Happy National Novel Writing Month!

It’s November, and you know what that means…National Novel Writing Month! It is time for us all to become hermits, and not show our faces until we have a completed and completely genius manuscript in our hands.

To participate you can either sign up on nanowrimo.og, or do what I do: pick a story idea, pick a word count for each day, and write that many words about that story each day for a month. The point, for me, is not to have a masterpiece, but to have  something. I am extremely lazy with my writing and so undisciplined, and I’ve found that if I set goals for myself I often (but not always) follow through. I did my own NaNoWriMo earlier this year, and even though I haven’t look at the book I wrote since, at least it is there!

This time my goal is to not only write a novel, but 1) Have it be slightly good, and 2) Edit it. December will by my National Novel Editing Month. Not as inspiring but just as important.

To you skeptics out there, I have advise you to try it at least once. The idea is to write a novel as fast as you can, so there’s little chance of it being good. Bu as someone who is always editing and getting stuck, NaNoWritMo gets you out of that habit. And for me it is a good thing. If I don’t know where to take the story next, I just pick something. I don’t think about it for a week, then forget I was ever writing a story. I write on, knowing I can go back and fix dialogue and fill up plot holes. It still makes me feel weird to leave those awkward parts…but it is good practice for moving on, no matter what.

Yes this post is written a few days into November. But you can start anytime. Or pick any month. Don’t you want someone to ask you what you’ve done lately, and be able to answer, “Oh, not much. Just wrote a novel.” (But you don’t have to let them read it.)

Meanwhile, between ill-formed characters and overused adverbs, I will be working on:


Fantasy Projects

Like most knitters, I am always drooling over new patterns while trying to crank out the one I’m working on. There’s never enough time for all of them – even the ones you really love and must have. Do you ever go onto knitting blogs where it seems like the author is always finishing up a new sweater? It’s April and the knitter has completed three (and is sewing on the buttons for the fourth). It’s ridiculous. And I’m jealous.

Lately I have really wanted to knit shorts. Sounds bizarre, right? But, why not? You could make them with really soft yarn and pretty lace edging, or sporty and tight, like 70’s short shorts. You could wear them over leggings with flats or ankle boots.

Sadly there aren’t too many patterns out there for knitted shorts. Most I’ve seen look tiny – boy shorts to sleep in. But I have found a few that I like:

So adorable, right? These are Issa’s Bloomers, from the designer Andrea Rangel. You can find her on Ravelry, or her website, http://www.andreaknits.com.


These are the Marilyn Shorts by Mel Clark, found on Ravelry but published in her collection Knitting Everyday Finery. There is so much opportunity for creativity with a pattern like this. Different length, color, or maybe even colorwork. You could design some Fair Isle for the hem line!

And I just couldn’t resist these:

The pattern is Sailor Pants by Mel Clark and Tracey Ullman, and available in their collection Knit 2 Together. Don’t they look comfy? The pattern calls for cotton, which would make these pants more wearable, for me at least, then in wool. I wonder how linen would work…


Someday, someday, someday…

Progress Report

Hello, kitty.


This is Frankie the Cat (Frankenkitty for long) and she excels at lounging, purring, eating, and fighting with her scratching post. She is also really good at getting all up in my business. One of her many talents is kneading, and amazingly she was not kneading my sweater in this picture. Thank goodness! Knitting and cats always seem to go together in books and movies and historically, but…cats sure can trash a perfectly nice project.

Oh, yeah, the sweater!

It is doing a great job blending into that trunk there.


The flash on my camera makes the yarn seem metallic and golden but it is really a rich, warm orangey color. It’s Madelinetosh DK wool and I think the colorway is ginger.

A closer look at the oak leaf detail:


I am about halfway through the lace pattern. I’ve never done lace before and boy do you have to concentrate. No being sleepy, or drinking wine, or watching engrossing movies. Not unless you want to rip out whole rows because of one teeny, tiny mistake all the way at the beginning of said (sad) row. Sigh. But it is so fun, too! You can really see the pattern unfurling itself under your needles, which is so satisfying after rows and rows and rows of stockinette.

Happy Friday and happy knitting!



Back Baby


What is this place I’ve landed in? Where am I?

Am I lost?!

Oh, no wait. It’s just my long-lost blog.


Been a while, huh? How’s things?

Okay, okay. I’m here to rededicate myself. Motivate. Get inspired. I must not be lazy! I must be consistent!

Part of why I haven’t been here for a while is that a lot of life is happening. Busy with work and family drama, and a new addition to the family (kitty pictures coming soon!) But my laptop has also stopped charging. This is my third charger (and my second battery, in case that is the problem), and I am a little fed up with buying new ones. They are expensive, about $80 before tax. So I’ve refused to shell out and my laptop is dead, leaving me with my other computer (it’s really Tony’s dad’s, but he doesn’t need it) which can’t upload pictures and doesn’t always get internet.

All this to say that the set up isn’t so good for blogging. I am allowed to hog Tony’s computer once in a while to download photos, so the ball will get rolling soon.

And how’s my craft life? Well, I’ll tell you.

After going to Baja for 2 1/2 weeks and leaving ALL knitting behind – that’s right, no yarn whatsoever, not even a scrap or a tassel on a bag – I felt re-energized to knit my cardigan project, Alana Dakos’ Gnarled Oak Cardigan. It is all stockinette until you get to the yoke which became extremely tedious. Especially when it was hot out and my sweaty hands made the needles sticky when I tried to work on it. (Aren’t clammy hands on yarn and needles the worst?? My problem always. I have hot hands and feet.) But it became a tad colder and I realized that if I didn’t have the sweater ready to wear for winter, I wouldn’t be able to wear it for quite a while. It will probably still be over kill for a southern California winter. Wool? I never wear wool here. But the yarn is so pretty…and wool is so nice to knit with. And everyone needs a nice wooly sweater. Especially for a first sweater project.

Now I have finally reached the oak leaf motif that circles the yoke. Much more exciting, difficult, and time consuming than plain stockinette. The sweater is really starting to come together. I can actually sort of put it on, if someone holds onto the needles and I hunch my shoulders a little. I am just so thrilled that it isn’t a disaster. Aren’t first sweaters always supposed to be disasters? I’m not saying that this one is perfect. I think I made the arms and torso just a tad too short. (But then again, after a good blocking, that could change.) There are a few bumpy places, where my picked up wraps weren’t the cleanest or my increases show a little too much. And who knows how the button band will turn out. But I think it will be wearable. That is all a knitter can ask for.

Last week end Tony and I ran a booth at an antique show, and as it was a pretty slow show I knit on the cardigan. A lot of people admired it – which I was hoping for, of course – and almost everyone asked who I was knitting it for. Now, I have knit other things in public – socks, usually, or sometimes hats – and rarely do people ask who it is for. Why is a sweater so different? And every time I’d say “For myself,” and they’d pause a second and say, “Oh, good for you!” Do they expect it to be for Tony? (It is rather small for him. He is very many and muscular.) Do they think it has to be for an older person? Nothing wrong with their reaction and I was happy to play along and say things like, “After all this work? It better be for me!” But I did think it was curious. Like it was unusual I’d be knitting myself a sweater.

Ahh, it feels good to stretch my knitting fingers. I’ll be back soon. For real this time.



Why I Love the Thrift Store

….a vintage, cheap, yarn swift!



Sure, it’s not very pretty, and yes, I’ve attached it to an iron pan because all the other surfaces in the house are too thick…but it works! And it was two bucks! Aaaand, look at this pretty package..





Purty cool, I think. Check out that lady’s nails.

Have a great Tuesday!

Thanks to http://www.history.com, I just learned that today in 1853, the New York Sun published a hoaxy article stating that life had been found on the moon. How odd then that today of all days, the man who stepped on the moon should pass. What an amazing thing, to be on a whole other rock in the solar system. Neil Armstrong is, was, such a hero.

On a totally unrelated, less inspiring and saddening note, something very strange is growing in my garden.

What I brought home from the nursery was a young charentais muskmelon plant. But this is what the melon is supposed to look like:

So…what the heck? Is mine a gigantic cucumber? A whole other plant entirely? Or just an unusually formed melon? I know that they are in the same family as cucumbers. Maybe it will start ballooning outwards and suddenly become recognizable.

My watermelon is growing along very prettily, although it is about the size of my fists put together and apparently this variety can reach up to 25 pounds. Um. That is HUGE.

Thoughts, compadres?

*Edit: turns out the melon above (the round one) is actually the charentais, because I found another watermelon elsewhere. But still don’t know what the hell those long melons are.


For the Feet

After a deliciously Polish lunch of sausage and sauerkraut (not pictures below, and would you really want it to be? Neither of those dishes are particularly pretty), I realized that I had not shared what I am doing with the world! Uh oh, I’m falling behind.

I feel as though I’ve been doing a good amount of knitting, but I don’t have much to show for it. For example, I knit my mom a pair of socks for her birthday but never took a picture. (What kind of knit blogger am I??!) Then I knit 3/4 of a sock, only to realize that, even with my tiny feet, I did not have enough of the yarn to knit 2 socks. What the what. I guess I could make a baby hat out of it? I like the color a lot but don’t want to go out and buy another just like it – I sense that I would make the pair of socks, and still have a good amount of yardage leftover for…something. I’d rather buy some new and exciting yarn.

Here is a pair of socks I made for myself out of the yarn mentioned above:


They are so so comfortable. If you had my feet and you put them on, you would see the benefit of hand-knit, personalized socks (if you haven’t already). The pattern, Darjeeling, is from Clara Parke’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks, and created by Cat Bordhi. I’m lukewarm to warm on how they look – if I were to make another pair, it would be because how well they fit.

Onwards to more socks, I am now knitting another design, Elm, from The Knitter’s Book of Socks. This one is designed by Cookie A, which I thought perfect because I believe she lives in Oakland (or around there) and I’m using the sock yarn I got from the Oakland Fiber Festival, Piedmont Oakland Wildsocks. Connections!



These socks are going to take me a looong time. They’re like an exercise in increases and decreases. That would be fine except for the dreaded make 1 front to back, then purl through the back loop. Argh! Does anyone know a trick to this? It is such an awkward movement.( There is also the less-so-but-still tricky make 1 back to front, knit through the front loop.) The concept of the increase isn’t hard, it’s just, for me, a very time consuming stitch. And you see how far I am. Miles to go.

I have been listening to lots of podcasts (Knit Picks and American’s Test Kitchen Radio), just finished reading Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time for the very first time, and finished the 2nd season of Sherlock last night. Next up is Moo, by Jane Smiley, and searching for lost Netflix DVDS.

Happy Monday!

I <3 Oakland

I love Oakland for so many reasons, though most of them are food related. To start off with, sushi. Sushi in Santa Barbara is a sad joke compared to what I’ve found in the Bay. Our restaurants here are very, very stingy. And so are the supermarkets. They give you small pieces of fish with a ton of rice and a rather large bill. But at Ichiro’s, on 15th in downtown Oakland, the rolls are gigantic and the sashimi hangs off the sides of their rice balls when you order nigiri. Whatever you order, it is presented just so – a dash of wasabi under the yellow tail nigiri here, a strand of seaweed tying the eel to the rice there. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures. You’ll just have to believe me when I say that when I was handed my platter, the amount of gorgeous fish so surprised me I didn’t think it could possibly be mine. I will be lusting for this place for a very long time, unless I return sooner than expected.

And dim sum! We stayed in a hotel just a block or two away from Chinatown, near where Tony used to live. Every weekend he and his roommate would walk there and go to the shop with the longest line (that’s how you know it’s the best). I found that my favorite treats were the red bean sesame balls and the fried taro dumplings. The hand rolled, thick noodled chow mein was also a favorite.

Santa Barbara just doesn’t have the variety of cultures, and, thus, foods and markets, that I so appreciate about Oakland. One of my favorite things to do there is go to a huge Korean food market. We can’t bring back or eat everything that we’d like – no refrigerator in the hotel and then the hot drive home – but I still admire the spread and then perhaps buy some kimchi and sake.

Then of course there’s Lake Merritt, the large population of pitbulls, and barbeque (my favorite place is Elve’s on MLK). Sigh. Oakland gets a bad rap but it is such a cool, interesting city.

To prove how cool it is, listen to this – they have a fiber festival! And I went, and it was great!

The vendors all had very unique things and were so friendly and enthusiastic. Many of them raise their own alpacas, llamas, sheep, and/or angora rabbits. One woman, at The Loom Room (www.fanfarefarms.com), has a son and daughter who both show rabbits on the national level (who knew there was such a thing for rabbits?) and her daughter got best in breed! I bought three skeins of her Black Welsh Mountain Sheep yarn (all from two sheep, Opal and Ebony) mostly because Tony really wanted me to make him some ridiculously warm and thick socks, and as he was so patient at the fair and had introduced me to Ichiro’s, and is a wonderful person, I felt he deserved at least a pair of socks :)

I wasn’t interested in this yarn at first, but Tony kept bringing us back to it. He really likes the type of sheep it’s from and how dark the color is. And the more I touched it, the more I realized how truly rich the fiber is, and how surprisingly soft as well.

For myself I took home two skeins of sock yarn, from different vendors and both hand dyed:

I have no idea why I was so enamored with neon that weekend, but I don’t regret it. Something about the incredible pinkness of the skein above grabbed me. I don’t even wear much pink. It is just – SO – pink and I love it! (And it was very hard to get a true picture of the insane color.)

There was a ton of spinning going on at the festival. Lots of roving, dyed and braided or in bags, lots of drop spindles and wheels – if I remember correctly almost no one had a tent of just yarn. There was also weaving and a tent for crocheting, though I noticed two people sitting under it were knitting. Ha!

Needless to say, I caught the bug. I can’t afford a wheel but I bought a drop spindle and some roving and have been eyeing it since. I don’t know if I’m ready to pick up another time consuming hobby, but I fell in love with the roving and am always so impressed by spinners’ pictures of what they’ve done. Hand spun skeins are simply beautiful. I especially love how you may think the color combinations of the roving odd, but once it’s spun up it looks perfect and interesting and not quite how you would have guessed.

Ahh, the promise of a new skein of yarn…and another skein…and some roving…

What’s that Smell?

In this episode: Bitchen Kitchen.


Rosemary olive bread. I am so glad I made a starter, it adds so much flavor and life to the dough.


One day – er, in a few months – this gorgeous thing will be gouda. I hope.

I love fairy tales, and I love bread and cheese, and I love how in fairy tales the hero or heroine always has a sack full of bread and cheese (often taken from their parents’ cupboard while the rest of the house is asleep) when they first set out on their journey. This is true of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, which I am currently listening to. I love this type of tale – where fairies and magic are common knowledge, not a big secret that only a few of the townfolk have suspicions about. Common knowledge, but still mysterious, though. Known but not understood.

The days are hot and long, perfect for a good book, a cool glass of something, and if you’re lucky, a body of water nearby.

In the Garden

Happy Solstice! I have been busy in the kitchen, in the garden, with my knitting, with the dogs, going on walks, working an auction, getting a new space at the store and…not blogging! In this episode: Mostly Plants.

We filled in a new bed with tons of tomatoes (it’s about to get real crowded), cucumbers, melons, lettuces, and sweet and spicy peppers. I am so looking forward to harvesting those tomatoes! Heirlooms are expensive and store bought tomatoes are very hit or miss – most are watery and from far away. Nothing better than a sun-ripened, right off the bush treat.



I’ve never had such happy, fruitful strawberry plants before. They’ve been going nuts for a couple months now. They fill half a bed, I think next year when I pull them out (I’ve heard you need to take them out every three years, to avoid disease) I’ll put in even more. I simply can’t go back to store bought! I like to wait until they are so red and ripe that they leave their stems completely behind when pulled.


Scruffy looking but still yum.





Have a great weekend!