Monday, May 31, 2010

All The Wrinkled Ladies

With thanks to Lene who shared it today.

In the Wilderness

Out of the wilderness of my backyard, the vining roses are still fighting the good fight.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Busman's Holiday

I finished a somewhat grueling pattern involving a 36 row graph and attendant line-by-line instructions, so I decided to take a bit of a holiday while Oscar had his long weekend. My favorite way to relax from intensive knit and crochet design? Knitting or crocheting something fun :-}

This time, I chose The New Sock Monkey pattern from Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys in Knit Picks Rainbow Felici (ultra-soft fingering weight yarn.. yummy!) (if you love the yarn, hurry up, they are running low on it) (I am loving this book, next up, the reversible Lion and Elephant toy, I think, from some Rowan Summer Tweed (an Aran-weight cotton/silk blend)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Withig Scarf Pattern Available!

Yay!!!! My pattern for the Withig Scarf is finished and available for sale on Ravelry! We'll get it added to the main site soon.
Silky smooth natural cotton adds a splash of comfy style for transitional seasons.
The geometric textured lace pattern is one drawn from an 1800’s nightcap pattern, but shows timeless modern style when adapted to this long and versatile scarf.
Although not fully reversible, the purled side is equally attractive.
The stitch pattern requires patterning on both sides, but the stitches consist of knit, purl, yarn over and knit two together. On the purl side, only knits and purls are used.
Both line-by-line instructions and chart are provided.
Yarn: Three skeins Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport in Carnelian Heather. (164 yards/50 grams)
Needles: U.S. #4 (3.5 mm) straight or circular needles.
Gauge: 13 sts and 15 rows in 2 inches, in pattern un-blocked.
Notions: 2 stitch markers, needle for weaving in ends.


Yay! I finally got photos of my finished Pavonia shawl! The original was made in lace-weight yarn but the finished measurement was slated at 54 inches. I wanted/needed more length for the luxurious winter scarf I was planning, so I simply knit it up in worsted yarn, dyed by Lynnie.
I like how it turned out. A lot!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Asian Slaw - great picnic and potluck recipe

Asian Slaw
Best made a day or so ahead.
1 small head cabbage
1 bell pepper, any color
2 small carrots or 1 medium carrot.
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp freshly ground ginger (or that stuff in a jar at the produce section)
1/2 tsp garlic chili paste
1/2 tsp oyster sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Cut up the veg into slaw-sized pieces
Blend sauce well (I like shaking it up in a jar) and pour over veggies, then toss.
Oscar found those cool-looking peppers called 'Ancient Sweets'. They are ultra flavorful, and remind me a bit of pimento. Hard to tell scale from the photo but they were about 8 inches long!.
If I had access to a dream produce department, I would have loved to add a chiffonade of shiso leaves, both green and purple, for color and their yummy sweet flavor (the Latin name is Perilla, I think it is also called beefsteak plant).
The photo of the slaw is pre-dressing. The dressing adds a bit of color, but not too much; sort of like a pale, shadowy glaze.
This is another of those recipes that can use whatever you've got in the fridge.
I have used broccoli slaw in the past, added shredded raw turnip or kohl rabi, pretty much any raw veggie can be shredded a bit and added to this. This, however is what I did today.
(Photos except for the shiso taken by me)

More blocking and answering a question

I have my Pavonia Shawl blocking today. Pavonia was published in the same issue of Knitcircus as my Rosie Socks. The original pattern was knit in laceweight Malabrigo, and measured 54 inches. I am much larger than that so I went big and did mine in some worsted that Lynnie dyed and gave me. Serendipitously, it was exactly the right amount to finish the shawl :-}
I began last night, and did the second portion this morning (had to re-moisten the reserved part that did not fit on the blocking table).
In answer to the question about the scribble photo in yesterday's post, it was part of some sidewalk graffiti (see photo above). There were also unpleasant things on the same 'canvas' but this one was extra beautiful, I thought.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weekend Journey

Os and I took a nice jaunt together this weekend.
These are some photos I took.

blocking photos

Here are a few photos of the Withig scarf and the Espalier, Too shawl, while blocking. Sorry for the blurry blue shot, I wanted to show you the intensity of the color, and the texture, but blocking wears me out and I guess my hands were a bit shaky.
I will have better shots tomorrow or Thursday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

No great F.O photos yet but progress

I have made great strides in the realm of F. O.s (finished objects) but the photo session won't be held until Wednesday, probably, so no photos of them yet. I have completed the Knit Picks Espalier, Too shawl, a Knit Picks Farrow Rib Set (in Gloss HW.. yummy!) and a Withig Scarf in Carnelian Heather Simply Cotton Sport (also a Knit Picks Yarn). I will also take photos of the Stellaria Shawl I made in Schoppel-Woole Zauberball in Denim. My model for the photo shoot will be Zelda the dress dummy, loaned to me indefinitely by Zina (Thanks Zina!!)
Knit Picks is going to be carrying my new Stellaria pattern! They sent luscious Stroll Tonal fingering weight yarn in turquoise (Blue Yonder) and purple (Royalty). For a worsted sample (more bang for your hooking time) they sent Simply Cotton Heathers in warm pink (Dogwood) and deep dark chocolately brown (Bittersweet).
I have also finished the first sample (and most of the first pattern including line-by-line instructions AND chart) for the Withig Pattern Collection. The first pattern is an extra long (about 7 feet!) summer scarf in Knit Picks Simple Cotton Sport, colorway Carnelian Heather. I might submit this pattern to Knit Picks too.
I will be releasing both patterns independently by mid June, if all goes well. I have reserved major ad space on Ravelry for the tail end of June, and ad copy for those needs to be submitted by June 4th.
I have also finished the Knit Picks version of my Espalier Shawl pattern (published in Knit Circus Spring Issue this year) It differs from the Knit Circus version in that it uses a Knit Picks yarn (Shine Worsted in Aquamarine) and I have added a seed stitch border. To avoid confusion, I am calling the Knit Picks pattern 'Espalier, Too' and on Ravelry will include a link to the Knit Circus version of the pattern, which will be carried on their site (after I get the PDF finished next week!)
Busy is GOOD. The flare is still here, but MUCH reduced. I messed up my ankle after Tucker mowed the back yard. I couldn't (didn't) resist taking a few steps into my garden. It had been too long. But the payment is high this time. It is taking a longer time than usual to recover ankle function. Oscar is helping me with

(images used are of the various yarns mentioned, taken by the Knit Picks Staff, and text added by me)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

For Sale: Cotton and Linen Dragontail Shawl

I am selling one of my Dragontail Shawl samples on Etsy HERE.
Dragontail is designed to flow around your form, flattering any body shape. The 'tail' extends past your own, slimming that part of the anatomy rather than drawing attention to it. This sample is made with a cool and easy care 30% linen and 70% cotton blend yarn, sturdy, practical, yet light enough for summer nights. the color shades between glacier blue and silvery blue-gray, depending on the angle of light. The wingspan is approximately 60 inches wide, and the spine measures approximately 36 inches from top to tail. Care instructions: Machine wash, tumble dry low.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Asparagus Bell Pepper Tempeh

Tempeh, about a pound
1 small onion, chopped
1 grouping of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh ground ginger
two bell peppers chopped in 3/4 inch square pieces or thereabouts
a double handful of asparagus stalks. (I used purple and green)
olive or vegetable oil
garlic chili sauce
Oyster Sauce
Soy Sauce
The tempeh soaks up too much oil when cooked with the veggies, so I like to brush the surface of the tempeh cake with a mixture of vegetable oil, sesame oil, a little soy, some ginger, and a little garlic chili sauce. Then I bake it on parchment paper at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until it looks golden brown, then cut it into roughly inch square pieces.
I start by cooking the onions, garlic and some more ginger in a little oil over medium heat.
When the onions are translucent, I add the chopped bell peppers. When the peppers are about half done, I add the cut up asparagus. When that is about half done toward tender, I add the sauces, stir them up, and add the tempeh.

After cooking for a few more minutes I add a bit of water toward the end if the tempeh has soaked up the liquid, then serve over rice.

The 'rice' we used today is called 'Premium 6-grain rice' from Kagayaki; a blend of black, red and brown rice, purple barley and rye berries. YUM!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Color Choice via Image Swirl

There are many conversations among crafters about choosing colors for a project. Many of us consider ourselves color challenged, and ask for reassurance or advice from others on choosing yarns or fabric. I tend not to, or at least I haven't for a long time, but there are enough areas in my life where I second guess myself that I can relate :-} Even if you are 'color confident', this exercise may be of use when you are looking for fresh combinations for future projects.
Lots of people will tell you to find a painting or piece of fabric or pottery or photo in an interior design magazine you like, and choose from among the colors used. When using such things, I find it easier to focus on the colors if I choose an abstract design, rather than a representational one.
Google has come up with a neat little search tool called Google Swirl.
I used it today to find colors to go with blue.
This first image is the screen shot of what I brought up with the search terms 'blue abstract'.

This second image is what came up from selecting the center image in the 3rd column above.

The image below came up from selecting the third large thumbnail from the top, counting clockwise from the screenshot above. I may not use all these colors in a project, but I certainly have some new ideas! I would likely have come up with the turquoise and pinks on my own, but the golden yellow is something I might not have thought to add, and the darker greenish tones would definitely not have been among my first selections.

So, if you could use a little more confidence when selecting colors, go forth and Google!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lovely Surprise

I received my Knit Picks Catalog yesterday, when leafing through it, I saw they had used their photograph of my Wild Cherry Bark Mitts in the ad for the Independent Designer's patterns :-}
I am feeling a little better today. The sun is shining, which always helps. Turns out rather than just arthritis, yesterday was a Fibro flare. The last time I had one this bad it lasted about a week. I hope it's shorter this time. The brain fog is the most debilitating. The pain sucks, but the brain fog keeps me from working on new designs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

achy breaky

A spring cloud/storm system is wending it's way through Michigan today, which means my arthritis is making itself known. I will stay inside today and finish up my Espalier Stole for Knit Picks, and make some spicy chicken soup.
A hot shower will help a lot, too :-}

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have been traveling almost every day. I get on my chair and head on down the road. Mostly I have been visiting my niece, Liz, her honey-guy, Tucker, and my grand nephew Levi. Today I got to feed Levi :-}
The destination is terrific, of course, but the act of getting out of the house is very empowering. I have been housebound for so very long, each time I leave by myself feels like a triumph.
I enjoy going out for jaunts with Oscar, but when I am on my own I can put the chair up to it's highest speed of 6.5 mph and go all over the neighborhood.
Even just in this one week of solo-flight, the neighbors have started to recognize me and wave. Well, lets face it, my penchant for bright colors and larger-than-life size makes it hard to forget seeing me zooming around LOL.
I am also enjoying taking photos of the local plants when I go out. I love photography, and this gives me new opportunities without inconveniencing Oscar (i.e. asking him to go ahead while I commune with a wrinkly old stump).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Malaysian Ginger Chicken

When I was in college at Michigan State (back in 1984 or 85), one of my roommates was from Singapore. Her mother ran a successful noodle shop in Singapore, and my roommate taught me this recipe.
A few decades ago I made it for my brothers, and when Kelly (the middle of my 3 younger brothers) visited yesterday, he requested I make it again (talk about flattering! I haven't made it for years, and he remembered it for that long!) He also said his son Robert wanted me to write out the recipe, so for Robert, here it is.

1.5 - 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken, chopped in cubes.
2-3 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
5-6 green onions, sliced in thin discs, save back some of the dark green rings to add at the end.
2 TBS minced garlic
2 TBS minced ginger
2 TBS oyster sauce
4 TBS soy sauce
2-4 TBS garlic Chili sauce, depending on your desired heat levels
1 tsp brown sugar
1 TBS corn starch
1 cup water
Over medium-high heat
Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil, and lightly brown the chicken.
Add the onions, garlic and ginger
wait a few minutes for the aromatics to cook a bit,
then add oyster, soy and garlic-chili sauces and the brown sugar
Mix the cornstarch with the water, then add to the pan, stirring and cooking until the sauce thickens and becomes translucent.

Serve over rice.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Solid Potato Salad

Wow... reminds me of the Mongolian Circus performers.

Batman Sings Gilbert and Sullivan

I don't know how to edit a youtube vid to get just the part I want, but the good bit begins in the first 10-15 seconds (this is the same episode where Tallulah Bankhead plays "Black Widow"):

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rainy Days and taking myself seriously

(Don't worry, although it starts gloomy, most of the post is quite optimistic!)
It was raining when we woke up this morning, my hips felt like fiery balls of youchiness and I don't want to remember what my ankle felt like.
I began knitting an Espalier Stole variation destined for Knitpicks out of gorgeous turquoise cotton/modal blend yarn. Feels like silk, but is harder than Hades to manipulate with the acrylic Zephyr needles. (Cotton and acrylic fibers get 'sticky' on the acrylic needles, wool is lovely and slippery on them.) Oscar had mentioned earlier this year that I might want to consider getting the Aluminum (nicely slippery with all fibers) needle set Knitpicks offers, and today I decided he was absolutely right. The acrylics are still best for some things, but I have three more cotton-yarn samples facing me, and because of a recent gift, there will be no better time to buy this set for my business.
Last year I would have hemmed and hawed and felt I didn't deserve them.
This recent upswing in the Otterwise business has been wonderful in many ways, but only recently have I grown to appreciate what it has done for my confidence. I am even feeling able to pursue my writing dream again!

Monday, May 10, 2010


I never had kids. first I was too young, too immature to make a good mother, then I was in a toxic relationship, then I suddenly required a full hysterectomy and the chance was gone. When Oscar and I met, we talked about adoption but before we came to a decision I became ill, and then disabled.
This all leads up to the wonderful gift Amanda and Tommy gave us in October 2008, when our godson was born. Although we don't have much to do with his day-to-day care, to us, he is the son of our heart, and we will be part of his life, and he of ours.
So, I celebrated Mother's Day by calling my mom, calling my niece Liz (who is having her very first Mother's Day this year) and by being thankful for Sean.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Kiva Reloan

First thing in July I will be totting up the total number of Cloud on Her Shoulders and Kiva Bag patterns people bought during the first half of 2010; then will make the distribution of funds to Susan G. Komen and create some new Kiva loans. This is going to be a very good year. Just from the advance I received from Knitpicks, I will be able to finance two more Kiva loans, and I hope to be well on the way to a third if people just buy a few more Kiva Bag patterns between now and June 30th.
I recently learned that Doris Yolanda Blanco Huallpa has been able to repay the loan I made in January, financed by the Kiva Bag sales from last year, which means I was able to visit and choose another recipient. I chose (with Oscar's input):
The Santa Rosa Group
The Santa Rosa Women's Committee was started in the San Cayetano neighborhood of Carapegua, 3 kilometers from the Carapegua office. They are active women and the majority of them work to generate income for their families. The women of this committee are seeking support in the form of a loan to boost their household incomes and improve the quality of life for their families. Luciana resells handicraft that she brings from the city Yataity del Guaira. Yataity del Guaira is know for the Ao po'i clothing, which is made of embroidered cloth. This clothing is in demand and Luciana makes the most of this in her sales. She is requesting this loan to purchase Ao Po'i clothing.

A Visit to the Shore

My friend Mokihana has a terrific blog. One of my favorite things she does is take videos to share her journeys with us. Yesterday I visited to find a lovely time at the Oregon Shore. She has agreed to allow me to share it with you here.
Relax, sit back, and soak in the waves on sand a few moments. It made my day better, I hope it does the same for you. (I found clicking to 'full-screen' most enjoyable)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Reward Knitting

I am taking a day off from business knitting. I managed to find a good gauge for an upcoming stole, and finished the red Withig Scarf yesterday, so today, I am relaxing... by knitting something else LOL. When I saw the newest issue of Knitcircus, I fell in love with Pavonia (shown on Page 60 of the magazine linked above, or the Ravelry link is HERE). It is knit in lace-weight yarn on #7 needles, for a finished measurement of 54". That will barely reach around my shoulders once, let alone wrap gracefully 1.5 times like Pavonia does on a normally sized person. I decided to knit mine out of worsted-weight yarn on #9s instead.
So I found some yarn gifted to me by Lynnie, which I suspect she dyed. It is about 500 yards of worsted weight in beautiful close shades of raspberry and lilac. I have been saving it for just the right shawl, and I think I've finally found it!
I finished casting on the 340 stitches (yes, 340) and am poised to dive into the chart, right after lunch :-}

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Levi Comes to Visit

Liz, Tucker and Levi came to see me today. Here Levi is stylin' his faux-hawk hat. It is already a little too small! It's good being a great-auntie :-}

Monday, May 03, 2010

My Other Job

I have been spending time working on my other job this morning; book reviews for
I really enjoy some of the fabulous surprises I get in the mail to review. They vastly outweigh the occasional book that is not to my taste. Even those I read, of course, and do the best job I can to review them without letting my internal prejudices get in the way. Most of the books are very skillfully written, and I can always fall back on commenting on how well the plot is crafted.
I have one of those hanging over my head right now. The book is due out the first week of June, and I have managed to plow my way about half through. It is a non-genre book that aspires to literary heights, and I am a genre girl all the way, seeking entertainment, not enlightenment. On the plus side, the book is well-written, and the characters seem memorable. I skipped ahead to the end, though, and the conclusion was disappointingly sombre and predictable. I will go back and finish reading the book, and hope I find something more I can write about it in a positive vein. Just because I don't like modern literary (non-genre) fiction doesn't mean others shouldn't. My job is to let a potential reader know what they might enjoy, whether I enjoy the same things or not!
I have 19 reviews at Freshfiction so far, and have 2 more I just uploaded, waiting for final review. I have 5 left in the pile, although I have rough drafts written for 3 of those. Maybe I can squeak one more out today, although the Withig scarf is calling. I only have 3 more 36-row repetitions before it's done and ready for blocking!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Stellaria: Evolution Revolution

Back in February I spied a crochet stitch I really liked a lot. I jotted down the basic directions, and after I finished a few prior yarny commitments I decided to see what I could do with it. The first week of April this happened:
After working on it for quite some time, it became obvious the length to width ratio was just too far off to make a good shawl. So (after 4 other attempts that did not get photographed) the pattern evolved to this:

Better, but the shoulders sloped distressingly. I started from scratch, re-drew the basic sketch, and Stellaria was born:

Yep, I think this one's a keeper.
Pattern to come sometime this month (after tech editing and another sample or two are completed).