Happy Holidays!

May you have only the happiest of knitting in 2008!


South for the winter...

Last Sunday we had the luxury of being able to stay warm inside while it snowed. About a foot fell softly and quietly. I guess this home will stay empty until the Spring. Enjoy the last day of autumn... tomorrow winter really begins!


One down and a "Plan B"...

Fetching is done and is quite--- well--- fetching! The Raspberry colour is perfect for the receiver. A bit of gift wrap and a length of ribbon and I have one down!

As for the "Plan B"? Well, my Nordic Mittens project have hit a major snag..... gauge issues!

Tension tensions!!!

This is often the case when not using the specific yarn used in a specific pattern--- note to self: add Julia to my stash.

I thought I was safe. I measured often at the start--- right up to the beginning of the thumb gusset. After that I became complacent (not quite cocky) and... the birdseed hit the ventilator. You can even see in the photo how much tighter my gauge became.

I've come to believe that once a project becomes "grieful", it is important to reassess--- and quickly before any negative mojo works it's way through the yarn. With this in mind.... here sits the mitten... off the needles... not even a scrap of yarn holding the live stitches... waiting for reassessment.

I then quickly cast on what I thought would be a no-brainer--- a simple pair of broadly striped foot cozies (read as thick, warm socks). Gauge issues, again! This time I am stocking stitching a tad too loosely. Darn those knitting gremlins....... I will persevere!


Gift knitting...

A month or so back, I made a pledge at Buy Handmade.

Of course, it seemed like a good idea at the time.... now the Holiday crunch is on!
I thought I would not only buy handmade, but make handmade, as well. There is a great misconception that since I have seemingly unlimited access to wonderful yarns and patterns that a knit gift from me would be de rigueur... not so! Think, "shoemaker's children".

This year I am doing my best to do some knit gifting.

A trip to Knitty was tops on my list for inspiration. A pair of Fetching--- has not everyone knit these?--- was quickly earmarked and with a large stash of Mission Falls 1824 Wool--- ;-]--- all I had to do was decide on a colour. Here they are in progress... the colour is 029 Raspberry.

Next in the queue-- not yet on the needles-- is from the latest Knitty. I love luscious thingies wrapped around my neck when the cold hits and Cheryl Marling's Tudora is simple and lovely. I have a few balls of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk in a lush, overripe eggplant colour. This yarn--picked up at Knit Happens in Alexandria, Virginia a few Aprils back--has struggled for it's reason to be. This just might be the project!

Deciding on my next project proved to be far more difficult. Just before I left for my adventure, I acquired the most fabulously, inspiring book... Kristin Knits! Kristin Nicholas is the best at designing joyful, colourful knitwear. Her way with hats, socks and mittens has always sent me over the knitting moon-- I rarely allot time to knit for myself, so accessories are often my knit "fix". Her latest collection is pure delight!!! If only I could win the "big one"..... I'd buy an Airstream Safari, fill the fridge with fabulous food and County Cider, pack up 10 balls each of every shade of Julia, set up camp in the "perfect" knitting spot, string up my hammock and blissfully knit everything in this book. My reality check was choosing only one project-- the Nordic mittens on page 125, digging into my yarn at hand-- Patons Classic Merino Wool, and plopping myself near the wood stove in Skeeter's favourite chair. Not such a bad "Plan B" for a snowy day....


Good bye Vietnam!

22 days
3 countries
14 new GAP friends
Countless scarves and Sapa bags....
Tomorrow, I start my 22 hour journey towards a snowy home. I have many stories to share... but until then, here is how the sunset looked on Halong Bay.


Scratch one off "The List"...

I apologize for the large gap between posts!
I have been distracted by one of those once in a lifetime adventures.... Indochina!!!
Over the past 12 days I have:
*Traveled half way around the world.
*Flip flopped about Bangkok.
*Tuk-tukked most of Siem Reap.
*Amassed an embarrassingly large collection of scarves--- cotton and silk.
*Played the role of "Mags Kandis--- Tomb Raider".
*Survived crossing the streets of Phnom Penh.
*Ate something very disagreeable.
*Floated down the Mekong.
Now, I begin my 12 day journey through Vietnam --from south to north.
Above is how I saw the sunrise at Angkor Wat. This experience was on my life "To Do List"..... it was beautiful!


Eat... knit... eat...

I believe once you have removed the yarn... it is all about the food.

Years ago a friend dubbed our home, "The Vole and Piddle". We knew immediately where the "vole" came from.... think hot summer and a tenacious, killer of a cat named Ditto. The "piddle" remains a mystery to this day....

Tips for the best pizza a la Vole and Piddle:

  • King Arthur Flour-- a combination of 2/3 unbleached white and 1/3 whole wheat.

  • A tablespoon of honey for the sweetness.

  • A very hot pizza stone-- preheat while the dough is rising.

  • Spicy, garlicky tomato sauce base.

  • Cheese of choice? A light sprinkling of a medium aged Gouda (I picked up this trick in Havana, Cuba of all places).

  • Top with whatever makes your heart sing.

Pictured is chorizo, rapini, potato, and roasted red pepper.

Chin chin!!!


Don't forget...

... Folk Style's book launch party is tonight!

AlterKnit Cafe
1024 St. Clair West (east of Dufferin)
7pm - 10pm


The Maker's Hand

The past two Novembers I have participated in a local juried craft show--- The Maker's Hand. This November I’ll be at it again.

I have considered this event to be my "creative mental health break". I really do love my day job! I love working with yarn, playing with colours, swatching new stitch patterns, applying new techniques and coming up with design ideas. Often I do not care for drafting patterns, doing the math for grading (multi- sizing) a garment and explaining in words how to do things... the stuff I consider non-creative.

The Maker's Hand gives me an opportunity to just be creative. Each year I have made wearable felted items--- bags, scarves and hats. No two pieces are the same. This is my only restriction!! I started playing with felting more than five years ago just for the selfish fun of it. Making things first for me and then for friends and family. I enjoyed creating things I would no longer be responsible for after the making and the giving.

When designing patterns for others, the "responsibility" carries on long after the inspired design is concocted, garment knit, instructions written, instructions edited, garment photographed and pattern published. There is the unfortunate and dreaded “oops” that needs to be dealt with, the questioning about a pattern that appeared in a magazine fifteen years earlier and/or the inevitable right brain- left brain confusion some patterns create. As well, due to deadlines and assorted “work crap”, it is sometimes easy to loose the fun when you create for a living.
The first weekend in November provides me the opportunity to sustain my colourful, yarnie joy…please visit if you can and say hello.

The South of France for a couple of days!

Well, no... not really France-- my life is nowhere near that glamourous--- but it sure felt like it!

I spent my holiday Monday (it was Thanksgiving in Canada) and most of last Tuesday picking grapes.... Pinot Gris, to be exact! Our neighbours down the road are wine growers. Our county has become a flourishing wine region and Pauline and Gilbert are a lovely part of it. Redtail Vineyard has had a fabulous year and the harvest of the Gris is banner. On Monday, ten of us picked from 9 until 5. 500 kgs (1100 lbs) of grapes were picked. Tuesday, with just four of us and a late start due to rain, another 200 kgs (450 lbs) were harvested. I am told we will not get our "pay" for the labour until at least May..... a bottle-- or maybe two-- of a wine with the taste of a knitter's hands!

Fiesta times two!!

Well, a fabulous elf at Interweave Press has been busily organizing a wee bit of a party to celebrate the success of Folk Style.

The plans have been finalized and you are invited!!

AlterKnit Cafe is one of the newest knit hot spots in Toronto and Terri Quinn-- the proprietor-- has kindly offered to open her doors to the maddening throng of crazed Folk Style knitters. OK... maybe not maddening and probably not a throng... but certainly crazed if I know them. If you are in the neighbourhood, please drop by! If you can be persuaded with sweets, I understand there will be a "Cookie Cake" with an edible Folk Style cover gracing the top!!! How cool is that? I'll be able to eat my own words!!!

AlterKnit Cafe
1024 St Clair Avenue West
(416) 654-0500
Wednesday, October 24th
7pm - 10pm

Now, for the "times two". ..
On the same night.... in the same darn town.... Fiona Ellis (another talented contributor to Folk Style) is hosting a launch party for her own beautiful book, Inspired Fair Isle Knits. You can catch the festivities at the Textile Museum of Canada from 6 -8pm... then high tail it up to AlterKnit with Fiona for some more knittiness.
Textile Museum
50 Centre Avenue



...that is what I have been since I became aware of all the Modern Quilt Wraps that are on the needles. I am loving every one of them!!! What I am also enjoying are the wonderful little stories that accompany the pictures. The hunting down of the yarn; the making of "Kidsilk Crack" cost splitting buddies on the other side of the country; the history of the stash yarns chosen; the joyful musings on choosing colours; the wish for more knitting time... Thank you for all of the sharing!!!!!
It makes me smile knowing that the simple garter stitch pleasure of the MQW is creating-- what I think of as-- "happy knitting noises".

Those of you who have visited the Folk Style Knitalong should have come across a link I supplied addressing all of those friggen loose ends. Click here and you will--- as I like to say with a wink-- "see God.... and She knits!". The source of this "end hiding" tutorial is Aija Goto. The latest issue of Knitty has a fabulous pair of knee socks designed by Aija! Kudos!

BTW- If you are working on your own variation of the MQW send me a picture. I'll add it to the slide show.


Back to school...

I very rarely teach workshops. Don't get me wrong... it's not that I don't enjoy it. I love teaching! That's why I choose not to do it often.... I always want to love it. I enjoy the interaction with my classmates; the exploration of creative ideas; the inspiration I draw from the class time; the silence of happy creative hands; and the fabulous bursts of laughter. I just find teaching to be very exhausting and quite the antithesis to my normal knit-swatches-work-on-computer-write-patterns-all-alone daily work life.

The end of October I will be offering up two morning workshops at the CreativFestival in Toronto.

For years this mammoth weekend of a creative inhale and exhale was called The Sewing and Needlework Festival--- the name change happened this year, I think--- I still lovingly call it the "Needlework Nightmare". 40,000 fantastically hyper-enthused crafters show up over the three day event for classes, demos, fashion shows, inspiration and-- above all else-- retail therapy. It really is a must-do event if you are within driving distance of Toronto.

I will also be holding a brief needle felting demo and a Folk Style book signing in the afternoons. I am partnered with a LYS who has a booth at the show. Part of the deal is that I will have a 10'x10' area to display most-- if not all-- of the projects from Folk Style. Imagine, you can be upfront and personal with Gayle's Felt Appliqued Skirt, Kate's Paisley Shawl, Robin's Bunad Mukluks, and Gina's Appalachian Gathering Basket.....

I know, some of you might be swooning right now. It is a good thing that you are-- most likely-- already sitting down.

I hope you are able to make the show.... and please... stop by to see the Folk Style projects and say hello!


If it's September.... it must be spring!!!

No, I am still in Canada.

As much as the thought of another Ontario winter without a "real" source of heat could compel me to skip off--- laptop and maple syrup in hand--- for a new found south of the equator existence.... I'm still here.... I hate packing.

If it's September....... I can be found finalizing patterns, joining seams, knitting collars and fastening buttons to what will become the Mission Falls spring collection of designs. In the highly organized chaos of my studio are stacks of boxes. Each box contains a project. Each project is in it's own unique state of "donedness". Of course, it is all very top secret--- there is always the concern of industrial espionage, don't ya know. But I'll share a smidgen... a hint... a tease...

New colours of 1824 Cotton?.... maybe ;-). Twelve new designs for the next warm season... definitely. I'll share more later..... when it's safe.... I promise.

Until it really is spring... you can check out Mission Falls' new twist on an old favourite available this autumn... 1824 tricolors


Wabi what?

Rewind to 2005....

It appeared to be the average non-event of a train trip from Belleville to Toronto.... but apparently it was not. In the seat pocket in front of me was the latest copy of the complimentary VIArail publication, Destinations. Amid the pages of hot boutique hotel ads, restaurant raves, must have travel toys and how the pretty folk spend 24 hours in "whatever" city--- there was one page almost lost amongst the clutter. The short, simple article introduced me-- and other dulled-eyed train commuters-- to a wonderfully humbling Japanese aesthetic.... Wabi sabi.

  • Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

  • It is the beauty of things modest and humble.

  • It is the beauty of things unconventional.

  • It is the joy found in the art of impermanence.

So what does the dirty dog picture have to do with wabi sabi? Everything! This is my marvelous mutt Ms Skeeter. She is absolutely perfect in her imperfection!


A simple start...

.... and no better time then the present.
I have been struggling with my "blog start".
I must appear profound....
I must appear literate....
worthy of contributing to the world around me...
But, I must!!!


I am simply a "Maker of Stuff".
Primarily the stuff I make is made of yarn or textiles.
Currently I hold duty as designer and consultant for Mission Falls as well as design contributor to books and publications including Vogue Knitting & Interweave Knits.
I guess I chose today to "get off the pot" because yesterday my book Folk Style debuted on as well as bookstores and yarn shops across the US.
It's my first ISBN.... and I am quite proud of it.