Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Updates Than You Can Shake A Stick At

This is one of many update notes. I apologize in advance for blitzing you with info you may or may not want.

Kim Smith, writer and wonderful Blog Talk Radio host, interviewed me on Tuesday and to say I had a blast is putting it mildly. If you'd like to listen, click here and follow instructions on the screen.

Did I tell you about the totally terrific Bonnie Blose at Accessible World who invited me to spend an hour with her and her wonderful readers, talking about writing and love and life? I'll be back again for another visit at the end of August but you can listen to last month's free-wheeling chat right here. This was pretty much a writer's dream visit. Bonnie hosts a romance novel book club and somehow they found Sentimental Journey, a twenty year old Harlequin American Romance of mine. Sentimental Journey is one of my all-time favorite writing experiences. It was part of the wonderful Century of American Romances, a truly spectacular group of books that deserved a far wider audience than they received. Sentimental Journey was about the World War II homefront here in the United States and its follow-up book, Stranger in Paradise, continued the story during the McCarthy Era 1950s. Can you imagine my excitement when out of the blue I received an email from Bonnie and discovered that my books had found new readers after all this time? I love the internet!

I'm embarking on a gigantic blog tour on Monday so be prepared for lots of links. You're going to know everything there is to know about me (even things you'd rather not know!) by the time this is over.

Willa, my wonderfully talented web designer and jewelry maker, will be doing a cosmetic overhaul of my personal blog the next few days so there won't be any new content until Sunday or Monday which means I'll be posting a lot of book-related info here in the interim. I promise compensatory knitting content!

Laced With Magic goes on sale Tuesday August 4th and I'm entering the Crazed Author Zone. As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm not too great at letting go of a manuscript. Given my druthers, I'd still be making revisions in the back of the truck as the books leave the printer.

Did I tell you that Publishers Weekly gave Laced With Magic a coveted starred review? In case you missed it:

Laced with Magic Barbara Bretton. Berkley, $15 paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-425-22752-7

Half-sorceress Chloe Hobbs and policeman Luke MacKenzie, the only humans in the sleepy Vermont town of Sugar Maple, face worldly and unearthly challenges in this sweetly charming sequel to 2008's Casting Spells. When Luke's ex-wife, Karen, shows up in town claiming that their dead daughter is trying to ask them for help, Chloe must deal with smalltown gossip and fix her relationship with Luke while she battles her old Fae enemy, Isadora, over the child's spirit and the future of Sugar Maple. Bretton seamlessly blends a playful world of eccentric and meddling supernatural creatures living in the midst of New England with a warm, natural and romantic story and just a hint of mystery. Scenes in Chloe's yarn shop and helpful knitting tips hold extra appeal for yarn aficionados while never distracting from the plot.

And Penguin posted an interview with me on their new paranormal website. You can find it here.

Jeremy Bredeson, a wonderful knitter and writer and friend, posted a review of Laced With Magic on Facing North, a terrific and very magical website I think you'll enjoy.

Oh, and did I tell you that all of our tomatoes are dead or dying thanks to the same blight that destroyed Ireland's potato crop? We finally decide to try our hand again at growing and a blight strikes up and down the east coast. I mean, what are the odds??

More to come. Stay tuned!

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I'm so weak

I swore, SWORE, I wasn't buying any more yarn until I'd completed the THREE projects I have on needles right now, one of which is a throw blanket so it's quite LARGE.

However, I am weak. I was at a local crafts fair and saw a booth boasting handspun yarn. I told myself not to approach it but I did. Then I went all the way into the booth. There was Linda Doucette, the owner and spinner of Shades of Nature, spinning away. On the table beside her was the hank of yarn below:

The photo doesn't do it justice. It has beads and all different colors spun in, some thin strands, some fat strands. Well, I fell in love and, with fear and trembling, asked Linda how much it cost. She looked surprised. "Oh that? It's just something I was experimenting with. Do you think $10 is fair?" Fair? I had expected three times that. I grabbed it and then went in search of some complementary yarn, choosing this gorgeous angora and wool combination:

So now I have 80 yards of the funky variegated yarn and 200 yards of the purple angora/wool combo.

Does anybody have any ideas what I might do with it? I want to showcase the funky yarn somehow but I'm not a creative enough knitter to figure out how. Help!!!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blog Talk Radio at 8:30 pm EDT

I just realized it's a call-in show! If you have time and the inclination, please drop by!

Follow this link.

making it up as I go along

Some of you may remember a few months back, when I posted a photo of a vest offered by Chadwick's. It was a green crochet vest and I was seeking a knitted pattern for something similar.

I never did find a pattern, so I decided to make one up. This is the result.

As you can see, it's really nothing like the Chadwick's version. It's shorter and closer-fitting. I'd like to try again with a different pattern, but I thought this turned out well enough, considering I'd never made anything without a pattern before, and had to make it up as I went along.

Those with sharp eyes will notice the couple of inches of crochet trim all around. I made this with Cascade Fixation in Denim and thought the cotton/elastic yarn would stretch more, so my initial effort was too small. A little decorative trim to the rescue.

The lace pattern is a very simple openwork pattern from this scarf.
This photo shows the pattern better.

So -- not a complete failure for my first effort, but I'll pay closer attention to measurements next time.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Bad News, Good News final prize!

Last but not least, these three squeezably soft skeins of 100% alpaca by Frog Tree, 130 yards each in color #95. I love the soft rose color.

Really good news: While at the local drug store, I ran into the proprietor of my now-closed favorite LYS (gotta love small towns). She says they've found a new location with cheaper rent and they are re-opening on August 1st. Oh frabjous day!
So send me your entry email for a chance to win this lovely yarn. The address is . Put "rose" in your subject line.

To celebrate the grand re-opening, I will draw the winner on--you guessed it!--August 1st.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Best Wedding Entrance of All Time

Now this is a wedding to remember! Why be like everyone else when you can be true to yourselves? (It reminds me of the Robert & Amy wedding episode on Everybody Loves Raymond. Their first dance was to a remix of Elvis's A Little Less Conversation (A Little More Action.)

Enjoy! If this doesn't make you smile, nothing will.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fingerless Fetchings

One of my writing groups, The Deadline Dames was asked if we could donate goodies to a raffle for Janis Reams Hudson. Janis is a past president of Romance Writers of America and has some mighty large medical bills facing her right now.

I love donating signed copies of my books to causes like this, so I immediately said I'd be happy to give a copy of MAGIC TO THE BONE and MAGIC IN THE BLOOD. But I wanted to add a little extra something to our basket of books. But what to give?

Knitting! Specifically, A quick, easy knit, they're perfect for those chilly days writing or reading. They rekindled my love for fingerless gloves. I decided to use Berroco Comfort DK since I wasn't sure if the lucky winner would have wool allergies and I wanted something with more bounce than cotton or bamboo.

Please excuse my red knuckles and tired looking hands in the second pic, Lol!

I hope the winner likes them. And since I had so much fun with those, I am now knitting 's Sourwood Mountain next in SWTC bamboo Purplexed.

What are you working on?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Knitting etched in bronze

While in Washington, D.C., attending the Romance Writers of America conference, I took a little time off for sightseeing. Look what I found in the Corcoran Gallery: A bronze sculptural relief by Thomas Eakins of, yes, a woman knitting (with a cat under her chair, a detail I loved).

It was an 1883 commission to decorate the swanky new Philadelphia townhouse of James P. Scott. There's evidently a companion piece of "Weaving". How cool that Eakins chose to celebrate the fiber arts in bronze!

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Winners #16, #17, #18, #19, #20 and #21

My apologies ( yet again!) for the delay but something interesting is percolating (actually it's been percolating for months and I'm exhausted) and I hope to be able to share details with you in a day or two. Cross your fingers for me, okay?

Winner #16 is Jill J from Idaho

Winner #17 is Ardrena L

Winner #18 is Turtle

Winner #19 is Leon

Winner #20 is Dani

Winner#21 is Lynda in OR

Congratulations to everyone!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good news for Winner No. 3

Heather B. gets the good news today. She won the car magnet so she can tell the world she's a member of the Royal Society of Knitters. (Okay, I made up the "royal" part but why not?)

On to the next prize....


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wedding Rings

For our friends Venu and Sendhil's wedding, I was tempted to make Venu a lacy wedding rings shawl, but that's well beyond my current skill level, I'm afraid. Then I wanted to crochet them a wedding ring afghan. But I ran out of time. And then I thought maybe I'd knit them a wedding rings throw pillow. I actually got three rows into that, but then I ran out of time. So in the end, we ended up getting them a copy of Agricola, because it's a great two-player game (and I am finally occasionally beating Kevin at it, which is a damn good thing for our family harmony, because I am generally a good sport, but all that losing was starting to get to me). Hoping they don't already have the game, and that they like it as much as we do.

I also stopped in at Sur La Table and picked up some microfiber dishtowels specially designed for washing glasses (because they'd registered for and gotten a bunch of glasses from other guests), and a nice white apron, and then I embroidered a few wedding motifs onto them. I'm quite pleased with how they came out -- using just the basic chain stitch, I think I got quite a nice, elegant end result. And only about 2-3 hours of work, I think, done while watching re-runs of West Wing. If you're looking for an easy craft to pick up that will give you quick results, I really do recommend embroidery. I love the way these came out. Now I just hope Venu and Sendhil like (and use) them!

Note the little hearts in the spoons. :-) I used one of Kavi's baby spoons for the pattern. Perfect!

I wish I'd gotten a clearer photo of this; I'm particularly happy with how the linked wedding rings came out.

Friday, July 17, 2009

VIdeo Tour of My Back Yard

Gotta run. Scorcese's calling . . .

Thursday, July 16, 2009

To Make You Laugh

Topsy Turvy tomato on the left, plum tomato (d'oh), three container plant tomatoes. I can't say we're exactly doing the Garden State proud but at least we managed to grow some edible produce. And (I hope) more to come.

And, to make you laugh, I totally embarrass myself en route to Atlantic City last week:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Winner #15

Winner #15 is Cheryl S from Ohio! Hooray!

Winner #14

And our 14th lucky winner is Crystal B.!

Winner #13

Lucky #13 is Kristin W!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bad News, Good News Prize No. 3

Tell the world you're a knitter and proud of it with this car magnet!

If you'd like a chance at this goodie, send an email to with "car" in the subject line.

I'll draw a winner on July 20th.

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Winner #12

Winner #12 of the Endless Summer yarn giveaway is

(drum roll, please)

(louder! I can't hear you)

(I think they call this building suspense)

Susan A. from Virginia!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Good news for Winner No. 2

Congratulations to Kacy, the winner of the Cool Knits for Kids book! She says she has a seven-month-old daughter who will enjoy having a new wardrobe knitted by her loving mom. Somehow the Random Number Generator must have known that.

Stay tuned for more LYS Close-out prizes!

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Winner #11

And Winner #11 is . . .

Adrienne F!

More to come.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh no! More socks . . .

No wonder you need a shoehorn to close Goldisox's top drawer: it's stuffed with socks!

This pair of Lion Brand Wool-Ease (Denim Blue) socks went into the rotation in early January and has probably been through the washer and dryer at least fifty times since then. Yes, they look a little scruffy but they've stayed soft and remain hole-free.

Nobody would call this boot sock pretty but according to Goldisox, you could wear this in a blizzard without shoes and your feet would stay warm. Pretty good endorsement, if you ask me. They were made from some tweedy Sirdar Highlander I had lying around. I think I used US5s over 40 or 44 stitches. I'd have to sit down and count to be sure. They've seen a whole lot of washer/dryer action too.

And this popped up in yesterday's mail. My editor sent along the first copy. First reaction? Elation. Second reaction? Terror. It's almost time to face the music . . .

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Winner #10 w/an apology & an explanation

Happy Knitting to Jeanne H, winner #10.

Winners #1 through #9: no, it isn't the mail. It's me. (I?) I fell behind this week and didn't get the packages out in a timely fashion.

I'd like to tell you I was nose-to-the-grindstone working my little heart out but that would be a lie. Goldisox and I were out having fun three days out of seven.

I promise promise promise to mail out your goodies on Monday. Scout's honor!

Winner #9

Toni F. is Winner #9 - happy knitting, Toni!

If you haven't already entered, what are you waiting for? Just send me an email at barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com with ENDLESS SUMMER in the subject header and I'll do the rest.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Winner #8


Check your email, okay? And congratulations!

More productive than I thought

If you'd asked me if I'd been a productive knitter so far this year, I would've said no.

And, as it turns out, I would have been wrong.

I've been busier than I realized, but the output has all been in the form of boring big-ass socks for Goldisox. Enough already with the socks. He only has two feet. How many socks does the man need? It's time for sweaters and scarves and -- okay, more socks. But this time for me.

Here's a sample of 2009 sockage. (I'll show you the rest tomorrow. I'm too lazy to go upstairs and poke around in search of the other renegades.) (Besides, you've seen one boring vanilla sock, you've seen them all, right?)

1. This is sock #1. Sock #2 is approaching heel flap status. It's Regia Crazy Colors Stretch. Size 2 (I think) Harmony circular. 64 stitches, K7 P1.

And I apologize for the crappy photo. You really shouldn't stuff your left hand into a sock then photograph it with your right.

Also I don't recommend standing in front of a screen door when you do so.

2. Two strands of Crazy Color non-stretch. Don't remember the needle size but I'd guess a US4. Definitely circular. Meant as cushiony boot socks.

3. I didn't realize how porny that poor sock looked until I saw it on screen. Good freakin' grief. There's a photography lesson to be learned there somewhere. It looks like a knit condom for Andre the Giant. Berroco Comfort Chunky, charcoal grey, US4 Options circular.

4. I've told you that this house takes hostages, haven't I? It will pluck certain objects at random, hide them somewhere within the structure, then just when you've finally given up on ever seeing said object again, it spits it out like an angry snake. No apologies. No explanations. Poof! It's gone. Poof! It's back again.

The pink Best Foot Forward reappeared about two weeks ago, to my relief and delight. I'm in the home stretch on sock #2 and loving every minute. It's Rowan Cash Soft in a lovely dusty pink on US4 Options circ.

This time the camera pointed out a wee gap at the gusset that I swear is invisible to the naked eye.

More plain old vanilla socks tomorrow. Bet you can't wait . . .

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Blair Witch Jersey Tomatoes

I videotape tomato plants. How sad is that?

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Winner #7

Goldisox and I are down the shore so I didn't get around to posting #7 last night. But that doesn't mean I forgot to conjure up the RNG and choose a winner.

Congratulations to StDebb!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Evian Roller Babies

I posted this to my other blog but you really need to see it.

Winner #6

Michele V. is tonight's winner!

Merino, alpaca and kydd -- oh my! Lots of wonderfulness to see us through the season.

Bad News, Good News Prize No. 2

Here's your next chance to win a prize from my LYS's "going out of business" sale. A book of patterns called Cool Knits for Kids: 25 stunning designs for babies to 7-year-olds by Kate Gunn and Robyn Macdonald.

I know nothing about its writers or patterns; I just liked the cute pictures on the cover. The photos inside are darling too so you can enjoy it without knitting a stitch.

You know the drill: email me at with "Kids" in the subject line. I'll draw a winner on July 10th.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Winner #5

Rusty M., you're Winner #5! Congratulations.

And did I mention that the giveaway yarns are lovelies like Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Cashmere and Elann Silken Kydd and Laceweight Baby Merino and laceweight alpaca just for starters?

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Winner #4

And today's winner is Kat S. from San Antonio!

The next winner could be you . . .

When Knitting Mimics Writing --- Again

I'm still working on the Vortex shawl but it's gotten a bit big to carry around. Add that to my issues with project monogamy and I cast on a new shawl. Right now I have a fascination for lace so I cast on this project....

This is Girasole - a pattern by the talented Jared Flood. You can see it on his blog or on Ravelry It's not a free pattern but it's well worth the small charge.

Right now I'm making it in KnitPicks Gloss fingering weight yarn in a color called Serengeti. It's a discontinued color that's a sort of butterscotch.

Now here's where writing and knitting seem to mirror each other. I've started my Egyptian Steampunk story, Desert Alchemy, but find myself unhappy with the start - over and over. I think I've restarted this story about three times so far. It's being a problem-child.

The shawl I've restarted six, yes SIX, times. I kept making mistakes and was obsessed with perfection so rather than fudging something so I could keep going (it's only for ME), I ripped it ALL out and started again. As of today, I'm on chart D and it's looking nice. There now are a few fudges in it where I made a mistake and couldn't figure out how/where but I'm not ripping the damned thing out again. I swear.

Today I'm going to try that with Desert Alchemy. Just write, stop fussing over every word. I can go back and fix or massage them later.

We'll see if my resolve holds....

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Endless Summer Giveaway Instructions

Is it a contest? A sweepstakes? A giveaway? A shameless bribe to keep you coming back to us here at RTY?

Your guess is as good as mine.

I just wanted to wish those of you who celebrate a star-spangled Fourth of July (Fireworks! I want fireworks!) and to remind everyone just how easy it is to enter my yes-I-just-might-have-gone-crazy destash summer yarn fling.

All you have to do is send me an email here or at barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com with ENDLESS SUMMER in the subject header.

That's it. No trick questions. No secret handshake. I'll pick a winner every day during July (and maybe August too) and announce the name right here each evening.

I mean, really. Could it be any easier? ENTER already!

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To inspire your Fourth of July knitting

May your fireworks never fizzle!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Winner #3

Kim H from Iowa! Happy knitting, Kim, and thanks for entering.

Good news for the winner...

In our 1001st post, the winner is.......Darleen G! Congratulations, Darleen! Now you have to figure out what to do with the ribbon yarn. ;-)

Happy Fourth of July to all you Yarnies out there!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Winner #2 (and our 1000th post!)

Congratulations to Kathy M. of Geneseo, IL, who is Winner #2 in our Endless Summer Giveaway.

And congratulations to Romancing the Yarn on three years and 1000 posts!!

Romeo, Romeo (new eBook)

What a fun time to come back! New books, new bloggers, new contests ... I want to play in the contest pool, too, so will be offering some things as well. Oh, and a new Barbara Bretton book! What a great summer this is turning out to be.

Now I have to tell you that I've got a new eBook out. It's a fun, sexy contemporary romance called ROMEO, ROMEO, and it's been compared to a Tracy-Hepburn movie by no less than New York Times bestselling author Deborah Smith. It's available as of today at And soon it will be available via Amazon Kindle as well.
That's all for now. But I'm going to sneak back in here real soon with some great giveaways. In the meantime, happy 4th to you all!

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The Purlettes

I thought this was a really nice story about knitting:

Check out the handbags; they're right up our alley. I like the finishing details (but not the prices!).

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

World's Easiest Contest

"How easy?" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. So easy that you didn't even have to enter to win.

I reached back into my pool of former entrants and let the RNG do its thing et voila!

Zaneta R., you're the Day 1 winner of combination Blogaversary/Book Release Endless Summer Giveaway. Email me your shipping address and I'll send something yarny and wonderful your way with happy knitting wishes.

Nancy got the party started and I'm going to follow her lead. Every day this month (and probably August too) I'll be giving away yarn. There's no telling what you might get: sock yarn, Lopi, lace weight, maybe even cashmere. Your guess is as good as mine but I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Want to play? All you have to do is send me an email with ENDLESS SUMMER in the subject header and we're in business!