twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Weaving in Loose Ends August 27, 2013

Well, it’s been awhile, but I promise, I’ve been so busy I’m lucky to have clean clothes and a fed family most days. Thank God for the “quick cycle” and the CrockPot.

Since we’ve last met:

Only in San Francisco Airport. I mean, it's a good idea. Still, where else...

Only in San Francisco Airport. I mean, it’s a good idea. Still, where else…

Bug and I ran out to Chi-town for a lightning-quick summer trip.

There I happily spent time with my dear parents, my adorable Sista and kiddos, my Bro and darling SIL, and (squee!) a wee bit (never enough though!) of time together with my BFFs Darling Cuz, and Meggie, knitting and gabbing. Oh yes, and there was that super delightful “cousin road trip” my Darling Cuz and I take every summer to my all time favorite yarn store on the planet, The Fold in far off Marengo, Illinois. Toni is an absolute gem–the best purveyor of fiber-related goods on this planet. She carries a wonderful collection of Blue Moon Fiber, Madelintosh, and Mountain Colors, along with some of the usual yarny brands. And if you spin, then baby, this is the place for you! OMG, the lovely bags of roving, including many many unique and rare kinds of fleece. Fabulous. But it’s not just what she carries,  but it’s her delightful personality and winning customer service. While we were there, not only did she let us shop the Blue Moon she had in her garage ready to be loaded into her van for Stitches Midwest (which we weren’t going to go to), but she tracked down a new shawl knitting book for my mother, even though I didn’t recall the name. Like I said, she’s a doll. Well worth the trip to Marengo. And to me the drive out’s a special treat, since I love roaring down the road with fields of corn on either side of me.

Here's just a wee taste. I just love the instant gratification of buying BMF Socks that Rock at the Fold. If you order it from their website, it takes up to a month to get it. :(

Here’s just a wee taste. I just love the instant gratification of buying BMF Socks that Rock at the Fold. If you order it from their website, it takes up to a month to get it. 😦

Here’s a little peek at one of the souvenirs I picked up there.





The Jaunty Cowl, as modeled by Bug

The Jaunty Cowl, as modeled by Bug














I finished and entered my “jaunty cowl” to the Uncommon Goods winter accessory competition.

This is the hand-felted, "corsage" pin, removable so the cowl can be washed. Made of Dream in Color Yarn

This is the hand-felted, “corsage” pin, removable so the cowl can be washed. Made of Dream in Color Yarn


They didn’t want it, but I thought it was adorable anyway. Ah well. If I get ambitious, I may turn it into a free pattern for here and Ravelry. Here’s what they did like.






Standing in line to register...

Standing in line to register…





Bug started High School. I can say no more. Except that I whipped up this guy for the inside of her first-ever locker.

Meet LaLa McHappypants the Locker Pixie...

Meet LaLa McHappypants the Locker Pixie…

















I finished my second shawl for the “Through the Loops” Summer Shawl Knitalong. Meet Hecate. I am very happy with her, ‘specially since I used stash yarn, namely ElsaWool Cormo fingering for the darker oatmeal-grey bits, some scrumptious handspun alpaca silk from another delightful Illinois country LYS called “Esther’s Place” (:)), and some Madtosh Tosh merino light in a color called “grasshopper.” I have a love/hate thing going with this colorway. In this case I’m happy with it as a pop of color on this purposely rustic-looking shawl.

Hecate by Through the Loops Kirsten Kapur

Hecate by Through the Loops Kirsten KapurThe yarn I won arrived.











Malabrigo sock in "Aguas." Yum.

Malabrigo sock in “Aguas.” Yum.

The yarn I won arrived.





Oh yes, I started photographing (finally) some of my hand-dyed goodies for my new “Absinthe Yarn” Etsy website.

DSC_0039This is some lovely Blue-faced Leceister fingering. More to come on that.

Started another pair of socks…I had to hit the snooze button on that pair of Jaywalkers, especially a shame since I am one measly inch from the toe on the first sock. But I really abhor the pattern. There, I said it. Love the yarn, though. I was thinking of possibly finishing the first, then doing the second in a similar, yet different pattern: Broadripple. This one also has a stinkin’ heel flap, but they fit me better. I know I should just rip them both and try something else, but… 😦

To make up for that, though, and to have as airplane/road trip knitting, I started another pair of “lace panel” socks of my own design. Using Miss Babs 2ply fingering in the delicious, summery shade of “Frog Belly.”

Little Leafies socks. Cast on while waiting to board.

Little Leafies socks. Cast on while waiting to board.

I love saying that, even. This will be “purse knitting” for the upcoming month.

I’ve finally picked up my version of Cinnamon Girl, “Ollalieberry Girl” with an eye toward finishing it sooooooon. I also have another cardi to finish, and then,  onto Darling Emma which has been waiting patiently for me to start on it.

And then…ah well…you know how I am about the beginning of the school year. My mind is swirling through ideas of things to start and finish.

Happy New (School) Year to you, too!


Sock it to me! January 24, 2013

The pair I just finished

The pair I just finished

Since this is the time of year I find myself doing lots of introspection and investigation (in my home, this is more commonly known  as sorting, cleaning and mumbling to myself over the ridiculous amount of yarn I have collected over the years), a couple of things keep popping up on my radar: I have oodles of sock yarn, and I need socks.

However, I also have to admit to also having a few UFO knitting projects to complete, as well as some  writing UFOs, and a few other creative UFOs I want/need to finish that I’ll be focusing on this year. I want a clean slate.

So I decided, starting with the yarn excesses, it would be fun to copy something the brilliant Yarn Harlot has done in past years; specifically, go through her stash and pair 12 skeins of yarn with 12 patterns for a pair a month. Genius. I’d like to say I’m gonna do the same thing, however since I cannot knit as fast as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee  can, I’m gonna plan of 6 pairs for myself (1 pair every 2 months), which allows me to also do some work finishing the UFO sweater, shawl, 2 pair mitts, and 2 scarves–all which are more than 1/2 finished, except for the sweater–and add in the occasional giftie project or extra pair of socks along the way.

Oh yes, and don’t let me forget the new hat I’m making Bug that she “absolutely needs right now,” since she cannot find her wolf hat which is lost in the Pit of Despair (her room). This project is going super fast, however, so I should have it finished by the end of the weekend.

The "Seedling" Hat in lovely Madelintosh Vintage worsted, Filigree

The “Seedling” Hat in lovely Madelintosh Vintage worsted, Filigree

Anyway, back to the socks.

The other thing I’ll do differently for my bi-monthly sock project is that for sock the patterns, I’m will do what I did for the pair of socks I just finished. Specifically, I used a basic top down, short row heel, wedge toe sock pattern, and put a single lace repeat on the front/top of the sock, and plain stockinette on the bottom.DSCN0019

I did this because I was playing around with a sweater design and wanted to see if I’d like doing this lace pattern on the sweater, so I tried it out on the sock. Kind of like a swatch on steroids. making the swatch useful.

Many of my knitting pals and I hate doing swatches. We don’t wanna waste precious time on something that, while extremely useful in determining fit, is something that has no other use, unless you’re gonna save them up and make a blanket. Not to mention, how many times have you had to unravel your swatch to have enough yarn to finish your project? In my case, too many to count. So socks are, for me, a great way to test a pattern stitch and get something useful to boot. Besides, the top side is the side most everyone sees anyway, and it’s way easier to darn stockinette. Seriously.

But I digress.

So my plan is, I’m gonna go through my stitch guides, mark the patterns I want to try out, sift through my yarns and put them in a big bag to get them ready to go. It’s kinda exciting…but then most of you know, making lists makes me hot! 😉

Here's the proposed lineup of fiber...

Here’s the proposed lineup of fiber…

Watch out, sock drawer.


Back in the Saddle Again… January 2, 2013

Filed under: jewels,knitting,life,writing — kathy @ 1:36 pm
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A few favorite pieces from this year's trunk show

A few favorite pieces from this year’s trunk show

Well, I may not have been abducted by aliens as I joked months ago, but I’d certainly have to say that I was overwhelmed by UFOs since I wrote my last post. UFOs–unfinished objects, that is.

The finished "Coat of Many Colors." What a project!

The finished “Coat of Many Colors.” What a project!

Where do I even start? (Begin run-on sentence, because frankly that’s how it felt) It started with knitting like crazy to finish those “nearly done” projects that I really could use, knitting gifties for those I love, then I got the wild hair to open a new Etsy store, made scads of bridal jewelry this year, and mid-summer, determined that this year I’d be ready to go with my new pieces of jewelry at the beginning of November instead of a day or two before my big annual trunk show; the plot thickened when Bug’s 8th grade year began, and all sorts of little things needed to be accomplished before the Holidays that somehow required my help (these are too numerous to list, but include class projects and the 8th grade class trip).

Namely her applications to the local private high schools were a huge focus this fall. Sheesh. It was like applying for college (well, way back in my day, anyway; I know that’s also tougher now). And the poor kid has to take a test like an SAT in a couple of weekends, on top of it all. Not that she should have a problem (even though those Waldorf schools don’t generally test the kids, so she’s not really used to “test-taking”), however, we’re practicing taking timed tests just for the feel of it, and that makes for an unhappy kid over her Christmas Break. Not to mention I’m now helping out in the school handwork class once a week until the end of the school year. This, of course, caused me to come down with a horrible cold over the break on top of it all.

I know all of that doesn’t sound like a good reason for not writing; I suppose it sounds like a whole bunch of whining and I’m sorry for that. Frankly I really miss writing. It was just that so many things were vying for my attention, that I was truly overwhelmed. I think the thing that overwhelms me most is the jewelry-making. And honestly, between the rising cost of materials, the huge drain on my time, and the lack of a good place to work (a place where I can leave out my work-in-progress, as well as do metal clay and torch work, and no, what I  used to call my “studio” has become a fancy cat bathroom…sigh.), I’m seriously considering taking a year off from jewelry-making.

A view of some of this year's trunk show items...

A view of some of this year’s trunk show items…

This year’s show was not as well attended, which was no huge surprise to me with the way the economy’s been going. What was hard was that for all the time I spent making jewelry, I could’ve made more money working part time at the local Hallmark store. More than that, however, I feel somewhat as though I’ve made a wrong turn, focusing on jewelry, and that I should stop, take out a map, and re-examine my route.

I’ve been meditating and praying a lot lately, trying to determine a real direction for my next few years (especially since the world didn’t come to an end on 12/21, thank you very much. Oh, how much stash yarn would’ve been wasted.). I suspect things are about to take a wee shift, and I sense the need to move along with them–get into the flow. Every year I talk about my writing, and how much it means to me. perhaps this is the year that will be my “get it done once and for all year.” I’m not exactly sure how it’ll pan out, but then, I’ve never really followed through with it all. I have so many stories to write dancing around in my addled brain…

And somehow, fiber and yarn is also part of this shift in focus for me. Not sure if it’s the dyeing, or the pattern-writing, or what. I just feel like I really need to commit to a new direction this year.

Anyway, instead of dwelling on time lost and the unknown ahead, I will say that finishing knitting projects and making gifts was a joyful and fulfilling process since the summer’s end. And the undertaking of opening a new Etsy store for my rosaries and rosary bracelets, with all the photography and copywriting, was refreshing as well.

So the journey begins once again, and I’m happy to say I’m back in the saddle. I wish you all, dear friends, wonderful things in the upcoming new year, and give you a promise to keep you all abreast of how my own trip’s going. Happy New Year!

(Below are just a few of the knitting projects I finished in the past few months that I wanted to share…)

For a friend's baby...

For a friend’s baby…

A cuddly "Delius" Vest for Captain Romance

A cuddly “Delius” Vest for Captain Romanc

A loverly teapot cozy for a most loverly friend

A loverly teapot cozy for a most loverly friend


Blessings January 1, 2012

Filed under: life — kathy @ 3:21 pm
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It's Lucy! She's a stuffie I made for the Bug for Christmas. Great pattern!

I suppose it’d be an understatement to say it’s been a while since I posted anything here. The end of 2011 was one of the busiest year-ends ever, and at one point I realized I had to just put my head down and power through it all. In fact this year I did so much jewelry-making and gift knitting that a few nights I thought I might be having a heart attack because my right arm ached so much!  Unfortunately focusing on getting stuff finished for the holidays also meant I had to let some other things things slip, like making our traditional plum pudding and gingerbread cookies, and sadly, writing my blog.

A shot of just a few of the pieces from my Talisman Rocks Holiday Trunk Show. More photos at the end of this blog.

So let me start this brief post by saying, “Happy New Year” to one and all. I wish each of you a coming year that’s full of happiness, and experiences that are rich and fulfilling.

For myself, I must question “Where will I start this new year?”

I tend to compartmentalize when I think. I’m great at multi-tasking only when it comes to taking care of our home: cooking dinner while doing a load of laundry, helping with homework, and answering emails.

When it comes to my “creative work,” however, I’m happiest with the outcomes when I focus on one creative thing at a time, whether it’s writing, knitting, jewelry, dyeing yarn…whatever.

So over the next few days, I’m puttin’ on my sorting hat, figuring out which one of my “things” to start with, and then hitting it. Hard.

One thing’s certain; I’ll continue to practice something I started doing full time at the beginning of this past autumn: I give thanks and count my blessings as I fall asleep every night. I find that despite the inevitable difficulties that crop up in my life and slow me down, I have more blessings in my life than I can count, and invariably I go to sleep with a smile on my face instead staying awake worrying.

Here’s to you my friends–please know you are counted in my blessings, and I’ll strive to keep in touch with you here far better than I have in the past year.

 Here are a few pictures from the many things I did the past two months:
Talisman Rocks Holiday Trunk Show:
Some knitted giftes (there are several more I forgot to take pictures of!):

Here I go again September 5, 2011

Filed under: life — kathy @ 3:18 pm
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Those friends who’ve been kind enough to follow me over the past few years know that this time of year heralds new beginnings. My personal New Year begins with the start of the new school year.

Bug's getting so grown up! 7th grade!

This year, as Bug heads off to 7th grade (!!), I must reassess my resolutions of last September, and refresh, renew, resolve for the year ahead. So, before starting this post, I peeked at that last one, and here’s what I think. The list just won’t change all that much. Here’s what I was supposed to do last year:

5.  Workout 4x/week

4. Restock my Talisman Rocks Etsy Shop

3. Open my Twist and Shout Etsy Shop

2. Blog 2x or more per week (provided I have something worth saying…LOL)

1. Get that novel finished!

The thing is, these things, for the most part, are ongoing projects. To that end, let me edit this list in the following way…

2011-2012 updated resolutions:

6.  Workout 3x/week (Yes, those of you with eagle eyes will note this is one day less than last year, however, I must be realistic)

5. Restock my Talisman Rocks Etsy Shop (always the bane of my list! I hate taking pictures of jewelry! It never turns out the way I want it to…when I’m rich, I’ll pay to have someone do it for me. Until then, I must try to accomplish this.)

4. Open my Twist and Shout Etsy Shop (will now be called “Absinthe Yarn” and will include stitch markers, knitting jewelry, and some patterns) (still perfect my yarn dyeing…oh, how I wish I had a free studio space with a sink where I could go work without worry or having to drag it all in and then out before having to cook dinner.)

3. Blog 2x or more per week (still provided I have something worth saying)

2. Get that novel finished! (and start the next one! Have some great ideas and can’t wait to get on with it!)

And here’s the new number one thing I need to accomplish this year…

1. Be a little kinder to myself.

What I mean is, I think I really expect a hellavuh lot from my old self. Instead, of celebrating the stuff I do get done, I ignore my accomplishments, and frankly, that’s not healthy. At least that’s what I’ve concluded after lots of meditating on where I’ve been and what I’ve done since last September.

Sure, I procrastinate. I could’ve gotten a bachelor’s in procrastination if that’d been offered at Drake. On the other hand, since turning 50 I think the one thing I’ve focused on in the last year is accomplishing one “major” thing a day. Okay, some days it’s just getting laundry (though that can be major around here sometimes) and dinner on the table. Other days it’s making a couple dozen pairs of earrings, or taking the Bug out for a “girls’s shopping day.”

So over this past year, especially this past summer, I’ve done some major things not on that list above. Stuff like sewing those couch cushion slipcovers…planted a veggie garden…putting up some strawberry jam…finishing some old knitting projects and making progress on some new ones…losing 10 pounds…sewing a tote and a couple of fun project bags…just being a pal to someone dear who needs a little extra help right now. These things were not on last year’s list, but I daresay, these all were important things to take note of each night as I meditated on what needed doing in my life, and what actually got done.

Got 40% of this "Talamh" cardigan done. Just need to keep up the momentum. Sleeves ahead!

These are things I’m thankful for, things that give me a feeling of accomplishment each and every day. Even on those days where I barely make it out of my comfy pj bottoms by dinnertime because that morning I decided I needed a day to finish knitting a gift or something.

Now I can’t have too many of those days or I really wouldn’t get anything done. But like I said, as long as I can count one truly meaningful thing in each day’s accomplishments, I can go to sleep looking forward to the possibilities of the next day without any lingering guilt about what I didn’t get done the day before.

If this is the wisdom that comes with age, cool.

Hopefully it’s not just me justifying any procrastination.


Resolutions September 9, 2010

Filed under: knitting,laughter,life — kathy @ 2:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

The completed Shetland Triangle, modeled by Bug

Recently after reviewing last year’s list of 10 things I’d hoped to accomplish, I must admit I felt a bit defeated. What had I accomplished? Well, if I look closely at those pie-in-the-sky dreams of mine, very little. You might think so, too. Let’s examine that list, shall we?

(From August 30, 2009)

10. Sew a bunch of aprons and hobo bags in vintagey fabrics

September ’10 update: Hahaha–Sewing machine and fabric completely inaccessible due to being packed away for renovation. Result? Many t-shirts ruined due to cooking-related disasters.

9. Take new pictures of jewelry for Etsy and my website

September ’10 update: Yeah, right. Need to make jewelry to photograph it.

8. Lose 20 pounds…again (yarn diet does not count)

September ’10 update: I can’t even begin to address this one.

7. Work out at least 4x per week

September ’10 update: This one either. And by the way, purging, packing, and moving at least 50 boxes of crapola (2 or 3 times, mind you) does not count as I didn’t see the scale change a bit despite that extra exercise. Painting doesn’t count either.

6.  Meditate daily (but not while working out)

September ’10 update: Did manage this for 15 minutes most evenings before bedtime. Might have done more, but passed out after 15 minutes nearly every time.

5. Plan and start mini renovation on this old house

September ’10 update: Okay–this one, success! But I think I might have been insane considering it to be a “mini renovation.” It really ended up being the whole thing and then some. Not to mention it really dominated every second of my life once it was started. And even though we still have to paint the outside and work on our landscaping, I’m happy.

4. Open new TalismanKnits shop on Etsy to sell knitterly jewelry and stitch markers

September ’10 update: Still working on this and planning on adding hand-dyed yarn. Working on name and logo–will probably be called Twist and Shout Studio. By the way, if you have any other thoughts regarding name ideas, I would love to hear it! You all are a clever bunch.

Here's my latest WIP: The "Amelia" Sweater. Quick project---already up to the waist shaping!

3. Finish 1 knitting project per month (2 if small) (utilizing stash only)

September ’10 update: I did finish 11 projects this past year, so I did okay on that count. Unfortunately, I frogged 2 of them, so I guess I only did 9. And I did—once—break my “stash only” rule by buying yarn for the Bug’s February Lady sweater—I let her pick it out.

2. Blog at least 2x per week

September ’10 update: Okay, started out pretty well on accomplishing that one. However, this being the year of the Swine Flu and The Cough That Wouldn’t Quit, I fell down a bit there. The computer crashing twice screwed me up, too.

1. Finish novel and send out queries

September ’10 update: This one breaks my heart. Lost my most recent chapters due to those computer crashes ((Big sucking sound here)) and found it nearly impossible to continue due to extreme grieving. On the up side, I learned about external hard drives.

Well, needless to say, I over-reached last year, and for those of you who know me well, not a surprise since my arms are long and I do it all the time.

But recently after pouring my heart to a dear, and I might add, extremely wise BFF, she took a long drink of her latte and recommended that perhaps I should consider cutting my list in half. Why didn’t I think of that?

So to that end, my new and improved list of resolutions for the upcoming year are:

5.  Workout 4x/week

4. Restock my Talisman Rocks Etsy Shop

3. Open my Twist and Shout Etsy Shop

2. Blog 2x or more per week (provided I have something worth saying…LOL)

1. Get that novel finished!

Of course the knitting, sewing, and dieting will be ongoing, and occasionally all resolutions may be overshadowed by a pressing and unavoidable project (such as taxes or house-painting). But I am certainly not the kind of person who believes resolutions (or promises, for that matter) are made to be broken.

Wish me luck.

p.s. For those of you who asked, Little Miss Lucy is just a darling bundle of energy. Here’s a little video to remind you of what having a kitten is like. I must say that it’s been 19 years since we had anything resembling a kitten around here. Eye-opening, let me tell you! She’s the busiest kitty I ever had the pleasure of inviting into our household. Nothing earth-shattering to watch, it’s just we are amazed at how much she likes to play, even with herself! Have a chuckle! she comes through her little tunnel!

p.p.s. Sorry for all the italics! Just feeling emphatic, I guess. 😉


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