Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Usually I have more self control and knit-scipline than this. I can pick one or two projects and work at them diligently. I may have yearnings after other patterns and yarns, but I’m able to stay committed to the  ones I have chosen.

Not this spring. And it’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the designers. If they didn’t create such tempting patterns I wouldn’t have fallen into this sorry, schizo-knittic state.

Culprit #1: Julie Turjoman

Julie Turjoman just came out with a glorious set of summer-friendly patterns: Knits That Breathe: 12 Breezy Projects To Keep You Cool.  I can’t say enough positive things about this collection. I can imagine living in these tanks, tees and tunics all summer long. I can imagine actually being comfortable in my knitwear in August. How often can one really say that? 

The patterns use an outstanding variety of warm-weather fibers: linen, cotton, bamboo and silk, tencel, and even milk whey/soy. My favorite is Still Waters, a breezy tee in sport-weight linen. The original pattern calls for Claudia Handpainted Yarns Linen, but I’m going to try using some Louet Euroflax Sport from my stash.

Still Waters. Photo used with permission. Pattern by Julie Turjoman. Photo by Zoë Lonergan.

Culprit #2: Jean Chung

The designs in Knitscene are sometimes a little too “trendy” for me. I am leery of knitting a top that will be out of fashion by the time I’m done knitting it. But the Summer 2014 issue is different. It’s full of quirky interesting patterns that are just…me. Designer Jean Chung is responsible for one of them: Austin Tee.

Photo used with permission. Pattern by Jean Chung. Photo copyright Knitscene/Harper Point.

I was attracted to this tee because of the lovely lace. So many of the summer tops are dominated by large sections of stockinette. Sometimes I need something a little more stimulating. This tee is just the ticket. I’m knitting this one in Classic Elite Yarns Cerro, a sumptuous pima cotton/alpaca blend. I can’t wait until this tee is done. I wish I were wearing it now.

Culprit #3:  Bristol Ivy

Here’s another pattern from the Summer 2014 issue of Knitscene: Linum Tee, by Bristol Ivy.  I’m totally, irrevocably in love with this pattern, like I’m a teenage girl and this top is a sparkly vampire.

Linum Tee by Bristol Ivy. Copyright Knitscene/Harper Point. Used with permission.

This top just gets me. The asymmetrical lace panel at the top says, “hey, I’m creative and adventurous and I make my own rules.” The solid stockinette body says, “you can wear me to work without violating dress code.” I haven’t cast this one on yet, but I will just as soon as I can get my hands on some fingering weight linen or a suitable substitute.  My LYS doesn’t have anything quite right in stock and I want to use just the right thing. Soon, soon Linum shall be mine.

Culprit #4: Klever Knits

I saw this elegant tank on KleverKnits blog and was instantly enchanted. The original is knitted in DK weight cotton, but I imagined an alternate version knitted in purple Hempathy. I’ve been dying to try Hempathy in a pattern and here’s the perfect opportunity.

Sterling Peplum by Klever Knits Used with permission.

I’ll be casting this one on as soon as my yarn arrives in the mail.

Culprit#5: Rusty Baker

I always look forward to the seasonal knitwear collections from HollaKnits. They’re not afraid to be edgy, not even a little bit. I love the young, hip, urban vibe to their designs. The latest collection features Stonybrook Top, a spunky, funky design I can’t help but love.

Stoney Brook Top by Rusty Baker. Used with permission

I hear mesh is going to be all the rage this season. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’ve never been a big fan of mesh. But I could get behind mesh it looks like this. This is definitely a top you need to wear with a tank underneath. The original was knitted in a woolen yarn, but I think I would choose something different to lighten it up. I’ll have to search my stash.

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Nearly 10 years ago, I started receiving emails from an unknown family of Dorans (my last name). The emails typically consisted of tired religious jokes of the “Two Coffees in Heaven” variety. Harmless things, really: the sort of emails that are tolerated with modest annoyance when they come from your own relatives. But when such emails come from strangers… and when those strangers don’t understand the difference between Reply and Reply All…

I couldn’t hit the delete key fast enough.

After a respectable length of time, and after receiving several more misdirected emails (among them “The Biker and the Bridge” and video called “Turkey Rap”), I finally felt compelled to reach out to the Doran family to let them know of their error. This happened after receiving a birthday e-card from the family patriarch wishing his daughter (also named Caitlin Doran) a happy birthday.

I hit “reply“  (not reply all) and wrote a politely worded email to the sender letting  them know of their error and asking them to take me off the family mailing list.

Nothing happened for a little while. Then I received another email:

Subject Line: “Ya Gotta Love Jan.”

My message had not gotten through.

So I sent another politely worded email. Then, after a while, I sent a not-so-politely worded email. That one got a response. Sadly, I no longer have a copy of that email, but if I recall correctly, the upshot of their response was “Why don’t you just block our emails?”

Missing the point, weren’t they?

After that, I gave up. There was no point in asking them to remedy their email list. Instead, I set up a few email filters. These helped a little bit, but oftentimes emails still snuck through anyway.

Every few weeks a new email would arrive from this unknown Doran clan. And usually I hit delete. Of the few that survive in my inbox, some include:

Test: How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Hint: you have to take the giraffe out first.

Easy and Low Calorie Slow Cooker Recipes  – Forwarded with a sweet note from the family patriarch   I thought you would be interested in this article. Always thinking of you sweet heart.    DAD”

Aww that’s sweet. It would be even sweeter if Dad bothered to remember his daughter’s real email address.

Following that I received some more concerning emails:

An email about repayment of nursing school loans, forwarded from “Dad” to his daughter:

Caitlin, Here`s some info I was looking into for your students loans, Maybe it`s something you should check out. Much love an Happy Birthday Always dad.

Oh geez, I hope she didn’t need that.  I hope that wasn’t his only birthday message. Tied to something about student loans. How depressing.

A Travel Reservation email, with a forwarded message from “Dadner”:  In the future pls schedule non stop from point A to point B..  Less chance of problems with take off an landing an take off again. This is something I learned from 911… Be safe ,Have fun & learn alot . lv you very very much    Dadner

With the information in that email I could have tracked the other Caitlin down at JFK before she boarded her flight to Atlanta. I resisted the temptation.

For Christians Everywhere: A tirade about the National Day of Prayer and how horrible it was that Obama had prayed with Muslims. Infidels!

I was starting to form a disturbing picture of this family. And I began to wonder how my Caitlin-counterpart felt about all of this. Does she enjoy rapping turkeys and paranoid anti-Muslim screeds? Or does she hunker down at her nursing job, working hard to pay off her student loans, quietly hitting delete when her Dad sends something embarrassing?

Through all of this, I thought I was the lone victim of this Doran family’s accidental email largess. I was resigned. Then, last Saturday, I received a delightful surprise in my inbox:

Email from Susan Doran. April 12, 2014:

To my undoubtedly distant cousin DORANS — please take me off your email lists.  I am not the Susan Doran you think I am –not that I am leading a double life or something: I literally am NOT your family member. I live in San Francisco, and don’t know any all yall and don’t want to receive your jokes anyone…n’est ce pas. See, that proves I am not a Susan Doran you know….YOUR Susan Doran would never be as pretentious as the throw a French phrase into an email. Seriously, tho—wrong SD.  And if the “real” (tho you-all) Susan Doran is this therightsdoran@hotmail.com please pipe up and tell your fam to cease and desist sending emails to the American with the USA in the middle of her name (sUSAn).

thank you all — and, um, Éirinn go brách, etc

ps – “your” Susan Doran also is not thewrongsusan@gmail.com or @yahoo or even @aol — them’s also all me.

Hah! This is awesome! And clearly sent by somebody who has been put-upon for a while. Gloriously sarcastic. I’m not alone. Oh Joy!

But wait, there was more. A reply all  from the Dorans:

Email from Sue Doran. April 12, 2014:

Dear Susan, 

I realize finding oneself on the receiving end of an email list on which one neither belongs nor enjoys, might be slightly irritating, especially if you don’t have a life and subsequently spend all your time checking your email. That said, I am certain we will do our best to fix the email address typo that erroneously included you on the list. We apologize for any inconvenience this unintentional typo may have caused you. Nonetheless, I must say, given the sarcastic tone of your email, one might think you were suggesting we are simpletons. This mistake on your part, is representative of the chauvinistic arrogance insecure people often rely on to cope. Although your intentional sarcasm was meant to insult and cannot be interpreted as a typo, it is best to say, c’est la vie, when one encounters such  pretentiousness as yours. I leave you with another Gaelic  phrase which I send in all earnestness,

Pog Mo Thoin!

Sue Doran

For the record, “Pog Mo Thoin” is Gaelic for “Kiss My Ass.”

Oh enraged, violated dignity. Squee!

And then a few minutes later, there was more. Someone new was wading into the fray:

Email from Mike Doran, April 12, 2014:


My name is Mike Doran and I too am not part of your family (to my knowledge, anyway.)

I have asked multiple times to be removed from this list, but maybe this attempt will do the trick. 

 Sorry, but I don’t have any fancy phrases to conclude my email with. 

 Have a good day,


I couldn’t not pile on at this point. I’m not, like, St. Patrick, or something.

I hit “Reply all.”

Email from Caitlin Doran, April 12, 2014:

I’m not the Caitlin Doran they think I am either. I’ve been trying to get off this list for more than five years. Not sure how long. I try to set up email filters, but these emails tend to sneak through anyway. I don’t want to set anything up that’s so strict it filters out emails from real family. 

 Please. After all this time and numerous emails from me and from others (apparently), can you please edit your family distribution list? I don’t want to be nasty about it, but it really is inconsiderate for you to ignore our requests. 

 I gave up asking a couple of years ago and just started hitting delete. But there must be some other Caitlin out there who’s not getting these emails 


 Caitlin (the other one)

I suspected that might have been the end of it, but I heard back from Mike almost immediately. He was kind enough not to hit Reply All. I would have had no such compunction.

Email from Mike Doran

Ahahaha knowing that I’m not alone with this crap made my day. =) You’re not from the SF area too, are you? That would be epic. 

 Have a good one

No, dear Mike Doran, I am not from San Francisco. I am from Minnesota. More’s the pity. If I were from SF we could meet up at a local pub and trade email war stories while downing pints of Guinness and shouting Éirinn go brách, Et cetera” the rallying cry of wronged Doran souls everywhere.

After three emails from three different wronged Dorans, I am hoping this errant Doran family will finally be motivated to edit its family email list.

I hope for this fervently. And yet, another part of me is yearning for another hit of Doran wackiness. I’ve gotten to know this family over the last decade. I’d like to find out how my opposite number is doing, and if she ever wonders why her father never sends her birthday cards.

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It's Stanley's turn to have his say.

It’s Stanley’s turn to have his say.

Why should you donate to animal shelters, like Paws and Claws? It’s pretty simple. Donations make sure the cats and dogs at the shelter get food and water, blankets and toys. And, most importantly, they get new homes–other people’s homes.

My mom has a problem. She thinks it’s her job to “save” all the homeless critters in the world. And to do this she wants to bring them onto my territory. She has already brought one such interloper into my domain. After three years I’ve learned to tolerate his presence sharing my couch, looking out my windows, sniffing my butt. But I won’t put up with any more. One annoying little brother is more than enough.


He's totally on my half of the couch.

He’s totally on my half of the couch.

So please, for the love of little furry critters, donate to your local animal shelter. Help those cats and dogs stay safe and well and find good homes. Other people’s homes. 

Mom, he's touching me!

Mom, he’s touching me!

My mom has put together a little contest offering one of her hand knit shawls in a prize drawing for people who donate to Paws and Claws or their local animal shelter. I think you should support this because, while knitting this shawl, she gave me hours of lap time. She even let me bat at the yarn a little bit.

Totally a worthy cause.

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Magazine exchanges are officially the awesome.

Last month, I wrote a post On Not Hoarding Crafting Magazines. I vowed not to let my home turn into a warren of knitting publications. I committed myself to a regular routine of magazine purging, tossing out or giving away the flotsam.

Then my blog-pal Carina of Hakelmonster blog proposed a  crafting magazine swap.

Ooh, what a good idea!

Now, I know what you’re going to say: this doesn’t really promote the cause of reducing the volume of magazines I have in my home. Hoarding fail. You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.

But our swap wasn’t really about jettisoning unwanted reading materials. It was about sharing and cultural exchange. I sent Carina a pile of Knitscene, Interweave Knits, and Piecework that are less common where she lives. In exchange, she sent me a stack of German language publications we almost never see on my side of the pond.



In addition, we each sent each other a couple of hanks of local-ish yarn. Bonus!!

I also slipped in a  list of crazy Minnesota laws

I’m excited to start flipping through these magazines. I can already tell that the fashion aesthetic is a little different from what I’m used to, although part of that could be that some of these magazines are a few years old.

Do I read German? No. But I’ll have fun asking my husband to help me puzzle through them with his high school German. And if I get really desperate, I’ll ask my mother-in-law for help (she used to teach German in the public schools).


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There’s a shelter pet out there who wants to meet you

I know because I have two shelter cats at home. They cuddle with me when I have a cold, defend our domain from crows and ladybugs, and in general do everything they can to be members of the pride.

Orion, a shy, cuddle-monkey we adopted from Paws and Claws three years ago.

Orion, a shy cuddle-monkey we adopted from Paws and Claws three years ago.

I love pet adoption and I love animals. But I can’t take them all home, and neither can you. That’s why animal shelters, like my local Paws and Claws animal shelter, are so important. They have the will and the means to do what no individual can accomplish. They make it their mission to:

  • Rescue and care for lost or abandoned animals
  • Seek adoptive homes
  • Promote responsible companion animal care.

They make the world a better place.

Enter to win this hand-knitted shawl by making a donation to your local animal shelter

I decided I wanted to do something to give back to my local animal shelter through my love of knitting. And I wanted to give other people a chance to take part to help make a greater impact.

So I decided to knit a shawl. And I’m offering that shawl in a prize drawing for people who choose to join me in supporting animal shelters.

About the shawl

This colorful, stylish shawl was hand-knitted by me using a combination of local fibers:

Shawl draped

shawl on bushes

The pattern is Color Affection by Veera Välimäki. The shawl took approximately 20-30 hours to knit. It would make a gorgeous accessory for you, or for someone special in your life.

How to enter the shawl drawing

1) Make a donation to your local animal shelter. Here’s a link to my local Paws and Claws animal shelter donation page.

2) Leave a comment. Come back to this blog post and leave a comment telling me:

  • You made a donation to an animal shelter.  You don’t have to tell me how much.
  • Tell me about the intended recipient of the shawl (Will it be for you? You mom? Your dentist?). Alternatively, tell me a cute pet story.

I’m doing this on the honor system, however I reserve the right to disqualify any entry that doesn’t follow the rules or that I deem “fishy.”

Entries will be accepted April 8-May 6, 2014.  There will be one entry per person, no matter how much you choose to donate. The winner will be drawn randomly using a random number generator. I will contact the winner via email and will announce the winner here on this blog the week of May 6, 2014.

This is a prize drawing where everybody wins

Even if you don’t win the shawl, you’ll still win because you donated money that will help companion animals in need. Animals like:

  • Good-Time Charlie, who wants to run, and jump, and play, and lick your face, all at once.
  • Harley, a charming girl who enjoys drinking from the faucet

Your entry and donation will make a difference, no matter what.

Other ways you can help

If you don’t wish to participate in the drawing, you can still contribute to this campaign. Tell your friends. Share a link on Facebook.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Woopi, a cat currently available for adoption at Paws and Claws (as of 4/3/14)

Woopi, a cat currently available for adoption at Paws and Claws (as of 4/3/14)

And if you have animal companions at home, give them a scritch for me.

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For the most part, I consider myself a process knitter. I revel in the feel of the yarn between my fingers. I enjoy the mini-puzzles that patterns present to me. I lose myself in the rhythm of stitch upon stitch. I even draw the process out by making my own yarn.

Occasionally, though, the urge to knit a specific object takes hold and spreads, like a rash. I am consumed with desire for a particular knitted object and I will endure almost any amount of annoyance, boredom, or psychological discomfort to obtain it. The most recent example is this lovely little top:

PatternFolded by Veera Välimäki

Mods: I added three extra decrease rows to the neckline. I have narrow-ish shoulders and wide necklines tend to slip off. Very annoying.

It’s a light-weight sweater in a very flattering shape. But apart from the hem and cuffs, and those little pleats at the bust, it’s all stockinette. And it’s in fingering weight yarn.

So much stockinette. Oh lord, so much stockinette.

I knitted this top with determination until I made it to the sleeves (it’s knit from the bottom up). Then I couldn’t take it anymore. I put Folded away for a couple of months and proceed to treat my stockinette stupor with more stimulating projects:  two lace shawls, a sweater and a Color Affection.  Eventually, my desire for the knitted object resurfaced. I picked up and knitted the interminable sleeves, then powered through the yoke.

The only thing that saved my sanity was the yarn. I chose Rowan Fine Art 314, a lively purple sock yarn with built in striping. The resulting zigzags in my sweater turned out very nicely: they make it lively and add a lot of visual interest to an otherwise plain garment. Heaven knows what would have happened to me, or to the sweater, if I had chosen a solid colorway.


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Probing is such a drag. I’m sure you all agree.

One minute you’re sitting on the couch, your favorite Jane Austen movie playing in the back ground, your knitting needles clicking away… and then you feel a slight twinge. It’s a strange sensation, like a disembodied finger poking you in the temporal cortex.

“Hey you,” A voice says in your mind. “Yeah, you. Remember me? I’m that sweater you started four months ago. You dropped me to work on that stupid Color Affection shawl then never picked me up again. You were too sissy to cast on my sleeves cause they were too much work. Oh poor baby. So much stockinette.”

Yep, that’s a UFO (unfinished object). And it’s probing you.

It is unknown if there are any adverse effects of UFO probing over time.

Some subjects report that it is possible to become inured to the sensation. With practice, these subjects report that they can tolerate probing  from multiple UFO sources with no discernible mental or emotional disturbance. 

Other subjects report feelings of anxiety and guilt that build over time. Some subjects adopt coping mechanisms to decrease exposure to probing. These may include:

  • Isolating UFOs outside of normal sensory range (e.g., hiding them in a closet)
  • Establishment of false priority hierarchies (e.g., Christmas is only 9 months away, I had better get started on my gift knitting now)
  • Adoption of superstitious beliefs justifying avoidance (e.g., this sweater is cursed)

 When these coping mechanisms fail, subjects frequently adopt a fight or flight response.

In recent months, my UFO probing experiences have become increasingly uncomfortable. At one time or another I have adopted all of the coping strategies above, and more besides. 

But not this time. I’m proud to report that I have begun a successful campaign to search out and destroy…errr…complete my UFOs. Once  I complete them, they can’t probe me any more.

So far I’ve completed one fingering weight sweater (it needed a yoke) and have picked up a lace weight cardigan that still needs sleeves and some trim. Next comes a stuffed toy languishing for want of a  head. Little Noodle, your head is mine!


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My sheep to sweater project is complete.


And there’s still snow on the ground.

Double Woot!

Here are some photos of Drusilla, my trusty knit-wear assistant, modeling my new sweater.

Pattern: Greenwood Pullover by Ann-Marie Jackson

Fiber: Texel wool, undyed.

Fiber prep: Hand-washed, flicked (some of it), and hand-carded.

Spinning: Hand-spun supported long-draw (mostly). Two-ply. No idea about twists per inch, etc… I think there are “enough” and I guess I’ll leave it at that.

I started with 1,480 yards of mostly-worsted weight yarn. I probably used about 1,100 yards for the sweater. The rest is leftovers (which will make a great hat) or was used in swatching.

This sweater is very light-weight and remarkably non-scratchy. I wore it while doing errands this morning. I wanted to show off my sweater to everyone I met: “See this awesome sweater? This used to be  a fleece until two months ago when I spun it, then knitted it. I am a fiber goddess.”

This sheep to sweater process was so rewarding. I’m going to do it again and again.

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I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. It was pointed out to me (sorry Mom) that I teased you all about my choice of what to do with my handspun Texel yarn, even asked you to help me choose a pattern, and then just left it hanging.

Mom is right, it’s very rude to build up suspense like that, and then to spend my next three posts talking about hoarding knitting magazines, knitted toys I may or may not ever actually knit, and a completely unrelated shawl project.

Let me make up for it now. The winner of the sweater contest was: Greenwood by Ann-Marie Jackson.

This sweater is knitted in two halves, sideways. Then you sew the halves together and knit on cuffs, hem and a droopy collar. Right now, I’m blocking the main body of the sweater.

I have really enjoyed this pattern. It’s remarkably easy to  knit. And the little stripes made sewing-up much easier. I had little visual cues to help me along at five-stitch intervals.

My handspun yarn has behaved extremely well throughout. There are only a few tiny areas where the yarn is a bit on the thin side. I’ll never notice those when I wear this. I love the loft and lightness of this sweater in a long-draw, woolen-spun yarn. Hardly any weight at all. Such a difference from the worsted yarns I usually spin.

More on this sweater soon. I have a feeling it will be done in no time–maybe even before all the snow is gone. It’s in the 40′s F outside today and there are puddles everywhere. All morning I have been hearing icicles falling off the roof with loud thuds. I’m knitting against the clock.

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Last night at knit group, my friend K brought in a small stack of crafting magazines to give away. “I’ve read them,” she said, “and I’m done with them now.”

In her stack was the recent “Red” issue of Piecework and the Spring 2014 issue of Interweave Knits. I snapped up Piecework immediately (I love the historical articles) and would have contended for the other…except I already had my own copy at home.

Piecework March/April 2014

Interweave Knits, Spring 2014

It’s very hard to bring myself to give away crafting magazines. Each one is full of project ideas, technique instructions, gorgeous pictures, and interesting stories. In giving one of my precious magazines away, I feel I am giving away the ideas, beauty and learning that are inside them too.

This is how one becomes a hoarder. Simple objects become engorged with meaning and emotion and you lose your ability to treat them like objects any more.

I’ve watched far too many episodes of Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive to ever let this happen to me.

Bettmann / CORBIS An image of one of the rooms in the junk-filled Collyer Mansion in Manhattan, home of Langley Collyer, a compulsive hoarder. Read more: Hoarding: How Collecting Stuff Can Destroy Your Life – TIME

I won’t let this happen to me. However painful it might be, I must follow in K’s footsteps. I must make a habit of purging my magazines on a regular basis. When new magazines come in each quarter (most are quarterly) I shall review my collection and choose which ones must go. I  must let go of my fear that, someday, I will regret the loss of a magazine, that there will be some pattern or some article in it I would have found valuable, if only I hadn’t jettisoned it in a fit of anti-hoarding fever.

No single magazine is worth it.

Besides, if I really need the magazine back again, I can download a copy to my iPad. That doesn’t take any physical space at all…

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