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Breeze Bolero

When I think of springtime, I think of mornings spent opening the curtains in the living room, surveying the backyard blooms as the sun comes up through the trees that are just beginning to get their leaves, mug of peppermint tea in my hand, bare feet on the hardwood and the near-silence of a new day. I think of coming in from an afternoon spent in the garden, smelling like dirt, neck sunburned, tired in the kind of way that can only be earned by hours of hard work tugging and pulling at weeds. I think of chasing my son around the yard, pinwheels in each hand, pretending to be airplanes. I imagine our early evenings spent in the tent we pitch in the back yard that has an open roof to watch the first stars come out, talking about our day.


To me, the season of spring welcomes in an abundance of promise. New life, longer days, knitting on the porch at night, rather than bundled up in my office because it’s already dark and cold after dinner. We can take an evening walk, strolling through the neighborhood looking out for plants starting to pop up and push their way into the sun. The world seems to come alive this time of year and we’re all a bit like bears coming out of their caves after a long winter’s nap. We stretch, yawn, grab our knitting and head out into the world.

I find that my knitting changes this time of year. I reach for the lighter blends, head more in the direction of short cardigans or boleros, lace shawls and baby blankets. I beeline to the part of my LYS that boasts plant fibers with their easy drape and lighter weight. I explore new fibers and lighter colors – my brain and knitting thinking “spring” the whole time.


Spring is still a fickle friend. Layers are essential as the day goes from chilly to warm to downright hot here in Virginia. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce the fourth installment in our yearlong KAL (knit-a-long) with String Yarns in New York City. I’ve talked about the wonderful feeling of camaraderie in a past post here while doing these KALs, of meeting and making friends across the globe as we all stitch together, working on the same project. But what I enjoy the most is seeing knitters go from being complete beginners or have scant knowledge of a particular technique or two, to finishing their project with confidence, having a completed garment to wear with pride and the ability to understand the mechanics of how and why we’re doing something specific in the pattern. It’s one thing to know how to do something, but to understand why is of equal importance.

I’m thrilled to share with you our next project, the Breeze Bolero! Knit in a classic top-down raglan style, this is an ideal first or second sweater project. The benefits to knitting a top-down garment are numerous, but my favorites are that we can try it on as we go, there is practically no finishing, no seaming and it’s easy to make adjustments if you wish. If you knit a sweater in pieces, you do so with a constant thought of “I hope this all comes together in the end.” If you work a sweater from the bottom up, you can’t go back and easily tweak the length of it later. Top-down is my favorite sweater construction method and I hope you’ll join me!


This KAL is chock full of techniques for us to explore together. Not only will we cover top-down construction, but we’ll turn our raglan increases into cable twists, make buttonholes, discuss the best way to attach buttons, read a schematic, and my favorite thing of all in this project, create Vikkle Braids. Vikkles are horizontal braids running across a row, not only creating more visual interest, but adding more structure to a garment.

Each project for our yearlong KAL has an immense amount of thought put into it to teach you multiple techniques that you’ll come across again and again. I know this will be the best KAL chapter yet and I’m excited to get started on Tuesday, May 10.

How do our KALs work? Each Tuesday for a month starting on May 10, I’ll post in the String Yarns Ravelry Group here. This creates an open forum for all wanting to join to jump in with comments, suggestions, tips and encouragement. I’ll be leading the group and checking in daily, but it’s the group participation, the sharing of photos and progress that makes a KAL so much more fun than knitting on your own. Have a question? Speak up on the group page! After a month, the weekly posts cease, but I’ll continue to check in for another month until the start of the next KAL. The threads remain open so if you find yourself starting later or getting a bit behind, no worries! Just like they say on Friends, I’ll be there for you.


The Breeze Bolero is knit using String Yarn’s Breeze, a cashmere, silk, cotton blend fiber, perfect for spring and summer. This lightweight DK blend has wonderful drape and a dozen lovely colors to choose from. Use the code MayKAL16 to get 15% off on the kit here exclusively for our KAL! The pattern is written in 6 sizes, ranging from a 30.75″ bust circumference to a 50.25″ bust circumference, just specify which size you’d like in the drop down menu on the kit page to ensure accurate yarn amounts. If you prefer an alternative yarn, String has options, just give them a call or pop in and they’ll be happy to help!

After ordering your kit here, you’ll get a 1-page pdf with the materials information, then on May 10th, the complete pattern will be emailed to you so we can all start together. Head over and join the String Yarns Ravelry Group to get up-to-the-minute KAL info and meet your fellow knitters. This is our biggest project yet for our KAL and I look forward to knitting and ushering spring in with you!



Water Turtles

UPDATE: 4.18.16: I’ve since been informed by a turtle expert that these little guys are Water Turtles! Thanks, Nancy!


Sometimes you’re reminded how very interesting and instinct-driven nature can be.

This past weekend we continued on our quest to get the front yard “done.” By “done” I mean bulbs planted cozily in the earth, seeds tucked in under the mulch, grass mowed and front porch painted. We’ve really been enjoying making our new house our home and it’s definitely a work-in-progress and always will be.

While using my pickaxe to pull up some unruly bulbs we wanted to remove, I came across a small hole next to the wall of the garage. Thinking it might be home to a chipmunk or perhaps a snake, I set the axe aside and started pulling the dirt apart gently in case someone/something was living there. Simply wanting to assess the situation before moving on down the wall to tiling in new soil, I got quite the surprise.


Nestled into the dirt about 3″ down was a green piece of rock. Thinking it was perhaps shale, or a piece of broken crockery, I moved more dirt only to discover more of these rock-like objects. Continuing to gentle sweep my way around, I found 5 little green stones. I thought, “Huh. Those look like turtles.” Much to my surprise, the stone started to wiggle and out popped turtle heads, arms, legs and tails!


Grabbing my phone, I quickly researched what to do. Leave them alone? Cover them back up? Move them down to the lake next to our house? Put them in the woods? After much reading (and by this time, the little guys had started coming out to sun themselves) and determining they were not newly hatched because they had already eaten their shells for sustenance, we grabbed a plastic box and ushered them inside.


According to National Park Service information, if they turtles are on the move and you live in a busy area, they should be brought down the shore of the nearest body of water. Rodents, skunks and large birds are their enemies when they are still small, and we read we should minimize human contact and move them quickly upon discovery. Being right next to a lake means their mother must have come up to our house, found a safe, cozy spot that gets full sun, laid and buried her eggs and sauntered off. Because the park next to us is very busy on Sundays, we swiftly brought them down and set them on the shore so they wouldn’t get run over by a bicycle or car. It never crossed our minds to keep them and if you ever make the same discovery in your yard, do not make the mistake of thinking they’d be great pets. Upon further research later that evening, we read that box turtles are extremely difficult to keep and frequently die in captivity. Bottom line – if you find a creature in nature, keep it in nature. Obviously, it would have been best to leave them alone entirely, but not knowing they were there or that finding turtles buried in our yard was even a possibility, we wanted to make sure they’d be ok.

It’s amazing to see instinct take over whether in people or animals. They all took their times, sniffed around, headed directly towards the water and swam off. It was a bit emotional, watching these little guys take their first swim and I imagined them giving each other a nod and a wave and saying “Catch you on the flip side.” Turtles don’t stay together like humans do. The mothers lay and bury the eggs and that’s the extent of their parenting. The siblings (usually born in groups of 1-7) go off on their own immediately and start their own adventures.


After walking back up to continue to rip out the bulbs, another little turtle was sitting there waiting for us almost seeming to say “Hey, you forgot about me!” I sent my husband and son back down to bring him to the water and checked the area again for more turtle friends. Finding no more, I continued my work next to the garage wall, a space that will forever be remembered as the place we found the turtles.

What have you found in your yard that surprised you?

The Best Chair Ever

I’d like to remind everyone that I have a birthday coming up in August. 😉

Original article on the best chair ever here. Subscribers won’t be able to see the video link, so click anywhere on the post to bring you directly to my blog to watch it.

A Rocking Chair That Knits You a Hat as You Read the Paper 


All images via Gessato

Two longtime porch activities are now combined into one simple contraption thanks to designers Damien Ludi and Colin Peillex, creators of the Rocking Knit. The wooden rocking chair is rigged to knit as you sway back and forth, producing a cap from minimal energy output. The invention was produced as a part of Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne‘s Low-Tech Factory, a workshop that encourages students from the industrial design program to invent simple machines that at once create an experience and a material good. Ludi and Peillex premiered their contraption at Designer’s Saturday in Langenthal, Switzerland and produced a video that demonstrates their invention below. (via My Modern Met)



When I’m Not Knitting…

Despite the freakish cold snap we’ve been having (and pulling the winter coats and hats back out), I’ve been spending a lot of time digging in and planning out the garden. While the knitting around here never stops, I find this time of year very exciting – we go from barren trees and neutral colors to pops of brightness bursting from the ground, buds on trees starting to poke out and the sound of lawn mowers and birds filling the air.


We moved in late November to an area with a better school system, a home that provides both my husband and I with real office space, walking trails through the woods in our backyard, a bigger bedroom for our growing son, and best of all, a huge yard. We’ve moved a lot over the past 12 years and sometimes we find a place with a tiny patch of grass, perhaps a corner to plant some flowers in, or if we’re lucky, enough space to put in a small raised bed. I always hesitated to go all out, knowing that eventually we’d leave that place behind and it was too small to do what I wanted. Now we find ourselves with something we’ve never had before – room to plan.

Perhaps we jumped the gun by going to Lowe’s last weekend, stuffing the car to the gills with dirt and mulch, my son squeezed into his car seat with the seed packets on his lap, fanned out like playing cards with questions about what this plant is and what that plant is, me balancing our sprouted vegetables on my legs with my feet on a bag of dirt, my husband at the wheel with a shovel handle by his shoulder, and all of us with huge grins on our faces, ready to dig in the garden. It’s too cold to plant anything yet with this weird cold spell and the seedlings are tucked into the garage where it’s warm and dry, but as my Grandma Myrt always said, “Prepare in leisure to use in haste.”


Since our new home had a well-established yard with very little variety (I love azaleas, but I don’t love that there are about 50 in the yard with a handful of daffodils and an occasional tulip), we began by digging. This is a space with so much potential and I found myself planning out spacing and color combinations in a very similar fashion to how I plan out color work knitting. Pulling up old plants that have gone unbothered for years is difficult but important work, and while I toiled away in the front yard preparing an empty space for new and exciting flowers, pulling, ripping, tugging and tearing things out, my husband was in the back, clearing a space for raised beds, the kind I always dreamed about but never had the room.


The thing about raised beds is that they are expensive. Using cheaper wood like pine means that they’ll rot out relatively quickly (dependent of course upon your climate/mold/elevation/rain fall) unless you stain (outside the beds only) or paint, treated pine means the wood has had a chemical applied on it and we read conflicting information online about whether or not those chemicals leach into the soil and eventually the vegetables you plan on eating. Cedar or cypress is ideal, but very expensive, the same with the plastic boards. So after having conversations about how we could make this project affordable and practical, my engineer husband disappeared back to Lowe’s late that evening while I put our son to bed.


The internet is an amazing thing. After doing lots of research, my husband found online tutorials about using cedar or pine fencing to make raised beds. Significantly cheaper than using pre-cut boards of cedar or pine, but with the same benefits, he built me 2 huge beds and filled them with good planting soil for less than $30. If we bought pre-made beds online at this size x2, it would have been well over $400 not including soil. The soil was on sale, he did the labor himself, our Lowe’s only had pine fencing, so we’ll have to paint them eventually, and they’ll last for years. We’ll grow our own vegetables and herbs, knowing exactly what went into the soil, knowing there are no chemicals on them, and feel good about it. We made it a family affair and got our son in the dirt, too!


Vegetables are pretty hardy, but it’s important to plant in the proper season. Flowers are a bit trickier, since the country is split up into growing zones. I won’t plant the same flowers in my garden that someone in say, Arizona or Minnesota might. Making proper planting choices is like getting gauge on your knitting, if you don’t do it properly, it won’t work.


Now we just need the weather to warm up so we can get our planting started!

What do YOU do this time of year when you’re not knitting?