Tag Archives: decoration


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?

Pattern: Christmas Scallops Stocking

I love Christmas. I love the family, I love the gifts, I love the food, and I love the decorations. But, I’m not super-traditional when it comes to decking my halls. Red and green are a little passé, and Rudolph (and his red nose) are old hat. I’m a fan of sparkly tinsel and multicolor blinking lights.

This stocking is just what I look for in a Christmas decoration. It’s festive, but not boring. Traditional…ish. I’ve picked a deep winey red and a pale seafoam green to my delightfully chubby stocking. Experiment with the colors to make one perfect for every member of your family!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Christmas Scallops Stocking is a simple, fast knit that you can work up in a weekend. It is knit from the top down, in the round, at a largish gauge. A few easy rows of Fair Isle creates the decorative colorwork at cuff and toe. The heel is formed by a simple series of short rows in an easily memorized pattern.  You’ll have plenty of time to finish these stockings before Santa arrives on Christmas Eve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern for free here:

Christmas Scallops Stocking

Swatches on My Wall

I have always had mixed feelings on swatches, especially when need one just to figure out my gauge.  They take time to work up, when what I really want to do is jump straight into the sweater-knitting.  And, they use up precious, precious, yarn that could be used in the aforementioned sweater.  And, of course, I hate waste, and there is nothing as wasteful as a dumb swatch sitting at the bottom of a bin in my craft room.  Nothing. (Don’t try to tell me about rainforest deforestation, or the overuse of paper towels, or the oil industry.  Swatches are more wasteful.)

Well, friends, that all changed a few weeks ago, when I was doing my bi-monthly rummage through my knitting supplies, and I realized I had acquired a sizable stash of some pretty cool swatches.

And I found some twine and clothespins.

I had no choice, really.  I had to make a swatch display on the back of a closet door.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACool, right?  I plan on adding more and more swatches as I collect them.  It’s really fun to see all of my ideas from the last six months laid out like that.  Some of the swatches are projects I designed (see Grandma’s Sweater and the Sailor Jane Scarf in there?).  Some are ideas that I ended up not using.  And some are simple gauge swatches that I used for projects I made from other peoples’ patterns (there’s one for my Persistence is Key Sweater).

I might come up with a more permanent way to display my knitting ideas (frames maybe, or embroidery hoops?), but for now, I love the flexibility that my little “clothes line” gives me.  I can add to it easily, move things around, and if I need to take a swatch down to look at some detail, I can do it, no problem.  I love having my knitted “idea book” up on my wall.

What do you do with swatches?  Do you keep them, or do you unravel them?

Wall Shawl

On Monday, I told you how I love making lace shawls.  You’ll notice that I didn’t say I love wearing lace shawls.  This is because I am a pretty big tomboy.  I love how lace shawls look, and I love making them, but I always feel like a monkey in a top-hat when I wear them.

So, I had a whole stack of gorgeous shawls that did nothing but sit in my closet, waiting for moths to show up and start munching.  Something had to be done.  How could I display them?  I tried hanging them over my closet door, but then I couldn’t open and shut the door without them falling all over the place. I tried putting one over a table lamp, but that looked like something from a palm-reader’s office (and I was paranoid about setting the whole place on fire).  And, so my lace shawls went back into the bottom of the closet again.

Until I realized something.  These lace shawls were basically great big art pieces.  And my house was full of empty walls, begging for art to be put up.

I grabbed my Panache shawl and a dowel I had laying around (because I am a pack rat and have dowels lying around, just in case.  You never know.)  I carefully sewed the flat edge of the shawl to the dowel using a little bit of matching scrap yarn, and tied a big loop from one end of the dowel to the other.  I pulled out a sticky hook, and I  had filled my wall with lacy, yarn-y goodness in no time.  (And yes, I know this is a terrible photo.  Apparently I have forgotten how to take a decent picture that isn’t a close-up…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy Panache is a medium sized shawl (about a 40 inch wingspan), but my Aeolian shawl, is a monster.  It’s at least 60 inches from point to point, so sewing it to a yard-long dowel wouldn’t fly.  I thought about it for a long time, and then the perfect solution came to me while I was doing yard work.

I cut some long (6+ feet) switches from one of the trees in my yard, and lashed them together with twine.  I added a loop of twine and hung them from a nail in my knitting studio.  Then, I looped the Aeolian shawl over the ends.  I really like how it turned out.   It’s pretty, and rustic, and if I ever want to display another shawl (or scarf, or sweater, or blanket) I can switch them out easily.


Icing on the Hat Cake

I love my little red hat, and I bet you love your hat, too.  But, I feel there is something missing… something extra… something… fluffy.  Also, I have some leftover yarn that I want to use up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m going to make a pompom to put on top of my hat!  (I realize that pompoms are something of a polarizing subject for folks, but I enjoy a good pompom from time to time, and this is definitely one of those times.)

Pompoms are easy to do, but probably the messiest project you’ll ever do involving yarn…the little scraps of yarn tend to go everywhere and stick to things if you’re not careful (that static cling will get you every time).  You have been warned.

Here’s what you need:

Yarn (The fluffiness of your pompom depends on the amount of yarn you use.  The more yarn, the more fluff.)

A book, coaster, cell phone, box or other small, rigid object that you can wrap yarn around.  The object should be slightly longer than the desired diameter of the finished pompon.  I’m using a tiny copy of Peter Rabbit that I have on my bookshelf for some reason.  It’s about 4 inches wide.


A great big mixing bowl, pot, trash can, or drop cloth (optional, but recommended. Use his to keep your schnipples neat while you work.)

Step 1: Cut a piece of yarn about 2 feet long and tie a slip knot in the middle of it.  Set it aside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 2: Wrap the rest of your yarn around the book approximately 1 million times.  Try to get the yarn to build up into a big clump.  Stop when you get bored, or when you think that you have enough.  It might be possible to wrap too much yarn around the book, but I haven’t done it yet. Cut the yarn when you have enough wrapped around the book.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 3: Carefully slide the yarn off the book, being sure to keep the clump nicely together.  Slip the piece of yarn you set aside earlier over the clump, and pull the slipknot tight.  Wrap the ends of the knotted yarn tightly around the clump a couple times and secure with a square knot.  See how the clump has now become a neat bundle of yarn?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 4: Cut all the loops, and use your fingers to fluff out the ends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 5: This is the messy step.  With your scissors, carefully trim the ends of your yarn until the pompom starts looking nice and round. Go slowly, since you can always trim off more yarn, but can’t add any back in.  Try to avoid cutting the long tails of the tie-off yarn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStep 6: Attach the pompom to your hat.  Use a tapestry needle to pull the long tail ends of your pompom through the crown of your hat, right at the top.  I like to just tie the ends together using a bow or other removable knot, so that if I’m having a pompom-ish day, I can wear my pompom hat, but if I’m having a curmudgeonly day, I can remove the pompom and wear the hat plain.  But today, is totally a pompom day!