Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Now that the end of 2013 is upon us, I realize I have been neglecting my blog and I can't believe it! My New Year's Resolution will be to blog more frequently!
So much has happened this year, and the next one looks like a year of change also. Through it all I've knit steadfastly through all crises, as Elizabeth Zimmerman recommended.It has been helpful! I released my pattern for the above vest, called "Vestborough" in December,on Ravelry here:
 and I have enjoyed knitting this myself in several different colors and yarn weights. You can knit it also, if you wish, and I would love to see your results!
Meanwhile, I spent many months trying to ameliorate the diabetic condition of my cat, and after six months of PZI insulin injections and blood sugar checks, it seems that for him, the solution was to feed him Fancy Feast Classic catfood ( zero carbs) exclusively, 4 times a day, ( every 6 hours!)and no other food except occasional dried chicken breast treats. After months of this, his sugars were all normal, and we cautiously tapered off the insulin. His neuropathy resolved, and he is back to jumping up on the table and playing with the kittens. No more dry catfood for him!
So we are very relieved.ANd looking forward to a new year!
Wishing all of you Happy Holidays!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Summer Fun

Oh, I have been an absent blogger. I do apologize. With the flurry of Facebuke,Ravelry,email and other sources of communication, it has been my experiment to have a presence there instead, but I find I miss this organized, intimate format more than I had thought I would. The last few months have been busy with so many things, as cats, children ,knitting and life took center stage.

As our 8 year old cat Sha came down with Diabetes, we have been struggling to regulate him with insulin, blood sugar checks ( ear pricks) , dietary manipulation and exercise. He is tough to regulate, and the discipline of shots and worry has been stressful for him and for us. But he is much loved.
2. Because of missing our cat Cinnamon, we have been considering adopting new kittens, and on Father's Day we happened to be in our local pet store when the Guardian Angels Cat Rescue group had an adoption day event. We spent 2 hours there, holding the cats and kittens and talking to the rescue folks,and finally escaped with (only) two adorable 12-week old kittens.

They are certainly keeping us busy. Michael named the kittens: the grey one is Pepper, and she is a very peppy and fearless kitten. Shadow is more timid, having been feral when rescued ( Pepper was born in captivity) but she is warming up, and often shadows Sha, who is amused and sometimes plays with the kittens when he is feeling up to it.
3.Knitting has been my constant comfort and I was thrilled to release my pattern for Raglan Circular Sweater  on May 1st, after a wonderful group of testers knit it and helped make  the pattern easy to follow. I am working on several new ideas, and hope to release patterns sometime soon...If you would like to be a test knitter, just send me an email!
4. There's so much more, but I think that will have to go in another post. Happy Summer, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Goodbye Cinnamon girl

Cinnamon Riggs, October 2001- March 21,2013

We said goodbye to our Cinnamon kitty today. It was sad, holding her in my arms in the sweet Veterinarian's sunny office, as she passed smoothly into the next world. It was her time, and after getting a bleak diagnosis on Monday of large cell lymphoma of the mesentary and intestines, it seemed the most humane thing. She spent most of her last few days hiding under my bed, but last night she slept right next to me, purring when I patted her, and this morning moved over to look out the window as the sun rose. Cinnamon lived to be 12 years old, and even though she was an indoor cat, caught several mice in her time. She loved being up high, and enjoyed the cat-tree we built for her. She often ate daintily with her paws, scooping food out of the bowl into her mouth, and was a fanatic for cheese and Haagen-Daz Vanilla. One time I had greased the pan to make a cake, turned away for a moment, and returned to find Cinnamon happily licking the butter off the cake pan! She had the most beautiful purr, and loved having her neck scratched, especially in the place where she had surgery to remove a sewing needle she swallowed in 2004. She would always lie on the children's coats if they happened to be thrown on the floor,right over the warm spot where the heat came up.As our family's first cat, we had a lot to learn about cats, but she taught us to be patient and to stop and pay attention if she meowed, for usually it meant she had some adorable means to tell us we were beloved.
As the subject of several of my quilts, her image will live on, and the joy she brought to us will always remain. RIP dear Cinnamon. And thanks for all the fur.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Quilting Day!

In view of it being National Quilt Day, I figured I should share my fabulous trip to Lancaster, PA with you. Lancaster, of course, has a long tradition of quilting going back to the Amish who settled the area many years ago. Over time, it became a destination for quilt lovers due to the Lancaster Quilter's Heritage Celebration Show, which ran for many many years ( like, 25?) in the Executive Inn and Conference Center. I attended that show , entered quilts in that show, bought huge amounts of fabric there, and generally had a wonderful time each year, as I drove there from my home in NY with some of my best quilting friends. I had many laughs with various quilting teachers who became good friends. So I was sorry when the show organizer retired, and even sorrier when I moved to the Boston area, because it made it much more difficult to go.A few years ago, AQS ( American Quilter Society) decided to stage an annual show in Lancaster, to replace the QHC, and I was especially inspired to go this year because I learned that the Tentmakers of Cairo (
(    would be there, exhibiting their amazing quilts and showing their techniques. I was enthralled by their artistry and their spectacular work, and was drawn to see their show and perhaps meet some of them. A documentary is being filmed by Kim Beamish ( and I was eager to see what the work was like in person. So a few months ago, I reserved a hotel room, and thought about how I was going to get there. I asked my good friend Benedicte to join me, but she was facing a lot of situations and could not go. I looked into flying, but the costs were so high, it would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming with the changing planes and various flights and times.. Also, it was during my sons' vacation week from college, and I did not want to be away during that time. So I followed the cause on Facebook and various media and thought about it a lot...meanwhile, driving from Boston would be an 8 hour proposition, too far for me to withstand, given my fibromyalgia issues.
However,the goddess conspired, first to lay off my husband from his job, which left him with time to be available, and then to provide a small window of clear weather. Luckily, he is a pilot, and he offered to fly us down for the day! What an opportunity! It all worked out so well, with one day for clear flying to re-qualify him to fly, and the next clear day to let us actually go!
Flying at 3500 ft over Connecticut
It was really cold up in the air, and on the ground, so issues with rising air made for a bumpy ride.But it was beautiful, and glorious to be going so fast!
Hosam Mahmoud stitching away

Tarek Abouelenin with admirers

Me watching Kim Beamish filming
Beneath The southern Sky-Australian exhibit

One of the amazingly intricate and beautiful Egyptian artworks

Home safe and sound on the ground with my favorite pilot!
We left in the morning, after having to change planes because the first one had some wiring issues, but after a rather bumpy 3 hour flight, we made it to the show! We went directly by taxi from the airport to the show, and right up to the Tentmakers' exhibit. It was a magical day, and I got to see a lot of gorgeous artwork, ran into some friends, and was overwhelmed by beauty. It was so wonderful to meet Jenny Bowker, the Australian artist who was instrumental in getting the ball rolling to share the Egyptians' work with so many quilters around the world. I am really lucky to have had the opportunity to see this show! The other special exhibits, the general show and the vendors were also wonderful. It was a quick, whirlwind tour, but I am glad I went. Now back to reality and renewed inspiration.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sweater experiment

As I described a few posts ago,I was designing a circular sweater similar to Sandra McIver's Swirl, but knit from the body out to the edge.After finishing the knitting of the body, I washed it and blocked it, which smoothed out the welting and made it much larger and drapier. I knew the Silk Garden yarn would stretch with blocking, so I needed to check the length before knitting the sleeves. Here it is tried on before adding sleeves:

I think the length is good for a short person like myself! Final bindoff row had 380 stitches.

Here it is with the sleeves added. A very warm and comfy sweater, just the thing for these frigid months!

I used 2 colorways of Silk Garden, 354 and 337, but I don't think there is enough blue..I may have to make another one....

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Studio Storage Set-up

I had to move all of the boxes out of the studio and into the office temporarily so I could set up the shelving. Who needs the gym when you can carry one box at a time across the house over and over? One box is about all I can lift, but it was good exercise. Then I took a nap. Here is how it looked this morning:

 100 boxes.
I still have room on top for 20 more boxes, as the space is exactly 2 boxes high, which I will arrange later. I was worried about the light, but the window near the sewing machine and ironing board provides plenty of eastern light much of the day, even in this snowy weather. I may have to protect the fabric on that side with some curtains, although I enjoy being able to look out at the trees. I may put UV-blocking film on the window. I am pleased that the storage capacity is what I envisioned, but probably over time I will need to take all the fabric out of the boxes and organize it as I use it and rummage thru searching for just the right piece for projects. The design wall will be the next thing to set up. Peter scored some pinnable office-cubicle panels from work ( you can see a small one leaning against the wall) and we plan to construct a pinnable design wall on the opposite side of the room from the shelving. Meanwhile, I have gotten very inspired by The Tentmakers of Chareh El-Khiamiah . Fantastic! Here is the link:
   They are a group of Egyptian artists making amazing appliqued works. A film about them is in the works, and you can help fund this fantastic project here: . Several of the artists will be coming to AQS quilt shows in the USA this spring ,and I hope to be able to meet them and see their work . Well, back to sorting and organizing! I hope you are enjoying this day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Making stuff

New year, new yarn and new ideas! I was inspired by a friend to start collecting some more Noro yarn, and had a gift certificate ( thank you Margaret and Debbie!) so I had to use it .I had the idea to make another circular sweater after re-knitting my chenille sweater, so I thought I would play with the idea to use a raglan construction for the yoke and then pick up stitches around to make the circular body. I'm using a couple of colorways of the Noro silk Garden to make it more interesting ( and add more blue!) , and it is fun to watch the colors emerge. I'm inspired by the book "Knit, Swirl" by Sandra McIver, but I prefer to knit from the inside out and I wanted to be able to adjust sleeve length and try it on as I go, so I thought this might be fun to try.  I can always rip it out and re-knit if it doesn't work the way my calculations seem to indicate...Also I don't love the octagon look, preferring a smooth circle, so I'm scattering the increases. Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, my mother has a friend expecting twins, and as I already made a blue baby quilt, she wanted a girly one to match, so I dived into my stash and came up with this bold pink , purple and orange jelly roll race idea. The green squares provide a bit of contrast, don't you think? Here is the back first:

And then the front:

I quilted it with free-form flowers and swirls in the squares :

My studio is rudimentary now, with all the fabric in plastic boxes from Container Store. I wanted to put some sort of cabinets/shelving along the north wall for storage, but could not find anything the right size to store the boxes.I decided to go with Ikea's Billy system shelf units, which are 15 3/8 inch deep ( the boxes are 15 3/4 inch deep and 13 1/2 inches wide), and probably will have to take most of the fabric out of the boxes to store behind doors of the shelving.It will be a big project to sort and organize that when the shelves arrive, but it seems like the best way to deal with it.At the moment I can sit at the sewing machine and gaze out at the woods and backyard behind the house, so I think it will be nice.

I'm using the dining room and living room of the house for my studio, and while it is only 12 1/4 ft wide, it is a long space.Very different from my previous huge studio room, but as we have a big eat-in kitchen anf family room, there is really no need for a dining room or living room! So, I am glad to be making stuff again!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grafting Garter stitch

 Two winters ago I knit my Garter stitch Circular sweater, and I loved the yarns, the fabric and the colors of the sweater. It was made from various rayon chenilles, ribbon yarns and other cotton or rayon yarns that I had collected over many years. There were a whole lot of ends to weave in, of course, and it took a long time to knit, but I loved the resulting sweater. I wore it once, and realized it was too long in the back for my short self. So, on to the next project. Yesterday I unpacked  a box and there it was. Because of the non-wool nature of the yarns, it had stretched and so my lovely sweater was making me unhappy.

If I were
6 ft tall, it might be lovely, but alas, I am 5 ft 1. So I decided to rip out the body and re-knit it with a shorter back section. I still had a box of yarn left from that project, so I first knit a shorter back section, 10 inches instead of 15 inches, and then started ripping out the circular portion which went surprisingly easily, after I picked out the bind-off which was in fluffy chenille.

I decided to keep the sleeves, as they were the right length. The whole sweater body ended up in 3 neat balls.I had to figure out how to graft  1/2 of the sleeve stitches to the back so I could  continue with the shrug construction. I put the sleeves on circular needles and managed to successfully graft them to the back:

I found my formula for
Grafting in Garter stitch:
Front: K off, P leave
Back: K off,P leave.
It was easy and went very smoothly! Now I am ready to knit the circular portion, and marked 7 sections around the circumference where I will be increasing every other row.Because this is circular garter stitch, I only need 7 increases every other row, so I increase on the knit rows and work plain on the purl rows. I probably will need to cut the yarns to make it line up, but having would them in sequence it should go easily.
If I had stitched it in Seed stitch, the grafting would be:
Front:opposite off, same leave ( as you see the stitch)
Back:opposite off, same leave
If ribbing:
Front: same off, opposite leave
Back: same off, opposite leave.
For the sake of completeness:
Stockinette stitch grafting is 
Front: Knit off, purl leave
Back:Purl off, knit leave.
In a month, I should have a new sweater! The new moon is a good time to begin a new project, don't you think?