Mrs. Autumnblossom!

I had a very exciting winter! On Christmas Eve I accepted my boyfriend’s proposal and we planned a wedding to happen over spring break! We looked at a summer wedding but so many people already had vacations or other things already booked and it is so hot over here in the summer that our options were to either wait until next winter or get married very quickly

The theme was birds and branches, nice springy colors and what not. We were married in a lovely chapel at the local University and had a very nice reception.

We honeymooned in Hawaii.


I am truly fortunate to be married to such a kind, loving, and patient man. I know people talk about how their wedding was the happiest day of their lives (except for having a baby, maybe) and I was on the bitter bus and would roll my eyes at that. Well, it’s true. It really was the most exciting, happiest day of my life. Other than some parking difficulties because of a festival and my dad not showing up it was a fairly stress free and exciting and joyful day. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Gemini Top

I knit this tank top using the Gemini pattern, written by Jane Richmond. You can find the pattern on Ravelry or on Knitty. I modified this top by removing the sleeves and shortening the torsos bit because I am petite. Normally the things I knit are not things I would wear but I really like how this turned out and can see myself wearing it in the summer. Naturally, this is the first chilly weekend of Autumn so I will likely not wear this until Spring.


Life continues on. Work is great, then it’s stressful, then it’s great. The city I live in continues to become more and more dangerous. I am so pleased to have finished knitting something. I did not accomplish much this Summer, things just kept being postponed.

I hope all of you have a lovely Autumn. I am thinking that Darby might need a new sweater because the house is chillier than my apartment ever was.

How to make a travel journal

I made a travel journal for our trip to Europe last year. Then I left it at home.

Step one, get a journal and a map of the place you are going.

Cut two pieces of map about an inc bigger all the way around than the journal.

Modge podge the cover.

I put the back on first and then trimmed where it overlapped the front, realizing later that I didn’t need to do that.

Then I put on the front side and used a blow dryer to speed up the drying because we were leaving the next morning.

Flip it over and trim the corners so when you fold them in you don’t get a crease there.

Fold over and glue.

I used scrapbook paper for the liners.


Well, it has been a long while since I last posted. I have not been writing patterns, living in this hot climate means that Darby rarely needs sweaters and work and travel has kept me quite busy.

I found some knitting that I have not posted about on a camera that was somehow not stolen when we were robbed a couple months ago. I was very fortunate that much of my jewelry was at my place and not Bill’s so that I still have it. My laptop and ipod and some jewelry at Bill’s were not so lucky. You really feel violated when the place you feel safe in has been ransacked. All my pictures are gone, that part really hurts.

Anywho, I saw this awesome advertisement in a knitting magazine and wondered for years what the pattern was and where to get it.

It is beautiful, right?

As it turns out, the pattern is by Isager and is only available through their website. In Danish. For 66 DKK, which must mean probably 80 or 90 US dollars.

I yearned after it for years.

Finally, our knitting group went to Stitches West, a knitting extravaganza held once a year not overly far from where we lived. At Stitches west was Isager, selling their yarn and if you bought enough they would give you a free pattern. Finally, I was able to get my pattern for Clara.

Clara comes in two sizes and I chose to do the larger as many Ravelry members who had knit it noted that the opening for the head is way to small to actually put over the head of a baby. In turn I made the opening in the back larger and added an extra button to close it. Usually I give my knitting away, I just like making things. This however, I am keeping in my knitting hope chest just in case I ever have my own little girl to swaddle in handmade love.

The Best Peanut Brittle Recipe Ever


I have the best peanut brittle recipe ever. I have been using it for 3 years (I think) and have always received compliments for it. The reason this brittle is so amazing us because it is airy, light, fluffy and melts in your mouth. This recipe is not mine, I did not make it, it is from the back of a Gurley’s Golden Recipe bag of Spanish peanuts.
I’m actually posting this on my blog so that if there is a shortage of peanuts next year I can use any brand to make the brittle (although Gurley’s really are a better quality that others I have tried)

Materials: 4 quart saucepan, measuring cups and spoons, a wooden spoon for stirring, candy thermometer, greased cookie sheet
Ingredients: 1 cup corn syrup (I use light), I cup sugar, 1tbsp butter, 1/4 tsp salt. 2 cups raw Spanish peanuts (I sometimes substitute raw almonds roughly chopped) and 2 tsp fresh baking soda (the fresher the fluffier the brittle)
Directions: Grease cookie sheet and set aside. Combine the corn syrup, sugar, butter, and salt n the pan and cook over warm until the sugar looks kinda dissolved. Add the peanuts and keep stirring Neil the whole thing gets to 290 degrees (or until a drop of it gets crunchy if you drop it not a bowl of cool water) then take it off the stove and add the baking soda. Stir the baking soda in o it all foams up and then pour it onto the greased cookie sheet and let it cool.
Once it’s cool break it up and give it to the people you love.

The reason this is so great is that the baking soda makes it foam up and there are all these little air bubbles in it so it’s not overly hard to bite into or break up. Some peanut brittle is like trying to eat shards of glass and this is so much nicer.

I hope you all give this a try and enjoy it as much as I do. Thanks to Gurley’s for publishing this originally on their bags.

Cold Toes and 8 Legged Creatures of the Deep

I am not posting on this nearly as often as I should. Here is what has been going on in my life. I came back from Europe, got settled into living with a roommate, started working at a charter school, found out my roommate put her house up for sale, found a new place to live and moved again.
Moving stresses me out.
In better news, I see you all are going through my patterns looking to keep your puppies warm this winter. With that in mind I will make some new (and hopefully more interesting) patterns to keep you occupied and your four legged babies warm.
I have been knitting. Not as much as I would normally because it’s been hot out. Now, however, it is cold. Maybe not to the standards of half the world but when it’s 63 degrees in my little space I am freezing. You can imagine that tiny little Darby is freezing too. Because it’s so darn cold I had to make myself some slippers. Much of my yarn is packed away (I’ve moved 2x thus far this year) so I’m working with all the wool-ease I’ve had lying around for years.
After much searching through Ravelry for a free pattern that wasn’t by DROPS I selected Non-Felted Slippers by Yuko Nakamora (Ravelry link).
They were a quick make, maybe 3 hours. I held 2 strands of Wool-Ease together throughout and also used a smaller needle (size 5) because everything else was packed away.
I have also been working on an octopus (Ollie the Octopus by Lion Brand Yarn) for new-to-the-world baby Calista per her parents request for things with skulls and squids. I’m 5 legs in and have 3 more to go plus eyes and the rest of the stuffing. I haven’t worked on it in a while and need to get it finished so she can enjoy it. Again, I get to use my acrylic that’s been hanging around forever. I really need to bust that stash and get on to knitting better things. You luck viewers even get to check out my favorite blanket, knit on for over a year before it was finished. Next blanket shall be a chevron blanket.

I’m looking forward to going to Disneyland with boyfriend Bill soon, I’m pretty excited. I’m super excited, actually. I’m going to ride Space Mountain and the tea cups and the carousel and Pirates of the Caribbean and eat churros and generally be a total kid again.

Guess where I went (and other good news).

Guess where I went with Billy.

They have telephone booths...

and they have castles...

They also have large stones arranged in circles for mysterious reasons.

There is guinness too.

We backpacked for 3 weeks all over the UK and Ireland. In other awesome news I got a job literally the day before we left. I had hoped for some other awesomeness to happen this summer but two awesome things is still pretty great. More pics and blogging later, plus a how-to for making your own travel journal.

My Favorite Things About Summer

As a teacher I love summer. After 9 months of pressure and stress (this year I got lockjaw, hives, and muscle spasms from the pressures of teaching at my two schools) we finally have a chance to sleep in and do all the things we dream about. So far I have read 5 novels, visited Yosemite and Lake Tahoe and have finally finished a gorgeous piece of knitting named Clara (ravelry link, login required).


Besides being an absolutely adorable little dress the pattern in interesting. First, it is very difficult to find. You can only order it through Isager with the purchase of yarn. Secondly, the pattern has been used by three generations of knitters. I think it is wonderful that we can still appreciate a pattern that is 60-90 years old and view it as fresh and still in style.

Being out of work without the promise of a job to return to is stressful. When I thought that they would bring back the Art program and rehire the art teachers I felt very secure in my lack of a job and wasn’t worried. When I finally got the message that the school district had decided to bring us back I was relieved. Then I learned that the district did not intend to bring back ALL the art teachers, only 1/3 of them. This secured my position in the unemployment line and I totally freaked out. I had been talking about how great and stress free my life would be and how I could use unemployment until I found another position but I was totally full of false bravado. In reality, losing my job is terrifying. I look at every penny I spend and question when I will have a paycheck again.

Here is a picture of Fallen Leaf Lake, in Tahoe, to get our mind off of my woes.

Another gorgeous evening at Fallen leaf Lake

I feel better, how about you? I have gone for the past two years to Tahoe with my friend Jen. This year we were joined by 5 2 week old kittens. Jen found them right after school got out for the year, left in a ceramic pot in the garage of an abandoned house across the street from her school. She found an adorable little black kitten the day before that had one of it’s ears cut off by some mean-spirited (just plain evil) person. So 4x a day Jen and I (mostly Jen) helped the kittens potty and fed them.

Jen feeding one of the kittens.

While in Tahoe I cast on my newest project, a cardigan I hope to have done before I leave for the United Kingdom next week (cough, not going to happen). It is the Windsor Cardi from Knitscene Summer 2011. I like the grey but am still using up my stash yarn and have some very nice heathered blue with putple to use up.

Tomorrow I have a job interview, which is a miracle because with so many art teachers out of work I did not think I would be able to even get interviews. Wish me luck! Hopefully my new favorite part of summer (besides Europe) will be finding a fabulous new art job for the Fall!

An Interlude

While sitting in the layoff hearings for my district I was able to work on my knitting. The first two days I worked on a baby dress called Clara and the third day i made the Interlude Hat.

An interlude is really what the layoff hearings were. A break between my classes, I took off the week to sit in on this farce, while my job (along with almost 300 others) were kept or lost in the arguments between the district lawyer and the union lawyer. Jubilation would spout up any time someone’s layoff notice was rescinded, meaning their job would be kept for the next school year. My job, along with the majority of the art educator jobs, were lost.

Interlude Hat

The hat was nice and tight when I made it but when I blocked it it bloomed a little and is not as small as I would like. There seemed to be minor errors in the pattern, where it would had an extra stitch at then end of a couple rows but I just kept those in and it came out just fine. You can find the pattern through Ravelry here or on her website here.

I also worked on my Clara dress. I love the dress and looked for years for the pattern for free and finally broke down and purchased it along with the yarn to make the dress. The theme in my knitting seems to be purple. I knit a lot of purple things.

Clara is a pattern that is being used by a third generation of knitters, according to the Isager wool guy. You can find information on Ravelry here and on the Isager site here. From what I have read, unless you bind off the top very, very loosely the neck is too tight to allow it to actually be put on a child, so people are knitting back and forth on the top and adding buttons or cutting it to add a button band. Adding a super-stretchy bind off has also been suggested. This pattern is knit from the bottom up with a blousey skirt, then a waistband and decreases at the yoke.

Tonight was the opening of an exhibit of fairy tale art at the Haggin Museum, our local fine arts museum. I went with another art teacher and enjoyed it very much. Hooray. I should illustrate children’s books, perhaps. Either way, I need to make more art. I am looking forward to this summer and intent to use it to explore and create. If I have a job for the fall, that would be awesome. If I do not have a job, honestly, I am okay with that too. i am so fortunate to be able to be happy either way, so many people would be bankrupt or have families to support and I just have to make sure I can feed myself and my puppy.

Shalom Cardigan

Over a year ago my sister gave me a bag full of yarn. Awesome stuff, too. And it continued to sit in it’s bag, next to the gorgeous yarn I picked up at Stitches West in 2010. Some of that yarn was finally used to make my beautiful Favorite Sweater. After finishing my Favorite Sweater and still being on a knitting binge, I searched through Ravelry‘s free patterns until I finally found something I liked that used the bulky alpaca my sister gave me. That’s how I came to make the Shalom Cardigan.

I am a short woman, being completely honest here. So I scoured the reviews of the Shalom Cardigan patterns to add sleeves and to shorten the body. I learned that if each of the three sections of twisted ribbing before the split for the sleeves was shortened by two rounds the body would be short enough for me. Adding sleeves was easy enough and I also included some waist shaping as well as button holes the whole way down so I can close the sweater all the way.

I like the sweaters that close only at the top but honestly, unless one is a waif or really dresses well, it makes us look dumpy. Also, I lost a bunch of weight and want to show off, so my sweater buttons all the way down. Once I sew on the buttons, that is.

Using a self timer to pose for pictures, not that brilliant.

The great thing about alpaca is that it’s super warm. Also, while I was told that it would stretch, it has not. However, I think it is a wool blend, so it actually felted a little bit and shrunk up when I washed it. I did add some more to the sleeves after I washed it because they became too short. I have found that the yarn sheds a lot.  I look a bit like a line backer in it and the yarn under the arm makes little fuzzballs. I pull off a lot of fuzzballs, mostly at work no less.

I actually have enough yarn left to make this sweater again, because I required less yarn than required when shortening the body. If I made it again without sleeves I would be able to make a tunic!

I have also made a shawl, so I’ll be posting on that.

In other news, my school district is cutting its art program, so I will soon be without a job. I am not sure where my life is going, I really thought I was going to be married this December but that has also changed. My life is about to really go into a flux and while I don’t enjoy that and spent the weekend freaking out over it, at this point I am feeling rather ambivalent. That may be because I still have a month and a half of work and I know I can go on unemployment if necessary but more than that I’ve been so stressed out about all of this for long enough and then I lost my grandfather, which was okay because he had been waiting for a while to go and wasn’t happy about being here, but the stress of organizing a funeral and family and then the job and the relationship status change and then oral surgery, wow, it’s been a lot. If you have read this whole thing, thank you. What I have started to do is to try to focus on putting my faith on God and recognizing that I am obviously not in control of the all the tings that happen in my life. I have control over what I eat and things of that nature but there is so, so much that I really have no control over. I’m trying to learn to live with that, it goes against my nature.