Making Pigseyes on a Yarnalong

Flora & Fauna

That just about sums it up, buttonholes have boiled up around here recently and I have no more excuses putting off their research for the TKGA Master Knitting Program.  My assignment is to knit them ‘unobstrusively’ in single rib, double rib and seed stitch.  I’m to knit one vertical, one horizontal and one of my own choice.

Pigseyes Research

Reading along with Ginny’s peeps on a Yarn Along?  Well, still no fiction here for me, just many knitting reference books; however,I will share a favorite out of that stack.  This little book is just perfect for tucking inside a knitting bag whilst traveling, The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe.  It is filled with solutions to every problem you will face,  has answers to every question you might ask and has hundreds of clear illustrations.

As far as finished knitting goes, the Dublin Monkey Socks have been blocked and worn already.  I’m calling them my ‘Dublin’ Monkeys because I used souvenir yarn from a shop in Dublin called This is Knit.  Every time I wear these I will think of that fabulous shop, the conversations I had with its employees and the marvelous day I had exploring Dublin.

Dublin Monkey Socks

The Monkey Sock pattern was popular on many years ago and spurred me on to host several international sock swaps which proved to be wildly successful – long before the days of Ravelry.  I assigned a ‘monkey pal’ to each participant for whom they: knit a pair of Monkey Socks , sent a Cookie A. sock pattern and  three ‘monkey’ gifts.  It was great fun for a great sock design by Cookie A.

Currently on my needles is a Chrissy Gardiner sock design from Sock Knitting Master Class called Slip-n-Slide.  Ms. Gardiner likes to use unusual stitch patterns and that showcase the yarn in unique ways.  I’m using a shockingly pink solid yarn for this pattern so the slipped motifs will stand out more than on a variegated yarn.

What about you?  Have you read anything fun recently that might be a little more relaxing than researching buttonholes?

Beware of Best-Selling Designers

Stand forewarned, best-selling designers can be dangerous because they are simply inspirational, totally.  Ann Budd is a designer who has inspired me in more ways than one.  Not only is she  known for her sock designs but she has also been designated a master knitter by the Knitting Guild Association which speaks very highly in my opinion.  (Many of you know that I’m in that program myself and can tell you first hand that it is pretty rigorous.)  So, I am not surprised that Ms. Budd has a build-on-the-basics approach to pattern writing.


Well-known are her ‘formula’ type reference books that seemed to be written to bring out the inner designer in her readers.  My favorite is called, The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges‘  and is, in my opinion, one of her most brilliant books.  All you need to know is your gauge and if you know that, you can knit a wide variety of basic patterns using any yarn you want with whatever needles you prefer.  I’ve used the sock and hat patterns in the book to do just that.  Soon, I will use this book to knit hubby a vest by just plugging numbers into the formulas in the book.

I once knit a pair of socks crossing the Atlantic using the basic sock pattern in the Handy Book of Patterns….. a simple project that was pretty mindless and that I was able to take with me everywhere.
Knitting in the Piazza



My second favorite Ann Budd book is called Sock Knitting Master Class In this book she has put together the unparalleled signature elements and techniques of 15 top sock designers into a resource that I think of as a type of ‘master’ class.  I’ve learned a few new techniques from the three designs I have knit thus far: Almondine (Anne Hanson), Asymmetrical Cables (Cookie A.) and Pussy Willows (Cat Bordhi).  I will continue forging through this excellent resource and know I will be all the better for it.


You Need to Read Yarn Along

In the TKGA Master Knitting program I have to write a thesis paper on the History of Knitting, pretty daunting right?  The subject of keeping the Great War soldier one has been of particular interest to me.  Well, truth be known, knitting in the American colonies is a pretty interesting topic also.  But today is all about sharing with Ginny’s peeps a book I’m reading and the one I’m reading targets WWI so that is what you will hear about.  Whoa reader!  If you hate history you might as well pass up this blog post, but…..if you are a knitter you just might find this information a little interesting.
Knitting History

Now on this side of the pond, America entered the war in 1917 and I know some folks on the other side of the pond thought we took our sweet time about doing so.  The American Red Cross launched walloping knitting campaigns all across our nation to keep their boys warm on the European front.  The armed forces issued patterns for wool socks, sweaters, scarves, bandages, helmets and wristlets and our womenfolk pulled out their knitting needles to do their part.  The Red Cross also had programs to teach children how to knit so they could help, too.  What do you suppose they started with?  Simple washcloths.

You might begin to wonder if their was a shortage of yarn with so many needles clicking away.  There was.  The War Industries Board issued an order to all American yarn retailers to turn over their entire stock of khaki, gray, heather , natural and white wool to the Red Cross.  Imagine if that happened today.  My goodness……. we are a whining lot these days.

Yarn Along

I continue to research.  There have been knitting campaigns throughout many wars but today’s book is about TOMMY, Knitting for Tommy.  You know who Tommy is right?  He lived  over there in the Empire.

For the Empire and for Freedom we all must do our bit.  The men go forth to battle, the women wait — and knit

I’ve just started reading about Tommy and it promises to be a pretty interesting read.

On my needles today are the last few rows of Morticia….100 beads on each row, sigh….making very slow progress.

You Need to Read Yarn Along

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny and her knitting bookworms this morning on a Yarn Along……………

I’ve always seemed to look at the glass half empty instead of half full.

In recent years my tendency to look at that half empty glass has started changing.  It all began with Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.  After reading it I began a personal challenge to live fully right where I am, each and every day.  I joined the Joy Dare and began counting things to be thankful for until I got to 1000.  It has been an amazing journey.

Ingratitude seems to be something that dwells deep within our makeup.  When Jesus healed the ten lepers only one returned to thank him yet all ten lives would be dramatically changed for the good from that point onward.  That is pretty much says it – 90% ungrateful and only 10% giving thanks!

On top of my journal is the beaded beauty I have been working on, Danse Macabre.  Have I mentioned to you in another post that it has 1000 beads in it?  Yep, 1000…… I only remind you because I have shared with you ONE THOUSAND GIFTS on this Yarn Along today.  If you struggle with the ‘half empty’ as I do, this is a book for you.


You Need to Read Yarn Along

Several books have been read since I last joined Ginny and her peeps on a Yarn Along.  After reading Kate Atkinson’s two books about the Todd family, A God in Ruins and Life After Life I thought needed something a little more uplifting – not that Atkinson’s books were downers because they weren’t, they were very well written and I enjoyed them.  I just needed something familiar, a family that I have revisited more than once, the Eliots of Damerosehay.  This is a beloved trilogy that captured my heart and my imagination along with countless others who are fans of the bestselling author Elizabeth Goudge. Brilliant author!


Every family has its particular bright stars, and David and Grandmother were the particular stars of the Eliot family, people in whose presence life was more worth living, people who warmed you, like the sun and lit the whole world to a richer glory.

In my knitting world I am working on two shawls, both mystery knit alongs.  One has gone in time out because I goofed three rows down and it was alarming enough for me to set it aside before gathering fortitude to tink back.
The second shawl is stunning and I am thoroughly smitten with the beautiful twisted stitches, tedious but well worth the effort.   I feel like a tortoise working on the border but my Ravelry friends assure me they are in the same race going at the same speed.  The border itself uses almost a whole skein of yarn so I need to keep reminding myself of that.

What about you?  Have you read any books lately that I might like to add to my list?

You Need to Read Yarn Along

My reading today for the YARN ALONG is more along the historical research lines.  I’ve not knit any serious fair isle for a while and got caught up reading Ann Feitelson’s classic The Art of Fair Isle Knitting while looking for a pattern I wanted to knit.  Every time I delve into this book I come away with some new bit of information for the gray matter.  There certainly is a reason it is a cherished classic!

First off, I found the pattern I wanted and gathered up the hanks (skeins) of Shetland wool for the slipover (vest) I will be knitting for the hubby.  He will look quite handsome in his Hillhead Slipover when I makkin’ off (bind off).

If I have any clews (small balls of leftover yarn) I plan to make some dags (fingerless mittens) for myself.  I am using Jamieson’s Spindrift, a traditional Shetland Yarn.  The surname ‘Jamieson’ is as common in Shetland as our ‘Jones’ is in America.

Hillhead Slipover

This afternoon I will use the thumb method to lay up 300 stitches on the wire (needle) because I learned that in Shetland, casting on is almost always done with this method.  They claim it is quick to do and the path of the yarn and the results are almost identical to the widely known American method, the long tail cast on.

I will be “Takkin’ my makkin’ “ , bringing my work with me, in the car this afternoon.  I will be certain to finish the sweerie geng (the first row) before I get out of the car because there is a superstitious saying in Shetland, “You shouldn’t get up until you’ve completed the entire sweerie geng – otherwise the garment will never be finished.”

This time through The Art of Fair Isle Knitting I discovered a glossary of Shetland Knitting terms and thought I would have a little fun with you.

Joining Ginny today on a Yarn Along around the world…………….



Yarn Along on a Productive Day

Piping up and tagging along with Ginny this afternoon on a YARN ALONG….and reading what her peeps have to say about books and knitting.

It has been a productive day for me as I juggle household chores, working on a third Clayoquot Togue hat for the new grand baby and finishing up My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Frederik Backman.

With the opening chapters of this book, I wondered whether it would be one I could stick with to the end.  The language was a little too ‘colorful’ for me, the child a bit too precocious and the make-believe world of Marabous a stretch out of reality and seemingly pointless.   And then there was a sudden death……

“People in the real world always say, when something terrible happens, that the sadness and loss and aching pain of the heart will “lessen as time passes,” but it isn’t true. Sorrow and loss are constant, but if we all had to go through our whole lives carrying them the whole time, we wouldn’t be able to stand it. The sadness would paralyze us. So in the end we just pack it into bags and find somewhere to leave it.”

The story appears to be an intricately woven fairy tale designed to help a precocious granddaughter cope with being ‘different’.  But about half-way through the book you realize the people living in this granddaughter’s house are actually the characters in the make-believe world of Marabous.  It was a fabulously written story of a grandmother’s influence on her grandchild and upon others.  The grandmother is not what she appears to be…… but…… I share no more so that you can discover for yourself.

“Death’s greatest power is not that it can make people die, but that it can make people want to stop living.”

“Because not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.”

“Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details. Even when you are wrong. Especially then, in fact. A grandmother is both a sword and a shield.”

“Because if a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal.”

Have you read a good book lately?  If you are curious about what others are reading and knitting then join us on a Yarn Along!

Yarn Along and Magical Tidying

Joining Ginny today and her peeps on trail of book reviews and fiber projects we are working on.


The basic supposition of the book is —

Does it Bring You Joy?

If not, get rid of it.

I know there is a trend amongst the younger generation towards ‘simple living’ and I can see why this book would be a New York Times best seller for that group of people.  However, I have lived through more seasons of life than the author and took issue with several things in this book.  The bottom line is — what brings you JOY in your twenties and thirties is not necessarily what brings you JOY in your forties and fifties, sixties etc.

If you throw away the cards you have received years because they ‘served their purpose when you opened it that first time’ then you will be missing out on something that might bring JOY, encouragement and even healing when you are in your fifties.  I’ve saved every Mother’s Day card that my children have sent me.  Some have very tender and affectionate notes in them that actually helped me get through some rough times when a newly married daughter went ‘silent’ on me.  The tender notes she wrote throughout childhood and the teenage years reminded me that the love between us was deep and I just needed to ride the storm for a while.  I’m so thankful I did not throw those cards out!

The author said the same thing about books and maintained that once you have read it the book it has served its purpose and should be discarded.  I am an avid reader and have painstakingly collected the classics and other ‘great books.’  The author is a reader, too but limits her books to 30 which she still thinks is too many.  I don’t think she realizes that books can be a tool to forge a way to make an immediate connection to a stranger in your home when he/she stands perusing your library and a conversation begins and a bond is formed.  Nor does she realize that some people collect books to decorate a home.  Now I will admit that I have been convicted to take a second look at some of my college textbooks and other instructional books and I probably will discard them.  And, I have also realized that I really must let go of my vast collection of cookbooks because I mostly only use a few of them consistently.  But the rest…no-can-do.

Another area I contend with were photographs.  I guess that is because I am a photographer.  She wanted us to ‘touch’ each picture and see if it brings us JOY and if it doesn’t throw it away.  She does not yet know that something happens to you when you are in the ’empty nest’ stage of life.  You want to reconnect to your roots and get back in touch with friends you had in your younger years.  Social media has made this a possibility and the picture in your album that might not mean much to you may bring incredible JOY to someone in your past.

Nor does she realize that the sharing of these photos through social media may bring about an opportunity to seek forgiveness of someone you once hurt or who once hurt you and that through that process a regret of thirty years is released.  I am so thankful I have not thrown the pictures away that did not give me JOY.  And I am even more thankful my mother has kept pictures (no matter how horrible they are) because I have had wonderful moments reminiscing.  MEMORIES ARE IMPORTANT and will become even more important with each decade of your life.

Leaving on a positive note – I was able to successfully throw all my clothes into the middle of the room as she suggested and get rid of the ones that don’t give me JOY.  I’m not attached to clothes so that was an easy task.  I also thought the way she took shirts and rolled them up in the drawer was a good idea – that really decluttered my closet.

Lastly, the book was helpful in some ways however, I will still caution anyone who reads this to be very careful in using the mantra, “If it doesn’t bring you JOY then throw it out.”  Instead, I would as you to consider the fact that you will go through ‘seasons of life’ and your JOY will mature in different ways.  If you follow completely the advise of this author  you just might find yourself sitting in a stark room in your senior years with no JOY and only regret.

On the knitting front –

I am trying very hard to knit down my stash this year.  There is a group on Ravelry that I am participating in called SOCKS FROM STASH and February’s challenge is to knit socks from the oldest yarn in your stash.  I believe the yarn I found was from my second pair of socks that I immediately ripped out because they didn’t fit and I really didn’t know at the time how to make them fit.  I don’t even know what brand it is but I do know it is a faux fair isle that will be lovely knit in a plain stockinette….. I will call them my OLD JANES.
Old Jane
Happy Knitting!


Yarn Along as I Heal From Surgery

Joining Ginny this morning on a YARN ALONG to talk about a book I read over Christmas ….


The Lake House
A Novel
By Kate Morton

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, (both I have not read yet) an intricately plotted, THE LAKE HOUSE was a spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets and was the perfect page-turner for me in chilly December whilst knitting Christmas presents.

I initially was drawn to this book simply because of its setting.  Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure… Did I mention how much I love Cornwall?

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.  I usually do not like novels that involve the tragedies of children but this one kept sucking me in.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a mystery author. Her little borther’s case has never been solved, although Alice still has a suspect. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall haunted by her own nemesis. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her together with Alice and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

This is a lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies and Kate Morton is a master weaving lives together. This novel from is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read and now I must read The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours!
One week ago I was on day 15 of excruciating pain waiting to see a surgeon the next day.  A day later my gallbladder was removed and I am, relatively speaking, much better.  I will take respite to allow for recovery and both books and fiber will be my constant companion. Now I’m off to check out other books I can add to my ever growing list from participating in Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Yarn Along as I Do Some Warping

I’m looking forward to reading some great books this year and finding out what others are reading as I participate in  Ginny’s YARN ALONG.

Warping Dealer's Choice Towels

This afternoon I am listening to Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova.  I’m a big fan of Ms. Genova’s books because they have educated me on neurological diseases and disorders.   She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Still Alice (Alzheimer’s Disease), Left Neglected (traumatic brain injury) , and Love Anthony (autism)and now Inside the O’Briens.

The main character is Joe O’Brien, a 44 year old Boston police office who begins to experience bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange involuntary movements.  He finds out he has Huntington’s Disease, a disease that will change his and his family’s lives forever.  I’m certain the story will be heart wrenching.

So far I’ve learned that Huntington’s Disease is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure.  And it is genetic.

In other news, I am enjoying my new Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom.  The tea towels I made last week have washed up nice and fluffy.
First Tea Towels