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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. 

And Now For Something Completely Different

I’ve had a couple different queries about my designing lately.  I’m still designing – there’s been a long gap in publishing things because life is busy right now.  The quiet may last into the fall; and that’s just how things go sometimes.  I’m well, I’m busy, I’m still knitting all the time.

In lieu of knitted projects*, here’s something I did this morning.

I’ve been looking for a piece of art for the bathroom; specifically something to hang above the tub.  The man and I are both frequently enjoy tubs, and while he reads a lot in the tub, I like to just float.  There’s a bare wall I look at that  has been crying out for something since we finished the reno a couple years ago.

I gave up on finding the “RIGHT” thing and instead bought a beautiful piece of paper at Mona Lisa Art Supply here in Calgary.  It’s a tad heavier than tissue paper, but not as heavy as ordinary paper.  Then I ironed fusible interfacing on to the back of the paper, stretched it, and hung it up.


This is the paper with the fusible interfacing; I used a fairly heavy interfacing that’s typically used in suit jackets.  It’s what I had; I don’t think woven or non-woven would have made a difference.  I just wanted fusible.  The interfacing adds some substance to the paper – it was quite filmy before; now it looks the same but has a much more stable hand.  I did use steam when I ironed the interfacing; I used a press cloth to protect the ironing board in case the ink was affected by the steam at all.  (No problems from the paper at all.  Still glad I erred on the side of caution.)


This is the paper with the frame (which I got from Ikea ages ago).  Turns out, it’s square.  Huh.  I thought it was a rectangle, but I don’t care enough to McGuyver it into  different shape or go buy another frame from somewhere.  Lucky it’s just wide enough to wrap or I’d have had to put this back into the “I’m Working On It” pile.**


I carefully nailed the paper into place; I started with one nail in the center of each edge then worked my way outward.


The corners weren’t challenging at all – I think without the interfacing I may have worried about tearing the paper but with the interfacing I had no problems.


(I tried to photograph how I did the fold/pleat/fasten, but Ikea does it better.)


Here’s the finished item, just waiting to be hung up.  It’s like this project was meant to be – I can’t believe that the paper and the interfacing and the frame were all the perfect size to work together with minimal trimming.


And here it is in place – I know that it looks like it’s hung a bit too high when you look at it from eye level, but from the tub I think it’s just right.  I also think a rectangle would have been a better shape, but eh.  I may find the perfect piece of humidity-resistant art; I may buy another piece of $8 paper and a different frame shape; any number of things could happen!  For now, I’m pleased with it.  Orange is my favorite colour – and as luck has it, the goldfish plant that hangs in the bathroom is blooming right now.


Lovely! I’m going to have a tub tonight for sure :)

*I hate to share pictures of knitting before they are DONE-done, you know?

**The “I’m Working On It” pile is not an oubliette, but it’s close.

Aloha <3

Oh, how I love Maui.  The energy there, the sun, the water, the whales and sea turtles… Also the complete lack of snow.

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(This is in a lava field near a beach – all the white rocks are coral.)

We recently spent a week and a half in Maui.  It was even better than I thought it might be – turns out that travelling with a five and seven year old is infinitely easier than travelling with a five month old and a two year old.  The lack of diapers and regular nap time and the addition of some basic self-preservation and reasoning skills really makes a difference!

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I don’t know how many times during the holiday someone asked where we were from.  “Canada?  There are sure a lot of Canadians here!”  Yes, we have winter.  Winter like winter really means it.

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People from San Diego and San Francisco do indeed have winter, I’m sure.  I’m also pretty sure that it’s an unpleasant cold, not a murderous cold.  You know, the kind of cold that will kill you if you go out without “appropriate clothing*”.  I really hope that I didn’t offend either of the lovely Californian women I was chatting with; I did manage not to burst into hysterical laughter and that will have to make up for whatever look was on my face as they were assuring me that it really does get cold at home.

I didn’t get as much knitting done on holiday as I have in the past – partially because the kids no longer need naptime, and partially because I mis-planned my holiday knitting.  I’ve been working on a large worsted shawl and I want to finish it, so I brought that along to be my primary knitting project.  I was hoping that I’d get it done, because it’s sort of mindless knitting.  It’s a large project, but I figured that would be okay.

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(There was the odd nap, I admit…)

It turns out that I could deal with the large project in my lap, but I had a hard time with the yarn.  You see, it’s a wool/silk/camel blend, and I’m using an undyed version.  Turns out when the undyed yarn gets even a little damp, it smells like a dirty, wet camel**.

Wet camel stench is an effective de-motivator, who knew?  I’m not concerned in the long run; I’ve wet-blocked this yarn when its dyed, and never noticed the camel stink, so I may need to wash the shawl a couple times but I’m sure it’ll all turn out well in the end.  I’m not done the shawl, but I think it’s safe to assume that my couch is not prone to rogue waves so I’ll keep plugging along at it.

…and I’ll end with another gratuitous holiday photo.

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*Parka, snow pants, hat, mittens, scarf; plus possibly long underwear and two or three pairs of socks.

**I’ve never smelled a wet camel but I have smelled dry camels and that was enough that I can infer that they would smell BAD when wet.

Things That Make Not-Okay Things Sort of Vaguely Okay

Do you get that?  You know how sometimes there are things in your world that aren’t okay, but sometimes there are other things that make the original not-okay thing a little teeny bit okay?  I was reflecting on those things the other day.

Item the First:  Winter

I mean okay, I live in Calgary, where there is winter.  I accept that there is winter (but I don’t like it much, most of the time).  Some of the things that make winter slightly more okay are hand knit mittens, hot chocolate, twinkle lights, and hoar frost*.

E___ made me smile yesterday morning as she was muddling through the piles of coats.  “Is it minus-ice-cube outside?”, she asked.  Yes, it was minus-ice-cube, and she did indeed need to wear her winter coat.

Item the Second: Head Colds

There is nothing to like about a head cold.  Except that it is NOT as bad a migraine, and I just got two new bottles of OTC cold medication.  (DayQuil and NyQuil, hurray!!)

Item the Third: Cleaning The House

I’m not a huge fan of cleaning and anyone who knows me can tell that a) I have a clutter tendency and b) I also have object blindness when it comes to knitting.  I really, really have to concentrate to recognize both clutter and knitting projects.  I think it’s perfectly normal to have a sweater project on the piano, socks to knit by the leather chair, socks to darn on the other side of the leather chair, and a lace project in a bag on the coffee table.  Isn’t that how everyone’s living room looks?

I try and defuse my irritation with housecleaning by reframing it as “creating a warm and loving home for my family”.  I also think: hey, I have a house that I can afford to live in and heat.  Also, I pick my battles.  The bathrooms are clean but the mantle is dusty.  I do dishes once a day – after supper.  If people** don’t like it, then they can dust or do dishes themselves.


If I had a dollar for every morning this school year that has taken place with neither of the littles saying “I don’t want to go to school” I’d be able to buy you and I each a Starbucks coffee.  I swear.  They use the same line, I use the same line.  I have never, not ever!, said “Yeah, you present a good case.  You can stay home and watch Netflix.  Why not?”  I’ve never said “Keep trying, someday I’ll say ‘yeah school is not worth it’.”

Some conflict is to be expected when two small not-morning people are confronted by another not-morning person in the morning.  Despite that, I’m still glad because I live in a place where my (girl) children can be safely educated.  They can learn and become anything.

Item the Fifth: Pine Needles In My Socks

Now, pine needles in my socks are irritating.  But they fell off of our Xmas tree, so I feel sort of okay about them.

And what a lovely segue for me to sign off and go and vacuum the pine needles up.  Our tree is doing quite well, but he is (as always) shedding needles.

Hope that you are snug and warm with people you love as we all approach the darkest day of the year.


 **The man is the only person who has ever done dishes or dusted or started vacuuming.  When he does, I make a specific parenting choice and continue doing whatever I’m doing so that the girls see that men clean too, it’s not just the mom’s job.  (And if a man is cleaning, there is no need for the woman of the house to begin racing around to try and out-clean him.)

The Model In The House…

If you persevered and watched the Mrs Whatsit video, you would have noticed the guest star.  Mr. Tiberius Kittenbritches, aka Britches, is usually in the middle of any action in the house.

Or he’s asleep.  He is a cat, after all.

I got home the other night, and both girls were just exploding in gales of laughter.  Turns out, they had decided to dress Britches up in the teddy bear clothes.

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That’s a wedding veil and a pony cape.  Now, I figured that he would bolt as soon as possible, but no.

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Then they dressed him up in a toque and a dress.  He doesn’t really look like he’s having fun, but he wasn’t hissing or fighting or even doing the boneless flop of passive resistance.

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Once they got to the third costume change, though, I had to intervene.  I didn’t know if his catly dignity would survive!  I mean he is a kitten, but there’s only so much indignity one beast can handle.

After I put the kids to bed, I had to snuggle with him for forty-five minutes before he got that hunted look off his face.  Poor guy… I’ve since established “No Dressing The Cat Up” rules, although really.  It was pretty funny…

(If you don’t have cats or aren’t really familiar with them, you won’t understand how astonishing it was that the girls got THREE costume changes on him with absolutely no blood shed.  Trust me.  It’s extraordinary.)