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September 19, 2016

New new new

I can't believe an entire month has passed since we launched the new edition of Twist. Between losing Panda and seemingly-unending home repairs that started in May with an attempt to get the house repainted and turned into an endeavor that required a carpenter, roofer, electricians and new decks, all before the painting could even begin, it's been hectic, to say the least. My poor little blog never stood a chance.

But the new edition of Twist is still waiting for you, if you haven't seen it yet and as always, I feel genuinely privileged to have a place in its virtual pages.

My first of two patterns is Lithograph a half-circle shawl design worked in twisted stitches and lace. For the submission process, I made a mini-prototype to show how the increases would blend into the background of the latticework.


The final shawl is worked in Lisa Souza's Polwarth Wool and Silk yarn which is a breeze to work with and so lovely to touch. The silk gives it plenty of drape while the wool gives the piece some substance. It's a perfect choice for this pattern.

shawl in the garden

My second design is Antrea, a beanie, slouch and cowl pattern suitable for anyone. Knitters are probably aware of the general submissions process for patterns and they see the end product, but in between those points, yarn companies, designers, and the members of the publishing and editing team, all try to wrangle a zillion moving parts to make the magazine. Yarn is often being shipped to other countries and then the sample shipped back to tech editors in a third country before being handed off to the publisher for photography and anywhere in there, a missed deadline or late delivery can throw the process off kilter. So was the case with the yarn for Antrea. It was originally scheduled to go overseas, went missing, alternate yarn was shipped and the orphaned yarn, finally tracked down, needed a home. Having finished up Lithograph fairly quickly, I volunteered and was told that I may only receive one color so I should plan a design that didn't require two different shades.

A bit of virtual graph paper and a few hours of playing and I had a cable pattern suitable for a unisex set that could be worked in a single color or with a contrasting color in the ribbing.

antrea slouch and cowl antrea beanie

The SweetGeorgia Superwash DK is super soft and springy with great stitch definition so the pattern pops even in a darker shade. The hats can be worked in a smaller or larger circumference and fine-tuned with a tighter or looser gauge. One skein of each color will make either hat and the cowl in opposing colors dominance.

There's one more bit of new that you've probably noticed if you're friends with me on Facebook, I have a little bit of art with me all the time now.

Oregon Grape blossoms

This beautiful piece was created by Ashton Allen at No Hope No Fear and it's even more beautiful than I could have imagined it would be.

California Poppies, Mayflowers, and Violets

Each flower is the state flower for somewhere I've lived with a hummingbird in back because, well, hummingbirds are pretty.

Lilacs and Anna's Hummingbird

Barring any unexpected issues, it'll be colored in November and the tattoo will be complete. I love everything about it and can't stop looking at Ashton's beautiful artwork.

Filed under: knitting , misc , pattern , twist collective

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July 25, 2016

The dog who made me a dog person

Panda is the dog that made me a dog person. I had a dog as a young child. He was a perfectly fine dog but he lived most of the day outside, had no real training and when he was inside, he was so pleased to be around humans that he was just too much energy for me to really manage. At least, that's what I remember. It was a long time ago.

Then I had a couple of rodents. They did what rodents did and mostly put up with their human and then pooped or peed and I did not know really how to connect with them. I killed most plants I touched. What I'm saying is that I was pretty sure that I just didn't have what was needed to connect with other living things and I was probably more harm than good to them anyway.

In 2000, I met Leo and I really liked him and he really liked me and we liked each other enough that after only a few short months of dating, we decided to quit our jobs and move to the west coast. He had ferrets which were illegal where we were going, so we found a great local rescue, made an additional donation and headed out west. I knew going into this that Leo wanted a dog and I was pragmatic enough to know that the odds of our relationship lasting were something other than 100% so I figured he'd get a dog, it'd be his dog and I would hope I didn't mess anything up too horribly.

My friend is an animal trainer and the company she worked with had a litter of border collie/cattle dog mixes that had a role in a flea and tick commercial. Their human sold the litter to the training company because they'd been a surprise and he didn't want them. The training company quickly adopted them all out except for the last little girl. Her name was Houston

She peed on herself and then crawled up next to Leo. She had been living with trainers for a while so she had a solid sit, stay, speak, and a few other tricks in her arsenal. She was gentle and timid and not at all like dogs I knew. We paid our $1 adoption fee and took her home.

We named her Panda and I began to brace myself for ruined shoes and musky dog smells. But that didn't happen. I once saw her chewing on the tip of my plush Spongebob slipper and told her no in a lightly stern voice and that is the last time I recall her assuming anything was a toy that wasn't given to her to play with. She was eager to learn tricks, affection and energetic.

Panda was a very good girl.

When we lived in Los Angeles, Leo would go on day trips, driving all along the California coast to find dog-friendly places to play. In her life, Panda saw the entire west coast from Tijuana to the Canadian border. She was a nervous dog but not at the beach. At the beach, she was fearless and free.

Leo will hate me for posting this picture but back in her younger days, we'd invite her up onto the couch and she'd sit really close to one of us, push off from her front legs while stiffening her spin and fall onto our arm and rest her head on our shoulder. It was pretty cute.

She grew to love being on the other side of the camera. The sound of the shutter would perk up her ears and she'd come running from another room if she heard it. It was hard to take sock photos but I can't say I minded.

Panda was a really good girl.

When we adopted Thea, she was unsure how to deal with this crazy ball of energy and misbehavior, but she was never cruel. She'd been our only dog for six years and we had a quiet life. Thea shook that all up.

But Thea loved Panda right from the start and she won her over pretty quickly. They became fast and inseparable friends.

Throughout her life, Panda has always been a fetch machine. Neither of her siblings have ever come close to matching her athleticism when it comes to catching "the squirrel."

Panda has been my a central part of my family, my home, my life since 2001. This post could go on forever while I remember the things, big and small, that made her special to me. I could talk about her TV appearances and modeling gig. I could talk about the times she outsmarted us and times she comforted us. I have thousands and thousands of photos of her and looking at them now, I still remember all our wonderful adventures together. She changed me. She made me see the value in being patient and understanding. She taught me to be more gentle and thoughtful with others. I can say, without hyperbole, she made me a better person.

And now I have to learn to let her go. Her decline has been fast. While she was showing her age a bit a year or so ago, the past few months, and the past few weeks, especially, have been hard. We've treated what we could to ensure she was comfortable, but we've always agreed that we'd try to do right by her and not let her suffer. Today, she woke up barely able to walk, uninterested in food and her breath got progressively more labored. It was time. I love my sweet old lady. I will miss her. She'll always be the dog who made me a dog person.

Filed under: panda

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April 12, 2016

Flechir and some oldies but goodies

The time between the Winter and Spring/Summer editions of Twist Collective are always the longest span of the publication year and it means I'm the most anxious to see the Spring/Summer edition go live. Spring/Summer 2016 is up and it's got some beautiful new patterns, great articles and a little...ahem...twist. Kate picked 12 of her favorite older Twist patterns from a variety of designers and had them reknit in new yarns and colors, then packaged them all together at an incredible discount. How does 58% off sound to you? Even if you already own half the patterns, you still manage to save a little money buying the set, and if you've bought fewer than that -- or none at all -- this is an amazing value. I managed to snag two slots in the collection.

First up is Regent which I love in the deep blue-black Catherine Lowe yarn and in this more rustic, creamy-colored alpaca blend. I think this substitution really highlights how a garment can be redefined by the yarn choice. In the original yarn, it's suitable enough for an evening out. In the alpaca blend, it's more casual and can take you on your errands or snuggle up on the couch with you on a cold day.



Next up is Picard and Kate kept the nod to his red shirt with bright red buttons. The original yarn had exceptional stitch definition, making the pattern really pop. The white yarn is similarly great for showing off twisted stitches but that pale color makes them stand out even better, and with a neutral color choice, the buttons can be little gems instead of being simply functional.



Last, but hopefully not least, here's my new shawl design. Flechir is a 3/4-circle shawl worked from the top-center, out, then each scallop is finished individually. This means your best choices for yarns are ones that are not obviously variegated. The tweedy Northern Lights yarn used here is perfect. Up close, the yarn is several individual shades but they all blend into a harmonious whole from afar.

Here's the gorgeous photos from the magazine.


And here is one of my own photos showing the shape of the shawl. Since it's a 3/4-circle, the shawl falls in soft ruffles when you wear it or you can wrap it snuggly around your shoulders.


What more photos and get all hte details? Check them out:

Regent: Magazine | Ravelry | Here
Picard: Magazine | Ravelry | Here
Flechir: Magazine | Ravelry | Here

And don't forget to check out the rest of the edition here.



Filed under: knitting , pattern , twist collective

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January 6, 2016

Goodbye Bill


When I was young, my parents moved from Chicago to New England to work for Digital. My mom worked there well into the 90s and in that time, developed many close friendships with colleagues and others in the technology industry. To be honest, I know very little about what my mom did when she worked there and how she interacted with the friends of hers that I met but I do know that I am extraordinarily lucky that she made friends with Janet and Bill. Janet and Bill -- that's just how it naturally flows. When I think of Janet, I think of Bill. When I think of Bill I think of Janet.

It's hard to describe how I see the two of them. Perhaps like an aunt and uncle, though that feels too hierarchical and formal. To simply call them my friends is to overlook all the ways they have subtly mentored me to be a better human and provided the sort of unwavering love and guidance I needed to survive the tidal wave of drama that was my adolescence. They have always treated me like the best version of me that they could imagine and I wanted to raise myself to their expectations. And while I feel like I fall far short of who they imagine, I never felt like I let them down. Their love for me has always been calming and accepting and warm and abundant.

So it is hard for me to completely grasp the fact that the man who took me on my first motorcycle ride and my first small-plane ride and who use to make me laugh and think and want to learn more, has died. I have a hard time accepting that there is no longer a Janet and Bill; three words that — strung together in that order — make me feel so loved and welcomed. Bill is family I got to choose and who chose me. I am a better person for having known him and I will miss him terribly.

Filed under: misc

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December 3, 2015

Twist Collective Winter 2015 Edition

I hope you've all seen the Winter 2015 Twist Collective that went live a couple weeks ago. My designs for the edition, is featured in the "I think I'll stay home" shoot which might as well be called the "Marnie's life if she were better dressed" shoot because I'm a shameless homebody who spends most of her time in her pajamas. In fact, I'm writing this post from the comfort of my big red robe and fuzzy slipper boots, right now. And, as is my wont to do, I'm sipping tea from my favorite mug that is nearly as big as my head.

See, I'm just like the shoot only, sllliiiightly less well dressed. Don't you agree?


The shawl is a modified half-circle design, featuring just enough beads to add a little weight and drape. I love beads, but I find they slow me down when I'm working so I prefer to use them sparingly. I chose a deep aubergine shade to pop against the lilac color of the shawl, though I think gray or silver would be a really nice alternative option, for a subtler effect.


While I include instructions for a standard knitted picot bind-off, the sample is shown with my suggested bind-off. It's worked with a crochet hook using very simple crochet stitches and some pre-strung beads. I love this option for lace because the bind-off basically cannot be worked too tightly to block the piece out well.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but blocking lace shawls is one of my favorite parts of the shawl-designing process. It seems like magic; turning a crumpled mass of fabric into something airy, orderly and filled with unexpected detail. Twisted stitches, beads and nupps all pop and yarnovers and decreases scallop the edges in subtle or dramatic ways. But a tight bind-off can ruin the effect and knitters often can't tell how loose the bind-off needs to be until the piece is ready to be blocked. By then, hundreds of stitches may have been bound off, the yarn has been cut and ends woven in. It can be pretty disheartening.

The crochet method joins a small number of live stitches together with loops of single-crochet chains that provide more-than adequate flexibility to block out the shawl as aggressively or lightly as desired and unlike a too-loose standard bind-off, the edge is neat and tidy no matter how lightly the shawl is blocked.

Not a crocheter but willing to give it a try? The pattern includes a tutorial but if you want more detail, I've got an article for that.


Crochet really is my first crafting love and this season, I take you through the basics of holding the hook and yarn, and working all the basic stitches. Crochet is knitting's best friend and knowing how to do both will open new finishing and embellishing options for your projects and designs. It may take a little time to get comfortable with it, but crochet is a great tool to have in your arsenal. If you've never crocheted before, I hope you'll give it a try and if you just need a refresher, I hope the article will get you back on track. I even point you to some existing Twist patterns that already feature some crochet. You won't lack for projects to put your crochet skills to work.

And lastly, I have a companion article to last season's article on Tubular Cast-Ons.


Just as a tubular cast-on gives those edges a professional finish, a tubular bind-offs produce flexible and attractive edges that elevate the quality of the work to a more professional level. Learn to work a standard tubular bind-off and how to adjust the bind-off for knit-two, purl-two edgings like ribbing and moss stitch.

I feel so fortunate to be a part of Twist Collective each season and I never cease to be impressed with the great articles and designs my fellow contributors bring to each edition. Even if you don't like my additions to the edition, I hope you'll flip through the magazine, read the articles and browse the shop.

Filed under: crochet , knitting , pattern , twist collective

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Feisty FidoFeeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household.You Don't Have to be Evil to Work Here, But it HelpsBrave New Knits: Dozens of Projects and Personalities from the Knitting BlogosphereCowl GirlsFrom Dead to Worse

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