This has been a fun week of knitting toys. I know that I have show a few pictures here and on my ravelry page but I can’t help myself — the snakes in this Team Spirit Yarn is just fun. Even if you aren’t into sports the colors are bright and Dr Suess-ish. I am positive a little boy will enjoy these. I kept a skein of yarn in my project bag and knit on these snakes whenever I was sitting. Each one took me about 4 hours and I tried to do something a little different each time.

So the first Znake I cast on at the tail  and continued up to the head. I worked on dp needles and at the sides of the znake I increased and decreased to create a curve. Boy I am not explaining that well am I.

Lets  back  up— I started with just 3 sts and knit a i-cord for a few rounds. Then I increased slowly(every 3 or 4 rows) until I was pleased with the girth of the znake.

But I felt the stripes were too wide so I knit from each end of the skein so I could control how long each band of color was.  When I had 22 sts and I was getting bored with the plain stripes I decided to add a bit of an angle to the stripes. To do this I increased at the beginning of the round then decreased at the halfway point. Then for the second half of the round I did the opposite –I decreased and then knit to the end of the round and increased.

That creates a stripe that is angled on the bias and it also makes the znake gently curve and zlither. When I knit the length I wanted I added a few short rows until the znake’s head was straightened out and then did some more increases to shape the head and then decreased just like you would for the toe of a sock and cast off.

since I had plenty of yarn and the znakes knit up fast I decided to knit more znake.

znake #2 I switched to Chicago colors and cast on like I was doing a toe up sock figuring the mouth would look better. I made increases to shape the head and then decreased so I could start the body. I decided to knit on the bias again but this time to increased and decreased every other row. This makes a sharp angle and to make it easy to remember which row I was doing the shaping on I switched which side of the skien I was using every 2 rows also making narrow stripes.  But this I could see that this would just be a straight line unlesss….I reversed the directions of my increases and decreases so I would have a right angle and then a left. Now my znake zigs and zags. Lots of fun.

Ok but there was still more yarn so what if I knit  short rows in bands of colors on  snake#3.

Cute — but  I really like the right angles of the 2nd znake.

And if I sew the buttons eye on the back of the head I have a left angle to go with the right angle –right???

Yes I like that – two znakes twined together.

well there is a little of yarn left maybe just enough for 2 short znakes

How about short rows on the top of the snake #5?

Starting with short rows on the face where I am going to sew eyes and then continue short row bands  down the back.  My znake becomes bumpy instead of curvy.

 My znake becomes bumpy instead of curvy.

Ohh this is fun —

I do love the sharp angles of the zig-zag znakes  but–

the faces are just a little flat. I like the face on znake #5– but this time double the short rows on the eyes now the znake #6 has bulging eyes. 

Knit some sharp angles and —

Six slithering, zig-zagging znakes and I have knit every inch of my 2 skeins of yarn. Lots of fun and I got to play around with my knitting. This gives me lots of ideas  to use the next time I am making legs or eyes.

How about you? Do you play with your knitting?

does this give you any ideas for fun toys?


Raccoon eyes

So last week I showed you the beginnings of a toy and we had a guessing contest. Ashley was right it was the beginnings of a raccoon.

Here is the raccoon I just finished in a fuzzy furry yarn Sensation Angel Hair from Joanns. You can see the body is similar to the cat body with a head that is like the owl but without a beak.

The raccoon is a morph or combination of my two patterns Kitty Kat  and Howell the Owl. 

The big change is short rows. I added 2 set of short rows to form a nice curvy butt like the possum. I think it is hard to see on the furry yarn so here is a shot of the short rows I knit right before binding off the body of the raccoon in yellow yarn.

See how it adds a nice curve and short rows are so easy to do. Toys are the perfect place to play with short rows and see the dimension it adds to your knitting. I am not sure that dimension is the word I am looking for here –but short rows are the difference between a boxy looking 80’s style sweater and a modern fitted sweater. 
And it bears repeating it is so easy to knit these. Rather than explain how to make a short row and take iffy pictures with my camera look here http://www.socktopus.co.uk/2011/02/short-rows-shadow-wraps/

Socktopus has tutorials for 5 different short row methods along with her own unvention. And I can’t explain it much better than her. And I think the shadow wraps unvention is the best. It is my current go to method of short row — I like it much better than wrap and turn.

As long as you are making a toy you can try all the methods and compare.  It doesn’t matter if you try out lots of different short row techniques in one toy the child hugging it won’t care. A toy is small and quick and loads more interesting than knitting a square swatch that will end up in your knitting basket and forgotten. That is what is great about knitting toys you can swatch and try out stitches to your hearts content and then give it to someone who will love it with all their heart.

So here is a raccoon I made last year and you can see how I used short rows to create the bandit eyes that are the most recognizable feature of the raccoon. See how it looks like the lizard ridge blanket http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall06/PATTlizardridge.html

1837 have knit lizard ridge and who knows how many people have it in their  queues. It is a stunning blanket based on a Barbara Walker pattern stitch. I wonder if Laura Aylor dreamed that her blanket would become so wildly popular when she first knit it for her daughter. Her original idea was to knit this afghan slowly a square at a time and give it to her daughter as a going away to college present. But the beautiful colors and the pattern stitch mesmerized her so much that she finished it and gave it to her daughter on her 15th birthday.

Perhaps you have looked at this blanket and wondered if you could do the stitch. Well making a smaller toy with it could help you to decide.



Ahh relief

Just like the old commercial –Plop -plop-fizz-fizz oh what a relief it is —

It is a huge relief we finally got some rain in southern Wisconsin. Not enough to save the crops but a nice respite from the hot weather at least.  Over night the weather temperatures dropped 20* I have to put a light jacket on for our morning walk the last two days.

I am just back from the cabin. The yard doesn’t look that bad considering. Probable because most of the plants I grow are natives(or as some gardeners call them weeds). There is still a fire ban so I couldn’t dye over the fire pit.

I did however do a little knittingI finished my raccoon



and knit these snakes. Here is the Garden of Eden shot where the snake tempts me with a very small apple. And here they are twined together on the rocks behind our cabin. I actually have seen snakes sunning themselves here but that is another story.


they are crazy fun to knit and fast too.

I still am in a brain fried state so I will give you details another day.



Another package arrived last week that I want to share.

The package looked innocent enough but when I picked it up I could have sworn I hear a faint hiss. As I carefully opened it Mr. Sssssnake slithered out.
Luckily for me Mr. Sssnake is a friendly guy and was only interested in inspecting his surroundings. Once he saw everything was good he alerted his traveling companion and Mr Bun came tumbling out of the package.

The travel conditions were a little cramped but the pair became fast friends as they traveled here from Illinios. And the snake true to his word did not eat Mr. Bun as they traveled in fact they played Go Fish and told stories most of the way here when they were not napping.

Thanks Jessica for the wonderful toys — you can see more of Jessica’s projects here on ravelry under the name knitgineering


Right now I have been inspired by Jessica  and have cast on for a snake– well actually a viper. See the  fun football colors from Red Heart Yarns
http://www.redheart.com/yarn/team-spirit. The viper is knit withViking purple and gold. I may have also bought Chicago Bear blue and orange and Packer green and gold. The yarn comes in 16 different color ways maybe your team is there too!


The bunny and snake have been dropped off at http://www.knitch.net/ and they will be collected by http://www.palsbringjoy.com/www.palsbringjoy.com/Welcome.html and taking to Children’s Hospital.

Thanks knitgineering I know there are two kids that are going to be thrilled with thier new friends!!!

Any one donating a toy gets a free knit toy pattern and a chance to be entered into a drawing for yarn and a project bag.

Leave a comment to be entered for the pattern I am giving away on Friday.


Oodles of poodles

Last week I found this gem at St. Vinnie’s and knew I had the perfect yarn in the stash for this. It is a booklet from 1964 and calls for  Spinnerin yarn that is no longer available. But pom-pom yarn might be just the thing.

Specialty yarn can be problematic – it looks so fun in the store and then it sits in a box under the bed at home. Well unless you like making toys.  I bought this yarn to make a sheep for someone but have oodles of it left.

So can you imagine my surprise when this box arrived last week. It came all the way from Michigan loaded with toys for PB&J http://www.palsbringjoy.com/www.palsbringjoy.com/Welcome.html

 And whatz that on top – nestled in with bears and hippos and raggedys?

An adorable poodle was peeking out of the box just begging to be taken for a walk. 

Look at all that sweet pink cuteness – why it just makes me want to dig out a poodle skirt and white anklet socks and go to a sock hop in the school gymnasium.

these monkeys in their conga line are ready to dance too!

A bevy of bunnies in their Sunday best

the tiniest fairy is ready to grant a wish.

and of course a monster or twoRaggedy Anne & Andy  are adorable right down to Anne’s cotton bloomers.

But I must admit some poodle love here and even earmarked the pattern http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dominique-pomp-a-poodle

 Joolieknits is a fabulous knitter and so generous to donate all these toys. She is a friend from the Itty Bitty group on Ravelry here-        http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/itty-bitty-knits/2202444/1-25

Go to her pattern page to see more toys and hats http://www.ravelry.com/projects/JoolieKnits .

And also check out what she is up to on her blog http://jooliesews.blogspot.com/ and sign up for her give away.

Oh and while we are at it don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into my give away for a pattern ; ) the drawing is on Friday.  And also you can get a free canned ham pattern with any toy donation. Lets fill up the Knitch’s window with toys for PB&J. http://www.knitch.net/  *picture is of last year’s window

what the hey

So this is what was on the needles yesterday…a little while later the legs were finished and it becomes a possum. The furry bits are a fun yarn I picked up from Joann(love those 40% off coupons) – Sensations Angel Hair. It is a blend of 50% acrylic, 28% nylon and 22% wool and knits into a soft cuddly animal. I used a double strand of some finger weight yarn for the fingers. And a small ball of pink variegated yarn for the chest. I need to find another color for the nose I am not happy with either the black or the pink.

And I immediately cast on again this time with a dark brown in the same yarn.Now my original thought was to knit up some muskrat love. Cause a muskrat would be easy to do- instead of a pink tail and fingers I would use a dark brown and then embroider some large buck teeth. Now I am fond of muskrats -if they aren’t digging out our seawall- I think they are pretty cute. But I am not sure a kid would share my muskrat love. And  the needles just weren’t cooperating they had something different in mind. Sometimes the yarn just doesn’t fit the animal that you are thinking of.

So rather than fight the yarn I let it decide where to go.

well it certainly isn’t a muskrat with a tail like this. Now I have a ways to go yet. This animal needs a face put to it and I will show you that tomorrow. Right now I would like to show you my starting point.

Yeah – I know this is a cat. A soft striped tabby made with llama yarn. This is my starting point. This was the pattern I wrote up last summer after some encouragement from Mary at  Knitch  http://www.knitch.net/ . This is an easy pattern to knit – basically it is a scarf. You fold and sew the edges and add legs and tail and voila un gato. If you are a beginner you can decide whether you want to knit the legs and tails flat or move on to dp needles. A little embroidery stitches finish the face and ears. But I wanted to knit several animals for charity and even though I really liked the simple pattern  my needles and yarn begged for a change.And an owl evolved  now this is the same scarf-fy pattern but I added a twist . I decided you could build an owl from a swatch. SoI started with a swatch from a lacy sock and then knit a dragon st from B.Walker’s pattern book for the back. Add a head and pick up stitches for the chest and the body is done.  The added wings throw in a couple of short rows for shaping. One of these days I am going to grab a crochet hook and make a granny square to use for the pocket and then knit the rest.

So my possum and the animal I am knitting now is a little of the cat pattern and a little of the owl with a few short rows thrown in.

But what does any of this have to do with a possum or that brown mess of yarn that is on the needles now?

Swatch, play, look around at patterns in magazines or on the internet and start a swatch using them and see where it takes you.This is the new Noro Magazine. It is loaded with all kind of cool idea(well what else would you expect from Noro. I love this sweater and I think the mitered boxes would make a very cool monster. And it would also give me a chance to see if I liked the technique enough to do a whole sweater.These hats would make amazing texture for a body.Oh how I wish i could crochet better. I must get out my hook and practice.

But this is the technique I am going to use for the face of my animal. I am sure you recognize this — we all fell in love with the Lizard Ridge Afghan by Laura Aylor  http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall06/PATTlizardridge.html

So like they used to say on the old radio shows  tune in tomorrow and see how lizard ridge works on the face of what ever the heck I am making.

Want to win the basic  cat pattern????

you can see the pattern here   http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kitty-kat-pocket-pal

leave a comment and tell me what you think my animal is going to be. Or what you would make with the basic cat pattern or even just say hi. I will have a drawing next Friday.














Well I think I mentioned more than once that I was going to do a give away this month. I kept promising but neglected to post any pictures of the give away. Well here it is….Knitting for charity is its own reward but to shake things up a bit I will give a pattern for the pig in the picture above to every one who donates. And also as you can see in the picture I have a project bag with the worsted wool to make a large canned ham and sock yarn to make the mini spamette and I just found some pink cotton to make a scrubbie buddy bath toy. I am still looking around for a few other goodies to include for the give away. The project bag is a genuine feed sack and of course the feed sack is  for sow feed(I mean how could it be anything else). This bag is ready to carry your pig project with you where every you are headed – the beach – a baseball game you name it. You will just need to supply the needles and the fiberfill stuffing.

Ok entering is easy make a toy to donate to PB&J and your name will be entered.The donated toys will make their way to Milwaukee’s Children Hospital to be given to the kids in the HOT(hematology/oncology/transplant) unit.  Its hard to imagine how lonely and scary it is for a child to be cooped up in a hospital setting away from the familiar comforts of home. The average stay is a month. They take all kinds of knits including hats but they are always short on toys.

You can read about PB&J here


and you can see my pattern here


well this little piggie has to go make dinner……….

Hartjie’s Cabin Shop

I love poking around in antique stores and was delighted to discover a new shop had opened in LaValle, Wi. Delighted and surprised. The store is above Hartje’s.

Hartje- for those that aren’t familiar with the area- is the place to go whenever you run out of anything. It is the gas station/hardware store/repair shop/ bait store/ well you name it Connie probable stocks it and if she doesn’t- she will know where you can get it.
If you walk past the cashier counter and head back to the beer coolers you will see a stairway and a sign to the cabin shop.

Upstairs there is an assortment of antiques

and also quilts and pictures made by local artisans

these pictures are made with some vintage fabric and framed with recycled barn wood.

I am not sure the sheep are local but couldn’t resist the wooly goodness after all I am a knitter.

I love this clock

My neighbor makes these beautiful tables from tree limbs he finds in the woods

His wife makes the fun bird baths below. Wouldn’t that be perfect in my butterfly garden?

Every where you look in the shop a treasure catches your eye.But at the same time the displays are not so cluttered that they are overwhelming.

Each time you visit there you can discover something new that you overlooked the time before.

tThere are old kitchen gadgets to place on your counter– that aren’t just decoration they really work

I was delighted with this old thing-a-ma-bob. I love the decortive  embossed surface. (oh how I wish my camera captured a better picture).  And Shelley told me I was right it was a thing-a-ma-bob(very technical name) and it was probable adjustment for a boiler. I know if I thought long enough I could find the right spot for this. Turns out Shelley’s father was a collector of these old metal things.

The one above was some kind of switch plate and has electrical fittings on the back. Wouldn’t this be great above your door bell.

I really love these old  irons. The one front and center must weigh 25 lbs. No wonder our Grandmas didn’t need to go to the gym. They had a workout just doing the laundry.

But my two favorites are this painting of wood ducks and the basket below. Now I wish I had thought to bring a pencil and paper to write down the names of the artists who made these. They really are very special. I love wood ducks and am lucky enough to have 4 wood ducks that visit the yard every spring. One of these years I am going to convince someone to put up a nesting box for me because I am sure one of the couples would move in. I would love this painting on the wall in the living room.

And this antler basket could follow me around the house. I could stash a knitting project in it and carry it from room to room. Of course then everyone would think the basket was so much prettier than  my knitting  ; (

Oh just kidding I think I am going to count up the mad money in my coin jar and see if I have enough for this– cause I love it. I might have to have more than one because it would be the really great X-mas present filled with my homemade  brittle.

Well if you are in the area you really should stop in. There is so much to see and covet and the prices are very reasonable. And you will probable see a thing-a-ma-bob that grandpa had in the shed and used for who knows what……and it would be the perfect thing for……..

Hot and dry

Just drove back from the cabin. Its hot and dry but the garden is still thriving. 

It probable helps that most of my flowers are native plants and are commonly seen in the ditches and the fields nearby.
This is one of my favorite parts of the garden right now. We used to have 4 wild plum trees here. They were wonderful healthy trees but I had to make a tough decision. Wind plums have wickedly long thorns and who ever mows the lawn had to be very careful around these trees. And skunks were visiting the trees and eating fallen fruit and bugs. Now I don’t have a problem with the wild life but I do have a large dog that can’t resist wanting to play with animals that come in the yard and after a couple of bath sessions late at night when the play wasn’t friendly– I reluctantly  agreed to cut down the plum trees.

In its place we planted a butterfly garden. We spot butterflies and hummingbirds in this garden daily. The flowers here not only smell good but they hum with all the insect activity.this bug looks a little fierce and I will have to look it up and see what it is. I looks like a wasp of some sort – over an inch long and jet black with a beautiful blue on its wings. There were several sipping nectar on the swamp milkweed that I planted for the monarchs. It looks scary but I didn’t see a stinger. I dead headed the coreopsis blooms and froze them. No dyeing this week – it is so dry that the county has issued a warning about fires even in a fire pit. They also banned fireworks last week in Sauk county. So I will wait and hope for some rain.I know that this is not a native plant but I couldn’t resist it when I was at the nursery – it is a black pearl pepper plant. It is sold as an ornamental but you can eat these if you like super  hot peppers. The plants are beautiful with purple and green leaves and the gorgeous purple flowers turn into dark almost black peppers that have a lovely shiny surface.

There are a couple more herbs tucked into this garden – basil, lemon verbena and pineapple sage. The pineapple sage has the most wonderful fragrance and the humming birds are crazy for the long red tubular flowers in the fall. And if you like lemons the verbena is the lemony-est(if that is even a word). It makes the best jelly too.

This is woad that I planted this year. It is thriving despite the drought conditions. It only gets watered twice a month. This is weld and it is growing like a weed(snicker) This might be madder. I am going to have to try to find a picture – – it is the only seed that I got in a seed swap for dye plants that didn’t germinate very well. But I am not worried 2 weeks ago I didn’t see anything here so maybe it is a slow sprouting seed and maybe when I get back to  the cabin in 2 weeks I will see more plants. But I still have some more seeds in reserve if I need to replant.And this is going to be a surprise because I neglected to write down what I planted. If I had to hazard a guess I would say passion flower??? (Peg – you probable recognize this).
All in all I would say that cutting down the plums and adding this butterfly garden was a great idea. Thanks Marty! (sorry that I was so stubborn about this)
I also planted some black hollyhocks 2 weeks ago and saw 4 seedlings up. I can’t wait to be able to dye with this next year. It makes a wonderful bluish gray dye. I can’t wait to see the dark purple blooms. I grew them before but didn’t have any come up this year in that dark purple. I have one dark red plant and the rest are white and pink. Other gardening news is that the Japanese beetles are not as bad this year. This is what I found in my traps after 2 weeks. Yea- I know it looks like a lot but this is nothing compared with last year. And the neighbors have them a lot worse than this. They are emptying their traps every day and the bags are half full or 6″. I only have about an 1″ of bugs in my traps. I really think the nematodes did the job. Another ongoing project in the garden is this area. I made another big mistake about 5 years ago and planted a grass from the nursery. And it spread like wild. Don’t get me wrong I liked the grass – it was about 5′ high and was a nice screen to give us privacy but it wasn’t supposed to spread. It was taking over and crowding everything out. It had gotten so out of hand it was invading the neighbor’s lawn. So last fall we made a decision that it had to go. But it is an ongoing battle. Some weeks I don’t know who it winning. But this week it looked like I had the upper hand so I decided to spread some mulch on the bed and maybe this fall I can seed some wild flowers into this area. Now there are 2 other areas that also need to be mulched and I just spotted some of this evil grass coming up in another bed. ARRRGGG!
Don’t make the mistake that I did – ask if the grass you see at the nursery is spreading or clumping. And then don’t believe the answer(like I did) – write down the name of the plant and then come home and find it on the internet. And then maybe… buy it.
Whew all this gardening is exhausting — this is a picture of Meva from this morning after 2 days of helping in the garden.
We didn’t work all day — we did manage to get out on the lake and do a little fishing. I didn’t catch much but the tickler caught enough for our fish fry tomorrow. And they were all big fish – crappies that were 10-12″ and a perch that was almost 10″. Panfish and potato pancakes – a feast fit for a king.
So that’s the news from Lake Redstone. What’s happening in your neck of the woods?


Last week my neighbor’s daughter was visiting. Suzie and I had a chance to catch up. And the dogs had a chance to play together. Well only a little cause it was too hot. I didn’t get a current photo of Cree so you will have to take my word that he is getting bigger and is quite a gentleman(most of the time)

As for us we tried to stay cool in the shade and work on our knitting. Suzie is working on a toy for the toy drive as you can see below. Suzie has only been knitting for a year which is hard to believe. I mean look at how nice and even her stitches are.

Now at this point you might be saying whatzthat…..but before you know it Suzie will be casting off the last stitch and folding it up……

….maybe now you can see it. See there is the beak and add a couple of eyes….

Yes before you know it there will be a handsome owl like this one.

I love Suzie’s choice of colors the red is so cheery and bright and the chest is going to be black which will show off the lacy pocket. And Suzie claims that she isn’t good at reading the charts but her Dragon skin stitch on the back is perfect. I just wish my pictures were perfect. Well I will get a better shot next visit when she is done.

there are pictures of my owls here on ravelry and there is even a pattern available.




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