Monthly Archives: November 2016


I make a lot of swatches.  I’m not religious about it when I’m working someone else’s pattern, but swatching is an absolute must when designing.  I think of them sort of as a sketch, a way to get my ideas out into the world.  Maybe I’ll have a really great idea, but it ends up looking really bad when knit up.  Or maybe the swatch will reveal a design flaw that I didn’t foresee.   Or, I start swatching, and I come up with an idea that is even better than my original one.

Long story short, I have a big stack of swatches.  Several dozen at least.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away, and they’re too varied to be sewn together into a blanket or anything useful.  All different sizes, shapes, and weights.  Some have been turned into fully-realized patterns, and some never got out of the planning stage, but I like them all.

And I can’t throw them away.

For a long time I had them strung up on the back of my closet door.  But it started to look messy (actually mess, not messy-on-pupose in a Pinterest-y kind of way).

So, I got some great big bulletin boards, and have started pinning up some of my swatches.  And, you know.  I think it looks pretty good.img_3951It’s fun to see all my ideas laid out like that.  Some of these are only ever going to be swatches, some are patterns that have been published already, and some turned into patterns that are going to be released in the future.  (Don’t ask me to tell you which are which!  It’ll be a surprise!)

I think Ollie likes my bulletin boards, too.  (HA!  He couldn’t care less, but he did like the box the boards came in.)img_3957What do you do with your swatches?  Do you keep them? Unravel them? Throw them away?  Or, do you not bother with swatches to begin with?

More Bears!

There’s bears all over!

Well, not really.  They’re just in a box in my closet, but it’s a pretty big box.  And right now, it’s full of 8 bears.  (Well, 8-and-a-half.)img_3934I don’t have anything insightful to say about these bears, I just think they look cute, all packed up together.

At least they look cuter than the “half” bear.img_3942 I’ve finished knitting her, but she still needs to be stuffed, sewn up and embroidered.  Right now she looks kind of like a crappy glove for someone with two fingers and no thumb.  But soon enough she’ll look as cute as her brothers and sisters.

Are you making any bears?  Join me!  I promise they’re fun!


Now that we’ve got Thanksgiving out of the way, it’s time to hit that Panic Button.panic-buttonYup. It’s one month from Christmas.  I’m going to go finish the Thanksgiving dishes, then I’m going to sit down for the next four weeks to knit.  Wish me luck.

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, families across the country will gather around their dinner tables, hold hands, and go through the slightly (very) awkward tradition of saying what they’re thankful for.

I say, why wait!

Here’s (some of) what I’m thankful for in a series of pictures from this year.

First, I’m thankful for my husband.  He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever known, and he can always make me laugh.  He puts up with all the Law and Order marathons and my near-constant panic about my most recent knitting project that is never going to get finished.  (Don’t worry about the dog- he’s having fun.  This is how he plays fetch- he never ever wants to give up the ball.)img_0469And that brings me to the second thing I’m thankful for, my pup Ollie.  He’s too stinking adorable for words, and is a total cuddle monster.  He’s so silly and sweet, and I’m incredibly glad he is part of our family.img_3610I’m thankful for Seattle-  I mean, a beautiful city, full of delicious food and all sorts of things to do, minutes from the beach and less than an hour from two mountain ranges?  Could you ask for a better place to live?img_0593I’m thankful for all our friends, both here in Seattle and spread across the country.  I’m so happy that we’ve managed to stay in touch over the years and across three time zones.  And, I’m still so happy we made it all the way to Yellowstone this summer- best vacation ever!beaver-ponds-hike-36And, I’m thankful for getting to knit and design patterns for a living.  When I was a kid, filling out those “What I Want To Be When I grow Up” quizzes, I never thought “Professional Knitter” would be an option.  So, you can imagine how surprised (and pleased) I am to find myself here.carkeek-park-pulloverOf course, I’m thankful for much more, but those are just the things I have pictures of.  I’m thankful for big things, of course: my family, the opportunity to work with amazing kids every day, and the home my husband and I share.  And I’m thankful for silly little things: that it’s (finally) grapefruit season again, coffee, and trips to the dog park.  And, of course I’m thankful for you guys!  I wouldn’t be writing (as much, anyway) if I didn’t have you amazing readers.

So, happy Thanksgiving!  Have a fantastic day tomorrow, eat too much and enjoy yourself!

Pattern: Bunny and Bear

Last week, I told you about the kids I teach in my knitting class.  They are all doing an amazing job, and they all like making different things.  Some want to make tiny little projects they can finish in a day, some want to spend weeks working on a single item.  Some only want to make garments for themselves, and some make garments for their stuffed animals.

But all kids love a new stuffed animal. (Or “stuffie” as my students say.  Is that a regional thing?  Or is it a generational thing.  I never called them “stuffies” when I was a kid.”

So, I designed a pattern for two new stuffies, a bear and a bunny, that is easy enough for even an early beginner knitter.  img_3474These two little guys are totally adorable (if I say so myself), and are made without any shaping, purling or other “complicated” knitting.  If you can knit garter stitch, you can make yourself a new little friend.  And, I’ve included step-by-step instructions, including pictures!img_3442But, I think my favorite part of this pair is their tiny little tails!  (The bunny has a teeny pompom and the bear has an even tinier little nubbin.  Adorable!)img_3489Are you a very beginning knitter looking to make something more fun than a potholder or a scarf?  Do you have a kid itching to take up needles and yarn?  Give these two a try!


Knitting with Kids

I’ve mentioned my job before- I teach kids’ arts-and-crafts classes after school at local elementary schools.  Mostly, I teach classes where kids learn to use a sewing machine (hopefully safely), and learn basic construction.  It’s pretty great.

But from time to time, I get to teach something else.  This summer, it was jewelry making.  Last spring, it was quilting.  This semester, it’s knitting!

I love knitting (obviously), and teaching kids knitting is kind of the best.  I have nine kids in my class, and I’d say three-quarters of them are actually really into making stuff with yarn.  (The other quarter is really into making pompoms and trying to see how big of a mess they can make.  But that’s kind of par for the course of teaching elementary-aged kids.)

I love seeing how creative kids can be.  You’ve seen one of my student’s pumpkin.  (I still think it’s possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.)wp_20161025_16_28_22_proBut we’ve had all sorts of stuff made in this class!  Tiny blankets for dolls, bracelets, mini scarves, a stuffed bunny, and even finger-less gloves.

We’ve even had a couple kids make hats, using a knitting loom (a fantastic invention for little hands who have trouble wrangling needles and yarn).  One girl made a hot pink hat that ended up being a little too small for her head because she has amazingly curly hair, so she’s making another one, bigger this time.  Too cute!

And a different girl made this hat for her little brother.  She did it all on her own, with no help from me.  Can you guess what it is?wp_20161108_16_40_50_proIt’s a frog hat!  Of course!  Isn’t it amazing? A six-year-old came up with the idea for this hat and managed to execute it all on her own. So impressive!

I’m going to miss this class when it’s over in a few weeks.

Do you eve knit with kids?  What kinds of projects do you work on together?

Whatcha Doin’?

I’m curious.  What have you been working on lately?  A sweater for winter?  A pile of cozy hats for Christmas gifts?  Or are you knee-deep into a crazy lace shawl?

I’m well on my way through my Christmas knitting, but I still can’t really tell you about it (because several recipients  of said Christmas knitting read the blog).   Here’s a totally-useful picture of one of my current projects.a62381fe-e33b-4444-9ce0-d56e25f1362b I started really early this year, but I’m still on the edge of running out of time- I can feel it already.    But,  suppose it wouldn’t be the “holiday season” without the feeling of at least a little impending doom.

Anyway, I’m curious.  Am I the only one chugging away on Christmas knitting?  What are you making?  I’d love to hear about your projects (or see pictures!  If you send over pictures, they might end up on the blog, too!), so comment below with what you’re working on.

Knitting Big

I spent my Sunday at a little local yarn festival, Knit Fit.  It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, browsing through the little marketplace, squeezing the yarn and admiring all the gorgeous colors (and wishing you had infinite money and infinite time so that you take home and use all the yarn).

Of course, I had to treat myself to a little (big) souvenir.  It’s a wheel of The Big Squeeze from Hazel Knits in the colorway “Electric Slide.”img_3861 It’s 135 yards of slightly-felted oversized single ply merino softness in the most gorgeous shades of violet, purple and fuchsia.  I’ve salivated over the Big Squeeze before, but didn’t know what to make with it.  But then I saw this gorgeous color… and it was all over.

So now I have to decide what it’ll become.  It’s soft enough that I want something I can wear against my skin, but I don’t care for super-bulky hats, and mittens are kind of impractical in this climate.  I’m thinking it’ll make a big cowl, or maybe an oversized lace scarf.

I like this cabled cowl.  I love how it twists and turns and looks like it’s been very artistically rumpled.

Rainbow Twist by Thao Nguyenphoto_medium1And I like the openwork on this cowl.  There’s something really satisfying about lacework at such a gigantic gauge.  Maybe I’ll do something like this.

Spidey’s Spiral Cowl by Abi Gregoriospiralcowl_medium21And this one is just beautiful in its simplicity.  Sometimes you just need a big tube of ribbing in a beautiful color.

Castle Leoch Ribbed Cowl by Karen Clementscastleleochribbedcowl1_medium21What would you do with a big skein of oversized yarn?


Well, after this week, I think it’s a good idea to do something nice for someone else.  I always feel a bit better when I have work to do, and when it’s  adorable work to help cheer up adorable kids, it’s even better.

So, this morning, I drank my tea and did the finishing touches on my two newest bears for the Mother Bear Project. (I had knit them up already- I’m not that fast!)

I love the color of this guy’s sweater- it’s even prettier in person.  A dark red heathered yarn, with shades of ruby and garnet.  Gorgeous.  It almost makes up for how cross-eyed he looks. (I’ll just pretend that the cross-eyed-ness gives him character.)img_3769And this guy is ready for summer, with his T-shirt and stripey shorts (and scarf, for some reason).  The shorts and T were because I was using up the last little bits of my yarn, but he actually ended up pretty cute.img_3774And, I found out that the MBP posts pictures of all the kids with their new bears, so you can go back and look for the bears you made with their new owners.  I found a couple of mine!  Super exciting.

Have you made a bear?  Join me!

So, That Happened

OK,  I promised to get back to knitting today, but honestly, I can’t.  I even had a whole post-election pantsuit-related post planned out.  But, watching the election last night made me sick to my stomach, and seeing the news this morning makes me want to cry.

I know Americans are better than this, or at least I thought we were.  I’m so disappointed in us, that we’re stuck with all this bigotry and hatred for the next 4 years.  I worry about the kids I teach growing up in this environment and I worry about the hard-fought rights of women, minorities and LGBT+ people.

I’m going to take today to be sad, to cry and whine and cocoon up in my house.  But tomorrow, I’m going to start doing something about it.  I’m signing up to volunteer in my community.  I’m going to donate to Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  I’m going to remember this day every time I interact with the little girls of all nationalities in my classes, and do my best to teach them that they are important and their rights matter, no matter what the voters said yesterday.

Please join me in keeping this country moving forward.  Give to human rights charities, volunteer at local soup kitchens and free clinics, keep fighting for what you believe in.  And most important, stay safe.

(And here’s a picture of my dog dressed up as a Beanie Baby for Halloween because I need something cute to get me through the day.)img_3749