Thursday, December 31, 2009


To you my bloggy friends!...and thank you! have allowed me to share the last five months of 2009 with you—there aren't words enough to express my appreciation for that.  I am grateful for your friendship, for the words you have shared with me and the generous way you have welcomed me into your lives, for your creativity and the inspiration you give, for the beauty and hope that you keep me believing in.

So Goodbye 2009!...a growing year, a year filled with firsts, with new challenges and opportunities for growth, with some highs, a few speed bumps, but more importantly a year punctuated by new friends made and old friends found—in the end, a good year.  Farewell dear 2009!'s been fun and I will think of you fondly!

And as for you list of resolutions to welcome you grand proclamations, just a lot of hope and a sincere desire to be present, open and generous of heart, and helpful and creative of hand, to be worthy of the wonderful friends and family with whom I have been blessed.    

Hoping that you, my friends, are feeling the love...wishing you the happiest New Year today and throughout!...


Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis the night before Christmas...

I'm in my kerchief, and Pa's in his cap (well, figuratively anyway).  It will be awhile before I rest my head tonight, and there are no sugarplums here, but visions of the lovely holidays that you are making and creating are dancing in my head...and such a lovely vision it is too—thank you very much for that!

I hope you have a joyous and restful holiday filled with all good things!  Be back soon!...xoxoAlison

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wrapping up...

Today I had a little last minute fun wrapping these gifts.  One old piece of canvas, a couple of cuts, a fold, two seams on my sewing machine, a rubber stamp, some acrylic paint, and a jaunty red bow later and you have eco, cheapo, super cute wrapping.  I don't know why but these little guys make me inordinately happy.  I had a really hard time boxing them up and taking them to the post office because they looked so cute on my mantel.  They are so happy looking.


Then there was this last minute gift wrapping...


My brother-in-law traditionally gives all of his gifts wrapped in newspaper.  He's done this for as long as I've known him, long before it was cool.  So in honor of his traditional wrap, I thought I'd make a newspaper gift bag for his present this year.  It turned out pretty cute, I think...

Then there was this...

Okay, before I incur any outrage let me say, that I am absolutely opposed to defiling books, but these two poor souls are an exception—one was the victim of an untimely eggnog incident and the other is a battered and bruised copy that I rescued from a friend's garbage can {please tell me that I'm not the only one ready to raid a friend's trash for the sake of future crafting possibilities—it was a good move too, as this book has lent its worn and torn pages to lampshades and all sorts of collage projects}.  Even so, on the few occasions when I do take scissors to the pages of one of these two books, I cringe, but I put guilt aside, and look what my old book's tired pages gave me...

...I kind of love it, and it's just right for a certain gift for a sweet somebody!

Of course now I'm thinking of all of those little pieces of discarded gift-wrap that I have collected over the years—you know the ones that are too pretty to throw away—and then there are all of those papers that collect throughout the school year {not the precious ones that have to go into a drawer for safe-keeping, but all of those math assignments and spelling tests that come home and never quite make it to the recycling bin} wouldn't they make cute end of the school year gift bags?  Now I've got patchwork paper gift bags on the brain, and I can tell I'm going to have to dig all of that paper out of the cupboard and raid the pile of papers growing on my desk to make some little patchwork gift bags.

For those of you who are wondering about this weekend's cake....Yesterday...yes, it was yesterday, though it seems like it had to be several yesterdays ago {time somehow seems to get a little blurry during the holidays*does that happen to you too?} I finished and delivered this...

This one was a real squeaker...a last, last minute order and it got done just under the wire—literally not a second to spare...not at all the way I like to do things—way too much drama for this girl, but in the end, the cake got baked, decorated and delivered, and the bride was happy and that's all that really matters.

I'm off for now...still more shopping and wrapping and baking and even some decorating still to do...busy, busy, but so good!

Happy Monday, friends!

too funny!...I just typed sos instead of xoxo—do you think that means anything?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Catching up...

Hello there...remember me? feels like it's been ages!

Before I say anything else, I want to thank all of you who sent me such warm wishes for health and recovery.  Your sweet thoughts worked and I am feeling better!  Now it's time for catching up!  As most of you know all too well, moms are not really supposed to get sick...especially at such a busy time of year.  Ah well...thankfully that little bump in the road is behind us and now it's time for the holiday break!  I love this time and am so looking forward to lots of good family time.  I find myself thinking of you even more than usual these past few days—as I rush about or cook or sit and stitch...I feel you out there doing the same and it's such a joy to know that I'm in such good company.  Strange this blogging lovely to feel so connected to people you've never met face to face...somehow it feels like we have...mind boggling.

Anyway, in the midst of last week's time-out I did manage to get a few things done.  Here are the spoils of my war with strep...
The pattern for  Peggotty's Ruffle Mitts.

Who is Peggotty and why does she need a pair of ruffle mitts? answer that question we are going to take a short trip on my knitting train of thought...

Here we go...
I need a pair of pretty but practical gloves...{I begin knitting the idea in my head}...ooh ruffles...

pretty...they look almost Victorian, in a good way...yes, a very good way...

...Victorian, hmmm...Dickens...

...David Copperfield...Peggotty...

...oh yes, I will name them for Peggotty!..
yes, Peggotty, for sure...
...these mitts are warm, soft, and they make me feel special every time I wear them, just like Peggotty.

See the meandering path my knitting brain takes!  Do you know Peggotty?... David Copperfield's kindly nursemaid, a wonderful character, full of love and generosity.

I think it's kind of fitting that I came up with the name for these while I was know, all of those bed-ridden Dickensian characters and all.

What you really need to know about these mitts...This is a simple pattern and one that really fits into the category of quicksy knitting.  Two evenings and voila—toasty, cute gloves!  I really love these fact they are so nice that I made them twice {almost unheard of for me}.  The red pair is a year old and has been well-worn, although you can't tell that from looking at them.  I am not easy on my clothes—socks and gloves in particular—and these have really stood up to everything that I've thrown at them—love that!  The blue pair was made this week to test the pattern and to keep my daughter's hands out of my red pair.  And now I offer them to you!    
{Note:  This is a pattern that I made for my personal use and has not been to the tech editor.  If you would like to test knit this pattern, I would appreciate any feedback.}

And here you can see the other thing that I did while I was convalescing...

I actually made a garment for moi!  I felt a little guilty knitting for myself this close to the holidays, but it was my birthday after all, and I was sick, so a little self-indulgence wasn't totally out of line.

This pattern is from French Girl Knits, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes.  I have to say that I love this sweater.  It is one of those rare garments that you forget you are wearing.  It is warm and pretty, a little girly, but not so fancy that I'm afraid to wear it—I actually think I may be making another of these , I love it that much.  I tweaked the pattern a little here and there.  After casting on and getting about 3 inches up, I decided that I didn't like the way the scallops at the bottom were laying {they curled up too much for my liking}, so I ripped and started my sweater by joining in the round immediately after the cast on and working one round of purl before going onto the lace.  I did the same thing on the sleeves.  I also altered the decreases (the way I worked them, not the number) both on the lace pattern and the yoke, but that was just a "knit-picky" knitting preference on my part.  I made this sweater in a size small, out of one skein of Cascade Ecological Wool.  I did two repeats fewer than the pattern called for, but would have had enough to finish the piece with one skein even if I had made it the full length.  One skein! cool is that!...I made this sweater for less than twenty dollars!...Practical and favorite combo!  Oh, and did I mention that it was a pretty fast knit...less than a week's worth of knitting!...true love for sure!

And now on to the wedding cake {tropical themed} I have to deliver tomorrow...eeks!...I'm woefully behind on this one, so I will be in the kitchen all day and into the night.  Don't cry for me though, it's warm in my cozy kitchen and it's just starting to snow outside...I can't think of a place I'd rather be, unless it was knitting in front of the fireplace.

Wishing you the coziest of weekends!


Friday, December 11, 2009

The hostess with the mostess...

Hi dear friends...

I've missed you these past few days...I'm still here, but am currently playing hostess to a most insistent house guest...I usually love company, but this one has me feeling tired, and everything moves at a glacial pace when this visitor is in town.  Yes, it's true, our old friend Group A Streptococcus (aka strep throat) has come to call.  It's funny, I've been dragging around all week, feeling like a total slacker, and today, when I finally went to the doctor, I was a little relieved to find out that I'm just sick—not the complete lay-about I had begun to suspect I was...Now I'm off to take that nap I've been putting off—I'll be back as soon as the antibiotics start doing their thing.

In case you were wondering...
The fingerless glove pattern is coming... It's almost ready.  I just need to get some pictures of it.  I hope to have the pdf up for you by the end of the weekend (it's important to think positively, right)...if not then, by the beginning of the week.

Take care (an apple a day and all)...


Monday, December 7, 2009

Giveaway Day Winner...

We have a winner!!...The winner of the SewMamaSew Giveaway Day give away is Tong!  Congratulations, I will be sending you a signed copy of my book, Fairy Tale Knits!

I want to take a quick moment to thank all of you who participated in the giveaway.  I am overwhelmed, and I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your responses and hearing about your favorite fairy tales.  It's so nice to know that there's so much of fairy tale love out there—especially nice to know that I'm not the only one.  I have read each and every comment and am in the process of visiting those of you who have a blog...too much fun!...and what an amazing and talented bunch you all are!

For those of you who didn't win this time, please know that I will continue to offer giveaways periodically— so please stop back by and try again next time.

Thanks again for jumping in so guys are the best!


A day in the life...

The other day my husband and older son were off on an outing together and I was minding the home fires with a very dejected and sad younger son.  This little guy is completely devoted to his dad—he is happy to accompany him everywhere—whenever and where ever my husband is, this kid wants to go along for the ride.  This doesn't bother me a bit.  I know my little guy loves me and he knows that I love him, and it's not like he doesn't love being with the rest of the family, it's just that for now, he is feeling especially close to his dad.  Normally this is just fine, but last weekend was one of those rare times when he couldn't go along and he was feeling pretty fragile, sad and a little grumpy too.  So, what do you do with a kid who clearly doesn't want to be home and who  doesn't want to be with anyone but the one person he can't be with?...hmmmm...

Making something almost always gets me out of a funk—and if I need a really quick fix, it almost always comes in the kitchen.  So I gave my Grumpy Gus the choice of gingerbread men or pretzels.  Cue the moany, mumbly response....prrreeetzeeels...Iiiiii...gueeeeessss....
Okay, so he wasn't overly enthusiastic in the beginning, but by halfway through, my guy had found his smile and I knew he was back.  This recipe is just the ticket for chasing away the darkest storm clouds.  I mean what's not to get to play with dough (always cathartic)... a little science experiment (pretzels are boiled in baking soda and water—who knew!)...

...and paint...

and the finished product?...soooo yummy!...

...and my guy?...he ended his day all smiles, with a full tummy, so happy and proud to share his made-by-hand-pretzels when his dad and brother got home.  Me?...well I got to spend the day baking next to one of my favorite people...enough said.

Have you seen these goodies...
Before signing off I wanted to check...Have you seen these cute little gnomes, this pomander decoration, this little village or these wooly snowflakes or what about  these papery snowflakes?  We made tons of these 3D snowflakes last year—love-love-lovely.

There are so many fun things to make out there that I am actually considering putting myself on a project diet...I want to make every little thing I see, and sadly I haven't figured out how to eliminate the need for sleep or to be in two places at once...what to do?


Friday, December 4, 2009

The stockings were hung...

Here it is!... one finished mini-stocking advent garland!...ta-dah!...

We have been enjoying it all week and are loving the festive little ritual of opening each new stocking at breakfast.  Okay, maybe I was up until 5am getting it ready for the morning of December 1st, but now that I have had time to catch up a bit, I can honestly say it was worth it.  So far I've only moved it three times, trying to find the perfect place for it, you know—luckily the family just rolls with it and does a quick look-see to find where it traveled to in the night.

This pic cracks me up...looks a little like what I imagine the hearth of the little old woman {you know, the one who lived in a shoe} might look like on laundry day...

Okay, as promised...Here are the instructions for my version of the mini-stocking garland.  There are so many fun ways to tackle this project.  If you are on Ravelry, hop on over here to see how other people approached the same idea—so many cute minis out there.  Obviously, I'm a little late getting the instructions posted for you to make your own advent garland for this year (although you could just do a new stocking a day from now until Christmas—they whip up really fast), but there's always the 12 days of Christmas.  In the past I have used my mini-stockings as holiday wrap for little gifts and gift cards, for decorating holiday packages and wreaths, and just for decorating the house or the tree.  My youngest really loves these little stockings and can always put them to use—lots of uses for these little cuties.

The Details 

I made my mini stockings with Cascade 220, because I have a lot of it and because I wanted it to go fast.  As you can see from the color explosion here, I used this project for some serious stash busting.  It's perfect for that, but if you want to make them out of the same color, I think that you could get the entire project, including the I-cord garland out of a skein or two.  If you have lots of DK weight wool hanging around, it would work just as well.  Just keep in mind that you will need to adjust your needle size and be aware that your minis will be a little smaller.

The Stockings

Finished Size
Leg = 2 1/2" from upper edge to beginning of heel flap.
Foot =  4 1/2" from back of heel to tip of toe.

For the Stockings—
28 to 29 yds (13 to 15 g) worsted weight wool
US 6 double point needles
US 7 double point needles 
US size G (4mm) crochet hook 
Tapestry needle

5 stitches to the inch, in Stockinette stitch, using US size 6 double point needles.

Using US 7 dpns and contrasting yarn (if desired), cast on 24 sts.  Divide the sts evenly onto three dpns.  Join work in the round.
Round 1:  *Purl 3 sts, make a bobble in the next stitch.  To make a bobble k1, p1, k1, p1 in the next stitch (4 sts made from 1).  Turn the work, k4, turn work, p4.  Do not turn work after working these last four sts, instead pass the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th stitch over the last stitch worked and off of the needle.  Repeat from * around, until you are back at the beginning of the round.
Rounds 2-4:  Purl.  Cut contrasting yarn, leaving a long tail.
Remaining Leg Rounds:  Switch to US 6 dpns, join main color, and knit until the leg measures 2 1/2" from the cast on.  Cut main color.

Heel Flap 
The heel flap is worked back and forth in rows as follows.  Join contrast color and knit across 6 sts. Turn work and purl across 12 sts.  These 12 sts make up the heel flap. Place the remaining 12 sts on a dpn or holder (these are the instep sts and will be worked later). Ignore the instep stitches while you work the remainder of the heel flap.  Work back and forth on the heel flap sts as follows—
Row 1:  Slip 1 st, knit across the remaining 11 sts.
Row 2:  Slip 1 st, purl the remaining 11 sts.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until 10 rows have been worked and there are 5 long chain stitches along the each side of the heel flap, ending with a purl row.

Turn Heel
Slip 1, k6, ssk, k1, turn.  
Slip 1, p3, p2tog, p1, turn.
Slip 1, k4, ssk, k1, turn.
Slip 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
You will end with 8 sts.  Slip 1, k3, cut yarn, ending in the middle of the heel flap.  

Heel Gusset
The remainder of the stocking will be worked in the round.
With the right side of the heel flap facing you and using a separate dpn and main color, knit across the 4 remaining heel sts. Do not turn work.  Instead, pick up and knit 1 st into each long chain stitch along the heel selvedge. You should now have 10 sts on this needle (if you have one more or less, don't stress, just make sure that you pick up the same number on the opposite selvedge so that the gussets match in the end).  This needle, will be referred to as Needle 1 from here on out.

Using a separate US 6 dpn, knit across the 12 sts for the instep.  This needle will be referred to as Needle 2.
Using another US 6 dpn, pick up and knit 1 stitch for each heel selvedge stitch as you did at the beginning of the round.  Once you have picked up 6 sts, knit across the 4 remaining heel flap sts.  You should now have 10 sts on this needle, Needle 3.

Round 1:  Knit one round—32 sts total—10 sts on Needle 1, 12 sts on Needle 2 (the instep) and 10 sts on Needle 3.
Round 2 (decrease round):  Knit to the last 3 sts on Needle 1, k2tog, k1.  Knit across the instep sts (Needle 2).  K1, ssk, k the remaining sts on Needle 3.
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2, until the original number of sts is restored—24 sts total.  You should have 6 sts on Needles 1 and 3 and 12 sts on Needle 2.

Knit plain until the foot is approximately 2", from where you joined the main color at the end of the heel.   Cut yarn.

Round 1:  Join contrast color and k one round.
Round 2 (decrease round):  Knit to the last three sts of Needle 1, k2tog, k1.  Knit the first st on Needle 2, ssk, k to the last 3 sts on Needle 2, k2tog, k1.  Knit the first st on Needle 3, ssk, k to the end of Needle 3.—4 sts are decreased in this round.

Continue repeating Rounds 1 and 2 until 8 sts remain.  Cut yarn, leaving a 8-10" tail.  Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and run the needle through the live sts on the needles, removing the needles as you do so.  Pull the thread taut to draw up the toe sts, turn sock inside out, fasten off tail, and weave in the end.  

To make a hanging tag for your stocking, use the crochet hook to make a 12 to 20 stitch chain.  Sew it to the top of the stocking.  Weave in all remaining ends.  Voila! cute and very quick little stocking! 

The Garland

I suspended my stockings on an I-cord garland.  You could use a ribbon for this—we live about an hour away from everything and I didn't have the right ribbon, so I-cord it was. I used the US 6 dpns and made a 5 stitch I-cord.  I spaced the stockings 4" inches apart in groups of 6, and allowed for a loop in between every section of 6 stockings, thus I ended up knitting around 5 yards of I-cord—that's about one movie.  

Because I wanted my stockings to be removable, I decided to suspend them on buttons sewn directly onto the I-cord.  I used 7/8" buttons (could use any size tho).  I had it in my head that this would be an entirely handmade project, so I decided to make covered buttons.  Obviously, you could use premade buttons and the project would be just as cute, but if you've never covered buttons of your own, I highly recommend it (I could do a whole week of posts on covered buttons—I love them that much).  I embroidered the numbers on mine, but I also considered stamping or painting them (even a sharpie or paint pen would work here—lots of possibilities).  In the end, I had embroidery floss on hand, so that's what I did.  One square of muslin, a pencil, an embroidery hoop, and a needle and floss and there you go...


After the buttons were made, I divided the I-cord into 4 sections, making a loop in between each section and one at each end, so that there were 5 loops in all.  Then I spaced the buttons evenly along the 4 sections and sewed them to the I-cord.  Done and ready for fun! 


In other news...
I am loving Giveaway Day 2009!  Go check out the fun offerings, the gorgeous blogs and meet all the talented people participating this year.  All of the give-aways are open until December 6th.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed, and even if you do spend your whole day surfing from one inspiring blog to the next and commenting all the way, that's what left-overs and take-out are for, right? 

I have a copy of my book up for grabs...

If you haven't signed up for the give-away yet, check out this post to put your name in the hat!  I am having soooo much fun with this!  I love reading all of the comments and hearing who and what your favorite fairy tales, love, loving it!  Thank you!...oh and those fingerless gloves...I will be sharing the pattern for those in an upcoming post—next week.

Happy knitting and Happy Friday!...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The remains of Thanksgiving day and a December Giveaway...

Hello, hello! good to be back with you...I hope you had a great weekend!  Thanksgiving come and gone.  It's good-bye Turkey Treats...

{don't ask...all I can say is be careful what you never know what will become a family tradition}

...and hello December... Already!...WoW!  You can just feel the energy out there...all the making and planning and busy-ness.  My mantra this year is simple and special, even so this week already looks like it will be a blur, a good blur, but a blur none-the-less.  I will stop in later and do a proper post...soon, very share a little of this...

...and the pattern and details for this ...

...but in the meantime, it's time for this...

The nice people at SewMamaSew are sponsoring this fun event.  What a great idea and a such a wonderful way to connect with some of the amazing people out there who are crafting and creating...people like you! 

This sounds like too much fun and, even though I am a Johnny-come-lately to blogging, I am so happy to be playing along this year.  I will be giving away this...

...a copy of my book, Fairy Tale Knits, and maybe a handmade goodie or two, just for holiday spirit.  {FYI—The pattern for the fingerless gloves in the picture will be included in an upcoming post}

To those of you who are new to this blog and might be asking yourselves what this book is about, I offer these words...

Fairy Tale Knits is my first book and it's a collection that is very near and dear to my heart.  It is full of designs inspired both by classic fairy tales, but also by the imaginary world and play of children.  Each design is meant to delight the wearer by invoking the feeling of the fairy tale world without being costumey.  These are the kinds of clothes that my kids  loved wearing as young children and still do—I've had many requests to size more than a few of these designs up for the teens in my life.  They are clothes—comfortable clothes with a bit of whimsy and fun thrown in for good measure.  The book also includes non-clothing items, like pillows, bags, wall coverings and blankets—colorful, functional and decorative items that are meant to appeal to a child's sense of style and imagination..kings, queens, pirates, mermaids, and  classic fairy tale characters—they are all there.  A complete gallery of the designs can be found here

So what about you?...who is your favorite fairy tale character?  Is there a fairy tale character that you would like to see represented in a child's garment or item?  If you would like to be included in this giveaway, just leave me a comment stating who /what is your favorite fairy tale or fairy tale character and I will put your name in the hat!  And to those of you outside of the US, I will happily ship to you as well—so please don't hesitate to sign up!

This giveaway will be open until December the 6th, when we will pick the winner at random.   

Have a great day and happy knitting!...xoxo—Alison