Author Archive: kbsalazar

PRESENT TENSE, BUT RELAXED

I have been a very lucky recipient this year, with several fun things to share here.

First was a holiday present from The Resident Male. Noting our stellar lack of success growing a kitchen garden outdoors; our constant consumption rate for of parseley, thyme, dill, cilantro, and other herbs; and the fact that our house has a rather dark interior, he gave me an indoor, self-illuminated hydroponic garden. Which being terminally nerdy, I promptly named “Keiko” after the Star Trek xenobotanist and long suffering wife of Chief Miles O’Brien.

As you can see, Keiko is nearly foolproof. This is a photo of growth at three weeks. Dill is the tall boi. Basil is in the right hand rear grow pod, with Thai basil in front of it. I will report back when we begin to harvest. But so far, so good…

Far less technological but of equal and long lasting delight was a surprise present from Sytske, my Long Distance Needlework Pal (of Antique Pattern Library fame), who lives in The Netherlands. The mail carrier trotted up to my door with the box and rang the bell because it was an International Delivery and he didn’t want to just leave it on the steps. He’s a sweetie who goes above and beyond.

Sytske and I had an email pen pal chat a while ago about an inlaid backgammon board I had bought in Jerusalem while I was in Israel on a summer-long archaeology program between high school and college. She said she had a collection of various items of similar style. We also discussed old needlework tools, and a zillion other things. I was totally surprised at the goodie box I received. And overwhelmingly grateful as well.

First, there was a splendid backgammon board. The one I bought in the summer of 1974 is the smaller of the two. It was the least expensive in the shop, and even so being on a student budget, I bargained for it for the better part of week.

The larger, more ornate and resplendent one is from Sytske. Both are obviously of the same regional and iconic style, very common and extremely popular throughout the whole Middle East region.

The workmanship on Sytske’s board is far more elaborate, with finer inlaid decorations on every surface. Even top edges inside the box and the pieces are embellished. Mine is heavier and thicker, with fewer colors and less detail, and my pieces are plain olive wood rounds.

Now for holiday gatherings, should the yen to play strike us, we can run two games at once. And I think I’ll take some good furniture oil to mine. It’s looking a bit dry and upstaged by the new magnificence.

Wrapped inside the game was a mystery bundle. I unwrapped it carefully and found an entire collection of antique needlework tools!

First there were several bone crochet hooks, three long enough for Tunisian crochet. The tiny hook at the end, even though it’s extremely fine (think crocheting hand-sewing thread fine), I do believe is for crochet and not tambour embroidery because its point is quit rounded.

In addition to hooks, I now have a collection of small needlework assist tools. From the top, a laying tool that by its graduated thickness might also do double duty for enlarging lacing holes or forming thread circles to over-crochet; another smaller laying tool; one with a hole in the end that might have had a secondary use as a bodkin to assist in passing a drawstring cord through its casing; and two laying tools/sewing awls with metal points. Below the measuring tape are two other items – a flat “needle” that could also be used as a bodkin for a round or flat tape, but that is going to become my naalbinding needle; and a sweet little bone needle case, probably from the late 1920s/1930s. It’s the only item I can date, and I do so by its Art Deco shape and proportions. It still has a couple of well worn long plain sewing needles in it.

I’m not done yet. There is more! This is a collection of handles that were probably for tambour embroidery needles (aka aari) or for thread crochet hooks. These are truly impressive because (at least here in the US) they are rather uncommon. A couple of the metal ones may be silver, but they are too small for hallmarks or stamps.

The ones above the measuring tape all have little screw-on ends, hiding a storage compartment where the hooks or needles would have been kept. The top one – the white agate also has a screw-on stone finial protecting the attachment’s “business end”. The ones below the measuring tape do not have a storage compartment. The tiny clamp keys on all of them except the red agate one are still functional and turn easily. I need to fetch out my modern tambour hook set and see if I can use the points in any of these.

One other observation – a couple of these antique implements may in fact be ivory and not bone. There is a marked difference in weight and texture in some of them. For example, the dotted tambour holder, the most ornate of the crochet hooks, the largest laying tool and the laying tool with the hole in the end are all much heavier and finer textured by comparison than other items of similar size. If they are ivory, they would be subject to restrictions in sale without firm documentation proving their age. Which is for me at least a moot consideration, since I do not plan on parting with any of these.

Color me gobsmacked. And grateful. Thank you again Sytske! I am totally thrilled to take on duties as curator of this awesome collection!

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 8

To continue our slither through North American winter I present Band 8 – Snakes! And They’re Plain!
OK. So, this one is a bit more creepy-crawly than it is classic-blackwork-floral-ordinary. My excuse is that I drew it in the run-up to the 2019 Halloween season, adapting it from a design in Ensamplario Atlantio II, one of my free books of blackwork fills and borders. Plus, we should only ignore those who adore campy horror movies at our own peril.

Time Factor 1 for height and the ultra-simple straight repeat. Our scaly friends are all identical, with the second row flipped and travelling the opposite direction. Feel free to work all the right-bound crawlies in one pass, and then all the left bound ones, or hop back and forth as you please. Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer. There are no rules or must-do approaches here. One of the beta testers used beads for the eyes – a charming enhancement.

134 stitches wide x 16 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 23 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 2 yards
Plus 20 beads
(See below)
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1.5 yards
each of light red
and light green,
about 0.75 yards
of light blue and yellow each
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 9 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today, and will invade here on or about 1 February 2022. I’m betting you’ll be long finished with Snakes before then.



DETOUR INTO KNITTING – FIREFLIES IN THE WINTER

It’s true I haven’t knit in a while. But I did do nine pairs of socks for the holidays this year, some of which are shown below. And while I was at it, I dropped hints to Younger Offspring, who was enthused by the thought of a new pullover.

I first knit this classic Penny Straker unisex design decades ago. It was probably the third sweater I made and was a present for one of my sisters. This is the cover photo from the original leaflet. Note the armhole depth (we’ll get back to that later).

It was the early 1980s – long before blogging, so I don’t have pictures or notes detailing my first attempt, but it was a happy success. I’m pretty sure I used Germantown worsted, in a deep burgundy and a lighter, coordinating plum. I do remember that it was super thick and stiff because of the Eye of Partridge stitch uses a lot of slip stitches, making a double-thick fabric. In fact that stitch often used as a self-reinforcing treatment for sock heels, to make them both cushier and more wear-resistant.

My sister’s sweater ended up being a great outdoor activity wearable – perfect for someone engaged in winter exercise like cross country skiing, and too warm for indoor wear. But as we were flipping through some possibilities it was the one that caught Younger Offspring’s eye. So I downloaded a copy of the revised pattern from the Straker website (it’s now offered in an extended size range) and off we went to Webs, making a small detour out in western Massachusetts on the official Deposit-Child-Back-At-Home-Away-From-Home trip to Troy, New York.

At Webs I found a candidate yarn that came in the desired black and screaming chartreuse colors – Euro Baby Babe 100. It’s a butter-soft acrylic/polyamide (nylon) blend, and at 356 yards for 100g, a great value.

But it’s not a true worsted. It’s a DK. That means that instead of the standard 5 stitches per inch (spi) in stockinette, it works better at 5.5 spi in stockinette.

Complications ensue.

Although the pattern is clearly written for a heavier yarn, but I took a risk and bought the Babe anyway. I swatched until I found a needle combo and gauge that I liked. In this case, 6 spi/8 rows per inch (rpi) on US #7s (4.5mm) in Eye of Partridge instead of the pattern’s specified 5 spi/7 rpi on US #8s (5mm).

I’ve done the math for Younger Offspring’s chosen size (a swim-in-it oversize fit), and have cast on the revised number of stitches, plus two more – I always add selvedge stitches for easy seaming. I will work my new number until I am close to the specified length for the below-arm torso, then I will figure out the raglan shaping, taking notes so I can match the row count on the sleeves. I know that these Straker patterns were all written with very tight armholes by modern standards. It was the style back then. So there is room for me to err on the up side. If I need a few more rows to accommodate the raglan shaping than the original used, that will be ok. The armhole will end up a smidge larger, and that won’t be bad at all.

So to finish this already over-long, stitching-free post, here’s three evening’s worth of progress on the back. The drape is fluid, and the yarn is super soft and luxurious, uncommon in an acrylic. The color contrast reminds me of fireflies on a dark night. With luck this one should knit up quickly into a bundle of fun.

ADVENTURES IN BAKING

As long time readers here know, I have a standing promise to provide ten types of home-baked cookies for the holidays. For the most part, we’ve been evolving a series of family favorites, and year on year are moving those closer to perfection. But this year we’ve opted for a disruption.

Keto baking. Kind of.

We’ve decided to slim down the annual carb-fest that is the holidays. We were not dogmatically inflexible about it, but we did try to make the cookie plate a bit leaner this year, without sacrificing the comforting festive level of indulgence, and leaving some unaltered so we could share them with nut-allergic friends. Some recipes were standards we modded with our own substitutions. Some were new – cognates of known faves, but composed and published specifically for no carb/low-carb baking. Not all were entirely successful, but we did have some very pleasant surprises.

Among our discoveries were the handling properties of the various flours, a disagreement with a claim of 1:1 equivalency for the sugar substitute we used, and what Xanthan Gum actually does. This post may be helpful to others who want to try this adventure. I know it will help me remember this year’s pitfalls if/when I try it again.

As usual, I was greatly aided in this endeavor by Younger Offspring, whose baking acumen now far surpasses mine. The padawan has truly become the master.

First, the group portrait:

1. Earthquakes – more commonly called Chocolate Crinkles. Full octane. We didn’t play with this recipe, this one used standard all purpose flour and real sugar. There are many variations of this recipe out there. Ours, from long time pal Kathryn, uses butter and not shortening. I now use Dutch process cocoa in it for an extra cocoa-kick. Very much like one-bite brownies and much loved.

2. Orange Marmalade cookies. Also not slimmed. After all if the recipe calls for half a jar of marmalade to begin with, there’s very little point in making emendations around that. This is a burst of fresh sunshine, sweet but not overpoweringly so, and a nice contrast to the others. I use this recipe, and with it polish off the jar of marmalade that also contributed to the apple-orange Anonymous Apple Pie back at Thanksgiving.

3. Oysters. My own invention. A hazelnut spritz so named because the first time I did them I didn’t grind the nuts fine enough, and they were weirdly blobby in shape. This year’s are slimmed down from my original recipe, with Swerve sugar substitute standing in for the granulated white sugar, and 3/4 cup of almond flour being substituted for one of the two cups of all purpose flour. I didn’t tinker with the ganache filling with a splash of Frangelico, but we did whip it to make it more airy, mousse like and less dense than usual. The result was very light, delicate, and cake like, much softer and tender than the normal spritz cookie texture. The dough however was a nightmare to put through the cookie press, with three tries and extensive profanity needed to achieve one useable cookie shape. If I do this again next year I might introduce a bit of Xanthan Gum to add more structure to the dough. Even with that painful birth, the result is quite pleasant. Worth further exploration.

4. Keto Linzers. This one is new this year. Although we substituted a reduced sugar, no fructose, whole fruit mixed berry/cherry preserve for the home-made filling, we followed this recipe. We reduced the amount of sugar substitute a bit because we are finding that it is in fact sweeter than cane sugar. The dough was very sticky and rolling between pieces of baking parchment or waxed paper is an absolute necessity, along with lots of extra coconut flour to keep the dough from adhering to the paper. The resulting cookies are delicate (this seems to be a standard characteristic of these alternative flour baked goods). These turned out nicely. A do-over if we bake keto again.

5. Mexican Wedding Cakes. A family standard, this year slimmed down. Except for the confectioner’s sugar on the outside. I used the family standard recipe, much like this one, but substituted 3/4 of a cup of almond flour for one of the two cups of all purpose flour, and Swerve buzzed down in the food processor for the powdered sugar in the dough. They flattened out a bit more than usual in baking, making buttons instead of more rounded/domed usual shapes, but are still as tasty, fitting the bill for this must-have.

6. Cocoa Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache Filling. I was just a observer on this creation. I am very impressed by Younger Offspring’s ability to leap into Fine Baking, and the associated display of piping skills. These by their nature are almond flour and egg white. The results of this recipe are spot-on in taste, with the occasional crackled top being a product of our very imprecise kitchen scale (note to self – this thing is due for replacement). The white chocolate ganache was enhanced by a dollop of raspberry liquor.

7. Cinnamon Swirls. Another specialty of Younger Offspring, these are thin and light, with a profound cinnamon kick that benefits from the addition of orange zest to the dough. Full octane – this one had no subs. The Offspring uses this recipe but leaves out the glaze – the cookies don’t need it.

8. Lemon cut-outs. In previous years we have made the Joy of Cooking sugar cut-outs, with lemon zest in the cookie, and icing made from confectioners sugar and lemon juice. This year we did a total keto cookie instead – this one, complete with icing made from the Swerve sugar substitute and lemon juice. This is the cookie that really demonstrated the difference that Xanthan Gum can make. Although the dough was slightly sticky, the gum gave it structure much closer to that of a dough with gluten-bearing flour in it. It was much easier to handle, roll, and cut than the similar no-gum dough for the Linzers. This dough also retained the cut-out shapes better during baking than the Linzer dough, which spread a bit more.

9. Not Your Average Toll House Cookie. This was our own minor modification. We start with the classic Toll House cookie dough, and we used real sugars and all purpose flour, but instead of loading them with semi-sweet chocolate chips, we used unsweetened cocoa nib chips from Trader Joe’s, plus a handful of the semi-sweet chips, well chopped. The result were these zebra-striped buttons. They are more cocoa bitter than sweet, and intense. An excellent “grown up” chocolate chip cookie that’s delicious with coffee, tea, or wine. I hope TJ’s offers the nibs again next year so we can engineer a do-again (they do have a habit of introducing something wonderful that then vanishes.)

10. Triple Gingers. Again, the ones I invented a couple of years back, but slimmed, with Swerve brown and white sugar substitutes, plus using 1 1/3 cup of regular flour plus 1/3 cup of coconut flour in place of the 2 1/3 cup of flour in the original. I also upped both the powdered ginger and ginger juice a bit. This was one of the first sub-in cookies I tried, and the one in which I discovered that the sugar substitutes are sweeter than real sugar. If I do these again, I would dial back the amount of both brown and white sugars because I prefer a lower sweetness level. (Side note – this was one cookie I had made surplus of last year and froze, so I was able to compare the full octane version and the modded version side by side. The difference was profound, so I do now firmly doubt the Swerve claim of “1:1 substitute for regular sugar in cooking and baking.”

11. Peanut Butter Cookies. Yes, we lost count along the way and ended up with eleven kinds this year. This was a new keto recipe, and by far the least successful of any we attempted. I used this one, with poor results. I used Teddy natural chunky peanut butter, an excellent local product I’ve used in baking for years (ingredients are just peanuts and salt). Note that the recipe did specify a natural style peanut butter. I followed the directions exactly, and used the amount of coconut flour indicated. The resulting dough was a bit softer/stickier than my usual, but not unreasonable to handle, and I was able to roll small balls and press them, although I ended up marking them with a fork as indicated instead of being able to use my usual cookie press (they stuck to that). BUT when I baked these, they exuded gushers of oil – so much that the cookies floated around and oven-fried rather than baked, and the oil overflowed the cookie sheet. I took them out just when they were cohesive and just a tiny bit brown on the edges, and rack cooled them – they were still dripping. After all of the oil lost in baking the result was dry and unappealing, with surprisingly little peanut flavor. I do not recommend this recipe, and don’t think it’s worth any further effort. If we go keto again next year I will look for a different peanut butter cookie.

Bonus Panforte: To round it all out, we did rescue from the freezer the second of the two panfortes I made last year. Obviously not keto – not by a long shot. Younger Offspring again demonstrated piping skills, using the leftover dark and white chocolate ganaches to adorn the top. We didn’t serve it on Christmas Eve, but we will certainly cut into it now, and save a goodly part for New Years Eve dinner as well.

So to sum up – some hits, some with room for improvement, and some misses. And yes – we do now have enough cookies to last forever. Again.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 7

We roar back with Band 7 – So Sue Me! What can possibly be more anachronistic than this?

Every movie with a ravenous T-Rex in it looms in front of us now.  Let’s see, aside from the obvious, there’s the original King Kong, Lost World, Fantasia, Prehistoric Beast, Land Before Time, Night at the Museum, Land Before Time, Dino Riders, several Dr. Who episodes, and many, many more.  How could we continue without including an iconic dinosaur?

And the title?  Named after Sue, a very famous Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen now on display at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.

If desired this band, like the Pirates band can be worked voided – with the background filled in using long-armed cross stitch or plain old cross stitch, squared or stepped filling, diagonal filling, or another fill as desired.  This is highly optional – no pressure here because the T-Rex strip would look good either way. 

If voiding is chosen I think the design would show to best advantage if the background fill was done in a different color than the outlining, because if both were worked in the same thread the slender stems of the flowers curled in the tail would disappear. Remember – voiding eats both time and floss in direct proportion.

Time Factor 3 for height and flip/mirror complexity if only the outline is worked, but Time Factor 4 if voiding is chosen.
134 stitches wide x 30 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip.  If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 57 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 8 yards
for outlines,
6.5 yards for voiding
26 count evenweaveDouble running,
1 ply
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
1.5 yards blue,
1 yard, green,
0.25 yard red,
2 yards of
light red
for voiding
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, Callie, and Guest Beta Tester, Robert; plus Kim

The second from the bottom, by guest Beta Tester Robert (known to some of you as Master Geoffrey d’Ayr of Montalban) is actually part of a strip of the design he worked as cuff and collar trim for a shirt – proving the point that many of these designs can be worked as long band repeats.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people.

Band 8 will be released here on or about 18 January 2022, giving you ample time to romp with this one.

EPIC STITCHALONG – BAND 6

A breather after the last rather involved and challenging to count Gameroom panel!

Grape Balloons is another original, loosely based on a historical pattern family. Bands or horizontal columns with lozenges and/or striations are pretty common in strapwork of the late 1500s to 1600s, as are grape clusters. But sprigging them together this way is something I doodled up.
This one should be comparatively easy to stitch, especially after the last no-repeat panel. All you need to do is remember that the slanting bands on the center rod mirror – everything else is a simple flip, either up/down or left/right – no tricky half-drops, or meanders.

134 stitches wide x 16 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a stand-alone continuous band, one full repeat in 17 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 2 yards
of floss
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 3 yards of variegated thread
(not floss)
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1.25 yards
of light blue,
0.5 yards of light
red, scraps of red.
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie; plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people.

Band 7 was released today in the Enablers Facebook group feed, and will be echoed here on or about 21 December.

#epicfandomsal

EPIC STITCHALONG – BAND 5

The world is starting to open up again, but among us there are folk who felt the lockdown most keenly during convention season.

They missed meeting friends, swimming in a sea of fellow fans – regardless of fandom; reveling in the costumes either as a cosplayer or just an appreciative passer-by; viewing films, trailers, and shorts; listening to authors, famous actors or other community celebrities as they reminisce, lecture, or engage in open panel banter; shopping for that special Something that sings to the inner nerd; and more. Like the Game Room. There’s almost always at least one, where folk compete for the sheer fun of it, or sometimes for prizes.

I know many people who live for game rooms, then bring home their favorite games and introduce them to their circle of local friends. This strip is for them, the gamers, be they lovers of electronic formats, the classic card and board games, multiplayer role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, or the new set of tabletop/parlor games, like Settlers of Catan.

This strip is 134 stitches wide x 28 stitches tall, including the narrow companion border at top and bottom. 2 blank rows are left between this and the following strip.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyPips are French knots
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 3 yards.

Pips are French knots
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyPips are French knots
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1 yard of blue,
1/2 yard of yellow,
1/4 yard of red,
1/4 yard of light blue.

The snake eyes
pips are each 2mm paillettes. Other
pips are tiny 1×1
cross stitches
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie; plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people.

Band 6 be released on 23 November in the Enablers Facebook group feed, then echoed here on or about 7 December.

EPIC STITCHALONG – BAND FOUR

The latest band! A narrow one to provide a bit rest and relaxation following on the heels of the ravaging pirates. This is a quickie and should take most folk less than the two weeks allotted for its completion.

Palm Cluster is based on a visual family of historical designs, but is my own, and does not directly replicate any single one of them. Feel free to work it in monochrome, using variegated floss, or in multicolor.

Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie. Plus Kim.

I’ve had some questions from folk who find themselves unable to make the commitment to work the entire Epic Fandom sampler, but are in love with specific strips and have asked about working them up separately.

I answer if it’s for your own personal pleasure, please go ahead. Put these on cuffs, collars, napkins, tote bags, small pouches, or add them to your own samplers. I just ask that you contact me if you are considering the distribution of any pattern that includes my strips (or any of my other charts or designs) either for free or for sale. And as always, a link back to String-or-Nothing if you post about your piece would be deeply appreciated. I derive great joy from seeing what mischief the pattern-children are up to in the company of the creative.

Full info on stitch count and thread consumption plus downloadable PDFs for the charts released to date are provided on the StitchAlong page here (also reachable via the tab at the top of every page on String). I’m stacking all of the SAL info on that page, so scroll down to the newest info at the bottom.

Band 5 was released on The Enablers group on Facebook today, and will be echoed here for posterity on 9 November. Happy stitching!

FAMILY FROLICS

It’s been a busy couple of months, what with the release of The Second Carolingian Modelbook, the debut and continuance of my Epic Fandom Stitch-Along, plus various home improvement projects, and family celebrations.

We had a great time in Buffalo, at the cooperatively planned and executed three day extravaganza for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. The whole family pitched in, with backyard gatherings under a big tent that included two cookouts and a football afternoon, with the game projected for all gathered to see, plus a gala luncheon at a riverside indoor/outdoor venue, at which a string quartet from the Buffalo Philharmonic played. My in-laws’ family is far flung and rarely has a chance to gather, so it was a grand reunion.

Here is the birthday celebrity with her kids, who are collectively taller, greyer, but no less intent on having fun than they were when they were small and underfoot. Left to right – Dan, Laura, Fernando, Carm, Paul, Susan, and Carolyn.

As an example of the attention to detail in planning and execution is this cookie, made by my sister-in-law Vicky’s daughter Jacqueline. These (in several shapes) were part of each of the luncheon place settings, themed to celebrate Carm’s passions and achievements. Mad skills there.

And now that the birthday present has been given, I can finally post about my Secret Knitting Project of the past two months. I made a dramatic scarf for Carm, in black mohair with sequins, knit from my Spring Lightning pattern, available in the scarves section of my knitting patterns page.

More updates in the days to come, including the great basement overhaul, the landscaping ventures, and a bit of “helping-hands” crochet – not to mention the fourth installment of the stitch-along (Tuesday next – I promise).

EPIC STITCHALONG – BAND THREE

I present the third band of our Epic Fandom StitchAlong. It doesn’t matter if the pirates are from Never-Never Land, Penzance or the Caribbean – it’s always good to be a Pirate King. Or Queen.  Or Monarch.

Here are our finished samples, courtesy of the flashing needles of our Beta Testers, Heather, Danielle and Callie, plus my own finish. Note that the band looks equally good stitched up just in outline or voided. Working that background is totally optional.

Full info on stitch count and thread consumption, plus descriptions of some voiding methods are provided on the StitchAlong page here (also reachable via the tab at the top of every page on String). I’m stacking all of the SAL info on that page, so scroll down to the newest info at the bottom.

Band 4 will be released on The Enablers group on Facebook on 12 October, and echoed here for posterity on 26 October. Happy stitching!

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