Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lily of the Valley Vest

Sometimes a project can make me insanely happy. Knitting this vest, playing around with the stitch pattern and tracking it down became an obsession for me during June. As our world is so interconnected, we can find amazing inspiration from all over the world. I fell in love with the German version of the Lily of the Valley lace stitch pattern, after seeing the gorgeous garments ( and ), and shawls using this lace pattern ( Lily of the Valley Rosea shawl by Alla Borisova, Raspberry Dream Stole by Dagmara). I found the original pattern motif in a book from 1983 I bought on Ebay ,( pattern here: ) which is in the book: . As I don't usually knit shawls or dresses, I set about adapting the lace fabric into a vest. Swatching clued me in to the irregularities of the lace pattern as originally designed ( stitch count in one rep goes from 19 to 47), so I tweaked and modified and swatched and re-charted the design to get it to lie flatter in the linen yarn and be easier to knit. Calculating the cast on number was tricky, so I went with my numbers for the Floral vest in the same yarn, and was pleased to find this lace to be roughly the same gauge. Width of each repeat turned out to be a wonderful 5 inches, so aiming for 40 inch sweater gave me 8 repeats to work with, a nicely manageable number. I made the first one a bit longer than my other floral vests ( 96 rows to the underarm instead of 80), and while I liked it, I think I prefer it shorter. I like where the leaves fall on my body., and it was really fun to knit. So, I had to make 3 of them in order to write up the pattern.

I finally published it today, deciding to make it a free pattern because it is only in one size. Hopefully others will enjoy knitting it as much as I did...and I think I might need to make one in black...If you want to knit it, the pattern is available here:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Apple Crisp ( gluten-free, vegan and sugar free!)

After a bit of tinkering and many experimental trials in the kitchen, I have come up with a delicious and not too dietarily indelicate recipe for Apple Crisp.

                  Gluten Free Vegan Apple Crisp,   May 27, 2016
This version is not very sweet and has a delightful texture. Serves 6, or heat individual servings in microwave for 30 sec. and top with vanilla ice cream. Heaven in a bowl!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
For filling:
5 Medium Granny Smith apples, cored and diced. Can leave peel on for extra texture
1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, pinch of cloves

Mix together in an 8X10 or 9X9 baking dish

For topping:
Mix together:
1/4 cup almond flour
1  cup gluten-free  old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp chia seeds
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Cinnamon

Melt 3 Tablespoons coconut oil in measuring cup (30 sec in microwave). Pour into topping mix and mix together. Spread this mixture over apples in baking dish.
Bake for 45 minutes until top is lightly browned and apples are bubbling. Cool and serve hot, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days. Serves 6:    approx.     260 calories per serving.

I think I will make some right now...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Seasons will pass you by...

Spring is coming around again, here in unpredictable Massachusetts. The urge to see greenery and growing things leads me to dream of gardens, and inevitably, to my mother, who was a passionate gardener for a lifetime. I revisited my photo archives recently to find photos of her gardens and the dramatic rock ledge beside the house, and found a few from last June. My mother loved her garden and enjoyed seeing what came up every spring. I  miss being able to drop in and see her and the garden. And I will always love blue flowers!
Campanula and ferns cascade in the rock wall

Dianthus in one of the raised beds

View of raised bed filled with alpines

Campanula flowering in the chinks of the rock

Lush flowers in the chinks of the rock 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Zigs and Zags

 I became enthralled with Chevrons last year, and have had a lot of fun knitting chevron sweaters and cowls recently. The knitting of course, has helped with grief, as whenever I am designing something intricate and complicated I must get focused on it for a while. The knitting is designed to be smooth sailing, once the basic idea is worked out.

 This sweater was a joy to knit, in my favorite colors. I wrestled with writing the pattern for six months, and had several lovely knitters test my instructions. Of course, I had to test them myself, so I knit  two more sweaters:

 Then the opportunity to design a cowl came along, as my Local Yarn Store, Fabric Place Basement, was having a "yarn tasting" and requested a pattern using Cascade Yarns. I chose some lovely yarn and made the cowl at the top of the page. Of course, I had to make one for myself in blue:
If you would like to make one for yourself, the cowl pattern is here Ziggy Cowl  on, and the sweater pattern is here:
 Raglan Cardigan       Happy Knitting!  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Goodbye Mom.

Margaret Whitestone Riggs 1930-2015

Every generation stands on the shoulders of those who paved the way, and my mother was one of those rare individuals who was a trailblazer. Despite growing up in privilege in the 1940s in a nice house in Bronxville, NY, with a car at 16, piano lessons,a cook and a private school education, she was the only child of two working parents, and I think her vision for her future included giving back to the world. She always wanted to become a doctor, but it was daunting in those days for a woman to excel in the sciences, and to defy traditional expectations of marriage and domesticity.
In pursuit of a degree in biology, she transferred from Gaucher College to the University of Wisconsin, and as luck would have it, went on a blind bridge date with my father. She knew instantly that he was the man she would marry, and brought him back East to meet her parents. My grandmother did not much like this Midwestern boy with the threadbare shoes, and threatened him with a frying pan! But they were married in a small ceremony after graduation, and eventually moved to Hastings in 1957 to raise their three children, and begin a lifelong passion for alpine rock gardening. In fact, she bought her last home sight-unseen, because of the rock ledge, which she and my father converted over the years to a showplace garden of rare and exotic alpine plants, in between traveling all over the world with my Dad to see gardens and enjoy the sights in Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, Poland, France, and England in her later years.
My mother threw herself into being the best mom possible, learning to cook, driving us around, helping with homework, enjoying coffee with the neighbors and teaching us useful skills: study hard, be nice to everyone and clean your room,which have stood me in good stead all these years. But she yearned for more than just “housewife”, and went back to work in her 40s, taking graduate courses and eventually getting a Masters degree in Human Genetics in 1975 at the newly started program at Sarah Lawrence College. She was fascinated by the issues involved in women's health, and campaigned vigorously for freedom of choice, marching on Saturdays at the clinic in Dobbs Ferry with her friends. She was an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood, and my parents always worked at the yearly auction in Irvington. In fact, much of her furniture was purchased at the Planned Parenthood auction over the years.
My mom loved her career, and worked as a Genetics counselor until 2 years ago when she retired. She continued to keep up with the latest journals and always knew more than the doctors she worked for, confidently reassuring patients and family alike, armed with knowledge and experience.
My mom was passionately involved with her friends, her kids and her 5 grandchildren, who met weekly for Sunday dinner at her house, where she always fed us and encouraged us all in our pursuit of our dreams, especially scientific endeavors. She was always ready with a baked good for those in need, and called cooking her solace. When times were tough, the smell of banana bread always made you feel better!
My mom was broken-hearted to lose my dad 13 years ago, and in fact had a triple bypass soon after. But she soon adopted two cats, whose antics and predatory habits served no end of worry and amusement, and comforted her so much. It was a challenge to maintain her fabulous garden after my dad died, but she soldiered on, working at her job until 2 years ago when the doctor she worked for retired, playing bridge and keeping busy. She started studying astrophysics a few years ago, and loved to discuss the expanding universe, black holes and cosmic radiation...
My mother was a complicated, generous, brilliant and witty person, who could work a room like nobody I ever saw, befriending and getting the life story of strangers in an instant. She made those around her laugh, and was unfailingly fun to be around, even in times of illness or difficulty. We will miss her laugh and her quick repartee and her reports on the doings of everyone around her. I will miss most her support and encouragement of me, my children and my husband every day.

Jeri Riggs October 20, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Still knitting after all these years!

Oh, it has been a while since I blogged, and I apologize to you, my loyal readers! I have been knitting away, though, and post my sweater creations on Ravelry regularly. My most recent project was inspired by my enjoyment of lace knitting, and the fascination I have had for the work of Herbert Niebling, who designed lace in Germany in the 1930-60's and whose patterns have created a new craze as they are being re-discovered by a new generation of knitters. Reprints of his work can be found in the original German, and in English on and
After designing, in fingering-weight yarn, my circular lace vest, "Vestborough", I had worked out the numbers for that gauge, so I thought it might be fun to find a doily pattern that would work as a sweater . It needed to have under 150 rows for my size, and an obvious break around row 60 to insert sleeves. The "Sirius" doily pattern by Herbert Niebling fit the bill, so I knit this sweater. I modified the last 10 or 15 rows to create a more interesting edge, and used a picot bindoff to add a lacier edge, as I had seen my friend Andrea do on one of her sweaters.I also flipped the top half of the edge to reverse stockinette so that when folded back the collar would be right-side out.    Working out how to design the sleeves took a bit of trial and error, as the first sleeve design's lace  was too busy, and I did not want to knit plain stockinette sleeves. A raglan sleeve cap makes the sweater sit better on the shoulders and fits reasonably well with the geometry of the piece, though I think it works a bit better on a pentagonal shape than a hexagon, which is what this design is based on. So, here is the sweater, which looks wonderful on my mannequin! The yarn is a fingering weight linen chain yarn, which I had on a large cone. It took about 1200 yards for the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Some say frittata

It has been snowing for days and days, so I have been reluctant to leave the house. Today we had a window of a few warmish hours ( before more slush fell!) so I shoveled a bit and got ready for a visit from my knitting buddies. I had promised them lunch, so I opened the fridge and decided to use the eggs I bought at the farmer's market and make a frittata. This is like a quiche but without the crust, and can be varied as desired. It turned out to be so delicious that I thought I would write up the recipe!

 So here goes: Some Say Frittata:
2Tbs olive oil for skillet
6 eggs
1/4 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup low fat mozzarella cheese,
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese,
handful of cherry tomatoes,
handful of spinach,kale, 1/2 a zucchini, 1/2 an onion, .
Salt, black pepper, oregano,parsley to taste
butter for greasing 8X8 pyrex  ovenproof pan

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Place 2Tbs of oil in skillet, and saute vegetables until soft. Meanwhile, grate cheeses and mix together. Beat the eggs with spices and the milk.
Grease 8x8 glass pan with butter. Arrange vegetables into bottom of pan and sprinkle cheese on top.Pour beaten egg mixture over top of veggies and cheese. Bake at 400 deg F for 45 minutes, or until edges are browned and eggs are set. You can stick a knife into the center to see if eggs are cooked thoroughly. Turn off oven and let sit for 10 minutes, or remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 3
This can be varied easily by using different vegetables, or adding meat or other delights.

Even Shadow approved!