You Have Two Weeks

I’m always so torn at Valentine’s Day.  I love chocolate (too much!) and I love flowers, but if I’m going to be showered with gifts I’d love to get something less fattening and longer-lasting than the traditional Valentine’s Day haul.

So – because my husband and I have a long-time, pragmatic marriage – he actually likes it when I tell him what would most appeal to me for Valentine’s Day. And I’m happy to accommodate!

I present you with my 2014 Valentine’s Wish List. I honestly don’t expect to get all (or any) of it, but I figure if Gerry has good, firm hints I’m more likely to wake up on Feb 14th with something I can fully enjoy!

Remember, there’s nothing more satisfying to a gift giver than the knowledge that their gift is appreciated and loved. Sometimes a well-placed hint can make this possible!

Work Bags

snap1Oh, Snap!

Namaste is an amazing company.

They support good causes, they make some of the most beautiful vegan ‘leather’ bags around, and they truly GET crafters & their needs!  This year high on my list are the Oh, Snap! bags.

I am (in)famous for carrying around various ziplock bags filled with yarn and projects-in-process. Sometimes I seem to be more bag than knitter once I get all my work spread out. But not only is it a waste of plastic bags, they just look shabby.

Cool colors!

Cool colors!

The Oh, Snap! bag is roomy, easy to get into, and – best of all – see through! I love to see what I’m working on, and show stuff off without taking it out of the bag! It comes in a variety of colors, in sets of 2 or 3 bags.

Reusable and STRONG, I have one long-wearing green one that’s taken the place of at least 20 ziplock bags!

The Wristlet In Red

The Wristlet In Red


Looking for something less crafty, but just as utilitarian? I can HIGHLY recommend the Wristlet as one of the most useful small bags I’ve ever owned!

It’s well designed,with multiple zippered pockets and credit card slots and a useful wrist strap. Along with the pockets are two separate compartments in the purse (I use one for personal items, the other for knitting tools) and to top the whole thing off it’s absolutely charming.

wristletThe exterior is made of PVC-free vegan faux leather, the interior  of PET microsuede in gray (made from recycled plastic bottles)

I am constantly getting compliments on this cunning little purse, and have no problem carrying it at a dressier occasion. If you have been wanting to give Namaste Bags a try, this is a great ‘trial bag’, and—highlight this sentence when you print this out to leave on your significant other’s pillow—the Wristlet would make a GREAT GIFT!

Reference Book

Like many knitters, I have dozens of stitch dictionaries and pattern libraries on my shelf. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it to get a new one, what could possibly be new?

Melissa Leapman’s The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook is remarkable. I will admit I got a free copy, but if I didn’t believe that this was one of the most useful books you can get, I wouldn’t write about it!

Melissa Leapman's book is a MUST HAVE!

Melissa Leapman’s book is a MUST HAVE!

Not only is The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook filled with different motifs (as you’d expect) Melissa offers excellent suggestions for USING the motifs in an actual garment, with tips on charting for a neckline, fitting motifs into a schematic and decreasing while remaining true to the stitch pattern.

This is a book every knitter should have!

And if you can acquire it as part of your Valentine’s Day festivities, then everyone is happy!


Pumpkin Spice (it’s not just a flavor anymore!)

“My favorite flavor, color and Spice girl is Pumpkin*”

I made this simple comment on Twitter, and a wealth of Namaste goodness wafted my way!


Cute! But it’s not pumpkin spice…

So NOW, my favorite flavor, color, Spice Girl AND Namaste bag are PUMPKIN SPICE!

The folks at Namaste do an amazing job with their products! I’ve loved them for years (ever since I used their glass needles in my knitting with wire book, “Twist & Loop”) but their bags are OUT of this world!

I’m not generally a “purse” woman. All the excitement over spending several hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a bag has totally escaped me.

Perfect for biking, and it's MINE!

Compact, perfect for biking, but NOT pumpkin spice!

But then I’m more practical
than is probably good for me.

For over a year I’ve pretty much just carried my Steven B ‘newsboy’ shoulder tote as a purse & catch all, and I’ve done so proudly.

I only grab a ‘nice’ bag when I’m meeting friends, and my nice bags of choice are always Namaste!

For the record, I’m also a woman who does NOT squeal at shoes – I hardly ever wear a heel, and when I do it’s low and comfortable – I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get’ the thrill of modern ‘foot binding’ which makes it hard to walk, screws up your back and joints, and costs hundreds of dollars for a simple pair of heels – but we’ll leave that for another blog post…

Namaste Bag Travels Well!

My Olive (not pumpkin spice) Namaste Bag Travels Well in ROME!

Aside from their gorgeous style, Namaste bags are usefully and thoughtfully assembled with SO MANY wonderful little pockets (for balls of yarn, of course!)

I love that the bags are made from Vegan Leather — no animals harmed in the making of a Namaste bag!

I travel with them (they’re TERRIFIC for airline trips — there’re always pockets for passport, wallet, boarding pass, etc.) and they hold up like steel.

I stuff these bags full of everything they can hold, I strap them on the back of my bike, I tie them onto my luggage and drag them through every airport, and they continue to look amazing year after year!

Why am I going on about these bags? Well, I have a tiny little change-purse from Namaste and I’d love to gift it to one of you!  It arrived out of the blue along with a small purse for me (that Pumpkin Spice joke on Twitter really paid off!) and I figured it would be good karma to share the Namaste wealth!

Adorable L'il Pumpkin!

Adorable L’il Pumpkin!
The Peter Tork of this blog post.

Just leave a comment below about your most useful bag. 

Not your most expensive, or even most beautiful bag, but the one that you automatically pick up if you’re off for a full and busy day.

What is it that makes your most useful bag your ‘go-to’ carry?

Leave your comment, and I’ll pick one at random and contact you to send you this adorable little change purse!  This will be short, I’ll pick a winner on Saturday (tomorrow), so get your comments in!

While you wait, enjoy this scary movie trailer!

*Actually, my favorite flavor, color, Spice Girl,  Namaste bag
AND movie trailer is Butternut Squash, but for poetic reasons I’ll stick with “Pumpkin”


I’m more excited about it than I can say, but if you are on twitter use the hashtag #CaribouKnits and you’ll be a jump ahead of everyone else in my NEXT giveaway!

Sock It To Me! And Win A Book!

So, are you ready for some stunning sock artistry as the Fall weather arrives..?

I’m a newish sock convert. I’d knit socks in the past, and I wholeheartedly embraced the sock movement.

Personally, I feel sock knitters have done more with their passion and skill
to raise the level of our craft than any other specific group of knitters!

BFK_coverBut I never wore socks much.

You see, my family is rooted in West Virginia. We’ve lived in that incredibly beautiful state for over 300 years (long before it was WV, or even VA!)

And, whether it’s my own personal preference, or a cultural phenomenon, I like walking around barefoot.

But, as I age, this is changing. My toes grow cold, and in the past year I’ve come to admire the warmth of a great pair of socks.

Unfortunately, I have HUGE feet, so making a pair for myself is
akin to a smaller woman making a simple shrug.

But a book has graced my doorstep by an insanely talented up-and-coming knittress & designer, Andi Smith.  Watch this woman!


Easy to Follow Techniques!

Andi Smith
Available through Cooperative Press

12 patterns + more than 50 pages of
step-by-step guidance on adapting socks to your feet
132 pages

In Big Foot Knits, Andi Smith walks us through the process of fitting a sock perfectly to your own foot (be it supersized or teensy-tiny!) 



Andi covers the basics, shaping the foot and leg of a sock, heels, toes, and using measurement and gauges in the way the sock god intended.

All of this is priceless information, very well presented and easy to follow.

That in itself is a wonderful thing, but the true joy of this book are the beautiful sock designs.

 Two of my favorite designs are Gaia (a long clog-friendly style) and Eidothea (a sweet, lacy short sock with an adorable picot cuff.)

This is a wonderful book – and if you purchase the paperback copy you’ll receive the pdf file for the single price of $26.95 (pdf only is $16.95)

Buy a copy as a gift, keep the pdf for yourself!



If you’ve been casting about for a good, solid sock book with great designs and a comprehensive, easy to follow technical section, this is your book! (Well, actually it’s Andi’s book but you can buy a copy.)

If you, like myself, have a friend you’ve shepherded through the learn-to-knit process, this book along with a ball of beautiful sock yarn might be the best holiday gift you can give!  How many gifts can offer beauty, education AND hours of pleasure?


Would you like your own pdf copy of this great book?

Leave a message below telling me what your favorite sock yarn is.  If you’re unschooled in sock yarns, make one up (seriously, there are so many yarns out there now who is going to know the difference?)  I will randomly pick a comment and you’ll receive a pdf copy of the book, deposited by the Cooperative Press elves into your Ravelry library (or emailed to you if you aren’t on Ravelry*) and then YOU can start knitting up socks with grace & aplomb!

I’ll pick a winner on this Friday, 9/20 – stay tuned!

*Seriously? You’re not on Ravelry? Check it out!  If you’re a knitter or crocheter, this is a wonderful resource with SO many facets that it’s silly not to be involved!

A Few Cool Things

Saturday I helped out My Friend London at Craftstravaganza in St. Paul at the MN State Fairgrounds. I biked there and home in a chilly wind, but it was worth it for the pain relief!

Sunday I spent Mother’s Day with my darling daughter and two great friends at Shepherd’s Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN, doing a book signing and making some fun purchases.

I also got to be part of the Homespun Journey Podcast, which was great fun!
It’s always great to meet a passionate fiber lover!

My friends Kathleen Pascuzzi and Karen Ryan are so great! As the four of us (Kathleen, Karen, Hannah & myself) sat at the Louisiana Cafe enjoying a delicious breakfast (Hannah’s intro to hollandaise sause!) I reflected on how fortunate our family has been in our Minnesota friendships.

Where were Gerry and Max on a lovely Mother’s Day? At the TWINS game! They were gifted tickets by another great St. Paul friend, Robin Mayfield

BTW, if you’re looking for a compassionate, respectful, brilliant and diligent divorce attorney, Robin’s your woman!

I misted up a bit thinking what  friendship like theirs, and London’s, has meant not just to me, but to our entire family. It’s been six years since we moved here, and the folks who have befriended our family have made our lives here VERY rich and full.

When I wander a craft fair or fiber show, I LOVE to connect with folks who make exceptional things, and I especially love to write about them later. Although, I must admit that I often feel badly when I post about cool makers, KNOWING that I’ve missed many folks who were also exceptional.

I hate that feeling that my oversight could be taken as a judgement. If you were at either show and I missed you, PLEASE feel free to add a link in my comments to your site!

So, with the caveat that there were probably folks who were doing AMAZING things and I may have missed them, here are some of the cool and beautiful things I’ve seen over the past two days!

Lovely Felted Scarf

Lovely Felted Scarf

Jill Lynn
Fiber Artist

Jill works with felting, and sells finished items and materials to create your own beautiful felted items.

She was exhibiting at Shepherd’s Harvest, and I was in love with her skill, designs and her color choices!

A beautiful felted scarf by Jill Lynn

Another gorgeous felted scarf

One of her repeating themes was a lovely scarf which looked like leaves folded around a neck, with felted bobbles.

One version was double sided, with two colors and so much depth.

Jill’s work was skillful and joyful – it’s times like these that I wish I had an unlimited bank account to buy pretty things whenever I see them!

Devin Johnson
MakeShift Accessories

I couldn’t tear myself away from Devin’s booth at Craftstravaganza, and I wasn’t the ONLY one! Many folks recycle industrial items in their art, but I’ve seldom seen it done with more finesse than in Devin’s cuff bracelets.

Cuff Bracelets

Cuff Bracelets

I have SUCH a love for machined signs – I photograph them wherever I see them (there’s a terrific one in the elevator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art) and they make me smile. To me, work like this represents a love for your craft, no matter how pedestrian it may seem, which really resonates with this knitter.

More Cuffs

More Cuffs

Devin’s pieces are DEFINITELY going onto my “What to do with extra cash” pinterest board!

il_fullxfull.438970536_79pcCindy Lindgren

Cindy’s work is exceptional, and I’d seen it around in various Twin City gift shops without realizing it  was hers.  I was so happy to be able to meet her in person, and just sorry that my pocketbook didn’t allow me to indulge my love for her clear, precise, well colored and love-filled art.home_main

Visiting her website, I discovered that she ALSO designs fabric – WAHOO!!

I have placed my order, I’ll be wearing a skirt made of Cindy Lindgren fabric at TNNA, be warned!

After meeting Cindy, I realized that I had wandered onto her Etsy shop earlier and had favorited her – it was just lovely to meet her in person!


Boucle Earrings

Boucle Earrings

Jennifer Putzier

Delicate yet very strong, the lovely pieces crafted by Jennifer are lightweight and graphic, very compelling, and VERY wearable! Many of the pieces seem to be inspired by typography, used very effectively. These are not pieces that fade into the background, these are lovely pieces that make a statement!

In addition to the beautiful jewelry, Jennifer sells tiny lightweight wood cross stitch canvases which are exquisite (many were beautifully embroidered, and empty ones are also available for your own threaddy interpretation!)

il_570xN.239953488London Nelson
My Friend London

And, last but not least, my own good friend London was selling her exquisitely scented candles and beautiful hand-spun yarn.

If you didn’t get that skein you were hoping for this Mother’s Day, perhaps you’d like to pick up one of London’s beautiful fiber poems?

A Winner, A Cool Project & Another Giveaway

Mimosa Pudica

You guys are amazing.  SO MANY wonderful floral and plant ideas – this is a blog post I’ll return to over and over again when I’m seeking ideas for botanical source inspirations!

I’m surprised that no one mentioned my own personal favorite – Mimosa!

I adore both the delicate, puff-like and brilliantly fragrant flower AND the drink.  It makes me sad that it’s considered a ‘noxious weed’ here in MN (the plant, not the drink.)

There used to be a Mimosa tree in front of my apartment on W. 85th Street in NYC, the smell of those fluffy blossoms on a Spring evening was pure heaven!

The winner of Hunter’s wonderful book, The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet
20 Patterns Inspired by Vintage Botanical Illustrations, entirely chosen at random, is Tina, of Peacefully Knitting dot Com.

Thank you to EVERYONE for your great comments!


A Variety of Indian Lake Needles

And now for another giveaway (I’m going to have a TON of these over the next few weeks…)

Recently while I was at TNNA I had a chance to try a new type of knitting needle from Indian Lake Artisans, with an hexagonal shape.

I’ve used various square needles (I love how they sit in my hands and don’t turn around as I knit) but these hexagonal ones were new to me.

They were lovely – absolutely charming, rubbed to a beautiful, rich beeswaxy glow with adorable copper ornaments at the ends (hand made in Michigan.)

The first time I used these Indian Lake Artisans needles they felt oddly familiar, then I realized I was essentially holding an elegant version of my old Ticonderoga #2 yellow pencil.

Here’s a bit about the needles from Indian Lake Artisan’s website:

All of our knitting needles are handmade with great care and attention to detail. Each needle is sanded by hand and finished with natural beeswax that enhances the color and grain of the wood. The walnut, cherry and birch wood that we use is very light in weight and warm to the touch.

Size 9US/5.5MM, 14″, Cherry with Copper Rowboat Ends

I was given a pair to give away, size 9 (5.5mm) 14″ carved in cherry wood and embellished with a wonderful pair of rowboats at the ends.

These can be yours (if you’re lucky AND you leave a comment!)

In the comments section of my blog, tell me what type of needles you generally like to use, or what type is difficult for you to use…

(Or some other pertinent bit of your own personal needle-related lore!  Be creative!)

I’ll also throw in a ball of Valley Yarns 100% Wool Greenwich so the lucky winner will have something to put ON the needles.  This is a GORGEOUS yarn, soft and lofty, in a steady, neutral dark tan that would make a great short collar, cowl or hat for a man or a woman.

Shipping Disclosure: If you live in the States and your comment is selected at random, I’ll send these out to you (I’ll contact you later for your address)  If you’re out of the USA, I’ll ask you for $5 to offset international shipping (I’ll cover the other $5, we can split the $10 international shipping charge.)

After all, what are new needles without some new yarn?


“The Mapuche are the largest indigenous population in Chile…the only indigenous group in the Americas not to be defeated by the Spanish.”

If you enjoy weaving, high tech stuff AND documentaries (this is starting to sound like an unusual personal ad) then this project will be right up your alley.

Coded Stories will document the artwork of Guillermo Bert, who uses bar codes in his pieces.  The Coded Stories Project will examine the work of the Mapuche people, a little-known group in Chile, while raising issues of loss of identity, globalization, and modernization that affect all of us.

Price Check on Aisle 4!
Mapuche women still craft their remarkable textiles in the generations-old manner, weaving patterns of intricate geometric shapes that almost bear a relationship to … bar codes?


If this sounds interesting to you, you can be part of the funding of this project by visiting The Coded Stories Project kickstarter page and becoming a backer.

Personally, I cannot WAIT to see the finished documentary, but then I tend to like stories about indigenous peoples, high tech stuff, weaving, piña coladas and long walks by the beach…

Sorry, I got my blog post mixed up with a darned personal ad again…

A Winner! And A New Prize!


The winner of the book below is Elizabeth Howard from Facebook.

She left a comment, I closed my eyes and
touched the screen and I landed RIGHT on her name!
Congrats to Elizabeth!

Stay tuned for more giveaways as life progresses!!

Using a VERY scientific process which involved paper, a bowl and two fingers, I have selected a winner of Knitting Everyday Finery.

Zoe from Minneapolis (PURE coincidence, I had no idea she was nearby!) will be receiving the book later this week.

I’ll be sending her book out to her later today – shoot, I should just bike it over – and I’m announcing a new book giveaway:

One + One: Scarves, Shawls & Shrugs is a great book full of small pieces worked in a variety of skill levels.

Most of the pieces are to be worn around the neck, or close to the face, which makes perfect sense as the yarn used is Iris Schrier’s Art Yarns – a wonderful selection of soft, shimmery, colorful fibers.

I would be happy to knit and own any of the pieces in this lovely book, but a few stand out as exceptional small garments which can challenge a new knitter while fulfilling an established knitter’s need for something engaging to occupy hands and minds.

Lacy Textured Cowl by Laura Zukaite

I especially liked Laura Zukaite’s Lacy Textured Cowl – a very wearable piece which could easily move from casual to extremely elegant.  The yarn chosen – Artyarns Ensemble Light – is a beautiful choice of soft cashmere and resilient silk.

Easy Cable Cowl by Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller’s Cabled Cowl would be an excellent small project to help a new cabler hone their skills.

Slip Stitch Wimple by Annie Modesitt

I have a piece in the book, too – the Slip Stitch Wimple (although it wasn’t photographed over the head, which is where a wimple usually sits, this could work as both a cowl AND a very warm hat-like piece)

Slip Stitch Wimple, Flat

For THIS giveaway, I’m going to select from among folks who leave a comment on my facebook page under this blog post announcement.

(yes, I DO understand you’ll have to be on facebook for this one, that’s how this particular cookie crumbles…)

Leave a comment by Wednesday at noon, and I’ll notify the lucky winner and send the book off soon after!


Book Giveaway – Knitting Everyday Finery

A book landed on my desk a few weeks ago and I thought it was absolutely lovely.

It’s Knitting Everyday Finery: Practical Designs for Dressing Up in Little Ways, and it contains quite a few beautiful pieces that run from relatively easy to knit, to more challenging and knit-skill broadening.

Physically it’s a great book; the photography is elegantly rustic (a combination that seems so easy but is devilishly hard to pull off!)

The instructions are clear and well laid out, the charts are very easy to read and the models have a timelessness about them (no strong fashion or makeup choices which can so easily date a book!)

A book which is all about using knitting to create small pieces that enhance everyday life is a book worth having.

It’s true that we knit to make ourselves happy, but if along the way we also make our lives a bit more refined, rich and pleasant in a simple way, then we’ve used our skill to it’s best advantage.

There’s nothing wrong with adding little bits of beauty to our lives, loving ourselves enough to create something truly FINE for our own use.  This book will help you do just that!

So – would you like a copy of this beautiful book?  Here’s how to get it!

Click the “tweet” button at the top of this post (which will include the link to my blog) and tweet about my review of Mel’s book.  I’ll select one tweet that links to this blog, and I will notify the sender of the tweet that they’ve won this book by noon (central time) on Friday, May 4th.

And then you, too, will have your copy of Knitting Everyday Finery: Practical Designs for Dressing Up in Little Ways and will be knitting some fine, fine, finery!

Last Minute Gifts To Make A Difference

It’s late.  Incredibly late.  It’s the day before the day before Christmas, 4 days into Hanukkah, and maybe you’ve forgotten a few dear friends because they’re just so much a part of the scenery.

Or maybe you got a surprise gift from someone you hadn’t expected would remember you.

Or perhaps you just couldn’t find exactly the right thing for someone and you’re finding a gift idea elusive.

Well, how about giving a gift that helps others, too?

I’m keeping my list short.  These are organizations which I, myself, support and admire.

But don’t let this short grouping limit your generosity!  There are myriad organizations that support people, animals, the planet and arts which count on the holiday season to shore up their budget for the coming year.

I’ve been a Kiva lender for years, and I’ve not been disappointed.

Not a charity, Kiva is a micro-loan organization that allows folks from all over the world to come together and lend small amounts of money to entrepreneurs in under serviced parts of the world so they can create a better future for themselves, their families & their communities!

Giving a Kiva gift card is a great way to introduce a friend to this most worthy of organizations!  Giving a donation to the Kiva foundationin a friend’s name helps Kiva continue their good work and honors someone special at the same time!

How many times have you wanted to gift your daughter in law with a goat?  Or grace your neighbor’s holiday with a lovely cow?  Now you can REALLY give six geese a layin’, and help the world at the same time!

Through you can fully or partially fund an agricultural project (hive of bees, flock of geese, knitter’s basket of fiber-related animals) in a friend’s name, thereby successfully hatching two eggs (giving a great gift & helping the world) with one simple gesture.  From the website:

Each animal represents an opportunity for self-reliance for a family living in poverty. These gifts of hope will be the perfect way to celebrate the season of giving.

Knitters without Borders

KWB, or TSF (Tricoteuses Sans Frontières) is the brain child of the Yarn Harlot and is a funding vehicle for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)

To donate to DWB/MSF click on one of the links below, then feel free to email Stephanie Pearl McPhee with your donation total.  She’ll track it and tally up all the knitterly love that we’ve spread around the world, knitters (& crocheters) helping doctors help people!

MSF Canada
MSF United States
MSF International

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat is very upfront about their mission and affiliation:

We are a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. We build with people in need regardless of race or religion. We welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.

and therefore may not be the perfect charitable vehicle for everyone.  But they do great work, and their message – a home for everyone – resonates with me.

Widely known and respected, a gift in the name of friends who have recently purchased a home, paid off a mortgage or have set up a new household can be very moving.

Salvation Army

Another organization which is very upfront about their Christian affiliation, I was initially skeptical about the Salvation Army.

Then our family was in need, and without blinking an eye the SA came through graciously, kindly and in a very non-prosteltizing manner.

They even offered to cover Hebrew School tuition if we couldn’t afford it. We declined, but I found that offer very revealing.

I was so impressed and grateful with their aid that our Jewish family has donated to the Salvation Army every year since then.  When there’s need, the SA is among the first there.  Quietly, kindly and efficiently helping folks in the ways that matter most, no questions asked.

Put a few bucks in one of the kettles, give online in the name of a friend, or start your own online kettle!

Second Harvest

For 40 years Second Harvest has been helping food banks keep their shelves filled by (in part) reclaiming good, useful foodstuffs that may have been wasted.  They do good and necessary work, and along with the national organization there are many local Second Harvest food banks around the country.

It’s terrible and terrifying to realize that hunger rages within the USA, that there are families which cannot afford healthy food, and that in such a rich land there can be such a disparity between the well-fed and the hungry.

As you welcome friends to your table this holiday season, perhaps you’ll consider asking them to make a donation to Second Harvest (or any local food bank) in the form of a financial donation.  Yes, canned food is great, but money helps put gas in the trucks and pays the rent on the warehouses.

Merry Christmahannakwanzika!

And finally, here’s a warm holiday greeting from our household to yours!

Happy Holidays from The Landy-Modesitts & Atticus The Wonder Dog

(Any similarity to the Obama’s 2011 holiday card is purely coincidental – really!)

Ironic in light of my last post, huh?

Note: If a charitable organization is new to you, you might want to read this article on how to double check a charity. 

There are several organizations that monitor charities, I don’t feel well versed enough to recommend any one entity, though.

More Gift Ideas – Practical & Pedestrian

It’s Thanksgiving, and the time when gifts seem to be on everyone’s mind.  Knitters, crocheters & crafters in general can be difficult to buy for – we have strong feelings toward our tools and materials.

Here are a few suggestions that might work well, or that you might decide to ask for yourself!  As with my previous gift idea post, I have no affiliation with these products, they’re simply things I’ve tried that I think would be helpful for a crafter. 

As with any gift idea, nothing will be perfect for everyone, but here are some options you may not have considered!

Buy LOCAL!  Buy Small!

When possible, patronize your local small businesses!

We all have a responsibility to strengthen our communities, and spending our money with our neighbor-businesses is one great way.

Knit Map is a great tool for finding a good shop near you.  Seek out a new local yarn shop for yourself, or give a friend a gift card from your favorite LYS.

Great Sock Set

I love Lorna’s Laces yarns, and although they seem ubiquitous in the yarn industry, they are at heart a relatively small company (which is probably why they’re able to move so nimbly to bring out new and exciting products every year!)  They are constantly trying new fibers, creating new colors, and marketing in new ways by joining forces with related companies.

This clever kit contains yarn for socks, excellent HEEL balm and a bit of SOAK wash for the finished socks.  Perfect for the sock knitter on your list.

Or you could gift this to a non-knitting friend as a promise of socks to arrive in the new year!

Here is the limited edition sock kit as described by the dream weaver web site;

Put your best foot forward with this limited edition kit. Included in each is one skein of Lorna’s Laces Solemate (100g/425 yds) along with Soak Heel Foot Cream. And as a little lagniappe, a mini single use Soak Wash is tucked away inside. Solemate is made with Outlast®. That means it has climate control technology so your feet are “Not too hot. Not too cold.” Solemate is machine washeable.

Keeping Strands Straight

It seems to be an eternal struggle to keep yarn from tangling when working with several balls at a time.

The Yarn Pull Eze is a tool I’ve recently tried, and although it’s not 100% perfect for me (I’m a center pull kind of woman) some friends have tried it, and have enjoyed it quite a bit.

The idea is that you can keep your pattern, stitch markers, scissors, pens & pencils and other small tools together on a portable carrying shelf, the handle doubling as an arm which allows yarn to roll freely from the outside of a ball.  With a separate attachment the balls can run independently, making it good for stranded knitting.

It’s available exclusively from Jimmy Beans Wool.

The Perils of Pilling

I send a lot of sweaters out for trunk shows, and carry them with me when I teach.  After just a few outings they can get a little pilly and ‘used’ looking.

This is the Gleaner, one of the better de-pilling devices I’ve used, and it’s because it has three separate heads for use with different weights and types of yarns.  It’s the brain child of a Canadian mom who was tired of her expensive sweaters looking worn much too soon.

Catch Up While Knitting

I like the New York Times, but I’ve never enjoyed reading the paper.  The ink gets all over everything, and I’m not disciplined enough to keep my place within the pages of newsprint.

However, I enjoy being read to, and one of my small indulgences is the New York Times Audio Digest Edition which I get every day and ‘read’ as I knit.

A gift subscription might be just the ticket for your favorite news-hound knitter!

I get the times through my subscription (the next item on my gift list), but it can also be acquired independently through the NY Times website.

Unwind While Knitting

I adore a good book, but I hardly have enough time to read my email, let alone read all the books I’d like.  So I listen to them!

I’ve been an Audible subscriber for many years, I’ve found their selection to be generally quite good, and their customer service is excellent.

Tip: I list my reads on Good Reads (a Ravelry for readers!) where I also find new audio books to download from Audible.  You can friend me there – I’m modeknit.

Something Free, and Something Freeing

First the free.

I’ve had a few designs in a UK magazine called The Knitter and I’m very impressed with the continuously high standard of design, editorial and photography that I find in it’s pages.  They’ve also been a dream to work with, but that’s sort of another story…

Juliet Bernard, the editor of the magazine, has just made me aware that if you download the iphone/ipad app for The Knitter you’ll find – as a lovely bonus – issue #35 right there in living color and ready for you to enjoy and drool over.  Warning: Drooling directly ON your electronic device is not advised.

Here’s the link to the app,

and here’s what it looks like when it’s installed in your iTunes library (my own Mac version is shown)

And here’s one of the most beautiful lace projects I’ve ever seen!  It’s by Jane Sowerby, and it’s just a LOVELY piece!

You can have this, plus all of the other great stuff in this issue ABSOLUTELY FREE when you download the app.

I also have a garment in this issue, a lace & texture entrelac poncho worked up in Debbie Bliss yarn.  Let me know if you enjoy working it up!

It’s sheer delight when you discover that a person you’ve been interacting with over the internet is as lovely in person as you had hoped.

This happens much more often than not, as folks are generally pretty great and it’s rare that the ugliness that the anonymity of the internet allows leaks over into personal relationships.

As my mother used to say, “Assume the best!”
If you read something unflattering online about someone
you don’t know, it’s a good practice to
take it with a grain of salt
(as fun as it is to believe it and run with it) 

Put yourself in the position of the gossippee.
Just sayin’
Thus endeth the sermon…

When I met Juliet Bernard from The Knitter I felt an immediate kinship (well, we were drinking…) and I’ve enjoyed every interaction I’ve had with her!

Come to think of it, it’s astounding how great the editors of the knitting magazines we read generally are.  They’re usually ‘regular’ folks, crafters like the rest of us, and incredibly hard working.

The Freeing

It’s a rough time out here right now.

A lot of folks have lost jobs, homes, and hope.  Those of us who are still making the mortgage feel our fingers slipping, but hope gives our hands strength and we cling on for another month.

Things will look up, we’re moving in a good direction, but there are many who have lost so much that they’ve got quite a climb ahead of them.

Which is when it’s important to be kind.  And being kind is one of the most freeing things one can do.

One of the loveliest kindnesses we knitters & crocheters can engage in is to give a necessary gift.  Maimonides wrote that there are 8 levels of Tzedakah (charity), the highest form being when neither the giver nor the recipient are aware of each others identity.

Here’s a chance for you to participate in a small act of love that will give a person a bit of warmth and perhaps a bit of hope.

Make a hat for a homeless person, make it warm and make it beautiful.  Make it the type of hat YOU’D like to wear. Use any pattern you’d like, but if you want download this free pdf of The Kremlin Hat* I worked up using My Friend London’s handspun yarn (any heavy worsted or chunky would work in this pattern) and make a few quick hats.

Then take a moment to be thankful for your roof and floor, windows and door.

Then send it to:

Hats for the Homeless
c/o Barbara Melom
5314 Penn Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55419

If you happen to be in Minneapolis, you can drop the hats off at either StevenBe’s Yarn Garage or Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts and Yarn Shop, and perhaps pick up a bit of yarn while you’re there…

Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts and Yarn Shop
1601 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55407

StevenBe’s Yarn Garage
3448 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407

*Yes, I know it’s not the Kremlin with all those onion domes.