finished object

Voilà: Shire Scarf

Lately, I’ve had all kinds of GTD energy, picking up languishing design WIPS that are mostly done, but abandoned for one excuse or another (I have an infinite supply of excuses). I don’t know exactly what’s prompting me to pick up old projects, but it’s probably some combination of forcing myself to work out at the gym, boredom, chagrin that I abandoned them in the first place (especially this one that was completely finished except for formatting into my pattern template), a desire to drop the phrase “passive income” into casual conversation, and a need to feel productive while binge-watching New Tricks (love Brian “Memory” Lane) and A Touch of Frost.

So, I finished my Shire Scarf that was rejected by Knitty, composed a limerick for it, added it to Ravelry and Craftsy, and now lookie here: a blog post.

My friend Angie took the photos at her little farm in June 2015 (!). And then we ate a delicious chicken dinner.*

Pattern Details: Shire Scarf by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

A knitter once had a desire
For a scarf of cables entire
Right and wrong must look same
For that’s playing the game
And here is the winner called Shire!

Shire is a heavily cabled scarf that uses 4-stitch cable crossings on both right and wrong sides to produce alternating bands of cables and lattice. And it’s reversible! Both sides look the same, but are not identical.


  • Written and charted instructions
  • Sizing options
  • Reversible
  • Looks great on both sides

Knitting, purling, cabling. (Cabling without a cable needle would be very helpful.)

One. Approximately 6” (15cm) x 68” (173cm).

Valley Yarns Northampton 100% wool; 247yd/226m per 100g skein Natural; 2 skeins.

1 pair size US 8 (5mm) needles.

Cable needle, yarn needle, removable stitch marker.

34 sts/26 rows = 4” (10cm) in cable pattern, blocked.
20 sts/28 rows = 4” (10cm) in stockinette stitch, blocked.


To Ponder: The weaker the body is, the more it commands; the stronger it is, the more it obeys. |-John-Jacques Rousseau-|



My gambling friends will know that high-low-yo is a one-roll bet in craps. You say it as one word as you fling a chip into the center of the table, but you’re making three bets: one bet on the highest roll of the dice (twelve, aka, boxcars or midnight), one bet on the lowest roll (two, aka, aces or snake eyes (which no legit craps player calls it ever)), and one bet on eleven.

Never happens.

Never happens when you want it to and always when you don’t.

It’s a stupid bet* because crap dice (the high-low part) rarely come up (the payout odds are 30:1). Unless, of course, a hot shooter has been hitting numbers for an hour and you start feeling like you can’t lose so you make unnecessarily high bets on the come out rolls. That’s when those evil twins ride up on their Harleys, trailing their dangerous cousin, ace-deuce, and the croupier’s call changes from, “Winner; pay the line,” to “Crap dice; line away.” But did you cover your high line bet with a craps bet? No. You were flush and cocky, thinking that today’s the day you were going to make up for all those other days.

You already know that I gambled on the Hermosa Tee I was knitting up for my sister-in-law, and ran out of yarn half-way through the front.

Just my luck.

I should have covered that bet by ordering more yarn from Knit Picks, but what are the odds that they would send me the same dye lot as the original yarn? At least 50:1.**

So I did the equivalent of walking away from the craps table. I bound off (binded off?) and turned it into a high-low asymmetrical hem.

This tee is so tiny, I had to photograph it on my half-mannequin.


*I agree: all bets are stupid.

**Don’t forget we’re talking about me and my luck, so let’s amend those odds to 100:1.

To Ponder: The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil. |-Heywood Hale Broun-|

Finito: Stormy Cables

Back when I was still in my forties, I started knitting a cabled sweater. Something to keep my hands occupied when I wasn’t working on an original design.

When I was close to finishing, it got set aside, as knitting projects do, then eventually buried beneath other projects on the love seat situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius in my office in Pompeii.*

I think I stopped working on this Stormy Cables pullover because I was going to have to make some decisions about the neckline—decisions I wasn’t ready for, owing to both laziness and the fact that I was busy working on a complex cabled sweater design (which itself has been set aside due to 100% laziness about making decisions about the neckline).

The street I live on.

A few weeks ago, I dug Stormy out of the rubble and discovered that the neckline looked pretty good, and I had set it aside when it was just about done.  I needed to work only a few more rows and bind off the neck, sew closed the underarms, and weave in all the ends. At most three hours of work, but probably closer to two.

So, I set it aside again.**

Two weeks later, I finished the neckline and bound off. (Binded off? I should know this.)

And then I read a few books, planned a trip to visit my BFF, sold a few things on eBay, taught my 3,000th yoga class, watched the first four episodes of Miss Fisher, celebrated Easter, binge-watched the entire fourth season of Haven, and filed my quarterly sales tax report.

Then a few hours ago, I had this.

Woven in (weaved in?) ends.

And then I had this.

My new Christmas sweater.

My new Christmas sweater.

I love this almost as much as I loved screwing around for months and months since I started it. Can I count this as an accomplishment even though it took me two years to finish?

More pictures on my Ravelry project page.

*I considered posting a picture of the burial ground, but I embarrass myself enough accidentally without doing it on purpose and on the internets.

**Surely you saw that coming.

To Ponder: Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything. |-Joe Rogan-|

Voilà: Happy Hat

September is a Happy Month around here. First, a cool front blew some Happy Rain into Texas last week and the weather has allowed the wearing of long sleeves. It’s still spiking into the 90s in the afternoon, but the nights, oh the Happy Nights have been dropping into the 60s. I’ve slept with my Happy Window open, which is just about my idea of heaven.

I made some Happy Decisions for my health and future, resulting in the loss of four Happy Pounds. It took eight Bleepin’ Weeks to shed even an ounce, but it’s finally starting to Happ(y)en.

And my Happy Hat has been released!

©Geneve Hoffman Photography

Is that a stinkin’ cute Happy Baby or what?

I have self-published many designs and have been published in several Knit Picks collections, but this is my first design in a proper book.

The gestation period for this Happy Publication was about the same amount of time a baby takes to come into the world.

An elephant baby, that is.

I began working on it almost two years ago. As with most of my designs, I started with a swatch of a stitch pattern that spoke to me the day my eyes fell on it while browsing through one of my German stitch dictionaries. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but a basic pattern like this one would look great on many types of items.

And then I saw the call for submissions from Storey Publishing and knew that it should be on a hat. Around the same time, I was reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and so this design that looks like little smiles all over the place will forever be linked with the Cheshire Cat.

I submitted my design to Storey in February 2014 and they accepted it in July 2014, and now, 14 months on—after signing contracts, reviewing proofs and finding an error in the chart (theirs), conferring with the editor about their conflation of two sizes into one for the final version of the pattern, getting an initial pub date of August 25th then seeing a different pub date of September 8th, and accommodating their requests to get back to them ASAP about everything—the Happy Book is out.

One-Skein Wonders for Babies: 101 Knitting Projects for Infants & Toddlers edited by Judith Durant is 288 pages packed with ensembles, tops and bottoms, dresses, hats, socks and booties, blankets, toys, and other baby things to knit.

I hope my Happy Hat will be one of yours. It’s on page 151.

To Ponder: An amazing thing happens when you get honest with yourself and start doing what you love, what makes you happy. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born. |-Unknown-|


Finito: Blackberry Citron Shawlette

Last week, I told you about casting on for a shawl. It’s the Citron shawlette, a free non-lace pattern on Knitty.

After many hours and many episodes of CSI, it’s done.

You do a garter tab cast-on (new to me), that starts with three stitches and increases to nine right away.

About one-third done.

In each section there are plain rows followed by an increase row, then more plain rows, then another increase row, then a brutal increase row, then plain rows, then a brutal decrease row, then more plain rows. Then you start all over with a new section that’s got umpteen more stitches in it.

Fresh off the needles.

Until you have 540 stitches that you knit 11 times to create the bottom ruffle. I didn’t track my time on this until the end when I was sure that each row of the ruffle took an hour to knit, but really took “only” 16 minutes. Sheesh.

After blocking.

The thing isn’t designed to be all that big, and some Ravellers (much hardier than I), added more sections, and therefore more stitches, to make it bigger. I don’t like to do math, but I do like to exaggerate, so they probably eventually had 1,000 stitches on the needles for the ruffle (times 11).

Overlit selfie.

I have other things to do, so I bound off as soon as the pattern said I could.

I got to wear my little Blackberry Citron for about five minutes before my friend Angela offered me $1,000 for it.

To Ponder: The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it. |-David W. Orr-|

Finito: Inspira Cowl

Last week, I posted about my Inspira Cowl in progress. After 13 hours of pure knitting pleasure, we can stick a fork in it.

That’s a great book I’m holding in my hands. :-)

It’s called a cowl, but it’s more like a capelet, and it’s quite warm. I wore it to volunteer at the library last week, and three patrons who said they were knitters loved it—one used the word “stunning”—and wanted to know every little detail.

I imagine my little town will become very colorful very soon.

The yarn does all the work.

My brother took these pictures on Christmas Day. Late in the day because we had stayed up until 4:30 that morning playing Galaga and then Jenga Gigante* with his wife. I lost every game, both electronic and analog.

But I can knit like a boss.

*His wife loves the game Jenga, and last year he made a life-sized Jenga game for her for Christmas. The wooden blocks are the size of bricks, and you play it on the floor. You also have to say Jenga Gigante at the volume and in the way a World Cup announcer says Gooooooooooooal!

To Ponder: Making a decision usually means taking one of two roads. One is doing the right thing. To take the other road, you have to sit back and spin a story around the decision or action you are taking. If you find yourself thinking up an elaborate justification for what you are doing, you are not doing the right thing. |-Wayne Sales-|

Submission: Vest to Twist Collective

After Knitscene returned the swatch for my Adelante Tank, and after I saw some design elements I didn’t like in the DK weight cotton/linen prototype I knit up, I redesigned it and started another prototype, this time in Cascade 220, a worsted weight wool, in the color Sphere, an ice-blue heather.

My original version had a cabled front and a 3×3 ribbed back, which is something I don’t like in any garment, i.e., a different design on front and back. As my German knitter friend Hannah said when I showed it to her and asked her opinion, “It looks like you didn’t want to do the work.”

I had proposed the tank to Knitscene that way because the magazine publishes patterns geared toward beginning to intermediate knitters. The cables were going to be enough of a challenge, so the ribbed back would give the knitter a little break. (Perhaps that was a mistake and Knitscene would have accepted it if I had proposed cables all around. They never say why they don’t want something.) And I chose ribbing instead of stockinette so the weight of the ribbing would counter the weight of the cables.

So, this new prototype with cables all over the place is what I should have done in the first place, and Hannah and I are much happier with it.

Just a photo that shows nothing.

I had intended to self-publish this design, but Twist Collective put out a call for submissions for their Winter 2014 issue, and this appeared to work for their Cut and Fold story, and it was already knit up in wool, so what the heck.

Twist wants either a sketch or a photo of the item, and since I have trouble sketching a straight line and all I needed to do on the vest was bind off around the top of it and knit the straps, I figured I’d go with a photo.

Of course, I miscalculated the time it would take to do those two things, and I ended up working for seven hours straight the day before to finish it so it could block overnight. The next morning, I woke up to the fragrance of damp wool, so I aimed a high-powered fan at my cabled creation to speed things up.

Adelante didn’t seem like the right name for a winter vest in wool, so I renamed it Welligkeit (which may or may not be the German word for ripple—Babelfish and Bing say it is; Hannah says it’s not). Then, with the sound of whirring behind me, I wrote up a one-page proposal, photographed the mostly dry vest (with the straps sort of tucked into place), and submitted it the day of the deadline.

A pictogram of deadline day.

Twist Collective says that you’ll hear from them one way or the other, but they don’t say how long it will take them to respond, so there’s probably plenty of time to send up good thoughts and prayers that I get a yes—and soon.

Please do.

Finito: Hat for a Trip to Iceland

No, no, not for me. I teach yoga for a living, which is incompatible with discretionary funds. Plus, I don’t like to fly, and it’s my understanding that you can’t get to Iceland by motor coach.

One of my yoga students, Q we’ll call her, is traveling to Iceland in July and she asked me to knit her a warm hat with earflaps. I figured she would want it to be yellow because that’s one of her favorite colors (or so I assume from the predominance of yellow t-shirts she wears to class).

Yellow looks great on Q, but when I wear it, anyone brave enough to make eye contact with me asks if they should call an ambulance. Ergo, I have very little yellow yarn in my stash, so I was happy when she asked for a black hat. (I love black.) But then not so happy, and fairly surprised, when my Ravelry stash records showed that I have even less black yarn in my stash than I do yellow.

My choice of yarn colors warrants its own post that will, of course, include a rhyming ode to brown.

I don’t like to knit earflap hats for no other reason than they require casting on twice, turning two pieces into three by casting on twice more, and weaving in more than two ends. (It’s like a cardigan with all those pieces.) But I like Q, and she deserves my best.

After I dragged my feet for a couple of weeks (doing my best didn’t mean I wouldn’t procrastinate), I remembered that I’ve been wanting to make Elizabeth Zimmermann‘s Maltese Fisherman’s Hat since forever, but never did because, hola, it’s an earflap hat. But now I finally had a good reason to.

The pattern calls for bulky yarn—well, it doesn’t actually call for it because EZ rarely told you what yarn weight to use (or needle size for that matter), only the gauge you should get—which meant that the hat would knit up fast despite the multiple pieces. I have some bulky black yarn, but it was propping open the door to Narnia in my stash closet, so I used some worsted weight that was easy to get to. (No, you can’t substitute worsted for bulky, but held double, it’s close enough.)

The yarn I used is my beloved Bernat Lana, a 100% merino wool that is so soft and so saturated and so lovely to work with and to wear that it has, of course, been discontinued. I bought it years ago from online closeout seller Smiley’s Yarns, and had I known how much I was going to love it, I would have bought every skein they had for sale.

The hat has a pointy crown, which I didn’t like and didn’t think Q would either (and doubt even Maltese fishermen are crazy about), but it would be easy to de-pixiefy.

Points are for debates, not hats.

I cast on and started reading the pattern*, realized that EZ uses short rows to shape the earflaps in a single piece, once again felt in awe of her mad knitting skillz, congratulated myself on my luck foresight in choosing this now easy hat pattern, changed the spread and rate of the crown decreases to produce a rounded crown, and wove in two ends. Four hours later**, I had this:

The last of the Lana, bound for Iceland.

I blocked it*** overnight, then presented it to Q in class the next day as an early birthday present. She loved it.

*Never do this. Always read the pattern all the way through before casting on.

**After I had to rip back because my gauge was off and the brim was too shallow, but it would have been a four-hour knit had that not happened.

***Always do this. Blocking your handknits will get you into heaven.

Too Beautiful to Use

Once a week, I work a volunteer shift at my library, usually on a Saturday afternoon. It’s pretty slow at that time, so there are only two volunteers working circulation. The desk must be manned at all times, so one of us stays out front while the other works in the back, checking in books and DVDs, and then shelving those items. Depending on the preferences and physical abilities of the people working, one person may work the desk and one person may work the back the entire shift, or they may trade off.

A million-dollar library in a two-dollar town.

Working the desk is easy, but boring. Doing check-ins and shelving is where all the work is. You check books in, put them on a cart according to section—non-fiction, adult fiction, large print, young adult, junior fiction, etc. Then you wheel the cart into the stacks and shelve them. We don’t have a large collection, and as I said, Saturday’s are slow, so there aren’t a lot of items to shelve at once, but it’s a lot of back and forth.

And it could take longer than anticipated because while you’re shelving, you’ll find books that have been mis-shelved, either by patrons, but more likely by other volunteers. And the kids’ books are always a hot mess. You could spend hours reshelving those.

I used to work with a woman named Jackie who has bad knees, so she stayed at the desk and I did all the shelving (except for kids books—she didn’t mind shelving those and I did, so I would save them up for her). Jackie moved to another shift, so now I work with a woman named Marila. She is originally from Brazil and has a fun accent, and like most foreigners, has an interesting way of phrasing things. She is also intelligent and funny, and that, combined with her foreignness, makes for an entertaining afternoon.

Marila prefers to check in and shelve books, so I stay at the desk and knit. My current WIPs are sweaters and are too big to be portable anymore, so I was knitting a dishcloth on Saturday. (Yes, in cotton, which I normally don’t like to use, but a wool dishcloth is just silly). It’s the free Chinese Waves Dishcloth by Margaret Radcliffe.

Another one.

It’s a slip-stitch garter pattern that does indeed resemble Chinese waves.

This makes me dizzy.

I had knit most of the dishcloth at home and needed to work only a few more rows, but it took all afternoon because I had to put down my work every time someone wanted to check out, and I kept forgetting my place. The pattern is a four-row repeat, and it’s not easy to tell what row you’re on just by looking at it. Many times I worked the wrong row, which had me frogging every fifteen minutes or so.

I was knitting it in a dark rust colored yarn, and everyone who saw it said how beautiful it was, but I was just knitting slip-stich garter in cheap cotton.

Every Saturday for months, Marila has shelved and I’ve knit at the desk, so I decided to thank her with the dishcloth. As I started to bind off, I asked her if she wanted it (because it may not go with her kitchen decor, plus, not everyone wants a handknit dishcloth). She said she did, and told me how her mother used to bind off—k2tog, slip st from right to left needle, k2tog, etc. So that’s how I bound off.

After weaving in the ends, I held it out to her in both hands and said mock seriously, “Marila, as a token of my appreciation for you doing all the work while I knit, I would like to give you this dishcloth.” She gave me a hug, and then she broke my heart.

“Oh no,” she said. “I can’t use this for dishes. It’s too beautiful.” Too beautiful to use on her greasy dishes. But it’s slip-stich garter in cheap cotton. One of the librarians who had seen this exchange agreed that she wouldn’t wash dishes with it either for the same reason. But it’s slip-stich garter in cheap cotton! 

I suggested she use it as a washcloth for her face. She didn’t want to do that either. She didn’t want it to get wet. She said she would use it as a hot pad, which I disuaded her from doing, pointing out that it was full of holes. And after much back and forth, we finally agreed that she would use it to retrieve not-so-hot items from the microwave.


Original Design: Irene Adler Pillow

If you remember, I had submitted this pillow to Made in America Yarns with the name of Lazy Sunday, but the finished product is rich and complex, and needed a more sophisticated name. I had been re-re-re-re-re-re-watching the second season of BBC’s Sherlock and bada-bing, Irene Adler.

Irene Adler pillow. Rich and complex, just like The Woman.

The American Lamb yarn has its own texture, which adds another layer of depth to this cabled design.

*****Pattern Info*****

Irene Adler. Her red fingernails. Those red lips. The little red Christmas gift she leaves for Sherlock on his mantle. Love and danger.

Irene Adler. Duplicitous. Engaging. Unreadable. Arms crossed over her battle dress. Texting behind her back. Consorting with the enemy. Always on display. Always hiding something. Cross. Recross. Doublecross.

Irene Adler. The woman.

The Woman.

Knit from the top down, the pillow cover begins with a few rounds of linen stitch, where you’ll make 2-stitch buttonholes. Then you’ll move on to a 12-round doublecross cable pattern, instructions for which are both written and charted. Designed to lightly hug the pillow to best show off the cables.

You should be comfortable knitting cables.

Knitting, purling, cabling, working in the round, casting on in the middle of a round (for buttonholes), 3-needle bind-off, researching techniques you’re unfamiliar with.

One, to fit a 16″ pillow form.
Circumference: 34.5″/87.5cm, lightly stretched over pillow.
Height: 18″/45.75cm.

Made in America Yarns American Lamb 100% Merino wool; 146yd/133.5m per 3.5oz/99.22g hank; Wine Glass, 3 hanks.

1 29″ US 11/8mm circular needle.
1 US 11/8mm straight or double-pointed needle for 3-needle bind-off.

1 16″ pillow form; 5 1″ buttons; cable needle; stitch marker; yarn needle.

18 sts/14 rounds = 4″/10cm in cable pattern, unstretched.
16 sts/18 rounds = 4″/10cm in cable pattern, lightly stretched over pillow.

Available on Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy.