A Parade of Hats

This year's holiday hats are off the needles and all wrapped up under the tree! First up are two Windschief hats knitted with Berroco Vintage.

And one lonely Turn a Square hat knitted out of Berroco Ultra Alpaca and Vintage.

Both patterns make quick and easy gifts. Here they are modeled by the little guy. I had to bribe him with a candy cane.

"This is going to be the easiest candy cane I ever earned!"

"Man, how many times is she going to make me say 'cheese'?"

"Are we done yet?"

Hope your holiday knitting is getting wrapped up as well! As always, check out all the great projects on display at FO Friday with TAMI'S AMIS.


Holiday Makes

A little over a week to go and still so much to do! Thank goodness for the few things that can be checked off the list.

Washcloth and soap set for Grandma L. The handmade soaps are from Five Cats Creations and smell so unbelievably good. With names like Martini Mafia and Beach Baby, my MIL will be feeling like she's on a Caribbean vacation every time she uses them. I think this gift will come in handy during a long western New York winter.

Some ornaments for the tree. The holiday issue of Mollie Makes was filled with cute decorating ideas.

These reindeer ornaments were super quick and easy to make.

Winter Wonderland village. The kids had so much fun creating this little Lego village. Next year we might add the toy store or bakery. And you can't have a Winter Wonderland without a jolly snowman. Ours is named Snowball and was made by the talented Steph. I was one of the lucky winners from her felted snowman contest.

This time of year can be stressful and a little overwhelming. There are cards to mail out, presents to shop for and wrap, Christmas dinner to plan. The list goes on and on. But taking a few moments to enjoy the season should be right at the top of our lists. Making goofy ornaments, playing with holiday Legos, coming up with the perfect name for a snowman...these are some of the things that I love about Christmastime.

(go to FO Friday with TAMI'S AMIS for lots of wonderful knitting and crochet ideas)


FO: Easy Breezy

Presenting my Vodka Gimlet cardigan styled three ways:

Casually, with a simple black tee and jeans

Formally, with a little black dress

Lazily, with pajamas and hot cocoa

A sweater to fit all moods and occasions. Fun to knit and easy to wear. The best kind.

(Lots of great inspiration can be found at FO Friday with TAMI'S AMIS)


My List for Holiday Knitting

The holiday gift knitting is in full swing! And just like every December past, I feel slightly behind in everything. But the key theme for this season is to Keep It Simple. So with that in mind, I have come up with a list of criteria for my 2011 gift knitting. Each gift must be:

1) Fast. Because there is a deadline.

2) Simple. Because I do not have time to get into a fight with a project when said deadline is looming over my head.

3) Fun (or at least as fun as an item knitted for someone other than myself can be). Because I tend to knit multiples of a project and have no wish to poke my eyes out with boredom after the third ______.
(fill in the blank)

4) Useful. Because no knitted gift of mine should end up buried in a recipient's dirty sock drawer. And if it does, I don't want to know.

Given all of the above, my choices for this holiday season are:

Windschief Hat by Stephen West. I loved knitting my hubby's Windschief neck warmer and it was very well received (see #4 above). Plus after making four Botanic Hats last Christmas, I felt a little nostalgic and decided to go with another westknits hat pattern. The Turn a Square Hat was also in the running.

Double Bump Dishcloths. These are for Grandma L. (my MIL). Definitely fast and simple, although a little boring. Perfect holiday movie knitting. And wait till you see what I am pairing these up with. One down, several more to go.

Fingerless Mitts. I am using this great basic pattern as a starting point. These will be for my two nieces. Hopefully these mitts will be cool and stylish enough to be worn at least once. One pair down, one more to go.

And if I have time, I might whip up some of these for my sister and SIL's. Quick but gorgeous, right?

For more holiday knitting and crochet ideas, go to WIP Wednesday with TAMI'S AMIS. Happy gift knitting everyone!


Special Pages

Happy December 1st! It has certainly snuck up on me this year and caught me somewhat unprepared. By this time, I usually have an advent calendar set up (usually along the lines of what I did last year). I was tempted to forgo the tradition yesterday when it dawned on me that December was just a day away. But knowing that the little guy would be pretty disappointed motivated me to come up with a quick and simple idea. Everyone loves to receive cards in the mail, so this year I will be sending one card for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas.

Besides the much looked for treat, every card will have a passage from my favorite holiday poem The Night Before Christmas handwritten on it.

I love the fact that I can prepare each card the day before and that by Christmas Day, the little guy will have a special handwritten book made especially for him by me.


Thanksgiving Eve

The kids are out of school today so we are having a relaxing day at home and keeping busy with lots of WIP's:

Making a magical winter wonderland out of legos.

Working on some wall art.

Starting on the gift knitting (Turn a Square hat).

And one FO:

Ginormous chocolate chip cookies using this recipe.

To those in the U.S., have a very happy Thanksgiving! May your day be filled with lots of tasty food and wonderful company. Check out WIP Wednesday with TAMI'S AMIS for the latest in cool knitting and crochet ideas.


Family Recipes

Growing up in a large family consisting of strong personalities, food was often the glue that kept us all together. I can remember many sibling arguments being resolved over bowls of pho noodle soup. My mom's philosophy was sneakily simple: keep the peace by keeping our mouths full of food. And what food! My mom is one of those natural cooks that can make a feast out of humble ingredients, adding a pinch of this or a palm full of that to a pot and having it turn out delicious. One of my goals in life is to be more of an intuitive cook like her. I know that this will take years of practice and experimentation. There will be some hits and lots of misses. But I am slowly gaining confidence every day, even creating a personal collection of recipes of my own. Some are all mine, but most are modifications of recipes collected over the years from treasured cookbooks and more recently, talented food bloggers. To make it easier to reference these recipes, I have started writing them down in a series of notebooks.

I hope to one day hand these over to my son so that he can recreate the foods of his childhood. And when my mom comes back from her annual six months vacation in Vietnam, I am going to ask her to write down what a pinch of this and a palm full of that means.


Playing Hooky

Over the past several days, I have been playing hooky from my knitting (and the housecleaning). Because crochet has totally consumed my every available spare time. See this?

My first granny square! It was hard to come by, let me tell you. I learned how to crochet a few years ago by taking a class at my LYS. But lack of practice had caused all of that knowledge to fly out the window. So this week, I have been revisiting all of my crochet how-to books/online resources** and practicing ch, sc, hdc, dc, tr, dtr, ttr, etc. etc. Which might explain the flying hook and ball of yarn incident that occurred a few nights ago. I can definitely say that wielding the hook does not come naturally to me. But like all things that take a bit more effort to accomplish, the feeling of finally learning it is beyond rewarding. My first granny square might be wonky, but that isn't going to stop me from proudly displaying it on my desk.

Right now, I am working on a project for something that is very near and dear to me.

It isn't a blanket. Although someday I hope to make this one mine. I'm dreaming crochet dreams already!

 **Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter. Detailed and clear instructions accompanied by helpful illustrations and videos...all for free!

(check out WIP Wednesday with TAMI'S AMIS for cool knitting AND crochet inspirations)



Every once in a while I come across a neat knitting tool or technique that makes me smile and wonder how I could have previously lived without it. Two of my most recent discoveries came while knitting on my Vodka Gimlet cardigan. The first one is an Addi 12 inch circular needle which I used to knit up the cardigan sleeves.

Much faster than magic loop. Less fiddling with yarn and needles. I was able to finish a full length sleeve in a day which is a personal record for me. I am so glad that I overcame my initial hesitation at using these (they looked so darn uncomfortable). They do take a little getting used to but did not cause any hand or wrist strain as I had feared.

The second new item for the toolbox is a cool joining technique called the magic or double knot. I first saw it demonstrated here by the talented Jane Richmond (scroll down to the last video tutorial). I am always on the lookout for a way to avoid weaving in ends and this is a neat little trick to know. It makes a very strong and nearly invisible join as seen below. Who says that you can't have knots in your knitting?

 So what is in your knitting toolbox?


Lights, Camera, Action!

Because my blog is sadly lacking in action according to the two guys in the house, I proudly present:

The Getaway, featuring the little guy and costarring the Windschief neck warmer.

I admit, the plot needs a lot of work, but it IS an action movie after all. Anyways, for those of us who prefer our knits not in motion, here are some still shots.

Windschief by Stephen West knitted in Dream in Color Classy

He has been wearing the neck warmer everyday on his commute to work and is very happy with it. Job accomplished!

(Can't get enough of knitted thrills? Go check out FO Friday with TAMI'S AMIS)


my little (crafty) corner of the world

Welcome to my little corner of the world. I can't seem to get this Yo La Tengo song out of my head lately, especially while sitting nice and comfy in my new craft room/master bedroom. Want a look around?

Dwell Studio for Target swoop armchair and comforter set

Expedit shelving units from Ikea

Vika Amon/Vika Annefors table from Ikea, orange modern stacking chairs from Target

White baskets with orange gingham liners repurposed from the little guy's nursery

Glass jars from Michael's, yarn from stash

As you can see, I totally gave my matching tendencies free reign over the space:

*Stash yarn in coordinating colors displayed in matching mason jars - check
*Matching armchair and comforter set - check, check
*Birds on branches theme on wooden screen, armchair and comforter - check, check, check
*Matching baskets and orange chairs - check, check, check & check!

The walls are still a work in progress, but overall, I am so thrilled with this space. And remember where that "playpen disguised as a knitting basket" was? Now it is my favorite knitting spot.

armchair, storage ottoman and basket from Target



We are trying to hang on to autumn for as long as possible, although the mornings and nights are getting chillier, the stores all have their holiday displays out and the kids have already started planning their lists to Santa. For this week at least, I am ignoring it all, taking things slow and leisurely knitting on my fall sweaters.

The herbs are all safely tucked inside for the winter

Just have the left sleeve and left front to go on my Spoked Cardigan. Can't wait to wear this before the season is over.

Loving the mindless stockinette

My Vodka Gimlet has seen a lot of attention this week. Almost finished with the collar and then there will only be the sleeves left to knit. It has been hard to put down, especially as most of it has been knitted while sitting in my favorite new knitting spot. The full room reveal will be coming up soon.

I went a little yarn crazy at Michaels the other day and bought a basketful of Stitch Nation yarns. So many pretty colors to choose from. These are for an upcoming crochet(!) project.

 (In the mood for some lovely projects? Head on over to WIP Wednesday with TAMI'S AMIS.)


Rock N Roll

Thank you, thank you very much


Spooky Knits

Come in if you dare...

Care for a pumpkin hex? Better be quick...

'cause Boo and Boo are on the loose...

...and they are masked and dangerous!

(come join us for the FO Friday party at Tami's Amis, halloween costumes are optional)


FO: Memories of Summer Shawl

Is there a finished object that reminds you of a time, person or place? I know that my Stripe Study Shawl will always bring back memories of this past summer and the special moments spent getting to know my nieces at this time in their lives.

They are both at that awkward in-between age, not quite children but not teenagers either. Full of contradictions and unpredictabilities, creativity and imagination.

Wearing this shawl now is bittersweet because I know that I cannot stop time from passing by. The rows and rows of garter stitch must eventually come to an end. But at least I will have this shawl to remind me.

(Many wonderful projects can be found at FO FRIDAY with TAMI'S AMIS)


Missoni and Motorcycles

Just as I predicted. There were visions of hand knits floating around in my husband's head after all. But thankfully no mention of the dreaded socks. Instead, he has requested a neck warmer to wear on his daily motorcycle commute to work. It has to be (in his words) not frilly or floppy. Preferably something in a dark color and most importantly, be cool looking. So of course I had to turn to the coolest knitwear designer I know, my number one knitting crush Mr. Stephen West.

I am really loving the look of the slanted twisted rib in the Windschief pattern. Such a cool looking hat and cowl combination.

As for myself, the only visions floating around in my head this week have all had the trademark Missoni zigzags on them. Oh why oh why am I always late to the party? By the time I knew that Missoni was coming to Target, everything had been sold out! So in shopper's desperation, I went on eBay and Amazon to scour their offerings. That is how I came to find myself THIS CLOSE to bidding on a $30 coffee mug last night. Then sanity returned and I turned off the computer and made these instead:

Missoni inspired puff

(For the coolest WIP's around, head on over to TAMI'S blog)