Sunday, March 29, 2009

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to Karen Russo, the winner of the Elann Pure Silk contest. Karen, I sent you an email--make sure you check your spam filter.

Stick around, Yarnies. There's more . . .

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Socks

I can't even blame the washer or dryer because neither of the two missing socks has a completed mate yet.

And at the rate this is going, they never will.

I've been on a sock binge this year. One freaking sock after another. If I'm not at the laptop I'm curled up on the sofa knitting socks like my life depended on it. Cozy, comfy socks but butt ugly. Definitely nothing camera-worthy. Mostly they've been my plain old cuff-down, heel flap, gusset knit-'em-in-your-sleep method that doesn't require any intervention from my brain. (Which is a good thing since my brain has been taken over by work and has nothing left to give.) (Did I tell you I tried to microwave a container of soy milk?) (Do you know how hard it is to wedge a quart of soy milk into a microwave?)(Will I ever run out of ( )?)

Here's a partial list of sock progress:

  • Plain white cuff down for Goldisox in Berroco Comfort - worsted
  • Plain white toe up for me (love love love Judy's Magic Cast-on)
  • Plain heather blue cuff down for Goldisox in Lion Brand Wool-Ease (an aside: of all the different yarns I've tried, he loves Wool-Ease the best. Go figure.)
  • Spiral cuff down for Goldisox in Lion Brand Wool-Ease - oatmeal
  • Spiral cuff down for me in leftovers from above
  • Cuff down for me in something bright and colorful for which I no longer possess labels (smart, huh?) (unfinished)
  • 1 Best Foot Forward in Cash Soft DK
  • 1 cuff down, 7-1 ribbing, in Crazy Colors Stretch (muted manly brown tones)
See the last two? They're my problem children. The Best Foot Forward was going to be for me (hence the pink) and I was very excited about them. I love the pattern, love the yarn, love the color. I don't love the fact that the finished sock, the pattern, the yarn, and the needles have disappeared from the face of my universe. I swear I turned around and poof! They were gone.

And that other one, the manly brown stretchy sock--well, you won't see me posting its ugly face on a milk carton any time soon. I was about to start the toe when it went missing and made the mistake of trying on the stupid small-needled time-waster and gasped in horror and what I saw. I mean, if it looked so stretched out, holey, and horrible on my foot what in the name of Elizabeth Zimmermann is it going to look like on Goldisox's size 11+? It looked so gorgeous on the needles. The ribbing provided just enough textural interest to bump up all of that understated neutrality. I haven't a clue why 7 knits and 1 purl stretches to a wildly unattractive degree while 5 knits and 1 purl behaves itself.

If you have any ideas, please leave them in comments because if I ever find that sock I just might turn it into a parrot toy.

And, trust me, that is a sad end for a sock.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

CLOSED Feel like a contest?

And the winner is . . . Karen Russo!

It's been a crazy week or so around here. Lots of running around which, quite frankly, feels fantastic after being cooped up writing for so many months. The next book is already taking shape and I know it won't be long before I'm a total writing bot again, a zombie at the laptop, so I'm taking advantage of my freedom while I can.

But that doesn't mean we can't have another contest.How about some gorgeous Elann Pure Bamboo? Four skeins of #314, Devonshire Cream. (Don't you love yarn names? They're almost as good as nail polish shade names.) (Man, was that a clumsy sentence.) You can read all about Pure Bamboo right here.

And you can enter the contest right here by sending me an email with BAMBOO in the subject header. The winner will be posted Saturday night.

Turns out I'll have two books out this summer. Berkley is reissuing GIRLS OF SUMMER in trade paperback on July 7th. The cover is wonderful and the book is a favorite of mine. You can visit my website to read a chapter or two and see what you think.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A "COOL" Scarf

By "cool" I'm not referring to trendy or stylish......but rather a scarf that's appropriate and cool to wear here in the south, rather than wool, alpaca or a heavier fiber.

I grew up in New England with my mom knitting me the requisite wool mittens, scarves, hats and sweaters. And they sure did keep me warm! But when I returned to knitting about four years ago, I wondered what on earth I could make for myself and actually wear here in Florida when the temps are hovering around 80 during the winter. So I was very happy to discover the wonderful and lightweight cottons that are now available.

The above scarf (for me) that I have just about finished is done with Sublime Soya Cotton and I love working with this yarn. It's soft to the touch, comes in gorgeous colors and works up beautifully. Plus.........this is a scarf that will not only look sharp with turtleneck jerseys, but rather than provide warmth, it's more of a fashion accessory.

The pattern is a called Diamond Leaf and while it's not difficult, it does require a bit of concentration with all the yarn overs and knit 2 togethers, but I love the lacy look.

I've purchased some more of the cotton yarn in some yummy colors for future scarves. I think they'll be just perfect to wear at my upcoming book signings this autumn when Spinning Forward is released. And since my novel is knitting related.........I figure wearing the scarf is just another little tool for advertising and marketing.

Another few inches and I'll have this one finished.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring temptation

A trip to the LYS is always dangerous but in the spring, it's even worse. I needed to buy yarn for a donation to Brenda Novak's fundraising auction for juvenile diabetes (the Yarnies donated a fabulous gift bag which I'll post a link to once it's up on the auction site) so I walked in the door. Big mistake! All the spring yarns were in and the colors called to me like sirens. I was bored with the white lace scarf and the Wake Forest scarf and the throw that I've barely knitted three lo-o-ong rows on. I wanted something fun and breezy and fast to work on.

Here it is: a scarf (of course) on No. 17 needles in Colinette Giotto "Fresco #147". I love the fact that the yarn is from Wales.

I've never knitted with a "ribbon" yarn before and wanted to try it out. The Lovely Yarn Lady suggested garter stitch with an occasional row of double-wrapping to give the scarf some funky texture (which I hope you can see in the photo below).

So I cast on 16 stitches (well, actually I cast on 10 first, knitted for about three feet and decided it was way too narrow so I ripped it all out and started over as my DH looked on in disbelief). I do the double-wrap every seven rows. I think it's really fun and funky.

It's a bit of an adjustment to knit with these gigundo needles (which I show beside the cable remote to give you a sense of scale). I find I'm much more loosey-goosey with the ribbon yarn and big needles, a fun contrast to my usual smaller-than-gauge style.

I do have one question for the experts: do you block this sort of yarn? I forgot to ask the Lovely Yarn Lady and I'm afraid to go back into the store for fear of being tempted by another spring project.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Very OT: Hockey history was made last night

I know there are lots of hockey fans on this blog. Hockey sticks and knitting needles seem to create an affinity somehow. You know that hockey history was made last night AND I WAS THERE. If you'd like to see some pix and commentary, head over to my blog to check them out. Here's a preview:

Now back to our regular programming...

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New installment of Grandma's story

If you've been following my grandmother's amazing life story, there's a new installment posted today at Totebags 'n' Blogs. I hope you'll stop by and take a look. (This episode takes her from England to New Zealand to England to America.)

The images are scans of a "real postcard" which is an actual photo turned into a mailing card. (They were popular around 1905-1915 or thereabouts.) The card was sent from New Zealand by my great-grandfather Charley to the daughter Edith (Dede), the daughter they left behind in England. "Sold" is probably a better word.

Like my husband says, my family is small but volatile.

Back later with more.


Thank You For Including Me ~ New Resident Here

I want to say a huge thank-you to Barbara, my new friend, for inviting me to participate here at Romancing The Yarn with all of you. I look forward to getting to know the rest of the resident bloggers here and catching up on many of the past entries.

My debut novel with Kensington Publishers will be released this November. SPINNING FORWARD is women's fiction and of course it has to do with yarn and knitting. My main character ends up relocating from Massachusetts to Cedar Key, Florida (the island where I happen to live) and opens a yarn shop, where she spins dog and cat fur into yarn. After being married to a physician for twenty-eight years, Sydney Webster's upscale life falls apart when he's killed in a car crash. And two weeks after she buries him, a sheriff shows up at her door to evict her from that posh home. Unknown to Sydney, hubby was also a compulsive gambler. Packing up her few belongings, Boxer dog, yarn and spinning wheel she travels to Cedar Key, where her best friend from college owns the B&B on the island. Hoping to find her identity at age fifty-two, Sydney ends up finding much more than she bargained for.

As far as knitting, I'm working on a couple of projects right now. Maybe it's the compulsive part of knitting, but I never seem to have only one work going at a time. One of the things I'm working on is a sweater/jacket for me. Figured it was about time I make something for myself. I've included the photo in this post. If anyone would like the free pattern for it, just email me at and I'd be more than happy to email you a copy.

Again, to all the resident bloggers here and especially Barbara, I look forward to joining you at Romancing The Yarn.

And I'll see you here next time.............

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chicken sweaters

My MIL sent me a link to a story from the BBC about a woman knitting sweaters for some chickens who have lost their feathers.

I did a search and discovered that a battery chicken is a chicken rescued from a mass-production egg facility, so I feel even better about knitting helping to keep them warm. And isn't the little chicken sweater cute?

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cashmere winner

Congratulations to Ivy R.!

Knitting, Writing and Question

Hi, everyone!
I'm back after taking two months to finish my November book, and also do a bit of publicity for my February book, DEADLY REUNION. In the midst of that, I also had a request from a lady at church to knit her great-grandchild-to-be (due in April), a sweater and booties. I'm posting the picture with this blog. My picture taking abilities are kind of 'eh', but the picture should give you an idea of what it came out like. The yarn is Bernat's Baby Coordinates yarn, I think it's called.

So that's the Writing and Knitting. The Question part concerns resizing an existing pattern for a hooded woman's sweater from Simply Knitting Magazine. I want to use a certain worsted weight yarn for this sweater pattern, which calls for bulky weight yarn. (I don't like the way it drapes using two strands together, so that's out.) I already know a good method to resize. That is, refiguring the number of stitches (and rows) in the pattern by dividing the stitch amounts in my gauge (per four inches,) by the stitches gauge in the pattern to get a multiplier. Say you get 16 stitches per 4", and the pattern calls for a gauge of 13. You divide 16 by 13, get 1.3 (rounding up). Then whenever you have a stitch amount, like with casting on, you multiply the number of stitches called for in the pattern by your multiplier. Example: Say it says to cast on 150 stitches. You would multiply your 1.3 times 150 and cast on 195 stitches to equal the same inches, but in your yarn. Same thing with rows. That's easy enough and it worked in a sweater I did.

So what I didn't run into before that I'm worried about? When the pattern calls for the decreases of 1 or 2 stitches. Has anyone resized a pattern and had to decrease? Do I also use the multiplier for that? Since the last pattern I resized with this method was knitted from the top down, I've never done the decreasing part of resizing before. I would hate to get a whole lot knitted and then mess up the decreasing part of this. Can't find it on the internet.

Not a big deal--I just don't want to buy bulky weight yarn when I have so much worsted weight that would make great sweaters.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who knew?

You all are aware that I'm a rabid hockey fan, and am especially interested in goalies (because of the Devils' fabulous goaltender Martin Brodeur who's on the verge of setting a couple of major records, but more about that another time). I just found an interesting piece of trivia about another famous goaltender, Jacques Plante.

"Jake the Snake" Plante was part of six Stanley Cup championship teams (the Montreal Canadiens), won a record seven Vezina Trophies (given to the best goalie in the NHL), was the first goalie to regularly wear a protective mask, and developed the modern style of stand-up goal-tending. He's in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadiens have retired his number. Pretty impressive stuff!

Guess what? He was a knitter! Yup, his mom made money doing knitting piecework. She taught him to knit so he could make his own tuques (warm wool hats) to keep him cozy when he was out playing pond hockey in the frigid Quebec winters. Here he is in one of his handknit tuques:

You can see him in his goalie pads with his tuque in the photo of his junior team below.

Once he moved up to the NHL, his coaches wouldn't allow him to wear his lucky hat. However, he continued to knit as a way of relaxing from the pressures of being a professional goalie.

So real men knit too.

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Baby Cashmere and a sneak peek CLOSED

CLOSED Which came first: the Baby Cashmere or the sneak peek? I'm not sure there's an answer to that question so let's start with the yarny goodness. How about six skeins (yes, really and truly six; I counted) (used both hands so it's gotta be more than five, right?) of gorgeous soft yummy Elann Baby Cashmere.
There's not all that much cashmere in it, to be honest: 60% baby alpaca, 30% merino wool, and 10% cashmere but it's so soft and so pretty that it's irresistible. We're talking US3 needles, 100 m - 109 y in each skein. It's #3317, Morning Mist, and you're going to love it.

Send me an email here with MIST in the subject header and I'll pick the winner on Sunday night. (I didn't use the on-line random number generator last night. The site must have been down so I hollered into the living room to Goldisox: "Pick a number between X and XXX" and he yelled back, "Seventy-three!" which is how Leslie B came to be our winner.)

Willa, friend and web designer and jewelry designer extraordinaire, worked her magic on my website and the first chapter of LACED WITH MAGIC is posted and ready. Let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pink Silk Winner

Congratulations to Leslie B. from Canada!

I'm going to poke around my stash tomorrow and come up with something to celebrate the new cover. Make sure you drop by to see what I find.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


It's a big oops. I thought there were six skeins of pink when in truth there are only four. I'm sorry! I assumed I'd purchased the same amont of ivory and of pink but for some bizarre reason I didn't.

I'm hanging my head in shame.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

More Elann Baby Silk (and a little book talk)

You can't fool me. I know you're here for the yarn and that's okay. I mean, this is a knitting blog, right? And knitters love yarn. But before we get to our next contest, I hope you won't mind if I jump up and down with excitement over the cover for LACED WITH MAGIC, the sequel to CASTING SPELLS. I saw a preliminary version late last summer and while it was good it didn't thrill me. Penny the cat looked like she'd been working Jenny Craig and I missed those magical sparks that I'd loved on the first book.

Well, I can't say enough for Penguin's art department. They took my suggestions and worked their magic on the prelim art work and Friday afternoon my editor sent this my way:

I'll be posting an excerpt on my website some time this week. (Did I mention I love that cover??)

And then there's something even more delicious: six juicy skeins of Elann Baby Silk in Seashell Pink. (You know how much I love pink. All the pinks.) Same rules apply: send me an email here with PINK SILK in the header and cross your knitting fingers. I'll announce the winner Wednesday night.

Good luck!

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Ivory Silk Winner!

Congratulations to Colleen P, winner of the Elann ivory silk yarn.

And please, all of you, come back tomorrow for something you're gonna love!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cats and Knitting

This is our cat, Burt. Looks harmless and innocent, doesn't he? Just minding his own feline business, and perhaps posing like an ancient Egyptian statue for the camera. Hey, he knows when he looks good. He's always been friendly, ever since he found himself living in the wild and decided to adopt us, living under our deck for a few weeks until we took him in.

This, too, is Burt. Again, apparently minding his own business. Keeping his eye on that clapotis shawl while it blocks, but clearly saying, "See? I'm just guarding it for you. I'm not touching it. I'm within clawing range...but I'm being good." Nice kitty. He's still remembering those cold nights under the deck, trying to catch his own food and more often than not, going hungry. So he's trying to follow the rules, even if they make no sense to him. I mean, why NOT lie on the knitting? It's soft! And why the heck did I put it down there if I didn't want him to lie on it? Sheesh, humans.

Alas, this too is Burt. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! As it turns out, he was merely "guarding" all that knitting while biding his time, waiting for his chance. And when he saw his opportunity, he seized it...crawling into my knitting bag to snooze atop my Graceful shawl, in progress. I guess he feels comfortable enough with us these days that he can be naughty with impunity.

Now, he was cute enough that I had to take his picture before shooing him out of the bag. But I'm saving that to blackmail him in the future. You never know when it will come in handy...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Contest! Contest! Contest!

Okay, so technically it's not really a contest. I mean, you don't have to answer a trick question or guess how many jelly beans are in the glass jar. All you have to do is send me an email right here with IVORY SILK in the subject header and cross your fingers.

Is that easy or what?

Oh yeah. The prize. How could I forget the prize? Six skeins of Elann Baby Silk in a gorgeous ivory. 109 yards per skein or thereabouts. 80% alpaca, 20 % silk, 100% deliciousness. US3 recommended.

The winner will be announced on Friday evening.

Have I mentioned how great it is to be back?