March 28, 2010

Have you seen the new Ron Jeremy?

Not what you expected?  Sorry.  This is The Other Hedgehog,  the one that's destined for a comfy life in Washington, DC at the home of my friend, Keira.  We've known each other since 2nd grade,  which makes her my oldest friend.  Back in the day, she had a fondness for hedgehogs.  Hedgehogs and Steiff bears.  And clogs.  And wrap skirts.  But I digress.  I've been wanting to make this for her since I first saw it, and thought April 1st would be the perfect occasion. Because it's her birthday.  I hope she likes it.  But look at him?  How could she not!

Pattern: Smith, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Valley Yarns Valley Superwash
Needles: 3.75mm & 4.5mm

March 27, 2010

I'm not talkin' 'bout the linen

And neither was he. 

I grew up listening to a lot of radio in the 70s and 80s, and still have a warm spot in my heart for Lite FM music.  Todd Rundgren. Janice Ian.  Kenny Loggins.  One of the first adult albums that I ever bought was Juice, by Juice Newton, and that Wildfire song about the horse that breaks out of its stables during a storm used to make me cry.  I think Lite FM music is appealing because it's simple and straightforward, sometimes deceptively so.  You're doing your thing, singing along, until one day, a friend asks "What did you just say?"

So it was with the England Dan & John Ford Coley (yeah, what the hell??) classic "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight."  I was a college graduate by the time I realized the chorus wasn't:

      I'm not talkin' 'bout the linen
     And I don't want to change your eyes

I'd always thought the linens in question were a metaphor for something, a more permanent relationship, like how people register for linens when they get engaged.  You know, like "Hey baby, I'm not talking about getting monogrammed linens or anything; I just thought we could get together tonight and, you know, enjoy that warm wind that's blowing. By the way, you've got really pretty eyes. What are they, brown?"

Turns out I was wrong, but not so far off.  What he wasn't talking about was moving in, and what he didn't want to do was change her life.  But that's how is goes sometimes with something simple: you can't see the forest for the trees and flub it up.

Posting's been hard lately because I've been working on some longer-term projects and so haven;t finished anything since the potholders earlier this month.  One project is particularly exciting: a modern Log Cabon afghan for some frineds of mine currently living in Seattle.  They both have a definite sense of aesthetics, which has made this an easier project than one might expect.  I'm about one fourth of the way through the project and am really enjoying it. 

The size of each square makes this a perfect portable subway project, and the simplicity of the garter stitch means I can watch foreign language films again!  Note, please, that orange is overrepresented thus far because I'm trying to work through one color at a time.  So, two orange and green squares, two orange and blue squares, two blue and yellow, two yellow and red, two red and purple, two purple and green and many brown and grey.  One thing I haven't planned is how I'm going to piece all of the squares together.  I'm not concerned about the method, but I am a bit worried about what color yarn I should use.  Any thought swoudl be appreciated.

It's a beautiful, sunny and crisp day.  I plan to enjoy it, and hope you do too.

March 14, 2010


My friend Lauren is a candy person.  I have a sweet tooth, but I like my sugar mixed with fat or starch, like in ice cream or cake.  Lauren likes the pure stuff: gummi bears, sweet-n-sours, merangue, licorice and Peeps.  Oh, how she loves a Peep.  She especially likes a stale Peep. I've been sending them ever year since she moved to Paris.  Yes, the French may  have macarons, madelines and Maison du Chocolate, but America is the home of Just Born candy and the Marshmallow Peep.  And what do I have?  Two knitting needles and a skein of novelty yarn:

Pattern: My own (see below)
Yarn: Patons Be Mine
Needles:  4.5mm

I found a few Peep patterns on Ravelry, but none of them were quite right, so I found a picture of a Peep online and uploaded it to, which is a neato site that can convert any image into a knitter's grid.  And then I started knitting. I wanted the Peep to have depth, like a real life Peep, so I knit a front and back panel and 5 stitch wide side panel, then sewed the bottom to the side, then sewed the top.  I stuffed it with a natural cotton stuffing, which is sure to get hard and packed down, but I love cotton. 

I haven't made many toys before, but this was fun!  I mean, I knew it would be silly, so I think that took a lot of performance pressure off of me.  Still, I'm really proud of how it turned out.  A little wonky, like a real Peep, but sweet.  And I figured it out on my own, which is unusual for me.  I tend to be a pattern follower, but going commando worked out for me this time.  The yarn is a weird, ribbony novelty yarn, which I don;t usually use.  I lean towards natural fabrics, but nothing could have been better for a squishy Peep.  It's super soft and plush feeling.  Lauren will be in town next weekend, and I can't wait to surprise her with this little goofball.

Edited to add Recipe for Peep (bunny version):


Yarn: 1 skein Patons Be Mine (95 yards of bulky weight 100% nylon novelty yarn), or other similar yarn

Needles: 4.5mm (or needles 2-3 sizes smaller than generally recommended for the yarn)

Gauge: Unimportant, but the resulting fabric should be sufficiently dense that the stuffing won’t show through when Peep is stuffed.

Other: Small amount of cotton or nylon stuffing (I used Sweet Dreams 100% Cotton Stuffing, and estimate it took less than 1/20th of the bag to stuff the Peep); small amount of black yarn for Peep eyes and nose.

The Peep is knit in three pieces: front, back and side panel. Because the yarn I used was fluffy and bumpy, I knit my Peep entirely in garter stitch, and one cannot tell. If you’re using a smoother yarn, you might want to work your Peep in stockinette. Or not. It depends on your aesthetics.

Note: I worked all increases and decreases one stitch in from the end of the rows (i.e. in the 2nd stitch and the penultimate stitch) in an effort to achieve smoother edges.

Body (make 2 panels):

Cast on 15 stitches. Knit 1 row.
Increase 1 stitch at each end, every other row 3x (21 st).
Knit 8 rows straight.
Decrease 1 stitch at each end of the following row (19 st) Repeat every 3rd row, 2x (15 st).
Decrease 1 stitch at each end of the following row (13 st).
Knit 1 row straight.
Increase 1 stitch at each end of the following row. Repeat every 2nd row 2 (19 st).
Work 5 rows even.

Begin ears:
Decrease 1 stitch at each end of every row 4x (11 st).
Increase 1 stitch at each end every row 2x, then every other row 2x (19st).

Divide ears:
Knit 10 st, turn and b/o 1 st. Knit to 2nd to last stitch, increase 1 st, knit 1 st.
Knit 1 row even.
Decrease at beginning of the next row and every 2nd row until 5 st. remain. Bind off.
Return to live stitches for other ear, reverse shaping & bind off.

Side panel:
Cast on 5 stitches. Knit until side band is long enough to wrap around the entire circumference of the Peep (I knit about 12 inches, then started sewing the side panel to one of the fronts, then knit more of the side panel, then sewed more of it to the front panel, etc until I had only an inch or so more to knit on the side panel). Sew the long edge of the side panel strip to the edge of one of the Peep bodies (I used a back stitch, which was almost invisible due to the fluffy nature of my yarn; you may wish to use a tidier method if you are using smoother yarn). Sew the short ends of the side panel together to complete the side body of the Peep.

The side panel, now side body, of the Peep will be floppy and limp at this point, but have no fear! It will stand erect once stuffed (OK, I’ll try to keep it PG from here on out).

Sew eyes and nose onto second body piece using black yarn.

Repeat stitching process on second panel, making sure that the Peep’s new face is facing up. I started sewing at the bottom, where any ugliness or extra bulk caused by securing yarn ends, etc., would be less noticeable. Once you’ve sewn approx. three-fourths of the final piece to the side panel, you should begin stuffing the Peep. I tried not to overstuff, because I wanted my Peep to be a bit flat, like an actual Peep.

Continue sewing and stuffing until you have finished to your satisfaction. Weave in ends

March 7, 2010

I gotta say, it was a good day

From sun up to sundown, this was a really superior day. The key may have been the 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep I gpt last night.  Or maybe it was the butteed toast I made with the most delicious bread from the farmers' market. It could have been the lack of crowds at my laundromat that allowed me to sail through that hassle of a task, but it could also have been that I remembered to bring some fabric remnants and stained garments to the textile recycling booth at the farmer's market.  One would not be crazy to think that my day was brightened by my brand new and freshly laundered bedding, which looks amazing on my bed and is a good step towards transforming my boudoir into a sleep haven.  Also making me happy was the aroma of chicken stock simmering on my stove for five hours.  Another good guess would be that I was grossly overdressed when I set out on a six mile run wearing tights, a long sleeved tee and windbreaker, beause it was 54 degrees, sunny and gorgeous!  Any of these would have been enough to put a check in the Nice Day column, but all of these combined make me feel really happy and blessed. 

Speaking of happy, I've a friend who's having a birthday on Monday.  We've known each other since college, and have so many little, quirky things in common (including a love of Sweden and things Swedish), it's really pretty neat.  When he travels (he's a travelwriter, so he travels a lot) he often brings me home a little something, which I love.  I don't care if it's a magnet from the airport, I love little gifts from afar; they really say "Hey, I thought of you during my travels."  I thiught it would be appropriate, then, for me to let him know that "Hey, I appreciate your friendship."  So I made these for him:

(L) Improvised from #603 in The Encyclopedia of Kitting and Crochet Stitch Patterns
R:  Clock Hotpad, by Carol Schoenfelder
Yarn: Adrafil India Cotton & Austerman Algarve Grande
Hook: 3.25mm

Alex really likes crafty things and old-fashioned things, so I think he will really appreciate these.  They're doublesided, for extra protection, and 100% cotton, for easy care.  It was an easy decision, making these.  I've been on a bit of a potholder kick recently.  It started with a swap that I joined through Ravelry.  We're to make 5 potholders in the same pattern, send them to the organizers, and we'll receive 5 other potholders in return.  I finished mine last week.

All variations on the Clockpad pattern, all 100% cotton.  The yarns are various odds and ends I had in my stash, plus some given to me by pal Oiyi.  These really are such fun to make, and dare I say practical?  I know some people might not thing so, but I grew up using crochet potholders and emroidered floursack tea towels, sleeping on pillows with tatted lace edges.  Make pretty things and use pretty things and your life will be the richer for it!
I've one more little project to share before heading off, totally superfluous, totally selfish and totally satisfying:

Pattern: Toast, by Leslie Friend
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed
Needles: 3.5mm & 3.75mm

I have several pair of fingerless mittens, now.  Striped, multicolored and acid pink.  But my wardrobe was lacking a simple, grey pair, a pair that would go with almost everything.  Aside fron using a lighter weight yarn that originally called for, I made little slits for my thumb.  I didn't want to make full on thumbs, as those can impede my stereotactic abilities when fishing for keys in my bag, but I was wary of going totally thumbless.  The slits were a happy compromise and have proven themselves useful.

The yarn was left over from a shawl, Spring Bandit, that I made for my cousin Paula last summer.  It's a lovely and light cotton, silk and wool blend, so good for spring, shich is upon us.  In fact, it was too hot today to even wear these.  No matter, as I know it will chill up again, and when it does, I'll be ready.

Now, because everyone should have a good day of their own, I'll leave you with this little ditty.  A classic from the early 1990s by O'Shea James, although perhaps you know him by his industry name, Ice Cube. Enjoy