Monthly Archives: April 2013

Sunday was gorgeous

Sunday was gorgeous, 65F, breezy, and sunny. So why did all the laundry this weekend go through the dryer? Well you may askā€¦ It’s because I’m forgetful, and not everything is perfect, even when we want it to be. My clothesline snapped the weekend before, not on the first load, but the second. And not right away, but it waited until I wasn’t looking. I wish if the thing were going to give up, it’d give me some advanced notice (this will become a running theme.)

Then I spent a week forgetting to pick up new line. On Sunday I thought hopefully to myself, “Self: it worked a little last week. What if we just tie some careful knots and try again?” I’d like to point out my knot-tying skills are pretty good! The knots themselves held up fine. The line also held up fine (for awhile). It showed no signs of breaking while I ratcheted it tight. It showed no signs of breaking while I carefully pinned a whole load of clothes up to dry. You can see where this is going, right? Of course, it waited until I was done to snap a second time, thoughtfully dropping all my clean laundry onto the ground.

So I have to ask? What do other people do? Do you actually take your line down in the winter so it doesn’t weather as much? Do you also go through the process of replacing a clothesline every other year? Is there some magical clothesline string that doesn’t break with age??

deep stash

What to do when you’re in the mood for a quick project on a lazy weekend? Stash-dive for the right materials! (note: I was filling a sewing craving, obviously) I’ve been saving this awesome fabric for years. I never knew what its purpose was, but it was too awesome to just give up on. This weekend it finally told me, it wants to be a baby blanket.

stash fabric and trim

I combined the cotton print with an old flannel sheet. The dogs tore the center of this old fitted sheet, but most of the fabric is still good. There’s plenty to back a good-sized baby blanket! Even the binding is from stash. I think it’s old, I have no guess where it came from…

stash binding

The blanket may be trimmed in blue, but I think between the unicorns and dragons, castles, wizards, sailing-ships, and trees this blanket will be fine for either a boy or girl.

This is the simplest blanket ever. I lined up the fabric wrong sides together, stitched three times across horizontally, and three times vertically making a grid. Then I put on the trim. The lines can best be described as straight-ish (I don’t like using pins). The final blanket is about 40×40 inches, kind of mid-weight, and the main feature is the fabric.

stash blanket corners

I have enough fabric left to make a set of nursery curtains. After that I may have enough left for another nursery project, we’ll see. I’m seriously considering painting a forest and castle mural in the nursery too! I may have discovered a theme…


I have a new pet project! Sourdough. My mom got a really nice starter from someone in her area, and she’s shared it with me. It has a lovely fresh-sour (does that make sense?) scent and bubbles along so happily

sourdough starter

I’m storing mine in the fridge so I only need to feed it once a week, but after being pointed to the recipes on King Arthur’s website (and in their bread books too) I don’t think I’ll have any problem using the starter that gets removed each time I feed it.


Last weekend I just made dough. Good, old-fashioned bread dough. I divided the starter, fed both halves, stuck one back in the fridge, and let the other bubble happily on above the wood stove. That evening I added flour and water, kneaded, and rolled out the dough.

rolled out

I put down a layer of caramelized onion and sausage, rolled the whole thing up stromboli style, and let it rise in a barely warmed oven.

stromboli ish



It’s still a pretty cold spring up here in Vermont. It’s dropped below freezing every one of the last 4 nights. I wanted to put out spinach and broccoli seed this weekend, but the cold forecasted seemed too much for even those hardy little guys.

garlic sprouts

The garlic is brave though*. So are the daffodils,

daffodil buds

and the rhubarb is starting to think about spring too!

rhubarb crown

It’ll be here eventually. Next weekend I’ll start my squashes indoors. This means I spend the whole week daydreaming about garden arrangements and new veggies to try. I already bought leek seeds and shallot starts, those will be new this year…

*yes those are coals on the ground. It’s not for the garlic. That’s left over from last fall when the squash bugs were SO BAD that I threatened to BURN THEM WITH FIRE. Never let it be said that I make empty threats at garden pests.

Mindless but pretty

I needed something really mindless to knit during a complicated class last week. It was the perfect excuse to cast on this crinkled (for now) little design that has been kicking around my brain for months.


Shhh, don’t tell the book that I’m designing something else! Seriously though, it’s simple enough that I wrote out the pattern in 30 minutes. And there’s no grading a stole! I should design more of them!!


It’s been great having something to knit while I fix math and typos and re-do charts on other book patterns as well. I may kick myself when I’m rushing through projects in May. But that’s future-Becky’s problem. Right now I’ll think I’ll go knit some more garter…

(ps, I’m going with the brown and blue buttons for that little baby sweater. It was a unanimous vote. You can’t all be wrong!)

First baby FO

I feel confident saying this space isn’t going to be turning into a parenting blog or anything. But you’ll probably get a dose of baby here, just like you get a dose of everything else in my life.*

Since there’s no baby yet, we’ll start with the first baby sweater!

noro baby sweater

Yes, this is Noro. Yes, Neil and I have already worked out a method for distinguishing hand-wash baby items from machine-wash baby items. Yes, I know at least a few things will probably get felted anyway. I’ve accepted that… I think.
Also yes, I did go through and divide each color chunk in half so the sleeves would be identical.

noro baby raglan

This started out as me following a free pattern from a yarn company. The details will go unshared because there were fatal math errors on the first page which forced me to just wing the rest of the sweater. (Let’s just say that if you cast on 32, inc 8 stitches in the first row, then inc 10 stitches every other row, you will NEVER get to 146…)

noro baby cuff

So I knit the body until it looked good. Then I consulted the CYC charts for babies and knit 8.5″ sleeves to go with the 20″ body. And they looked way too long. Then I asked twitter and Joeli pointed out these comprehensive kids charts.

noro baby buttons

Sleeves too long. Lesson learned. But for this sweater I’m just going to fold the cuffs back. Oh, and I still need to decide which buttons I like best. I’m leaning towards the purple swirly ones at the top. What do you think?

*knitting, chickens, dogs, gardening, food, the twice a year cleaning of the coop… you know the drill!

Hello Gorgeous

Wednesday afternoon was a complete success

move gee

There were maple buckets

turn haw

and draft horses


and my wonderful new friend who can drive them.

hello gorgeous

Maple weekend

I think it’s pretty telling of our cold spring that Neil and I took the Vermont Maple Open House weekend tour back on March __ and we’re STILL in sugaring season now.

the road

No, it hasn’t been the bestest season ever, there’s been so much cold that the sap stops running for days at a time. But I think everyone can agree that it’s FAR better than last season, when the whole thing was done by that third weekend in march.

sugar house

The actual weekend of the open house was so cold that most of our local sugar-makers didn’t even have sap to boil for display. One family actually laughed and told us they were boiling sap straight from the trees – whereas usually they put it through the RO machine first to cut the volume and save energy.

taste test

But they’d already had enough of a sugar season to provide plenty of taste tests, flavor comparisions. And my favorite sugar on snow.

sugar on snow

Because we still had plenty of snow at that point!

As you can tell, maple sugar is a bit more modern than those pictures of the horses and metal buckets that you see on syrup jugs. But with any luck (and I need all the luck you can send me) this evening I’ll be heading out to a sugar bush where they still collect sap the old fashioned way. I have a book photo shoot I NEED to finish. But this weird, cold weather keeps forcing us to postpone…

Iseult’s Dress

My newest pattern became available last friday. Iseult’s Dress is included in the book What (else) Would Madame Defarge Knit? (favorite and queue on Ravelry, as always)

iseult sleeves

That’s right. It’s my first pattern in a BOOK! The e-book version of WeWMDFK is available for download right now through Cooperative Press. You can order the print version now, it’ll be shipped just as soon as it gets back from the printers.

iseult wafting

I love working with Cooperative Press. Their model of publishing gives a percentage of sales to every author in this collection. This means we all have a real reason to hope you love our book. But I think we’d be hoping that anyway. This collection is a true labor of love. Along with designs inspired by classic literature the book includes essays, color photos, and the digital version includes live links and many other treats that just wouldn’t be possible with a standard print book.

iseult cable

The dress itself is one of my favorite designs. This pattern gave me my second opportunity to dress up as a princess for a photo shoot*.

iseult curvacious

But it doesn’t have to be worn with a chemise. It would be just a comfortable with leggings and tall boots. The shetland wool is springy and warm, but still breathable. And the springy factor means you can wear the knitted dress all day without developing saggy-butt.

iseult back view

If you love the design, but don’t want a dress that’s ok too. It’s worked from the top down, so you could simply knit it in sweater length. Likewise the sleeves could easily be made longer or shorter. Just keep trying it on until you’re happy!

iseult backlit

*but not the last opportunity, there’s another one in the works

cheddar broccoli soup

With the change of seasons (astronomically anyway) I’m not going to do a soup and bread post every week. But we’re up for some record setting low temperatures today and tonight. So bring on the soup!

Cheddar broccoli is a classic. It’s also a great late-winter soup that I can make entirely with things I put up before. In fact, I use the broccoli stems from the ENORMOUS heads of broccoli my garden grows every year. They’re perfect because they don’t turn the soup quite so dark green, they’re really good for you, and using them up pleases the “waste not, want not” part of my brain.

cheddar and broccoli

I used this recipe, pretty much exactly as written. I added the broth right after the milk then the cheese afterward. But I don’t so much have a reason as I just wasn’t paying attention…

broccoli cheddar soup

I did sprinkle nutmeg on top. Nutmeg is a great complement to roux (that’s the butter/flour/milk thing) and cheese based dishes.