Thursday, December 17, 2009

Free Pattern: Tiny Tops!

This is a 3 page PDF that describes two construction methods for making miniature sweaters. They are intended to be Christmas tree or Hannukkah Bush ornaments, but can be easily converted to lapel pins, finger puppets, etc. The purple one didn't photograph well, but it says "2009." It's posted it on Ravelry now. If you aren't on the Rav, drop me an email and I'll mail it to you. But if you want this pattern, you should be. Just sayin.'

Let it snow!

Yay! The holidays! I don't even care that my morning walkies now mean frozen thighs or that Wensleydale *hates* starting when it's chilly. I'm having a lot of fun knitting like crazy and of course I can't show off anything until after it's all opened. So here are some pretty pics of snowflakes to tide you over.

Also - I have been run over by a freight train of creativity and now have FOUR new kilt hose patterns and an intricate lace shawl needing to make it from my head to my computer. I'll be needing some test knitters for sure! I am just far too tragically slow to make these all happen in less than, say, 2 years with my current schedule, and there are so many other things I want to make, too! Why isn't that cloning technology here yet? Haven't they been promising that for decades now?

Amazing news - the drive recovery people say they saved 99% of my stuff! I'm waiting anxiously for it to arrive to see for sure if my about-to-be-submitted pattern survived. *fingers crossed*

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I lost 5 pounds!

I am LOVING this Wii. Today I did basic step and table tilt. Boxing made me sore sore sore in that phenomenal "yes-I-had-an-awesome-workout-yesterday" way. Last week I did so much hula hoop I gave myself temporary hip bursitis. :) It's so hard to be sensible and build up gradually when you're having so much fun!

Thank you Sister Nancy!!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I won!

Twisted (my soon-to-be-favorite LYS in Portland - I spent a fortune at their Sock Summit booth) liked my entry in their "fiber animal haiku" contest:

Fresh, newborn lamb bleats
Wobbly knees and flapping tail
Future is all wool

Lucky me, I won Cat Bordhi's innovative new book, Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.
Hmm... I seem to do pretty well in these little challenges - I should get cracking on that acupuncture book. And maybe I should include little knitting poems between discussions of Yin and Yang...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

And the winners are...!

This whole process has been very educational. I realized that my epic pattern stash was no longer exactly what I needed. I'd outgrown a lot of the ideas, and my tastes changed away from some others... I was a lot pickier about grabbing patterns this go 'round. I still managed to collect about 100 (here's a hint: When you like a design, seek out everything that author has generated!) but they are all things I really want to make. No more "maybe sortas." I even cleaned out my Ravelry queue and reduced it by about 40%. It's still astronomical. :)

I finally faced the fact that I'm a slow knitter, and a busy girl (I'm supposed to be writing a book on top of running my business and working full time), so I have to prioritize. Right now I'm slaving away on a pair of kilt hose for Matt (my own design!), but after that and some obligatory Xmas knitting I'm starting on Spanish Armada. Well, the center of it. Things are going to twist south from there. Stand by for details. :)

Without further ado... Purple (who gave me the gift of a Mermaid knockoff) and Ikkinlala (who suggested Pamina) are the winners! I've emailed you - just let me know your yarn choices and your addresses. :) I'm sorry I couldn't award prizes to everyone who entered. You were all so wonderful and generous! Thanks again, so SO much! I WILL be rewarding you with two free patterns, coming soon...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Singing Larynxes

This view down four singing throats is incredible from both anatomical and musical perspectives. They look like friendly little alien faces, don't they? Cute tune, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Got Horses?

My friend and photographer extraordinaire Annaliese Moyer has just established a new website: Equigraphics. Beautiful equine portraits and some other critters too. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pattern Stash Contest / Giveaway

UPDATE: PEOPLE! Please leave me a way to contact you! About 50% of you have given me wonderful patterns but no way to say thanks!

SECOND UPDATE: At the end of the contest I'll be publishing a free pattern of my own - my third one. Keep spreading the love! :)

Before The Crash, I had a truly massive pattern collection. For 9 years I have been snatching up every free pattern that even mildly intrigued me, and paid for a few more (Oh Rogue, I can’t believe I never got to you!). I had hundreds (probably thousands, actually) of them carefully categorized and tagged so I could find just the perfect thing for a given yarn, giftee, or garment need. The irony here is that I almost never follow patterns… but they are oh-so-useful for inspiration to produce my own creations!

Now that comforting safety net is gone. Thanks to Jess & Casey I still have Ravelry’s pattern search (I'm Needlegrrl there, too), but it’s not set up the same way, and … well… it’s not the same.

Here’s where you come in. Help me rebuild my stash! Send me your favorite essential / must make / most unique / “best kept secret” pattern. Please note: I am NOT asking anyone to break copyrights. I’m only looking for free stuff or notes you’ve written, please. Patterns worthy of being purchased for stash can be nominated as well, but remember that I’m a notorious cheapskate. You may email a PDF or Word doc directly to me (laughinglagomorph at gmail), or post a link. I’ll pick one winner on merit (the one that makes me say “woo!” out loud) and one by random number generator.


1) I’m not generally into the basic beginner patterns. I like complex lace & cables & weird challenges. That said, sometimes a good simple recipe is awesome. They’re so easy to pervert. :)
2) Crochet edgings are fine, but beyond that, please stick to knitting.
3) Socks, mittens, hats, shawls, sweaters, toys… it’s all good.
4) Garments appropriate to a curvy stumpy girl are helpful. I’m 4’10” and fat. I’m losing weight, but I’ll never gain height, and even at my ideal size I’m very hourglassy. So no long skinny coats, k? And not so much with the super-bulky yarn.
5) Garments appropriate to a tall, athletic Scotsman with excellent legs are also appreciated.

Winners will get something tasty from my stash! The Merit Prize chooses first, then the Random winner. If you hate all of these glorious options I can spin you something or go stash diving again. But what's not to like? Claudia Hand Painted (the purple mash-up), Panda Silk DK in Berry Smoothie, Fortissima Socka in a wonderful olive green, and C*EYE*BER Fiber in Glacier. This last one was Swag from the Alaskan Sea Socks cruise in 2008.

Contest ends Nov 30th!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Computer Disaster (Doubled)

My trusty old Mac melted down after 4+ years of service. The bad news is that it went suddenly - a massive stroke - and I hadn’t backed it up. I’ve lost everything. All my photos, all my marketing materials for the clinic, and all my knitting patterns (I had a huge collection, meticulously organized, including the three I was writing for publication).

Back up your hard drive!!!

Yes, I know about data recovery services and will try one, but the Genius at the Mac store wasn’t hopeful.

The bit that really stinks is that Matt’s went 3 days ago. He had some warning and saved all his stuff… I was literally bugging him to copy mine when it failed. We had Figgy at the vet’s, too, so it’s been an expensive week. sigh

Good news: The cat butt seems to have returned to normal function.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Forgot to give you this one, so you can get the full effect of us as a pair:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Vaguely Medieval Dwarf & Archer

Okay, so you know Matt calls me Dwarf. I mean, most people think that's my real name around here. :) I started with a knit helmet with an attached beard. There was a felting disaster (knitting details on Ravelry) so last-minute desperation led us to insert bits of an old pirate hat as quarter panels. I love it - better than the original. :) My knit Mithral vest isn't showing up properly in these pics but it's a dove grey with sparkly bits. It came out really well. Matt made the the tunic. Add some knit gauntlets, my felted colonial bag, and a loot bag on the belt... voila! I'm one feisty battle Dwarf.

Matt turned heads (as usual) in his archer outfit. He sewed a quiver from pleather originally purchased to make wings for Elphaba's flying monkey. I dyed the dowels, and he fletched the arrow ends. Is there nothing this man can't do? Thanks to Loveduck Leather for the hat.
Nae was a superhot Succubus. Yowza! On her shoulder perched a movable puppet.

We went to the Henri David Halloween Ball. You know those scenes in movies and TV when the characters go to huge parties and everyone is wearing fantastically detailed costumes? I was always jealous. I wanted to go to that party! Last night I did - we were surrounded by original, beautifully done outfits. I loved that they played great music at non-earsplitting levels. On the central stage were male go-go dancers, chosen more for their quantity of muscle than their dancing ability. It was just SO much fun!! There are about 50 pics here on Flickr, but I have to share my favorite costume (a Faberge Egg and his Czar) and my favorite picture: Wolverine snapping a photo of a man at a portable urinal.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

My favorite holiday!! Okay, I know you were expecting Elphaba, but two weeks ago we shifted gears. Matt and I love doing paired costumes that play in our height differential (remember Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompa? That was the best!), so this year we're doing a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque archer and dwarf. Our living room has been a flying frenzy of fabric, paint, feathers, and clay. Full pics and details coming soon... Here's a hint: Female dwarves have beards, too!

In the meantime, have a spooky day!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Work has been slow this week, so I've been home knitting on my Halloween costume and watching a lot of TV and movies. Things I've "learned" include:

1) If you get shot, just take out the bullet and you're fine. Heck, you can break out of the hospital as soon as you regain consciousness and fight bad guys hand-to-hand! Blood loss and infection don't matter, let alone damage to muscles, bones, nerves, and internal organs.

2) If you've overdosed on sleeping meds hours ago, and you're found sprawled out and un-wakeable, all you need is your buddy to induce vomiting. No matter that the pills dissolved long ago and are clearly currently working... you'll be fine in minutes!

3) Genes can change from dominant to recessive as they pass from parent to child. Isn't that clever?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Upcoming book?

I've been thinking about writing a book. It's been percolating in my head for years, actually, but now I'm getting fired up to make it happen. It would contain basic information on how acupuncture works, and how you can use acupressure at home to help yourself and your family. I have a few questions about the content and format, so I'd really appreciate it if you took this 2-minute poll - even if you aren't interested in the book - I need to know that, too!

Your answers will reach me anonymously.

(Sorry about the enormous logo - I can't figure out how to shrink it with the survey software.)

If you don't currently receive my clinic newsletter (monthly email) and would like to, sign up here. Archives of previous issues are here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rain Trumps Candles

The Paoli Illumination, scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) has been cancelled due to rain. :(


Ok, so I finally got sick enough of the pink to overhaul the blog. I even updated my links over there to the right. Yay!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Few Knitting WINS

One of the “Black Mix” bags I got from the Sheep Shed was black and white swirled together like a soft-serve cone. I separated them as best I could, but there were some strips of roving that were so blended they weren’t worth the effort to separate fiber by fiber. Those went into bag #3. Which I felt strangely drawn to spin immediately. And the whole time I was spinning, I felt intensely compelled to make mittens.

I didn’t think I had enough. I was pondering doing a Fair Isle or striped section with either black or white. In fact, I was so sure I wouldn’t have enough that I nearly didn’t start them. See the ball “left over?” It weighs more than the completed mittens do. I’ve been knitting and spinning since 2001 and I still have no clue how to eyeball how much I will need for a project. sigh

Good news: The mittens came out perfectly the first time, great fit, no 28 revisions necessary. I was considering dyeing them but I believe I like them as is.

Disasters from previous post: The witch socks just got finished off at mid-calf height and I've been wearing them a lot. Very comfy and look great with pants. The cabled socks have been rescued by inserting a few more cables. They're nearly done.

And my latest triumph: A pointy felted hat for my Halloween costume (Elphaba). I just need to firm up the brim a bit.

Parking Wars

Since Matt's most recent appearance on TV, the fan mail has finally died down to mere dozens a day. With his latest blockbuster, however, I expect we'll need to rehire that professional letter-answering firm again.

You can see it yourself on A&E, Parking Wars episode 42, part 2. Funny thing, though, they edited out the part where he showed up before the meter had run out - thus his confused expression when she said he got a ticket. She had started writing him up assuming he wouldn't get back in time. If you listen closely you can hear her explaining they need the car make so they can rescind the ticket. Also, he was wearing a black Utilikilt, no matter what the caption says.

That's our friend Jari in the back. She was trying to hide but her smile is simply unstoppable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Instant Attitude Correction

If I had still been grumpy when I woke up this morning (which I wasn't - I'm lucky that way and generally don't retain my bad moods for long) the sight outside my front window would have turned me around.

I'm madly in love with "golden hour" light, especially when shining through my dogwood trees while they're waving the big "Fall is coming!" flag.

Come on, October! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Not one but TWO knitting projects have come to a screaming halt. And I do mean screaming.

My incredible witchy socks, which performed so well for me in the foot and heel shaping, have decided to look like crap in the broomstick area. I was trying to insert a lace design up the back of the calf (shaft starting just after the heel, with the whisk section at the calf) but it just isn't coming out well. Plus I'm running out of yarn. Plus the yarn itself has some issues (knots and weird ply-flyaways and thick felted sections) so I think I'll start these over with different yarn. But not this week.

Last night the cabled red socks also decided to laugh in my face. I needed to add some increases to counter the cinching effect of cables all around once I got past the heel, but that meant the yarn pooled in a nasty way. I understand that's all Greek if you don't speak knitter. Translation: I had to make a structural change, which created an aesthetic problem. Further translation: They now suck.

This is the problem with designing your own projects, which is better than simply copying what other people have already done. Even though that means they've already worked out all the problems I seem bound and determined to discover. *sigh*

Friday, September 25, 2009

Paoli Illumination

Want another chance to see me in a ridiculously unflattering costume?

Saturday, Oct 17th, from 7-9pm, is the annual Paoli Battlefield Illumination. There will be continuous guided candlelight tours, going from scene to scene. You'll learn about the Paoli Massacre from first-person interpreters telling the stories of the nighttime battle. 300 luminaries will represent the casualties of this American Revolutionary War battle. $5 per person or $20 for a family of 4 or more.

The Paoli Battlefield is located at First & Wayne Aves, next to the Paoli Memorial Grounds in Malvern.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reading Roundup

Here are a few more great books I've read lately:

The Thirteenth Tale: Lyrical and involving. I didn't care for the twist at the end but I'm sure others loved it. Not my usual sort of book but really lovely writing.

Under and Alone: True story of an ATF agent who went undercover with the Mongols. In case you're unfamiliar, they are a motorcycle gang that makes the Hell's Angels look like yuppies. A very honest account of how living as a patched-in biker changed him.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: I nearly didn't get this one, due to a review that said it was exactly like the movie (which was good, but not earthshaking). While it's true that the events are the same, the read is a completely different experience. It seems clear that years of research went into the project, but his knowledge leaks out in a hundred tiny ring-of-truth period details. The history illuminates rather than glares. Hansen's writing has a cadence that really brings you into his moment. This book is a freaking time machine. I'm halfway done and already dreading the end - I don't want it to be over. Sample paragraph:

Jesse, on the other hand, was the soul of friendliness and commerce, acknowledging each of Bob's remarks, letting the boy ingratiate himself, rewarding him with trivial tasks that Bob executed with zeal. Then he asked Bob to strike a match as he read the dial of a pocket watch in a gold hunting case, stolen from a judge near Mammoth Cave. The clock instructed him and he retreated into the dark and after some minutes returned with a kerosene lantern and with a burlap grain sack over his arm like a waiter's towel. "You can stick with me, but don't heel. I don't want to bust into you every time I have the notion to change direction."

Bob muttered, "I'm not a moron, for Heaven's sake," but kept his head down - one might have thought his boots had ears.

Living History

Last Saturday was the colonial thing at the Plank House. It was a great day, but I was too busy explaining the sheep-to-clothing process to run around and get pics of everyone else (sorry, I'm a rotten Blogger). There was a girl making lace at an unbelievable rate of speed. Unbelievable because she was flipping her tiny thread bobbins through a complex memorized pattern like a cracked-out hummingbird, yet she says the final product grows by an inch an hour. Ug. There was also a candle maker, quill maker, blacksmith, lap-loom weaver, and lots of others, including those explaining the buildings and clothing. My costume-maker Delores introduced a little modern technology: She had clothes for people to change into, took their digital pics, and printed them out on the spot. The kids were (mostly) really adorable. I should have had her do mine, but suddenly we were slammed and then suddenly we were packing up for the day and I had a sunburned strip on the back of my neck.

Ok, I'll admit it - part of my camera avoidance may have hinged on the clothing. Multiple layers of stiff, heavy fabrics turned my already abundant figure into something resembling a pregnant mammoth. My waist wasn't just hidden - it was lurking in a cave in Afghanistan somewhere. I drew the line at the white apron that was supposed to go over all of that, and I noticed I wasn't the only one.

I started with a pile of raw, dirty fleece, explained the washing process to get to the pretty white fleece, then the carding. The Coopsworth locks turned out to be super rough when spun, so I used that as my table demo. I carded out a handful of locks into a fluffy mass, then handed some to each person. "This is sort of fun, but you can't really make clothing out of it. See how it comes apart? Now put a little twist in it...(Here I showed them how to twirl it into a few inches of yarn, with varying degrees of success)... and see how strong it is?" A few yanks on the ends and their eyes would light up. "That was pretty awkward doing it with your fingers, though, right? We need a more efficient way to do that." Ideally I would have had a spindle, but I can't use one so I just talked about it. And then I'd show them the wheel (my Kromski Minstrel), and my balls of yarn and knitted house socks I made for Matt. Then I'd get them to look at their own clothes and see the tiny knit stitch duplicated in their t-shirts.

If they were hankering for more I got into plying, knitting, weaving, and felting. It was mostly grownups who were interested in all of that. Men wanted to figure out the engineering of the energy transfer with the wheel, while women wondered how long it took to do everything. I used my bag as an example (2 evenings to spin, 3 days to knit), freely admitting that I had skipped the long and nasty process of scouring the wool by buying it cleaned and combed, and the day of boiling and stick-poking by chucking it in the washing machine.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Not too many glazed-over eyes. I let some kids guide in a pre-drafted strip of wool while I worked the pedals, then gave them the yarn they made. I even recruited another knitter to the Wonderful World of Spinning - she's coming over tomorrow to learn. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Purse Abundance!

1) I found a vinyl laptop bag that was $20 but looks surprisingly like nice leather. So now my precious Mac will be safe going to and from work.

2) I've been hunting everywhere for a medium sized, lightweight bag that stuff won't fall out of. Seems pretty basic to me, but the "in" thing now is either Big Enough to Carry your Car or Too Teeny for Anything But Your Phone. Plus I love leather but it's heavy, especially with all the extra staps and buckles everyone feels compelled to add now. I have tons of totes, but bad thing happen when you throw them willy-nilly into the back seat. Ask me how I know.

I tried Etsy (awful print fabrics) and lots of stores and finally gave up when Holly told me about Laura Bee. I picked out what I wanted - OMG! YARN FABRIC - in an oxblood Naugahyde (yeah, I know, but it works, trust me!) and convertible straps that can either go across the body or over one shoulder. I loved it, but it was pricey she was backed up and I had to wait 6 weeks to get it.

3) So I cancelled my order the next day and Matt started to make me - yes MAKE ME - the cutest purse ever, with a inside lined zipper pocket, the cell phone pocket. I picked the fabric (which didn't photograph well, but the color is better, keep trusting me) and made some of the piping. Heather did the initial sewing. But he did everything else - the design, the handles, the crazy complex top part that was patterned after my favorite bedraggled bag. It's awesome.

The carrot bag was already well underway when I heard back from Laura Bee, that custom orders are non-refundable (I was hoping that since she hadn't started it yet they'd let me off the hook, but nope). It came more quickly than anticipated, so now I have two cool purses!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I just finished reading 1491. Holy cow. If you are at all interested in history, or the interaction of cultures, or human effects on the natural world, you should read this book. It starts off pretty dry, but stick with it. About a third through it hits pure gold (pun intended).

In short, the true story is a world apart from the image we were taught in school. In both North and South America, the populations were denser than previously thought, and built extravagant architectural systems. They had a much more comprehensive agricultural impact than I would have imagined, too. I don't want to give too much away, but the lasting effects of those Amazon farmers are pretty impressive.

And tucked back in Appendix B, I found something that made my Fiber Artist soul sing: The Inkas (Incas) left behind knotted strings called khipu. For a long time they were considered a sort of abacus, but second look has revealed them to be a form of written record! They used fiber (cotton or alpaca), color coding, and different types of S and Z plying to transmit data. William Conklin says "90 percent of the information was put into the string before the knot was made." Then there's the knot itself, tied going either up or down the string, and the type of knot... wow. They are still working on the translations. I think it's going to take a while. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

5 years of fun

To celebrate 5 rolicking years of marriage, Matt & I went north to an adorable isolated B&B with a hot tub and a fascinating assortment of wildlife.
Knoebel's, established 1926, is an old-fashioned amusement park with wooden roller coasters. Friday there was was cool and rainy. Absolutely perfect, although a dino chased Matt for his chocolate mint fudge. Click on that skyride pic.

On Saturday we visited the Pioneer Tunnels, a hokey but informative tour of a coal mine, including a ride on old mine cars and a steam train. I always knew in a vague sort of way that coalmining was a rotten job, but wow... Let's just say that I'm even more grateful to be an acupuncturist now. We didn't actually get to ride the steam train, since it threw a seal just minutes before we were supposed to get on and they substituted an electric engine.

Centralia is a nearby town that no longer exists, because there's been an underground coal fire burning since 1962. The government offered relocation packages and even rescinded their zipcode. There are still 6 people living there who refused to move. Video here of steam rising from the ground.

Today we took the long way home along the Susquehanna River and hit a few antique dealers. I found a terrific milk bottle, just starting to turn purple, for $5. It'll look great in my art room holding the few straight knitting needles I keep for teaching.

We had lots of yummy food, Matt saved a baby bunny from a semi-feral cat, and we stumbled on a friendly gay bar out in the middle of nowhere. Northern Central PA turns out to be beautifully lush and green. The people are sweet. The roads are smooth. Everyone takes excellent care of their lawns and cars. It was much more civilized than the Main Line, in some ways, and certainly prettier. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009


Part two of the PacNW Tour: On Sunday I rode up to Seattle with Emma (Dragonfibers), Shannon (Sobeknofret), and Christi (Turtlegirl). That was fun although we were all a little loopy from exhaustion and wool fumes.

The next few days involved some attempted purse making (pics if it ever gets finished), but mostly aggressive lying around at Heather's place. We had a beautiful picnic at Gasworks park (more pics here) and were joined by a surprise guest - Shawn, who was a classmate at OCOM and a witness at our wedding.

I spent one night with Holly (orange hair) which meant taking the ferry to Poulsbo. Click to embiggen - you can see one of the seagulls that love to follow the boats. She and her sweetheart have a little farm out there. Llamas and ducks and cats, oh my! We made megachunky cookies for her shop, Monster Art and Clothing, which is chock-full of locally made, well, art and clothing. Really fun unique stuff. In the pic of the two of us, I'm wearing a prototype "wolf" hat she made on custom request.

Through the whole trip (starting on the flight out to Portland, actually) I worked on my witchy socks. Here they are so far... You can see just the hint of a lace pattern starting on the back. I'll publish the pattern when done.

In other leg news, Matt collided with a bench in the EMP's Jim Henson exhibit. At first we thought it was just surface damage but now it looks like separated the periosteum or even fractured the tibia. He gets an x-ray tomorrow.