Knitting All the THINGS! (and Cooking…& Dogging…..)

I’ve been knitting for about 12 years now.  I’m self-taught and growing slowly but steadily in the direction of my dreams, which is to become someone who makes everything she owns- tops, skirts, suits, all the accessories & home furnishings…. and obviously, sweaters for my dogs.  Truth is, I don’t want to do much else but knit (and write about knitting).  And here of late I’ve had this tingle inside me.  It’s this new-found courage and confidence to do what I never thought I could do before and that is to DESIGN PATTERNS.  *gasp*

Only recently have I begun to look at patterns and REALLY get it.  I’ve always just read them, and taken menial pride in my ability to follow directions.  I’m only coming to realize that that’s not all there is to it.  Reading a pattern and truly understanding the foundation that is being laid IS the mark of a really good knitter, and it’s the key to creating designs of one’s own.  This simple concept, probably obvious to EVERY other knitter in the universe from day one of picking up their needles, took me 12 and half years to get….but I get it now!  And I’m ready to *DO* something with it!  If I don’t let my nerves render me paralyzed.  I do that sometimes…

I am thinking about designing a shawl pattern (of course!)  I have in my mind the basic shape, how the edges will look and finishing, but have yet to settle on a pattern that really speaks to me.  I am thinking lace or eyelets of some sort….oh the options!!!  Having laser focus would be great at this point in my life…. It’s just so exciting that I can feel this buzzing in my brain and it’s ALL because it’s trying to formulate a yarn baby!  Who wouldn’t be excited about that?!

In food news:  I’m still going strong. I made an amazing pot of vegan soup last week called “Kitchen Sink Veggie Soup” (out of the Karma Chow Cookbook…..yet again….I know!).  Named because you throw everything BUT the kitchen sink in it. I seasoned mine with cumin, cayenne pepper, dill, marjoram and S&P.  You can use what you like, but that combination was perfect for me, and was close to what the recipe suggested.  I made about a 6 quart pot, but I had more veggies than liquid, so I’ve been adjusting the seasonings and adding water to it as we go to make it last longer.  My choice of veggies: onions, garlic, shallots, celery, canned diced tomatoes, carrots, leeks, red potatoes, zucchini, brussel sprouts and mushrooms. De-Lish! 

Cooking for two is just so easy to do.  Especially for me, when my husband will eat ANYTHING I make.  He is not a 100% plant-based eater all the time, but he is when he’s is eating anything out of our kitchen.  He will tell you himself, he is continually blown away by the flavors and deliciousness that he gets to eat nowadays.  I have become much more creative and adventurous in the kitchen since becoming vegan, and I just have so much more fun now!  I ALWAYS make enough for several meals though, because you know, I do work, and I don’t have the time I’d like to be all foody-makey during the work week.  But look out on the weekends, cuz IT’S ON!

In yarn news:  I threw my Snowbird Cardigan down for a minute to bang out a quick crescent shawl.  Shawls are things that make me very, very happy.  I was totally inspired to start making them while binge watching Anne With an E and Little House on the Prairie.  I thought “These ladies are brilliant!  They are walking around with BLANKIES over their shoulders and No. One. even seems to care.”  So,  I thought I’d give it a go in the year 2020, where, to be honest, I have never once seen anyone wearing a shawl.  Anywhere.  Ever.  Soooooo, I have been wearing them everywhere I go for the past month or so – even to work!  I noticed a glance once, and someone actually commented that she liked my shawl.  It’s like I’m invisible or something. (My lifelong invisibility cloak could be an entire blog post all unto itself!) 

Back to this shawl, the yarn brand is Premier in Puzzle, bulky #5.  I picked it up on impulse at Walmart.  It was 328 yards for just under $6.  It is just not the nicest, but it’s acrylic, so you know, ya get what ya get.  The only reason I picked it up was because I thought the colors were really sweet together.  It’s kind of fluffy, but it’s not as soft as I’d like.  I really hope that a wash with vinegar will do the trick.  Fingers crossed!

Creamy, dreamy colors!

Dog news:  Everyone is going cabin crazy because all it does is rain these days and the trails on our property are flooded…they’ve been flooded for over a month now, close to 6 weeks.  We packed the dogs up and took them down to Northampton County to visit Savage Neck Dunes so they could hike trails that weren’t soggy, play on the beach, and just be outside for a while.  They had a blast!  Lola rolled in seaweed on the beach for an hour straight, while Bear dipped his toes into the Chesapeake Bay. Darwin monitored all of their activity from the sidelines, barking all the while.  Always an adventure with these three knuckleheads. I love them so much!

Darwin looking disapprovingly over his shoulder at Bear. He’s the Fun Moderator of the pack.
Again, Darwin sitting on the sidelines giving the other two heck.
MY PACK *swoon*

It is a little cool today but not cold, so I decided to be brave and open up to the screen door for some fresh air.  We have a pond immediately next to our house, that is literally only a few feet from our driveway.  It is home to mallards and Canada geese these days…..and surrounded by tree frogs.  Those little green babies have been hollering their song of love for a couple weeks now.  It’s a sound that gives me the feels deep down inside. They are flooding the inside of my house with their song – Love! As I write this, the geese are honking like nuts and one just flew over my door!  I thought he was gonna come on in!  The honking was so loud in here!  Nature is so fun! And apparently, I can get a load of it sitting at my dining room table – talk about blessings!

Just Another Manic Monday

Can someone please tell me how I end up in the bathroom extracting slimy hair clogs out of the shower drain when I was just in the middle of whipping up a batch of pico de gallo? Or, how I find myself ankle deep in marsh mud with three dogs chasing mallards all in different directions, when the last thing I remember doing is making the bed and fluffing the pillows? Is this the mind of someone who’s losing it, or is it the mind of someone who has taken multi-tasking to a whole ‘nutha level? I seriously don’t know.

A typical day for me starts around 5:30 am with all three dogs flapping their ears and making not-so-subtle high-pitched whining sounds. They have to go out, and they have to go out NOW! HURRRY MUMMM! All the while they are tripping me every step of the way from bedroom to back door. Honestly, I think there is no way they have to go to the bathroom THAT bad, but they are convinced. So out they shall go!

Ninety-nine out of a hundred of my days start that early. And when I have a day off of work, like I do today, I feel that I MUST do ALL THE THINGS! So today I am cleaning, and writing, and researching, and knitting, and making food, and walking dogs, and apparently…..picking wads of gacky hair balls out of my shower drain. I will spare you the photographic evidence of that activity (will email pics upon request.)

These guys = Pure Mayhem

My knitting project on tap for today? I am planning on casting on another Beneath the Pines shawl. I love, love, love this pattern! I love it so much that I knitted three of them in the period of 14 days – I was seriously binge knitting! I kept two shawls for myself and gifted the other to a friend who is recovering from cancer treatments. Knowing that she is wrapped in warmth and comfort and the love of each stitch I made for her, makes my heart swell. I’m also planning on making two more shawls, one in a speckled black, and one in a robin’s egg blue. ( If you’re interested in purchasing one, message me via my

CONTACT ME page or on Facebook @knitsticksblog. I’m only making two, and it’s first come, first served!)

Creamy and dreamy ~ I love this shawl!

I have been working diligently on a project (that I will post about later this week), while binge-watching a LOT of Netflix. Like, an embarrassing amount of tv consumption is happening in this house. Since signing up for Netflix three months ago I have watched entire complete seasons of The Office, Weeds, Orange is the New Black, Anne With An E, Anne of Green Gables and the available seasons of The Crown and You. AND now I’m onto Little House on the Prairie and Stranger Things. See! Told ya it was an embarrassing amount of mindless tube watching. I only tell you this in hopes for some sort of validation from my fellow crafters…..PLEASE tell me you gobble up tons of crap tv while crafting. PRETTY PLEASE!(?) To my credit though, my house is pretty spotless at any given time, the laundry is always done and we are not starving to death. I manage it all like this: when I get home from work I knock out all my chores as quickly as possible so I can do what I WANT to do. Sitting on my can-can while knitting (and watching Netflix) is my REWARD for getting all my “have to’s” done. In a nutshell, I get all the grownupy junk out of the way so I can do the fun stuff. I hold myself accountable to it and rarely do I let the important-house-running-stuff slide so that I can knit instead. I’ve always felt like I’m somehow cheating the system, but after re-reading what I just wrote, it now just seems more like I am simply being an adult. Man! I am so bummed! Here I actually thought I invented “how to do stuff”, but as it turns out – I am just being a responsible person (and someone already invented being THAT). I sure hope this realization hasn’t just zapped me of the buzz I get from being “Super Me”. Uhg.

Well now that I burst my own bubble, I guess I’m off to try to enjoy the rest of my Monday!  There’s plenty of it left and I’m curious to see where I end up 🙂

*For the record, I didn’t wander off and do ANYTHING else while writing this. Progress!

Maryland, my Maryland! Oh how I miss thee!

Faux Fair Isle: A Patterny Blessing (annnnnd of course food)

One day, about a year ago, I found myself breathing heavy and slobbering all over myself as I loomed like an ogre in the yarn aisle of Hobby Lobby. I have always been a sucker for inexpensive yarns.  Especially for inexpensive yarns that LOOK like they cost me an arm and a leg. Yarns with rich colors and lofty fibers with promise to sail through my fingers and dance delightfully across my needles.  Finding yarns that fit that bill is not always an easy thing to do.  But occasionally, like this one day in Hob Lob, I scored!

I discovered a yarn that knitted up to look like fair isle…without actually having to do the real work of learning how to do it.  I know fair isle is no big mystery, it is just color work.  It’s not impossible.  I’m a seasoned knitter.  I’ve been doing this for many years.  I can knit with more than one color at a time while following a pattern.  So why haven’t I taken up fair isle knitting?  The short answer?  I’m lazy.  There really isn’t a long answer…I just don’t feel like doing it.  I am more in the camp of Appreciaters of Fair Isle rather than Doers of Fair Isle.  And I’m pretty ok with that. 

But I got to thinking about how maybe I might be judged by other knitters for taking this route, and I took that as my queue to harshly judge myself along with ALL my yarning decisions.  I determined that although it mimicked fair isle, it really isn’t anything like it.  At all.  It’s a crap shoot as to whether the patterns will line up to make it all work out.  Where in fair isle, it is precision and perfection….and lovely.  Knitting with self-patterning yarn isn’t a new concept to me, I’ve worked with it easily a hundred times when making socks.  I never felt like I was cheating while doing it either.  I just knitted them up, pounded my chest and declared “I! Make Sock!” But then again,  I wasn’t making this gigantic blanket like cape thing that I would wear around in public for the whole world to see…..I wasn’t going to stick my poncho in my shoes and hide them.  Everyone was going to SEE it.  Including people who actually KNOW how to fair isle knit.  How could I open myself up to such ridicule?

So what did I do with all that self-doubt and fear of ridicule? I’ll tell you what I did with it….I stuffed it all deep down inside, where I keep all the other stuff I never actually confront or deal with and I pushed through. And MAN, am I so glad I did. Seven thousand stitches later, and by early this last fall I finished the project that had started the winter before.  I made this.  This beautiful, one of a kind poncho that has mismatched lines and uneven seeming….but it is mine.  It is MY thing that I made for ME.  And I love it! 

A few weeks ago I went back to Hob Lob to see if I could find more of this yarn and there was none to be found…I later discovered that the yarn had been discontinued (a four letter word to all yarn crafters!) It’s probably just as well….since I would likely hold onto the yarn for years before I got around to making another poncho……along with ALL the other yarn stuffed in my closet, waiting for their projects-to-be.

In other news….I’ve been a maker of food lately.  For months I’ve been cooking from Melissa Costello’s The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook.  I’ve made many of her soups and other dishes over the last few months, and I gotta say everything has been Out of This WORLD delicious.  (I receive no royalties from raving about this *all vegan* cookbook or the food that springs out of it – I just LOVE IT!)

Wednesday night I made the Baja-Style Fajitas, which were Slap-Yo-Mama good!  I think I felt a tear form in the corner of my left eye with the first bite!  Tonight I tried the Baked Ziti with Spinach.  I really didn’t want to make anything at all, because I feel like I’m coming down with something (tonsils are hurting and I feel exhausted).   But I also wanted to use up the remainder of the Cashew Ricotta Cheez from the fajitas. You know – Waste Not Want Not.   I don’t know how this woman makes food taste so groovy but she is spot on every time.  I swear she’s like the Ina Garten of the vegan world.  I’m totally fan girling. No joke.

Karma Chow Baja-Style Fajitas for THE WIN!

I have tons of foodie finds, and about eleventy million more projects that I made the last few months that I can’t wait to share. Christmas projects and surprise gifts coming soon. I promise!

Surprise Tunisian crocheted pot holders for a loved one 🙂

Hello out there?

Day one of my new blog. What to say? If you’ve read my “About Me” section, then you already know me in a nutshell. Some would say I’m a bit more complex than my summary would indicate….okay, okaaaay, “complicated” might be the word I have heard from time to time to describe me. And I would have to disagree. I feel that I’m pretty plain, and dullish. Even normalish. (maybe?) But, I will leave that up for you all to decide. (Is anyone there?)

So, this last week I had chosen to try a new vegan dish every night of the week. Each of the dishes I selected seemed pretty easy on the outset….given my tendency to only just read the ingredients list and never ever read through the entire recipe to see what I’m getting myself into. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed to death each night. (understatement)

The dish that stood out the most to me, both for how delicious it was and for how truly unprepared I was to make such a dish from scratch after putting in my 9-5 at work all day, was the Cha Cha Enchiladarole from The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook by Melissa Costello – a wonderful plant-based, vegan cookbook that I have had for years, but have yet to try out all the recipes. I started cooking when I got home from work at 5:30, and dinner was served at 9 pm. Well, 9:07. It took me nearly 4 hours to prepare this meal. To be honest, and fair, I am a bit of a whirlwind in the kitchen. A little scattered, a little disorganized, a little distracted. I believe that had I had my act together, it still would have taken me 2 hours to prepare this dish. Too long for a week night dinner in my opinion. In addition to the Enchiladarole, I also made the Chile Ranchero Sauce and Chipotle Cashew Cheeze Sauce – all from scratch. I chopped my little heart out until I could chop no more! To be honest though, it was an ugly dish on my plate and I refused to take a photo of what looked like a disaster food spill to share with the world. So I will share the picture from the book and leave it up to myself to describe this dish in a way that will make you want to rush out and get this book so you can try it yourself. (You should buy it even if you don’t think my description sounds great. It’s a fantastic cookbook! And no, I am not affiliated in any way whatsoever and make no money off of this recommendation. I’m just a big fan).

The magic of this dish comes in part from the diced sweet potatoes, of which I diced into perfectly consistent ¼ inch cubes. They were tender enough to just melt in your mouth and the sweetness works so well with the savory and warm spices used in this dish. Unfortunately, I had to make a substitution for the tempeh. Neither local store had tempeh in stock, so I decided to use baby bella mushrooms and that turned out to be the right decision, Yum! The Chile Ranchero Sauce combined with the Chipotle Cashew Cheeze Sauce provided a delightful creamy layer with heat from the Anaheim chili, garlic and other spices. It was like heaven in the mouth. Without it, the dish would be good, but who would just want that??! I PROMISE you; I will be making this dish many times over the coming years of my life. It was AMAAY-ZING!

In addition to what has been brewing in my kitchen, I pulled out some old WIP’s and have been knitting in the evenings before I collapse into bed from full belly exhaustion. Pictured is a simple, but elegant evening shawl using a very inexpensive yarn that I bought a billion years ago, Red Heart’s Boutique Unforgettable in Tidal. To get the ladder effect, I’m using bamboo size 19 and size 8’s. Every third row I switch to the size 19. I didn’t follow a pattern, I just cast on and went for it. I’m really pleased with the color progression; it has been fun to watch it unfold. I cannot explain why I ever put this away and didn’t finish it…it’s such a joy to knit. Simple and nearly thoughtless – a watch-tv-without-looking-at-your-knitting kind of project, MY FAVORITE!

I’m looking forward to planning some new dishes and finishing a few other WIP’s in the coming weeks. I see hot soups, dreamy yarns and extended beagle snuggles in my very near future…