Fit to Flatter and 365 Days

My special thanks to all who helped me decide what finished picture to send to the Loopy Ewe in my last post.  Sometimes you just need that little extra help! I am pretty excited about a new Craftsy Class I signed up for by Amy Herzog.  It is called Knit to Flatter and it coincides with her new book under the same name, Knit to Flatter.  Ms. Herzog is an excellent teacher and just listening to her first lesson makes you already start to feel comfortable in your own skin.  She shares about the greatest gift she ever gave herself, 365 self-portraits that she took of herself and newborn son to chronicle his first year.  Something magical happened to her through that process and she was able to appreciate the assets of her appearance rather than looking for things she did not like about her physique.  Sounds great to me!  Today I start my own 365 day journey of self-photographs!

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The course is designed to help you knit sweaters that make you look and feel great.  After analyzing your own body shape by taking a photograph and drawing lines in appropriate places, Ms. Herzog helps you determine which category you fit into and then demonstrates which styles look best on your type.  After listening to her I immediately realized why I didn’t wear some of the beautiful Aran sweaters that I have knit – yep, they just sit in the closet because I feel dumpy when I wear them.  But, now I know why!  Excellent book and even more excellent course! It just so happened that the challenge on the Digital Photography School site was to take a Bokeh-Portrait.   We all want those beautiful portraits where our subject is in focus and the background is soft and not distracting. In this week’s assignment we were not to be worried about obtaining the traditional round bokeh as it is generally defined, but rather an out of focus look. Not having any people around to model for me I started with my Old Country Rose Teddy Bear. photo-11Then my Westie went absolutely crazy barking at the teddy bear not understanding what it was or why I was taking a picture of it so I decided to take one of her…. photo-10even though her whiskers are all stained with spaghetti sauce and she definitely needs a trim job.  And then I remembered that today was the day I had told myself I would start my 365 Days self-portrait project and I felt guilty so I snapped a couple shots of me….

photo-8And then I uploaded it to my iPad and immediately thought, “Oh my, you have absolutely no make-up on” and ‘Oh my, your roots are showing and they are darker than your hair and why did you go with such a red color’ and ‘Oh my, your face is so round and pudgy I just want to pinch your cheeks just like I do with round pudgy babies…..’ and then I said, ‘STOP THAT!’

In all of these photographs I set my aperture to the lowest it would go f/2.8.  The smallest aperture you can get will give you that ‘bokeh’ effect and will blue the background.  It has been a while since I kept up with the weekly challenges on the Digital Photography School but I am going to try to be better about it, especially since I really am going to attempt this 365 Day project.  If you are interested in photography you may want to hop right on over to DPS.

Seven Things ~ Increasing in Ribbing

Do you have a good method for spacing increases evenly in ribbing? In my early years of knitting I would just eyeball it and place the increases randomly not thinking it really made a difference just as long as they were not all jumbled together. Now I know that a smoother transition can be made from ribbing to another stitch pattern if they are placed properly. This was a skill addressed (and evaluated) in Level 1 of the Master Hand Knitting Program.

In Margaret Fisher’s book, Seven Things That Make or Break a Sweater, some options are given showing how you can place those increases ‘evenly spaced.’ Thankfully, the goal is to have approximately the same number of stitches between the increases and it is not to have the exact stitches.

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There are a number of different ways knitters calculate the spacing of their increases and if you talk to your knitting buddies about it chances are they will each differ in how they do it. The important thing, and the thing that will break your sweater instead of making it is that you HIDE the increases in the ribbing.

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The bar increase is barely visible when it is worked into a knit stitch which is followed by a purl stitch. You work a bar increase by knitting into the front and back of a stitch. The bar increase produces a little bump that looks like a purl stitch so when you work it into a knit-stitch-followed-by-a-purl-stitch it blends right in with that purl stitch. But if you don’t? Well, it looks like a misplaced purl stitch disrupting your ribbing and you know what that means, don’t you? Are you going to MAKE it or are you going to BREAK it?

Have I mentioned yet that I think this is a very informative book and one worth adding to your library? I really like working this little project sweater to cement the ‘seven things’ in my head.

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Yarn Along ~ The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle

I’m a little late today chiming in on the Yarn Along with Ginny because I had to put a few finishing touches on a special someone I want you to meet.

You may have already met her in your childhood when you read one of the Beatrix Potter books. Do you remember The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle?

“when Lucie lost her handkerchiefs
she never imagined that her search would
end with a kindly washerwoman…”

Mrs. Tiggy-winkle was a hedgehog and she lived in a tiny country cottage. I didn’t meet her until I had my own children and when I read of her I was charmed by Beatrix Potter’s description of her “little black nose that went sniffle, sniffle, snuffle and her eyes that went twinkle, twinkle, twinkle.” Oh how I love twinkling eyes!

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I love all the characters in the Beatrix Potter books but Mrs. Tiggy-winkle was one of my favorites.

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I plan to give my granddaughter this wonderful series of books with their colorful characters who have the most charming names. I think I will bring her a Beatrix Potter book every time I visit starting with this one.

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And now I would like you to meet someone I spent the last few days working on…..

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Meet Mrs. Tiggy-winkle!

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Isn’t she just adorable? I can just envision my sweet granddaughter squeezing Mrs. Tiggy-winkle in her dimpled hands whilst her mom reads her a tale that I once read to her many, many times.

Joining Ginny today in a Yarn Along.

Yarn Along ~ Cast On Bind Off Review

Joining Ginny this morning on a Yarn Along talking about books and knitting ….

CastOnBindOffThe latest addition to my knitting library is a book by Leslie Ann Bestor called Cast On Bind Off.  In its introduction the author explains that most knitters have a favorite cast on or bind off, usually the first one they ever learned.  As we grow as knitters we begin to realize that different situations call for different techniques and that, by using the right one it will have a huge impact on the finished garment.  She wrote this book so that a whole new world of possibilities will open up to the reader and horizons will be expanded.  She suggests trying out the methods when you knit your gauge swatch.  I thought this was a great idea.  This book is a perfect addition to your knitting bag, or in my case, downloaded to my iPad which travels in my knitting bag.

Today I am adding a decorative Picot Bind Off to the Holden Shawlette I have been working on the last couple weeks. It will create a delicate, decorative edge which will look beautiful on the edge of this shawl. It is a simple and flexible method of binding off and the sizes of the picots and distance between them can be altered to suit your taste. It does use more yarn than most bind offs and my skein is looking a little skimpy right now. Hope I don’t run out of yarn!

This is how the Picot Bind Off is worked:

1. Knit the first 2 stitches and bind off 1 stitch using the Traditional Bind Off.

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2. Transfer the remaining stitch from the right hand needle to the left hand needle and use a Knitted Cast On to cast on 2 stitches.

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3. Bind off 4 stitches.

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4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until one stitch remains.

5. Cut the yarn and pull it through the last stitch.

This will obviously be a s-l-o-w process but the end result will be lovely unless , that is, I run out of yarn!

Sitting Under an Aspen Tree Reading

I have a favorite place to sit and read in the Fall, it is under an aspen tree in a grove next to my house.  The leaves shimmer in the breeze and are golden in the sun against bright blue skies this time of year.  The temperature is perfect and I am still able to sit outside without a jacket.  I could easily nap under these trees but today I am enjoying words woven into a story that holds promise This afternoon, as I admired a fallen golden leaf on the ground, I discovered that I am not the first to enjoy this spot.  There was a rusted pencil sharpener lying amongst the golden leaves.

It is possible that this pencil sharpener is mine from a bygone day but it is more likely that it belonged to one of my girls.  They used to work on schoolwork under this tree when they were young, at least a decade ago.  It is easy to daydream on a day like today and let my thoughts drift back to pleasant memories of when we all lived together under one roof.

I just started Little Bee by Chris Cleave and can’t tell you much about it yet.  The publishers were very secretive about the plot saying they wanted the story to unfold in a magical way for you.  I’ll tell you more about it in a future Yarn Along.

I have finished a hat for my knitting buddy who is going through chemo therapy for breast cancer.  She shaved her head last weekend in preparation for the inevitable hair loss.  She said it is better to do this before you start seeing clumps of hair fall out.  Being a knitter, she is well stocked with warm hats but knew the bond of friendship we share would lead me to knit a special hat filled with well wishes.  She picked Shedir and I knit it with Rowan Calmer, a soft cotton yarn that will be easy on her head.  It is a pretty hat and I enjoyed knitting it although I will forewarn you that it is not one that you can just whip out in a hurry.

Joining Ginny and her reading buddies on a Yarn Along today and looking forward to seeing what books they are reading.

Yarn Along {The Moonstone}

Following Ginny this morning and all her bookworms on a YARN ALONG to talk about books and knitting, two of our favorite subjects……..

I must be in the mood for detective stories for I find myself finishing up one (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) and starting another, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. The story first appeared in 1868 as a thirty-two part serial, beginning on January 1 and ending August 8, in Dickens’s weekly magazine All the Year Round. Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens were friends. He is considered to be, alongside Edgar Allan Poe as the inventor of the modern detective story. I read The Woman in White a few years ago and enjoyed it so I am looking forward to burying myself in this book.

Meanwhile, little flowers (“peerie floors”) are growing from my needles as I continue to strand. This is a happy hat and makes me smile as I watch the little flowers dance around the circumference.

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So…….. have you read any good books lately?

Yarn Along {I Am Half Sick of Shadows}

Joining Ginny this morning of Small Things and talking about books, sticks and the items on those sticks ……….

A newly started corrugated ribbing sits on top of my favorite knitting book of the moment, Sock Knitting MASTER CLASS.  I finished my first pair of socks from the book, Asymmetrical Cables,  last Friday and learned a few new techniques.  If you want to take a peek at those socks you can find them here.  I’m excited about knitting each and every sock in this book.


Peerie Flooers will be a cheerful adventure, a nice diversion from the seemingly never-ending Jeweled Cowl that I’ve been working on for the past ten days.  You know me, I love color work and look at the fun colors in this Peerie Flooers beanie!  Kate Davies is turning out some cute fair isle designs these days and she has quite the following on Ravelry.

I’m Half Sick of Shadows continues to bring hours of enjoyment to my ears and smiles to my face.  I’m about half-way through it.  Listening to books is wonderful when you have a busy day and need to multi-task but for some reason I often must have a hard copy of whatever book I’m listening to because I just need to hold that book in my hand and read it the old-fashioned way (wink).

Yarn Along on the Last Day of November

Following Ginny this morning and her little bookworms on a Yarn Along ……….

I just have time for a quick post this morning because I must dash out the door for my once-a-week shopping run on the other side of the mountain.  Snow is on its way and will be delivering itself to us over the next three days so I moved my errands up a day.

After hearing so many of you post about The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place and finding myself completely enamored by its cover, I went to the library and checked out my own copy.  It was a wise decision because the other book that I am reading, 1984, is rather grim and heavy although very well written.  On the other end of the spectrum is MaryRose Wood’s book being lighthearted and humorous.  I find myself wanting to write down in my journal her pithy sentences.  She certainly has a clever way with words and I know that, should I  look in the mirror at myself whilst reading it I would see a big toothy grin slathered all over my face.  I also find myself wishing I had munchkins around the house to readsto because it would be a fantastic read-aloud book!

Christmas knitting is well underway and I am enjoying knitting Courtyard for my daughter.  The Madlinetosh Vintage increases the enjoyability factor tenfold.  There are some concerns on the daughter’s part  that these two colors together may look a little bit like LSU’s colors, my alma mater and her rival team.  If she cringes when she opens this on Chrismas morning then in one fell swoop I will claim it as my own.  Lest you think I am a horrible mother, rest assured I will replace it with another Courtyard in yarns of her choosing.  But……….I do believe LSU is on it’s way to win the National Championship and, well, if you narrow your eyes and squint a little the color in this hat that was supposed to be burgundy does have a purple tint to it….

Happy knitting to you all!

Yarn Along – Thanksgiving

Following Ginny and her book buddies today on a Yarn Along.

Our Thanksgiving meal this year will be simple with just a few favorite dishes. It will be a quiet day with only one daughter here, the husband, the wee Westie and the daughter’s golden retriever. No doubt, those two dogs will have enough energy for all of us put together as they bound about and play.

Since there is not much preparation to do ahead of time, the cornbread for the dressing having been already made, I will have a quiet afternoon to knit on the Baby Bootikin. This pattern is a vintage pattern that can be found in Vintage Knits by Nancy Bush. Don’t you think this sock/stocking will look adorable on a chubby little baby leg? I think it pulls up over the knee.

There will be time to smock another row or two on the baby bishop dress. I was thrilled to discover that the smocking came back instinctively to my fingers without having to review the basic techniques. The dress and bootikins need to be finished this weekend so I can begin all those Christmas presents I’ve planned!

On the NOOK I’m reading 1984 by George Orwell. I somehow managed to get through sixteen years of education and twelve years of homeschooling without ever reading this book. It was my misfortune because, so far, this is a great book! It is very well written and has quickly pulled me in. Strangely, some of it is reminding me of the Harry Potter books. So, where were you in 1984? I was pregnant and thinking of babies. It sounds like I haven’t progressed much, I’m still thinking of babies! Ha! Ha!

Ever so often, usually around Thanksgiving, I dust off two favorite books that always remind me of what this celebration of Thanksgiving is all about. Loving history as I do, and knowing how little our children of today know of it, I would like to recommend these books to you. For the adults, why not get back as close as you can to the original source documents and read William Bradford’s journal of that cold first winter in Plymouth. You will be astounded by the character of these early pilgrims. They are a far cry from the stern and joyless depictions of the Puritans that our society has so willingly accepted as true.

And one we read homeschooling through the elementary years is Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey. This is a very old copy with beautiful pen and inks throughout. I know it has been brought back into print. If you choose to read it to your children you will discover many character lessons lying within.

To my fellow Americans –


Yarn Along

From small things

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

I have started a new book set in post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona.  The book is called Shadow of the Wind and the author is Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  This book was on the Interactive 100 Favorite Booklist and, not only did it get five stars on all the reviews I read, it also looked intriguing.  When I purchased the book in a favorite book shop the male clerk told me it was one of his favorite books and, of course, that made me all the more eager to start reading.

Shadow of the Wind begins with the central character being taken by his father to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, forgotten titles lovingly preserved in a secret library of old.  The initiates are allowed, according to tradition, to take one book from this “cemetery” and are charged to protect the book for life.  After Daniel, the central character, becomes completely engrossed with the book he has chosen he sets out in search of more books by the author.  He can find none and discovers that someone has systematically destroyed all known books by this author.

On the knitting front, I am continuing to work on the second SpillyJane Isidora mitten with stash yarn.  It should be finished by now but I have had a few distractions.  A great big box of yarn arrived from WEBS containing the needed supplies for five Christmas gifts.  That time of the year has arrived for stealth knitting!

joining today with ginny
at small things and the weekly yarn along.