Monday, December 29, 2008

They are fine

We made these potato doughnuts last week. Towards the end of the batch we tired of rolling out the dough and cutting doughnut shapes. I liked the way the little blobs of dough we threw in at the end turned out best.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tis the season

This is my current scarf relaxing with some of the pastries we enjoyed today. Knitting Contessa has been posting interviews with crafters (me today) and recipes for handmade gifts if you need some ideas. I mailed off all my Pay-It-Forward gifts, Cristina. I'm in the clear now and can rest easy with you and Benjamin Franklin!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Button crafts

This is a very addictive craft project from an old Martha Stewart Kids. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

A lighter gingerbread cake

I've been making this gingerbread snacking cake from Martha. This time around I switched out the molasses for agave syrup in one cake and brown rice syrup in the other. The spice mixture comes through a lot stronger. I wish I had kept track of which syrup went into which cake. I'm going to try this with cookies next. I'm shuffling the spice mixture around as well. I like cardamon. This post is to remind me to take notes, or repeat the mistakes of the past!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Three Kings Go Shopping

A Small Miracle by Peter Collington is about a nativity set that gets ready for Christmas. There are no words. I like to listen as people read it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mario Kart

Mario Kart fans, I don't know if you caught Cassie Smith's Mario Scarf in the latest issue of  Nintendo Power, but here's Cassie's blog for photos and story. It's beautiful. If you still can't get enough Mario love, listen to this. Listen to it over and over until your whole house can sing it. The three inches of striped scarf in the photo is another stab at the Gap scarf. The cobbler's husband has no shoes! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Raku firing and dates

We did a small raku firing outside the studio today and I had to borrow an orphaned bowl to be a part of it. I was going to use the dates for some tea bread, but we ate them. This post is to remind me to be prepared when good things come my way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cardiff sweater

Looking through old albums, I remembered taking this in 1985 somewhere in Cardiff and wondering if I would ever have a sweet little boy who would wear red cabled sweaters! I used a cable from a baby sweater similar to B Walker's Four-Rib Braid in Second Treasury and complicated things a little with a Double Wave on each side from Third Treasury.

With Thanksgiving behind us already, I am determined to slow the holiday season down. Last year I promised myself I would look into gingerbread and the new issue of Martha has me curious about the wood grain cardamon cookies. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stormsvale color choices

Now that I've sent the Sweetpea coat off to school, I am ready to begin my own Stormsvale. I sent away for the color card thinking I would pick slightly different blue/grays. Now that I see all the possibilities, I'm a little stunned. I bet this yarn makes incredible mittens.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweetpea coat

The Sweetpea coat from Twist Collective for my daughter is almost complete. This pattern uses Harrisville Heathered Bulky at 2.5 stitches per inch. This is a gorgeous yarn if you want to go bulky. The heathered texture keeps the surface interesting.

For Miss Lear's petite frame, about a child's size 10, we began knitting at the top using the shoulder measurements for the smallest size, began the armhole shaping a little early, and then knit straight down with a few increases ending just at her jean pockets. This is a smart way to knit for a sweater recipient with opinions. In the picture here you see the second crack at a collar. She wanted it to stand up around her neck a little more and reach out to her shoulders. So we coped with those issues before we finished the armholes. An hour later she tried it on again and we decided it was too roomy under the arms, so I ripped back 4 rows and gave her a little less ease.  She kept trying it on until we liked the length. Today I'll fiddle with the sleeves. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gap holiday scarf

This scarf modeled by Jason Bateman in the Gap holiday booklet has me thinking. I imagine it in two different Kaffe Fassett stripes, smaller gauge, heather and tweed textures. I would knit the two sides flat with a purl stitch in the middle so they would fold nicely. Then I'd sew them together and pickup stitches on the end and do a simple rib just like the picture. This would be a nice project for using up sock yarn leftovers, but I bet I'd end up buying more yarn in the end. I always do.

I've been clicking through the Winter issue of Twist Collective. I can't decide which projects I like best. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Three persimmons are all I managed to claim from our tree. Like rude children, the squirrels take one bite of every fruit. Persimmons are plentiful at the market right now and I am eager to try this bread recipe on David Lebovitz's blog. I am casting about for another baby sweater project and working hard on mittens. I really like Rowan's Felted Tweed for mittens with bits of Silkywool thrown in.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dog sweater - first fitting

This is the cabled sweater from Judith Swartz's Dogs in Knits - before the sleeves and ribbing. I used Brown Sheep machine washable worsted and I'm surprised at how soft it is.

It's been getting cold at night here and I'd like to knit robes for the little Lears - similar in shape to Lucinda Guy's versions. I'd like them to look like they are from the original stage production of Peter Pan - jewel tones, cables, mother of pearl buttons, appropriate in the nursery and in battle on deck. When taunted by pirates, one can say, "This isn't my bath robe, it's a very long sweater my mother made me."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Baby sweater

Elsebeth Lavold Silkywool and an old Debbie Bliss pattern finished and ready to go. I should always have a baby project going so I am never caught off guard. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A progressive dinner

Last night we watched the returns with cheese puffs and soda - a treat in our house, but yesterday's Financial Times suggested a very eclectic election night menu served in progressive courses beginning with bourbon when the first polls close in Kentucky. An hour later cheddar from Vermont and barbecue from Georgia was served. It progressed across the country ending with Hawaii and Alaska. I would like to try something like this in four years with copies of campaign posters of the past. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day

Every election day I think about Irene Williams's "Housetop Variation" from the Quilts of Gee's Bend. I never made the vote vote vote socks I was dreaming of back at the Primary. I'm just going to go cast my vote for Senator Obama, my state propositions, my mayor, my city counsel, my rent board and my parks director in my everyday clothes. I'll be taking my Kindergartner who is home with a cold. I wonder if he'll remember this day and that we wore our everyday clothes?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Harvest wreath

For years I've been planning to make a gourd wreath. I finally found myself at the market this year in front of a huge crate of gourds. The plan changed when I went further into the market and realized what I really wanted was turnips and eggplant and dark purple potatoes. This led to the light green and gold pattypans and the baby artichokes. This takes the cooking with local ingredients in season philosophy into the crafting realm. Imagine if I just keep that wreath on the door and as the vegetables age I replace them with whatever is beautiful and in season at the market! 

This wreath has all natural ingredients. But I am really interested in creating something with both fantastical pieces and every-day pieces - something like old brass and glass doorknobs with baby potatoes and thyme; metal bubble wands and glass bubbles arranged with chestnuts; keys and radicchio with light green velvet ribbons. I also like the idea of holiday food gifts arranged as centerpieces: an onion wreath with dark purple ribbons and thyme and bay leaves encircling small vertical baguettes and a bottle of red wine and some gruyere with a recipe for French onion soup. 

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Pink Pearl apples from the market.  This post explains their Turkish crabapple lineage. Happy times here: apple cider and cinnamon sticks in the crockpot, orange construction paper pumpkins on the windows, beautiful Jack-o-lanterns for the porch. I'd like to find some nice leaves to dip in wax for the windows as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The subtitle says it all: "Fabric Decoupaged Floorcloths - No Sew Fun". I have always planned on doing a floorcloth - painted heavy cotton canvas with layers of varnish on top, but now I'm excited to try a fabric decoupaged version. I'm using Denyse Schmidt's book for inspiration. I keep thinking of the "unswept floor" mosaic in the Vatican Museum. Gold Japanese Maple leaves would be lovely decoupaged onto a floorquilt like this - or letters on a hallway rug beneath the mail slot, Hubba Bubba wrappers in the diningroom, rose petals in the bathroom.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mechanical pencils

Like all my obsessions, it began with a handful of hand-me-downs. I love the tiny golf pencils, the bullet pencils, but the advertising pencils are the best. These make great gifts with a personalized notebook or moleskin. Some have loops for attaching tassels or cords.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Printing by Hand

The artsy Miss Lear has been doing some screen printing at school, and now we are all wild to do the same. I just got Lena Corwin's Printing by Hand and I'm throwing it right into the runcible bin with the sticker book and Sonia Delaunay. I'm counting on some wonderful ideas to brew over the weekend for gift wrap and t-shirts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Newsprint background

I love this picture of a Handmade Expressions bag from Country Home. I like the idea of printing on newsprint for gift wrap. I also love using newsprint fabric in quilts. I've been playing around with applique in newsprint fabrics - like practice silhouettes or practice templates. I would like to decoupage the interior of a desk drawer with newspapers and ticket stubs, etc. I have to fiddle with this a little more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Clay, beads and wire

I tore this picture of Iradj Moini's insect brooches from an old Vogue. I would like to make creatures like these with leftover clay and wire - fantastical creatures and backyard specimens. I love clay pots with wire handles, why not clay beetles with wire legs - that hold the mail, my glasses, Bart passes?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Platter of Figs

I love cookbooks, especially when they are beautifully photographed, written and printed like David Tanis's A Platter of Figs. I need to concentrate on making platters for these menus. I also need to roll out some plates and whistles for Christmas.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Stairway Walk

We hiked another of Adah Bakalinsky's Stairway Walks in San Francisco. This was Walk 1 which includes the nineteenth century alleys around the Pyramid, the parrots of Telegraph Hill and Chinatown. Chinatown is best early Sunday mornings when the funeral bands go by, but twilight is good too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream

I don't have a great picture of this ice cream. Here it is mixed up and ready to go in the freezer. No ice cream machine needed. This is David Lebovitz's Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Ever. This is wonderful while watching the financial news. I can imagine a scoop of this in a milky-coffee drink. It is also wonderful just leaning up against fridge.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Photographs and Technology

Look closely at the chairs here. I am thinking of photo transfers appliqued onto pieced landscapes. The photo appliques could be on the inside of one of those quilted carryalls. Every time you open your bag it is like opening one of your own slide shows. I keep thinking of the Mad Men episode about Kodak's Carousel.

Friday, September 26, 2008

When is dressing a jar?

I have lost the magazine where I saw this idea. I have done this with plastic spray bottles for diluting cleaning liquids, but it wasn't this pretty. I used a Sharpie to mark lines on an old peanut butter jar to guide kitchen helpers when making salad dressing. Imagine this with those art store glass paints - painting the whole jar except for a bottle silhouette window. I wonder what else I could use this for - limeade ratios? The French press? A glass teapot?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tri-color Monteagle Bag

I am inspired by the bags on Ravelry knit with stash and remnants. The Summer before last I knit dozens of these out of linen, cotton, and hemp. I now see that my leftovers bag contains a lot of tri-color possibilities. There's also the nylon cord option for swim-laundry-bath bags. In the bottom of the runcible bin I've thrown some saved bits of cord and twine and string, the kind that comes on packages and out of little desk drawers. There is an idea brewing down there with buttons and bits of pink paper and silver foil.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mason-Dixon Felted Candy Corn

I love the Felted Trees in the new Mason-DIxon book. With my bag of leftover green yarns I am set to create a forest. But all I can think right now is - candy corn forest.

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Arm Waving

I'm on the second sleeve of Cafe Bastille. This is one of those knits that could become an obsession - a bulky cable sweater in every color with every neckline. I should do mini versions for the little Lears. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baby gift stalls

Thank you for all the comments! I'm plugging away on the little baby wrap wishing it were done so I could start the embroidery. I have been thinking of Hideyuki Oka's book "How to Wrap 5 Eggs." I check it out of the library ever so often to go over all the gorgeous Japanese packaging - some fancy - some farmers' market sensible. I would like to wrap my gifts in this elegant natural way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mason-Dixon Knitting: Outside the Lines

The new Mason-Dixon book is out today.  Make yourself a pot of coffee and find a little something to munch on, because once you open this book you will not be able to move. I'm so proud to be included in this wonderful book. There are over 30 patterns - women's coats to tiny felt trees.
Not only are the patterns wonderful as written, they inspire other creations as well. Cristina's Via Veneto Table Runner in something silky would also make a lovely wrap. The Margaret sweater is so adaptable, and the embroidery directions would create an incredible baby blanket. The Belinda wrap in two shades of linen would make a wonderful window hanging. All the blanket patterns could be used for smaller projects like pillows or the felted bag. Kiki Mariko is driving me crazy - a rug, a bag, a floor pillow, a slipcover, a king-size bedspread! I want to make the tiny girl coat, Fern, for myself, but I can see it as a long wrap as well using the same shades for the stripes, but something like Silky Wool or Rowan's Summer Tweed. I'm going to use the Superfestive Lantern pattern to cover artsy Ikea lamps. I haven't even talked about the stories, the techniques, the top-down sweater, the Jane Austen dress and shrug - and the potential holiday gift items, like my Monteagle string bag available here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saturday with the dudes from Nerdistan

We toured the new California Academy of Sciences this weekend. It is different from the Natural History Museums we have visited in Vienna, New York, and Chicago. I cannot forget the albino alligator resting behind the seahorse railings. At the aquarium we saw this starfish and thought he would make an excellent pillow. Even softer would be the black velvet and fur ball behind him. I think the chocolate chip star fish will inspire a dessert. Perhaps we will start an ocean theme in the livingroom - with a jellyfish lamp and an octopus pillow too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Watch band

I want to make a series of beaded watch bands that I can quickly change - seeds, Sculpey in the shape of old bones, those little silver charms at the bead store. The only thing holding me back is "connectors". I'm going to go through Bead Simple again and make a shopping list. I also love those teeny macrame bands - wouldn't that make a simple band? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Embroidered baby wrap

Inspired by an old Debbie Bliss pattern, I'm using Barbara Walker's top-down directions for a baby kimono. I'm going to embroider it with something wonderful from The New Crewel. This may be the prototype for my own kimono. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Double Indemnity

Yikes this was good! I don't know how people can get away with lines like these: "Maybe I like the way his thumbs hold up the wool." For an excellent post on this and photos see Needled.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Executive Suite

Get a load of William Holden's house! I like this one. Go designers!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cafe Bastille Cables

This lovely Silkroad Ultra is finally becoming a wonderful sweater. Yarn this marshmallowey can be tricky, like the Michelin Man, like football pads. I've always loved this pattern because real waiters modeled it for the cover of Interweave Knits.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pimp my armoire

About this time last year, I was contemplating a carrel; it looked messy. So once again I am fixing up our armoires. Each one holds the promise of an entire extra room. Pictured here is the beginnings of a young Lear's private library - much like the Duke d'Urbino's "cabinet". We are planning covered bulletinboard panels on the doors, a fold-down desktop and customized cubbies for stationery and supplies.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Minimalist Cooks Dinner

I love this book. My Cafe Bastille sweater is coming along, but it is too hot to even pick it up. I'm going to start some socks and listen to the speeches.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gansey complete

I knit the collar during the closing ceremonies. The color in this photo isn't true. I may knit another of these for myself. I usually don't knit sweaters in pieces, but I needed this one to be portable. I do not like sewing seams or fitting the sleeves. I will go back to picking up stitches and knitting sleeves in the round. My favorite way to knit a sweater is from the top down, a la Barbara Walker. That way I can be sure I have the shoulders and armholes fitted correctly before I take on the bulk of the sweater. But I also like being able to knit in pieces here and there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Readymade Eames cabinet

I checked out the Readymade book - a collection of DIY ideas from the magazine of the same name. I love this Eames-ish cabinet made of discarded drawers. Gansey front is finished and blocking! This weekend I'll sew it together and knit the neck! What next?!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gansey back complete

I'm knitting away on the front now. I love this Ultra Alpaca - the heathered colors are wonderful, the softness, the warmth! This Olympic knitting project has gone so smoothly (except when I knit the sleeves two at a time and 8" in realized I wasn't increasing and had to frog it all). I've never planned so well for a project. Since the starting time was set for the first day of the Olympics, I took my time swatching, blocking the swatches, gathering the supplies, setting it all up in a picnic tin by my tv chair. I'll have to do this again!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wool 100%

Did you see the Mai Tominaga interview in Vogue Knitting? I nudged this ahead of Double Indemnity as a little break in the Barbara Stanwyck festival. I am only and always working on my olympic knitting, but I can't wait to start some of the projects in A Fine Fleece. I've hit upon an idea for my PIF gifts, and I'm thinking about Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Green sleeves

Well I have a sleeve, and the other is coming along. I'm heavy into terrariums. The honey wine was dumped and that empty glass gallon jug is calling to me on the porch steps. I also want to macrame some hangers for jars so they can hang in the window.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Christmas in Connecticut

This was a nice movie - it got me thinking about Christmas gifts. I've always wanted to make a pile of mittens for gifts - each pair connected by a long ribbon. Then I'd have to think of a game where everyone stands on one side of the room and chooses a mitten, and then unravels the tangle to the other mitten? No, I think it has to be some sort of team sport, and that ribbon has to be elastic, a slingshot game. I have to think about this while I continue my Olympic knitting.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Library day

We're having company tomorrow. I have to come up with a dinner menu, and then I have to cook it. (Usually, I come up with the menu, and Mr. Lear cooks it!) So I checked out both of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and I'm just going to pick something, shop for it, and make it - sweep the toys into the nursery, put some rosemary in a vase, and pour myself some wine. I once read a story by a Georgetown hostess in which her caterer mixed up the dates and a half hour before cocktails called to give her the bad news. She simply called Popeyes, ordered a ton of fried chicken and biscuits, and placed it in the caterer's silver serving dishes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lavender ice cream

This dish of lavender ice cream goes out to Sel & Poivre. I think this batch marks the moment I gave up my silly feelings about fancy flavors. Now, I'm Gary Cooper once he discovers the beauty of 1940s NYC slang. I adore lavender ice cream! Yesterday I made Guinness milk chocolate. Next I'm going to try goat cheese! My copy of The Perfect Scoop is due this week, but my bookstore has promised me one by Thursday.