Kourtney Robinson – Dollybird Workshop Rotating Header Image

Ever Notice That There’s Always Something?

Have you ever noticed that?  That sometimes, it seems like whatever you want to do or have planned, there’s some higher power out to thwart you.

There isn’t.  There really isn’t.  If there is a higher power (and I sort of think there must be), I am confident that it is as about as interested in my knitting projects (and able to directly affect it) as I am in an ant`s attempt to move a breadcrumb.

For example, I have three patterns I’m in varying stages of writing, and a year of bookkeeping for the company to wind up.  I’d like to get all of this done by the end of next week.  And of course, a couple evenings ago, my ceiling chose to fall.  Does that sound dramatic?  It sort of was.  The littles had been in bed for maybe twenty minutes; the man & I were watching tv, and SPLAT.   Part of the ceiling stipple fell down.

SPLAT!  Splat splat.  The man got a drill, I got a bucket and a drop cloth, and we spent the next several hours messing with the ceiling and trying to figure out what was happening…


Turns out that one of the lag bolts on the toilet was broken, and the wax seal was either broken or unseated or had decided it really needed a break, and short of a trip to a beach in the Bahamas, the Calgary landfill would do.


I was feeling oppressed by it.  I’m glad we were home and awake when it happened – that would have been an awful surprise to wake up to – and the first chunk of ceiling landed on my favorite chair.  So I fixed** it.  With a staple gun and a roll of craft paper.


Call it an art installation – Phoenix Rising.  It’s about the emotional life of the ceiling.  Conceptual art.  Very high concept, actually – I could hardly reach the ceiling with the staple gun!

Anyways, despite the little voice in my head that says “Man, it’s a sign. This pattern is crap and you should trash it and do something useful”, I continue to edit the three patterns.  There’s always something; and I’ve learned that every single project of mine goes through a stage where I just want to walk away from it.  It varies from a mild feeling of distaste to a strong desire to light it on fire. It’s a neat trick to discern between that demoralizing voice, and the voice of reason that occasionally pipes up and says “Gee, that doesn’t look like the right ____and it hasn’t looked like the right ____ for about ten rows now…

I tend to err on the side of optimism, which means a good deal of the projects that I end up frogging have more work invested into them than they really should have – but I am happier knitting on an obvious failure that trashing a really fine idea.  Depression and self-doubt are sneaky bastards, I have to be vigilant against them.

Speaking of vigilance, I am due to start to work on the bookkeeping.  There is a deal I`ve made with myself – a couple hours on patterns, a couple hours on books.  The books are a heck of a lot easier, and yet, less fun!

*First we both ran upstairs – because that spot is pretty well directly below the kids’ washroom.  There was no water visible.

**Fixed, as in, rendered it funny so that until it is properly fixed by a professional, it makes me want to laugh, instead of cry.

Introducing the Lady Jayne Hat!

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I’m a nerd – this is not news. And my latest nerd-inspired knit is here – the Lady Jayne Hat. Jayne is a mercenary who works in space; he has a unique hat that he wears because his mom made it for him. I found the Sweet Georgia Party of Five yarn kit, and I just had to make a hat for myself.  It’s available on Ravelry now for $6.00.  buy now

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The beading and lace might be a bit much for even the toughest man; but I love it. The instructions are written and charted, and there are instructions to include or omit beads and how to use a group of graduated colours.

It’s in two sizes; Small[Large], with a brim circumference of 42[48.5]cm / 16.5[19]”.  The brim to crown measurement is 24cm/9.5”.

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It works well in any fingering weight – while beads in a toque might seem counter intuitive, they don’t add any chill and the lace pattern isn’t open enough to let much coldness in. That said, I tend to use it as a fashion accesssory, not as a winter survival hat. :)

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It’s available now on Ravelry for $6.00USD. buy now

Mindfulness & Gravity

We just had a long weekend.  If you have littles in school on the prairies, odds are that the school boards lined up in-services or other flavours of days off with the long weekend, and you had a super-long weekend!  We sure did – and we spent part of it on the road to Saskatchewan.  We visited my family, and swam, and had all sorts of fun.

The great thing about a ten hour drive (when you aren’t the one driving) is the amount of knitting and napping that you can accomplish.  Sure, there is some maintenance on the back-seat crew – doling out snacks, charging ipods, settling fights.  By and large, though, it’s all potentially fun* time!  And I made good use of it.  I knit, napped, listened to an audio book and did some meditating.

The focus of this meditation is gratitude – to be grateful for the goodness that surrounds you.  Perhaps I need to be listening to a mindfulness meditation instead – at Mom’s I surfed down a steep flight of stairs on my arse.  It’s good that I’ve been learning to ski – leaning back was my instinctive reaction and I’m sure it saved me from a really nasty fall.  As it is, I have some spectacular bruises.

I was headed down the stairs, looked up at a lamp, thought “I should turn that off”, then my foot slipped and the rest, as they say, is history.

So I am feeling very grateful that my fall was not worse – I’ve got a solid bruise that is 5″ tall and the width of my hips.  And bruises on my back and also my arm.  The fortunate thing is (also) that I’ve been going to the gym frequently, so my arse is more muscular than it has been in the past!

The lessons I’m taking from this is a) don’t wear socks on steep hardwood stairs and b) stop multi-tasking so much.  If I need to turn the light off, I will stop and do that, then I will go down the stairs.  Barefoot or in sneakers.  Et cetera.

I`ve always been a bit of a multi-tasker – and motherhood certainly has reinforced that.  However, I`m going to try and break the habit.  I want to move forward with intention.  Mindfulness.  Focus.  Appreciation.

And yarn ;)

*I can’t be the only person who thinks that time free to nap or knit is fun, right?

Shocking Yet True

I was at a yarn store earlier today.  (This is not the shocking part.)

I’ve taken essentially a year away to help others deal with concerns… but my knitting and design is an important part of who I am, so I’m picking the design part up again.  I missed it.  I really enjoy the puzzle aspect of turning an idea into a chart and written instructions that others can make their own versions of things.

I never really stop(ped) knitting.

I have been working on using yarn from my stash, and just in general being mindful of consumption.  The stop by the yarn store was thought-out and justified  – I wanted to see if there was anything really inspiring, and I was also on the hunt for some super bulky yarn for a project.  I have very little yarn that is heavier than a worsted.  (This is still not the shocking part.)  As well, this is a LYS that’s actually a fair ways away from me, so I don’t stop by it very often, and I took advantage of today’s errand to pop in.  Anyways.


This right here is where it gets shocking.  I liked two yarns – one a heathered, tonal green/brown/grey, and one that is Noro.


I liked the soft heathered neutral better.  I didn’t go for the pink and purple and yellow and orange and fuchsia and violet Noro madness.

Stunning on two counts.  One, I picked a neutral, and two, I RESISTED NORO.

If you have never sworn to quit Noro then I don’t think you can fully appreciate this moment. Of course, I still have (cough) some Noro in my stash… but I didn’t buy more today!  No!  Not today!  And I genuinely liked the neutral better – and if you don’t know my deep and abiding love for colour, and wild colour combos, and varigated yarn, then you may be a little mystified as to why the neutral win is shocking.

Okay, I’m going to quit crowing and get back to work.  I’m hoping to post more often – I know I say that, but I really mean it, too.  My laptop had a tragic life event, and that derailed everything for a while…

Introducing Suki’s Shawl

This is Suki.  Best Knitter’s Cat EVER.  Suki’s shawl is dedicated to him; the pattern is available here: Suki’s Shawl Link for $6.00USD.

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Last year, I let go of him. He was a good cat, who spent many hours purring companionably next to me. The last thirteen years and the initial version of this shawl were worked under his close supervision, and every time I wear this I think of him. I loved him as well as I could, as long as I could.

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This pattern is for two sizes of shawl – one smaller, and one that’s almost generous enough to use as a blanket; both are a size progression of a single motif, from largest to smallest. You may work additional repeats of SECTION II, II, or IV, OR Chart B, C, or D. If you choose to work additional motifs, you will need to work extra repeats across subsequent rows, and be aware that you will need additional yarn. As well, if you wish to move from smaller to larger motifs, you will need to make sure that you have an appropriate number of stitches for the repeats to work.

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Small[Large]: Upper wingspan 150cm/60”[210cm/84”]; center depth 75cm/30”[105cm/42”]

Small: Malabrigo “Rios” 100% superwash Merino wool; 192m/210yd per 100g/3.53oz skein; colour: 027 Bobby Blue; 3 skeins.

Large: Verdant Gryphon “Mondegreen” 60% Blue-Faced Leicester wool, 20% silk, 20% baby camel; 183m/200yd per 113g/3.99oz skein; colour: Nude; 6 skeins

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Available here: Suki’s Shawl Link for $6.00USD

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Introducing the Dapple Shawl!



This is Dapple, a small shawl worked in fingering weight.  It softens the colors of highly variegated yarns, just as dappled sunlight softens the brightness of a garden. An interesting but not overly complex knit, it’s compelling to watch the colors combine and recombine in the doubled yarn-overs.  Available here: Dapple Shawl for $6.00USD.

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Dapple contains simple stitches and a rhythmic design but still presents a challenge. The double yarn-overs mean that a marker for the spine can’t be effectively used, so you will need to be able to read your own knitting. The instructions are fully written and charted, and there are notes on how to increase the size of your shawl if desired. To make your knit easier, stitch counts are provided for every row, and the double yarn-overs of the central spine are bolded in the written instructions. The cast-on is interrupted by two twists so that the upper edge will mimic the double yarn overs of the spine.

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The upper wingspan is 130cm/51” and the central length is 43cm/17”.

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Available here: Dapple Shawl for $6.00USD.

Introducing the Adriatico Cowl!

Alana Marchetto’s cowl was inspired by the waves of the Adriatic.  It’s available here: Adriatico Cowl for $6.00USD.

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The Adriatic Sea can be as varied as the countries that border it. Sometimes it’s warm and calm; sometimes it’s cold with white capped waves. This cowl was inspired by the changeable Adriatic, and it is beautiful whether you use a monochromatic yarn, a semisolid, or a dizzying variegated hand-dye. Wear it long over a light dress for a late night in the summer… or double it up to keep you warm while sipping espresso in the piazza in winter.

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The single ply yarn gives drape to the soft waves in the simple but effective stitch pattern.  The two samples are knit in Tosh Merino Light and Malabrigo Mechita.


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The pattern is written, and gauge for this pattern can be easily adjusted (but you may require additional yarn). Any elastic cast-on will work, but the long-tail cast on best coordinates with the bind-off. The depth is easily adjustable.

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Cowl measures 22cm/9” high and 173cm/68” around.  It’s available here: Adriatico Cowl for $6.00USD.

How Exciting!

Not one, not two, but three new patterns up today in Dollybird Workshop!

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Adriatico Cowl – the fabulous Alana Marchetto has created a cowl inspired by the Adriatic Sea.

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Dapple Shawl – my work, a small shawl that is really terrific at taming those wild hand-dyes that we all fall for…

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Suki Shawl – also mine, unusual in that it’s monochromatic!  Available in two sizes and all about texture and comfort.

All three designs are $6.00US each, and available in my Ravelry store here:
Dollybird Workshop Ravelry Store

Hope you are keeping warm and safe through the winter!


An Afghan for the Big E

We woke up to snow.  The kids are happy about it and I don’t even mind that much – but this photo of roses from Costco made me smile so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it matches the afghan.


Anyways – we sometimes call  my father -in-law the Big E.  He recently changed his living situations and in lieu of trying to tell him how much we all care and how we think and worry about him, I turned to what many would turn to: yarn*.

I decided to make him an afghan.  The colour choices were predicated both by his room decor and his favorite hockey team**; the fiber was chosen because of the anticipated laundering techniques.  And it’s a crochet blanket because for some reason, blankets are better if they are crochet.***

I started off using Fireworks Blanket by Becky Simmons.  As usual, I am bad at following patterns,  so it became more of a guideline for me.  That is purely a reflection of me – the pattern was well written and clear and it’s a clever way to make a granny square really engaging.  I used Uptown Acrylic Worsted, and it’s a very fine yarn, for something that is acrylic and meant to be machine washed and dried.


I was making excellent progress, and actually almost finished, when I noticed something.  I had borked a notch; about three rounds back I’d forgotten one decrease.  Now, I rip back work merrily all the time, but I was at the point in the blanket where a couple rounds of used a whole ball of yarn.  The picture above is what was SUPPOSED to happen, and did actually happen in three out of four spots.  The two pictures below are what was actually going on in that one darn spot.

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I decided to try to fix it without frogging the whole darn think.  So, armed with time (Z___ had an ortho appointment) & my Swiss Army knife (which I actually got in Switzerland), I cautiously snipped and reworked and wove ends in. IMG_8877 IMG_8878

First, I nipped the thread and unwound a certain amount of that row.  Then I did the same for the next row, and the next, until I was back to before the spot where I’d missed the decrease.


Note the three little balls of yarn, and the staggered missing rows.  I reworked the rows in order, tied a solid knot between the sections of each row, and wove in the ends.


I don’t know if this is actually the way to do things with crochet – but it seemed to make sense.  And the big knot seemed right because crochet is really just a series of knots, anyways.  I’m really much more of a knitter.


Ta-dah!  It took less than an hour – and that’s much less time that it would have to rip it all back and rework it.  If you know what you are looking for and you are actually holding the blanket in your hands, you can tell it’s there, but for the muggle or everyday use, it’s not noticeable.


The finished blanket is about six feet square – I was aiming for something nice to snuggle under while sitting in a chair.  The Big E was a tad confused but pleased by the gift, and I hope he’s using it today while it snows.


(This is a sort of terrible finished object picture – it doesn’t show the blanket off to it’s best.  And it’s before I’d washed and dried and washed and then hung it dry – the shape has properly flattened out and all the joins held.)

I’m off to the gym – I’ve already shovelled the driveway but my fair weather habit of exercise should carry into the winter work-out, right?


*“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” – Elizabeth Zimmerman

**The Edmonton Oilers.  I found it funny watching Calgarians admire the afghan in progress, and then recoil when they realized it was the OILERS.

***Totally irrational.  Also, not always true, I made a lovely knitted blanket once.  Godzilla vs. Evenstar

The Derp Is Strong With This One

Well, I’ve been at this for over an hour… so if you are wondering about the person with the derp, it’s me.  I’m attempting to blog via my ipad. All three kids are at school and the only sound in the house other than the ticking clock and the ringing in my ears is one of the cats, deciding that he is a FIERCE and WILD CREATURE.

And the occasional person at the door, buying something from one of my kjiji ads.  It’s been a busy summer – and there was a sort of spontaneous project where we moved Z down into the basement bedroom, so A & E each have their own rooms too.

This process was complicated by the fact that the basement bedroom was not only the spare bedroom, it was where I stored everything.  Almost everything.  Many many things.  And I decided to put in new laminate flooring, as that room was the only one left that had carpet from the original owners (who had dogs).  The flooring went well, as did the big swap; but one room of my house is utterly crammed full of random things I need to sort through and then rehome.

That’s going to take a little while.  The glorious thing is that the littles now have all-day school – so I have all day, every (school) day, to make a mess and then deal with it.  Instead of making a mess, checking on the littles, working on the mess, feeding the littles, coming back to the mess to find out that the littles decided to help… etc.

I was hoping to post some photos in this post – I derped a crochet project pretty badly, but then I sort of ninja-ed my way out of it.  I’ve also made pie and invented the Saltimboca Roast – also known as the Saltimroasta.  Sadly, the updated wordpress app won’t let me load pictures*, so that will have to wait for another day.

I’m also waiting for it to warm up enough that I can go rearrange the garage without needing mittens.

Ooo, mittens.  I have a terrific idea for some mittens…. On that happy note, I’m going to press ‘publish’ and see what happens.  Hopefully photos next time!

*Seriously.  I have a smart phone and an ipad and a laptop; why is it still only possible for me to upload photos by emailing them from my phone to my laptop?  There’s a cloud!  There should be an easier way!**

**Every single attempt to find an easier way has taken at least 47 minutes and been varying levels of unsuccessful.