Ski day

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Back to life

I’m coming down hard after a wonderful weekend high. We had a little designers’ retreat here in Vermont so I got to see (and meet) online friends in person, spend the whole weekend knitting and chatting. Oh, and I slept all night without a baby waking me up. I didn’t break out the camera often, so I’m going to borrow from a few friends (oh, and I’m on Instagram now – I’ve been in denial for a bit. But if you’re over there I’ve got my usual user name: BeckyinVT)

The lodge is gorgeous in the winter. We had snowshoeing, sunshine, and a beautiful fire place to curl up in front of with our knitting. The food at the lodge was absolutely amazing, they even make their own granola:

breakfast

And the evening’s entertainment was hilarious, if not entirely appropriate for polite company. At least we were all able to relax!

evening

Moths

This is one of those stories where you can hopefully learn from my mistakes. I was in the craft room a couple of weeks ago – looking for a spinning project to take on a little retreat weekend I have coming up. My craft room was the messy sort of organized. And honestly it’s seen a bit of neglect over the last year. But I always had a basket or two out in the open, displaying the pretty fiber. I picked up one long neglected project and unthinking, turned it over.

moths 1

Hint: cocoons in your fiber are never a good sign. (I mean, unless it’s a collection of silk worm cocoons. I guess there’s an exception to every rule.)

Lesson #1: never EVER leave your fiber untossed and unsealed for a long time. This project had been hibernating for year. I go through and toss the stash (checking it for bugs) at least once per year. But I hadn’t flipped this little pile of wool over in much longer than that. Turns out that spraying cedar oil only goes so far…

Unfortunately a lot of my craft room had this problem. Because I’d “never had moths before” so I wasn’t worried.

moths 2

And of course it’s the pretty, pretty handspun that was all the most exposed. That basket also held a couple of cocoons at the bottom. Luckily not all my stash was in trouble. I keep my sock yarn in this pretty hat box, with cedar balls at the bottom. And this yarn all checked out ok:

moths 5

And none of my design yarn was hit. Which is a bit of a shock, since I kept my “inspiration” skeins, um, like this:

moths 4

Lesson 2: laundry baskets just give the moths plenty of access on all sides. I think this basket was only saved from damage because I have a regular habit of flipping it over and sorting through it.
Lesson 3: Moths hate turnover.

Any designs I’m not wearing regularly are stored away carefully. I have a large collection of rubbermaid bins, and I’ve been adding to my freezer bag collection recently. Because these open topped bags?

moths 3

They’re all gone. I think it was just luck that none of their contents were damaged.

Most of my personal stash lives in this lovely old chest.

moths 6

I wish the chest were cedar, but it’s not. Instead I have a variety of cedar satchets, boards, and balls scattered throughout. I went through the whole chest. It looked fine, I was congratulating myself on no damage. When I found this:

moths 7

No cocoons, no moths, no eggs that I could see. Just one, ONE skein with a little nibble taken out of it. Seems unlikely that it could be the sum total of the damage. So I bagged up ALL that yarn as well.

Lesson 4: when you have moth damage. Nip it in the bud.
All yarn with obvious damage, and any yarn with exposure (such as Every. Single. Skein. in the chest with that one nibbled skein) ALL that yarn went into plastic bags. I bagged stuff that was stored together in giant freezer bags and grocery bags. But I didn’t cross between storage areas (no point in creating more exposure – even briefly)

Um. I have 4 kitchen trashbags of exposed yarn.

Luckily none of my finished garments showed damage. No yarn stored in other rooms of the house was harmed. My kilt, Neil’s pea coat, the wool couch blanket in the living room: all ok. So it could have been worse.

Also, since I’m counting my blessings, it’s COLD outside.

Lesson 5: Freeze the little buggers to death.
Moths and larvae die below freezing, but you have to freeze for 2 weeks. Then you let everything thaw for a couple of days – so any potential eggs can hatch (eggs are hardy.) Then you freeze again! It hasn’t been above freezing on my porch yet this month – so I’m almost done with this freeze thaw cycle and I haven’t had to plug in an extra chest freezer yet!

Luckily the majority of my spinning stash is perfectly safe. Why is that?

moths 8

Because apparently I’m much better about storing it… When the yarn all comes back inside I’m going to have a zipper-baggy party. Then my yarn stash will look like this too!

Play Dough!

Here’s a combination craft recipe and cooking recipe! Home made play dough. This stuff is awesome, it’s my mom’s recipe and I remember many fond hours playing with it as a child. This weekend I shared it with Windsor for the first time.

play dough ing

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s cheap and non-toxic (although a bit salty). Which means when Jake eats it, or it gets full of dirt and we throw it away, I really don’t mind. Just be aware that the food dye can stain things if you add too much or don’t mix it in thoroughly.

Ingredients
2.5 cups flour
2.5 cups water
1.5 Tbsp cream of tarter
1.25 cup salt
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
food coloring

Directions
In a medium saucepan mix everything together except the food coloring. Put it over low to medium heat, and start cooking. Stirring. Keep stirring, this doesn’t take long and you don’t want it to burn.

Once it begins to thicken, add the food coloring. We did yellow (less likely to stain, but also less fun) and needed almost 20 drops. You’ll need far fewer for blue.

Continue stirring until the dough is thick and begins to gather around the spoon. When it’s so thick you can’t really stir it anymore, remove from the heat and put on a plate to cool.

play dough cooking

You can also mix the colors in once it’s cool. But be careful not to get the food dye all over your hands. Once it’s cool you’re good to go! Be sure to store it in an air-tight container or it’ll dry out. And like commercial play dough, this doesn’t dry smoothly. It tends to crack as it goes.

play dough time

(yes, she does have playdough stuck to her cheek. That’s the sign of a good time!)

Head to Toe

As much as I talk about knitting for myself as we all know I’m drawn to the adorable things I can knit for Adorable Windsor. And that’s exactly what drew me to Head to Toe: Kids’ knit accessories


(also on Ravelry and from Cooperative Press)

This book has so many great kids knits that I didn’t even know what to start with. My colorwork bug (it’s some version of startitis, that disease sure can mutate) wanted to do either cannonfire

or Northumberland:

I love that color pattern in both colorways. And I love how Katya shows the mirror colorways because they look so different!

Then there are the cables. Cheviot Hills are gorgeous, but I don’t know that Windsor would understand fingerless mitts yet

And Back Hand Hitch has the same problem:

So what did I cast on? Breamish:

Windsor really needs some thicker socks for this cold cold winter. Unfortunately, I had grand plans of having at least one done by this blog post. But it turns out knitting goes a lot faster when you actually knit things. Instead of just dreaming about knitting them…

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I’ll get there. Eventually.

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snowman in the february sun

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WIWIWK

Here’s what I wish I were knitting: almost anything than what I’ve got on the go right now.

I finished the blue and gray mittens, and they’re blocking by the wood stove. The fresh coat of snow we’re getting today should make a pretty backdrop for later this week when I’m hoping to have an early morning photo shoot (just me, myself, the tripod, and some tourists if I’m unlucky)

After weaving in the ends I looked at my pile of WIPs and realized I have a children’s design that I’m knitting in about an 18 month size – and I need to finish it before my model out-grows all that clothing… It’s an adorable design, and it’s 80% done. But what it still needs is a lot of i-cord and a hood. And you know how it goes. I just want to cast on for something new.

So what would I rather be knitting? Something for myself, I think. Something warm and cozy for winter, but could still transition to spring (it’ll be here someday)

I’d rather be knitting almost anything from Cascadia.


(again, available through Ravelry and Cooperative Press too)

I don’t know how I have the self control to NOT simply cast on for Courtenay

The bell sleeves, the touch of lace, the promise of a quick worsted weight pullover. I want it now.

Weirdly Redcedar is also calling to me. And I never knit scarves. But that cover is just so cozy, it’s definitely the finished product calling me, not the process of knitting it.

And I sort of adore the mother daughter set that they’ve modeled for the Sea Glass pullover It’s too bad that boxy shape never looks good on me. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to knit it. Actually I should knit it in Windsor’s size anyway. She would be so thrilled by a sweater with beads. I can see the grin on her face already.

Yup, I think that might be my weak spot, right there. Remember how, at the start of this, I said I wanted to knit something for myself? Turns out I was wrong. I’m a bit of a fickle knitter these days.

The awesomeness of books

So, as I mentioned my book is a combination of knitting patterns, and cooking recipes. That, combined with our photography, really make it a book worth having. Sure you can buy PDFs online and you can find lots of recipes too. But the book combines them both with tips and resources and puts it all in one convenient place.

Cooperative Press is really good about providing this sort of content: the patterns and MORE sort of knitting book. And that’s why today I want to remind you all about What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit?


(Also on Ravelry, and Cooperative Press)

This book combines knitting patterns, essays, and more. It’s a great book to sit down and read, not just to knit something from. As a designer in the book I felt like writing an essay really let me stretch my wings a little. Along with an awesome sweater dress:

iseult wafting

I got to write an awesome little story about how Iseult is not just your average princess, but really an empowered woman reaching through history to show that princesses weren’t always just waiting for their prince to come.

Intriuged? Please check out the whole book! And while you’re at it check out a few of my other favorite designs from WeWMDFK:


Ahab’s Gansey features some really amazing cables. It’s a mens sweater, but I’m not sure if Neil or I would wear it more…


Check out the birds on the thumbs of the Counting Crow mittens!


And finally the cables plus lace of Fosco’s Pret Pret Pretties make for a pair of VERY pretty little socks.

What’s your favorite pattern from What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit? Leave a note in the comments! Better yet, talk about it on your favorite form of social media (twitter? facebook? Even Raverly counts!) let Shannon know that you’re sharing the CP love here: http://bit.ly/lovetowin200 and you could win books, or even cash. Who doesn’t love winning?

She makes hats look good

Have you seen Theressa Silver’s book Hat Couture? I love it:


(Also available from Ravelry! and directly from Cooperative Press!)

Theressa has done the amazing work of turning classic, fashionable hat styles into knitting patterns. With no felting (although the fabric is knit at a dense gauge) you too can have a collection of styling hats.

frilly hat
This is Jackie, inspired by Jackie Kennedy, of course.

But where would you go in such a hat? Anywhere that requires a little dressing up, of course! I wore this one to a wedding. I fit right into the crowd, and got so many, many complements. Some of them were on my hat, but most people complemented my outfit. A hat simply pulls your whole outfit together.

frilly hat direct

Theressa does a really wonderful job explaining how to pull together the little bouquets of notions that adorn these hats as well. So between the excellent pattern that lets you shape a fully form top hat, to the decorations that make this a true act of millinery, she has it all covered.

marlene top hat
Marlene as knit by Faithellen on Ravelry.

Honestly though? I wish our culture wore more hats. They’re such a great accessory. People are all about scarves, bags, and jewelry. Why do hats get left out of the picture? I could pull together a great outfit for meeting friends at the little indie coffee shop down in the village:

Bette at the coffee shop

(This hat is Bette, and I love it extra for the crazy Robin Hood style feather!)

Or what about Sunday brunch? Why shouldn’t you wear a hat then?

sunday brunch with Carmen

(this is Carmen, it’s a little out there, but I know you can pull it off!)

Remember women, historically, wore their hats inside (as opposed to men who take their hats off when entering a building) so once you’ve done all that work you don’t have to feel like your outfit is incomplete the moment you step through the door.

If you want to know more about Hat Couture I highly recommend this behind the scenes post from Theressa herself.

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more snow

snowy clothes pins