Thursday, January 31, 2008

Scottish Highlands

I want my own Nessie, how about you? Be sure you have the sound on. It's safe for work.

Earlier this morning, I finished the first Thuja sock in STR Lightweight, colorway Scottish Highlands. My daughter reluctantly agreed to model it for us. The colors don't entirely say "Scottish Highlands" to me. Over the lovely heathery purples, the green and yellow together shout "GREEN BAY PACKERS!".

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There Are Many Great Things about Living in the Midwest but January Is Not One of Them

Last night was a multi-blanket night. This morning, the wind chill is at 30 below.

Not a problem, as long as you've got a stout house and some colorful knitting. These poor Thujas have been languishing while I finished up the Domovoi Shawl.
If you want to look at some pretty handknit socks, you'll enjoy the cooperative SAM 5 blog. The participants all agree to knit one pair per month and post a photo when done. My January contribution is a pair of lizardlicious Cedar Creeks.

For jollying up this Wisconsin Narnia (where it's always winter), food is always a safe bet.

The mail brought Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman just yesterday. It looks absolutely wonderful, as all the reviews have claimed. The food pr0n is thoughtfully segregated into full-page asides, as in a visit to a Greek goat farm to watch the feta being lovingly and picturesquely handmade. You know what I mean about food pr0n? It's when the author invites the reader to press her nose up against the window to watch the author's life.

It can be fun reading but, please: not in the recipe intros.

A recent egregious offender is Patricia Wells' new book.
Wisconsin Public Radio was giving it as a pledge incentive. Wells, a Wisconsin born-and-bred food writer and cooking teacher, now lives in Provence. Here's how she sets up a beef stew recipe (beef stew, 3 cups of red wine, carrots, no potatoes):
"It was New Year's Eve day, and my husband, Walter, and I were having lunch at our favorite neighborhood café on Rue du Bac in Paris. Out of the blue, he announced that he was going to make the famed French speciality, boeuf-carottes, for the next day's dinner."

There is more but I'll spare you the schmaltz. Obviously, this stuff sells and has become a convention in food writing. It also fills space when you have nothing of substance to say, as plenty of authors of recent knitting books can attest.

Of the two cookbooks, Shulman's Mediterranean Harvest is far superior, and not just for its stylistic restraint. She gives over 500 recipes, plus variations, plus do-ahead tips. Today, I'm going to womp up a kettle of her Provençal Chick Pea Soup and pretend that's the mistral howling outside.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Domovoi Shawl

I loved every minute of this knit, from the center panel to the edging.

My only modification was to use #6 needles. I think the smaller needles give the shawl a cleaner, more refined look.

There's a lot to be said for simplicity in lace knitting.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wild Things

Greetings on a 14 below day from me and my two wild beagles. They have been cooped up quite a bit lately, due first to their neuter and spay operations and then to a bitter cold snap. We'll all be glad when it warms up to a tropical 15 above. That's the minimum temperature for a walk.

The cold gives me plenty of knitting time. I'm on the homestretch of the Domovoi Shawl.

I keep thinking of Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. It's the zigzag edging that's doing it. It looks a lot like Max's hands and feet.

You can knit Max's crown for your favorite wild thing. Scroll down until you find it. That's a must-knit, if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

$1.77 Well Spent

Instead of a progress photo of the little triangles edging the Domovoi Shawl, how about we look out my window? We put up a seed bell. It has two kinds of millet, sunflower seed, and corn syrup.

The word must be out there's a new place to eat in the neighborhood. Look who stopped by for lunch in just the past few minutes ... (If you click on the photos, they'll fill your screen.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Oy, Wolf Blitzer and last night's orchestrated "conversation" - a.k.a. South Carolina Democratic "debate" - with its television moments galore.

How did the smackdown fest between Senators Clinton and Obama play with you?

The little triangles of edging are my knitting from the debate. This edging was a challenge to figure out. I had never knit an edging onto a shawl before. After reading and re-reading the directions and several false starts, I now see how truly simple the concept is.

The edging is the entire reason I chose to make the Domovoi Shawl. I'm in training for the Year of Lace Club. Before the first arrival of Project #1 in March, I will have knit at least one edging.

Snow fell and fell yesterday afternoon. My older daughter rummaged in her bead stash and made me a large handful of stitch markers to add to my ugly but functional plastic ones. She, too, is helping me get ready for the Year of Lace Project #1.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Say Ponczkas

Poonsh-ka. It's a Polish-American jelly donut (usually prune, raspberry, cream, or apricot) served as a pre-Lenten blowout treat. We aren't Polish but we look forward to ponczkas just as much as any of our neighbors who grew up going to church basement ponczka parties.

In knitting news, the body of the Domovoi Shawl is done. Now I'm casting on for the edging - 300 stitches on each long side and 67 on each end. I'm hoping to have a little bit of the edging done tomorrow to show you.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


This photo was taken this morning. TeamBeagle is recovering well after their spay and neuter two days ago. Yes, this is really the way they sleep.

No knitting I can show you will be nearly as cute as that photo. The entire premise of this blog is that my knitting will be constantly upstaged by two beagles.

Listen, in my beaglecentric world, a beagle photo upstages almost everything. I'll show you the first yard (a.k.a. the first half) of the Domovoi Shawl anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

January in Wisconsin

These icicles are by our front door.

When I was taking that picture, I had the feeling of being watched. Turning around, I saw


Think good thoughts for her and Jack. On Tuesday morning they go for their spay and neuter. They are sister and brother; we don't want any tragedies. Besides, it's best to leave the beagle breeding to those who actually know what they're doing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Domovoi Shawl - Part I

A Russian shawl knit by an American in Peruvian wool on Chinese bamboo needles - it's a small world, after all.

According to Cheryl Oberle in Folk Shawls, the Russian domovoi are household elves. If you were ever a member or leader of a Brownie Girl Scout Troop, you probably flashed right to the story of the wise old owl and the little girl who learns to be helpful.
"Please", said the girl, "where can I find the Brownies to come and live with us? The owl said, "I know where two live – right in your house!" She was very surprised! Tell me how to find them, she begged. He told her to go to the pond in the magic forest, turn around three times and say, "twist me and turn me and show me the elf… I looked in the water and saw…….!" The wise old owl said, "When you finish the rhyme, you will see the Brownie in the magic pond."

As a kid, I was a Brownie. Decades later, my husband and I led a troop for three years when our girls were that age (1st-3rd grades which is 6 through 8 years old). We loved our quite large and fun troop. We were definitely not by-the-book leaders. Put it this way: if you've seen the movie "Troop Beverly Hills", you get the general picture ... only in rural Wisconsin.

I don't know why this rectangular shawl is named after the domovoi except that it's so easy it practically knits itself. This is the first 1/4 or 1/3 of the center, depending on how long I decide to make it. There will be a lace border.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Tale of Two Woobies

Woooooo hooooooo! Jack has captured both woobies. Jack owns Molly, neener neener.

Hold the phone. Something's not right. Molly never lets Jack win. She must be otherwise occupied.

Did you say something, Jack? No, I didn't think so.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Please Don't Drink the Algae

Cedar Creek socks in Socks That Rock lightweight, colorway Algae, a mix of lime and greys. The original Cedar Creek pattern has a picot top. I prefer a 2x2 ribbing for these husband socks.

Look what I cropped out of the above photo. Where there be beagles, there be doggie chew toys.

I love the audacious, lizardy effect of these socks but do they evoke algae? Even though my two daughters are preparing for the National Ocean Science Bowl, I know absolutely nothing about algae. Is it ever really lime green?

As they say, google is your friend. I googled photos of algae, looking for lime green and grey. I'd hire this guy, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stash Enhancement

Question: Why go to a Stitches West/Midwest/East?

Survey says:
3) To take classes taught by famous knitters and teachers
2) To meet other knitters
...and the primary reason
1) to enhance the stash!

As my sister e-mailed me about Stitches West, "there are a lot of vendors you can't find on-line - small farms,etc. - with incredibly beautiful yarn. It is yarn Disneyland."

Since the yarn Disneyland at Stitches Midwest, held near Chicago in August, is months and months away, how about I show you what the mail brought me yesterday? If you click on the photos, they'll be full-screen.

Socks That Rock Lightweight Color: Love-in-Idleness

Color: Tanzanite

Color: Fire on the Mountain

Color: Farmhouse

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Beagle Tuesday

Quiet! The beagles are sleepy.

Sleepytime Jack. Note the woobie.

Molly ...and woobie.

Which leaves a little time to knit the first few pattern repeats of the Domovoi Shawl from Folk Knits. The wool is Reynold's Whiskey.

Please note that this shawl will never become a beagle woobie.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Half and Half and Half

Half a pair of Cedar Creek socks, Socks That Rock lightweight, colorway Algae.


Lizard-liciousness not for the faint of heart, sartorially speaking. The second sock is on the needles.

Half a pair of Bird in Hand mittens, anonymous worsted from my stash on #3 dpns.



Do you know how difficult it was to find clean snow for a background? Without clambering over the mound lining either side of the driveway, that is. The most fun part of this pattern is a bird on the thumb. The flash of yellow is its embroidered beak and legs. I'm not sure I'm keeping the yellow. They may change to blue.

Since I cast on for this mitten during the television coverage of the Iowa caucuses, I'll wait to cast on for the second mitten during New Hampshire's turn tomorrow night.

Half a pair of beagles, searching through their toy box. That's Jack.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Yep, yet another knitter is making Kate Gilbert's Bird in Hand mittens. I cast on last night during the Iowa caucuses. While the television pundits commented - and over them, my husband Tom commented -I knit a garland of blue flowers on a grey background.

Tom grew up in Iowa. Geography was a big part of the school curriculum in his day. He knows all the Iowa counties and their capitols. He knows their general ethnic and religious makeup.

He told me about it all while I knit a bracelet of blue leaves.

Tom was making popcorn when the results came in. We listened to John Edwards' impassioned, articulate speech. When Edwards said, "We are better than this," Tom and I nodded. I put down my knitting and ate popcorn. We talked about Iowa and Barak Obama. I washed my hands and took up my knitting again to knit on.

It was a good night.

This morning, I realized I had been reading the knitting chart from right to left and the chart for the thumb from right to left. It doesn't really matter, as long as I do the same for the other mitten. I also intentionally left out the braided rows. I didn't understand the directions for them and didn't care enough to ponder them.

I was too busy having fun.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

In Runes

"On a bit of bone from Norway, a love-smitten young man inscribed 'Kysmik' - kiss me."- Elsebeth Lavold, Viking Patterns for Knitting

And so Elsebeth Lavold designed a men's vest with the runes Kysmik cabled right across the chest. I like the basic idea. What if I were to rune-ize my husband's name, Tom, instead? Or maybe just his initials would look better. Or a message like Vote!

Enter the internet. Click me and see what your name in Viking runes would look like.

In her book, Elsebeth Lavold provides cable charts for the letters T, B, L, I, and R, as well as for the message, Kysmik. I didn't find anyone doing other cabled runes, but did find
charted runes, apparently the Saxon variety. Whether there is a difference between Viking runes and Saxon ones, I have no idea.

Is a vest with runes just too Middle Earth, especially if the man is also wearing handknit socks? If you're thinking, What was your first clue?, just keep an open mind. Look what Knitting and Chocolate did with runes!

If that doesn't evoke the prow of a Viking dragon ship bobbing over the foamy waves, the sailors burly, stripped to the waist, biceps and six-pack abs oiled, all wearing metal cuffs with mystical symbols and horned helmets, I don't know what does.

I forgot. Those Vikings were a peaceful lot. It says so right here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Knit Lit's meme: Best of 2007

1. your best FO of the year

Joan McGowan-Michael's Shaped Lace Tee, knit in White Lies Designs' Joy, colorway Antique Pink.

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to

For technical prowess: Lace Freak's Legend of the Shetland Seas.

For design prowess: Bonnie Marie's Beryl

3. best yarn you tried

Seasilk. Like Chanel No. 5, it is not a luxury but a necessity.

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007

Bonnie Marie's Beryl, as in #2. It's fresh but on-trend and very versatile.

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007

Socks - and I swore I'd never, ever knit them. Now ... I've knit so many this year that I can do it on autopilot.

6. top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year?

1. The blogs in my sidebar - thank you for all the tips, tricks, ufos, fos, stories, and observations. I may not leave a comment but I do read faithfully. You're an important part of my day.

2. - an awesome resource and community

3. The fabulous color artistry of Noro Kureyon and Socks That Rock brightens many a gray day.

4. has an interesting and affordable selection of yarns.

5. It's okay to frog a project that's not right for you. Who knew?!

7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year

I obviously like Bonnie Marie's esthetic a lot. Another favorite is Habu.

8. knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog?

2008 is my year of lace because of a new membership in a lace knitting club. It is also my year of colorful socks because I owe my husband one new pair per month for the entire year.