Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Knit Two

I'm reading the fabulous follow-up novel by Kate Jacobs to her best-selling "Friday Night Knitting Club," called "Knit Two," (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $24.95) which revisits the characters of the first book five years later.

Georgia may be gone, but Walker and Daughter still bustles along with our favorite characters: Lucie has five-year-old precocious Ginger; Darwin is pregnant with twins, Dakota is in college, Catherine is running her antiques shop, and Peri is in charge of the store and still working on her purses; poor Anita wants to marry Marty but her sons object.
I'm on chapter eight. It's snowy and so blustery that the big fluffs of snow are actually funneling upward outside my window at work. I'm headed home to cozy up on the sofa with a warm blanket and perhaps some honeyed tea.
The two things I love most in the world (family excepted, of course): knitting and reading are combined in this delightful hardcover.
Don't tell me how it ends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A manly project

"Knitting With Balls" has three variations on the basic washcloth, or utility cloth as it's called here, illustrated with a handsome young man polishing the chrome on his Harley with a mustard-colored version.
I used Line 12 Clip by Online in an navy blue color, and chose the basketweave pattern.
As you can see, it's coming along nicely. And it's an easy pattern to manage when you're devoid of much cranial space from the stress of the impending holidays.
Just remember to count eight stitches and alternate between knit and pearling or you'll end up taking out a number of stitches.
Happy polishing.

Ode to a simple cap

I started a little project a week ago - a type of palate cleanser - after spending far too many months knitting my crimson sweater.
My 11-year-old needed a hat for the winter - which swirled in so fantastically with one big Nor'easter, a follow-up day of snow and sleet, and now we're anticipating another storm tomorrow during the day.
Hello, Winter.
The snow is solid now; and icicles dangle from housetops, growing longer and more like sicles daily as the melted snow drips along the length, then freezes.
This little cap was knit with two colors of Farmhouse Yarns Fat Sheep on a size 10 1/2 double-pointed needles.
I love the neatly increasing rows, how the cap sits tight along the head.
My son wears it indoors only, to keep him warm against winter's drafts. He says he doesn't like it otherwise.
Oh, but I do.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter lace

Just got the word on this amazing workshop coming up next month. The Arts Center at Killingworth is offering a Designer Fashion Knitting Workshop Jan. 25 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Graphic artist and designer Kimberly Conner will guide people to create an elegant lacy wave scarf. Experiment with new colors and textures to create a one-of-a-kind fashion accessory.

Basic knitting skills, such as casting on, knit and purl stitches, and binding off are required. The cost is $50. To register, call (860) 663-5593,e-mail or see

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Tomato

Finally, this past Saturday, I finished my short-sleeved sweater, Tomato. What a long project this was, lasting from mid-summer to nearly winter. I’ll attribute that to the size 8 needles, not the knitter’s lack of dedication.
If you feel the need for inspiration or camaraderie from fellow fiber enthusiasts, as we’re so often referred to as, here is a roundup of local knitting clubs.
In Middletown, The Russell Knitters meet the first and third Saturdays of the month at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Meeting Room 3 at Russell Library, 123 Broad St. No registration is required. For information, call (860) 347-2520. It’s Only Natural restaurant, 386 Main St., Main Street Market, offers a free Stitch n Bitch with Amy on Thursdays at 6 p.m. For information, call (860) 346-9310. In Cromwell,
The Adult Knit Club meets at the Cromwell Belden Public Library Arch Room on the third Friday of the month at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Enter through the Town Hall entrance, since the library is closed Friday nights. Call (860) 632-3460 for information. The Nutmeg Knitters Guild meets on the third Wednesday of the month, September through June, at 7 p.m. at the Bethany Covenant Church, 75 Mill St., Berlin.
On another note, Stitches East is coming to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford Oct. 22 to 25. You can request a brochure listing events and classes offered at:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fancy little projects

She's much loved by fiber enthusiasts around the world, gives weekend and weeklong workshops between Connecticut and Florida - and spends much of her time right here in Middletown. Charlene Schurch's newest book, "Little Book Of Sox," ($19.95, Martingale & Co. Inc.) which she co-authored with Beth Parrott, has received nothing but raves online, even inspiring some knitters to say they love her and want to kiss her!
I have her books of hats, "Hats On!" with folk-inspired hats, and even tiny ones for ornaments on the Christmas treet.
A lifelong knitter, Schurch has worked as a knitting, spinning, and dyeing instructor for 10 years. Her work has been featured in Knitter's Magazine, Interweave Knits and Piecework.
Perfect for last-minute Christmas gifts.
Get your size 2 needles ready.

One thing in life that's free

Wondering what to do for that special person on your Christmas list? I’ve been making small gifts this year for close family members. It began with a pair of fingerless gloves that I made for my mother in wool/mohair on chunky needles in a dusty rose color. Now that I’m minutes away from finishing my current project, there is just enough time to eek out a couple more gifts. And ... if you need inspiration, the local yarn shop, Connecticut Yarn and Wool, in Haddam and Madison, is offering free classes for the remainder of December.
Friday is a potholders class from 5 to 7 p.m. Once relegated to the kitchen drawer, potholders can become wall art when not in use if you choose a yarn with striking colors, chunkiness or sheen. Quickly knit four of them and tie like a present with grosgrain ribbon and voila! Instant gift-giving from the heart.
Saturday, the class is a Chain Link Scarf from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday is Larn to Knit from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, make a Last-Minute Ski Cap from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Dec. 18, learn to make a Nordic Ear Flap Hat from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 19, the focus is Mittens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 20 is Last-Minute Gifts, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 22, Learn to Knit from 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 23 is a Finishing Workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 26 is Learn to Crochet from 5 to 7 p.m.
The Connecticut Yarn and Wool Company, LLC, is at 85 Bridge Road, Haddam, (860) 345-9300; and 25 Boston Post Road, Madison, (203) 318-8787;

Friday, December 5, 2008

Shop locally

I just ran downstairs to the first floor of our building and found local artisans setting up their booths in the expansive former It's Only Natural supermarket space.
The Creative Juice Holiday Gift Shoppe is open in the Main Street Market, 386 Main St., Middletown, today. There are wares, including Judyth Crystal Arts, Ray Ross Photography on Dec. 13 and 20, Curtis Studio of Photography LLC, and Karen’s Kreations — offering fine arts and crafts, photography, concert tickets, young children’s music, hand-knitted items, beaded jewelry, mixed media paintings and cards. Hours are: today all day; Saturday and Dec. 13 and 20, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Look for the week before Christmas, when the Shoppe will be open daily.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vegans do it

This just in ...
It's Only Natural Restaurant is forming a Stitch 'n' Bitch With Amy group on Thursdays at 6 p.m., beginning Dec. 4.
Co-owner Renana Magee, sporting a hot-pink big knit shell, and my server, who says she's addicted to knitting, told me the good news.
For information, stop by the restaurant at Main Street Market, 386 Main St., rear; to pick up the December menu.

And - happy knitting!

Stop and listen

Nov. 28 is the National Day of Listening.
I've been hearing about the StoryCorps project for a while on on NPR radio, so I decided to check out the sample list of questions.
The idea is that you sit down Friday with someone important in your life and record a conversation as you ask questions - any that you'd like to, or the Web site has an extensive list of sample questions at
So, I thought it would be a neat idea for me to select some of the questions and give them to my family members and close friends, asking them to answer which every they'd like, since I'm not seeing many of them for the upoming holidays.
I thought it would be more evocative for them to handwrite the responses, and I'll compile them into a binder and give everyone a copy.
Here is a sample if you'd like to try something similar this Friday.
Happy listening!

Great questions for anyone
What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
Who was the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did they teach you?
Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
What is your earliest memory?
Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
What are you proudest of in your life?
When in life have you felt most alone?
How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
How would you like to be remembered?
Do you have any regrets?
What does your future hold?
Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coveting luxury

Ever wish you had all the leisure time in the world to knit?
I wish I could knit a sweater a week and my entire wardrobe would be lovely handknit items — for all seasons.
Alas, I’m still knitting my Tomato short-sleeved sweater — a months-long project, probably because I only have about 20 minutes a day to knit and the needles are a size 8.
So when I was flipping through my InStyle magazine this weekend, I happened along an ad for 525 America sweaters ( and found chunky knit bell-sleeved sweaters, cardigans, dresses, tunics, motorcycle jackets — Help!!!
I am in love.

Oh, but they’re so expensive. has them cheaper — with a small selection.
My budget can’t justify a $125 sweater. Even for Christmas.
So, I’m on the prowl for patterns that’ll satisfy the 525 America ones whirling around my cranium.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Icy fingers no more

I was beginning a project — a bulky cap hat for my husband, when my mother asked me to make her some fingerless gloves. She’s a diabetic and suffers from cold extremities, so naturally I started her project forthwith.
I chose to make Fingerless Mitts, from a Farmhouse Yarns pattern by Ann Ameling.
I made a pair for myself last year that I’m still using now in Farmhouse Yarns’ Lumpy Bumpy Yarn by Charlene (99 percent Merino, 1 percent nylon).

It calls for bulky yarn and I found a Plymouth Yarn Yukon, which is 35 percent mohair, 35 percent wool and 30 percent acrylic, in pale pink. I am using size 10½ double-pointed needles. The gauge is 3 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch. I am making a size medium for my mother.
Cast on 24 (28, 32) stitches. Join in the round. Place marker for beginning of round. Work K1, P1 ribbing until 4 to 6 inches long. Thumb: Bind off 4 (5, 6) stitches. Continue working in pattern to the end of the round.
Next round: Cast on 1 stitch. Slip cast-on stitch to left needle, knit into front and back of stitch. *Slip last stitch just knit onto left-hand needle, knit into front and back of stitch. Repeat from * 2 (3, 4) times. Work ribbing until end of round.
Continue knitting in round in K1, P1 ribbing until work measures 2 to 4 inches from thumb opening.
Bind off, weave in ends.
Repeat for other mitt.
See and

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wiggle room

This morning, it was cold. Not bone-chilling, but cold enough for my entire car to be coated frost. My son missed the 7:41 a.m. bus (again), so there I was scraping the windows while he fiddled inside with the radio dial. Forethought kept my fingers warm as I scraped — a couple days ago I pulled out my wool fingerless gloves made with Farmhouse Yarns’ Lumpy Bumpy wool in Rose Garden. My 11-year-old asked me for a pair.
“You want me to knit you some?” I asked.
“Yes. They’re cool,” B. said.
So today, I’m online looking for a suitable pattern for an adolescent boy, thus assuring that he’ll at least wear them once.

I found the following on Interweave Knits, perfect for the occasion. pdf/Hands_Up_Instructions.pdf
There’s also another neat pattern here.
B. couldn’t believe that I’d possibly complete them by Sunday.
It’s really quick knitting in the round.

I’ll just let him believe I’m amazing — a regard he had for me perpetually years ago, but somehow lost toward the end of grammar school.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Holly Golightly is having breakfast

Recently, I checked out the film, “Capote (2005)” from the library.
I had seen “Infamous (2006)” several months prior and had become fascinated by the character of Truman Capote, even though my first exposure to him was as depicted by the actor Toby Jones. His Capote was wildly unappealing to me, although I loved the movie and watched it two or three times. Sandra Bullock stars as the school marmish Nell Harper Lee.
“Capote” stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote and Catherine Keener as Lee. Hoffman won an Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role — an award a long time coming in my opinion, having seen him in countless character roles over the years. As after watching “Infamous,” I made a mental note to get the book, “In Cold Blood.”
Today, Vintage Trade Paperbacks send me the 50th anniversary reissue of Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the book that inspired the movie starring Audrey Hepburn, and includes three of his short stories.
I can’t wait to read it. The book hits stores Nov. 11.

Nutmeg Knitters

A couple of the ladies in my Russell Library Russell Knitters group have joined the Nutmeg Knitters Guild. It meets on the third Wednesday of each month except for July and August in the lower level of the Bethany Covenant Church, 785 Mill Street, Berlin, at 7 p.m. There are nominal membership dues, trips, yarn samples, coupons for locally owned yarn stores and many other perks of joining. I’ve yet to make a meeting, but perhaps you can.
Nutmeg Knitters brings together individuals with a mutual interest in knitting who gather in friendship to share knitting ideas, to build on knitting skills, to teach and inspire others and to knit for charity. All skill levels are welcome. For information, see

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Wind’s blowing South

This weekend looks terrific for weather — daytime highs hovering around 70 degrees. What could be better than a yarn-inspired family trip? I’m eyeing the Southwind Farms Annual Fall Festival & Open Farm Days on Saturday and Sunday, with new alpaca products, yarns and events from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jim and Penny Mullen run the farm at 223 Morris Town Line Road, Watertown; (860) 274-9001;

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mad mommy

My husband calls this portrait of me in blue marker by my 5-year-old son, “Mean Mommy.”
He delights in recalling this picture whenever I scold the little guy. Just to bug me.
“Mean Mommy’s at it again,” he’ll say. As if my son doesn’t deserve to have his mouth washed out with liquid Dawn (just a swipe on the gums, mind you) when he calls me, “UR@!&$%$#*”
Saturday’s kiddy terrorism sent mom to new heights of fury.
I had my organic cotton yarn skein set around the back of my rocking chair. I began to roll it into a ball. My cell phone rang, from the kitchen. Usually I am supremely careful of all my projects, each in a plastic zip-lock bag, then inside a shoulder bag at all times. If liquid, food, a child, snow or anything with a remote possibility of stain-ability is near, zip-locks are employed.
Go figure. The one time I innocuously answer a telephone call from my stepmother, certain my little man is occupied with his drumset, mid-conversation I sense an uncanny stillness from the living room.
I cut the call short.
Walk to the other room, to see my craft scissors strangely open on the couch. And my precious yarn cut through six times.
And, the ball I had begun is missing. I sense someone hiding in the other room (mom-dar).
Leading to my husband’s desk is a long string of red yarn, criss-crossing the desk legs like a spider web. I lunge for T and the ball. He scrambles out the front of the desk, with the yarn ball, tangling it around chairs, through the TV room, into the kitchen, lickety-split.
And, gasp! — into the bathroom, around the toilet base.
Well, if there is a silver lining it is that I am fanatical about cleaning the toilets in our house. With three “boys” at home, it’s not uncommon that one or another or ALL miss the toilet substantially.
God must have been smiling down at me that day. At the very least — laughing understandably, because I had just cleaned this one.
I retrieved my ball, SCREAMED at T, then rolled up the remainder of my yarn into six balls of varying size.
And cursed, most likely looking very much like Mean Mommy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Eco hooking

There will be a cool workshop, an ongoing series, on how to crochet plastic grocery bags Oct. 16 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library, 123 Broad St., Middletown. You may have visited the library a couple months ago and saw these colorful eco-sensible creations on the first-floor display case. Library staff advise that crocheting knowledge is necessary. People should bring a large crochet needle (size G or H or over 9 mm). This program is for children over age 9 and all adults. Registration is required and limited to the first 25 people who sign up. To register, call the Information Desk at (860) 347-2520. The event is co-sponsored by the Rockfall Foundation, Russell Library, and the Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Council.
The City of Middletown Public Works Department featured a pattern in a recent newspaper, courtesy of the Recycling Coordinator, for recyclers to crochet, reprinted here:
There is also a pattern conversion available for knitters.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Downy soft and sneeze-free

I actually had gone to the Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market and Festival in late August and found out from one of the vendors that alpaca is non-allergenic. Since I am very allergic to wool, I was delighted. I touched a soft as rabbit fur purse in green and pink, and was told it was made with Misti Alpaca yarn, baby alpaca. I had to have it. I looked on line and found the Web site, then saw that it was sold in Meriden at The Yarn Garden.
During my visit there last Saturday, the owner had only one type of Misti yarn, baby alpaca, but in lace weight and brown. It was terrific, but I had my eye on a particular scarf that looks like it’s almost woven, in a Crayola box of colors, free from the Misti Web site. It is called “Le Petite Echarpe,” or “little scarf.”
(The pattern is at Misti_Alpaca_FREE_Le_Petite_Echarpe.pdf).
What I did find at the Garden is Classic Elite’s Inca Print in a rustic color, 100 percent alpaca and soft as down. The scarf pattern calls for a chunky yarn (size 11 needles), 1 hank, 109 yards. The Inca is the correct yardage but far from chunky, calling for a size 7 needle. And the scarf pictured is very short to my taste — 4 by 25 inches. So I bought four hanks of the Inca and plan on making it longer and just as thick by doubling the yarn.
I’ll report back as well on what my sneeze-o-meter registers as soon as I undertake the project.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not your average dishcloths

I purchased three skeins of On Line Linie Clip 100 percent Egyptian cotton, which is mercerized — a process that give the yarn a shiny finish. I chose eggplant, royal blue and an emerald green. The pattern I used was from “101 Designer One-Skein Wonders,” edited by Judith Durant, following the not-your-average washcloths pattern. The project took just a few hours and yielded a lovely 7-square-inch purple washcloth that alternates four garter and stockinette stitch squares. The loop called for a crocheted chain, but I modified mine, using much smaller double-pointed needles (size 4) and knit an I-cord loop.
I purchased the yarn from a lovely little yarn shop at 194 Elm St., in Meriden (203-237-6446,, The Yarn Garden, which has absolutely every type and brand of yarn you can think of or desire. Next up? Royal blue. Only this time I’m feeling more adventureous and will use the patterns from the book “Knitting With Balls” by Michael Del Vecchio, which offers three types of “utility cloths,” shown in the photo being used to shine up motorcycle chrome (gasp!).

They’re more complicated and the cloths can be made in 8- to 12-inch squares.
You can bet one thing I won’t be doing with them is dusting.
Not if I’m knitting them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Sky is always Blue

I’m loving the Blue Sky.
As in Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton, color: Tomato, kind of an orangy crimson.
The pattern is Tomato, designed by Wendy Bernard (
Seven inches knit so far!

What’s really interesting is that it is knit from the top down, with a deep square scoop neck, so soon I’ll be knitting in the round, tapering the bust and waist.
Soon I’ll be working on the simple band of herringbone that circles the bust, in Nut.

When I finish it, it’ll be crisp, cool fall; but one of those days, probably in early October, check out the lady with the handmade, short-sleeved sweater on Main.

The colors are, from top, cumin, tomato, thistle and pumpkin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Knit One, Save One

“Knit One, Save One,” launched by the global humanitarian organization, Save the Children, and the Warm Up America Foundation, seeks to engage knitters and crocheters to take action for the 4 million babies who die each year within the first month of life in poor countries.
Save the Children’s Knit One, Save One initiative is asking knitters and crocheters by Dec. 318 to knit or crochet one baby cap; and to write a personal note to the President-elect asking him to lead the way to save millions of babies globally.
In November 2006, I knit four caps and mailed them to Warm Up America, and received a personal postcard in response, thanking me.
I think I’ll start tonight knitting up a few quick caps with all the warm wool and alpaca I have at home.
To see the story I wrote for the Middletown Press, “Knitters join national cause,” at
To download the action kit, or to learn other ways to support the initiative as a non-knitter, go to or call (800) 728-3843. To join the online community and share experience, visit
To find a local knitting or crocheting group or to learn tips, go to
Happy knitting!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The knitting bug

I peeked into our mailbox the other day and found a most wonderful surprise.
The fall Webs catalogue.
The Holy Grail of knitting.
Every page is filled with luscious yarns and gorgous sweaters, shawls and blankets knit up in dazzling colors.
I'm almost afraid to crack open the cover.
Afraid that I'll lust after each and every item - and even worse, buy yet more yarn, far too much yarn for one woman to ever knit in a lifetime.
Perhaps ...
... there's a way to knit 24 hours a day.
I've been bitten ....
... and it aches.
(Get your own at or 800-367-9327 - if you dare!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Parting ways

I’ve been working on the same shawl since February.
You’d think it would be measured in feet, or tens of feet, by now, but the length from tip to working edge is a mere 25 inches.
It’s embarrassing to admit that I finished my last project in the first days of July.
“Why are you making a shawl,” my older boy chides me. “Aren’t they for grannies?”
Well, X, I might just be a grandma when I finish this thing and at last can drape it over my shoulders.
The time has come to diverge, dear shawl.
Not for lack of interest, or amour, but for dignity’s sake.
My own — this pattern is so difficult that I often knit three rows and tear back two because I made a mistake.
Which are very difficult to catch.
Another reason I have soldiered on is that it is easier to knit what you already know so well than get into a new pattern’s stitching. I don’t have to think as I watch the movies “Frida” or “Hotel Rwanda,” my fingers just move along in the established way.
Loop over, slip, knit, knit, slip slipped stitch over ...
Alas, dear shawl, it’s time to bid you adieu.

Momma’s found a short-sleeved sweater earlier in the summer that I must confess I long to begin.
It’s called Tomato, designed by Wendy Bernard, and uses worsted-weight Dyed Cotton in #619 tomato and Organic Cotton in #82 nut.
Interweave Press published the book "No Sheep For You," where it is found.
Find the free pattern at patterns/archive/2007/06/19/tomato.aspx.
I ordered the yarn online from Blue Sky Alpacas ( on a Sunday afternoon and it was in my mailbox the next day — at no extra charge.
My knitting bag was snug this morning as I packed both projects together in my carrying bag.
I’m sure the brown shawl felt jilted.
Breaking up — it’s so hard to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Looking ahead to Election Day

If you want to hear some great local music, check out Terry Woolard's latest CD, "Black President: White House Under New Management."
I wrote a story about him last week (Aug. 21) for the cover of my Weekend section in the Middletown Press.
The title track is superb.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rustic fibercrafts

Yesterday, I visited the Open Air Market and Festival at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. This annual event attracts vendors of all types selling garden fruits and vegetables, honey, artisan breads and cheeses, handicrafts, jewelry, artwork, milk and so much more. I was particularly drawn to the heirloom vegetables — fat and ugly tomatoes, eggplant, beans, radishes, all of vibrant hue — and fiber arts, alpaca, goat and sheep yarn hand spun and dyed colors of the natural world.
Vivienne McGarry of Cold Goats Farm of Haddam Neck was there with two bleating sheep, showing off her felted pumpkins, apples, purses and knit shawls, scarves and sweaters. Laurie Sanford of Twin Gate Farm in Killingworth had some of the softest yarn I’ve ever felt — baby alpaca, she said, from Misti Alpaca ( and her own handspun alpaca and angora goat yarn. She, too had needle-felted items (pet rocks with silly eyes), short scarves in a rainbow of colors, children’s vests and sweaters, felted and recycled sweater purses and bags and necklaces from felt. Patricia Fortinsky of Old Lyme’s Tidal Yarns ( sat barefoot, spinning some purple roving into yarn, surrounded by skeins of her naturally dyed and handspun yarns in lemon yellow, mustard, crimson, salmon, chocolate colors.
As I fingered each item and skein, I kept thinking, “my stash, my stash,” keeping the image of that mass of yarn at home which only seems to grow fatter, then peeled myself away from each booth, buying only a knit wool pocket pouch in evergreen, punch and rustic browns, marked down in the sale bin.
Too bad this only happens once a year.
But good thing it’s now the start of Connecticut’s fair season, beginning with last weekend’s Chester Fair and continuing this weekend with the Haddam Neck Fair Aug. 29, 30, 31 and Sept. 1; the Durham Fair Sept. 26, 27 and 28; and Portland Fair Oct. 10, 11 and 12.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Berry, berry quite contrary

A representative of Lyman Orchards stopped by the office this morning to drop off a sample of its Apple and Bumbleberry pies. Also included in the package was a sample of Applesauce and Corn Relish. Ever-eager to taste test items for my readers, I sampled the Bumbleberry Pie immediately.
What is Bumbleberry Pie, I wondered, as did my son — who was more than happy to sample a generous slice of high-top apple pie.
A little research on the Web led me to discover that “bumbleberry” isn’t a berry at all, but a term for the melange of berries currently at hand for a cook about to make a pie. Whatever is in season is the best to start with, although I am certain frozen berries will suffice.
Lyman makes its pie with apples, raspberries, cherries, blackberries and blueberries.
The result is a thick, jammy crescendo of flavor balanced by Lyman’s famous browned and crackled crust.
Head over to the Apple Barrel at 32 Reeds Gap Road, Middlefield, yourself for a slice of heaven.

If you want to replicate the taste at home, I found this recipe from Good Housekeeping online:
Deep-Dish Bumbleberry Pie
2¼ cup(s) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon(s) salt
½ cup(s) (1 stick) butter or margarine, cold, cut into pieces
¼ cup(s) vegetable shortening
5 tablespoon(s) (more as needed) ice water
Berry Filling
¾ cup(s) sugar
¼ cup(s) cornstarch
2 large (1 pound) Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¾-inch chunks
5 cup(s) assorted berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon(s) milk or cream
2 teaspoon(s) sugar
Prepare Pastry: In large bowl, combine flour and salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives used scissors-fashion, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with fork after each addition until dough is just moist enough to hold together.
Shape dough into 2 disks, 1 slightly larger than the other. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. (If chilled overnight, let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling.)
Prepare Berry Filling: In large bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add apples and berries; gently toss to combine.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to lowest position in bottom of oven. Line large cookie sheet with foil; place in oven while oven preheats.
On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll larger disk of dough into 13-inch round. Ease round into 9½-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim edge, leaving 1-inch overhang. Spoon filling into crust.
Roll remaining disk of dough into 12-inch round. With floured pastry wheel or knife, cut dough into 1-inch-wide strips. Brush edge of bottom crust with some milk. Place half of strips, about ¾inch apart, across top of pie. Place remaining strips perpendicular to first strips or use to weave a lattice. Trim ends, leaving 1-inch overhang. Press strip ends onto edge of bottom crust to seal. Turn overhang up and over ends of strips; pinch to seal and make a high fluted edge. Brush lattice with remaining milk; sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.
Place pie plate on hot foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake pie 20 minutes. Reset oven control to 375 degrees F. Bake pie 1 hour and 30 minutes longer or until filling bubbles and crust is deep golden brown. Cover pie loosely with foil after first hour of total baking time to prevent overbrowning. Cool pie on wire rack about 2 hours to serve warm, or cool completely to serve later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's never too hot for ... wool!

It's probably absurd to be thinking about wool in August, but I came upon this photo today and couldn't resist daydreaming ... and surfing the Web.
Below are a few fun facts I discovered while visiting a Web site designed to show you how you got that wool sweater.

How to Care for Wool
Wool should be hung on padded hangers.
You should always give wool 24 hours between each wearing.
Spots and stains should always be removed promptly.
You should always clean your wool products before packing them away for storage.
Wool clothing should always be brushed before and after each wearing.

How to Remove Common Stains
To remove ink you should submerge the garment in cold water.
To remove red wine, you should submerge the garment in cold water.
To remove butter or grease, you should sponge the spot with a dry cleaning solvent.
To remove blood the garment should be blotted with starch paste, and then rinsed with soapy water.
To remove lipstick, a piece of white bread should be rubbed firmly over the spot.

Other Wool Facts
Wool is comparatively stronger than steel.
Wool is fire resistant
Wool can absorb up to 30 percent of its weight in moisture


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Join the Russell Knitters

The Russell Knitters have been meeting at the Russell Library at 123 Broad St., Middletown; (860) 344-2528; for more than two years. We meet the first and third Saturday of every month in the third-floor meeting room from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Knitters are of all ages and abilities. Membership lessens in the summertime, so now is the perfect time to stop by with your project.

Wonderful Wallaby

Cooler temperatures today, coupled with frigid temperatures inside the office (air-conditioning’s Arctic blast) got me thinking about sweaters — an otherwise incongruous thought in mid-August. These are, after all, referred to as “the dog days of summer.”
Into my head popped (or bounded, more aptly) the Wonderful Wallaby Sweater. I made one last year (my first sweater and ambitious project) with Farmhouse Yarns in evergreen.
The pattern, which is surprisingly simple and easily adapted to children and adults and can be made with or without a hood, can be obtained at this link:
I’m still working on my brown cotton shawl, and wished this afternoon I had knitted it more ambitiously so I could drape that over my shoulders here during the workday, rather than run home and get another long-sleeved garment I hadn’t made but purchased years ago from the now-defunct Tweeds catalogue.
It’s olive color got me thinking about the Wallaby.
And how I’d really like to knit another in salmon.
Looks like after work I’ll be sifting through my stash of woolen hand-dyed yarns for the eight-or-so skeins that complete the pattern.
Try it for yourself. You’ll be soon hooked.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I took my 10-year-old to see “The X-Files 2: I Want to Believe” on Sunday night.
It was not my first choice for movies, in fact it wasn’t even on the list. I’ve been trying to get to Destinta to see “The Dark Knight” ever since I watched “Batman Begins” on DVD. I wanted to do my “homework” first. I am a huge fan of the “Spider-man” trilogy, as embarrassing as that is to admit, so I figured that while waiting for “Spider-Man 4,” I could get hooked on another over-hyped, commercially successful mega-hit.
All the planets had aligned: I had a two-hour period free, without obligation, whereby I could sneak over to the movies with X.
Then he tells me his uncle told him some harrowing scenes from the film and refused to watch it.
Despite my pleading.
So we settled on “X-Files,” which I barely knew anything about, not being a fan of the wildly successful cult hit Fox series many years ago, and its first movie, released a decade ago.
It wasn’t exactly bad — but it wasn’t good, either. And normally squirmish me had to cover my son’s eyes many times throughout and for the last fifth of the movie, because of all the potentially nightmare-inducing medically graphic scenes.
He’s in a stage where he’s nervous about everything — and afraid of everything.
B left the film still munching his overly salty, insanely expensive popcorn; satisfied with the experience — but lacking a huge plot element.
That perhaps more reflects on the film’s overly gratuitous gross-out factor than my son’s understanding of film plot.
Regardless, I left with that creepy “X-Files” trademark score in my head.
The next night I watched “Michael Clayton” at home on DVD. I couldn’t finish it that night because of successive child interruptions, so I played the last couple scenes in the morning before work.
My 5-year-old played on the couch with his cars and motorcycles patiently while I infringed upon his “Bob the Builder” TV time.
“Is that the bad guy?”
“Is that the good guy?” he kept asking, hoping to ascertain the movie plot on his terms.
Wonderfully gripping all the way until the end, the flick’s end credits ran with George Clooney taking an extended New York cab ride as he periodically looked out the window at traffic.
I gathered my knitting, my ice coffee and the DVD in the case, walking to the kitchen, drinking and reading the back of the box.
All of a sudden my glass exploded in hand, projecting ice coffee and cubes all over the floor, the table, my shirt, and most disturbingly, the shawl I’ve labored on since February.
Glass was everywhere.
Y ran into the room.
“What the heck happened, Mom?” he asked.
I couldn’t help my answer.
“I was walking by the window, drinking my coffee and a bad guy across the street but have tried to shoot me because I knew the truth of this movie we just watched!”
“The glass must have saved me!”
Y was agast.
For a second.
Then he continued the fantasy.
“I’m gonna get that bad guy with my cop car and army guy on his motorcycle!” he chirped.
We banted such nonsensical scenes as I gingerly picked up the glass shards.
It was just one more supernatural occurrence in the crazily creative mind of my 5-year-old.
And maybe mine as well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm an Olympian

No, not THOSE Olympics. I'm competing in the Ravelympics (by the way if you knit and don't know about Ravelry you really should check it out - the wait to get your account set up is down to just a few days and oh so worth waiting for) in the giftknitspentathalon.

I've been slowly and steadily knitting, but now that the James is moving a mile a minute I haven't gotten nearly as far as I wanted. But a sweater vest for my grandfather is complete through the armholes and I'm patiently working on some socks.

But for the next 17 days from the opening ceremonies until the moment the torch is put out I'm in competition to get other gifts done. Here's what I'm hoping to finish:

2 kitchen towels sets consisting of at least one hanging towel and two dishclothes.
1 a-very-plain-hat
1 ninna beret
1 wrap-around-scarf oddly enough in that exact same yarn and colorscheme
anywhere between 1 and 3 pairs of Easy Mittens

yes, I'm overly ambitious, but pushing yourself to your limits is what the Olympics is all about.

Now I'm off to finish my final training session (winding of skeins into balls).

Ye ole swimming hole

The summer of 2008 has well worn our family of four's bathing suits.
A lifelong swimmer, my husband takes every opportunity he can to sneak over to the Higganum reservoir for a quick dip in the water.
Set back from the road, and down a dirt path in the woods at the end of a cul de sac, the water there is lightly rust-colored and has small to mid-size fish sharing the lake and you'll always see a number of swimmers, in pairs, singly or with children, if you stay there long enough. The water is very clean and oh so cool.
My 5-year-old can play happily in the shallow beginning portion or paddle around on his noodle. My 10-year-old swims for as long as we're there, and often begs for us to allow a friend or two to accompany him.
My favorite place to swim is Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. When I'm with the children, we visit Meigs Point, because they enjoy walking out on the pink sandstone rocks that jet out into the water quite far. There, adults and little kids go crabbing and fishing. There's also the Nature Center, which has tanks and tanks of crabs, mice, turtles, snakes, and even a touch tank in the basement which never ceases to delight the boys. Once the season officially opened June 21, there are foods offered in the pavilion and (my guys' favorite) an ice cream vendor. You can walk on the nature trails, hunt for shells, search for crabs when the tide goes out under rocks, or swim in the salty water.
There are walking trails that connect all three beaches - West, East and Meigs Point - and if you are industrious (which I am when I am alone), you can park at either of the flanking beach parking lots and walk the entire shoreline back and forth, stopping to cool off in the water when it's needed. A boardwalk even travels the length of the center beach.
My 5-year-old loves Wadsworth Falls State Park, which is a tamer place, when he can swim or make sand castles on shore. There are lifeguards there until 6 p.m. daily and it's free during the week. Both my boys love our ritual of crossing the Coginchaug's brook which winds through the area, under a covered bridge (where we say a troll lives), then running full-blast into the water. It is very much frequented by families and the water is tested by the DEP and has not yet this year been closed for bacteria, and though it's cool and refreshing water, you do have to contend with geese that waddle their way along the beach and possibly not the most desirable water cleanliness.
And you can always take a picnic to the falls portion of the park, which is about 1.15 miles up the road toward Middlefield/Durham. The kids love to throw rocks into the falls and marvel at their sound and strength.
Last year we got a pass for Crystal Lake in Middletown, $1 through the Parks and Recreation Department, and swam there a few times. If you work as I do, it's tough to get to after you leave work and gather the children from their various daycares/camps and swim before the lake closes at 6 p.m. However, the water is very pleasant, and probably somewhere in between the cleanliness of the Higganum Reservoir and Wadsworth Falls. Last year, we sighted many ducks and even a turtle out at the ropes which mark off the public swimming area.
One of the most diverse of the area's natural places to swim has to be Seven Falls State Park on Route 154 in Haddam. There, you can picnic and grill your food, walk on the monoliths and swim in the cool pools of water that cascade down the "seven falls," (we can't count that many). Even my little one loves finding flat rocks to skip out into the water and splashing around in the water fed by the falls.
There are hiking trails there too, which means you can walk and then dip your toes afterward as a way to banish any sweat you've worked up.
The state parks incur a fee (I bought a $50 yearly pass which admits your car anytime), and the reservoir and Seven Falls are both free.
Happy swimming!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Moving' On Up

I gave notice to Y's preschool today that he would be leaving at the end of August. School begins the Thursday after Labor Day this year, the latest in many years. My 10-year-old will be going to Keigwan, a sixth grade that matriculates every child in the city. So instead of eight elementary schools, kids will be bottlenecked into one school.
It's actually located very close to the new Middletown High School, which will open this September. Some are already referring to the "old" Middletown High School as the "new" Woodrow Wilson Middle School. It's all a lot to comprehend.
So this September is a turning point of sorts for me, with both my boys going onto new frontiers. With X it was easy to skate by as each new year began at Macdonough Elementary School, knowing the teachers - and the principals - as I did throughout his six-year tenure.
Y is the last to fly the coop, and it's time for me now to "adjust," let alone each of my boys.
Sounds sappy, but I'm still growing up - alongside my kids.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grabbin' some air

Sunday morning before work and my 4½-year-old son is unwrapping the cellophane from his new skateboard.
His former skateboard met a quick demise — not at his hands, or feet rather, but the neighborhood boys.
Y left his board down the street at a friend’s house overnight, forgotten. The next morning it was cleanly broken in half. My husband thought it the work of some neighborhood hooligans, I envisioned someone trying to jump the curb and it snapping on the axis point.
So Y's got a SpongeBob SquarePants board now, K-Mart’s finest.
And he’s demonstrating to me how to do a kickflip, then an ollie, an 180 and 360. Y adds in a couple of other tricks he says his dinosaur taught him (imaginary friend alert): the flower, the grass and the toe-twister. All these are of increasing difficulty, all end with a tumble over the concrete sidewalk onto our lawn, with Y subsequently scrambling up unscathed.
(He’s our little stuntman-in-the-making.)
Y’s fascination with the skateboard began when he was just under a year old and I would prop him up in my window at work, in the former Middletown Press building on Main Street (since demolished). We had quite a view from the second floor of the neighborhood skateboarders down below who often used our stairway as a jumping ground and gathering place. Every day around 2 p.m. I’d hear the crack of wood and wheels on concrete, as jump after jump was perfected.
One day at age 3, Y ran home after being at work with me and grabbed his older brother’s never-used skateboard from the cellar, then proceeded to replicate the moves he’d witnessed on our wood floors. It was so cute we let him continue.
Almost two years later, it’s not so cute — or harmless — in the living room anymore.
So, he’s been relegated to the sidewalk outside our house, where boys and teens whiz by on skateboards and waveboards, showing each other the tricks they’ve learned.
One funny scene unfolded while I was sitting on a yard chair knitting, keeping an eye on things.
A 10-year-old boy watched Y work his board, then asked, “Can you do an old-school pogo?”
“What’s that?” Y asked.
K put the board perpendicular to the ground, stepping on the lower set of wheels with both toes, then hopped vertically three or four times.
“Sure I can!” Y piped, and proceeded to replicate it exactly.
About an hour later, the boy had drifted off to other neighborhood activities.
Three boys walked down the sidewalk toward me, carrying their boards, the oldest in the lead, followed by younger and younger boys.
Y silently brought up the rear, unknown to them.
“Hey, looks like you guys have an honorary member of your skateboarding team.”
They looked back, then laughed.
Then they all stopped to hang out.
Y started doing his patented jumping-on-the-board-then-ollie move.
“Hey, Y! How the heck are you doing that?” one boy yelled.
Y proceeded to show him. No one could replicate his spritely move.
“Hey guys, look at this!” he yelled. “This is an old-school pogo!”
The kids were fascinated, then proceeded to try the trick out for themselves.
No wonder he wants to keep up with the big boys.
He admires them.
And they’re starting to return the favor.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All good things must come to an end

Back in 2002, shortly after I was named the editor of The Middletown Press I was asked to be the speaker during a lunchtime Rotary Club meeting here in the city. So despite my profound fear of public speaking, I did my duty and talked about the future of journalism, the future of this paper and took plenty of questions from the audience.

I believe the second question I was asked (the first being "when is The Press going back to an afternoon paper?") was how long I planned on being here. The paper had been through quite a rough patch when it came to editors, I believe the average lifespan had been 8 months.

One former reporter once told me that in 8 years she worked under 12 editors - and that was after I had been at the paper for a few years already.

I answered the question as honestly as I could -- I was happy to be back at my hometown paper and I had no intentions of moving on in the near future.

Now I can give a more definative answer -- I would be editor at The Press for 6 years and 2 months.

I've been offered the opportunity to work with my current publisher to launch a new publication -- an opportunity and a challenge that I'm extremely excited about. But leaving is also very bittersweet.

I grew up reading this paper - I looked for my name and the names of my friends and family in Fred Post's old column -- Keeping Posted. There are scrapbooks either at my house or my parents that have clippings from The Press sprinkled throughout -- honor rolls, sports stories, scholarship announcements.

The readers of this paper gave me support and encouragement during the time when I learned Nikki would be born with Down syndrome as well as a heart defect. They prayed for her when she had her open heart surgery and they celebrated when she came through that surgery with flying colors. The notes and cards I received during that time are still much cherished.

And the readers who so graciously welcomed my work into their home were never shy about telling me what I could do better. Sometimes the criticism was harsh, but I did learn something from each and every person who ever contacted me.

There are too many people to thank for me to list them all but to all the past and current staff at The Press, it has been a true honor putting out this paper alongside you. The process really is "a daily miracle."

I'll still be blogging here alongside Cassandra and the two of us are sure to have plenty of adventures to write about this fall as Nikki and T both head off to Kindergarten (and we both have serious pangs about our "babies" growing up).

To the readers of The Press - two final words -- Thank You.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Verena arrives stateside

My husband picked up a knitting magazine for me the other day at the supermarket. Billed as “Europe’s top knitting magazine,” Burda’s Verena Knitting has been published for years, but only this summer is available in the United States with sizes and needles for American enthusiasts.
Patterns are grouped by fashion style — direct from the runways. There are “Ahoy There!” nautical-inspired, “Back in Khaki,” safari-style, “Sorbet Coolers,” fruit-colored tanks, “In the Red Zone,” and children’s sweaters. I’m especially enamoured of the tank tops: thick-strapped lime-green and ribbon v-neck in lemon yellow.
Check it out for yourself at

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

1, 2, 3, 4 ... 9 A Day

Remember back when the Food Pyramid urged us to consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day?
When my older son was a toddler, Dole sent me a compact disc at work with catchy tunes for children promoting the government’s then 5-A-Day campaign. I can still hear the strains in my head (“One, two, three, four, Five A Day, that’s the fruit and vegetable way ... ”).
In fact, the CDC now asks Americans to shoot for nine servings a day. At, there is a handy calculator that tells you, based on your sex, age and level of physical activity, exactly what you should aim for.
My goal should be 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. Not as impossible a goal as “9 A Day” sounds.
By that measurement, the pint of native blueberries I purchased this morning at the Middletown Farmers Market will fill my day’s requirement of fruit.
And do I love berries.
What a boon are the summer months to those of us who love fresh and local produce. No pesticides or waxes mar their unique beauty and taste. Tomatoes are often “ugly” by grocery store standards and the prices are a bit higher than you’d find at a supermarket, but I’m willing to pay that for something rarely found in these mass markets — flavor.
Can you remember the last time a grocery store tomato wasn’t pale and mealy tasting? How about a peach that’s succulent and intense?
Today, the farmers market opened on the South Green, across from where the old Middletown Press building stood. It runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon until October. Gotta’s Farm of Portland and Killam & Bassette Farmstead of South Glastonbury staff were among those manning the table, offering just-picked spaghetti squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, cherry peppers, green beans, corn, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, plums and blueberries. Homemade jars of jam stood in neat little lines. Linda Rumsey’s Sweet Memories of Portland offered her pies, scones, lemon bars, fruit and nut breads and pastries.
Tonight we’ll enjoy the early ears of corn with butter and sea salt. My son will love fat slices of heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil. I’ll have to “steal” a sprig or two of basil from the neighbor’s garden to complete this simple appetizer.
Fuzzy peaches will ripen in a brown bag on my counter, then delight my preschooler’s unending lust for fruit.
I eyed the zucchini for purchase on Thursday for the sweet bread my husband loves made with real butter and walnuts.
Sorry guys, the blueberries might not make it home tonight. I saved those fatties for myself. I can always nab another pint in a couple days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Now we're cooking

A few months ago I switched shifts, going from 9 to 5 to more of a second shift 2 to 10. The change came about when my husband's new job caused him to change his hours. And while it's nice to be at home in the morning with the kids, it created a bit of a problem -- dinner.

The crock pot and the timed start on my oven are becoming my friends, but I've felt like I've had my family in a bit of a dinner rut. Something chicken one night, pasta another, pork a third, then quick and east options such hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and pizza rounding out the choices. And within those catergories my reportoire was a bit limited. (When I was making dinner I would often "throw" something together using what was in the cupboard so I didn't always plan out dinner).

I started looking for new recipies shortly after I changed shifts as well as looking for good ideas for make-ahead meals. I hit paydirt with Diane Phillips' "You've Got it Made: Deliciously easy meals to make now & bake later." Its 150 recipies cover everything from appetizers to desserts.

Even better it includes a list of all the ingredients that are used in the book's recipies in the first few pages, with the idea being that if you have those items on hand you can make any recipe in the book.

The big test for any cookbook is if I can actually find more than three items that I can make for my family. After all I have a 1-year-old, a nearly 5-year-old and my husband to please (oddly it's often the husband that perplexes me the most) as well as my own desire to make something that tastes good and is healthy.

There are plenty of items that should please all (and here's where I knock wood and note that I've been blessed with two not so very picky kids and two kids who don't object to spices and flavors) -- penne, sausage and meatball bake, pesto ravioli bake, arroz con pollo casserole, French toast cobblers, various enchilada and strata recipies, pot roast, stuffed pork tenderloin, oven-fried chicken, chicken cacciatore, pot pie, do-ahead mashed potatoes, eggplant rollatini, fruit crisps, and log cookies all make the short list.

Each recipe is divided into two parts -- make it now and bake it later -- and include refrigeration and freezer time limits. The instructions are easy to understand and none of the ingredients are outlandish.

Happy eating.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pro-cras-ti-NA-tion (sung to the tune of Carly Simon’s “Anticipation”)

I finished another project last week: the Frock Camisole from Interweave Knit’s Knitting Daily (free pattern at The yarn is Red, Gold, Beige #8 Cinnabar by Louise Harding, but I knit mine in #10 Light Blue.
It took me a couple of months to complete, mostly because the stitches are on a size 7 needle.
After weaving in the ends, I tried it on my dressmaker’s model: my almost-5-year-old son. That way I can see what it looks like from all angles, and he’s happy to oblige as long as I am quick. I’m happy to say it would make a lovely little girl’s dress — all you need to do is make shorter straps.
Now I feel a little lost. I’ve picked up my long-term (read: never to be completed) shawl project in light brown cotton. But I feel antsy, restless. Without a real focus. I do have another project waiting upstairs in my knitting area: it’s an ecru sleeveless mercerized cottong sweater with a twist at the bust and cables in place of seams. It was georgous when I saw it in lavender at the Yarn Garden in Meriden (, on a softly padded hanger at the rear of the store. Everything is ready in a little bag — even the pattern so graciously given to me by owner Denise Edson is already laminated. It’s all ready to go.
But I’m not.
The lazy, hazy days of summer have made me an equally lackadasical knitter. Not that I’m NOT knitting anymore, just less aggressively, less fervently. I’m wet and sweaty when I get home and it’s hard to get comfortable in my favorite spot on the couch, under the floor lamp.
Maybe tonight’s the night.
Thunderstorms are supposed to roll in and cool us off for a spell.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

mmmmmm cake

My mother-in-law and niece collaborated on a small birthday cake for James during the 4th of July picnic (his actual birthday party will be a little later this month). It was very cute -- white and blue icing with sugar candy bugs dancing along the sides.

James looked a little confused at the cake and candle sitting before him while everyone sang, but the confusion ended once a slice was placed in front of him. He picked up a little piece with his fingers and tasted it. One small taste was all he needed because he dove right into it.

Face first.

And when we all laughed he did it a second, a third and even a fourth time.

It was one of those classic, classic first moments.

When he has his actual party later this month, I'm hoping for a replay and this time we'll be ready with the video camera.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

All the world's a stage

It began with a simple request.
"T, can you bring this out to the garbage can?" I asked, while cooking breakfast for the family this Fourth of July.
"OK," he said, in his sing-song way, always eager to help out with a task.
But the bug had taken hold.
T brought the blue recycle bin to the curb.
Then he dragged the plastic garbage can, huffing and puffing, his chicken-bone arms straining, toward the sidewalk.
I peered out of the living room window, a voyeur, intently watching this scene unfold.
To ask, "what the heck is this kid doing," as probably every neighbor is, is a mute question. You don't wonder about what T is working on. Just like B, when he was 4, the boy's machinations are part of the mystery of the universe. We can only watch.
Next up are the concrete blocks at the back of our property, earlier broken up into fist-size pieces with a hammer.
Ever the thinker, T fills up his large truck bed with five or six of these "rocks" at a time, rolling the load toward the street. Each one is lobbed into the trash.
"You can't throw those out in the trash," I yell, half-heartedly.
T ignores me.
I'll fix it later, as I always do with so many of this kid's projects.
Oh, here come the wooden planks from the back yard, each leaving an impression in the dirt alongside the house, a giant snail's trail.
T scampers into the house, looking for more garbage bags.
He pulls two brown bags from the drawer.
"I got a lot more stuff here - gotta fill these up," he says.
I let him continue, filling the bags with cut grass, twigs, little rocks.
Finally he's done.
"I gotta rest," he says, clamoring onto the sofa.
"Mom, I need a little help over here. Can you get me a drink?"
As I fill his glass with apple juice, I marvel at what I've created. And watch his skinny, brown-from-the-sun body reach toward my proffered drink, gulp it down voraciously. One drip dribbles down his chin, then the center of his chest.
Oops, I'm needed, I think, grabbing a towel.
And wait for the next scene to begin.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mad for tweed

Nancy J. Thomas, creative director of Tahki Stacy Charles yarns, has written a new book devoted to history of this flecked woolen fiber.
The patterns in “Tweed: More than 20 Contemporary Designs to Knit” ($27.50, Potter Craft) are arranged by difficulty, for beginner (“Walking on the Moors”) to advanced (“Sailing the North Sea”) knitters. The first three chapters explore the Origins of Tweed Yarns in Fabric, the process of making tweed yarn and stitch patterns that best highlight this distinctive yarn.
Each design calls for Tahki wool and not a single one is ordinary.
I am coveting the Galway Tie-Front Cardigan with ribbed sleeves, generous front pockets and three fat pairs of I-cord ties. The arms are knit in a rose multi, which is more on the purple end of the color scheme; while the body of the sweater is a red mix, which leans toward rust. It is an advanced beginner (“Hiking the Scottish Uplands”) — exactly my skill level.
And the Northern Ireland Peplum Sweater is quite simply a work of art. Made in pink, with flecks of ecru that lend it a stonewashed effect, a crisscrossed tie V-neck and frilly lace-detailed border knit after the sweater is complete, this garment most certainly is the Mona Lisa — mysterious and enthralling. It’s one of those patterns that invades the mind, spurring you on to better and finer skills, awaiting you like the proverbial mirage in the desert.
If sweltering New England summers are no deterrent to your choice of fiber, this book is most certainly for you, the most devoted of wool-gatherers.