Estelle Pullover

My husband asked me, are you doing that blogging again? Yes I am. He smiled and said why don't you just call it I Am A Big Showoff, or Here I Am Showing Off Again. I get it but it is awkward writing a blog without sounding like a braggart. If you write a craft blog you know what I mean. Here is where we show each other all the nifty things we make, grow, bake, etc. We boast and brag, promoting our endeavors with words and pictures. I feel so awkward and shy about all this, especially when I look at the pictures of me grinning like a maniac! Arggh. I'm embarrassed that I blog about ME, but I just love it when you blog about YOU.

So if you are reading this, (and it doesn't count if you are my mom) Hi mom! I want to say thank you for putting up with all my showing off and all that. I have so much fun doing this, it's a fun part of my day and reading YOUR blog inspires, entertains and humbles me.

Plus, I love the intimate feel of a blog.

Now on to the latest sweater! It's the Estelle Pullover, which I have made before (twice before). This time using just a smidge over 5 skeins of Rowan Kid Classic. I love the oatey color (it's called Oats!). It might wash me out, but I love that it is so neutral. I used bamboo needles, size 7 I think. Bamboo needles and Kid Classic are heaven together. Because the gauge is way off, quite a bit smaller than the pattern, it brought the neck in, which is what I wanted for this winter sweater. I have to wear a long sleeved tee underneath, KC is pretty itchy right next to the skin, but with a tee it is perfectly cozy and warm.

The best to you in 2011. Thank you so much for visiting.


winter in Caliornia

Today is promising to be another perfect day. Rain. Just like yesterday. As a California native, I have lived through more droughts than I care to think about, so rain, even sprinkles, is always a reason to be happy. The granddaughter of a California farmer and a gardener myself, I welcome rain. My son was born during one of our worst droughts. It rained when he was four and he didn't even understand what was happening! We put on rain gear and splashed in even the tiniest puddles...all day.

So it's another perfect day for fickle knitting, one project for an hour, work on another for a bit, start a new one. House is clean and organized, dinner planned, and Merchant Ivory's, The Golden Bowl on the dvr. How is it I have never seen this movie? I love Merchant Ivory films and thought I'd seen them all. I was 12 minutes into it, and realized this one had to be savored for the perfect time. And it has come.

Before I go, here are a few pictures of winter in my corner of California.

Orange juice in the making.

We still have roses. I know, it's crazy!

Lots of moss.

And lots of olives too.
Camelias are starting to bloom.
Hydrangeas still look pretty even with their ragged ears.
And then voila! bouquets ready to go around the house.

Holden Shawlette




Today I have plopped from the bed to the sofa to the chair to the tub. It's so strange when Christmas day has come and gone. All the busy busy doings have been done; made, baked, opened, eaten, sung, whatever. Time for some calm and some sofa time with knitting. I told my husband I was going to do nothing but knit all week long and watch the holiday movies I recorded but didn't get a change to watch my fill of. But he also put me in charge of back to healthy eating in our house. We have had enough sweets and meats for a while. I see veggies are in our future.

I finished this scarf in mid December and think I've wore it every day since. The pattern is the Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes, made with one skein of Malabrigo Sock in Ravelry Red. Pattern is fairly easy and it's a free download. While visiting Costa Mesa last month, I found the yarn at a great shop called Knit Schtick. They have a great selection of Malabrigo and are very nice and friendly.

Rosettes, Sandkaker and Spritz

Christmas to most of us means baking, and at Christmas I always go back to my Scandinavian roots to make those wonderful treats of my childhood.

I made Rosettes and thought I'd show you just the way my Nana showed me when I was a newlywed.

First you need a rosette iron, like this.
It comes with a recipe and it's easy: 2 eggs and 2 spoons of sugar (???! I use 2 TBLS), pinch salt and 1 C milk and 1 C flour. Beat well. Nana's secret: Let this rest for 1/2 hour.

My recipe calls for a vessel of hot grease. Yikes. I manage to do this by using a bottle of corn oil and a small can of shortening. Heat until very very hot. I have never taken the temp., but it's super hot. At the same time season the iron by heating it up in the oil.

Dip iron into batter, just almost up to the top, place iron in hot oil. Rosette cookie will bubble and sizzle off the iron. I use a fork to turn upside down, then remove and drain excess oil and rest on paper towel covered surface. This process takes seconds per cookie. Repeat.


This recipe makes a lot. You will tire of making these long before you are done with the batter. Also, you will think you have made enough sweet, fried food for your loved ones. Just toss out that extra batter, you've made enough!
If you don't consume them right away, they store nicely in shirt boxes. Nana's trick #2: Freshen up before you eat them by placing on a cookie sheet covered with a brown paper bag. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees, turn off and let cookies sit in oven for 10 minutes, this will release a little more fat and crisp them up. Cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.


These lovely treats, Rosettes, Sandkaker and Spritz will be served tonight, Christmas Eve, with cream and berries. What a treat.


I hope that this finds you enjoying the wonderful chaos/calm that to me, means Christmas joy with family and friends.

And I'm glad you can't see me right now, my mouth is stuffed with cookie.

custom fit


"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit.
"No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."

That sums it up for this sweater.

It's been frogged now.

All my fault, I tried to lengthen it, big mistake and must go back to the very beginning. Some patterns just don't work with modifications, and think this might be one of them. With my mods, the leaves are placed at a very bad spot. I'll be able to salvage the sleeves only. This is a fast knit and so won't take me long to right this wrong. I know Pooh doesn't mind making a mistake, but me, I'm feeling grrr.

I often get asked on Ravelry how I get my sweaters to fit me, every time. You can see from the above disaster that I don't achieve the perfect fit every time, (and I won't try it on for you because it's embarrassing). I never show my disasters, but felt I had to be honest with you here and 'fess up so you'll know it's not all that perfect around here. Somehow achieving a custom fit is mostly second-nature to me, I've knit so many sweaters, but I tried to give it some thought and here's my reply to my latest query about custom fit:

To get a good fit, I first look at the schematics. Some patterns don't have that and it makes me mad, sometimes I won't use a pattern without it. I'll then choose the size, or make up a custom size and adjust my gauge or the amount of cast on stitches to suit. My Secret: I'll pull out a "favorite fit" sweater and every once in a while I will lay them out on top of each other to compare, especially when I start my increases/decreases for waist shaping and body and sleeve length. It's great to have an old favorite to compare your new one to.
So many patterns now are knit top-down in one piece. This enables you to try it on as you go. I do that, but still feel that comparing your new one to your old favorite is best.

If I plan on wearing the sweater with a blouse underneath, I'll make it with an inch or so of positive ease. If I plan on wearing it alone, I will make it with zero or negative ease, but all that depends on the style and the look I'm trying to achieve.

I prefer fitted sleeves and take extra care to make sure they won't be baggy. While you adjust the stitch count on your sleeve, you will have to make sure that the arm scythe (the part in the body of the sweater where you sew your sleeve in) has a corresponding fit. It often means nudging the numbers a bit here and can be tricky, but again, compare to your "favorite fit" sweater.

I like waist shaping and if it's not there I'll usually add it. If knit from bottom up I begin the decreases right above where I want the sweater to lay on my hip. If top down, decreases start about an inch below the apex of the bust. Just recently I learned how to do short rows in the front to make extra room at the bust. With this, you can make a sweater with negative ease and not have it stretch across the bust line.

With rare exception I always add length to the body. I do this by adding an inch or more at the bottom before waist shaping (if it's knit the traditional bottom up way or reverse that if it's knit top down), and add another inch or so between waist shaping increases and decreases. This added length between waist shaping compensates for my long torso and it's important to me.

I don't know of any particular book that addresses proper fit, but guess there must be a galaxy of them. I'll bet there are blog posts galore and youtube tuts that each have their own way of doing a custom fit.

Best advice: Don't ever be afraid to rip out. Sometimes it's only a few inches of frogging to get the perfect fit, but sometimes, sigh, you have to rip out the whole sweater. And don't forget the value of comparing your favorite sweater to your work-in-progress.

Audrey in Las Vegas

Silly me. We went to Las Vegas for a few days, where, since I don't care to gamble all that much, I thought I was going to rest up and do some knitting. Ha. Las Vegas lured me into not staying in my room and resting, but going out and doing. Eats, drinks, shows, shops, and even some gambling with my hubbie.

My husband loves to gamble and feels the Las Vegas itch come on him once a year or so, and I'm happy to tag along because I LOVE Las Vegas, such a pretty town. The hotels were all decked out for Christmas and they looked so pretty. But really, I was grateful to be home and get a vacation away from my vacation. So pooped.

Here's what I did on the airplane and the little time I stayed in my room:


I love doing Unst lace!

My Las Vegas dirt: We love to stay at the Venetian, all the rooms are suites, so nice, they have great deals right now. Favorite restaurants are Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel, sit on the patio and watch the Bellagio water show. We also crave those big steaks at Smith and Wollensky, expensive yes, but so yum. Great town.

Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam

I'd forgotten about this quilt! I was surprised to see it on my granddaughter's bed at Thanksgiving. It was extra cold and she had pulled it out. I had a big smile when I saw this. It was made for her when she was two, for her big girl bed. It's now been replaced by something a little more hip, but hey, Sue and Sam still look pretty cool.I must have been pretty tired to put on Sam's pocket upside down!


Yes, she is knitting!

And she is quite perfect at it.
I LOVE Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam. I've made a few others and will take some pictures and share them soon.

This quilt is hand appliqued and embroidered, machine pieced, then hand quilted. Much washed and much used, it is holding up very well.

I love hand quilting almost as much as I love knitting.

Tea Leaves Cardigan

Because of Ravelry I am finding all these great patterns that I wouldn't have noticed before. Tea Leaves is just lovely, I've worn it two days in a row! Because I didn't like the look of this cardigan with positive ease I made a few simple changes. The pattern calls for 20 stitches per 4" and my gauge was 24 using Rowan Felted Tweed. This gauge change and also casting on a few stitches less than the pattern called for brought this sweater in from a size 34" to around 31". I added waist shaping. I will try to decipher my notes and have more disclosure on my Ravelry post.


Tea Leaves is knit from the top down, with little more than stockinette and garter stitch. The yoke detail is created with knit front/back of each stitch, then k2tog a few rows later. There is also a pattern for a Tiny Tea Leaves which I am making for my 10 year old granddaughter in a purple merino/silk DK that washes well.


I have been a fan of Felted Tweed for ages. It has a great elastic quality that when knit up, makes a stretchy fabric. Nice colors and the right amount of tweedy flecks. It is itchy to me and I cannot wear it against my skin, so a scarf would be out of the question. This orange is a stretch for me color wise, but do like it. I give them sweater an A+. (This is sweater #16 for 2010. I'm shooting for one or two more.)

Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre. 5 skeins of Rowan Felted Tweed in Tangerine.

Take care till next time.