is away at chemical dependency treatment at Hazelden Center for Youth and Families and a second pair for my father-in-law who is battling terminal prostate cancer. I made the first pair out of Ella Rae Classic with Fiber Trends' Felted Clog pattern.

It always amazes me how much of the contrasting color it takes to make these clogs - even though I've made a lot of this pattern. The soles of these were done in the brown as well, and they're double thick, so I used up almost two full skeins of the brown. It took a lot less of the green.

The second pair were made with Araucania Nature Wool. I had two skeins of the blue and only one of the black - and I ran out of the black. That's why the sole on the slipper on the right side has a little blue in it. These slippers are waiting for their leather soles to be sewn on - which will hide the sole color change. I hate giving presents that aren't finished, but I'll get the soles on this week and get them to my father-in-law.

As far as the two wools are concerned, I liked the way the Classic felts much better than the Nature Wool. The Nature Wool turned out very fuzzy, and I had to trim them with scissors and then a sweater shaver - what a pain in the butt! But I like the slight variegation in the color of the Nature Wool... But when I go to make myself another pair of slippers - which I have to do, since I'm running through the soles on mine after a year, I'll use Classic or Plymouth Galway instead.

I'm thrilled to be done with the Christmas presents though, because I'm starting a crocheted felted scarf from The pattern is called North & South because it can either be done out of wool and then felted or out of cotton and left as is. It's also a fairly simple pattern which is a good thing for a beginning crocheter like me. I'm making this out of Classic as well. I did my test swatch last night and realized that I have to add two rounds to each of my circles in order to make them big enough, but I don't mind... By the way, I think the CrochetMe webzine is great - it reminds me of Great patterns...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas is Approaching

OK, so I have been lost in my own little word for over a month now, but I'm ready to give it a go again. I went to visit my son at Hazelden on Sunday, and he requested some felted slippers for Christmas. Now, why couldn't he have asked me several weeks ago? SIGH! I started on them using the Fiber Trends clog pattern and Ella Rae Classic yarn (a new yarn at my store, 3 Kittens Needle Arts). I'm hoping the Classic yarn is o.k. - it's slightly thinner than Cascade 220 which is what I've always used for these clogs. I'll let you know - and hopefully take photos too. Actually, I started them today, then I went to the store to pick up some work (I was home with my sick younger son today), and I grabbed some Araucania Nature Wool to try instead for my son, and the ones that I started in Classic, I'm going to give to my father-in-law who was recently diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. I figure they might be useful when he's at the cancer center for his chemo - they'll keep his toes nice & toasty!

I've been having a wonderful time working at 3 Kittens since I purchased it in October with my partners, Julie and Cis. It's been exciting - even doing the mundane work of transferring everything from manual to computer. My only complaint is that I don't have enough time in the week to do everything I want to do for the business... I guess I do have one other complaint, and that is that I am stuck on my computer all day, so I haven't gotten a chance to meet many of our customers. I recognize a lot of frequent buyers through entering sales into my accounting software, but I have no faces to go along with those names...

Well, I suppose I should get back to my knitting. Deadlines loom! And, wouldn't you know my son wears size 13 shoes!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Photo of 3 Kittens Needle Arts

Here's a photo of the outside of my store. The landlord painted the outside a red to match the red portion of our new logo and signage. It looks pretty sharp, I think.

I've lost my little digital camera, so until I can get another one or borrow one, photos off of my cell-phone may have to suffice!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Crazy Month

Well, it's been a month or more since I posted - and it's been absolutely crazy. The yarn store, Three Kittens Needle Arts, has taken up much more of my time than I ever expected it would. My wonderful partners, Julie & Cis, have completely rearranged the store, and we have had a couple of events in the past month to promote the new ownership and try to clear out some of the old stock that we don't really want any more. By the way, our Fall into Winter Sale is going on until the end of November if anyone wants to stop in!... I've been busy trying to computerize the accounting and processes. The previous owner did everything by hand, and it has taken a huge amount of time to just get the customer lists and yarn and threads price lists into my accounting software. I haven't even started on the needlepoint canvasses, books, patterns, and gift items. I was hoping to get a POS system in right after the purchase to automate the sales process (rather than use hand-written sales slips), but it looks like the soonest we will be able to do that is after the holiday rush... I haven't finished the books for October yet, but I think we met our projections, so I'm pretty happy.

Not much knitting going on right now, although I did finish knitting & felting a Fiber Trends Hedgehog. It's drying right now, but I'm not really happy with it - the "fur" isn't thick enough. I'll try another one with a different brand of eyelash yarn that is thicker - or I'll double the eyelash yarn I was using (sorry, don't have the name in front of me). The first "prototype" is always experimental anyway. I think they'll make cute Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews - if I have time to make them! Fiber Trends has some other really cute felted animals, so I might have to try them as well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My News

O.K., so I can finally tell everyone what I haven't been able to talk about for the last several months - I am one of the proud new owners of 3 Kittens Needle Arts (formerly known as Three Kittens Yarn Shoppe) in St. Paul, Minnesota!! This has been in the works for about 5 months now, and it has consumed much of my time and energy. Of course, now that we have the business, that's bound to get even worse!

Anyway, here's the scoop. The previous owner of the store, Karen Weiberg, ran Three Kittens for 25+ years. The store is the oldest yarn store in the Twin Cities. My partners, Julie Mast and Cis Mezin, and I approached Karen earlier this year, and after much negotiating and planning, we closed on the business on October 3rd. It's been an exciting and hectic few days as we've taken over the business - particularly because we have a big event this weekend. Seven yarn stores in the Twin Cities have gotten together to sponsor a shop hop "Treasure Hunt." It runs from Friday through Sunday, and we've been rearranging & cleaning and all-around getting ready for our first big event as store owners.

I will post more as time goes on, but it's after midnight now, and I must get some sleep. As soon as our new website is up and running, I'll post the link here, but in the meantime, if you would like to visit the old website, the address is

Friday, September 15, 2006

No Excuses

I'm not going to make any excuses for why I haven't blogged in two months! EEK! It will all come out in the end...

I haven't been knitting much lately, but I have been very active. I've started training to run PF Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in Phoenix in January. I'm training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, so not only am I running alot, but I'm also fundraising. If you'd like to donate to the cause, please visit my fundraising homepage at I'm psyched about running a marathon. I walked the Nike Women's Marathon last year, and that was a blast, but I've always wanted to run one. So that's my plan. My body is rebelling a bit, though, but hopefully the physical therapist can work that out for me!

I'm also looking for a replacement for me at our family business, Odyssey Restorations, Inc.. I'm moving on to something much more exciting - at least to me. I'm hoping I'll be able to divulge what that is next week!

All the kids have gone back to school. O.K., so what if they're in three different locations! At least, we're finally getting back into a manageable routine.

I can't wait to spend some time with my pointy sticks and make something fun. I have several projects in various stages on the needles. It would be nice to get one or two of them done soon... I'm also toying with the idea of crocheting something - although I'm not sure what!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot

It's become a really hot & drought-y summer here in Minnesota, USA. I haven't been able to knit very much due to time constraints, and because, frankly, it's not as appealing to knit in the summer. That said, I've started to sew together my modular sweater (sorry, no photos yet), and I'm almost done with the body of the Karibbean Kotton sweater I'm knitting. The last one is due mainly to sitting at the auto dealership for an hour yesterday while my car was being serviced.

Next week I go to Disney World with two 13-year old girls and an 8-year old boy. I know, you're probably thinking I'm crazy because it's going to be 90+ degrees & very humid. Of course, that's what the weather is here, too... Plus, I've got a plan. Hit the parks early (we can get in at 8 a.m. because we're staying at a Disney resort hotel), leave around lunch time, hange out by the pool or in our room or someplace else cool through the afternoon, then head back to the parks in the late afternoon/evening. I'm really psyched about the whole trip, especially now that I'm a Disney Vacation Club member. I'm very organized for this, my third, trip to Disney World, thanks in large part to my PassPorter Walt Disney World Guide. This guide is fantastic. It gives reviews of resort hotels, restaurants, theme parks and rides, etc., plus lots of helpful hints about packing, using the meal plan, and all of the extras (Cirque du Soleil, DisneyQuest, etc.). If you're planning on going to any of the Disney properties, you should really check out PassPorter's guide books!

Anyway, I'm still trying to decide if I'll even take knitting with me on this trip. I think last time we went, I took some with me and never even touched it. I probably won't even be able to knit on the plane, because I'll be dealing with my 8-year old, and I imagine most of the time in the room will be spent lounging in bed, resting up!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No Camera

I can't find my camera!! Ugh! I'm sure my husband has it stashed away somewhere convenient - for him! I really wanted to have a photo of the Sassy Skeins sweater for the blog today, but it will have to wait until at least tomorrow.

I've been listening to podcasts lately. I don't listen to them on a regular basis, but I try to catch up on them when I'm in between listening to books on my iPod. I just finished "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber, and although I'm not done with it, I needed a break from listening to "Odd Girl Out" by Rachel Simmons, so I thought I'd catch up on all of the knitting podcasts I like. So yesterday I listened to a couple of episodes of The Knitting Newscast. The Knitting Newscast is full of info on upcoming books and current e-magazines, which I find very helpful. Today, I've been listening to Brenda Dayne on Cast On. I really love Brenda's style and format for Cast On. She's very professional sounding, but at the same time she's not stuffy or intimidating and she's got a great sense of humor. Tomorrow, I hope to listen to Irie Knits and/or Pixie Purls. Both of these are done by younger knitters whose style I enjoy. I also listen to Knit Cast some, although Marie Urshad hasn't seemed to be producing it as much lately. Knit Cast is full of interviews with the knitting elite, which is very interesting.

I hope you'll find these podcasts just as enjoyable as I do!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back from Santa Fe

We got back from Santa Fe and the family reunion last night. I got a ton of knitting done. I started a cardigan sweater from a pattern and yarn I picked up from Knit Wits in Chanhassen, MN. The yarn and pattern are by a company called Sassy Skein. Knit Wits had all of their Karibbean Kotton yarn in both weights, plus their pattern "kits." I call them kits because you get a great little pattern booklet, with the pattern and how-to instructions for newer knitters, plus you get the needles needed to make the sweater and any accessories needed to finish the sweater (buttons, ribbon, etc.). Knit Wits only carried children's sweater patterns, but the Sassy Skein website also shows some other children's items... I'm about half way through with the cardigan which I am making for a couple of my neices to share (one's 6 and the other is 4).

I also continued to work on the Sunrise Jacket (I think that's what it's called - from Interweave Knits). I'm almost finished with the back.

I just got back from my karate sparring class, and I should really go take a shower. Maybe after that I can do some more knitting...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Off to Santa Fe

Well, I still haven't gotten that sleeve done. I knit two more rows on it this morning, and I probably won't be able to do any more until I leave for Santa Fe for a family reunion tomorrow. And, who knows how much I'll be able to get done down there. I should take the other parts of the sweater on the trip as well, so I can work on putting it together when I'm in my hotel room hiding out from the family. No, seriously, I love my husband's family, but as an introvert, I need to be alone for a while each day to recharge. After my little time by myself, I am happier and calmer. That's where my knitting and reading comes in handy!

I'm conducting a small survey for a couple of yarn store owners in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. If you're from this area and would like to participate in the survey, please email me at Thanks in advance!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Much Later

I'm off in Washington state again visiting my oldest son who is at Gray Wolf Ranch until August. We're staying with my sister-in-law and her husband and little boy (Trey, who happens to be three - and he was born on 3/3/03!). They have a beautiful home right on the water and have been wonderfully accomodating. Today we're taking our son to visit the Experience Music Project in Seattle and Pike Place Market. It will be exciting - especially because I'll have two hours in the car to knit.

Yesterday, on our drive to Port Townsend to pick up our son, I knit as much as I could on the modular sweater I've been making - then I ripped about 6" of the sleeve I was working on because I noticed a mistake. I put my knitting away when we got to Gray Wolf Ranch, but then as we were sitting around the fire pit last night, I pulled it out again until I realized I had made the same mistake again. This time I only had to rip out about 3" - UGH! I've got it corrected now, and I'm on my way to actually finishing the sleeve. Maybe today! I brought another project to work on - the Sunrise Circle Jacket - you can see a photo on my website at .

I'll try to be more consistent with posting on this blog. I've been not posting as much because I don't have photos to put up. But, I've decided it's better to post without photos than to wait until I do have them!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

14 Days Later

I've have been so busy working on a new business venture that I haven't had a chance to post on my blog or anything! I'm hardly even knitting! SIGH! But, I am having a really exciting time meeting with my business partners, writing a business plan, talking with the current business owner, interviewing attorneys, etc. At the same time, I'm thinking alot about how to hire someone at my husband's and my business, Odyssey Restorations, Inc., to take over at least a portion of my job. Ideally, I will work two days per week at Odyssey and two days at the new place... Don't ask me what the business is; I can't tell you yet...

By the way, I'm onto the first sleeve of the modular sweater I'm currently working on. To see a photo of the front, check out my website at . After that, I still have the Sunrise Circle jacket to complete (and since I'm only about 2" into it, that will take a while).

Also, my karate instructor told me that I will probably test for my black belt in early December! YIPPEE!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Repeat Trick

Here's a nifty little trick I learned from Lizbeth Upitis many years ago at a Minnesota Knitters' Guild Yarnover. If you have a pattern that involves repeats every x number of rows you can use a piece of extra yarn to help you keep track of your repeats. Take a piece of scrap yarn and double it, then tie knots in it (far enough apart so that you can get your knitting needle into the holes in between the knots) equal to the number of rows in your repeat. One end will have a loop in it formed by the doubling of the strand of yarn. This is the end that I call my "repeat loop." Here is a photo of what several of these look like.

In the photo above, the "repeat loop" is on the right hand side of each of these "Repeat Threads" or RTs. The bottom one has 10 holes, the next one has 8, then 6, then 4, then 2.

To illustrate the use of an RT imagine you are doing a cable that needs to be crossed every 6 rows. So, you make a RT with 6 holes in it (tie 6 knots). The trick is to put the RT onto your needle either at the beginning of the row (or if you are doing a repeated motif within the body of your sweater, at the beginning of the motif) the very first time you cross your cable, making sure that you use the end of the RT (your "repeat loop"). On the next row, when you get to where the RT is, slip it to the other needle,but slip one hole down on the RT. Do this every row, until there are no more holes to slip into, then you know that you are on a repeat row. This time, slip the RT back on at the "repeat loop," cross your cable on that row, then keep going.

This trick works really well if you are doing different cable patterns within a sweater that don't repeat on the same row. Just put RTs at the beginning of each cable section and follow that.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Needlework Unlimited

On Saturday, a couple of friends and I visited Needlework Unlimited to spend some time with my friend, the owner of the store, Karen Rumpza. Karen was nice enough to let me take some photos of her shop to put up on the blog. So here they are (thanks, Ann, for the loan of your camera!).

Needlework Unlimited is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not too far from Lake Harriet. They have a really nice selection of handpainted yarns and one-of-a-kind-skeins of yarns. They carry Rowan, Dale, Noro, Addrienne Vittadini, Alchemy, and many more brands. And, while I'm not a needlepointer, they seem to have a nice selection of canvasses and yarn for that as well... The best thing about them in my opinion is that they always seem to be well-staffed with knowledgeable people who aren't intrusive. In other words, they are there to help - but only if you want to be helped. You can browse to your heart's content.

I took a Knitting Camp there a couple of years ago in the summer. This was not an overnight camp, but it lasted a couple of days, and there were probably four new techniques we learned, plus door prizes and food and lots of knitting. It was really enjoyable, and much more convenient than going to an overnight camp or Stitches or the TKGA Convention. I noticed while I was at the shop that they are planning on doing it again this summer (but I think it's called a mini-camp now). Unfortunately, I'll be out of town when they do it. SIGH! But, here's your chance!!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I've Got a Secret

... but I can't tell it yet. You'll just have to keep coming back to find out more when I'm ready to spill.

In the meantime, I thought I'd update you on my karate, since I haven't mentioned that in a while. On Friday evening last week, I tested for my double black stripe belt (that's a brown belt with two black stripes) - and I passed! Yippee! I was so nervous all day. I have been plagued with balance issues since I started karate. I have improved so much over the four years I've been taking classes, but I still have major problems balancing when we do multiple kicks. (Imagine standing on one foot, then moving your other leg around alot without setting down - it's hard.) Anyway, everything came together really well on Friday. My instructor said that it was the best karate I've ever done! I'm so pumped... My next belt is the big one - black. I was hoping to test for that in September, but now I'm thinking December is more likely.

I'm still knitting away on the sweaters pictured in my last post. I can't believe I still haven't finished that teddy bear sweater. Maybe tonight...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Photo of Yarnover Project

Here's a photo of the teddy bear sweater I'm making using the instructions for the Garden Maze Design class I took at the Minnesota Knitters' Guild's Yarnover.
The design is by Rita O'Connell. You're looking at the front of the sweater. The two sleeve holes are on the left and right. After the body is finished, I will pick up the live stitches on the sleeve holes and knit the sleeves down. It shouldn't take me long to finish the rest of it. Of course, it's not my top priority right now.

Instead, I've been working pretty consistently on my modular sweater designed by Barbara Venishnick from the Spring/Summer 2004 issue of Vogue Knitting.
This has been a fun sweater to knit. I'm using Rowan's Cash Cotton, which I love! I tried several different yarns before landing on this one, and I'm very happy with my choice. My only complaint is that there are so many ends to weave in!!

There are two other things that are biting into my knitting time: Disney World and karate. I'm planning a trip to Disney World July 19 - 25 for me, my 8-year old son, my 13-year old daughter and my daughter's friend. I'm so excited!! I adore anything Disney. I just recently became a member of Disney Vacation Club, and the kids and I are going to use that membership for the first time. I'm a little nervous about going during the hottest and rainiest time of the year, but we'll have fun anyway... And, as for karate, I'm testing for my brown belt with two black stripes tonight at National Karate. This is my last belt before black belt. I'm exceedingly nervous! I had a pretest yesterday, and I didn't feel like I did very well - and I was pretty vocal about it. The instructor told me that she's confident that I will do fine tonight, but that if she hears even one little peep out of me that sounds like I'm disgusted with how I'm doing, she'll fail me. UGH! I have a really hard time keeping my negative thoughts to myself when it comes to physical activities (I used to do it to myself when I played high school and college tennis as well). I know expressing those negative thoughts doesn't really help anything - it probably hurts my performance even more. So, tonight, I won't make a peep. I can't...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I went to the Minnesota Knitters' Guild one day workshop, the Yarnover, this past weekend. I meant to take a camera with me to click photos of the market and my classes, but unfortunately I left it at home. I did take photos with my phone, but I can't figure out how to download them. UGH! Anyway, I had a fabulous time. Lucy Neatby was the keynote speaker. (See her website, Tradewind Knitwear Designs for a good photo of her.) She talked about designing and how she comes up with designs. The talk was not as informative as I had hoped, but she had some great anecdotes. Mostly, though, I was impressed with the way she looked. Her hair was bright pink, as were her pants. She wore an orange t-shirt and a multicolored vest. I thought it was great and that she had to possess a lot of self-confidence!

My first class of the day was "Shadow Knitting" with Jane Killian. My friend, Jean, helped her out. We used the Vivan Huxbro (sp?) technique for shadow knitting and a pattern that Jane gave us to knit a hat. There was not a lot of teaching in the class - more following the pattern and knitting with some suggestions thrown in occassionally. But that was o.k. with me. Since I've been knitting for over 20 years, I've found that there are few things that I have to be taught - most things I can learn or intuit by reading patterns or directions. That said, I enjoyed the class because: 1) I learned a new technique, 2) I got to knit the whole time, and 3) it was fun talking with people... Now if I could only find the hat I made (I didn't finish it in class, but I did finish it later that day). My son was having fun playing with it, and who knows where it is! Once I find it, I'll post a photo.

After the first class was a long lunch with plenty of time to shop at the various vendors that were in the market. I won't talk much about the market except to say that I spent way too much money! I bought some hand-dyed fingering weight yarn in some lovely muted shades called Tree Bark from Josyln's Fibers. And I bought a wonderful skein of hand-dyed yarn from Amazing Threads. And, as a last minute splurge, I bought three skeins of Fiesta Yarn and a vest pattern from Knit Wits. There was a booth selling light up knitting needles - so you can knit in the dark. Only straights - no circulars. I wasn't really interested...

In the afternoon, I took a class on "Garden Maze Sweater Design" taught by an old Knitters' Guild friend of mine, Rita O'Connell. She has taken the idea of a garter stitch sweater shaped by increases and decreases to its farthest reaches - kind of like taking Elizabeth Zimmerman and Cottage Creations patterns and jumping off the deep end with them. This was her first time teaching the class, and while she gave us very detailed instructions, it was really too much info for a 3-hour class. I did fine with it, but there were some less experienced knitters who had a difficult time figuring it out. As it was, I only got to the armholes of the teddy bear sweater (from the top down), and I've had questions since then about what to do.
I'll post a photo as soon as I have one of the finished project.

All in all, it was a fun and inspiring day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Designing II

Gee, it's hard to get time to make these posts. Sorry...

The next step in my design process for the Bendigo Cotton sweater was to draw a proposed picture of the final design. Here is my drawing:

(Please excuse the clarity of these scans - the drawings were done on tracing paper, because it was the only thing I could find at the time). I'm not a great artist - particularly to scale - but you get the general idea: cardigan with moss stitch button band, moss stitch panels at the bottom edges (2 in front, 2 in back & 2 at each side) narrowing to 2 stitches then increasing again to 4 stitches for the duration. The decreasing/increasing will cause the sweater to be fitted. The sleeves are set-in with another moss stitch panel at the wrist.

The next step was to figure out the math. Whenever my children say they won't need to do certain math in real life, I tell them that I use it all the time with my knitting. Here is my calculation page:

My gauges that I got from my swatches are listed on the left. My measurements are at the top (center to right). Then the remainder of the info is calculations and the beginning of the instructions. The instructions will be completed as work commences. The plan for the body of the sweater is to knit it in one piece. The moss stitch panel and subsequent 2 stitch vertical row of moss stitch at the underarms will produce a seam-like juncture in the knitting.

So, normally, next I would start knitting. However, I have decided that while I like the idea of the design, I'm uncertain about doing it in cotton. With the wider width at the bottom, I think this sweater needs to be long - at least hip length if not a few inches longer. But, because this sweater is to be made out of 100& cotton, I'm worried about stretching. As you know, cotton grows over time. I think it would be better to make this sweater out of a blend of cotton and lycra or out of wool.

That means, it's back to the drawing board... But, I have an idea...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Designing I

I've been working on designing a sweater, and I thought I'd give you some insight on how my mind works through a design challenge. In this instance, the designing started with a specific yarn - one I have in my stash, Bendigo Cotton. Bendigo Woollen Mills is located in Australia, and I bought this yarn from them directly (which as far as I know is the only way you can buy it if you live in the United States - unless you go there). They make beautiful, relatively inexpensive, yarn. I've had the cotton in my stash for at least 6 or 7 years - maybe longer.

Anyway, I knew that I needed a summer cardigan for those chilly moments in theaters, office buildings, etc. So I started playing around with swatches. My first thought was that I wanted it to be a simple stockinette stitch garment. So that was my first swatch (on the right in the above photo). Then I started thinking about how to accomodate my hips that are larger than my bust. I've been working on my 7-year afghan for a long time (at least 7 years, but probably longer) using a modular pattern in which you cast on 15 sts, then by using decreases at the center you form a diamond-shaped piece. This creates a curved edge, and I thought it would be interesting to use a similar technique at several spots at the bottom edge of the cardigan, thereby being able to cast on enough stitches to accomodate my ample hips (which my OB/GYN says are "good for childbearing") and then decreasing to the waist. I didn't want to use stockinette for that so I decided to try it in moss stitch. Hence my 2nd swatch (on the left). I didn't get as much curve along the cast on edge, which I decided I could live with, but I wasn't sure I liked the way the decreases turned out. So I tried the panel in reverse stockinette (the middle swatch) - but I really didn't like the decreases in that.

After that, I decided that I had sufficiently swatched, and that I could start to figure out more details... I'll get into that next time.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Recently Completed

Here's a little item I recently finished. I think it's called an Urban Legend scarf. I first started noticing this type of scarf about 6 months ago and was intrigued by how it corkscrewed, so I asked some women who were selling their creations at a craft sale. They said they had gotten the pattern at Needlework Unlimited in Minneapolis. (Now, I won't go on a tirade here regarding copyright laws -- I just hope that they had the permission of the author of the pattern to sell items made from that pattern!) So, I happened to be at Needlework Unlimited one day, and I picked up the pattern brochure, which had several scarf designs in it. Well, I had to wait in line to check out, and while I was waiting (and waiting) I looked at the pattern and realized that I could memorize it, it was so simple. So I put the pattern back & went on my merry way. (O.K., probably not the most ethical thing I've ever done - I think I'll have to go back & buy that pattern booklet to assuage my guilt!)

Anyway, the pattern was a pain in the butt to make (no, I won't divulge the pattern's secret), because I cast on too many stitches on too small needles the first time around, so I had to rip it out (which is not easy with mohair). So when I started over I used much larger needles and cast on less stitches. This time, I ran out of yarn when I was trying to cast off! Ugh! This was very expensive yarn (in the $25+ range for one skein) - hand-dyed mohair with a second strand of rayon, also hand-dyed. After several attempts, what I ended up doing for the cast off row was separating the yarn into it's individual strands and casting off most of the way with one strand at a time; however, I still didn't have enough yarn, so in the middle of the row I had to use another mohair I had in my stash to supplement. And, actually, I probably could have gotten away with just using the stash mohair for the whole row, but that's o.k. I'm happy with it. Of course, it's now in storage until next winter, but that's o.k., too!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Two Washington State Yarn Stores

Yippee! I finally got the photos developed. Next time, I'll make sure that I take my digital camera with me, so I can download photos on the fly rather than having to wait to finish the film.

Anyway, here's my report on the two yarn stores I briefly visited last week in Washington State. The first one, The Twisted Ewe, is located in Port Townsend, Washington, about 1 1/2 hours outside of Seattle. Apparently their website isn't up and working today, because I'm having no luck accessing it, but for future reference their web address is This is a cute, albeit small yarn store. The yarn selection is not vast, but there were some interesting yarns that I had not seen in other stores (sorry, forgot to write the names down). The store is under new ownership - I was there just a day or two after the change. The new owners are a husband and wife team. I spoke to the husband (wish I had written his name down); the wife was on a buying trip. They plan to expand the offerings of the store to include needlepoint. I'll definitely make a follow-up trip later this year to see how things are progressing. Here are some photos:

The other store I visited was Tricoter in Seattle. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was what I call 'The Wall of Color.' Actually, it was 1 1/2 walls, but it was all of these wonderful yarns arranged solely by color. The effect was wonderful, but I found later that it was really hard to find specific yarns in different colorways unless you knew what you were looking for. I wish I had taken a photo of the wall(s)... I do have a slight gripe as well, in that one of the women working in the shop came up to me to see if I needed help, and when I explained I was just looking, she said something along the lines of, "Did you know that we can help you make sweaters that fit?" I found it somewhat condescending, particularly when I said that I felt comfortable doing that myself, and she continued to talk about it. There must be a better way to let people know about that service than to assume people don't know how to make a sweater fit... Otherwise, the employees (owners?) were quite willing to let me take photos for this blog, so here they are:

Sunday, April 09, 2006

New Photo of Me

Well, I still don't have my photographs developed yet. Maybe tomorrow!

In the meantime, I've decided to try to get a photo of me at the top of my blog. Unfortunately with Blogger, in order to put a photo in that portion of the blog, the photo has to come from somewhere on the web already. For some reason, I can't get a URL off of my in order to post it on the blog. So, I'm going to post the photo here first, then get the URL from this post. Strange, eh?

This photo was taken at Disney World in October 2004.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Beginning

Jeez, no photos yet! So, instead of pictures of things I'm working on or essays on my design process, I'm going to tell the story of how I began knitting. First, here's the setup. My mother taught me the basics of knitting when I was probably 11 or 12. We lived on a ranch in Colorado, and it was a wonderful life - horses, cows, sheep (when the coyotes left them alone), pigs, chickens, and lots of dogs. There was only one problem - my stepfather who also happened to be a wife-beater and believed strongly in the "spare the rod, spoil the child" theory of child rearing. But I digress... Anyway, my mom taught me how to do the knit stitch and possibly the purl stitch, but that's about it. I wish I could say that I took to it like a fish to water, but it was more like a cat to water. Nonetheless, it must have had some impact, right?

In 1983, I took off for England in June for a study abroad program at the University of Cambridge. We had a month long course, followed by a 6-week break, then back to school with two more 6-week breaks at Christmas and Easter. During the first break my friend Sarah Craven (who happens to now be the head of the UN Population Fund) and I did the whole Eurorail and hostel tour of Western Europe. We had exciting adventures - my passport case & lots of money were stolen in a laundromat in Paris; a man on our train to Bern, Switzerland gave us some chocolate, then came back later to tell us it was poisoned; we were flashed by a pervert in Bern; we accidentally went to the red-light district in Amsterdam instead of the youth hostel; etc. Anyway, you get the picture.

During our trip, we spent a few days in Interlachen, Switzerland at a youth hostel. One day one of the other patrons pulled out her knitting. She was in her early twenties (or late teens), and she knit all the time. I was really intrigued. I thought to myself, "I know how to knit." HA! But somehow that thought stuck with me until we got back to Cambridge. As soon as I was settled in again there, I found a local yarn store where I bought some yarn and a small, paperback Patons how-to book (which I'm proud to say I still have). I didn't ask for any help at the yarn store. I just went back to the house that I was sharing and re-taught myself.

I got bored really quickly with the scarf I was intending to knit. Then one day at the local book store, I saw this fantastic book of knitting patterns. It was called "Knitting in Vogue" (this would have been British Vogue by the way, not American Vogue which to my knowledge has never carried knitting patterns). A very young Andie McDowell graced the front cover. It was filled with a lot of "Then & Now" patterns - patterns that had been published previously and were now redone in current yarns, etc. I picked out a pattern called "Moss-Stitch Woolly Tunic." O.K. I was probably crazy to pick out a pattern in moss-stitch, but I must say that except for a small mistake in the patterning on the top left side of the front, it turned out pretty well.

And the rest is history... I haven't stopped knitting since. And, I think I've made at least 3 sweaters from that book.

Years later, I learned that I was wrapping my yarn the wrong way on all of my purl stitches, so the stitches became twisted on the purl rows. This is not a problem if you untwist them on the next row (as some people do), but I didn't know to do that. But, you know what, I don't care - and I still wear some of those early sweaters.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

No Photos Yet

Well, I haven't gotten my photos developed yet from my quick trip to Washington State, so you'll have to wait a while yet for my info on the yarn stores I visited.

I started the Sunrise Circle Jacket today. I'm using Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran in a dark blue tweed. I think this will be a fun sweater to knit. Of course, I'm not perfectly on gauge, and because the sweater fronts are constructed in a semi-circular rather than a horizontal manner, I'm just hoping that I've picked the right size to do. I think my sweater will end up slightly larger than the size I've chosen to knit, but that should be o.k. I'll post some photos of my progess as I move through the sweater.

I've also been thinking about how to make this blog more interesting. These are some of my ideas:
1) Design a sweater for the Bendigo cotton and post photos and drawings and caculations to give you an idea of my own design process;
2) Tell you my story of how I came to knit;
3) Describe "whapping" (I bet you're intrigued, but you're going to have to wait on that one) ;
4) Explain the one little trick that I know that will save much pain and anguish when doing cable patterns or other patterns that repeat every x rows (and who I learned it from);
5) Review the blogs that I've been listening to;
6) Tell about my local guild - and why I haven't been going much lately;
7) Photos and review of the upcoming Minnesota Knitter's Guild one day workshop, the Yarnover.

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I can't believe I haven't posted anything in over a week! I haven't been knitting much either, but I have been thinking alot about knitting. I'm still not sure what to knit on next. I've been fiddling with my Bendigo Woolen Mills cotton that I've had in my stash for years, but I've come to the conclusion that in order to use it I will have to design something, and unfortunately, I just don't feel I have the time right now to do that. As for the Bamboo yarn, I'm still undecided about whether to continue with the sweater I started or to make a simple t-shirt (side-to-side with a little waist shaping) instead. And, finally, I arrived home yesterday from Washington state to find a box of yarn from Webs. This is the yarn that I plan to use for the Sunrise Circle Jacket from the Interweave Knits website. Here's a picture of the sweater:

So, I need to decide soon which sweater to knit. Of course, I have my 5 year afghan to finish (see it at my website), plus a pair of socks on the needles, and a scarf that just needs binding off.

As mentioned above, I just returned from Washington state - a quick trip to drop my oldest son off at Gray Wolf Ranch. I was lucky enough to have some time to visit a couple of yarn stores. I'll tell you all about them tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Home Again - SIGH!

We got back on Saturday night after a lovely, albeit chilly, week in the panhandle of Florida. I have no tan (not that I ever tan anyway), and later this week it will be almost as warm here in Minnesota as it was in Florida, but I'm not complaining.

I'm in a bit of a knitting slump. I started work on the VK (Vogue Knitting) sweater I spoke about a few posts ago with the yarn that I pictured (Bamboo), but I'm just not sure I like the overall effect. I love the yarn, and I love the pattern. I'm just not sure I love them together. I may take the yarn and switch it to a short sleeve t-shirt in a garter ridge (3 rows K, one row P) done side to side. I think it would look really great like that. Then I'll still have to find another yarn to make the VK sweater. I'm starting to think a solid or more subtle variegated yarn would be better and possibly something with a little more loft. I looked at one of my local yarn stores, The Yarnery, today, but I didn't see anything that I loved for the sweater. I'll keep you posted...

My home computer is on the blink again. The computer fix-it place says the motherboard is fried, so they're replacing it. I have no idea how long it will take, but my posts will be somewhat infrequent until it's up and running again... More knitting time!

Question: Does anyone out there belong to the Disney Vacation Club? I'd like any opinions you might have. Thanks.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On Vacation

I've been in beautiful Northwest Florida since last Saturday. I am sad to say that I haven't gotten much knitting done, but I've been enjoying riding bikes around the cute little communities of Water Color and Seaside. Seaside is where the movie "The Truman Show" with Jim Carey was filmed. It's an adorable little town. We've been vacationing here for 5 years, and I love it! Our favorite haunts are Roly Poly (a sandwich place), Bears at the Beach (a make your own stuffed animal store) and Fired Up (a ceramics studio where you paint and they bake). It's been a little cool here, so I haven't ventured out on the beach much. But we're staying in Water Color and the pools are heated here, so I have gone swimming a couple of times. We also have a ping-pong table in the house we're renting, so I've been doing a bit of that. And I'm reading - The Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory - which I highly recommend.

I'm still knitting on the modular sweater from Vogue Knitting. The first night we were here I knitted on it a little bit, but the next day our relatives started arriving (there are 18 of us here now in four different houses) and I haven't picked it up since then. Maybe tonight.

More when I return from Florida!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bad Blogger, Bad Blogger

Well, I've only had my blog for a few weeks, and already I'm not posting anything for days on end. Of course, I do have a good excuse! I've been attending the Parent Program at Hazelden Center for Youth and Families. My oldest son has been in a 28-day treatment program there, and this was a way for my husband and me to find out more about the Twelve Steps and his recovery and our role in it. It was a fantastic - but very draining - experience.

I thought I would get a lot of knitting done during the program, but alas I only finished a very easy scarf. I think it's called an Urban Legend scarf, although I'm not positive. I looked at a pattern at Needlework Unlimited briefly once, then just winged it at home. It is made out of some funky, multi-strand, hand-painted yarn (sorry, didn't keep the ball band). Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn as I was casting off today, so I'm going to have to take out the cast off edge and re-cast off with a contrasting yarn. I'll have to think about it... I also worked a bit on a knitted bath mitt as a sample for my website. I wrote the pattern years ago for a knit list gift exchange, put I don't have a photo of the original. I should have that done in a few days. I'll post pictures of both items as soon as I can.

I'm leaving for vacation in three days. In the meantime, I will try really hard to post at least daily!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Feeling Better

Well, I'm feeling a bit better today. No more fever anyway. Still a bit groggy and not eating much, but on the mend I'd say... Mostly over the last few days I've slept and read a bit and knitted even less. I started a book that I'd highly recommend called, "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" by Dr. Amen (can't remember the first name - I'll look it up). This doctor has been studying SPECT scans of brains and has identified certain abnormalities of the brain that correlate to mental illness. The great thing about it is that it allows doctors to prescribe medications and behavioral modifications in a more precise manner. I've been reading it because my oldest son (15) has some mental health issues, but the amazing thing is that I think I may have some answers for myself regarding my compulsive eating. I've said for many years to doctors & therapists that when I get a food thought or weight thought or fat thought in my head, I can't let go of it. It's very frustrating, because I can tell myself to stop or ignore it, but I just can't. Now, I realize that I have a problem that can be corrected and that I'm not a bad person! Wow, what a relief!... I'll update you when I finally have a chance to put some of Dr. Amen's "prescriptions" in practice.

I have started swatching for my next project, a lightweight sweater from the Spring/Summer 2004 issue of Vogue Knitting, designed by Barbara Venishnick.
Here's a photo of the yarn & my swatches.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sick, Sick, Sick

I've got the flu... I feel terrible... I've tried to do some knitting, but I just can't get much accomplished... Although I did finish the Knitting Olympics project, and it looks pretty good. Also, my website is finally up and running at I hope to add some patterns to it over time as well as lots more photos... In the meantime, I think sleep sounds really good right now.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Back in the Saddle

I wasn't able to write yesterday, but I took these photos of my Knitting Olympics sweater on Thursday night and altough I'm further than this now, I thought you might like to see my progress.
You can see that the sleeve edgings are done. (Of course they've been done since Monday - it's the body edging I'm having problems with.) The good news is I'm almost done now! Just one last half round of edging to go...

Weight Watchers has not been going well the last couple of days. I know that I really start to crave sweets when I'm under stress, and I've been at some functions over the last couple of days that have caused a bit of stress for me, and as usual I've turned to food. I know that there are other things that help me, it's just hard to turn to them when I'm stressed out. Deep breathing/medidation helps as does going for a walk or knitting or reading... Also, I have to be gentle on myself when I overeat/binge. I realized today that it's kind of like knitting for me. I like knitting not only for the end product, but also because of the process. It doesn't tear me up to rip something back because of a mistake, and a binge for me is like a mistake in my knitting that I've had to rip out. Do I then through in the towel? No. I pick up my kitting needles (or, in this case, my food plan) and I keep going from where I stopped. So that's the plan. Tomorrow's a new day, and I can do it!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rippit, Rippit Good

ARGH! I hate crochet. O.K., that's probably going overboard, but I hated the edging on the body of my Knitting Olympics project, so I ripped it out last night. I've started it again, but it's going to be another day before the darn thing is done... I just want to move on. Or get back to knitting my vest or my 5 year (7 year?) afghan. Or maybe do a little beading. Anything other than this darn edging... I did receive a certificate (sans my name) for participating in the Knitting Olympics. I'd love to show it to you, but Blogger isn't accepting it right now.

I've had 3 good days on plan with Weight Watchers. After struggling for two months with sticking to the plan, this seems like a miracle. And, I'm going to be fine today, because I had a 45 minute class at National Karate in St. Paul. Tough class - my thighs were burning half way through. But it was a good one.

I wish I could figure out how to put buttons on the side bar of things that I would love people to know about - like knitting podcasts. The one I like the most is Cast-On with Brenda Dayne. She's got a great sense of humor and a lovely, homey speaking style. Check her podcast out.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Detail of the Back

 Posted by Picasa

Another Photo

Here's a photo of the front of the sweater. I wear it with an orange shirt to pick up the little bits of orange/rust color around the edge of the button & neck bands. It looks kind of odd in the picture, but it works well in reality. Posted by Picasa

One of the things I really dislike about traditional Norwegian sweaters is the drop shoulder shaping. It doesn't look good on me. I have shoulders that slope quite a bit, and I've discovered that (surprise!) set-in sleeves look better on me. Next time...

Dale of Norway Sweater

Here are some photos of a Dale of Norway sweater I made in 2004. It's a bit big on me now because I've lost some weight, but I still wear it. (I guess one of the benefits of losing weight is that I can make smaller sweaters - less time intensive).

The sweater was made out of Dale's Heilo (100% wool) from a pattern from one of their books. I'll have to look up which book it was from.

I still haven't figured out how to put more than one photo in a post, so this will have to come out as several posts. Posted by Picasa

Knitting Olympics saga continued

Well, I stayed at home last night to work on my Knitting Olympics project - instead of going to see Brokeback Mountain which I really wanted to do. I got most of the trim done, but it's still not finished. Tonight is the night! I swear! The problem is that the trim is crochet, and I'm just not a great crocheter. I can knit up a storm. Recently I was sitting in a waiting room at a doctor's office, and I was knitting (on the Knitting Olympics) project and reading a magazine and talking to my husband when necessary, but I couldn't even work on the crochet trim last night while I watched t.v. I know it will get done, but I feel like a bit of a failure for not having finished by the time the flame went out at the Olympics. Of course, I suppose I'm a bit like the athletes who came in last in their events. At least they made it to the Olympics and competed. And so did I!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Good to Me

I was just reading a post on another blog at by a woman who sounds very similar to me - wants to lose weight, berates herself for not succeeding and for bingeing, etc. It was so sad, because this woman looks beautiful in her picture, and everything she said just reminded me of myself. It was a real eye opener. How often do negative thoughts run through my head? And I just let them. But when someone else talks the same way about themselves, I want to wrap them in a big hug and tell them it's not true... That's pretty much what my husband does to me whenever I get into one of my funks. Which is where I've been for the past couple of months... Luckily, I've done well with Weight Watchers yesterday and today so far, and I had a great karate class today, so I'm feeling good about myself. I know that I always feel better, emotionally as well as physically, when I exercise and eat well. So WHY is it so dang hard to keep doing it?

I'm still not finished with my Knitting Olympics project! SIGH! I can't decide if I should go see a movie tonight (I haven't done that in ages) or if I should stay home and try to finish the project. I guess I should stay home. But will I? I also have to figure out how to get some more photos on this blog, and some more interesting things. It's pretty dull at this point.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Photo of Me

Here's a photo of me - no makeup, on a Sunday morning while I'm doing my series of puzzles (Sudoku, cryptoquip, and two crosswords - New York Times and another one). In other words, I wasn't planning on having my photo taken! Posted by Picasa

How I'm Doing Today

So far I'm o.k. with WW today. Of course, my difficult time doesn't usually come until later in the afternoon when I pick up the kids from school. I vow to not eat outside of my plan today, though! I do the Flex (or points) plan online. I just don't have time right now to go to meetings, and the online system is pretty simple.

Tonight I'm going to karate class - sparring - not my favorite, but I have to go in order to get my black belt. At least it's really good exercise. I take classes at National Karate ( in St. Paul, Minnesota. I highly recommend karate to everyone. The most amazing thing to me is how good my balance is now compared to what it was before I started taking classes 3 1/2 years ago.

No knitting yet today, although I did sew a few ends in on my Knitting Olympics sweater while the kids were at the orthodontist this morning.

A New Me

This is my first blog, so please be patient. Right now I have two main things I want to disucss in this blog -- this may change! The first is knitting and the second is personal fitness.

I am an avid knitter. I've been working on a project for the Knitting Olympics. I got all of the knitting and sewing up done before the Closing Ceremonies were over last night, but I still have the trim to do - crochet - not my strong suit! I hope to finish the project today, and I'll post a photo as soon as I can.

The personal fitness area is the difficult one right now. Back in September 2005 I joined Weight Watchers (WW) to lose 50 lbs. I still can't believe I needed to lose 50 lbs. I had lots of success at first, so by the end of December I had lost 27 lbs. But due to some very stressful times, I turned to food to cope, and now I've gained 11 lbs. back. I'm recommitting today though, and I'm hoping that blogging about it will give me an added incentive to continue... I also think of exercise as part of my fitness. I currently do karate 3-4 times per week (I'm a brown belt with a black stripe), and I power walk several times each week.

More later...