Teacup by Martin Storey

I think this cape is aptly named: Teacup!  I feel like I'm wearing either a teacup or a cupcake!  While I love it so much, at first I was a little shy about wearing it as I thought it was a little showy or too young, or something--but my husband loves it, really loves it.  He told me I was crazy to be shy in it, so now I wear it happily and it does get smiles and comments.  

The pattern is from Martin Storey from the Big Accessories book that came out this fall from Rowan.  I took one look at Teacup and knew it would have to be mine!  The Rowan Fur is new this year, and not like any of the old fur yarns, and certainly nothing like an eyelash yarn.  I've never seen anything like it.  It's 100% soft merino wool and while I think it's tailor made for cuffs, collars and trims, I'd love to see a coat made from this.  It's very easy to knit and feels like velvet in your fingers.  Both garter stitch and stockinette, either side, have the identical furry look.  Fur is perhaps my favorite of the new yarns this season only because it's so very fun and different. The brown yarn is from my stash and is two strands held together; one of Cascade Ecological Wool and one strand of a Jamieson fingering weight yarn of the same shade that I used to beef up the gauge of the EW.  The Cascade EW was fantastic and imagine I'll use it again.  It had a very lovely spongey/springy feel that I loved. By the way, the pattern called for Thick N' Thin which I would have preferred to use, but I lean towards my stash if  I find something that will work.  You can guess it was a fast knit--two nights, maybe three.

I'm visiting my daughter and teenage granddaughter right now.  At first packing sweet little Teacup was there in the suitcase, but at the last minute I took it out as I was afraid one of them would like it and I would give it to them!  I know--so stingy, that's not usually my style, but I do want to wear this a few more times before I give it away!  You understand, don't you?

I've been a knitting maniac the last few days to make up for having to take a little time off to take care of Christmasy things.  I have so many finished knits to photograph and one is a coat!  I'm also trying to get some pictures of my house as it's nicely decorated and deserves a post.  That will be next week.  The day after I get home from this visit we are having my husband's golf buddies and their wives over for a chili party.  We'll serve two kinds: I made my chicken chili before I left and put it in the freezer and while I'm away I put my hubs in charge of making traditional beef chili.  He feels kind of important!  Oh, and sorry about the headless shots, I really hate doing that, but something about my smile that day--very off.  Trust me, it was for the best.  Bye for now and stay calm and knit on!

Here's the links:

My Ravelry page for Teacup with a few mods for fit


greetings from owl country

When I asked my friend what sweater she wanted for her new granddaughter, without a moment's hesitation she said, "A pink owl sweater, please."  She has seen one or two at a baby shower and knew she needed one in her family.  I completely understand and was only too happy--I love this pattern and have knit perhaps a dozen.  Have you knit one yet?  You won't be sorry, you'll love every stitch.  I personally think a baby's wardrobe is not complete without one!

Even though making owls from cables has been around for decades, Penny Straker's mother, Janice, is believed to be the first person to publish it some 40 plus years ago.  I knit my first one 30 years ago for my own son.  I think saying "hoo, hoo" was the first animal sound he could make.  I used to point at the owl and ask, "What does the owl say?"  After a while, whenever I pulled out the bright blue sweater he would beat me to the punch and say, "hoo, hoo".  Little monkey!  

The YARN, I loved it so much!  My first time ever using Swans Island Yarn from Maine, USA and I'm a total convert.  The sport weight 100% machine washable wool has all the characteristics we've come to expect in a high quality yarn:  baby soft, silky, elastic and bouncy.  I prefer wool for baby and children's knits as a lightweight wool like this can be worn year 'round.  Wool will keep an active child or a quiet child warm, as wool breathes and has the ability to self-regulate body temperature.  It's true!  Perhaps I'm just speaking for myself, but I am comfortable wearing lightweight wool just about any time of year.   All links are at the end of the post.

Hand dyed with low-impact dyes--in this picture you can see the slight color variations.  Beautiful.

The owls.  So dang cute.

I haven't given up on my scrappy stripey baby sweaters.  In the one below there are a half dozen different shades of whites and pinks, some bits were so little they could barely give me a stripe, but they always turn out cute.  The yarns used are a mix of dk weight machine wash and dry wool and cotton.  As long as they are the same weight and the same care, and I like the colors, then anything goes.  See below for helpful links.

Penny Straker Owl Pattern for babies and for children
my Ravelry page for Petal Pink Owl
read how to make free scrappy, stripey sweaters for baby here and here
read how to make FREE kits for your baby sweaters here
my Ravely page for the pink striped baby sweater


Must Watch Christmas Movies with projects

This is a re-post of a popular post from last November.  I love Christmas movies, but unfortunately this year I haven't been able to watch nary a one!  Things have got to change around here and I think tomorrow I'm going to begin my marathon Christmas movie watching weekend.  And knit of course.

Remember my Top 10 Movies for Knitters?  I'm adding to it a Must Watch Christmas Movies List complete with appropriate projects to knit while viewing.  Let's begin, in no particular order!

1.  White Christmas.  I know, you've probably seen it ____ times, (multiply your age times 2), but maybe you'll be watching it again this year just to see the gorgeous gowns Rosemary Clooney and Vera Allen are wearing and you'll be asking yourself, "When exactly is the last time I wore a gown?"  Love that spectacular last scene with the Santa costumes and the tree with the doors opening and it's snowing and they're singing White Christmas.  We really can't top that kind of beauty, but we can knit a gossamer lace shawl for the leading ladies to slip over their shoulders.  Temptress by Boo Knits.

Knit in Licktfaden Tussah Silk Lace with beads translates to unequaled elegance.

2.  The Polar Express is a visually beautiful movie and has an important lesson, to remember what it feels like when you believe.  A feel good movie.  However, the kids look so chilly going to the north pole dressed only in their pj's and just a few remembered to bring their robes.  Brrr, I shiver just thinking about it.  Let's knit up a little something warm for these kiddies.  I like the Waiting for Winter Mittens very much!

Waiting for Winter by Susan B. Anderson.  These look like they are knit in Noro.

3.  The Bishop's Wife.  Why don't they make movies like this anymore?  Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, oh my.  An angel in the form of Cary Grant descends to earth to help a young family.  While viewing this I think we should knit my Christmas Angels! Aw, I'm really proud of them and think they turned out pretty cute.

Christmas Angels, free pattern download, knit with Rowan Angora Haze.

4.  How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the one with Jim Carrey.  The casting for this movie was so spot on.  What an adorable little Cindi Lou Who and Jim Carrey as the Grinch, well, there could be no other!  But perhaps my favorite character is the fashionable Martha May Whovier.  As in Bouvier.  For the edgy Martha May we absolutely have to pick something from the edgy Rowan Studio 33.  Almost any design will do but let's go for maximum flash and knit the cape with beads, Pop by Amanda Crawford.  You know you want this.  Edited to add:  I bought the beads for this last year when I was in the bead district in NYC.  Yep, there is a bead district in NY with dozens of bead and button shops.  I visited it every day!  This is still in my queue waiting for some day.

Pop, knit with Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

5.  The Christmas Story.   Guys like this movie, and girls do too, but guys really really like this movie as it really strikes a familiar cord.  The Christmas Story takes place in the mid west in the 40s.  The whole movie revolves around Ralphie who wants a BB gun for Christmas.  It's a hard sell, because we all know that the answer can only be "No, you'll shoot your eye out."  Poor Ralphie.  This is a classic vest for Ralphie and this charming little fellow even looks a little bit like him.  Epsilon by Katya Frankel.

Knit in Rowan Purelife Organic DK Wool.

6.  The Miracle on 34th Street, both versions are worthy of repeated watching.  I love little Natalie Wood in the 1947 version.  Little side note, she went to high school with my husband's cousin who said she was shy and sweet and very pretty.  The 1994 version with Mara Wilson is my favorite.  Remember I told you my mom was a children's talent agent?  Mara was her client and mother said she was the sweetest thing.  All the people in this movie, including the extras, are terrifically handsome, wear gorgeous clothes and live in beautiful homes.  Christmas time is when I want a large dose of fantasy and this movie hits the spot.  We'll be knitting a beautiful classic for Mara; Charlotte from the Little Star Collection knit in Rowan Angora Haze.  A very special sweater on a very pretty little girl.  I'm gathering up the yarn to knit this.  I have no one in mind to give it to when it's done, I just love it so much I feel compelled to make it!  The Rowan sample was hanging in my lys, oh my, it's so very beautiful!

Charlotte, sized ages 3 to 10 years, by Marie Wallin.

7.  It's A Wonderful Life.  I can't say enough about this terrific movie.  My tradition is to bring a small TV (now my laptop) into the living room and watch this movie while I decorate the Christmas tree.  (Alone.  My husband puts on the lights then retreats to another room for a night of uninterrupted Xbox)  My favorite scene is probably your favorite scene, dancing on top of the pool!  Or maybe the hydrangea bushes?  Or the phone call in the hall?  Or the ending, sniff.  Don't forget the tissues.  I love that town.  We'll be knitting for Jimmy Stewart who deserves something timeless like this Herringbone Cardigan by Martin Storey.

This looks treacherous, but I'll bet it's not as hard as it looks.
It's a new pattern from Rowan Designer Knits
knit in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted.

8. You've noticed that most of my movies are very vintage.  The Holiday is newish as in 2006, but it plays exactly like it was a vintage movie.  Two unsettled single women decide to swap homes for the holidays.  One home is Southern California modern and the other is pure English country cottage charm.  If you haven't seen this movie, it's just delightful and worth a watch or two.  A very sweet movie with great sweaters.  There is a very tender and magical "tent scene" and we'll knit a star garland for the ceiling.  Star Garland by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich.

Star Garland.  We'll have to knit ours in pink if it's to go in the tent!

9. Holiday Inn.  In this movie Bing Crosby has the hairbrained idea of opening an inn that's only open on HOLIDAYS!  Hmmm, doesn't sound terribly practical, but there are some great production scenes with a spectacular July 4th extravaganza.  In fact, every holiday gets a big extravaganza and I do adore that sort of thing.  For this movie let's knit something for ourselves!  As if we were going to the Inn for a sensational evening of dinner, dancing and entertainment.  We will need something very very special and when I think special, I almost always think Kim Hargreaves and Kidsilk Haze.  That combination just can't be beat.  Here is Mystic.  The simple shaping, soft gray color and light beading make it a truly beautiful holiday sweater.

We'll have to knit the matching scarf too!

10.  Little Women.  Any version will do.  Let's just say they are all excellent and worthy of watching over and over again.   Isn't Concord, Mass. just about the prettiest place in the winter?   As a child, after I read this book or watched the movie I remember wanting to be a better person.  If you loved reading this classic as a child, you will enjoy March by Geraldine Brooks.  This book brings to life the absent father of the March family.  But now back to knitting, the March girls would have been knitting hats for the community.  Here is a free pattern download from Purl Soho and is sized from newborn to adult male.

Knit in Purl's own Super Soft Merino bulky weight, these will go fast!

11.  I cannot have a Top 10 11 List without some Jane!  Let's watch Jane Austen's Emma with Kate Beckinsale.  There is always a reason and a season to read or watch Jane Austen.  In Emma, there is a snowy glimpse of what Christmas looked like in the English countryside 200 years ago.  I could see Emma slipping this over her head just as she alights from the carriage.  Iris by Kim Hargreaves.

Iris Mesh Shawl in Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

This was fun!  I know there's more and if I'm missing a favorite holiday movie of yours YOU MUST SHARE IT WITH ME!   In the meantime, gather up your yarn and needles, light the fire and turn on the telly.  It's time to knit.


a baby blanket for all seasons, free pattern

When my girlfriend Ellie asked me to help her knit a blanket for her soon-to-be-born first grandchild, I was only too happy.  I love my friend and love her daughter and can't wait to meet little Max!  Ellie is a beginner knitter and, understandably, did not want to go with a terribly adventurous pattern.  I showed her examples of the two most basic stitches and asked her to choose her favorite.  She preferred stockinette over garter, so the first choice was made!  Next we went searching for the perfect yarn, which is almost always a far more difficult choice. Her number one priority was that it had to be soft; however, she did not want wool as this baby lives in Houston, Texas where the temperatures are mild to hot -- REALLY hot, not to mention humid!  I reminded her that the yarn needed to be machine washable and dryable, because after all, no one wants to have a precious baby wrapped in a not-so-clean blanket. While she kept moseying over to gaze at the acrylics, I gently shoved her away, because when you ask for my help, it does not include working with scratchy pilly acrylic, no matter how appealing it may look to a novice. She thought she wanted a super-bulky yarn so it would go fast, but I had to no-no that too.  "Your hands will get tired holding those enormous needles. Let's find something more delicate that will still knit up quickly." I bee-lined to Rowan All-Seasons Cotton and prayed that we would find colors that would coordinate with the baby's room.  We were fortunate, because we found the perfect colors! Ellie purchased three skeins of a grey blue called Tornado and two each of the pale green Atlas and the pale cream Organic. I wrote out a simple pattern, and then after casting on, we knit for about a half hour until she felt confident to go home and do it on her own.

I see Ellie most every week, and soon after starting the project she proudly reported that she was knitting a few rows a week. Ooops! At that rate, it would be finished when the child was a high school student. Devoted friend that I am, I gave her a little pep talk that might have included a kick in the rear.  Last week she told me she was done and would I help her finish it?  Honestly, I don't know why I was astonished at how gorgeous it turned out! It's a treasure, and who knows?!  It may become that all-important "blankie" that Baby Max just can't be without! I took pictures and wrote up the simple pattern in case you want to knit a beautiful baby blanket, beginner knitter or not!  All-Seasons Cotton is an absolute joy:  it's soft all the way around--soft when knitting and soft as a finished fabric.  It has lots of bounce and give and even a novice knitter will have no problem getting an even tension.  I love these colors together so much, I'm tempted to knit up a striped scarf!

I'm offering the pattern as a free pattern download on Ravelry.


tiny trees garland

This is surely the most charming and most fun little project I've made recently.  Eight tiny trees took only a few hours to knit and marks my entry into the world of fairisle knitting, and I must admit, I'm more than a teensy bit proud of myself.  The tiny trees are a great beginner fairisle project and I do think at some point I could manage some cuffs or other small fairisle details on a sweater.  I did get tangled up in yarn a few times, but not too big of a deal. 


I used Felted Tweed DK, Kidsilk Haze and KS Glamour and Anchor Artiste Metallic.  They are more sparkly in real life.

Here is my Ravelry page link for the tiny tree garland.

My dining room buffet has a flashy holiday look this year, and I wanted the tiny trees to have  a dash of that sparkle.

The tree garland is from the book Easy Fairisle Knits by Martin Storey,  pictures and my review here. I was inspired by bloggers Anne and Claire who, throughout December, are both knitting a tree a day and asked readers to join them.  I jumped on the bandwagon right away and maybe you'll want to jump on too.

The pattern calls for scraps of Rowan Felted Tweed DK, and while I had plenty, I did have to ask my friend if I could raid her FTDK stash as I had a color theme in mind.  Have you noticed how knitters are sharers?  Our knitting community is so nice, don't you think?  I have lots of Rowan Kidsilk Haze leftovers and included them, as well as some sequiny Kidsilk Glamour, and to add more sparkle, a big dose of Anchor Metallic Artiste.  The details are on my Ravelry project page.

I hope you are settling into the holiday season and enjoying it too! I have my house decorated (pretty much) and will share some photographs when I get some good ones.  Right now I'm busy with planning a few parties.  I'm having a Christmas Tea this week for all the women in my church plus my husband and I are hosting a chili party the weekend before Christmas for his golf buddies and their spouses.  I'm keeping both parties pretty easy and mellow and I'll hopefully get pictures of both to share.  I've got lots of projects on the needles and some surprise posts coming up, so come back soon for a visit!  xo Kristen


pretty paperwhite progress

It was about 3 weeks ago that I planted my paperwhites above, and look how much they've grown!  They are starting to get little buds at the tip of the stalks, and when that happens they'll bloom in a few days.  I think I timed it perfectly as I'm having a few parties, one next week, and one the week after.

I'm almost finished with the house decorating, with just a few more finishing touches to go.  It looks pretty! I've managed to ignore my husband's protestations and put up a second tree in my "sewing lounge", a spare bedroom off my sewing room that I've commandeered for my burgeoning knitting and crafting, (because one room is obviously not enough for this knitter.)  He thought one tree was enough, hummph.  Pictures soon.