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Monday, February 08, 2016

Menu Plan: Mardi Gras & Ash Wednesday


Lent is upon us in the West. We will begin our Lenten abstinence as well as my own dietary restrictions. Breakfasts may include dairy and egg, for our kids, so if you are keeping the strict fast, they may not be as useful for you. We still will eat fish and use oil and wine, because my own restrictions are my major fast this year, and I don't want to be making multiple dinners. I am always a little uncomfortable sharing how we observe the fast, because it seems so personal, between us, God, and our spiritual fathers. However, I know it's helpful for me to find blogs and websites that share recipes and food ideas, so I do the same.


Before we begin Lent, though, we will be feasting. Our doughnut night is on again this week! It will be my last day of dairy and egg (I may have to break that for one occasion, but will try to avoid it then as well) as well as our family's carnival (carne vale = meat goodbye or farewell to meat in Latin). Unless you have health issues, are very young (under 13 or uncomfirmed), very old, pregnant or nursing, or have specific direction from a spiritual father, the rule of Ash Wednesday (and Good Friday) is to fast completely from food and nutritive drinks (milk, juice, etc) for the whole 24 hours, please keep drinking water. If you cannot keep the whole fast, it is a day of abstinence from meat, and some limiting of meals or portions is recommended. A priest told us that a good guideline was to stop eating before feeling satisfied. Our younger children usually fast from one or two meals before they are old enough/ready to fast completely. We encourage them to fast from breakfast and/or lunch so they can eat before going to bed and if it is too difficult, it is not considered a failure if they eat. This is a physical discipline as well as a spiritual one and it takes training and building to the goal. We do not want this to be burdensome to them, so we have them eat after church, and it still helps them train themselves for the fast when they are older.

We picked up our organic produce boxes from the co-op this weekend, and ordered a big box of minneolas for snacks and to go with our meals. Usually during Lent, we try to get as much produce as possible, since we won't be eating the heavier meals of meat. There were some, out of season for us, blueberries from Chile that we just gobbled up as soon as we got them. We do try to eat seasonally, so unless we have canned, frozen, dried, or otherwise preserved our produce, we don't get a huge variety of it during winter. This isn't a strict rule, but this means that we generally don't have much in the way of fruit during winter (with the exception of citrus). The kids were so excited to have those fresh blueberries, and so were we! In any case, for the first part of this week, we will be having meat and cheese and eggs and sweets, but that will shift on Wednesday. I have planned meals Wednesday for the kids who aren't fasting, but tried to keep it pretty simple and easy to prepare.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.


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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Yarn Along: Four Hat Day


The last couple weeks have been about hats here. I've finished three beanies for my friend, to test her pattern, and I finished a hat for a friend. All that is waiting is for me to wash and block all of them. The little beanies are being saved as baby gifts, though one will be set aside for a preemie. I still have a scarf that needs blocking, too, so there will be a great washing in the next couple/few days.

Normally, I don't knit the same pattern more than once, and normally, I don't knit much for folks outside of our immediate family. In fact, when this friend hinted, heavily, that he would like a hat like the one I made for Rich, I almost said that I wouldn't do it, and if he answered that I'd knit for his wife, I was going to tell him that it was because I liked her better. But. They are sweet friends of ours, and they were moving away, and I had a little weak moment. So, I did it. I even tracked down the colors of the college near where he works, but I never promised, and never set a deadline for when it should be made. Obviously, this wasn't a Christmas present, but I was kind of hoping that I could get it to them by his birthday. Which was yesterday. Well, birthday month, then. It should come in handy, though, as they only recently had winter arrive, even though we have been in the depths of it here for months and are finally seeing the light of spring coming from a distance.


Here is my own Amira in progress. I have the pattern just about ready for publishing and am hoping that folks who want a chance at a preview of the pattern before it is for sale will give it a whirl and tell me what they think.

Please, please, please, if you can knit a 29"/30" or a 49"/50" bust Amira with us as we do our preview KAL, let me know! I'm waiting on those two sizes. I have two knitters for almost every other size, so even if I can get just one more knitter for each of those sizes, that would be grand. Thank you so much for considering it! There isn't much besides that to share right now, so here's the weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. That's where I put updates and preview knitting opportunities and other design news. Thank you!

I finished The Swallow's Song with Amira, and we've started the last of these books, If You Love Me, Let Me Go. We're continuing in Alice in Wonderland. And I began another happy little murder, Purl Up and Die: A Knitting Mystery. I'm almost to the point that I won't read this series anymore. If this one disappoints, it will be the last one. Interweave Knits' Spring issue arrived here yesterday. I must have been one of the first people to get one, which has never happened before, and I'm enjoying reading through it.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Menu Plan: January 31 - February 6

We have a week and a half before Lent begins, and we're gearing up for a pretty rough one, in terms of meal planning. Because of the health issues I've had over the past year, and with the results from a food allergy test, we are going to be eating on a pretty strict diet for our shared meals, to save me the trouble of making numerous meals. We'll do our normal Lenten observance as a family, which is mitigated by our having young children and so on, but while the kids will have dairy and egg available to them for breakfasts and lunches, we won't when it comes to dinners. We will still be eating fish and shellfish occasionally, and have oil and wine available to us, so it is still not the strictest rule, but we are going from doing this twice a week during Lent to the whole time. Please pray for us as we go through this. We truly believe that God will use this as a good time of growth and strengthening for us, but planning for it is pretty daunting for me.

Back to the present, though. There is one repeat that I can think of this week. We ended up with a breakfast for dinner one night last week when our schedules were shifted because of some things at Rich's work. Tuesday is the Feast of the Purification and Presentation, it is the final day in the Christmas season. It is also known as Candlemas, as it is the day that the candles for the year are blessed, because of the procession of light that happens to mark the Light of the World being brought to the Temple and being made known to God's people. We are in the middle of taking down all of our Christmas decorations and we plan to have a candlelit dinner with our Advent wreath, our Christ candle, and all the kids' candles lit at the table, and a Christmas cake for dessert.

This week has our last set of readings for going through the Bible in a year. Next week will have the last reading of the year. If you wish to do them again this year, the dates remain the same for the readings (that means you either have a free day or a catch up day on February 29). We read through all of the Old Testament and New Testament, reading the Psalms and Proverbs twice. Remember that the Psalms are according to eastern numbering in our daily Bible reading, also I Kings is the original designation, it is I Samuel in western Bibles (II Kings is II Samuel in the west, III Kings is I Kings, and IV Kings is II Kings, I Ezra is also called I Esdras in other translations, II Ezra is often translated as Ezra or II Esdras, though this is complicated by it sometimes being I Esdras being Ezra in modern language and II Esdras being Nehemiah, and in that case, there is a III Esdras, it really depends on which translation you read - Jeremiah in the Septuagint translation of the OT is numbered significantly differently, as well, so you may want to look up a comparison of the Hebrew and Septuagint numbering).

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Imaginary Yarn Company

I have been thinking about some ideal yarns. Which led to me thinking about an ideal yarn company. This would not mean, of course, that there was no other yarn I'd ever buy or like, but I thought of a line of yarns that would cover just about all of my general yarn needs. So, now I need to come up with a company name, and name the yarns themselves. Actually, part of this came from Dominic and me talking about how it was kind of neat that Quince and Co. name their yarns after birds, but then wondering why their company name wasn't a bird related name.

Now, we just need a backer. I love the idea of owning a company like this, with all these amazing yarns at my disposal, but I really don't actually want to do the work of that. So, does anyone else want to do all the hard work and just give me yarn when I need it? Also, let me decide all the colors. Or most of them? Does this sound great for anyone at all?

This yarn company would have two lace weight yarns, one light fingering, five fingering/sock weight, five sport, four dk, three worsted, three aran, and one chunky. The fibers used would be all natural, and the wools would be specialty fibers other than merino (though I love merino): Polwarth and Blue Faced Leicester wools, camel down, angora, silk, cashmere, cotton, and linen. The sock yarns would be superwash and have silk in the blend for strength, rather than nylon. In fact, the first yarn I was talking about with Rich that was my ideal sock yarn was a 3-ply fingering weight yarn composed 80/20 or 85/15 of Blue Faced Leicester to silk. The plies would each be blends of both the fibers, not a strand of silk plied with two wools or something like that. The fiber would be blended first, then spun, and then plied. Both are lustrous and take color beautifully, both wear like iron, and both shine and are soft. The other yarn I thought up was a similar yarn for socks with angora added for coziness and fuzziness - in a 75/15/10 or 80/15/5 ratio of BFL to silk to angora.

Am I the only person who does this? I came up with 22 other yarns. This is what I did instead of finishing up my outline and preparing for the next Shakespeare class I'm teaching. If I don't knuckle down, I'll come up with all the names and colors.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yarn Along: Two Out of Twelve Sweaters Complete





2/12 sweaters are finished already! And they are both for me! It is a pretty good strategy to start with items that are nearly finished. The details about Cross My Heart are on my project page, and I listed as many of the modifications as I could remember. I'm still working on Amira, and I have a baby beanie going to test the various sizes for a friend, the crocheted shawl is on hold as there was an error in the pattern, and I'm winding yarn to start a sweater that (I hope) will fit Jerome, as he is the only child who hasn't had a sweater/vest/jacket/shawl made especially for him. He's had hats and blankets and toys and such, but not a garment. I have to size up the sweater pattern, and hope it will fit right, otherwise, it will go to Mariam, which is fine, but I'd like him to have something made for him, too.


My last Magnolia Society shipment for a long time: MadelineTosh Merino/Cashmere/Nylon Fingering in Prairie Fire, Deep, Ultramarine Violet.

I have a plan for the Prairie Fire, and I have a design in mind for the Ultramarine Violet, but I'm still deciding what to make with the Deep. Prairie Fire is a touch more on the purple side of this color, like an orchid crayon, and Deep is a touch more blue-green, almost to the blue-black end. It looks like the depths of the ocean and is gorgeous. I love all of these colors.

Please, please, please, if you can knit a 29"/30" or a 49"/50" bust Amira with us as we do our preview KAL, let me know! I'm waiting on those two sizes. I have two knitters for almost every other size, so even if I can get just one more knitter for each of those sizes, that would be grand. Thank you so much for considering it!


Swatch for Amira.

This is a woman's, sleeveless shell that requires seaming, but only two seams, one on each side (if you are uncomfortable with a three needle bind off, then the shoulders will need seaming as well). As you can see from the swatch, it involves texture and simple lace. The pattern requires standard chart reading skills, ability to increase and decrease, make yos, knit in the round, and pick up stitches. Participants in the preview will get my working copy of the pattern, initially, upon completion and editing, they will receive the finished pattern. There are no specific brand requirements for the yarn, simply a DK weight yarn that knits up at 5.5 stitches per in in stockinette (the gauge for the top will be about 5.25 spi, but I want a yarn that will drape well at that gauge). I'd like to have at least two knitters per size: 29", 34", 39", 44", 49" finished bust. Yardage requirements are calculated for each size, respectively, as: 790, 900, 1000, 1100, 1225 yds. This is still an estimate, however, so I recommend getting an extra skein of whatever you buy, or if you are using stash, making sure that you have an extra ball's worth of the yarn. I'll want you to join a Facebook or Ravelry group for preview knitters and make a Ravelry entry, tagging me in it, and a link up when the pattern is released. The specific details will be given if you take this on for me. I will give the finished copy of the pattern to knitters when the pattern is released, a percentage/amount off coupon to my Ravelry Store for those who complete the item, and a coupon for a free pattern for those who complete the KAL, provide photos and link up to the pattern page. There isn't much besides that to share right now, so here's the weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. That's where I put updates and preview knitting opportunities and other design news. Thank you!

Our reading is basically the same as it has been lately, and I have nothing new that I've finished.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Menu Plan: January 24 - 30

So, to our immense surprise, we found out that too much chocolate in a lemon pie isn't that great. I made two Meyer lemon pies, in the style of a key lime pie, with a Meyer lemon shortbread crust and a layer of dark chocolate between the crust and the filling. It was nice, but a little too sweet and not lemony enough for me. Not that this stopped anyone from eating it. So, next time, more lemon juice and zest, and less chocolate. It seemed to swallow up the lemon flavor, and made it harder to cut the pie.

We are almost finished with our remodel of the utility room, there are a couple spots that need regrouting, there are shelves to go up, and we are waiting on a silicone grout for some parts. This leaves putting everything back where it should be, instead of all over our house and porch. We also have books and other things to be organized on the bookshelves that Rich put up in our living room. He replaced some flimsy, smaller bookcases with wonderful, sturdy, wood ones. Most of our things are reorganized, but there are still piles behind the couch and so on. It's a bit stressful for me to look at, so often I end up hiding in my room when it gets to be too much.

Our self imposed belt tightening will come a little looser at the end of this week. Next week is a produce co-op week, and we will have an Azure Standard delivery, too, so there will be some good restocking then. I was so pleased that everything we had to pay for on the remodel and the pig was covered by what I had set aside, but we were within $8 of our budget. We'll be looking at new tires for my van soon, and we're trying to decide if we can swing a weekend trip away for me and Rich, but airfare is ridiculous, because it is also a holiday weekend. We may have to pass and use that money toward some other travel, later. Thanks to our pig, we have a little more interest in our meals this week. We're in the countdown to Lent, as it begins in a little over two weeks for us in the West. I feel like we should be feasting a bit more on meat this week, so this menu is subject to change a little. Since we will be keeping a Lent that is closer to the original observance (and the current Eastern observance), perhaps we will keep a pre-Lent that is also more similar. In any case, our doughnut night is coming up soon, and we already have people making sure we're still doing it.

We are almost to the end of our Bible in a year readings. Next week will have the last reading of the year. If you wish to do them again this year, the dates remain the same for the readings (that means you either have a free day or a catch up day on February 29). We read through all of the Old Testament and New Testament, reading the Psalms and Proverbs twice. Remember that the Psalms are according to eastern numbering in our daily Bible reading, also I Kings is the original designation, it is I Samuel in western Bibles (II Kings is II Samuel in the west, III Kings is I Kings, and IV Kings is II Kings, I Ezra is also called I Esdras in other translations, II Ezra is often translated as Ezra or II Esdras, though this is complicated by it sometimes being I Esdras being Ezra in modern language and II Esdras being Nehemiah, and in that case, there is a III Esdras, it really depends on which translation you read).

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yarn Along: 12 Sweaters







So, finally, there was some sunshine after our dreary, miserable weather. It's still cold as the dickens, but at least it looks nicer. That meant I could get some photos of me in my Driftwood in the sunlight. (Those are my least flattering pants I own, but they are lined with flannel, which is a bonus in the cold weather.) This week, though, my knitting has largely been on Cross My Heart, and I've done a little knitting on some baby beanies from a pattern a friend is revising. I also picked up a crochet hook to work on my Paradise Fibers Yarn Club selection.


MadelineTosh A.S.A.P. in Peace of Paradise. I wound the yarn and started a crochet project before I got a photo of the yarn in the skein.



Since Monday was a holiday from college for Alexander, we took some time to knit together. Rich took this photo that night. The mess in the background is part remodel relocation of stuff, part putting in the new bookcases and having things all over as we sort, part small house chaos, part homeschool clutter, and part large family with lots of children untidiness. I'm sorry. Amira is working on a hat, I'm working on the neck of my Cross Your Heart, Alexander is working on gloves, and Jerome and Yasmina are working on scarves. I love that two are working in the round along with me. Mariam wants to learn and I told her that she needed the same skills to knit as she needs to write, so I've been getting her to work on her writing skills that way. She is much more motivated to learn to write now that she sees it as a ticket to knitting. I don't think that Elijah wants to learn and Dominic decidedly doesn't want to learn. Rich started to learn from me many years ago, in an effort to learn what I liked so he could get me to learn to fly. Even though he didn't get that far, technically, he does know how to knit. That means that eight out of ten people in our family either know how to knit or want to learn. That's not too shabby.

Anyway, I liked the challenge of trying to knit an adult sweater in a month, even though I failed on that one, so this year I am going to try to knit 12 sweaters in the year. The good news is that they don't have to be one a month, finishing one that was started before counts, and they can be any size, from infant to giant. If I finish Cross My Heart this month, that's two already. The challenge is either to do 12 or to do 16 for 2016. I don't think 16 is a reasonable goal for me, even counting baby and children's items. So, 12 it is, and I already have those mapped out. We'll see if I succeed, or come close. Amira, which I might have finished in the next month, though, will count, too.


Swatch for Amira.

If you are interested in being part of a Preview KAL of this design, please contact me, though, I need knitters for the finished bust sizes of 29" and 49". I'll send you a reminder when we're get the ball rolling. This is a woman's, sleeveless shell that requires seaming, but only two seams, one on each side (if you are uncomfortable with a three needle bind off, then the shoulders will need seaming as well). As you can see from the swatch, it involves texture and simple lace. The pattern requires standard chart reading skills, ability to increase and decrease, make yos, knit in the round, and pick up stitches. Participants in the preview will get my working copy of the pattern, initially, upon completion and editing, they will receive the finished pattern. There are no specific brand requirements for the yarn, simply a DK weight yarn that knits up at 5.5 stitches per in in stockinette (the gauge for the top will be about 5.25 spi, but I want a yarn that will drape well at that gauge). I'd like to have at least two knitters per size: 29", 34", 39", 44", 49" finished bust. Yardage requirements are calculated for each size, respectively, as: 790, 900, 1000, 1100, 1225 yds. This is still an estimate, however, so I recommend getting an extra skein of whatever you buy, or if you are using stash, making sure that you have an extra ball's worth of the yarn. I'll want you to join a Facebook or Ravelry group for preview knitters and make a Ravelry entry, tagging me in it, and a link up when the pattern is released. The specific details will be given if you take this on for me. I will give the finished copy of the pattern to knitters when the pattern is released, a percentage/amount off coupon to my Ravelry Store for those who complete the item, and a coupon for a free pattern for those who complete the KAL, provide photos and link up to the pattern page. There isn't much besides that to share right now, so here's the weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. That's where I put updates and preview knitting opportunities and other design news. Thank you!

My reading for the week has been Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe and How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. I first got this book from the library after seeing it on the yarn along last year, but I never really peeked into it. I picked it up again to give me a boost and some ideas in teaching a Shakespeare on a Shingle class at our co-op, and it is better than a supplement to what I was doing before. The author is excellent at conveying the hows and whys while still expressing his joy in the writing. I'm not following the exact format he suggests, and I'm making sure we cover a sonnet each week as well as a play, but I'm enjoying what he has to say on the topic (ETA: I meant to include his helpful website as well). I also read Thin Crust Killers: Pizza Mystery, as a little fluff book when my brain was too tired to think.

Amira and I are still reading The Swallow's Song, and are almost finished. There is one other book after this, and then we'll be finished with Norma Johnston for a while. The family is still enjoying Life, the Universe, and Everything as we continue in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 25th Anniversary Edition and we're still reading Alice in Wonderland along with our other school work.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Menu Plan: January 17 - 23

We will be picking up our pork this week, which means we'll be able to make things like carnitas and souvlaki and tamales and red beans and rice and all sorts of wonderful things. I'm so excited. Thanks to our friends who gave us their extra pig (we tried to pay for it, and they wouldn't let us, because they had been raising/feeding him and not wanting him for a while, they were just glad to get him off of their hands), our cost per pound of the hanging weight was only $2.62. I'm not sure how much we'll have in our take home, but we keep so much of the animals when we get them butchered that our ratio is pretty high. So, I expect our cost per take home pound will be around $3.00 - 3.50. And we got a good portion of our garden turned over, and the thistles killed. What we learned is that if we get a pig/piglet this year, we will call and schedule our butcher date on the same day we get him. By the time I called, the butcher we like was so backed up that our date wasn't for about a month or a month and a half after we really wanted it done, but we knew we had called late. However, the snow and ice we had slowed them down even more, as they had to maneuver in and out of farms in pretty snowed in areas, and that date was pushed back until it was nearly a month later than that. So, we were feeding him in the below freezing, and sometimes below zero, temperatures here, which meant that not only were we feeding him longer, but also he was eating more than he would have because of how cold he was, so we spent more on alfalfa pellets and such than we would have otherwise. Mostly, though, we were able to have him forage and eat scraps, so our feed cost was not as high as it is for our chickens and turkeys, even. We prefer our meat to be from grass fed or foraging animals, so we just have to make sure there is another space for him to forage and eat, away from our garden.

We're still eating out of pantry and freezer, for the most part, and so our meals are a little weird, but tasty. One of the people Rich works with has a winter place in Arizona, and he brought Meyer lemons from their tree for the staff. Rich waited to take many until everyone had taken their fill, and brought the remainder home on Friday, so I made a lovely Meyer lemon tart with a sour cream custard. There is enough juice and zest left to make one other thing, and I'm thinking a Meyer lemon pie with a dark chocolate layer over a lemon shortbread crust. We've got to eat these things up now, as Lent is in less than a month.

Below, I include our daily Bible readings which we use to read through the entire Bible each year. We read through all of the Old Testament and New Testament, reading the Psalms and Proverbs twice. Remember that the Psalms are according to eastern numbering in our daily Bible reading, also I Kings is the original designation, it is I Samuel in western Bibles (II Kings is II Samuel in the west, III Kings is I Kings, and IV Kings is II Kings, I Ezra is also called I Esdras in other translations, II Ezra is often translated as Ezra or II Esdras, though this is complicated by it sometimes being I Esdras being Ezra in modern language and II Esdras being Nehemiah, and in that case, there is a III Esdras, it really depends on which translation you read).

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

More Citizens from the Island of Misfit Knitwear

Here are some more swatches/designs rejected by magazines who are new immigrants to the Island of Misfit Knitwear. I really like all of these designs, and think that I can publish and sell them as I have planned them out with a hope of decent success. Even though I don't really intend to be a children's clothing designer, I do find myself doing a lot of that. Mostly because I have children and do most of my knitting for them.


These two were a coordinating set. I pitched them separately, but put forth the idea that if both were acceptable, they would make a lovely sister set for an older sister and a new baby. After I get Amira settled, I'm hoping to begin serious work on the patterns for these two to have ready for the mid to late spring. Aside from their appearance, I think a selling point of these is that the yarn for one is enough for both, for all but the largest sizes. And no matter what the news casters and politicians are saying, the economy is not bouncing back, so two projects from one purchase of yarn (and if the smallest sizes are made, probably some matching caps and/or mitts), is welcome for most knitters.




Presentation is a dress intended for a newborn to a toddler, and I'm pleased with the lace and the detail I came up with for it. It is knit primarily in the round, in one piece, and can be put together completely seamlessly.



Annunciation is a cardigan intended for a young child - three to eight years old. I like the tonal striping that is broken up with simple lace motifs. These buttons were a find, too. I picked them up from one of a couple etsy shops I like for buttons: As Cute as a Button (that's where I got these glass leaves, and the bone sand dollar for my Driftwood sweater) and Lillian Olive (she carries GORGEOUS vintage buttons).



I really had high hopes that Michaelmas would be accepted. It is a child's sweater, with a button placket, themed around the season and traditions surrounding the feast of Saint Michael. I love that the design that can be feminine or masculine, is nice looking, while still being suitable for outdoor play. Sadly, this was not what was wanted for this issue, either. I think I can get this written and edited by late August, or early September. I'd like to have it ready for Michaelmas.



Saint Nicholas is bright - almost a circus of color. The call asked for non-traditional colors for Christmas, so I made a small stocking as my submission. I knew I was taking a risk by sending something so bright to this publication, but they asked for something besides the normal red and green. I used traditional Turkish and Middle Eastern geometric patterns from fabrics and tiles as my patterns. Anyway, I'm hoping to have the full size stocking made, the pattern written and ready for release by early November.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Yarn Along: First FO of the Year, Yarn, and the 2015 Wrap Up


55,718 stitches of unfiltered, un-made up, unblocked me.

I have finally finished knitting Driftwood! It isn't blocked in the picture, the button isn't sewn on, and the ends aren't even woven in, because I was so excited just to have the knitting complete. Even though I did much more aggressive waist shaping, it's still quite roomy. I'm glad I read the comments on other projects and decreased so much more than the pattern stated. I kind of wish I did more. One change I didn't mention before was that I put a bound off button hole in the edging, right at the smallest point of the waist, and knit an extra row before binding off. If I were to make this again, I think I'd do much more decreasing at the waist (the pattern had you do 2 decreases, 14 rows apart, I did 10 decreases, six rows apart, and I'd probably do 13 decreases, four rows apart), but instead of reducing the number of rows before beginning the decreases, I'd keep it the same as the pattern, so I could raise the waist line just a little, I'd either shorten the sleeves by about an inch or lengthen them by a couple inches, as I felt like the ribbing was too close to my elbow and bunched up more than I like, and I'd do all the ribbing with a size smaller needle than the rest of the sweater. I might even knit the rolled edge one needle size smaller. However, the chances of me knitting this again are pretty low, since I hate knitting the same design more than once. I might make the child sized version, though, so I'll keep that in mind if I do.

Overall, I am happy with the sweater and the pattern, but if I had been a beginning knitter, some of the changes I had to make to the design to be better for a non-model figure would have been hard to determine, and I wouldn't have liked it as much if I knit it exactly as written. Also, though there was only one real error in the pattern, I still think that since it was photographed with a closure, some mention of options for adding one should have been listed or discussed. Although American designs tend to hold the knitter's hand, it didn't even have to be spelled out explicitly. Not listing anything about it was sloppy, in my opinion. It didn't even say, "Add closure at neck as desired." Which, of course, is not where I put the closure. I didn't want to have it closed at the neck and opening wider as it headed south toward my waist and hips. Even when I was young and thin, that wouldn't have been flattering for my figure. So, I put the closure at the waist to emphasize the decreases at the smallest point of the sweater. Also, the way I knit to the waist shaping and the number of decreases I made, it put the welt closer to my natural waist. The pattern would have had 51 rows, the way I did it resulted in 69 rows, which not only means that the welt was closer to being at my actual waist (it probably could have been four rows shorter), but it also meant that the ruffle wasn't quite so voluminous on the skirt. Doing more decreases means that it would be even smaller, but I think that is not a bad thing. It still gives the visual interest of a peplum, without as much bulk.

I'll post blocked pictures when I can get good outdoor shots. I have done no work on anything else in the past week. Obviously, this was not completed in time for NaKniSweMo, but I did get 70% of it finished in the month of November. Had it not been for my health and the holiday busy-ness, I think I could have finished it in that time. I will try again next year.


MadelineTosh Quarter Round in Coffee Grounds and Winter White, and seven DK Tiny Twists.

My last holiday club shipment from the Magnolia Society arrived this weekend, and I love it! Not shown is a picture of the cute, little muslin bag that came with it, but it's holding my twists now. I ordered an extra skein of the Quarter Round in Coffee Grounds, and I plan on using the two together in a shawl. The Tiny Twists are destined to become a striped, tubular cowl, either plain or chevron stripes, starting with the charcoal, and traveling through the rainbow, finishing with the brown. I wish the greens weren't quite so close, but I want to use each of the twists, so they will meet in the middle, with less contrast than I would like for the striping pattern.


Swatch for Amira.

If you are interested in being part of a Preview KAL of this design, please contact me, though, with a size you'd like to try. I'll send you a reminder when we're get the ball rolling. This is a woman's, sleeveless shell that requires seaming, but only two seams, one on each side. As you can see from the swatch, it involves texture and simple lace. The pattern requires standard chart reading skills, ability to increase and decrease, make yos, knit in the round, and pick up stitches. Participants in the preview will get my working copy of the pattern, initially, upon completion and editing, they will receive the finished pattern. There are no specific brand requirements for the yarn, simply a DK weight yarn that knits up at 5.5 stitches per in in stockinette (the gauge for the top will be about 5.25 spi, but I want a yarn that will drape well at that gauge). I'd like to have at least two knitters per size: 29", 34", 39", 44", 49" finished bust. Yardage requirements are calculated for each size, respectively, as: 790, 900, 1000, 1100, 1225 yds. This is still an estimate, however, so I recommend getting an extra skein of whatever you buy, or if you are using stash, making sure that you have an extra ball's worth of the yarn. I'll want you to join a Facebook or Ravelry group for preview knitters and make a Ravelry entry, tagging me in it, and a link up when the pattern is released. The specific details will be given if you take this on for me. I will give the finished copy of the pattern to knitters when the pattern is released, a percentage/amount off coupon to my Ravelry Store for those who complete the item, and a coupon for a free pattern for those who complete the KAL, provide photos and link up to the pattern page. There isn't much besides that to share right now, so here's the weekly reminder to like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. That's where I put updates and preview knitting opportunities and other design news. Thank you!

Amira and I have finished Myself and I. It is the end of the series, but we've been enjoying our reading time together, so I pulled out another set of books by Norma Johnston, and we've begun The Swallow's Song. Our family reading has been Life, the Universe, and Everything as we continue in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 25th Anniversary Edition. The girls are dancing in Alice in Wonderland this spring, so we began the book as part of our school reading.

On my own, I read, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, which was fun, but not as funny as the first book. I needed to read something light and easy, though. One thing I didn't like about it was how forced some of the political messages seemed in the story. There are certain topics that are so obviously divisive that making a character take an explicit stance on them is making a statement. That is a choice any author can make, but in this book, the two topics that fell into this category were so clunky and didn't seem natural at all. Even had they taken the views I have, the way they were presented was clearly and deliberately a political sermon, and it was done in a way that was jarring, instead of flowing naturally from the characters. Seeing as how every single character in these books comes from a political, social, moral, and religious point of view that differs from mine, it's not like I had an expectation of seeing them agree with me (in fact, spoiler alert, finishing the book, I texted Rich how glad I was that we were together, married, that all of our children were ours together, and nobody had to have visitation. The lives these people lead is supposedly so fulfilling, but read pretty sad and empty at the end of it all.), but it looked like the messages were cut from some sort of rhetoric sheet and pasted into the text. So, overall, funny and light, with moments that made me shake my head, and a takeaway that I was so glad not to have the problems and experiences of these characters.

My serious reading is Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, which I'm trying to read more regularly. It's accessible and easy to read, but so much of it I want to share with others, so I've been waiting to read it to the kids or to Rich. Instead, I think I'm just going to give it to them to read on their own, and get on with my own reading.

That just about covers what I have worked on, finished, or read over the past week. Now, on to tying up the ends of last year. I was a little disappointed to find that I didn't finish nearly what I thought I would, either in crafting or reading. Our life and our schedule has been fairly challenging, though, and I'm hoping to find a better rhythm this year. Beginning with getting rid of responsibilities and things that are cluttering our homes and lives. I have been doing some things for our homeschool co-op that, while I enjoy them and find them valuable, take time each week and right now it is a hard time for that. So, it was a little sad, but also a blessing to be contacted and asked if I still wanted to do it, and if I would mind if someone else did them this session. There was no complaint, so it wasn't me being "fired," but the other person felt strongly about doing it, and would it bother me. I almost answered that I still wanted to do it, but instead saw it for the blessing it was, and said there were a few times I wanted to do it, but would be happy to let this other person take over. God has offered me a way to make my weeks simpler. Anyway, here is my list of finished objects and books read in 2015. I am going to retire the lists in my sidebar and replace it with my 2016 lists.


2015 Finished Objects
2015 Books



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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