Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sock Knitting 101 - Sock Knit Along - Introduction

Are you a wanta be sock knitter?  Would you like to learn to knit basic socks?  If so, then get ready to join me in a sock knitting 101 Knit Along.  Each week I will post a lesson and at the end of the course, you should have a completed sock! 

It was probably 17 years ago when I knitted my first pair of socks.  I found a pattern in a magazine and bought some yarn and started on my adventure of knitting socks.  Since I'm a self taught knitter, I didn't know that sock knitting can be problematic.   I simply followed the written directions and voila!  I had a beautiful sock that fit, too!

But, after my first initial success, I found out that there are special yarns to use for socks; sock yarn.  And, I soon replaced my archaic steel DPNs (double pointed needles) for bamboo or wood DPNs.  So, let's get started......

This tutorial is written using the standard method of knitting socks with double pointed needles (DPNs).  They come in various sizes and materials; steel, wood and bamboo.  I use wood or bamboo needles since they are lightweight and the yarn doesn't fall off them easily.

In the picture above, the needles on the left are made of bamboo, followed by wood in the middle and the far right is steel.  I strongly recommend that you use bamboo or wood.  Believe me, it will be much easier to handle than the steel ones. 

Socks can be knit from any smooth twisted type yarn.  But there is also a specific range of yarn made specifically for socks.  Sock yarn is usually a blend of wool and nylon or another fiber like polyamide to reinforce the sock and extend the wear.  It's best to read the label and make sure the yarn you are using is machine washable.  Socks can be made from worsted weight yarn (they will produce a thick boot sock), 6 ply yarn (which is similar to sports weight yarn) and 4 ply yarn (fingering or "sock yarn") which will give you the thinnest sock of the three yarns.

 The picture above is worsted weight yarn.  This weight of yarn will knit up very fast due to the thickness of the yarn.

This is sock yarn.  It is made from 75% wool and 25% polyamide for strength.  It is known by "super fine, fingering or 4 ply".  It is a fine yarn and you will use a small needle.

Pictured above is "6 ply sock yarn".  The size of this yarn is basically between the fingering weight and worsted weight.  It will knit up a soft and plyable sock.  I purchased this particular skein of yarn from Little Knits.  I bought it at a bargain price of $7.99!

Like other knitting projects, your pattern will indicate what type of yarn to use and what size of needle to use.  Basically, the thicker the yarn, the larger the needle.  For a beginner sock knitter, you may want to start with worsted weight yarn or 6 ply sock yarn.  (Worsted weight yarn is readily found and inexpensive and machine washable.) 

Here is the pattern link for socks using worsted weight yarn.  Here is the pattern link for socks using 6 ply sock yarn.

Below is my poorly made diagram of an anatomy of a basic sock.  You are going to make a "top" down sock.  This means you will start at the cuff  and continue to knit the leg followed by the heel flap, turning the heel, picking up stitches for the gusset, knitting the instep and finishing by knitting the toe.
The socks above were made with Red Heart worsted weight yarn.  It's not my yarn of choice but it's a great yarn for a first time sock knitter to knit with.

You are going to need the following:
1 skein worsted weight yarn or 6 ply sock yarn (machine washable)
1 set DPNs size 4
Stitch markers (you can use safety pins if you wish)

Each Sunday (if all goes well), I will post a segment of the sock knitting 101 knit along.  It will begin on February 8th with:

1.  Cast on
2.  Cuff
3.  Leg

Basically, we will be following the sock diagram above.  As long as you know how to knit and increase/decrease, you will glide through this tutorial easily.  And, along the way, I would love to see the photos of your progress.

So, go get your needles and yarn and to make it easier, sign up to follow this blog via e-mail and that way the tutorial updates can be delivered to your inbox.  We are going to have fun!

By Sunday, February 8th, I will have the first segment of the tutorial posted.  Please feel free to comment if you have any questions.  And, one last thing, I'm linking up today at Happy Friday so stop by and meet some great people.

See you soon!

P.S.  I have seen so many lovely wintry pictures on your blogs.  But since I don't have snow here where I live in California, I thought I would share these two lovely pictures I received from my friend in Belarus:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Afternoon in Laguna Beach

Lilly was so happy to hear from everyone that she insisted today that I feature another picture of her on my blog.  So, here is Lilly my cat this afternoon taking one of her many cat naps.......

 You can see the sun shining through the window.  She absolutely loves to sleep in the sun.

Here's her new toy she received for Christmas.  You can sprinkle catnap on it and she will go crazy.  She is suppose to go through the loop and it will "brush" her fur.  But, she's a little large to go through and it tips over.  She enjoys sleeping by it.....

We went to Laguna Beach on Sunday.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day.  But, it was so crowded.  We finally found a parking spot and I saw this beautiful flowing tree...

Walking along the sidewalk I spied this.....

It's the stump of a palm tree.  Isn't is fascinating with all those little rounds?  We had a lovely day and ended our outing with a late lunch.

The sun was just beginning to set and the clouds were starting to roll in.  I captured this picture just in time.  Laguna Beach is about a 30 minute drive from my home.  My family absolutely loves going to the beach.  I like to watch the water but I don't like the sand.....

I'll leave you with some pictures of my narcissus bulbs...
I forced them in water. I put a few florist pebbles in the bottom on the vase(s) and placed the bulb and put in a few more pebbles.  I kept water in it just above the base of the bulb.  I love the way the roots twisted themselves around the pebbles...

And, here it is....the narcissus in bloom.  It's such a lovely flower to brighten up the winter days.

That's about all I have to share for today.  I'm working on a tutorial type post for knitting but it will have to wait for another day.  Lilly says "hi" to all of you and she hopes you will send her some more good wishes.  She gets anxious to see if you comment.....she's a funny little kitty.

Before I sign off, I'm linking to Happy can stop by and meet some great people.

Until next time,


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Southern Roots of Family History

I'm writing today from very sunny but windy southern California.  We have had some high temps but the Santa Ana winds have kicked up and they are doing their job.  I've had such a great time this week meeting new friends via their blogs.  I feel as though I have taken a trip across the USA, over to the UK, and ended my journey in Australia!  And, I have gotten so many new ideas for things I would love to create (one day....).

But, today I'm not going to share anything crafty.  Instead, I thought I would go down memory lane and tell you a little bit about the other side of my family tree.  I have shared in the past about my father's side of the family, which is Danish.  Today, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my Mother's family.
 This is a photo of my dear mother, Ferby.  She was born in Weiser, Idaho.  I think this photo was taken sometime in the 1940's.   I always thought she looked like a movie star in this photo.  My Mom's name was very unique.  She had an odd name in the days when it wasn't fashionable as it is now.

My mom's father, Russell*,  came from Chillicothe, Missouri.  His father, Daniel, my great-grandfather, was an attorney and a botanist.  Daniel came out west from the midwest and taught school.

Here's a picture of my great grandfather, Daniel.  Doesn't he look like a very stately man?  I never got to meet him but I think it would have been fascinating to know him.

Since my great grandfather was a botanist, he too loved art.  Here are two of his botanical pen and ink drawings that I am lucky enough to have....

My Grandpa's mother, Eleanor, also was from Chillicothe.  Her parents owned a mercantile business and I think they were a middle class merchant family with a home in town.  Here's is a picture of my great grandma who is known by the name of "Grandma Duty".
This photo was taken in 1897.  Supposedly she had her hair done by a French woman. (This photograph was made from an old photo my aunt had found hence the blurred image). Grandma Duty was quite the lady and I believe she ended marrying five different times (the last time to a John Duty).  I don't think she was pretty.  Unfortunately, my poor Grandpa and his siblings suffered due to her inadequate mothering skills.

My Grandpa ventured out west too and settled near Nez Perce, Idaho.  He met my Grandma and they had six children (one being my dear Mom) and lived until a wonderful old age.  Here's a picture of my dear Grandma....
She was a wonderful, warm, kind, woman.  She would never say a bad word about anyone.  She truly lived her life according to her faith.  I had a wonderful Mother, but my Grandma made such an impression on my life that I remember her teachings to this day.

My Mother had two brothers and three sisters so I grew up with lots of cousins.  All my aunts and uncles have passed away now.  And I've lost track of many of my cousins.  But, a couple of years ago, I was in Ft. Worth, Texas.  I knew I had some relatives down there - my Grandpa's brother, Mac, had settled in Texas.  In the early 1960's, Uncle Mac was visiting his son in Seattle.  He passed away unexpectedly and his casket was transported back to Texas on the train.  I remember as a young girl standing outside the train station in our town in Idaho with my grandparents as the train that had his body passed through.  It's an odd memory to have...

Through a cousin, I contacted these Texas relatives and had the pleasure to meet them.   One of these relatives was very much into family genealogy.  We chatted and I gave her some info on our family.  In fact, she had a hand written letter from "Grandma Duty".  It was so fun to go through her records.  As we were talking, she said, "here's something you might like", and she handed me a hand written letter to her Grandfather Mac (my Grandpa's brother) from my Mother!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw and held this letter.  It was from my dear Mom!  Written in 1946, way before I was even thought of.  She was kind enough to give me this letter and it's the only letter I have from my Mom.  Isn't it a small world.  That letter had been sitting in a drawer in Texas for over 60 years!  Amazing....

So, that's a snapshot into my other side of the family.  There's still more I can add (my Grandma's Hancock family who are true southerners) but I'll leave that until another time.

Lilly sends her wishes to each of you.  She thanks you for your kind comments.

Enjoy your day!

*I tried to find a photo of my Grandpa Russell but I have misplaced it somewhere.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Have you ever felt that you don't have enough time to do everything you want to accomplish?  I have so many things I would like to create but I'm not starting any new projects until I finish the blanket I'm currently crocheting. I had purchased the yarn in the spring when I was in Istanbul.  I like the pattern but the colors I am using are rather drab and plain.  I guess I'm hooked on the bright colors I've recently been using.

But, here is a project I finished awhile ago.  It's my favorite kind of baby sweater to knit - it's a top down sweater knit in one piece from the neckline down.....

As you can see, this sweater still needs to have some type of neck fastening - maybe a cute button.

I purchased this pattern and yarn together.  (yes, I bought the pattern because I thought it was so cute).

But today when I was going through my patterns, I found that I also had found this pattern online.  It's almost identical except the pattern I purchased has more rows of the pattern on the bottom of the sweater.  The link to the free pattern can be found here.

I am linking up on January 20 over at Yarn Along.  That's why I'm going to share an interesting book that I've been reading.....

It's entitled The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook.  It's a nonfiction book first published in 1888 that gives practical tips about keeping house in British India during the Raj.  I find this time period fascinating reading.  When I was a young mother (so many years ago....) I think I read every book on India at my local library.  We lived in a small eastern Washington town that had a population of about 12,000.  I grew up in a small town so it was the norm for me.

(do you see the glass vases with the bulbs?  I am forcing narcissus bulbs in water - it's fascinating to see the way the roots are twisting about the rocks and how they are springing up with blooms now taking shape)

I'll leave you with this week's photo of Lilly.  We sat outside earlier this week since we had glorious weather.  Lilly of course, had to join us...

Her body fills this little patio table!  I think she looks like a regal big cat the way she's posing.

There's a new link up party that has recently started.  I suggest you stop by Planet Penny's Happy Friday where I also will be joining the party.  You will meet some wonderful crafters there.

I hope wherever you are this winter that you are keeping warm and safe.  Every night on the news I see wintry weather that's causing havoc on the roads.  We are expected to have a mini heat wave later this week although it's cool at night.  How I wish we could get some much needed rain.....

Until next time, I wish you the best.  Please feel free to comment to if you wish, you can follow along with the adventure of this blog via Bloglovin or signing up.

My best to each of you,


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Walking Tour & Lilly's Story.....

Hi everyone.  This is a two part post today.  We'll go on a mini tour around my neighborhood and end with a story about Lilly (my cat).

It's a lovely day so why don't we go for a walk?  So, without further ado, let's gets started.....

 Stepping out the front door...

 I see one of the many hillsides in my neighborhood.....

A pink flowering bush on the hillside....

Turning the corner, I see a unique pine tree.....

And a majestic palm tree.....

Walking up the hillside, I see the rain ditches which fill quickly when it rains....

I discover a patch of prickly pear cacti....

Going down the hill I see the landscaping on the hills.....

And, I stop to look at this lovely rose in all it's beauty...

I pass by our little park......

And I look up at the majestic palms against the beautiful sky....

And, I see the lovely backdrop of our mountains.....

And, I'm back at home again....

I hope you have enjoyed this mini tour.....

Now, I will tell you about Lilly.  She had so many kind comments and questions asked about her, I thought I would tell you a little bit about her life.

People have written and asked if she is as friendly, and sweet as she looks and I have to say yes, yes, yes!  Lilly is a rescue kitty.  My poor little Pumpkin had passed away from diabetes in 2005.  A year and a half later, in 2007, we found Lilly.  I found Lilly on  Petco's Petfinder.  I used to search this site to sooth my broken heart after losing my dear Pumpkin.  When It was time to get another cat, I found Lilly on this site.  She originally was rescued from an animal hoarder.  Lilly was two years old and staying with a foster Mom.  It was a beautiful, warm winter day (in the high 60's) and we drove to a city north of Seattle.  It was a little bit of a drive for us.  I went inside the home where Lilly was staying.   The lady told me, "I had a cat that was a lap cat but she was adopted and I don't think Lilly will be a lap cat".....Little Lilly was hiding underneath a sofa and there was about 8 cats in that room.  She was listed as "medium" size but as soon as I saw her, I knew that she was a "large" cat.  Immediately, I thought of her getting diabetes.


I went out to the car and called my husband inside to look at her.  He said, "we've come this far, let's just get her".  I was hesitant but agreed.  We paid the adoption fee and took Lilly home.  She was a bit shy the first few days but after that, the rest is history.

She really is like a person.  She comes when her name is called, she loves to cuddle, either watching TV with my husband or sitting on my lap when I'm knitting or crocheting.  And, she loves to much so that she has an automatic feeder where her food is measured out each feeding.  She's the center of our home.  We are truly blessed by sharing our home with this lovely little creature.

Thank you again for taking the time to stop by and visit.  Feel free to leave a comment or sign up to follow my blog.   I always enjoy hearing from you.

Enjoy your weekend!

P.S.  This weekend I'm at the Handmade Harbour link party!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Trellis Lace Scarf and Downton Abbey

I can't believe we are almost half way through January - time goes by so so fast.  It seems the last few posts I have written have been about recipes so today I'm going to share with you two (three actually) of my favorite things; knitting, Downton Abbey and Lilly my cat!

First off is my precious little cat, Lilly.  My son captured this picture of Lilly.  I think her expression is so sweet. 

So, are you hooked on watching Downton Abbey?  I find that show fascinating and I'm a faithful viewer every Sunday night to see what is going to happen next with the Grantham family. As you probably know, Downton Abbey is filmed at Highclere Castle.  This is the home of the Carnovan family.  Lord Carnovan (5th) was the chief financial backer of Howard Carter who discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt in 1922.

 I love this book on Lady Almina of Downton Abbey.  She was the wife of Lord Carnovan the 5th and the daughter of a Rothschild.  She's the one who brought the money back into the family.  Almost like Lady Cora bringing her American wealth to the Grantham family.  This book is filled with pictures and historial facts about the real to life family who lives at Highclere Castle, the place where Downton Abbey is filmed.
As to my current knitting project, you can see that I have started knitting this trellis lace scarf.  Last spring I wrote about my visit to Churchmouse Yarns and Tea in Bainbridge Island, WA in this post.  Although I can't visit this store often, I am on their mailing list.  They had this pattern for the Trellis Lace Scarf in their Spring 2014 newsletter. I am using Rowan Fine Art fingering weight yarn.

I always try and add a link to the patterns I am making.  I'm not fond of paying for patterns; not because I don't want to support a fellow crafter, but because I'm always hesitant as to whether I can master the pattern without it getting me flustered....Anyway, here is the pattern for the above scarf.  So far, it has been a fun and easy project to work on.

Can you believe that Downton Abbey is into season 5?  I think I have watched it from episode 2 of season 1.  The Victorian era and Edwardian era are my favorite.  I enjoy reading historial novels set in this time period so when Downton Abbey appeared, it was immediately my favorite show.  Have you seen some of the "behind the scenes" specials they have aired?  Food and drink is such a big part of their lifestyle.

My dear daughter bought me this cookbook awhile back.  It's so much fun to "read" and cook from as the recipes are attached to Mrs. Patmore, Lady Grantham, etc.

And, you can't have food without drink......

Again, my daughter, Heidi, bought me this special Bordeaux from France.  It's a lovely wine.

Did you notice the unique knitting needles in the picture above.  They were a Christmas gift from my daughter.  They are made so well and a joy to knit with..... 

 I believe she purchased them on Etsy from this seller.  The size I'm using is size 9 and they are just the right weight - not too heavy and not too light and the points work well for fine yarn.

That's about all the news I have for now.  We have our sunshine back and the hills are a beautiful green color after the bit of rain we received.  I hope wherever you are that you are safe and warm this winter season.  Until next time...

my best to everyone,


P.S.  I'm linking up today at Planet Penny's Happy Friday
Please stop by and say "hello" to some wonderful, talented crafters!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

белорусский борщ "Belarusian Borscht" Beet Root Soup

Lilly was so happy that I let her write the blog post last week.  She thanks you for all your kind comments.  I hope your new year has started off to a good start.  My year is off to a great start.  Sometimes I want to complain but really I don't have anything to complain about.  I have a great life and a great family.  My dear son tells me that I suffer from "first world problems" and I think he's correct.  My problem is sometimes I'm nostalgic...Change can be difficult and I sometimes miss my friends and church in Washington state.  But, I'm blessed too to have met new friends. And, my heart and prayers go out to all the people in France who have lost their loved ones this past week. Anyway, enough of my chit chat.

Today, I'm going to share with you a recipe for Belarusian borscht soup.  In case you forgot, Belarus is located in eastern Europe.  It's surrounded by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.  

I have a dear friend, Irina, who is from Belarus.  She shared her recipe with me and it's so so good, that I thought I would share it with you.  It's a bit time consuming but it makes a BIG pot of soup that tastes even better the second or third day.  And, it so appropriate to eat on a cold, wintry day. (I kind of long for the wintry days of long ago - we are having some much needed rain drops today with 62 degree weather here....)

Here is what you will need:

Fresh vegetables including beets, onion, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and fresh dill (and is you wish, chicken breast)

Borscht Recipe
18 cups water
4 beets
3 carrots - grated
1 medium onion - chopped fine
4 potatoes - peeled and cubed
1 small head cabbage - shredded
1 chicken breast - cooked and cubed
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill - divided (2 T plus 2 T)
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
salt and pepper
soup seasoning (optional)

In large soup pot, place well scrubbed and washed beets.  Do not peel them.  Add 18 cups of water.  Bring pot to a boil and and then lower heat and boil on medium heat for about 1 hour or until beets are tender when pierced with a knife.

Here's a photo of the beets cooking....
Remove beets from the pot and SAVE the cooking liquid.  This will be the base of your soup.

Place the beets on a plate to cool then peel and grate into a bowl.

See the beautiful, ruby red color of the shredded beets....

In a small skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil, add shredded carrots and chopped onion.  Saute for about 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.  Set aside.

 Here's the carrots and onions in the saute pan....

Place the chicken breast in a saute pan and add some water.  Gently simmer, turning over as needed, until chicken is cooked.  Do not let it brown as you don't want anything to muddy your beautiful, shimmering, ruby red beet broth....

Cut the cooked chicken breast into small cubes.....

Now you will assemble the soup.  Add the cubed potatoes to the beet broth along with the carrot and onion mixture.  Bring to a boil and skim surface of pot if needed.  After about 5 minutes, add in chicken cubes and 2 Tablespoons of the fresh dill.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  

At this stage, add in shredded cabbage.  Cook for about another 10 minutes.  Taste soup and adjust seasoning if needed.  I sometimes add in a soup seasoning mixture (1 tsp).  Now add 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and chopped beets and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of fresh dill.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until beets are soup is hot.

**Irina's secret to keeping the beets ruby red is to add the vinegar!

It is now ready to be served.  You should have a beautiful, clear, pigeon blood* ruby red broth along with all the flavorful veggies.  Ladle into a soup bowl and serve with a dollop of sour cream if you choose.

This soup is even better the second day as the flavors have blended.  It's not that hard to make - as all the work is really in the preparation.

I hope you have enjoyed this little journey into delicious Belarusian cuisine.  Until next time, I wish you all the best.
One last thing, Handmade Harbour is back after a long holiday break.  Please stop by and say hello to some very talented crafters.

With my warmest wishes,


*Just a note about the use of the word "pigeon blood" ruby red.....this term was coined in regard to the beautiful color of rubies found in Burma.