Category Archives: Sarah Collins Sampler


First, for Davey – the wildly loud sofa pillow covers to coordinate with the wildly loud rug:


I picked the blue, red/orange stripe, and turquoise/gold from memory, and they work, even in spite of my equivocal photographic skills, and the flash-wash that makes the red pillow look paler than in real life.  There are six pillows in total, two of each fabric.

Moving on, here’s progress through Row 103 of the Dozen shawl that I’m test-knitting:


It’s growing into a feral, interlaced dahlia of a design, which you can begin to see in this rough pin-out.  Additional width will be more of the same.

And then there’s the Sarah Collins sampler kit, upon which I’ve started but have made no real progress:


Maybe I’ve ridden at liberty for too long, working at whim instead of direction.  Maybe I’m too much of a tinkerer to do a stitched design laid out by someone else, or I have a touch of compulsive perfectionist in my soul – but for whatever reason, this kit is already driving me nuts.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a complete kit, thoughtfully laid out and as a reproduction, extremely well documented.  The unruly element is me.

For example, it pains me to mindlessly duplicate the mistakes laid down by the original stitcher.  See that twist column to the left of the frame?  That’s verbatim to the pattern’s directions.  But I tried, and tried, but just couldn’t let it sit that way.  See the twist inside the frame, with the completed centers?  I **had** to do it.  I’ll probably pick out the offending imperfect twist and re-do it to match the edited bit.

There’s also working up the double running for this panel in two colors of sienna.  The blue flower doesn’t bother me, I find that adorable.  But using two threads for the framing spiral, alternating colors is maddening.  It’s clear to me that dear Sarah might not have marled and finger-spun her threads properly, or perhaps ran out of one of the two shades, and that’s why the panel is done in alternating two-tone.  It’s all I can do to grit my teeth and work as directed, because if I don’t, I risk running out of a color before the kit is done.  Getting more matching thread, especially here, would be difficult in the extreme.

And then there’s the format of the charts.  They’re huge, and orchestrate a stitch for stitch path, with every single one numbered.  There are sufficient map pages in the thing to chart one’s way from Boston to Mumbai by rail (including the sunken parts via Atlantis).  Paging through them is an exercise in where-the-heck-is-page-2b-left-got-to-now?” – then finding it under the sofa.

I’m also not fond of the indicated stitch logic.  The paths described are not the ones I would choose.  I tend to key off established bits, so that I can proof new sections against clean counts as I work.  There’s too much “where no man has gone before” in this piece, with extremely long runs worked in advance of the growing body of work, and no way to confirm fidelity as one progresses. 

Is there a moral to this story?  Perhaps, not.  But I have to admit that today’s post reveals that I’m a ruthless stickler for detail, caught up in color matching from memory, precision adherence to knitting patterns (where forays into originality are better left for after one has grokked the source design); but temperamentally incapable of similar fidelity to oh-so-obvious stitching directions.  Mark it up as another character flaw, pass me a glass of wine, and move on, please.

10,000 SNACKS

France may be the land of 500 cheeses, but India is the land of 10,000 snacks. 

They take their snacks very seriously here.  There appear to be micro-regional specialties, and a dizzying variety of basic types – far beyond the chips (crisps for my UK readers), pretzels, tortilla chips, and smattering of other items seen in American supermarkets.  I suspect if a new vegetable or grain were to spontaneously appear, the US FDA would study it for two years before decreeing wholesomeness, the European Union would ban it because there is no established tradition of farming or cooking it, but India would throw open her arms and overnight it would appear in fifty new packaged fried snack foods, each with a distinctively cheerful bag.  

We’ve been trying some as our weekend treat, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available at the Hypermarket down the street:


Yes, those are potato sticks.  The particular variety we tried is (like much of India) perfumed with cumin.  Potato (aloo) sticks come in dozens of varieties, some spicy/hot/salty, some herbed, and some plain.  We really liked this one, they’re easy to nibble and go great with roasted little red-skin peanuts, smaller than those in the US, but tastier. 

Oh.  I forgot to mention, combining these nibbles into one’s own custom snack mix appears to be a national pastime, so we’re following suit, mixing and matching these as whimsy overtakes us.


This one is a bit messier to eat.  In texture, it’s like fuzzy dust studded with little bits of roasted lentils, cashew nuts, and other seeds and spices.  It’s so fine it almost needs to be spooned.  It’s also intensely spicy.  I love the product tag line “A Munching Device.”  A good mixer to use with other, less intense varieties.


These are The Resident Male’s favorite.  They’re crunchier than Cheetos, and flavored with onion and chili instead of Mystery Orange. 


Puffed wheat!  Very roasty tasting, and a perfect background foil to these other hot and spicy treats.  I knew a little about the variety of Indian foods and was prepared for that exploration, but the wealth of casual nibbles here took me by surprise.  I find it a very amusing arena for small discoveries.  I’ll post more about these as we try more.

On the needlework front, I’ve made a bit of progress on the Dragon Stole:


I’m just about up to the body, half way through the first dragon.

And I’ve unpacked my stitching.  I’ve set up my big green sampler. 


Unfortunately, there’s no good place in the apartment to work on it.  I need very bright light, and even though we finally found the exotic flavor light bulbs used in the fixtures here, and have more than one 40 watt light source in the living room, there’s still not enough light to work it by.  So as a stop gap, I’ve started the Sarah Collins kit I picked up at Winterthur in 2011:


I’ve never done a kit before, preferring to muddle about on my own.  I am having mixed feelings about this.  It’s cumbersome, with a zillion large scale detailed charts that require constant cross-referencing.  The design is pleasing, the colors are o.k., not my faves, but well suited to the design.  The linen is nice, and working 3×3 is a refreshing change, quite large compared to what I’ve been stitching of late.  I opted for the cotton rather than the silk threads, in part because the silk kit was expensive.  That’s why I’m working it on the padded round frame.  Were this silk, it would fight for space on my flat frame with Big Green.

Oh, and yes – I’m working on T2CM, too.  I’m up to the exquisitely boring part, where I add proofed counts to each pattern.

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