Beyond Ice Cream Cones and Fireworks

Several days ago my son handed me his favorite sweater.  There was a hole. He knows to pay attention to such things as soon as they appear but this was near his elbow, he’s a very active fellow, and he didn’t notice it until it had grown . . . well, you see.

(BIG) Hole in JC's Sweater
(BIG) Hole in JC’s Sweater

I didn’t make the sweater though it was hand knit. A stranger from whom he bought a tractor gave it to him a few years ago because he happened to have it in his car and he thought it would fit my son.

So yesterday, with the late afternoon sun streaming in the studio window (a person needs good light for such projects), I started poking at it.   Fixing something like this is simply solving a series of small problems . . . asking “Ok, what should I do now?” over and over.

And after an hour or maybe two, it looked like this:

The hole is fixed!
The hole is fixed!

Notice that there is no purple pattern where there used to be one. I figured no one was going to stop her or his white horse to see if it was there.

It’s not perfect. The sweater is sun-faded in many places, but it’s his favorite. Last winter I cut off its raggedy, stretched cuffs and knitted new ones. It will get more holes and I will fix them until it’s too threadbare to hold together. Because this is what we do in my family. We fix old things that can still have a useful life.

Other than that, I’m pretty much in a flurry of class preparation for the upcoming cruise. These are 5 new classes I’m teaching. I’m enjoying the process . . . and figuring out how I might share them with all of you who weren’t able to join us. But that’s in the future. There’s this other set of raggedy, stretched cuffs to replace . . .

JC's cuff replacement
JC’s cuff replacement

And this sweater I did make.

I THOUGHT it was a great idea, inspired from some . . .

Podcasting Gnome
Marrowstone Media Sound Engineer

creative source on high (or low or wherever inspirations hang out.) Now, I’m not so sure.

1) PODCAST. That’s what I thought would be brilliant. I could use it to give in-depth explanations and  back stories. Then I could use YouTube to demonstrate techniques more efficiently. My average YouTube program is 12 or more minutes long. My average watch time is 3.5 minutes. I want to match my programming to how you want to use YouTube. That, and if I don’t have to paint and spackle (what my brother calls my make-up) before shooting, that would speed up the process by hours.

So much for that idea, Orville. 70+ hours and more tears of frustration than I’ve shed since my little motor home, Dorothy, broke down 110 miles from the nearest tow truck in northern Montana in 2004, I have a 20-minute first podcast. It probably won’t be my last because once a person claws her way through a learning curve that involves buggy software and sinister websites [Apple, I’m lookin’ at you] she needs to try it out a few times to be fair to it and herself.

I only hope it’s fair to you as well, Gentle Knitters. CLICK HERE to hear This Knitting Life: Episode 1: Buttonholes and a Baby Boy.  Creating it was really fun. . . it was the syndicating, uploading to various outlets, etc. that was the pill).

2) I found more Barely Bruised books. They have slightly yellowed covers that still repel coffee and sticky hands (it’s the plasticized cover that yellowed a bit but it and everything else is intact). They are $21 plus actual postage, a 36% discount off retail and once they’re gone, they’re gone. HERE’S THE LINK TO THAT BARGAIN.

3) I got an email last week from a concerned college professor of Fashion Design who refers her students to my YouTube programs. When she searched my name on YouTube some thumbnails came up that used my name and titles but the photos were clearly not related to knitting. More like “Blondes, Brunettes and Redheads” stuff. I sweep every couple days and report all such things to YouTube but if you find such a playlist I ask that you please report it too. I promise you. I have not changed my profession.

The sun is shining and I have a women-only dinner date with my beautiful daughter-in-law tonight. And I finished my first thrummed mitten 2 nights ago. My son says it looks like an indeterminate sea creature. Of course, I was showing him the inside with all those fluffs of fleece. 🙂 I say it looks like a very warm lolly-pop.

I hope your knitting is as sweet . . . and warm.


Thrummed Thumbless Mitten
Thrummed Sea Creature

A Dandy One-Row Buttonhole, some . . .

more bruised books, and a surprise.

1) You know how it is when you’re knitting a welcome-to-the-world sweater for your new grand-nephew on the way and you have everything under control, right?
~You’re ahead of schedule (smug smile).
~The sweater is pretty adorable (more smiles).
~And then the little guy arrives a few weeks early. (No problem. Let me sew on these buttons and this puppy is flyin’ south).
~And then . . . you see his first photos on FaceBook (that’s how we do it nowadays) and . . .
~YOU PANIC (well, that’s an exaggeration) when you realize his mother would never put this sweater on him no matter how much she loves you. He’s swaddled exclusively in whites, blacks, and grays with an occasional muted orange or mustard accent. This kid is stylin’, and it makes sense. His early-30s parents live and work in LA in the entertainment and fashion (sort of) industries and are WAYYYY sophisticated in their style. Oversized, vintage, blue buttons on a tweedy background that includes the color ‘Sky Delight Blue’ does not coordinate with his wardrobe. So you set it aside, physically and mentally, until a solution reveals itself to you . . .

~ Several days later you email your (technically ex-) sister-in-law and explain the situation. Everybody down there is ooohing over him so much, and are so sleep-deprived, that they haven’t noticed that you’re late to the party.
~So . . . new criteria: bulky yarn, machine washable and dryable, some natural fiber (wool), black, or better, grey. And a more “hip” pattern. In an unusual move (because you’re in a hurry) you buy a pattern rather than whip up your own using Sweater 101. It looks like something he will be allowed wear because it’s black and white in the photo.
~AND, ultimately, that leads to 2 new videos for YouTube. and the first one is done.
CLICK HERE  for more of the story, and to see “Cheryl’s Dandy One-Row Buttonhole” (for garter stitch and seed stitch) video, and to find the link to the downloadable written instructions.

2) I found 20 and few more Barely Bruised Books from the first printing of Sweater 101 so I can extend the super-duper Barely Bruised Book Sale that is exclusively for YOU . . . IT’S ON A SECRET PAGE FOR PEOPLE GETTING THIS NEWSLETTER ONLY and you can get to it by clicking HERE. When I run out of books I take the page down until more surface. I really don’t know how many more there are. I just snag them as they appear.

3) I think I’ll have a surprise for you next week and no, it’s not Sweater 102.

I hope your late spring has been exuberant with wild roses and hummingbirds drunk on honeysuckle nectar. (Unless, of course, you live on the other side of the equator, in which case I hope you are settling in for a restful winter that smells of cinnamon and sounds like silence.)

Warm regards,

The Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan and Your $5.92 Gift

E&C Afghan

1) “The Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan is a wedding gift for my youngest niece and her Beloved who were married last December. I know, I know . . . it’s a little late in getting done. And I won’t make excuses, but I will tell you what happened . . . “ READ THE REST OF THE STORY AND LEARN WHAT I LEARNED . . .

2) You need to READ THE REST OF THE STORY above . . .  because it will lead you to your FREE free (why are you always supposed to capitalize FREE on the internet? It looks RIDICULOUS) downloadable copy of  Afghan 101 which sold for $3.50 ($5.92 in today’s dollars) when it was first published by Patternworks in 1993 and which is one of the most useful, sensible things I’ve ever written. If you have ever made a knitted, sewn, or crocheted blanket/afghan/throw or aspire to do it, you want this.

And then I ask that you share it. Please. I’m giving you an opportunity to “Put a Jewel in Your Crown in Heaven”* by passing it on. Do it today. No later than tomorrow if you want a jewel. (You can pass it on any time but the jewel promise is time-sensitive.)

3) If you want to cut to the chase, get the free stuff and skip the story, go straight HERE . . . but I still ask that you share it.

4) Am I concerned or upset or feeling guilty about not getting a big hand-knit wedding gift done “on time”? Not for one-eighth of a second, one blink of an eye. At wedding/pre-Christmas time they were getting a whole bunch of gifts at once and there was a lot of hullaballoo around the wedding. When I finally get it delivered in a month or so it will be a special delivery . . . a one-of-a-kind. Something that they’ll have the time to see and appreciate better.

It’s great to be an old woman who has observed human behavior for a long time. 🙂


* “You’re putting a jewel in your crown in Heaven” is a Lena-ism. Lena was my Ma and a consummate knitter. She believed in being of service to others. She also believed that I should be of service to others. She said this to me when I complained about doing chores. I had lots of them. Or at least it seemed like it at the time.

The Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan and how it will help you

E&C AfghanThe Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan is a wedding gift for my youngest niece and her Beloved who were married last December 5. I know, I know . . . it’s a little late. And I won’t make excuses, but I will tell you what happened.

I’m using Lion Brand Homespun, my first time knitting with it. I have admired the colors for years but I don’t often knit with acrylic. Except in this case. They have 2 fur babies that cuddle with them. One is a sweet canine who has not yet figured out that he’s 58 pounds over the lap-dog limit, so it had to be machine washable and dryable. Then . . . my niece posted a color-palette photo on Pinterest that exactly matches the colors in this yarn. They call the color “Pesto.” I call it “Sunny Day at a Caribbean Beach” which is far more accurate, but they didn’t consult me. Still, it’s my name and I’m sticking to it, mostly because they were married on a sunny day at a Caribbean Beach.

It’s a bulky weight. I started it in September. Size 10 needles. Garter stitch. Hey, sez I to myself, this is a slam-dunk. Except it hasn’t been. But I’ve learned a bunch along the way and my Public Service for the day is to share it with you.


Although the yarn is pretty, I find it’s very slow knitting compared to a smooth yarn. Because of the way it’s spun I have to be careful not to split the fibers, and it has a lot of friction as it moves along the needles.


As Queen Nag of Relentless Gauge Measuring, I made a garter stitch gauge swatch about 6″ square, larger than most people recommend. I measured it as if I were a machinist. I got 2.65 sts per inch. I liked the fabric. Not too tight. Not to loose. Enough loft to provide some air pocket insulation and be warm. Plenty of “body.”

The recommended gauge on size 10 needles is  3-5/8 sts per inch, considerably tighter. I can see why. The large fabric is stretchy, springy even. It stretches both widthwise and lengthwise, depending on which way you pull it or lay it out on a blanket.

Garter stitch at a loose gauge does this and I already knew that, but I couldn’t predict how much stretch it would have from my small swatch partly because . . .


Physically heavy. I’m almost through the 7th skein and it weighs about 2 and a half pounds. This weight is partly what’s making its shape so “fluid.” The weight pulls on the stitches. You know those lead aprons they put on you when you get X-rays at the dentist’s office? It’s not as heavy as that, but I’m glad I’m giving this to strong young people.


I made it big enough for two . . . newlyweds and all, you know. And although my niece is petite, her Chris is tall, strong, and handsome. But it turns out . . . and I didn’t learn this until I gave their “gift” to them at Thanksgiving (a ball of yarn and a card) . . . that he always runs hot and she runs cold. He sleeps with the window open and she’s freezing. So it didn’t have to be a blanket built for two. When I found this out I was already 16″ into it and this yarn does not rip out well, even at a loose gauge. There was no where to go but forward.

Why I’m still happy with the project:

  1. I’ve fondled this yarn for years when I go into a Joanne’s to grab something because it’s soft and pretty. Now I know a little bit about how it feels and behaves.
  2. I could get that recommended gauge that’s 27% (or is it 37%?) tighter but I wouldn’t enjoy it. It would be hard work for my hands. I prefer my knitting to be fun.
  3. I don’t think it will wear well. It’s starting to “fuzz” already and not in an especially attractive way. At a tighter gauge I’m guessing it would “fuzz” less . . . but I don’t care so much because . . .
  4. Although it would have been cheaper and certainly less time-consuming to buy them an elegant throw . . .
  5. I would not have been able to deliver thousands of sts to them, each made with loving intention for their long and happy life together.
  6. It allowed me to participate in the wedding . . . sort of. While they were getting married in the Caribbean I sat quietly near the wood stove on a dark and stormy December day and knit on it.
  7. AND MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU . . . I would not have remembered to give you a copy of Afghan 101 which is one of the most useful things I’ve ever written.

Go HERE to get your copy and please, please pass the link on to at least one knitting friend, one group on Ravelry, on Knitting Paradise, Facebook, on Twitter if you twit (I don’t) . . . your local yarn shop . . . to anyone anywhere who might make a knitted or crocheted blanket one day. Because at the end of the day, when The Never-Ending Garter Stitch Afghan was 24″ long and I momentarily panicked that it was too huge, I pulled out Afghan 101 and was able to reassure myself that it was OK. Only 68″ wide . . . it will fit nicely on the queen-sized bed in the guest room.

I want everyone to know that it will be OK. Almost always.





Afghan 101

First published by Patternworks in 1993, Afghan 101 is one of the most useful things I’ve ever written. I use it every time I make a blanket. You can get it HERE. For FREE. And I encourage you to pass it on.

And notice that I didn’t make you give me any of your information before I gave it to you. I would, however, love it if you joined my email newsletter group. Somewhere between once a week and once every few months you’ll get an email with article links, YouTube news, extra knitting tips, random yarny ideas, special offers, an occasional story and maybe my locally famous “Blackberry Cobbler for the Potluck” recipe which has nothing to do with knitting, but it’s really good. AND . . . you get to help me shape new programming and tools. I listen closer to the folks in my email group. I just do . . . Here’s your chance to join us.

The Don’t-Show-Bethany Shawl Pattern Link

Carol D. wrote me shortly after I sent out the big email and asked for a link to the shawl pattern for my daughter-in-law. Sorry. I didn’t think to include it.

Not only is it here, it’s free. And Heidi Alander, who gifted it to us, is Finnish. I’m very fond of Finnish design these days. And my first boyfriend was Finnish and his design was cuter than anything I could imagine at the time. Even now, when I look back 50+ years, I think he was well designed.

So if you get a chance . . . thank her.  Here’s her Nurmilintu Pattern.


p.s. Szia is not Finnish. It’s Hungarian. My grandparents were from a small village in Hungary and I still have family there. It’s a bit like “aloha” or “ciao,” but with a different accent. One of those all-purpose hi-bye words. Very handy 😀

p.p.s. What’s even handier for those of us who speak English is that it’s pronounced just like “Seeya,” the truncated form of  “I will see you later, alligator.”

A scarf pattern and something for USM/BOND knitters

FIRST the project I’ve been working on for months . . . The BOND Bombshell. (Ta Da!)

BBombshell flat

Look closely to the right of the little yarn ball. Right! That’s a USB connection. The BOND Bombshell is a thumb drive (well, wrist drive because it becomes a bracelet) that you can consult in minutes to find every skill you need to make your knitting machine hum . . .  ALL IN ONE CONVENIENT, ORGANIZED, FAST-TO-ACCESS PLACE THAT YOU OWN FOREVER EVEN WHEN YOUTUBE AND I DISAPPEAR. Find out about it HERE.  SHIPPING IS FREE WORLDWIDE until I run out of my first order of them (which is not very many). And for the record? I intend to outlive YouTube. [FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE IS STILL IN PLACE even though I have reordered them]

SECOND: I forgot to post a link to that blue cabled scarf that I showed on my last video, “Measuring Gauge for Pattern Stitches.” It has a fascinating story behind the basis of the cable design. You can find the link to the pattern in the description below the video, RIGHT HERE. (You might have to click on the “See More” to open up that description box).

THIRD: Thank you for all the emails you have sent me with your knitting triumphs and challenges. I have read every one but I haven’t been able to answer them all. I’ll keep chipping away at them. You have given me the gift of great ideas for articles and videos.

Warm regards, ch

Two Baby Boys, Mrs. Shubel’s Pumpkin Bread, and a Holiday Wish for You

1) The Babies.
I have a new grand-nephew and when I saw the first photos of him (he lives far away) I knew his momma would not dress him in the sweater I had been working on. It was the wrong color. So I made another one.
Sweater #1 went to a neighbor baby who was born at almost the same time. But what struck me as I was whipping out these two sweaters is how I (almost) NEVER follow patterns exactly. For me Patterns are Guidelines, Not Gospel and if you click on that blue link you’ll find the article that will tell you what I mean and will encourage you to start thinking that way. It’s very freeing. (I was going to compare it to taking off your underwire bra after a day at work but that might be perceived as kind of tacky so I won’t).

2) Mrs. Shubel’s Pumpkin Bread
My holiday season is simple and quiet. One of my rituals is baking the above-named recipe for gifts. If you decide to make these loaves, your home will smell of cozy winter days spent next to the wood stove knitting, drinking tea, and nibbling. I’ve been baking it for over 40 years. It’s that good and keeps well in the freezer (though not for 40 years).

3) Thank you for your wonderful response to The BOND Bombshell. They sold out and the new order is here. I’ve extended FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE through the Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 5, 2016. Get ’em while it’s cold. [FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE IS STILL IN EFFECT]

4) However you celebrate this season . . . may your holidays and the coming year be filled with good health, reasons to be grateful every day, and a peaceful heart.

Warm, knitterly regards,

Off the Streets and Out of the Taverns

Sheesh! January didn’t elapse. It evaporated. But I found some things to keep me off the streets and out of the taverns besides toting in firewood every day because, you know, January.

1) I have a shiny new store despite my continuing terror of dealing with websites as anything other than a consumer. After 2 months of struggling (public service announcement: internet apps are buggy and tech support people speak in tongues) I had the good sense to ask for help. From my daughter-in-law. Who knows this stuff. Who is gracious. She found the solution in the time it took me to make lunch. I’d love it if you took a look. You don’t have to buy anything. I’m making myself be brave enough to show it to you. I believe in teaching by example.

2) Speaking of being brave . . . I wrote the article I’ve needed to write for a long time. Tie your hats down and buckle up because I’m sticking my neck out with this one . . . except I’m not. Because the numbers don’t lie. And it’s not your fault you’ve been frustrated.

3) Over 800 of you have filled out the survey, “Your Biggest Knitting Challenge.” And just in case you thought I was kidding about that . . . for my latest article I downloaded an Excel version of the survey, filtered it for the word “gauge” and printed out 3 pages of your comments. There are only so many phone and email contacts I can make with you but know that I use your “multitudinous tales of knitting woe or glory”* for a worthy purpose. I treat your words like gold. Thank you for them.

Southern Hemisphere folks: Stay cool. Knit.
Northern Hemisphere folks: Stay warm. Knit.


* Thank you for that great phrase Christina