Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One more day!...

Today is the final day to enter the pirate yarn and book give away!!!  Tomorrow (probably after school) my faithful cabin boy will don his pirate gear and randomly select the winner of the give away.  I can't tell you how much we love this kind of stuff around here!  The drama...the pageantry...we happily take any excuse we can get to dress-up and play a new part!  I have a feeling that talk like a pirate day will have nothing on tomorrow afternoon's festivities! 

And while we're on the subject...I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed reading the responses to the pirate give away post.  I love the enthusiasm for talk like a pirate day...really too much fun, and I am truly honored by all of the nice comments about the book and the designs therein.  Writing and designing the pieces for this book was so much fun for me—a dream come true really.  It gave me the opportunity to take leisurely strolls down memory lane to a time to when my three buccaneers were shorter than I am (5'2").   It is so nice to hear that the designs appeal to others and most especially that they appeal to the littles out there.  When I was working on this book it meant a lot of private  knitting.  Normally when I knit I have lots of opportunities to share my knitting all along the way.  Everyone from knitting friends, to shoppers in the yarn store, to complete strangers  see a project at various stages from beginning to end, but with a book the pieces are designed, knitted and then sort of secreted away until publication.  A few people see it in process (and I am ever grateful to those few), but those are usually editors, friends and family, not random people I don't know.  The work goes along that way—the pile of knits growing and growing, without much outside feedback to help you get a sense of how others see and interpret the collection.

Actually, this was one of the hardest parts of the book for me.  You see, I am no good at secret keeping—confidences I can keep, I hold them close to my heart without the slightest need to tell another soul, but surprise secrets like this, not so much.  I'm the girl who practically dies trying to not tell you the cool thing I've gotten or made for your birthday (you know the type..."I won't tell you what it is but how about if I just give you a teensy-tinsy hint").  I'm insufferable at Christmas time and luckily for me my loved ones let me believe that they think it's endearing, although I have a sneaky suspicion that it's really just annoying.  Thus, it felt a little strange not sharing my knitting projects along the way, and now it's nice, really nice, to finally be able to share the book and the designs and get some feedback.  So thank you, thank you—thank you for your time and your kind words—it means so much...honestly, I can't tell you how much, but just know that it's more than a lot. 

I'll be back tomorrow to announce the winner of the drawing along with a little something sweet!...Thanks again! xoxoxox—alison

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stitchin' the days away...

I have been enjoying a rare visit with one of my favorite mom is here!  We have been sharing contented moments sitting and talking and eating and talking and eating, oh and did I mention talking and eating?  There has been some stitching thrown in for good measure and lots of laughter.  I am loving it!...each second of this time is so precious to me.

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments on my last post!  Reading them has been so much fun! all of that piratey goodness out there!  I will back to posting next week, but for now please feel free to leave a comment and enter the book and yarn give away (it's going on until the end of September).  I will be checking in here and checking my email if you have any questions about the give away or need to contact me. 

Hope you are having a wonderful to get back to the chatting, and it's almost time to eat again!...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aaarrrr...there be yarn here...

Avast me lovelies...Happy September 19th!...aye maties 'tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

No, I did not make this up...we discovered this fun day a few years back and my crew was immediately all over it.  Around these parts (or should I say port) it is mainly just an excuse to swagger around and growl "aaaarrrrrr" a lot, not to mention a golden opportunity for countless bad piratey puns...what's not to love?!

In honor of this fun, if geeky, holiday I will be initiating the next yarn and book give-away.  I will be giving away a signed copy of Fairy Tale Knits along with the yarn to make either the pirate sweater or the pirate lass dress/jumper.  The yarn is Tahki Cotton Classic.  The sweater is a comfy slouchy style and is sized for children from 12 months to 8 years (finished chest measurements from 26" to 35").

The dress/jumper has a fitted bodice and full skirt and is sized from 6 months to 5 years (finished chest measurements from 18" to 26").

This contest will remain open until Wednesday, September 30th.  Just leave a comment to this post or  leave a comment in any of the upcoming posts this month mentioning that you are interested in participating in the give-away and I will add your name to the drawing.  We will hold a random drawing for the winner on Thursday, October 1st.  If you do enter, please be sure to leave some way for me to contact you (email, blog address, etc.) just in case you are the winner.

Well that's all for now dearies.   I'm off to get me mum—she be visitin' this week (oops...sorry, slipped back into character).  Anyway, yay!...I can't wait to see her...I love having my mom around.  We are all very excited around here, even if it does mean grumbling about getting rooms clean and what-not.  I hope you all have a great weekend full of swashbuckling adventure and lots of fun!...xoxoAlison

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ladybug show and tell...

I am so happy today to be able to share a little secret that I've been keeping!  Back in July I submitted a design to the fabulous new online zine Petite Purls and it was accepted!...I was surprised and thrilled and am still absolutely over the moon about this!  I love this zine—love the look of it, the idea of it, the whole thing.  The first issue was so beautiful and I feel so honored to have a design in their fall issue.  It's strange even after writing a book full of designs and having other published patterns under my belt, I still can't believe it when I get a new design opportunity.  It feels utterly unbelievable and beyond wonderful that I get to spend my days doing something that I love so much!  Plus, Allegra one of the editors of Petite Purls reviewed my book!  How cool is that!...Thank you to Brandy, Allegra and Joan of Petite Purls for this wonderful opportunity!  It was a complete joy! 

The Ladybug pattern accompanied us on our family vacation, and I worked on it in every state between my front door and New England...I kind of love that!  It was finished after our return home, amidst all of this.  The pattern was a fun and easy knit and the yarn, Baby Twist by Alpaca with a Twist, is a dream come true.  It is soft and lovely to knit with and the fabric is truly scrumptious, light, soft and drapey but with substance, not at all flimsy, if you know what I mean.  I'll definitely be knitting with more of this stuff. 

Then it was time for a quick photo shoot.  Some of you might recognize my adorable model from a couple of the patterns in Fairy Tale Knits.  Let me tell you, this little girl is a trooper.  This shoot had to be postponed because, vacation schedules and squeeze in an out of town funeral and you get the picture.  We literally had one open window for this shoot and it just happened to be the hottest, muggiest day of the year—really.  You know the kind—I walked outside and my glasses immediately fogged over (and we keep our air conditioner set in the high 70s).  It felt like walking into a steam bath.  But I want to tell you that this little girl was a champ.  She put on that Alpaca coat and worked it.  This really reinforced my belief that natural fibers breathe—she never once asked to take this jacket off.

I thought you might like to see some scenes from the shoot...
New shoes!...always a good way to start!...

Almost ready...

So cute...


Let's try over here...

Look a leaf!...that looks fallish!...


Enough modeling!...see ya!...

As you can see from these shots, I had a lot of help.  Thank you to little Eleanor, her wonderful parents, to my sweet daughter and dear spouse for getting up early and out on this steamy day!  It was fun!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday hello...

Just a quick check-in for now...I am busy designing and knitting a Mongolian inspired hat for my little guy.  He's been working on a fourth grade research paper on Mongolia, so of course, I am working on a new hat for him to wear during his oral presentation—makes perfect sense right?...I think is so important to be properly attired after all.  The rest of the world may look at me like I'm crazy when they hear me say that my son is doing a report and therefore, I have to knit a hat, but I know you understand.

To tell the truth, I did a little inner dance of joy when he told me which Asian country he had decided on—these people love wool and color!...wool clothes, even wool houses, and the hats—oh my goodness—even the horses have colorful hats with fun things like antlers and all sorts of embellishments—so fun!, did you know that the Mongolian people have been credited with inventing applique?...I  didn' I said, there is a lot to love here!  Anyway, back to the hat—actually the idea for it and for others like it have been rolling around in my head for awhile, and I've been chomping at the bit to have an excuse to start playing around (you know how things get moved to the back burner, well this is definitely a back burner design), but now...yay!...let's hear it for grade school social studies!  No pics to share yet, and I'm not even sure that this first hat will be anything too exciting—I am designing as I go and I am up against a deadline—he has to present on Friday or Monday (nothing like waiting to the last minute—great mom modeling here), but I'll be sure to share some images if I get it done in time.

Oh, this is kind of weird and wonderful—I just got an email from Amazon telling me that because I've bought knitting books in the past (and how!) they thought I might like this new title—funny, that!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blue skies...

Happy weekending!...This pretty blue sky was such a wonderful thing to wake up to this morning.  We've been fortunate to have many lovely days like this recently.  The mornings begin with just the faintest promise of the fall that is to come, but by midmorning it is warm and positively summerish.  But look...

this little patch of red and gold are just starting to color our trees.  Pretty soon we will be apple picking, donning warm woolens and crunching leaves as we walk around town.  Even though we have lived in the midwest for twenty-two years now, I still get a thrill when fall comes.  I grew up in southeast Texas, and it has it's own seasons to be sure, but nothing like the dramatic golds and reds of autumn here.  I love the fall... it is crazy busy, always, but it may just be my favorite season of the year...that is until we get to winter, spring and summer!  Maybe it's just the change and the connectedness to nature that I feel when the seasons change so dramatically.  For now I will enjoy this summery day, sitting on the porch with a glass of iced tea and smiling at the promise of the cool days ahead and all the lovely knitting, baking and cozying that is to come.  Here's hoping that you have a wonderful weekend full of  blue skies and peaceful moments...Alison

One more thing...Tonia, please leave me your email, address or some other way to contact you so that I can send your yarn and book!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And without further ado...

Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful comments!  I am overwhelmed by your kindness, and I must say that I am so happy to be able to send a copy of Fairy Tale Knits and the yarn for the Flower Fairy Cloche off to one of you.  We had way too much fun with this little contest.  I got a big charge out of writing your names on the little slips of paper.  As I wrote them I couldn't help but think how much fun it would be to sit and knit together, talking and laughing and sharing a little something yummy (you do know that all calories ingested while knitting don't count, right) and a cup of tea or coffee.  What fun that would be!

Anyway, I tossed all of those names into the pretty silk bag usually reserved for my current sock project...

And then I waited for this character to come home from school and play his part.

He actually wanted me to film the proceedings and include a video clip here, but alas, I am not that technically savvy yet, so the pics will have to suffice for now. 
First, shake the bag to make sure that everyone gets an even chance, then reach in and pick a piece of paper...

Try to read Mom's pathetic scrawl...

And now without further ado...

The winner is...

Congrats Tonia, I will be sending you the yarn for the Flower Fairy Cloche and a signed copy of Fairy Tale Knits!  Please send me your address and email so that I can send your package off to you!

Right before my trusty assistant ran off towards swings, he announced that, "This was really fun!...we should do it again sometime!"  I couldn't agree more!... I will be hosting another book and yarn give away in the coming days!...stay tuned, but in the meantime I would like to share a little something with everyone who stopped by...

Sorry it's not knitty, but this is my family's hands-down, all-time, favorite chocolate cookie.  Even the non-chocolate eaters in my house (weird, I know) love this cookie.  It is that good.  Filled with little pieces of toffee and so fudgy, almost like a brownie, but not, it is absolute perfection with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk.  To give credit where credit is due, this recipe is a modified version of an ancient Bon Appetit recipe.  These cookies have been the main attraction at many parties, picnics and after-school snack fests, thankfully everyone loves them, so they don't hang around long enough for me to eat them all.    

The Shopping List
       1/2 c all purpose flour
       1 t baking powder
       1/4 t salt
       1 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips
       1/4 c unsalted butter
       1 3/4 c (packed) brown sugar
       4 large eggs
       1 T vanilla extract
       1 bag of Heath toffee chips (or toffee bars chopped—about 7-8 oz total)
       1c toasted, chopped walnuts—you
can toast walnuts in the oven on a cookie sheet or in a pan on the stove)

The Making—

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt   
Mix the chocolate and the butter together in the top of a double-boiler over
simmering water
(or a stainless steel bowl placed over a small pot of simmering water) until melted.  Once the mixture is completely melted and smooth, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool until lukewarm.
With a mixer set to medium speed, beat the
brown sugar and eggs until thick (about 5 minutes).

Beat the chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract into the egg mixture.

Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the toffee chips, and finally walnuts (can toast them in the oven on a cookie sheet or on
the stove) to the above mixture.

Chill the batter until firm (45-60

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment and drop
batter, by 1/4 cupsful (an ice cream scoop works well for this) onto the
lined baking sheets.  Space cookies 2-3" apart—they will spread to about
3-4" across

Bake until the tops are dry and beginning to crack, but still soft to the
touch, about 15 minutes.
Cool on cookie sheets and then devour!

Being new to blogging, it can still feel a little odd at times—like a new pair of shoes (shoes I like muchly, but new all the same), it feels sort of self-absorbed, typing the little projects and happenings of my life out into the ether.  My dream for this blog is to create a place of sharing, a place that will encourage me live more intentionally, with more presence to those near and far and with more consciousness of the choices that I am making throughout my day.  It will grow to be, I hope, a place for me to explore new ways of creating and new ways of reaching out of myself, even if that means getting a little outside of my comfort zone sometimes.  But I like the stretch here,  the opportunity to grow in new directions with something that simultaneously gets me out in the world and encourages me to look inward.  I am finding that chronicling the little moments that make up a life is a good exercise in observation and reflection, and I really want more of that in my life.  It is so nice to know that there are others out there, typing and reading, on their own journey.  I truly appreciate the time that it takes stop in, so once again, thank you ever so much.  Enjoy the cookies and happy making!...Alison

Hang in there...

My able bodied assistant (aka Robin Hood) will be getting home from school in a jiffy.  He is looking forward to being my random name selector for the contest.  So please bear with me...the big announcement is just around the corner (definitley before soccer practice and dinner)...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Friday!...

Hello Friday...when did you get here?...that seems to be the way of things lately.  Where does the time go?...all of a sudden I am so aware of how fleeting these days are.

This afternoon I am taking off with my girl for the first on our list of fall college can that be?  This is such an exciting time full of anticipation and  joy and, of course, a little bittersweet too—we aren't even going to get into how much I am going to miss having her around next year.  No, I am not going to go into that—not now anyway.

Before I head out the door, I thought I would leave a little something for your viewing pleasure...a link to a wonderful video (for some reason they've disabled the embed link on YouTube) about the gorgeous knits of Oleana and designer Solveig Hisdal.  I have long loved Hisdal's book of, Poetry in Stitches—a collection of hand knitting designs, sadly out of print.

The video is about the work of Oleana, how the company was founded, what their ethos and aesthetic is, their designers and workers, and it is full of color and inspiration.  The scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous—I want to go—and music and the Norwegian make for lovely listening.  This short film gives me a lot to think about, both about knitting and about business practices in this country and beyond.  I could watch it over and over, trying to soak up every little detail—beautiful!  I hope you enjoy it!

Have a relaxing and restorative weekend!  I'll be thinking about you!...Alison

A quick reminder...the drawing for the book and yarn give-away will remain open until next Wednesday, September 9th!...Just leave a comment on the post from Thursday, September 3rd to enter! 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A walk in the woods and a basket of goodies...

Thanks so much to all of you who left comments yesterday! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your warm wishes and how very much each and every comment means to me—thank you. In addition, I am thrilled to hear that there is interest in a book/yarn give away!...yay!

I just got back from a short walk. It is truly beautiful here right all the shades of green and how the light filters through the trees...

So to celebrate this beautiful day, the waning of summer, and the roses that are still gracing my garden, I would like to share this basket of goodies with you...

This gift will include yarn for the Flower Fairy Cloche and a signed copy of Fairy Tale Knits (to view a gallery of patterns included in the book click on the image of the Cinderella dress in the side bar). This is the hat that Alana and I discussed on Episode 23 of the Never Not Knitting podcast. This hat is knit in the round, has an I-cord hat band and is festooned with roses and leaves.

The Details ~
If you are interested in this offering, please leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, September 9th. On Thursday, September 10th, we will choose a winner at random and send the package!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

ps—If you commented on yesterday's post, you will automatically be included in this drawing : )

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Friends...

Recently I had the great pleasure of chatting with Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting. Alana is an wonderfully talented designer, so I was thrilled and honored when she invited me join her on episode 23 of her podcast to discuss my book, Fairy Tale Knits (you can view a gallery of designs from the book on my side bar). Now, I am kind of a shy person (until you get to know me or put me in front of a computer screen apparently—then not so much) and this is my first foray into publishing, so I was kind of surprised by the invitation and, to be honest, a little nervous about it, but Alana is so easy to talk, she made it really fun...thanks Alana! looks like the book is officially out there now!—still amazed by that— and to celebrate I would like to host a few give-aways. I have never done this before, so I'm not sure if there is any interest out there, but I thought I would offer a few signed copies of the book, as well a signed copy paired with the yarn for one or two patterns included in the book. If you are interested and would like to enter any of these, please leave a comment and check back here in the next day or two for details!

Happy knitting all!...Alison

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Over the last few days I have gotten to play with two things that most knitters I know have been loving for a long time...Ravelry and Malabrigo...oh what I've been missing.
Raveling...I joined Raverly awhile ago, but I was in the middle of writing my book and just generally busy with the doings of family and such, so I didn't really do much exploring. Plus I'm a little fearful of social media in general. You see I am a bit of a luddite and spending time in front of a computer when I could be knitting just didn't make sense to me, also I was afraid that it might just "take over my life." I'll explain...I'm the girl who had a Facebook account for exactly three minutes. At the urging of friends and family, my dear husband walked me through the process joining Facebook. Within 60 seconds (literally), I had a friend request from a far-flung friend. I absolutely panicked. I think I said something like, "I don't have time for this...this is going to be one more thing I'll have to do and that I'll feel guilty about when I don', no, no...take me off! tell Nick I'm sorry and I'll call him later!" And so my husband graciously (if laughingly) obliged. And so, I have been wary of Ravelry and protective of the time that it might suck out of my life. But now I am eating my words. Recently I have spent a little time there and I have seen some amazing, truly inspiring things and had some wonderful interactions with knitters (old friends and new) that I am treasuring. I know—duh, it's what everyone has been talking about all this time—but it's new for me and I am loving it! So thank you, thank you dear Ravelers. I look forward to meeting many more of you and playing in the future!

And for now this...
Oh my still my heart. I love you, Malabrigo Merino the colors, the texture, the fabric it produces, all of it. Of course, this yarn is not a Johnny-come-lately. I've seen it before and have been hearing about it for ages, but it just never made it into my knitting basket. All that is changed! This yarn is gorgeous in the hank, on the needles and knitted up. There is definitely so much more of this in my future. Right now I am working on a little jacket—a button will figure prominently in this design—and am loving it, so quick, so fun and so soft! I will try to get the pics for this and a pattern up by the middle of the month. Have a great Monday!