Saturday, December 27, 2014

5 Knit and Crochet and Yarn Trends for 2015

Knitwear Fashion Trends for 2015  

   Bulky Cable Knit Sweater

Wow! We're hardly past Christmas and Lion Brand yarns has forecasted the 5 knit, crochet and yarn trends to look forward to in 2015.  See their blog at:

In summary, the 5 trends are:

1.  Big Yarns for fast, finished projects
2.  Oversized Fashions that are flattering for everyone
3. "Scarfies"
4.  Color: Bright, bold and self striping
5.  Fur Trim: seen, made and worn

                                                                                 Plush Striped Shawl                                             

Working with "Homespun Thick & Quick" yarn, you'll appreciate nubby texture and appeal of a fast knitting project that creates a colorfully warm hat, a cozy cabled sweater or a
 shawl. The gauge is as follows:

Knit: 8 sts x 12 rows = 4" x 4" (10cm x 10cm) on size 15 (10mm) needles 
Crochet: 6 sc x 8 rows = 4" x 4" (10cm x 10cm) on size P-15 (10mm) hook

 "Quickie" Yarn is ideal for thick hats that can be knit up in a flash.  Keep your head and ears warm and protected from ice, snow and wind. Or, a quick last minute gift for that someone special on their birthday.  Makes a welcome gift.                             

"Wool Ease" by Lion Brand yarns is a category (6) yarn. It's super bulky weight is perfect for knit caps and simple sweater designing. A video helps to highlight the advantages of the yarn for knitting and crochet.  


Knit: 9 stitches x 12 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size 13 (9 mm) needles
Crochet: 6.6 sc and 8 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size N-13 (9 mm) hook 


Brilliant Knit Beads - by Betsy Hershberg

In her book, "Brilliant Knit Beads", comes the amazing crafting technique of knitted beads. Learning how to turn swatches into beads is done through the reading of charts and using the provisional cast-on method. Fabulous necklaces can be created by using a variety of different yarns and textures, adding yet smaller beads to the knit beads.  How creative is that?


    For further info on Betsy's class tutorial and online instructional video, please go to:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 2014

     What a busy time of year this becomes, when Thanksgiving ends and Black Friday brings out the many shopping patrons looking for good deals.  The stores put out their best holiday light displays and the malls are alive with Christmas music and Santa displayed in an uncluttered area of the store where all the children can congregate.   I find Black Friday to be a fun time for bargain hunting, the hustle and bustle of shoppers, a coffee break or lunch, and people watching.  By the time I get home I am truly satiated and exhausted. 


     In the evening, I love to read cozy mysteries that have holiday-related themes. A few of my favorites this season are ones that involving knitting, quilting and Victorian themes. 




       You can find many good books at great discounts from Amazon,com. Because of my budget, I generally place them on holds at the local library. The savings on book costs helps to fund my yarn supply.


         And,  I love to look at all the beautiful yarns that are produced for the Winter knitting frenzy that the weather and holidays seem to require.  Whether or not to purchase any more yarn is always a number game for me, after essentials are taken care of.  Recently, in my email I received an interesting decision-making aid from Amusing Yarns, that helps take the guesswork out of such decision-making processes. It seems there is a scientific way to determine whether or not one should make a yarn purchase, based on specific criteria.   Interestingly, I believe that no matter how you answer a question, it will always lead to buying yarn. Isn't that clever?  For a larger view of the chart, go to their website at

     A few of the knitting projects I have been working on over the past month are Christmas gifts for my daughter and my mother. Boot toppers for my daughter are finished and have been warmly received.

     Back in October, in honor of Pink October's Cancer Awareness month, I began a pink shawl for my mother.  The shawl is in remembrance of her mother, my grandmother and my daughter's great grandmother, who died from cancer.  My mother is 95 years young and gets a chill when watching TV or reading in bed, so I think this may help to keep her warm.  The project turned out well and I managed to watch all 5 episodes of Downton Abbey, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise, North & South and Cranford as I knit for hours on end on a project consisting of many YOs and ktbl patterning.  I "unknit" many rows, over and over, in order to keep the stitch count correct.


      I love the finished shawl and the versatility of the many many in which it can be worn, all 61.5" of it.  The pattern is by Jennifer L. Jones, called, "Glitzy Cat's Paw Lace Wrap". And, here's the finished project that I started in Pink October's Cancer Awareness month, in memory of my grandmother who passed from cancer in the 70s.

For myself, I have been working on other knitting projects that include a long sweater in an open lace knit, the beginning of a cabled sweater and, if I can locate more of a discontinued yarn, a lovely dark grey tweed Aran knit vest with many cables and seed stitch patterning.  So far, the cabled sweater (back) is progressing nicely with a lovely cream yarn by Caron.

  If you have a beginning knitter on your Santa list, this starter kit is a great gift idea, complete with instructions, knitting accessories, including needles, and other items to help a new knitter get started. the first experience in shopping for appropriate yarn weight would be a lovely outing for any young girl (or guy).  Who says only gals knit? Have you ever seen Kaffe Fassett's knitting styles? Truly works of art.

Baking Goodies

      For anyone who loves cookies, there has come to my attention a wonderful blog for a a goodies site called, "Sprinkle Bakes".  Such lovely and decadent treats to be enjoyed. The photography alone is worth viewing. Here's one of my favorite recipes:

From Sprinkle Bakes comes the most fabulous ideas for baked goodies.  One of the most colorful delights is the spiral cookie, with sprinkles that highlight the tasty treat.

 The cookie starts out as laid out, flat sheets of two different colored and/or flavored doughs. It is then rolled into a cylindrical shape, covered in baking sprinkles and then sliced into cookie rounds for baking.  Such a creative and textural delight!

The Finished Cookie

The free recipe and directions, along with many other wonderful goodies, can be found at:

Ham Roll

The author's dog at Sprinkle Bakes is "Biscuit".  I can imagine how he got that name, as he seems to be watching for any possible interruptions to grabbing hold of this delicious looking ham roll.  


    I had to laugh at the look on the little Pug's face, as it reminded me so much of our new little Dachshund, Ruby.  She has the most precious face and naughty behaviors. you just can't help but laugh at their antics.


        I always get a kick out of  animal photos, especially ones that show the animals in fun costumes or unusual behaviors to their breed. Here are some of my favorites that always make me smile.

    Christmas Cards !!                                                                Bunny Boots

              Hedgehog Plays Santa                                            


     Red-Tailed Woodpecker spotted
     in our back yard, like above photo

     Speaking of critters, our Ruby has been quite the interesting breed of dog. I've never been the owner of a small breed dog, having parented a Labrador and German Shepherd for over 10 years. But this Dachshund has been an interesting and at times, frustrating breed to get use to. But she is a lovely girl who has found her forever home here. The cats like (tolerate) her and they seem to like to sleep together at times. Napping is one of their favorite times together.

   Ruby on her favorite rug, by the heater.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Knit Cloche Hat Pattern

Knit Cloche Hat

         One of the best things about Winter is all the fabulous accessories you can wear along with winter boats. Boots, scarves, hats, umbrellas, etc., just make an outfit look so much more fashionable.  I especially love hats and neckwarmers (not silk scarves but soft knitwear).  Experimentation has lead me to start developing my own patterns for knitters.  Knitting is also a favorite pastime in the cold months of the Pacific Northwest, so why not put two passions together, eh?  


              The cloche hat was knit in 100% wool, purled throughout, except for one knit row between the cream border and the variegated, on a size US 7 circular needle, starting with a 16" circular for the ribbing.  the yarn is "Tapestry" by Purl Essence in the color: forest.  The colors definitely remind me of a forest.  This yarn is 30%% wool/70% acrylic, which gives it a soft and pliable texture. Gauge: 15 stitches x 19 rows = 4" on a size 10 needle. The ribbing was made with two strands of Sheepish cream yarn (70%acrylic/30% wool).  I tend to make my headgear (or any other item that actually touches my bare skin) is a wool blend, due to sensitivity.  

The pattern worked out better than I had anticipated in that the ribbed edge actually turned naturally, so that there is a rolled edge before the white band. I was quite pleased with the final outcome.  The easy-knit pattern will be available soon on Ravelry.  I can't wait to share this first pattern.  You can find it at:


Two Color Cast-on Knitting

              Stocking caps are very useful this time of the year, when it rains or snows, and especially when the wind is whipping at your face, slapping your hair into your eyes. Ouch!  For years, I have been knitting stocking caps for the various men and women in my life (daughters, mother, sisters, husband, brothers, brother-in-laws, etc) from a very basic pattern (love those every now and again).  


The beauty of a k2, p2 stocking cap pattern is that any size head will fit into a cap, depending on the number of stitches you cast on. From an infant to a large man's head shape, everyone is covered, figuratively.  During this time of dismal weather, when the rain and wind are whipping at your face, or snow flurries are turning your hair follicles to icycles, a simple hat made from warm fibers is very well received and used. And, stocking caps make wonderful gifts for Christmas. Make one in red for yourself, and one in green for your man. In fact, color changes throughout the pattern can be very striking, as in a red and green striped cap.

     Generally, my standard stocking caps begin with the long-tail cast-on method, which my grandmother taught me to do, over 50 years ago.  this method will produce a right side facing finished edge, with the next row facing being a wrong side.  The number of stitches to cast on 

On row 2 (WS) the pattern begins with a p2, knit 2 pattern to the  It's still my favorite style of casting on stitches, as the right 
       is facing you and the initial pattern of k2, p2 for 2-4 inches (based on
      whether or not you prefer a turned up brim) is very traditional, especially 
      in mens stocking knit caps. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

November - Thanksgiving


     When November rolls around, what do you think of most?  Cold stormy nights, the end
     of Fall?  The winter ahead, Halloween's ended and another holiday event is on the horizon.

     Thanksgiving tens to make me think of festive turkey dinners with relatives. Lots of family
     members all coming together to share a meal.  It is also a time to share our thoughts on what
     we are thankful for - family, health, jobs, friends, good fortune, and the overcoming of hard
     times and our ability to pull throw rough patches in our everyday lives.

Abundant Blessing

We thank You for the turkey.
The gravy and the dressing.
Dear Lord, this table overflows
With Thy abundant blessing,
Let us always be aware
That all gifts come from You,
And may we serve Your heavenly will
In everything we do.

- Joanna Fuchs -

      National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation


         Traditionally, the White House begins the yearly Thanksgiving celebratory season with a ceremony, known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.  This special ceremony honors one turkey of note, granting it the "presidential pardon", which spares the bird from being slaughtered.  the bird then lives out the rest of its life at the home of George Washington's birthplace.   Although the ceremony has been frowned upon by some, turkey farmers are quick to point out that the average lifespan of a turkey is 3 to 4 years, claiming that the birds are bred for eating and not retirement.  It seems that their flesh grows so fast that their heart, bones and organs can't catch up, and they are often found dead where they lived.  

     And, let's not forget to give thanks to the honored animal of this holiday, whose very life has
feed millions of people over the centuries - the turkey.  Often maligned as one of the ugliest birds
in the wild kingdom, the turkey has certainly been favored by many great chefs throughout history.

      Along with the Thanksgiving feast, there is a traditional history around family recipes in the preparation of stuffing that goes into the turkey, along with all the gravies, pies, home-made biscuits, eggnog, olives, cranberries, salad dressings and incidental side dishes, passed down through the generations of a family.  Many family recipes have been preserved in safekeeping for the holiday, with secret ingredients never divulged to outsiders.  Secret recipes are typical amongst families who insist on keeping the recipe cards guarded against "outsiders", to be passed down to a daughter or daughter-in-law, for future presentations.  

     There is an art form to making the perfect, non-clumping gravy, or the perfect pumpkin, apple or pecan pie.  Some baked items are prepared the day before or few days before, in order to get them out of the way of the major baking of the turkey on Thanksgiving, early in the morning hours.  From special sausage stuffing, to cranberry sauces with chutney, dijon or some other secret ingredient, there are so many delicious ways to bring the best meal to a family dining table, set with good china and glassware. Whether your rolls or side dishes are naturally gluten-free, grain-free or dairy-free, meals can be planned around the pickiest dietary needs.  Small serving dishes or colorful bowls often hold the other side dishes for the meal - black olives, vegetable dip (for those who can't wait patiently for the meal to begin), deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole or appetizers - can add excitement to the meal, as well as keep hungry people happy.  There's nothing worse than starving before a meal that has 2 hours left until serving time. Unless, of course, you burned the turkey.

     Aside from the main meal, another consideration involves presentation of the dinner table and the ambiance of the holiday in general.  The dinner table becomes a colorful cornucopia of Fall colors, from the rich wine color of cranberries, to the rich dark amber color of the turkey itself, your mouth tends to water in appreciation at the feast layed out before you, as you step into the dining area. Aside from the main meal, dessert items such as pies are often the finishing touch to any Thanksgiving meal and a favorite food for guests to bring to the dinner to share with others.  Sometimes potlucks are the best way to host a dinner party. If the host is responsible for the turkey preparation, potatoes and gravy, others can surely bring the after meal delicacies.  Pumpkin and apple pies, as well as mincemeat pies are often the favored deserts of choice. In Oregon, we love our Marionberry pies, grown locally here.  This hybrid berry is truly sweet and delicious-it's like a blackberry and boysenberry pie melted together. For those who don't want pie, they can still get a taste of the Marionberry experience with delicious ice cream. 

               Pumpkin Custard Pie                                           Apple Pie


                                                 Marionberry Pie with Lattice Top Crust                                            
     Hundreds of recipes have been passed down from generation to generation regarding the cooking of the turkey, the stuffing that goes into the turkey, all the accompanying dishes to go with the turkey (gravies, mashed potatoes, yams, pies, rolls, etc.) and even what to do with the leftovers. Hot turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy come to mind as the dinner serving the next day.  Many people complain about eating way to much turkey in the following week that they don't want to eat turkey again until next year, but I say bring it on!


     Another important aspect of holiday feasts such as Thanksgiving dinner, is the presentation of the turkey and all the favorite recipes that have been passed on from a beloved grandmother, aunt, mother, sister or dear friend. Table presentation is as important as the ambiance of the room in which the meal is to enjoyed.  From the simple Quaker table, laden with a gourd and pine cone and pine needles centerpiece, to more elaborate fare, decorations are key. 

    Candle and Corn Kernels in Glass Votives                      Small Gourds and Candles


     Whether your table settings are traditional, playful or artistic, you and your guests will delight in softly lit candles, place mats, cloth napkins and glassware, giving your meal a level of sophistication that brings out all the deliciousness of the meal and the camaraderie of close family and friends. A simple meal can be easily enhanced with just a few simple decorating touches.  Plants, candles, table runners and gourds are always a good starting point for any table, small or big. The bigger the table, the more decorating ideas are possible.  

      Maybe you would like to make your own special table runner, by incorporating your skill of knitting, crochet or some other handiwork.  Quilting is an excellent way to be creative, and it was surely one of the most traditional means of table decoration in the times of the Pilgrims, although most of the fabric scraps were likely from the worn out clothing of dresses and shirts.




Free Knitting Pattern

Diamond Table Cloth - by Ann E. Gallentine

     This lovely, knit Diamond Table Cloth pattern, by Ann E. Gallentine would be a wonderful tablecloth for any special get together.  The free pattern instructions and further information can be found at:  But, you'll need to be a quick knitter to get this done in time, or begin one for next year :) 

Place Cards 


     Table place cards are also a nice touch for the dinner table, with everyone's name done in gold calligraphy inks. Thanksgiving is also a time in which we reflect back on what has transpired in our lives over the past year, and all the good things we have to be thankful for.A fun idea is to get everyone thinking about 3-5 things that they are most thankful for, which they can jot down inside their place cards. Before, during or after dinner, each can state some of the things they are thankful for. This is an especially important lesson for smaller children, who may have never thought about blessings in their young lives.  This game also opens the door to asking your child what they are thankful for, from school friends to loving parents and siblings, maybe a new clothing, a new school experience, teacher, neighborhood, new house, their own bedroom, a new pet, etc.  Blessings come in big and small ways. Or, later over coffee and pumpkin pie, you can read everyone's thoughts, and
turn it into a guessing game, as to who said what.

Simple Place Card Ideas you can Make Yourself, with rubber stamps, stickers, color paper and crayons, or copy & paste from an internet site. Then write everyone's name on the front and numbering from 1 to 5 inside, where blessings can be jotted down.  Children will enjoy anything creative that engages their mind and hands.  Why not let them help you to decorate place cards for the children's table?  Colored paper and simple shapes can be cut out by an adult or older child. the tail feathers can be cut of colored paper, wrapping paper, or any number of things found around the house, such as newspaper, magazine print pictures, food boxes, etc.


                                                                   Activities for Kids

     Speaking of kids, there are additional fun activities that are available from many free internet sites, catering to kids ages.  Anything that gets them involved in creative activities will be a hit at your gathering.  And it keeps them entertained away from busy cooks and preparers of meals, which is a super good plan for busy kitchen moms.  One year, my daughter got the kids involved in coloring, stamping, cutting out colored paper and puzzles. Depending on their ages, there are many such things to keep them happy and out of the way of baking pans and busy feet.  And, they can take home whatever they make, to keep as a souvenir of their special Thanksgiving holiday event.



       Remember all those great color-by-number painting sets of horses that you enjoyed as a child?  I spent hours with these great art projects and would hang the finished product on my bedroom walls, enjoying looking at them every morning when I woke up.  I'm sure that my love of art and color theory probably developed from that time period. I would spend hours at my little desk, carefully painting between the lines with entirely inadequate, plastic bristle paintbrushes.  But it became a challenge foe me to perfect my steady hand, and I loved the process. This project would work well on heavy card stock or light cardboard. Photocopy the picture and transfer the design to the cardboard or stock ahead of time.  Your young guests will enjoy working on a fun Thanksgiving project like this, and it's a relatively quiet activity shared with other budding artists.  

      Many great puzzle, word searches, math problem solving and other games can be found online for free.  Simply photocopy the number of pages you'll need, or make one copy and get the rest printed off at the nearest copy store, like Kinko's.   The Dollar Store carries frames for a reasonable price and children love seeing their artwork displayed around the house.  Memories of special times spent with others are very important for developing children, too.  

Socializing children is quite easily done through play, with coloring being a quiet and creative
activity.  Adults and children can chat while they color and relay all the things that they are thankful for.  What a great low-stress, creative and fun way to share the Thanksgiving message to youngsters. And, the children can take their artwork home to place on the fridge. Take a picture and keep as a memento 
of the shared holiday time spent together as a communal festivity.  Okay, now go get your crayons!

Family Activites  

     On Thanksgiving, the television is one of the favorite hangout places in many homes.  Whether watching football, a classic movie or watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, everyone can
enjoy the day with family.  The floats are creative and have taken many talented people painstaking hours to create for our fanciful enjoyment.  Along with floats, are musical bands, baton twirlers, clowns, horses and a vast array of performers.  Macy's has been involved in Thanksgiving Day parades since 1924.  This year's parade is being held on Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 9am (EST) and will be televised nationally on NBC.

      Parades always remind me of an earlier period in my childhood, when the family got together
and took the bus into downtown Portland to watch the Rose Festival Parade, in June.  When I think
of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, it makes me shiver, knowing that the weather is generally very cold at that time of the year.  So, I have to give props to those of you who are brave enough to venture out into the cold air to support the float makers and all the folks involved in  riding on the floats and making the event a huge success and tradition for others. One day,I'd love to take my family to the event and enjoy the festivities.

Cold Months Ahead

    Speaking of the weather, it has been frighteningly cold here in the Portland area. In fact, today, (Saturday, November 15, 2014) it is currently 32ยบ on the SE side of town, in the Clackamas area. Hopefully, later today, the temperature will improve enough for me to take our new dog, a 3 year old Dachshund, out for a walk. Ruby sleeps most of the day and I wonder if that is normal,  She doesn't seem to like playing with toys, either. But she loves her walks.  She needs to get bundled up because she's a "shiverer".  I never thought I would own a dog that needed to be dressed up, but she seems to like the additional covering.

      Now that Ruby has become a part of our family, I have been researching various dog sweater patterns for small dogs.  There are so many wonderful patterns, most of which are also free.  The one pattern that I really like is a cable knit, Celtic style pattern from GARNSTUDIO.  Sizing for the sweater is as follows:

XS for a Chihuahua (chest = 11-12.5"/28/32 cm)
S for a Bichon Frise (chest = 15-17"/40/44cm)
M for a Cocker Spaniel (chest = 19-20.5"/48/52 cm)

     If you have a dog within these dimensions, and knit this garment for your special little gal or guy, please let me know how it turned out. I'd really love to see your finished garment.  Next garment I think would be interesting, is pants of some kind, to cover the bums and legs. Tricky design idea, eh?



Thanksgiving Mystery Reading

     One of my favorite activities during any holiday is to read books that are either related to a
particular holiday, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, or to read new releases during a holiday month. This is one of my new traditions. So, in that vein, cozy mystery reads that center on the Thanksgiving holiday are especially enjoyable to read.  Here are a few good choices: