Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easter Tie: The Process

Update: the pattern linked below has both the Child & Toddler sizes

Click to download the Easter Tie pattern.

Easter Tie

Knitter Achievement Level: Just a touch above beginner.

Size: Toddler & Child

Finished Measurements:

Toddler: 11" long, 3.5" at widest point, 1" at narrowest.

Child: 4.5" at widest point, 1.4" at narrowest.

Gauge: 5st/in in moss stitch.

1 skein Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Naturale, (or other 100% Mercerized Cotton worsted). The Toddler size pictured took <25g.>

Needles: Size needed to obtain gauge.

Notes: I used a little trick I learned from Elizabeth Zimmerman in Knitting Without Tears. The first stitch of every row is slipped and the last stitch is purled, making a clean braided edge. Very pretty. :o) Just be sure to resist the urge to pull the slipped stitch tight as you begin the row. It makes the edging too snug, and causes the tie to dish instead of lie flat.



Place a slip knot on your left needle. (That's CO 1.)

Kfb. Turn. (2st)

K2fb Turn. (4st)

Kfb, p1, k1, kfb. Turn. (6st)

Kfb, p1, k1 to last st, kfb. Turn (8st)

Repeat last row until you have 18 st on the needle.

Work four rows even: S1, work moss stitch across, p1. Turn

Work decrease row: S1, ssk, work moss stitch to last three stitches, k2tog, p1. (16 st.)

Work three rows even, then one decrease row. Repeat three times, leaving you with 10 st.

Work 22 rows even. Work decrease row. (8 st)

Work one row even. Work decrease row. (6 st)

Work 30 rows even. (Or adjust to provide the proper length for your munchkin.) My guy has a long waist, so 30 rows provided the right length and allowed enough to wrap around at the top for a faux Windsor knot. Just hold the tie-in-progress up to the top button on a dress shirt and keep knitting until the point of the tie reaches just above the belt buckle. Read the folding instructions below to see how to allow length for folding the knot.

When you’ve got enough to make the end of the tie reach the right edge of the tie body when it’s folded, you begin decreasing to make the wedge-shaped top that will reach around to meet the fold in the back. (I confess: this folding bit is borrowed from origami.)

Decrease for seam edge:

S1, k3, k2tog, p1. Turn. (5 st)

S1, ssk, w1, p1. Turn.

S1, w1, k2tog. Turn.

Ssk, w1. Turn.

k2tog. You should have one stitch left on the needle. Cut the working yarn, leaving a tail long enough for seaming (about 8”-10”), and pull the end of the yarn out of the last stitch so the tail of the yarn prevents the work from unraveling. (I’m sure there’s a neat little term for this: if anyone knows it, will they please let me know?)

Here’s what mine looked like at this point:

(Click to enlarge.)

To make the “knot” at the top, do the following:

Fold the top of the tie 90° to the left so the left edge of the tie body is visible all the way to the top of the fold.

Then fold the tail of the tie to the right so it’s gently snugged up against the body of the tie.

Turn the tie over carefully, and match the angled top edge with the 45° edge of the 90° fold you made first. (Yes, a 90° fold has a 45° edge. lol)

Then take the tail and whip stitch the two edges together. By choosing selectively which stitches to pick up you can ease the “knot” into looking pretty straight. (My stitches are highlighted in blue.)

Next, take your ¼” elastic and your munchkin and measure how much you’ll need to let it reach around their shirt collar with about 1/2" overlap while at rest. It’s important to make sure that the elastic isn’t stretched at all, for hopefully obvious reasons. (We don’t want any munchkin necks to be squeezed during the wearing of this tie. :o) Mark the point where the end of the elastic meets the length of the elastic, and then cut it with the ½” overlap. You can see in the photo below how the marked point serves in alignment after the elastic is cut.

Line up the cut end of the elastic with the mark you just made, and then hand or machine sew the elastic into a loop. Hand sew that loop to the back of the tie. Your project should look something like this from the back now:

From the top:

Weave in the tail at the cast-on point, and you’re done!

Corral your munchkin, and take a photo to email me for the Easter Tie gallery. (Email address at the bottom of the pattern.)


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Easter Tie

I wanted to knit something for my boys to wear for Easter. I bought some beautiful mercerized cotton worsted, but they didn't have enough to make vests for both of them (and I don't have time in the next ten days anyway). So, I decided to knit them matching ties. The ties will roughly coordinate with the girls' Easter outfits, so it should all work out.

Today I cast on for the first tie, and I plan on posting a pattern when I've got it reasonably done. It'll be in beta until it has been tested a few times, but I'll try to remember to put it in a pdf for download.

In other news, I finished the baby's socks--but they're not the best fit. I'm hoping that her feet won't grow for a while, and that her chubby little legs thin out a bit. Then they'll fit better. What do you do with socks that don't fit? Frog 'em? Give them away? I'm struggling with some serious apprehension about going to work on other socks for kids (or myself!), since I'm not too sure they'll work out. I've got more than 3,000 stitches in on a sock for myself . . . only 14,000 to go. Question is, will I like it? {small worried sigh}

Today's post is lean on photos because the kids and I made a grand loop down to the big city to pick up my Dad, whose truck had broken down. We took him to the truck yard (more than an hour away from the big city), paused at my parents' house for a wiggle break, then came back home (another 40 minute drive). On the way home, I saw a lady I go to church with along the side of the road with a flat. So we stopped and waited with her (safety in numbers) until her husband arrived with the spare. That added almost 30 minutes to the trip home. So, we got home at 4:52pm, four hours and forty-two minutes after leaving the house. Quite the trip.

There were so many times on the drive that I kicked myself for not bringing the camera. An old building fa├žade in a lovely spring blue with striking white lettering: REID 1819. The sign diagramming the impossibly complex intersection of 41 and 90. Clouds and impossibly blue sky. Rock faces washed bright with snowmelt showing their mineral hues of rust, rich brown, orange and gray. Mossy rock faces and slopes where nature's bonsai grow. The river, running smooth and high, while the sun danced from ripple to ripple fit to make my heart break.

I grew up in the Sacramento River Delta. My Dad's farm was bounded at one end by the river, and at the other end by the state highway. Everywhere we went, we drove along the river first. Early winter mornings, the river would steam like hot tea. Late morning in summer it would nearly blind you to look at it. On windy afternoons the water would turn brown, green waves ridden by whitecaps. That river never swelled with snowmelt, nor did it drop during the winter as this one does. It surprises me sometimes how much I miss that home from so long ago; the home that's now no more. While I no longer ride the levee to get to town, I do get to cross bridges and occasionally take the old road back to the not-so-big city, following the river for the first third of the way. I lack the ocean longing Vern's family feels; but the river ties run deep. Deeper than I'd ever thought, until today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sock Yarn Frenzy

Over the weekend, I sort of bought some sock yarn. Okay, a lot of sock yarn. But, it's for socks, right? Very useful, beautiful, comfy, "See-how-much-I-love-you,-I-knit-you-some-socks" yarn.

See for yourself:

Clearanced Knit Picks Memories Merino sock yarn in Gladiolus, Easter & Hawaii. (I think the Easter colorway is a misnomer, though. The Paper Dolls colorway below looks more like Easter to me--the green is the very color of green plastic Easter basket grass.)

More sock yarn--and just $1 a skein. My kind of socks; except that the AnderMan has claimed these stripes for himself. :o)

This is a 14oz lot of scrums I found on eBay. Too impatient for the auction to end, I bought-it-now, and paid for this what I paid for 100g of sock yarn new. I'm going to have fun with this. ;o)

For scale . . . I don't have a good scale that measures in grams (yet), so you'll have to get a basic idea this way.

Then, on Saturday, Vern loaded all of the munchkins in the Honda and we all went to town so I could spend an hour at my favorite LYS, Stitchin' Sisters. Isn't Audra just beautiful? She's one of my favorite people, honestly. She started Stitchin' Sisters to provide a place for women to build strength in each other . . . and she knows how to run a fun shop, too. (The items below were all from the Spring Sale--30% off! Woo-hoo!) She carries yarn, quilting fabric and most notions/accessories you could imagine (she also has stuff for needle felting & embroidering).

A skein of Collinette Zanziba (wool, viscose, and a little nylon) destined as a scarf/neckwarmer thingie for me, and a skein of lovely sport weight brown virgin wool from a farm in Bonner's Ferry Idaho (destiny unknown--I just love local fiber that's not outrageously priced!).

Some sock yarn for me. (The sock yarn above is all for the kids, so I'm justified, right? ;o) Regia Bamboo Color and Panda Wool from Crystal Palace. (I'm beginning to fall in love with Crystal Palace, btw. They have some really gorgeous yarns, and their bamboo dpn's are my favorite so far.)

Some Fortissima Cotton Socka for Vern. He's big on comfy socks, but he hasn't ever known anything as nice as these are going to be. Hopefully I'll be able to work him into something more colorful in a while. This is just for starters. (And it will go with the black Keen Newport sandals that he wears for "formal" occasions. {chuckle})

Last week, before the yarn bonanza, I, um, {ahem, cough cough} bought some knitting books, too.

When I saw Stephanie's Rib Warmer, I knew I needed this book. I'm knitting socks & a sweater out of "Knitting Without Tears", and I dearly love Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Someday I'll save up my Amazon reward certificates and buy the set of DVD's that were recently released of her PBS series; but for now, I'm going to have to just read it. I also decided that I really and truly needed something to supplement my daily dose of the Harlot:


And, I decided I needed some good ideas on what to do with all of the lovely, lovely lonesome skeins that I've got in my stash. (Alpaca, lovely soft wool, pretty mercerized cotton, etc.)

In other news, here are status shots on some of my WIP's. (I'm hoping to get a line on some progress meters for the sidebar soon.) The socks I started for myself in KP Dancing haven't grown since I started socks for the baby, but I'll get back to them . . . honest.

Socks for the baby, in Knit Picks Memories "Paper Dolls" following EZ's instructions in KWT. (I still say this colorway should be called "Easter". Can't you just see the pastel candy chocolate eggs and plastic grass in those colors?)

Sleeve #1 on the baby's cardigan. Knit Picks Crayon in Periwinkle, held double, knit on #6 needles. (KP Options for the body, Brittany birch dpn's for the sleeves.) The body is long enough to join the sleeves now, so I've got to get moving so I've got some sleeves to graft in. The baby simply adores this yarn--she has been known to come and cuddle with the ball while I'm knitting. (It's the cutest thing you've ever seen, too.)

And, best for last . . . my nightstand. :o)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What's normal?

I feel as though the common usage of the word "normal" is woefully fuzzy, with attendant social inferences that pressure and guilt people into doing things that make them unhappy. When someone says "That's not normal," all too often the response elicited (whether spoken or silent) is "There's something wrong with me."

Normal is the way things should be. Usual, on the other hand, is what happens all around us every day. Big Difference. Given a life based on generally wise decisions, it's normal to be reasonably happy, have some energy, and find joy in life. It's usual to be tired, depressed, overburdened and crabby.

My first handspun.

In all it's glory. ;o) About an ounce of 2-ply woollen-spun Merino in a colorway I can't remember (I'll fix it later, promise!) bought locally. I spun it on a drop spindle I made myself following instructions at The Joy of Handspinning.

I plied this with my spindle, using some leftover doweling from the spindle project laid across a notched child's size shoebox to hold the singles. I have two more bobbins of singles I spun waiting to be twisted some more on my spinning wheel before plying. We'll see what happens with that another day. . .


Okay, I officially give up. This blog is mine, but I've been dithering around, trying to decide what to post and how great it's going to be, and how smart and deep and thought-provoking every single post's content will ring. Enough. I'm me--a wife, a mom, a knitter, a creative woman, and someone who thinks and feels strongly about a lot of things.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

What I've learned today:

Just because I'm not doing anything I know is bad for me doesn't mean I'm going to have a good day.

It's mighty tricky to knit on a sock with DPN's* while a toddler sits in your lap without injuring someone. (No children were harmed during this adventure.)

*Double Pointed Needles: just as the name implies, they're pointed at both ends so you can knit things like this:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A World Full of Children

In the spirit of just banging it out, here are a few thoughts I've had:

I was thinking about John Holt’s vision of a world that’s safe for children; a world where there are places of peace and security in which children and adults could work side-by-side, learning from each other and growing together. I thought about how it’s only from seeing adults modeling good adult behavior that children even have the slightest clue of what it is that adults are supposed to be, and how they’re supposed to behave.
Instead of those kinds of places, we have daycare. Industrial factory-modeled schooling. Children isolated with children very close to their own age, then sent out to recess with children of a slightly wider age range for a few minutes each day. On a good day, children in school have direct, one-on-one contact with a few adults for a couple minutes each. (And then there are the children who measure the sucess of their day by how little attention they recieve from the teachers at school.) Children in our society are largely raised by other children, outside of disciplinary action from adults. Yes, kids have contact with adults at home, and in activities, but not very much compared with how much time they spend with kids. A quote I read once comes to mind: "If we spend 15 minutes a day on God, and 12 hours on things, is it any wonder that things seem more real than God?" Where we spend our time is where our reality lies. Is it any wonder that we find the adults in our society so childish? Selfishness, whether expressed in high consumer debt, road rage, vicious gossip, mindless entertainment, breaking promises & contracts, or in countless other ways, plagues our culture. Many adults are so eager to stick it to the next guy to help themselves get ahead . . . playground politics on a grand scale.

It seems ironic that it's often through spending time with children that adults become less childish; especially since that's something that many American adults avidly avoid. When it seems so clear that both children and adults benefit materially from spending time together, why is it that we're all so resistant to the idea?
I think it takes children so incredibly long to “grow up” because they are forced to live a protracted childhood. Sequestered with other inexperienced souls, they have to forge ahead as best they can. They do pick up as much adult behavior as possible from teachers and parents, coaches and church leaders. How many of us know kids who started smoking at 11 or 12, or drinking only a few years later? It’s amazing how quickly children pick up the behaviors they see, and how exactly they mimic us. And then there are the teenagers, ready for responsibility and new experiences, full of energy and primed to learn all that the world has to offer, often handed an easy life on a platter instead of the worthwhile and valuable work that they crave.

The other dichotomy I see is that once freed from schooling and isolation, (albeit isolation in a crowd), a shockingly large portion of adults are eager to then turn around and opress children in the same way. So exultant at finally winning a long-coveted place in the grown up world, these children actively exclude their own children from their company for much of the day. Parents joke about not being able to wait until summer vacation is over, and about how they’ve barely survived Spring Break. Culturally, we’ve all laughed at those jokes. Underneath the joke, though, is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen: parents who don’t yearn for the company of their own children.

How far we've come--from early cultures whose children are an integral part of their lives each day, to our highly civilized society. I know from my own experience that I had very little idea of what to DO with my children as they came into my life. And please bear in mind--these thoughts are born of my own experience. They're based on what I've seen in my life, and not meant to cover the totality of the experiences of American children on the whole. As I once read: "Remember, all generalizations are false."

It's time to get serious.

About writing, that is. I find myself avoiding blogging, unless I've got a really Good Idea. Fully formed, carefully thought out, polished. But how often does that happen? Not very often right now. Like Linus Pauling (researcher & Nobel Prize winner) said: "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas." So, I'm going to just start writing. And with that said, I'm totally blank. Maybe I'll have to take the blog back to a fixed-width format so it looks like I write more. ;o)

Okay, Murphy . . . I'm coming for you.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Today has been a tired day. Cleaning up things after lunch, I suddenly had this total aversion to having to be really and truly old. Gray hair, aged, the whole package. Then I wondered if the way I was feeling was what it was like to be old. Just tired. No energy, hard to make yourself do things, just wishing for a nice nap like you used to take in college . . . the kind where you could sleep for as long as you wanted, waking up feeling all warm and good inside.

If that incredible, bone-deep fatigue is really what usual aging is about, I'm going to find another way. Too much of my life has been spent fatigued and depressed. Enough already.

Friday, March 2, 2007


Doing my best to sing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" to one of my children today against the sound of the music in the next room, I noticed how the music playing devolved into chaos as I focused on what I was singing. The same is true in life: our focus greatly determines how much we understand of the world around us. As we shift focus, expanding or narrowing our field of view, things take on new significance. Often, focusing on what we've learned in the past completely precludes the accommodation of new information, just as focusing on Rudolph's tune made it impossible for me to make sense of the more complicated song.