25 August, 2014

Etsy Knitting

I've been coming up with some new designs of items for our dolls.  Rather than publishing the patterns, I've decided to knit them up, add them to my etsy store... and see what happens.
The bolero and matching headband knit up nicely in some handspun I had left from a mitten project.  The back is slightly gathered below the yoke.  Both items have a picot trim and hemmed edges.
I fussed and fussed until I had the dimensions just right to fit the American Girl Doll hands.  The hat is slouchy with a bit of a gathered cloche-look to it.
Fun to knit and fun to photograph :)

13 August, 2014

p r o f i l e s




Samantha and Glory turned "one" ... and we had lots of fun at their birthday party!!!



11 August, 2014

it's a jungle out there

How does my garden grow this summer?

Ever lovin' huge.  After years of drought, we've been blessed with rain.


08 August, 2014

jeudi ~ a baby sweater

The pattern for this sweet little sweater is available on Ravelry for free:  Jeudi, designed by Elisa DiFiore.  It's a quick and easy knit; size 0-3 months.

Two things I love about this sweater ~ it buttons up the back, making it easy to put on a newborn; and the neck opening is ample for baby's head, neck, upper body proportions.
I'm continuing to enjoy learning crochet this summer and have found that an afghan is a wonderful way to use up yarn scraps.
Wanting the colors to blend with the room where the afghan will be used, I placed a large pasta serving bowl on the coffee table and sorted through my stash for suitable colors.  It makes a lovely centerpiece and is readily available for crocheting a square every now and then.


So far I have finished (14) Tricolor Squares (from 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton.)  This is a "mix and match" book and so I'm thinking of moving onto other designs for a real "patchy" look to the finished afghan.

06 August, 2014

propagating african violets ~ learning curve

My interest in growing african violets began with this trip to see our son and daughter-in-law in Virginia.  I brought home leaves from each of Melissa's violets and they did well... until I transplanted them into an african violet mix (from a well known home improvement chain store which will remain nameless.)

That bag had gnat eggs which hatched while we were out of town.  By the time we returned, there was a colony of gnats swarming in/out/around the eight young plants.  And the entire room.  Ew.  Try as I might, I was unable to get rid of them.

So I ended up removing all of the plants, taking them outdoors and, as gently as possible, dunking them in water to remove all soil before re-planting with a new bag of regular potting mix.   They were then placed in another room in the house.  Most of the plants did not make it.  But the plants which survived that trauma are blooming below:

So I decided to give it another try and brought home a new batch of leaves from my visit to Virginia last April.  I did a lot of research on the internet and what follows are my notes/observations/conclusion.

April 30, 2014
Materials:  african violet leaf cuttings, indoor potting mix, exacto knife, 2 oz Diamond Daily mini cups (cut three slices out of base edge for drainage), distilled water, glass dishes, seedling mat.
  • Using an exacto knife, cut 1/3 off the top of each leaf so that the plant's energy will go into developing baby plants; not on growing a larger leaf.
  • Make a 45 degree cut on the stem at about an inch from the leaf.
  • Gently insert leaf, at an angle, into a mini cup filled with potting soil.  Do not press on the soil.
  • Water in with distilled water.  (I use a picnic condiment bottle for pinpoint watering and a paper towel to absorb any drops that end up on leaves.  There are other methods, but this is user-friendly for me.)
  • Place on a glass dish on a seedling heat mat (which raises the temperature about 10-20 degrees above the ambient temperature)
  • My window faces east.
August 5, 2014 (14 weeks later)
Some varieties are producing one baby off the stem; some are producing multiple baby plants.  According to what I've read, they should be much larger at this point.

I gave three leaves to my friend at the same time.  She kept hers in water to root for a few weeks before planting them in 3" pots.

The leaves on Sue's plants are significantly larger than the ones I cut with the exacto, but our baby plants are comparable.  So I'm not sure slicing the leaf helps speed up plant growth ... but it does help conserve space on the heating pads at this point.

So here's the kicker...

A leaf broke off one of my established violets a couple of weeks after I'd done this detailed planting.  I didn't cut the leaf and didn't slice the stem at an angle b/c there was barely 1/4" remaining.

But on a whim, instead of tossing it, I stuck it in with one I had so carefully fussed over a couple of weeks earlier.

That little leaf has produced the baby plants on the lower right of the picture below whereas the first plant has only produced that itty bitty dot of bright green in the middle of the cup!

Conclusion:  I'm overthinking this whole thing.  Seriously.  Over.  Thinking.

04 August, 2014

microwave heat pack

My husband has plantar faciitis.  Heat on the outer calf muscle feels good at the end of the day.  So I wanted to sew a customized pack for him.  After researching the subject on the internet, this is what seemed to best fit our needs...

Popcorn for filling (our local Sprouts Farmers Market sells popcorn in the bulk foods section.)  I purchased 4# of bulk popcorn and had plenty left over for snacks.

Cotton ticking for the cover (tightly woven and durable.) 

Preparing the popcorn:

Spread 2-1/2 to 3 cups of uncooked popcorn in an open microwave-safe dish (I used an 8" x 8" x 2" glass pyrex dish.) 

Heat in microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds.  Cool.  Repeat.

(The bag I made was large and required 5 cups altogether so I heated up a second batch.)

It's also a good idea to microwave a swatch of the cover fabric to be certain that it is microwave safe.

Crush several dried bayleaves and sprinkle over the popcorn (pleasant fragrance and critter-deterrent, apparently.)

Preparing your snack:
Place 2 heaping tablespoons of popcorn in a small paper bag.  Fold the top over several times.  Heat in microwave on high for about 2 minutes.  Now you have a snack to enjoy while sewing the cover.

The cover:

Decide what size you'd like your pack to be.  My dh wanted the finished pack to be 8" x 14" with 3 sections.  Form follows function.

So I cut the fabric 8-1/2" x 28-1/2"; folded piece in half with right sides facing, stitched up the two side seams, turned it inside out, pressed a hem along the open edge, top stitched the three sides to reinforce and lightly marked the sections with pencil lines.

Stitch along the first pencil line, leaving about a 2" opening.  Double stitch for reinforcement.  Fill with 1-1/2 cups of popcorn.

Finish sewing along the line to the edge.  Repeat for the second and third sections.
For this pack I filled the two outside sections with 1-1/2 cups each and the center section with 2 cups.  By sectioning it this way the pack is moldable and stays where it's most needed.  In this case, on the calf muscle and down each side.  This is also a good design for the shoulder.  Stays put.

There should be enough moisture removed from the popcorn by having pre-heated it in that uncovered dish so that it will not pop even though it's encased now.  We usually find 60 seconds on high is a comfortable temperature.  But test to see what works for you.

01 August, 2014

hand pieced quilt top

sixty-four 8" blocks
set to form circles
(quilt top back)
hand pieced w/size 12 betweens
cotton merc. silk finish threads 50/3
various colors to match fabrics
(quilt top back/front)
pieced top 64" x 64" plus outside selvedges

30 July, 2014


In the early 1970's, it seemed like everyone on our college dorm hall was crocheting granny squares.  So I grabbed a crochet hook, some balls of brightly colored acrylic yarn and sat down beside a friend to learn by the "watch and do" method.

This summer I decided to work through a recommended book (by Debbie Stoller) and am re-learning, from scratch, by swatching through the pages.

Chapters 1-4
chain stitch, single crochet, turning chain, gauge, slip stitch, half-double crochet, double crochet, triple crochet, double-triple crochet, triple-triple crochet
Chapters 5-6
increasing, decreasing, crocheting a circle, chart reading, bobble stitch, granny square, shell stitch (picture below) and many more stitches

While crocheting I'm remembering other crafts from those college years:
  • hook rugs
  • decoupage
  • wool punch wall hangings
  • hairpin lace
  • throwing clay pots
  • opening bell bottom seams to insert sections of brocade or calico for super-wide bells
  • free-form embroidery of flowers, vines, symbols on jeans, peasant tops - anything you could stick a needle and thread through
  • headbands (worn across forehead) of leather or fabric with dangle ties in the back
Been there.  Did all the above.  Never dreamed of taking pictures at the time and never held onto any of it.

Thinking back ... most of us who did all the above were so into the process - the experience - the moment - that we didn't give much thought to keeping it.

28 July, 2014

della's seeds

Last summer, as my friend Della and I wandered through her beautiful gardens, I admired the unusual color of the blossoms on some heirloom beans she had planted.  This past winter she gave me some seeds from those bean plants.

Can you explain exactly how these...

... become this?



25 July, 2014


We've been having fun with our dolls this summer.  Etsy is a wonderful resource for beautifully crafted outfits (cottage industries ~ made in America.)


23 July, 2014

summer projects

basic sock recipe
began May 30th
designed by Rachel Coopey
began June 3rd

echeveria (modified)
designed by Rachel Coopey
began June 14th

designed by Claire Ellen
began June 28th

designed by Jane Cochran
began July 16th

14 March, 2014

Asymmetrically Wrapped

I was looking to knit a simple, multi-purpose wrap that could be worn over the shoulders, as a cowl, as a kerchief, wrapped/looped/tied, under a coat, over a sweater ... a "practical" piece of a bright color that "pops."  There's nothing fancy in the design of it; just in the possibilities for its use.
For the wrapped stitch repeat, cast on multiple of 4:
  • row 1  [WR2, k2] repeat to end of row
  • row 2  purl to the end of the row
  • row 3  [k2, WR2] repeat to end of row
  • row 4  purl to the end of the row
k:  knit

WR2:  (wrap two stitches) With yarn in front, slip 2 stitches from the lefthand needle to the righthand needle; pass the yarn between the needles to the back; slip the 2 stitches back onto the lefthand needle; knit these two stitches.

Caution:  Only knit this up if you find wrapping endless stitches a relaxing experience!!!
32" US#4 (3.5mm) circular needles
Two skeins of sock yarn/fingering weight (about 650 yards)
Finished blocked measurements:  82" x 65" x 47"  (Remember:  asymmetrical)
Cast on 180 stitches.  (Since I knew I would use two skeins of yarn, I did a longtail cast on using both skeins and then released the second skein at a 7" cut to weave in later.)
Odd numbered rows are right side.
Even numbered rows are wrong side.
Set-up row 1:  Knit across
Set-up row 2:  Purl across
Row 1:  [WR2, k2] across
Row 2:  Purl 2 together, purl across (one stitch descreaed)
Row 3:  [k2, WR2] across
Row 4:  Purl 2 together, purl across (one stitch decreased)
Each Right Side row will begin with either wrap 2 or knit 2.
When you get to the end of the row and 1, 2, 3 or 4 stitches remain after the last wrapped 2, simply knit them.  In other words, do not wrap your last 2 stitches ... it makes for a prettier edge to the wingspan. 
Continue in this manner, decreasing one stitch at the beginning of every other row (the purl rows) until 2 stitches remain.  Purl those two stitches together.

Weave in all ends. Wet block. (No need for pins or blocking wires ... just "shape" your triangle with your hands on a flat surface and air dry.)


13 March, 2014

c o w l

knit up with the handspun

12 March, 2014

h a n d s p u n

100% merino; 600yds 3-ply.

10 March, 2014


But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.  I have made the LORD God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.  (Ps 73:28)

24 October, 2013

"How beautiful are the feet...

... of those who bring good news of good things!"
'tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home  (John Newton)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

October 11, 2013
Bergen, NY

12 October, 2013

435 Sideways Wrap

I had a beautiful skein of JulieSpins 435 Silky (50% merino/50% silk) in the Great Lakes colourway and wanted to use every bit of it on a wrap.

I had previously used my gram scale and notes on sideways shawl construction a few months ago to knit up a similar wrap.   So I decided to write it up this time and offer it as a free ravelry download:  available here. 

The edging is knit on as you go.  The wrap begins with a 7-stitch cast on and slowly increases to the center section. The center is worked in short rows to create a gentle curve around the neckline.

Mirrored decreases take you to the other end with a 7-stitch bind off.
The finished, wet blocked measurements are 8-1/2” at widest point by 82” span.  Plenty long for wrap-wrap-wrapping, sontag tie or longish scarf.

Once you’ve knit the pattern through, you’ll see that there are many ways to modify it.  Enjoy!