My oncologist used the word “Nadir” to describe the point I’m at right now, which sounds more poetic, and a bit more scary, when said with a Czech accent.  Hell, LIFE is better when said with a Czech accent…

The process I’m going through is very similar to what we experience when Gerry had his Stem Cell Transplant in 2007.  For a period of time, his body was built up with blood transfusions, antibiotics, platelets, and then he was left to let all of that goodness pump him up.

THEN they came back at him with an extremely high dose chemo, although his infusions were just over 3 days.  They basically took a baseball bat to his immune system, trying to keep him as strong and as pain-free as possible during the chemo

My own chemo took place over 5 days, 1 day off/ 1 day on, so it waa 3 full days of the chemo, but divided up to make it a bit easier to deal with.

In my case, it wasn’t until about 5 days after my last chemo, or Day 10, that I began to feel REALLY terrible.  Days 7-9 were pretty low, but Day 10 was hellish.  I’ve been unable to eat simply because I cannot stand to smell food, so I’ve been getting my calories from the Kirkland protein milkshakes, which seems to be working well.  I can keep them down, and they fill me up enough that I don’t wake up hungry.

Recently I’ve been adding cut up apples a few times a day, which is so comforting.  I love Apples.  I can also keep them by my bed, cut up and ready to eat, to snack on when I wake up.

Today’s experiment is a roast beef sandwich that Andy’s bringing.  I’m hoping the smell is not too strong, and that I can get a good bit of the sandwich down!

I could use the energy boost of a good roast beef sandwich; I’m SERIOUSLY exhausted (but better than I was yesterday.) The exhaustion is very, very difficult to deal with.  The Physical Therapy folks would like me to get up and walk around a bit each day, and that’s a valid goal, but the energy involved in managing a walker and my IV pole can be absolutely nuts.  I took a short walk yesterday, and was proud of myself, but once I got back to the room I crawled into bed and did NOT move from position I landed in for over 6 hours.  Just me, clutching the covers, waiting for a bit more energy.

Monday I’ll be getting a Bone Marrow Biopsy in the OR so they can sedate me (I’m nothing but trouble…) and I am crossing my fingers that whatever positive numbers they’re looking for in my marrow will be bright and shiny and perfect!

The goal we’re working toward is a Bone Marrow Transplant, which is what Gerry had, although I haven’t talked about it at length with any of the oncologists.  They — wisely — adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude so we’re not putting the cart before the horse.

Well, speaking of horses, my lunch is here and I’m ready to strap on the feed bag.  Wish me luck as I attempt to have a roast beef sandwich!  Thank goodness for Andy!!


A Return To Baking

I bake for fun, I really love making things (and I love decorating them even more!)

In fact, in 2016 I auditioned for the American version of the Great British Bake Off.  The Great American Baking Show (they can’t use the term, “Bake Off” because Pillsbury owns the rights to it in the US) most likely won’t be produced again after the last season, which was due to air on ABC at Christmas 2017.  Unfortunately one of the judges had been involved in an unsavory episode when he was a chef in NYC 10 years earlier, and in the midsts of #MeToo ABC felt that the most prudent thing would be to just cancel the entire program and air some show on Christmas lights instead.

So even if I’d made it onto the show (I was in the final group of 12, they only chose 8 for the show, I wasn’t even an alternate…) the show wouldn’t have aired.

Yet I cling to the hope that someday I will be able to bake IN THE TENT in England (where they also shot the US show, oddly enough…). It’s a dream.  I know I’ll never be on the Amazing Race, but there’s always a slight hope that I can bake!

Until this past month baking was a bit of a pipe dream, too.  Not only was it very difficult to get downstairs, once there I was so wiped out that all I could really do was sit.  Standing was (and continues to be) a very painful activity, and so much of baking is standing.

First Post Chemo Bake

This week I made my first cake in a year, my chocolate bundt cake (based on Joy The Baker’s recipe) and it was delicious.  I had to pace myself, doing about 20 minutes of work for every 20 minutes of working, but I did it (and I even cleaned up after myself!!)

Today I’m going to make some cookies.  I’ve entered myself into the Minnesota State Fair under the Decorated Cookie category (this year’s theme: Minnesota Flowers) and I’m raring to go!

I’m planning on making up a bunch of royal icing using meringue powder (so it will keep, in an airtight container, for up to a month) and I will practice a few different types of flowers and decorating techniques in the two months before I have to turn in my cookies.

I’m not certain if I’m permitted to enter multiple groups of cookies, I’m going to look that up, because if I run across several decorative techniques that work well I’ll want to show them off.

My previous floral attempt

So in preparation, I have sugar cookie dough in the fridge (my favorite, very simple recipe with added cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom) and I’m watching The Great British Bake Off!

I had avoided watching the show because for so long I wasn’t sure when, or even if, I’d be able to bake again.  I’m feeling more hopeful about that these days.

Even if baking is a drawn out process for me (rest, bake, rest, bake…) I know that it can happen, and that has lifted my spirits more than I can explain.

Obviously I love knitting and crochet, even though I haven’t done much of THAT since my diagnosis, either.  It’s just been recently that I’ve been sitting and knitting or crocheting for any length of time, and it’s just been swatching mostly (although I did just finish a little crocheted doll for my small friend, Charlotte, who lives nearby…). But baking is also a great love of mine, and the results are more immediate, and more immediately shareable.

Now that I have both kids home for the Summer, plus an extra kid who’s dating Andy and is a lovely addition to our household, I have a captive audience of young adults who will eat just about anything I pull out of the oven.  Perhaps I’ll even get back to making a daily (weekly?) loaf of bread for us, which is SO delicious.

One huge change in my baking since the cancer is that I’m not limiting myself to gluten free flours, I WILL be using wheat flour, but only organic (so I can avoid the Round Up that is used in some non-organic wheat harvesting, and which seems to exacerbate my fibromyalgia symptoms.)  Using organic wheat in place of gluten free is still an experiment for me, but it seems to be working well.  And it CERTAINLY makes baking easier and a bit more fun.

As I struggle with the residual pain of the tumors that lived in my spine and hips, I don’t want to return to the terrible fibro pain in my shoulders and legs that I’ve been dealing with for the past 10 years.  Avoiding gluten, taking vitamin D3 and exercising kept the pain at bay, I’ll continue with that but instead of GF I’ll be using organic wheat flour.

My knees are doing well thanks to the cortisone shots (more successful in my left knee than in my right knee) and the TENS until I bought at Amazon has been an incredible aid to help me manage my extreme back pain.  All in all, I’m doing about as well as can be expected.  All I’m missing is the bike, but that’s a tale for a different blog post!

The lovely cane makes walking more beautiful! Thank you, Deb!!

I’m walking better now, for the most part I’ve moved onto the BEAUTIFUL cane that my friend Deb bought me last Fall, and leaving the walker for longer strolls.  It feels very freeing to be able to drive again, and take the car with a CANE only, not dragging that walker everywhere I go!

What a difference a few months make!

Japanese Milk Bread

I love baking.  A year ago I was all about the cake, this year I’m more about bread.  It makes sense, bread is slower, there’s less timing involved, and it’s easier for a person with pain and exhaustion issues to plan out a loaf and deal with it ON MY TERMS.

I can move slowly through a bread recipe, feel I’ve made something special for my family, and NOT knock myself out trying to make something special and memorable.

There are SO many excellent bread resources out there that I’m not going to even TRY to list them.

Right now my favorite source of recipes to try for bread items is the King Arthur website.  In full disclosure, I’m a member of their baking club. I pay a certain $ each year to get free shipping on my orders and other little treats.  

It’s a luxury, but when I break down how cheaply I can whip up a loaf of bread for the family, and how much they enjoy it, it actually makes good sense, financially.

Bread + Pain Strategy
So this morning, waking at 2am with intense pain (2 is when my 8-hour Oxycodone wears off, and at this point I could set my clock by the pain) my strategy has become to

  1. Take my 2am pain pills (short lasting Oxycodone for breakthrough pain)
  2. Get up and take care of nature’s call
  3. Try to stay in bed for at LEAST 1/2 hour
  4. Read a bit from my current bedtime book

If all of this leads to me falling back asleep, then I am what’s known as le Happy Camper.

The kids won’t have hot, fresh bread waiting for them in the morning, but they WILL have a well rested, happy, mom, and that’s worth EVEN MORE!

However if, like this morning, pain won’t abate until I move a bit, I get up and wander the ground floor of the house, putting stuff away, emptying the dish washer, trying to do anything that isn’t too noisy.

If I’m still awake at 6am, I can take my entire pain pill regime (three times a day, 6am, 2pm, 10pm.)  To my list this morning I added, “Make Japanese Milk Rolls!”  Because – why not?

Soft Bread
I like soft bread, and I cannot lie.  Recently I like it even more.  When approaching a chewy crust of bread, I tense up a bit as hard chewing can really bother my teeth these days.  I’m such a sensitive flower…

I love this recipe from King Arthur Flour because it uses a warm milk starter, called a

Sometimes I like to bake my Japanese Milk Bread Rolls with an egg wash & sesame seeds.

“Tangzhong Starter” which really does seem to make the bread soft and easy to eat.  When I was a kid my dad used to buy a loaf of bread called, “MIlk Toast.”

I don’t know if this was an Ohio or WV thing, but we’d get this special bread at A&P, in a blue wrapper, sliced VERY THICK.  I remember it was a soft and comforting bread, and my dad would toast it, then cover it in cinnamon and sugar and warm milk and eat it like a pudding.

These Milk Rolls give me the same feeling when I eat them.  There’s a pleasant density and softness to the bread that makes me feel like I’m 5 again.  This is wonder bread, x100 for taste and texture!

Japanese milk bread roll with jam!

Once I’ve created the starter (I do it 30 seconds at a time in the microwave) and mixed together all of the ingredients, I knead it in my mixer, then give a few extra kneads on my table and put it in a buttered, covered bowl to rise.

60-90 minutes later, the dough’s been raised and it’s time to shape it,

At this point there are a number of ways to utilize the dough.  One of my favorites is to create the above rolls, which are very easy to make.  If I feel the need to fill them with spices or nuts or chocolate or cheese, it’s easy to do and makes a beautiful change up from plain bread.

Japanese Milk Rolls baked as a loaf

Other times I roll the dough out into a rectangle, fold it up in thirds (like a business letter) then turn under the edges and slip it into a loaf pan.  Once again, when folding the dough I can add fillings to different section of the bread if I feel so moved, and can make a sweet or a savory treat.

I’ve used this recipe as the base for a nice Babka, too.  It’s such a versatile dough!

I think this morning I’m going to make a kind of cinnamon roll using a nice mix of Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg and a bit of Vanilla. That sounds like it would be great with a cup of coffee (I seldom drink coffee, but this morning I might!)

When the bread’s had a second rise I’ll roll a Cinnamon-Spice mixture into the dough, then do some creative twisting and try to make something pretty.  Once it’s baked up, I may add a bit of icing and there’s Sunday morning, done and dusted!

What About The Gluten, Annie?
And, for those of you keeping score, YES this is filled with gluten.  But I’m using an organic wheat which should guarantee that a Monsanto product wasn’t used in the harvesting of the grain.

I was experimenting with using organic wheat vs gluten free, and felt that I was having some good success, and then the cancer happened.

I’m so full of various pain killers that I wouldn’t even FEEL the side effects that I’d been chalking up to eating gluten.

So I’m giving myself permission to eat a bagel every now and then, and I’m ESPECIALLY giving myself permission to eat a wheat product I bake at home using organic wheat.  So far I haven’t had any terrible side effects from this, the pain I feel tends to line up with the pain from my lymphoma and metastasized tumors.

So, whether you consider yourself a baker or not, I have found this recipe to be a VERY good soft-bread, and not really difficult to make at ALL!

I hope you’ll give it a try, and let me know how it turns out!  From start to finish this generally takes me about an hour’s work and a few hours of rising/waiting.  Perfect for a 2am wakening on a slow pain-filled morning.

SO who wants to come by and have some bread?

A Happy Resolution!

So much sad, sad, sad isn’t good for the soul.  Or good for a blog.  This post will NOT be about pain or fear or cancer. It will be about CONVECTION OVENS!!

Home Sweet Downsize!

The Setup
When Gerry and I purchased our beautiful home in 2016, our goal was to downsize to the point (both in house size and in less desirable location) that we could get close to the ‘paying off the mortgage’ portion of our life plan.

As I’ve mentioned, Gerry and I are frugal bunnies. The priviledge to even BE able to be frugal is something I don’t take lightly, I KNOW exactly how fortunate we are. We live in a messed up country, in a messed up world. Paying attention to blatant unfairness it’s a step in the direction of fixing it.

The kids had SOME say in the house, but mostly we allowed them to go along for the ride. Their home is here for as long as they want, but we couldn’t afford to make it TOO comfortable for them to come and stay.

The Warrantee

You Say Garage, I Say St-St-Studio!

Along with the home, and the magnificent garage, er, dye studio, we acquired a home warrantee on several of the appliances. I hadn’t thought much about warrantees before, but this one has worked out beautifully for our family.

The range was on the warrantee, and it had been baking kind of funny, there was a light bulb out that couldn’t be reached to be replaced, and we were STUNNED when the warrantee fellow came out and said we could get a new range, and gave us a number that they would pay us to go get ourselves something.

We shopped online, we shopped in stores, we knew we wanted a bit of a grill, a bit of a griddle, and —if possible — my dream of a convection oven.

The Range
I know fan, or convection, ovens can be a tricky subject, but I wanted one, damnit. I mean, not enough to turn down a lovely stove that DIDN’T have one, but if one came with our stove, so much the better!

We decided to shop at SEARS online after seeing this item on their website. We ordered it, it was delivered in early January.

I wasn’t at home at the time so Gerry accepted it on his own. We weren’t paying for SEARS to install it, so they pretty much dropped it off and took our old stove away.

The WRONG Range
EXCEPT the oven they dropped off did NOT match the description.  No convection oven.

I immediately started an online chat with the SEARS folks, who seemed as surprised as I was that this range did NOT have a convection oven.

We went back and forth, I could tell the Customer Service Rep was feeling like he was between a rock and a hard place (my god, what an absolutely dismally difficult job CSR is!)

So apparently the range we bought, JGSS66EELSS was NOT the range we’d thought we were buying. And apparently SEARS said it was our fault, or that it wasn’t THEIR fault.

Of course we needed to escalate the situation.  SEARS told us, rather nastily, that the number of the range we’d ordered WAS NOT a model with a ConvectionOven.  They said that they had a typo on their website, and they would NOT honor a typo.

Refusal To Help
Except, even after we’d alerted SEARS to this, they KEPT that damn “typo” up for months.

The emails we were getting from SEARS were getting nastier and nastier.

Essentially they said, in several different ways, “Look, you got a good deal on a range, just shut up and go away.”

They offered us $100 to shut up, and told us that we HAD TO ACCEPT THAT $100 WITHIN 5 DAYS OR THEY WEREN’T PLAYING. Jerks.

Uh, no.

They repeated their offer with $200. Then with $400. Each time we said, “No, we want the range that you advertised. We will NOT let you get away with Bait & Switch.”

We stood strong, we were in no rush and — in all honesty — we really loved the range we had purchased. But it WAS NOT what was advertised. What was advertised was the range we ordered PLUS a convection oven.

About a week into this nonsense we asked for the help of our State Attorney General, Lori Swanson. I hadn’t realized that one of the duties of the SAG is to protect consumers in their state, and BOY did Erin, from Lori’s office, work to protect us!

Our Lovely Stove. Take THAT, Kathleen!

Patiently, slowly, her staff kept after SEARS. She took the case seriously, giving it the amount of time it needed, but also letting it roll on it’s own. I was impressed with their restraint and strength.

Right around that time my business partner, Kathleen, had her kitchen redone after bad ice dam damage from several years ago. Thank you, home insurance company!

It’s ON!
Kathleen GOT OUR STOVE! She ordered and had delivered EXACTLY the stove we wanted, so it was ON! There was no way I was not walking away without my convection oven.

Actually, given the state of my back this Spring, perhaps that is NOT the best way to acquire and bring home the oven… 

Morning Treat for Post Radiation!

Convection Conviction
Well, HUZZAH!  In April we were alerted that we had a “final offer” of $450, and we said, “No. Convection Oven.” And SEARS said to Lori Swanson’s office, “Ok.”


And that is why I am up at 5am before my radiation, so I can throw some low-sugar cookie dough in the oven for TEN MINUTES and have a half dozen cookies to snack on after my time on the laser table today.

Thank you, Lori Swanson, you and your office really stood up for us!

And SEARS, you SUCK! 
Even if you DID do the professional installation gratis this time…

Just do the right thing from the start, and you KNEW that honoring your website description (up for at least 4 months) was the RIGHT THING!

Tomorrow I’ll write about how I became so enmeshed in the Fan Oven love, and my journey a year ago to attempt to become a contestant on The Great American Baking Show! (spoiler, I didn’t make it…)


We’re ordered, and we’re currently awaiting, MANY more kilos of beautiful undyed ModeSock and ModeLuxe for dyeing and loving!

If all goes well, it should be here mid-next week, and be up and for sale in our store by next weekend! Our first order of business; create the ModeLuxe in the colors of the Slippy Cowl so we can fulfill the wishes of the folks who want to make that same item!

Second order of business; knit a few samples in other colors so folks can easily envision different color combinations!

This downtime is perfect for upgrading the website (now each different yarn will be accessible through drop down menus under “ModeKnit Yarn” – try it!) and soon we’ll have different selectable menus for different colorways.

Right now we only show images of yarns that are immediately available, but we have to think of ways to show all the colors AND whether they’re available in an easy to update way.

I’m using a WordPress plug in called “Catablog” – which has much more power than I’m currently using – so the time is right to figure out how to use all that extra database goodness!

AND it’s a perfect time to get some projects for other books / magazines finished, and to begin sourcing yarn for my boleros & shrugs book! If you know of an indy yarn that you really like, I’m trying to use as many indy dyers in the book, and I’m always on the lookout for great new yarn sources!

IMG_0482I’m hopeful that all of you had a MAGNIFICENT holiday, and will continue on through next week (and BEYOND!) to celebrate the light and warmth that we can create in our own lives when it’s so dark outside!

And in that spirit, I’d love to give you a wonderful Crescent Cookie recipe, gf_crescent_cookies.

I’ve made this gluten free, but it’s incredibly easy to just trade out the GF Baking mix for the flour of your choice!

I’m afraid it’s very nut heavy, but has no eggs! It is rich (buttery) but has little sugar.

This is the cookie that always makes me think it’s Christmas!

The Day Before The Big Day

I love the Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving SO much!

It’s a day of hopes, of dreams, of non-crazed prep and happy anticipation!

The delicious thing about Thanksgiving is that we can choose to prepare as much, or as little, as we want! We can purchase a pre-made dinner, go out for a lovely meal, visit friends (take a dish!) or cook up all the favorites at our own homes.  We usually do the latter – it’s the cheapest, and given my food allergy (gluten) it’s the safest and most comfortable.

The Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving is the day that I dream that EVERYTHING I cook will turn out magnificently, perfectly seasoned and all cooking times will resolve themselves within 15 minutes of each other. A girl can dream!

This year we’re going with the stand alone turkey breast (it’s pretty much all we eat of the big bird) with GF stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, brussles sprouts, sweet potatoes and salad. We’ll have apple pie and pumpkin custard for dessert. We intend this meal to last us until D-Day.

I may even try my hand at macarons sometime this weekend to use up the egg whites leftover from the custard – I generally fail pretty miserably at them, though…

But this year we ask the question, “Why is this Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving different from all other Thanksgivings?”

And the answer is – because it’s the start of Hannukah!

I have my own problems with the holiday (I’m not a huge fan of the Maccabees, don’t get me started…), and in reality it’s a pretty minor holiday. But it’s a chance to light some candles and have some fun!

I may attempt latkes again. The last time I made them I almost burnt the kitchen down
(the fact I didn’t was a Hannukah miracle…)

But I think mostly we’ll just enjoy some family time, spin the dreidle, and maybe even play a rousing game of SORRY!


This Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving is even MORE special!

Today I await the first shipment of ModeKnit Yarn! Today I will receive my first two base yarns from which we’ll be dyeing our initial batches. I’m so excited!

I checked the UPS site, and it’s “out for delivery” – yahoo!

Once I get the yarn, I’ll skein off a few sample mini skeins and test my dye formulas and methods. If all works as I hope (and as it has so far with my 100% SW merino sample yarn) I’ll get the rest of the yarn skeined up and ready to dye this Thursday when we’re using a local space for our experimentation!

I’m equal parts excitement, anticipation and fear. Thank heaven turkey and stuffing await me tomorrow!

Cake for my Birthday!

I’m 52 today, and I baked a cake earlier this week.

I can’t eat gluten – I’m not celiac, but I do have fibromyalgia and I’ve noticed my pain increases and my mobility decreases when I eat even a tiny bit of gluten. So I avoid it, and overall it’s been good for me.

My mind’s been on cardamom — heaven knows why — and so I rode my bike down to Penzey’s (near my home, how lucky can a girl get?) and bought some green pods to open, crush, and make into a cake.

After experimenting with one of my favorite GF cake recipes, a variation on Gluten Free Girl’s variation on Joy The Baker’s Vegan Chocolate Cake, I came up with this recipe which I find delicious!

The rose frosting is a nice accompaniment to the sturdy cardamom flavor, they stand up to each other, and also complement each other. I used jasmine tea in my cake, but you can use any tea you like, the flavor isn’t that noticeable.

Slice of Cake

Slice of Cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 350 grams GF Flour
    (made of following flours, or your favorite combination)
    150 gr potato flour
    100 gr sweet rice flour
    100 gr oatmeal flour
  • 1 ¼ Tsp salt
  • 2 ½ Tsp baking soda
  • 1-½ Cup white sugar
  • 12 Green cardamom pods,
    seeds removed & ground into fine powder

  • 1 Tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-¼ Cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 1-¼ Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup hot jasmine tea
    (1C water to ⅓ C jasmine tea leaves, strain & use only hot tea in recipe)

Rose Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tsp Rose Water Flavor
  • 1 Tsp cream

Preparing to Bake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10″ bundt pan with a neutral-tasting vegetable oil, then flour lightly with GF baking mix of flours used in cake. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over ⅓ C jasmine tea leaves to make a strong tea.

Finished Cake

Finished Cake

Flavoring the Sugar

Stir the cardamom powder and vanilla into the sugar and allow to set for 15 minutes.
Combine dry ingredients
Whisk together the flours, salt and baking soda, set aside.

Make the Batter
Cream sugar and eggs together until well combined. Add the sour cream and oil, stirring well. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. If you’re using a stand mixer here, let it run for a while. Remember — you don’t have to worry about activating the gluten and thus making the cake tough!

Make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the wet ingredients. You shouldn’t see any hint of flour. Add the tea and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Baking the Cake

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top of the cake has an athletic jiggle to it, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes. Carefully invert the bundt pan onto a wire rack and tap the bottom of the pan. The cake should slide out easily. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Rose Frosting

In a mixer, cream sugar & butter until well blended then mix another 3 minutes at high speed. Add vanilla, rose water & cream, mix for another minute. Add more cream if necessary for desired consistency.

Spread the frosting over the completely cooled cake.

If desired, you can slice the cake into layers and add frosting between the layers before covering the outside of the cake.

Place in refrigerator to set, this makes it easier to slice evenly.

If you’d like a pdf of this recipe, click here.

Traveling & Caring

Today we pack up to head up to a friend’s lake house for the weekend. Lucky, lucky us!

We’re SO looking forward to it, and it gives Gerry, Max and myself a chance to enjoy some MN ‘wilderness’ while Hannah’s up at Camp Menogyn doing her wild-girl thing!

The thing about traveling these days is that I know I have to be the mom and the dad; I have to make the packing list AND I have to get everything packed up and in the car.  It’s not that Gerry doesn’t, but the amount he can carry, etc., is limited (as it is for me, too!) and I have to admit that today would be easier if Max didn’t have his part time job this morning (we’re picking him up from work and traveling from there…)

So while Gerry gets a couple shipments of books together (he IS my shipping department) I get our clothing and toiletries packed, get the dog crate folded and stowed, police the backyard and put away everything that shouldn’t be left out (cushions, tools, etc.)  I do some gardening that can’t wait (cutting fast-growing sprouts off of trees, do some visible weeding that is getting out of hand…)

I go through the house and empty the garbage, drag the huge backyard container around front and make sure all of the compost stuff is in the composter (not left under the sink for a long, hot weekend – ick!)

Gerry is handling the kitty litter (and for that he deserves a medal!) and while he tackles that odious task I load the car, get the bikes up on the rack, do a house walk through and make sure doors and windows are locked, contact the neighbor kid to look in on the cats (and leave money for him along with the cans of catfood – he’s an old hand at this by now!)

We have this down to a science, the quickest we did it was when, on the spur of the moment, we decided to go to TNNA last month. But it’s friggin’ exhausting.

I am ashamed of how easily I tire, but if I’m honest with myself a lot of that exhaustion comes from the stress of keeping so much on my shoulders. There’s no remedy – I pass along to other folks what I can – but at the end of the day there is a lot that I MUST be in charge of (and I’m actually quite fortunate that I have so much to be responsible for!)

Please don’t read this post as a complaint, rather as a catalog (I am a virgo, I love a list!) – for myself as much as for anyone else – and the love that comes back to me from my tasks is huge and outweighs everything.

But it’s a different kind of life than the one where Gerry did the “dad” stuff, I did the “mom” stuff, and it seemed that both of us had more opportunities to just sit and have a glass of wine together!  I’m hoping we’ll have that chance this weekend!

Myrna's CLASSIC book on lace knitting

Myrna’s CLASSIC book on lace knitting

Our friends, Myrna & Bob, are such gracious and kind hosts, we love to spend time with them. Myrna’s also a knit teacher and designer, as well as an attorney (oh, how I admire that!) and she’s a lovely, funny, down to earth friend.

Gerry doesn’t make friends as freely as I do – I have the grease of knitting/crochet to ease myself into many situations – so spending time with another couple who mesh well with us is a delight!  Husband play date!

Bob was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, so I’m making one of my favorite GF cake recipes, a chocolate/coffee bundt cake by Joy The Baker that Gluten Free Girl tweaked on her blog. This cake is moist, crumbly in the best way, and totally does NOT feel like a GF cake.  I’m experimenting with using only honey in the recipe today, no refined sugar – I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

BTW, If you’re gluten sensitive, you MUST put
Gluten Free Girl and The Art of Gluten Free Baking
on your list of recipe sources!

Max is always great company, we were discussing today that he hates for anyone to be disappointed or upset, not unusual in a younger child, and it’s probably something that he’ll grow out of (as we all do!)  On the positive side, that makes him a stellar companion, and makes us very proud to take him anywhere with us.

I wish Hannah could join us – she, too, is a great traveler, and is so helpful that she makes herself welcome everywhere.  But it’s been really great for Gerry and I to have so much one-on-one time with Max this past year & Summer while Hannah’s been at school and at camp, it’s good for Max, good for all of us!

So we’ll spend a lovely few days chatting about life, knitting, politics, Minnesota and bicycling around Pelican Lake. We feel immensely fortunate at the friendships we’ve made here in MN, Myrna & Bob are two of the nicest!

The down side is that another new friend (this one a MN native who lives in Florida) will be in town for the weekend and it looks like I’ll miss her.  Dang.


I’m sending off three sweaters today, a twin set and a hooded jacket.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.11.44 PMThe yarn I’ve used for the jacket is Freia by Tina Whitmore (KnitWhits), and it is astonishingly beautiful to work with!

The colors are crisp and bright, changing beautifully, making the whole project pure delight!

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.11.37 PM

Freia’s Flux colors are AMAZING! (Could you plotz?!)

Databases for Back Pleat Jacket

The various databases I use in my pattern writing / designing

I can’t post pics of the pieces, but I’ve been making copious notes of the process, step by step, keeping everything well documented in my various databases (yes, I’m a FileMaker ho’!)

When the jacket is published in Interweave Crochet I will run a companion blog post walking through the process of designing, swatching, patterning, crocheting, ripping out, re-crocheting, blocking, measuring, packing and shipping this garment.

SoulMateThe Twin Set’s been worked up in SoulMate by Lorna’s Laces.  I don’t think I’d used this yarn previously, and it’s amazingly resilient!

I’ve ripped out and re-worked both pieces several times, but the yarn looks as if it was just pulled out of the ball this morning, fresh and virginal.  Add to that the lustre and shine of the yarn, the softness, the pure, understated quality of this beautiful blend of  Superwash Merino, Nylon and Outlast (my first time using this last fiber, it feels magnificent!)

It’s good for me to keep track of these things, and my ‘Anatomy of a Design’ posts have been pretty well received.  Look for these in the Winter IK Crochet!

First attempt at a colorwork repeat.

First attempt at the colorwork repeat – I want something that will echo the cable motif.


I received a big box of lovely Drops yarn for a piece for The Knitter (a UK Mag I feel very fortunate to work with from time to time – it really is a great publication!)  I’m working up a “Men’s Quartet”, scarf, gloves, hat & sweater.  Colorwork AND cables are involved, two of my favorite things in the world. The hat is finished, it only took a few hours, but that doesn’t include the two PREVIOUS hats I knit and ripped out to get to the one that works well.

Designing IS making decisions,
and ripping out.

The colors are woody and natural and understated (lovely tan, brown, white and deep green) rather like our weekend will be!

We’ve Made HISTORY!

Well, it’s FINALLY ready for pre-order from Cooperative Press!

Hmm, which cover will end up on the book?

Please note that this book is available only for PRE-ORDER.

All purchasers will immediately receive a one-page preview PDF, followed by the full digital book download within a couple of weeks.

Printed copies will ship by late December or before.


I’ve been quiet, but it’s because I’ve been COOKING!

We had an AMAZING Thanksgiving; excellent food, wonderful family time, lots of rest and lots of laughing!  The only thing that could have made it better would have been house guests, but we just weren’t confident of Gerry’s pain levels or my energy levels to open ourselves up to perhaps disappoint friends.

We needn’t have worried – dinner was spectacular (just enough, all tasty, not a ton of leftovers!) and pain/energy levels held pretty steady all weekend.

Pacing, that must be the key!

I will admit, though, it was very nice to know that I could stop and recharge my batteries with a quick nap whenever I wanted to.

Time at home like this can fool me into believing that I have no exhaustion issues; it’s just when I travel and need to accommodate someone else’s schedule that it becomes crystal clear how small my energy reservoir has become.


I’m heading off for NYC/NJ to teach a few classes.  I’m anxious to see how family and friends have fared in the aftermath of Sandy, and to touch base with the place that was my home for 30 years.

If you’ll be in the area on Dec 1 or 2, you can catch a class with me  on New Directions In Knitting With Color (including creating the groovy plaid shown at right):

Knitty City
208 West 79th St,  NYC 10024
(212) 787-5896
Sat, Dec 1 at 5pm
66 Elm St # 2  Westfield, NJ 07090
(908) 301-0053
Sun, Dec 2 at 1pm

I hear the classes are filling well, so if you want a space I’d call right away if I were you.

My Morning Ritual

I talked about my morning ritual of Oatmeal while I was teaching in Santa Clara, and the response was so positive I thought I’d do a brief tutorial on how I create my weekly breakfasts.

1. I cook up a big ‘ol pot of oatmeal (6 cups) on Saturday or Sunday morning.  Usually I like steel cut oats, but I enjoy a good rolled oat, too!

2. I eat a bowl (YUM!) and pour the rest into a loaf pan.

3. I let the oatmeal set up until it’s firm (sometimes in the fridge)

4. I slice it into big, thick pieces and wrap each in press n’seal (this works much better than plastic wrap, which can stick in the little nooks and tear)

5. I freeze it.

Each morning I take a piece out of the freezer, microwave it for 2 minutes, add sugar, nuts & craisins and microwave 30 seconds more.  A bit of milk and voilà!  Breakfast!

If I have oatmeal and a cup of tea, my whole DAY is good.  The days I miss my oatmeal are never as good as they could be.

Oatmeal, I love you.  I hope to go to the World Porridge Festival in Scotland some day…

A  girl can dream.