Episode 11 - Interview with The Wooliers

The Wooliers

Thanks to Margeau and Rebecca Soboti for taking the time to talk to me and share their fiber journey as well as their wonderful yarn and patterns. If you live in Central NJ, you can catch up with them in real life at the following events this month:

December 4, 2016, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Holiday Craft Fair at the Monmouth Reform Temple
Tinton Falls, NJ

December 10, 2016, 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.
The Wooliers + Margeau Blanc Trunk Show at Chelsea Yarns
Colts Neck, NJ

December 11, 1 p.m. - 7 p.m.
The Greenpointers Tropical Holiday Market
Greenpoint Brooklyn

Coding Corner

Thanks to Connor, Grace, Kail, and Kelly, my students, for the great introduction to this new segment.  I discuss variables in coding as they relate to knitting. The examples I use look like this:

gauge = 6
needleSize = 9
yarn = "East Yarn"

Gauge and needleSize are numeric (integer) variables, and yarn is a text (string) variable.

I also briefly introduce Boolean variables. A Boolean variable is written like this:

endOfRow = False


stitchMarker = True

Note the way the variables are written in what's called camel case, i.e. the first English word starts with a lowercase letter (as do all variable names) but any part of the variable name that could be a distinct word following that is written in upper case.

Stay tuned for the next episode of coding corner where I introduce conditional statements!


I finally finished the Laura Pinafore complete with Mario inspired button:

I knit this Patons Striped Hat pattern for my teacher mentee with Plymouth Homestead yarn:

I also mention my new pattern, the Aspen Cowl. Here are a few images of the test batch of custom dyed yarn Robin of Robin's Roost is creating for this pattern:

I anticipate calling for test knitters the week of December 5, 2016. If you are interested in test knitting either the "town" or "country" versions with whatever yarn you choose, please join the Ravelry group. I will create a thread for testing when that opportunity becomes available. (If you'd like to learn more about the "country version", see this blog post.)

I finally started my Yellow Roses shawl for the current KAL in the Ravelry group. This KAL goes until January 15, 2017 so you have lots of time to join us! Here's the start of my version in some OOAK yarn from Maple Creek Farm I picked up at Rhinebeck:

A random participant in the KAL will receive a hank of hand spun, hand dyed yarn from Pucker Brush Farm that I picked up at Rhinebeck this year.

I also started a basic scarf in double moss stitch using Caron Cakes in the Fairie Cake colorway (check out that awesome progress keeper from White Whisker Studio):

As part of the #getyouryarnwishesgranted event on Instagram, I also received this lovely yarn from White Whisker Studio:

I recently purchased an AMAZING project bag from Toad Hollow. Helen and MaryBeth also have an awesome podcast on YouTube:


I highly recommend IQ by Joe Ice especially if you love the Easy Rollins books by Walter Mosley.

Finally, I just started The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs. It's a wonderful book for the Christmas season and explores the roles of 3 women, Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna in the Christmas story.

If you'd like to learn more about anything in this post, please give the podcast a listen (player at top or the podcast can be downloaded on iTunes and other podcast apps).

On Tuesdays, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesdays.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Town & Country

A New Pattern

In the last post, I introduced my first original pattern design Aspen Winter. I finished the "country" version of the pattern yesterday, and my timing couldn't be better. Here at the Jersey Shore, we wore flip flops on Saturday and winter boots on Sunday. Thanks weather!

This version of the pattern is knit with worsted weight alpaca as the "snow" and Romney wool from Pradodelana Farm for the "birch trees".

There will be a "town" version of the pattern that I hope to test in the next week or two using custom dyed yarn from a local dyer. I hope to share the pattern with test knitters in early December. If you're interested, please join the Ravelry group. I'll post a thread there when the pattern is ready for testers!


I recently started watching the Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix and just love them. The time period (1890s), the novelty of invention (night vision goggles!), famous characters (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wild Bill Hickok, Houdini!), the tension between the handsome main character and the female coroner, the comedic constables ... just go watch an episode.

While you do that, we can look at the cover posted outside my classroom. I like to share what I'm reading with the kids so maybe some of them will pick up a book (although many of them tell me they are too busy to read).

After spending some digital time in 1890s Toronto, I was happy to stumble upon A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt in the library last week. The sleuth in this series is a female psychotherapist who encourages one of her patients to confront a doctor who took her baby from her when she was a teenager. Of course, the doctor is murdered, the woman a suspect, and Dr. Summerford enlists the help of Simon Shaw, a man with which she has a history. Early psychology and medical theories abound but don't drag down the story, and the setting of late 19th century New York complete with robber barons and tenements makes this an exceptionally fun read for any lover of historical mysteries!

I participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party on Mondays, Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party on Tuesdays, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesday.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Aspens in Winter & Tigers in Summer


I finished the Francie Nolan Tam last week and blocked it right away. This yarn really loosened up; I think if I make another hat with it (Berroco Abode), I'll just lightly spray the project rather than giving it a soak. The pattern knits up quickly especially since I went up significantly in needle size for the ribbing (from size 4 to size 7).

Once again, I have yet to cast on the project selected for the current KnitReadPray KAL (the Yellow Roses shawl). As much as I tell my students not to wait until the last minute, I find that I do my best work under pressure! Since this KAL goes through January 15, 2017, I've got lots of time, right?

So instead of casting on the shawl, I decided that, after the turmoil of election season, I needed to really stretch my creativity. Making is great therapy! Cowl patterns are my favorite, and I've always wanted to create my own, so I spent a significant amount of time last Thursday transferring what was in my head to swatches on the needles.

I read somewhere that the first step to creating a pattern is to knit your concept with cotton yarn. There's lots of cotton in my stash (because dish clothes). However, I did want to test the drape, so I started with a skein of I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby in light gray. This cotton isn't as stiff as other cotton yarn, so Friday afternoon I cast on my concept:

I also contacted Robin of Robin's Roost Yarn, a local to me indie dyer I interviewed in this episode of the podcast, and asked her to do a custom color way for the "town" version of the pattern. Winter is my least favorite season (even though my birthday is January 3rd), but I've always loved the photos of aspen trees at the start of winter surrounded by fallen leaves. Last year, my daughter hosted one of those painting parties for my birthday, and we, of course, did a variation of Ansel Adam's famous photo:

(Don't judge, I'm a coder.)

I shared a few photos with Robin and discussed my "vision" (I feel so official having a vision), and she graciously agreed to dye the yarn for the "town" version of Aspen Winter.

Of course, I can't leave well enough alone, so after I finished the test knit, I decided to do a "country" version of the pattern using alpaca from Sweitzer's Fiber Mill in Pennsylvania and the gorgeous hank of Romney lamb's wool from Prado del Lana Sheep Farm I won as part of an Instagram giveaway. The Romney wool really shows off the pattern!

My original plan was to publish the pattern on January 15, 2017, roughly the first year anniversary of the podcast, but at this rate, I should get it done before Christmas. I will be looking for test knitters; if you're interested, I suggest joining the Ravelry group if you have not yet done so and then watch for a thread calling for testers of the Aspen Winter pattern.


Last weekend started on Thursday due to the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City. I never go - I'd rather do professional development at a technology conference ... and why doesn't Rhinebeck count for PD? - so in between bouts of pattern design, I read the newest Virgil Flowers mystery by John Sanford.

I'm not a big fan of his Lucas Davenport series also by this author, but I love Virgil. His stories are very Elmore Leonard, and this episode doesn't disappoint. Inept thieves steal 2 tigers from the Minneapolis Zoo, and it's up to Virgil to track them down and save the tigers. Turns out, Amur tiger parts are used as medicine in China, and an evil Chinese immigrant now in LA pays to have the tigers stolen. (Guess we need a wall around California too.) Throw in six brothers of indeterminate Slavic heritage, a disgraced MD who eats Xanax like Skittles, and a Minnesota summer, and you have a winner!

I participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party on Mondays, Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party on Tuesdays, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesday.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Episode 10 - Electric Avenue

Hello and thanks for giving my podcast a listen. I started this podcast in January of this year with absolutely no expectations, and I'm so glad I did! Some of you landed on this blog post through one of the various link parties I participate in; thanks for stopping by. If you've listened to the podcast for awhile now, thanks for coming back each month. I'm truly blessed by all of you, and I hope I continue to entertain and inform!

In the current episode, I mentioned Ginny Sheller's weekly Yarn Along, and I highly recommend it! I've discovered a lot of great bloggers, projects, and books through that weekly online event.


Since the last podcast, I've finished 2 Handbrake cowls. I knit these as part of our Cancer Awareness KAL. You can check out some other great entries in the Ravelry group. Prizes for this KAL were a skein of Malibrigo Rasta in Ravelry Red that Andrea donated to the podcast along with a copy of the Yellow Roses pattern from Clothesline Designs.

We had a lot of fun with that KAL although not a large number of participants. This is the first KAL I started and finished within the time frame, and I made TWO cowls not just one! I, of course, can't win anything, so I'm going to gift a Yellow Roses pattern to both Sabrina (sabrab on Ravelry) and Andrea (mrssmith618 on Ravelry) if they haven't bought the pattern already. (If they have, I'll let them pick a lucky knitter to pay the gift forward!)

Sabrina made a cowl in pink and orange, the colors of breast cancer and self injury. Andrea made so many! A blue one for the Duke Cancer Center, a red one and a rainbow one just because, and a teal/periwinkle like colored one that I'm saying represents esophageal cancer (because that's the cancer I wanted to raise awareness for & it's my podcast). Carmen of A Simple Homestead made one in blue sparkle in remembrance of her Grandmother because "who doesn't think 'colon' and 'sparkle' in the same sentence?" For that observation alone, Carmen wins the Malabrigo yarn!

Here are some photos of what the winners produced:

The Yellow Roses pattern will be our next KAL and will run from November 1, 2016 through January 14, 2017. Caroline of Clothesline Designs is donated 75% of each purchase to MIND, a mental health organization in the UK. She's raised almost $150 dollars so far! Please support this great organization by purchasing a pattern and joining our KAL! This is what it looks like although there are quite a few lovely versions out on Ravelry:

Here's the progress on my Francie Nolan Tam:

and progress on my Big Twist Cowl:

You can read more about my adventures at Rhinebeck along with my haul here.  Check out Andee's designs on Ravelry.

Fleece Flight by ninjaChickens - using all Heritage breeds and the pattern benefits the Livestock Conservancy.

Podcasts mentioned: Kitchen Stitching and Sticks + Twine

I mentioned Vogue Knitting Live in New York - if anyone's thinking of going, leave a comment! I would love to go and meet up with some listeners / readers.


I talk a bit about Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Kolz-Weber in this blog post. To hear my entire review, listen to the podcast!

I'm also reading Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, a nice historical romance with a little bit of adventure.

I won a copy of Cowgirls 2 by Cathy Carron from Marie at the Underground Crafter blog and intend to knit the "Electric Avenue" cowl in the near future (hence the name of this episode). 


Illustrated Faith 18-month Planner - I LOVE this planner and explain why in the podcast. Suffice it to say, it's a great value, well-made, and contains lots of inspiration. Follow them on Instagram for flash sales - that's how I saved on mine. There's lots of information on their YouTube channel about using the planner; here's a quick video showcasing the contents from a user. I also discovered that my prior planner company (Kristin Schmucker) was not as reputable as originally thought so am very glad to find this one!

The podcast interview with Shanna Noel I mention can be found here.

I'm still working through Entrusted by Beth Moore. Slow going on my part which has nothing to do with the Bible study. I have a 4 day weekend coming up and really want to devote time to this study. We have a very unstructured discussion group over on Ravelry if you'd like to join us. 

I participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party on Mondays, Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party on Tuesdays, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesday.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!