Monday, August 31, 2009

Where Has All The Summer Gone?

Gosh, it seems like summer came slowly and left quickly. We had about three weeks where it was hot enough to use the window AC unit for a few hours each day, and now it feels like fall is unpacking before summer is up. Not that I mind, as I really don't care for the heat anyway.

Plus, when it cools off, it means I can go back to work on all those lovely wool shawls and sweaters and gloves and socks!

While it was hot, I worked on small cotton things like this cute little sweater for my new niece, due in November. I searched extensively to find a pattern I liked and finally came up with this one. And best of all, it's free here: Free is a price that works for me. ;-) I love the buttons I found at my LYS; they have little pink sheep on them and they say, "Little Lamb."

Then I made a set of kitchen things for my mom's upcoming birthday. There's something soothing about knitting on kitchen things. They're not fancy, they aren't made from expensive yarn, and they'll be used to scrub and dry dirty dishes and pots. But they're down to earth and really, really useful. The recipient of a sweater made from expensive alpaca and silk might not like the style and so might not wear it; but what's not to like about kitchen towels and washcloths? Plus, they're boldly machine washable and I like that. I was tempted to use the blue variegated cotton, but then realized I was choosing MY preferred colors, not my mom's. Her kitchen is painted yellow, so I found this lovely yellow yarn and went with that. I think they came out nicely, despite some color pooling. Another good thing about kitchen sets; if the color pools, so what?

And finally, I did a lot of this with the hottest days of summer. That's my cat Burt, lounging in my office window on one of the hottest days this season. I saw a cartoon once about cats that's so true; you can use a sleeping cat as a thermometer! The more tightly they're curled up, the colder it is; the longer they stretch out, the hotter. So clearly, this was a pretty hot day. ;-)

Hope your summer, and your summer knitting, has gone well and you're ready to leap into fall!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It wasn't my idea


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Knitting for Practicality

I've got an appointment with my doctor on Friday to look at my red, itchy and stinging face but I'm betting I know what the diagnosis is. I'm pretty darned sure I have rosacea.

I've noticed for the last few months that I've had a decreasing tolerance for rough fabrics on my skin, even for washing my face with a rough washcloth. It's been getting worse and my face redder. I read up on rosacea in the meantime, so I would know what I was talking to the doctor about. Yes, I'm one of THOSE patients. I'm not a hypochondriac but I am pretty knowledgeable and am really good at research. One of the things I saw mentioned a lot was that you have to use very mild soap and very soft clothes if you're having a flare-up of rosacea.

When I was sitting at my son's peewee football practice and knitting a simple scarf, a lightbulb came on - I knit dishcloths for my in-laws with cotton yarn and they were softer than commercial washclothes, so why not knit myself some face cloths?

After digging out some cotton yarn from my rather vast supply, I cast on a small face cloth - about 1/2 the size of a typical dishcloth because I don't need surface area as much as I need a lot of cloths so I can wash them regularly. I ended up with a little 4.5x4.5 inch square cloth that's just perfect.

The pattern is easy, I cast on 20 stitches with a long-tail cast on, knitted two garter-stitch rows, then knitted stockinette rows with a two stitch garter border on each side until the cloth was almost square, then two more rows of garter stitch and typical bind off.

One ball of Lion Cotton has resulted in 14 clothes. I have two balls more to use which should give me both a few weeks of busy work at the football practice and a good supply of face cloths.

And I've promised to teach one of the other football moms how to knit, lol.

NJ Sightseeing Trip

This takes you past the Princeton Battlefield (where we won our first battle of the Revolution) down to Quaker Road which leads to Route 1 and Quakerbridge Mall - aka Stephanie Plum territory.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't mock the socks

Goldisox to me: "Don't mock the socks."

So I took a formal portrait of them.

Now if I can just refrain from squirrelizing them . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Put down that squirrel, Bretton, and nobody will get hurt

I need an intervention.

Hypnosis Trick on You Tube

Just in case the title link doesn't work, here's a link to one of our son's magic tricks:


And watch for some giveaways, coming in September.

Fran Baker

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

I blame the squirrel

Friday, August 21, 2009

Maybe dancing is the answer?

I was feeling a little discouraged about the state of our world and then a friend sent me this link. It made me cry, but in a good way. You know. The way that makes you feel there's still hope for us as a species.

Sometimes I forget how beautiful our world is. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nightmare on Harvest Drive

I'm sorry but this sock scares the crap out of me!

And it's even scarier in profile:

Tell me you won't be having nightmares tonight, too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Two more

I can't believe I forgot to mention there will be two more Sugar Maple books. What was I thinking? Was I thinking at all?

Oh yeah. I remember. I collapsed on the floor in a pile of sock yarn when I got the word. No writer ever knit so many socks while waiting for the go-ahead. I think I set a world record.

Now all I have to do is write the books!

Skacel winner!

Congratulations to Tanya M. of Port Orchard, WA, the lucky winner of the Skacel skein. She says it's meant to be a shawl. I think she's right so I'm hoping we'll get to see the FO. Hint, hint: send pix, Turtle!

For those of you who didn't win the yarn, I have a new contest up on my website where you can win BOOKS. Since I know all you knitters are also readers, you might want to head over there and enter the drawing.

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Why We Should Wash Our Windshield

The only thing missing is dead bug residue. This is the road we take to get to Princeton, which is about 10 miles or so from home. And yes, it's New Jersey but don't tell anyone. It's our secret.

crossposted to my personal blog

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Squirt - The movie

This is Squirt. He's a 15 year old Timneh African Grey who could easily rule the world if we let him out of the house.

Winners winners and more winners

Here we go:

8/11 - Pam, the little cat lady
8/12 - Julie S
8/13 - Denise from Knitting Without Needles
8/14 - Michelle P
8/15 - Zita H
8/16 - Dusty M

Congratulations to everyone!

August blog tour schedule (lots of great sites)

Blog tours are wonderful things. Not only because they bring writers and readers together, blog tours also bring attention to sites you might have missed out there in the vastness of the interwebs.

Here's the (almost) complete list for August. I hope you'll take time to check some (or all) of these out. I think you'll find some gems to add to your must-visit list.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Crazy Socks and a Bada Bing Moment

First the crazy socks in Regia Crazy Colors #5760 - this is what I did to keep from going crazy while waiting for the new contract offer. They're all toddler socks. The first two pair are plain ordinary standard issue. The other is a small version of Peaks & Valleys in the sock book that's shaped like a sock. The small size and sportweight yarn don't work together particularly well in the P&V sock. Its proportions are wrong. Trust me when I say the pattern is quite lovely in sockweight yarn in an adult size.

And yes, those white socks have nipples. No, I have no excuse except cinching closed Sirdar Highlander toes is apparently not the greatest fashion statement I could have made.

And this is Groucho, Keeper of the (Ugly) Sofa:

And this is a Bada Bing moment from Atlantic City:

Monday, August 10, 2009

And even more winners

August 6 - Ellen H in FL

August 7 - Carol N in ME

August 8 - Kacy

August 9 - Lynn R

August 10 - Sally S


Wednesday, August 05, 2009


And the winners are:

August 3 - Kristi H

August 4 - Marlyn B

August 5 - Patty P

Congratulations to everyone!!

Monday, August 03, 2009

My LYS is back in business...and I'm celebrating with a prize!

My favorite LYS, Modern Yarn, just re-opened in its new location in Montclair, NJ, and I went for my first visit today. Here are a couple of photos of my new knitting home. I was greeted with great enthusiasm when I walked in, which is always gratifying. And I had a grand time squeezing the stunning new yarns.
I'm thrilled because a) it's closer to my house, b) parking is easier, and c) it's a bigger space so there's more glorious yarn for me to fondle.
The good news for you guys is that I bought this irresistible skein of Skacel Merino Lace from Italy in Color #1772, a very undescriptive label for these incredible hues. The colorway reminded me of hot August days, but it could easily shade into autumn leaves. And I'm giving it away, all 1375 yards of it! (I would have kept it for myself except that I swore I wouldn't buy any more stash yarn until I've finished at least ONE of my three on-needles projects.)
To have a chance at it, send me an email at with "Skacel" in the subject line and I'll choose a winner on August 17th (or thereabouts).
Oh, I nearly forgot: Jennifer S. from Grand Rapids, MI, is the lucky winner of the rose-colored Frog Tree yarn. Congratulations, Jennifer!

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Blog Tour Begins

We're off and running with the start of my very first Blog Tour.

Today you'll find me at:

1. BlogCritics with an interview

2. The Romance Club with a guest post

3. Dear Author with a "First Sale" guest post

Like I said last week, you'll know more about me when this tour ends than the DH does!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Weekend From Hell . . . and contest winners

We've been busy since you last saw me.

1. The a/c died again
2. The television died
3. Our downstairs toilet exploded
4. A storm took out one of our big pines

This is not the kind of life I thought a multi-published author lived. Where's my staff? Where are my people? Why were Goldisox and I out there in the front yard with a chainsaw and a dream?

I am 59 years old. I don't like mud, sweat, or hard physical labor. I like to sit in air conditioned comfort and dream lofty thoughts while I knit and watch Who Will Be The Next Food Network Star. I didn't sign up for dragging one hundred pound branches through six inches of mud in a pair of clogs.

What, I ask you, did I do wrong??

And no, I didn't forget about you. I've just been chained to the laptop writing guest posts for the blog tour that kicks off in the morning. I'll keep you posted on what's happening so you can visit (or not) as the spirit moves you. BTW the giveaway will continue through August so if you haven't entered, it's not too late at all. Just email me at barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com with ENDLESS SUMMER in the subject and I'll take care of the rest.

Now here are more winners:

July 22 - Lisa Sunshine (world's greatest name!)

July 23 - solomon****ie@***.com

July 24 - Stacey H

July 25 - Deborah B

July 26 - Beki W

July 27 - Dobarah

July 28 - Kari H

July 29 - Kelly A

July 30 - Amy L

July 31 - Cheryl C

August 1 - Sharon S

August 2 - Val W

And more to come, including some news I keep meaning to share but life has been a tad crazy around here lately.

Hope all of your trees are staying upright!