My New Class, Knitting Clinic

I am teaching again! Yay! I had my first class yesterday at Unwind, The Knitting Clinic. This is a class that knitters can come to if they have dropped stitches, need coaching on a pattern or need some help with a technique they are not familiar with. I had a little of each just in the first class. One person needed help on how to do m1r and m1l. To be honest, I usually need to look it up whenever I come across this technique.

Here is a great video explaining how to do this kind of increase. She gives a little mnemonic to help remember which way to insert the needle for the right increase. I think I just might remember it now!



Coda Pattern by Olga Buraya-Kefelian

Coda Front

Back of the Coda sweater by Olga Buraya-Kefelian

Coda Back

The second knitter had a lovely pattern, Coda by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. She had the whole thing knitted up to the “arch” on the back panel. This calls for short rows.

Karen is a very  accomplished knitter, and obviously not afraid to take on a complicated pattern. The pattern for Coda is some 15 pages! That really wasn’t the problem though. You have to read this pattern very carefully. At the point beginning the arch, you work a short row while working one of the charts. The chart is 16 stitches across and the short row is after the 12th stitch. So if you’re not paying attention you’ll omit this minor detail and knit the whole chart. After we figured out what the problem was, the thing Karen wished the author would have done is to create another chart for that section. It probably would alleviate hair tearing and tears for a lot of knitters!

Ribbit, Ribbit

My other student had a lovely sweater, also with a VERY complicated pattern. But as another very accomplished knitter, she was following the pattern just fine. I did tell her that I would probably highlight every direction in my size, but she was doing ok. The problem she had was the beautiful yarn she was using. It was a very fine cotton, thick and thin. This made it very hard to see her stitches. I think her needle size was 4, maybe 5. So yeah, small stitches. Where the thin part of the yarn crossed a thick part It was really difficult to see whether the stitch was knit or purl. it looks a lot like this Sirdar Beachcomber. I wonder if it was! Sirdar Beachcomber In any case, I could not see where the mistake was.

When I come across something like this in my own knitting I almost start over. Not quite though, and it can be pretty scary for a lot of knitters. Rather than frogging the whole piece to the point of the mistake (that we couldn’t see!) I took the knitting out of only the portion that was giving us fits. I took it down to the start of the ribbed increase section. Somewhere along the way the knits and purls were no longer in their proper columns. This section also had yarn overs so with the yarn it was sometimes unclear if a yo existed or not. I had to take out about 15 rows. Luckily my student wasn’t afraid of me doing that, in fact she was grateful that by the end that she could happily continue her knitting. This took most of the class and I probably should have let her do the re-knitting. Oh well, live and learn! It did get quite tight at some points and I had to go back and loosen up the stitches.

I ain’t scared of no ladders! I wish I could show you how I did it. Someday I’ll make a video showing how I correct a section of lace this way. Some instructors have you put a needle through the row after the mistake, but if you’ve got a pattern like oriel lace, it can be very hard to see which row is which. Believe me, I had lots of frogging down on this one! (That was before I learned to use a life line.. ahem.)

When you put the knitting back on the needles, sometimes you have improperly mounted stitches. Instead of flipping them around and wasting more time, I knit them through the back loop. Insert the needle into the stitch purlwise to the back and knit the stitch from the back leg. Here is a still from Annie Modesitt’s video on how to knit Combination style to show the orientation of the stitch and the placement of the right needle.

Combo KnittingI learned combination knitting from Annie Modesitt and have never turned back. It is faster for me and I get a better stockinette product. In fact, I even knit lace (if it’s not in the round) this way. I can even orient my stitches properly for a left leaning decrease (SSK) and a right leaning decrease (k2tog) by using a combination of western and combination purling. But that’s for another day…


Hey there! It’s been a while. I thought I’d update you on a few things. 


I love how my cat is sitting on her tail.

LA County Yarn Crawl was fun. Although I didn’t crawl this year, I worked in my LYS and the traffic and the people were great. We had lots of fun things going on. Special yarns like the Ancient Arts Meow Collection. This yarn is inspired by the colors of cats and part of the proceeds from their sales goes to help stray and abandoned cats. Unfortunately I didn’t get any. I had my eye on a lovely Siamese colorway but it was snapped up by the end. Oh well.   

We had yarn from Oink Pigments and I did get some. I am making a shawl/wrap called Mashrabiya (Don’t ask me to pronounce that!) in three colorways. I am using Plum Drum Weekend, Geode Road and Silver Linings and alternating them every other row. It is coming out very pretty and looks like one variegated yarn. I just hope it blocks out nice and big. I’m almost done and it looks a little short to me. The yarn is very springy, so I hope it stays once blocked. Shoulda made a swatch. Oops. 

I got some of their lovely lace yarn in Blackberry Brambles. I have yet to decide what lovely thing I will make out of this.

We had the Coastal Gradient Cowl Kits and they sold out. That pattern is so cute. We had lots of other yarns and patterns to browse too.

I sold my stitch markers. Funny thing, I thought the beach themed ones would be the first to sell but I was wrong. The best selling ones are the Wizard of Oz themes. I just posted them at my Etsy Shop.

 Stitch Markers - Wizard of Oz,  Set of 6, Fits up to US 10.5 and UK 3 Knitting Needles, No Snag, Closed Ring, Knit or CrochetStitch Markers - Wizard of Oz #2, Set of 6, Fits up to US 10.5 and UK 3 Knitting Needles, No Snag, Closed Ring, Knit or Crochet


I finished my Watson just in time for Yarn Crawl. Actually I finished it to the point I wanted for now. It’s getting hot in So Cal so I left the sleeves off. It looks great as a sleeveless cardi, don’t you think?WatsonWeb


On Monday I finished my radiation treatments. They are so cute at the Dr.’s office. I got a certificate of completion for completing 28 sessions. I’m glad to be done. I didn’t have too many side effects and I’m managing well. 

Next week we’re off to Maui. It has been a long time since we’ve been on the island. We took our kids when they were small. I’ll be looking for yarn shops, but I don’t think they have dedicated stores there. I already found a quilt shop in Kihei, Maui Quilt Shop, that has a small selection of yarn and I just found Binky’s on which looks more promising for yarn. They have a line called Maui Yarns. They also have buttons and beads. Yay! But no website… Boo! Who doesn’t have a web site?

We are looking forward to island hopping over to Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor. We might try to visit the big island too. I’ll have to do some research to see what else we want to do. Our friends are sending us ideas for some great hiking trails. That will be fun. 

Well, I’m off to do some research!

Bye for now.

Happy Birthday to Me!

This past nine months have been a whirlwind and our family has been so blessed through it all. I can truly say I am thankful in the midst of it for all the grace and mercy we received and continue to receive. Just yesterday we were humbled again when the Oncology Dr. and my nurse told us that most – 99.9% of pancreatic cancer patients don’t make it. Collette said that I am the .01%. Most can’t take the FOLFOXIRI regimen and the odds with the standard treatment aren’t great. In some people the tumor doesn’t respond. 

I had surgery to remove the tumor on January 6, just one month ago. My recovery has gone very well. I had very little pain and didn’t need to use the pain meds. The nurse had me walking the very next day after surgery and after about a week I was eating again. First a liquid diet, then some solids. I had a little trouble at first. Hospital food is gross! Now, just 4 weeks later, my appetite is back and my energy is too. I will be walking a 5K with my husband and our friends next Saturday. The link is at Westlake Village Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk/Run. 100% of the proceeds go to Pancreatic Cancer Research. 

The next step in this journey is likely to be radiation therapy. We thought we had understood that I would have more chemotherapy for follow up, but the Dr. said that if there is anything lingering somewhere else in my body, the follow up chemo wouldn’t get it since it is a gentler treatment than the one I have already had. He recommends radiation if the surgeon agrees.

So basically they hit me with the big guns and it worked. I can only praise God that it worked. He told me from the beginning that we would beat this and He came through. God keeps His promises. You can believe it! I sure do!

Oh, by the way, today is my birthday. Hence the title. It is a great one!


Wow! Fall is (almost) here. Well not officially in So Cal, but we did get a teeny tiny bit of rain this morning. It has been so hot lately. I’m just glad it cools down at night.

So…. how did I spend my summer? I am half way through my chemo treatments. Yay! The tumor is shrinking. I’ll get another CT Scan in a couple of weeks to see how much more. Then we have to think about surgery. My husband’s company changed insurance and UCLA is not in the network now. We got a continuation of coverage for the chemo treatments, but the surgeon was denied. We can go through an appeal process and the liaison at the new insurance company thinks we should. One of the reasons we went with UCLA is that they are a team and my Oncologist recommended this surgeon as one of the best around. Well, it will work itself out. 

Ocean View

The view from our room

We were able to spend the 4th of July weekend at a beautiful resort in Laguna Niguel. I had an extra week off because my white blood count was low. The doctors said we should go enjoy ourselves, so we did.

A couple of weeks later we visited our trailer in the Sequoias at R-Ranch in the Sequoias. It was another restful long weekend. 

The rest of the time I have been knitting. What a surprise. I have completed two shawls, Lotta’s Lilacs and Ocean Breeze.

I made a 100″ scarf out of mink. Pattern to follow. I saw a picture and unvented it. I’ve almost completed a couple more projects, but I have to get the hang of the special bind off that I want to do. It’s a bit complicated.

Lotta's Lilacs

Lotta’s Lilacs

Ocean Breeze Shawl

Ocean Breeze

Askew Scarf


 I have also created a line of stitch markers. I love these beach themed ones. They are available in my Etsy shop

Beach Stitch Markers

Beach Stitch Markers

Marine Life Stitch Markers

Marine Life Stitch Markers

A Month In Slow Motion

We interrupt this knitting class for….

Just after I posted about the blanket class I discovered that I had something wrong health-wise. I had been having trouble sleeping, constant indigestion and my weight started dropping like never before. In fact, I had been trying to lose weight but couldn’t budge it. Because of the indigestion I wasn’t very hungry so I wasn’t eating well, hence the weight loss.

On May 6th I went to the doctor. She sent me for an ultrasound and when I went back to see her I could tell this wouldn’t be good. She turned back to the door for a beat, then took a deep breath and told me that they had found a mass on my pancreas. It took my breath away. I wasn’t going to be afraid, but suddenly I was. Steve Jobs entered my mind. I called my husband, emailed the pastors at my church and the rest of my day was a fog. I had to take my mom to the doctor that day but I didn’t tell her then. I didn’t want her to get upset when I didn’t know anything yet.

It’s funny what happens when you are faced with something like this. You start making plans, like what music you want at your funeral. You start thinking, oh man, I’ve got to get all those passwords written down for my husband. And what about my mom? I need to make arrangements for her now. And boy is she going to be pissed if I pass before she does! (She had a fit earlier this year when her younger sister died. She thought she should have gone first because she’s older. Sigh….) 

I also cast on some Christmas projects. Cuz you know… (I can’t talk about them yet.)

The good thing is we have a will and and advanced directive. Unfortunately, the impetus for that was my Mother-In-Law’s death last year. It was exactly one year from her death that I had the endoscopy that told us that I have cancer. The timing couldn’t have been worse for my family. My poor Father-In-Law had a really rough time when he heard. Of course my sisters-in-law have been really supportive. And my husband has been a prince. Well, really a king. (His name means king.) He’s been awesome. He usually travels a lot for work but now he is able to stay home indefinitely. He can work from home which is what he does when not traveling. He has been taking me to the doctors, making appointments, grocery shopping and cooking, making sure I take the medications, taking my temperature and making sure I am comfortable. I think I’m getting spoiled.

From finding a problem to the first chemo treatment was only a month, but it felt like an eternity. Tom Petty was right. The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. We saw many doctors, got second opinions and finally opted to go with UCLA’s treatment plan. Their review board all agreed that we should do chemo first to shrink the tumor and then surgery. We were assured that this is the most advanced treatment available. They also said that because I am young* and healthy I should be able to withstand the treatments. Usually they are looking at people in their 60’s and 70’s with this condition. 


I have to tell you how blessed I have been in this whole process and how the Lord is really covering me. 

In the first place, if the tumor wasn’t in the head of my pancreas I may not have known about it until it was too late. I don’t go in for regular CT scans. Who does? Being where it is caused the indigestion. This is because there is an ulceration in the duodenum. That’s the start of the large intestine just after the stomach. 

The day after I found out there was a mass on my pancreas, reality set in. Visions of tubes and hospitals and other people taking care of me flashed in my mind. I cried out to Jesus, basically freaked out in front of Him. And in the middle of my rant I heard, “We’re going to beat this.” I was calmed immediately, but then started in again. I said, “But I’ve always been so healthy!” And I heard, “That’s why we’re going to beat this.” I was able to go about my day somewhat calmly, but of course I’ve had many more moments to cry and doubt and mourn.

All through the process this last month both my husband and I have been amazed by the kindness and gentleness of all the doctors and nurses we have encountered. When I went for my endoscopy I remember feeling so loved and that these people must be in this profession out of a sheer love of people. My oncology nurse turns out to be a Christian and we bonded right away. Definitely a God-appointment. My Oncology doc is the same doctor who treated my mom for her breast cancer. I already knew and liked him. Because of my family history I was urged to get in the high risk program at UCLA. Since I am in the system, he was able to see my history. He’s suspicious that I may have a BRCA2 gene mutation. If so, there may be more specific treatments available to me.

Our primary doctor told us to immediately start setting up appointments with oncologists and surgeons. We’re so glad she did. When we did call for appointments they were about three weeks out. Luckily, we were able to see Dr. Glaspy the following week at his Porter Ranch office. It turns out this is a better option than Westwood. The drive is much easier. We saw him the same day I got my diagnosis. He scared me, but so did the high emotions of the day. He got me in to see his surgeon the very next day and he was also great. He mentioned the course of treatment that he thought we would be using, but needed to take it to his review board. They didn’t meet until the following Thursday, so we were on pins and needles all week. Meanwhile we had set up appointments at City of Hope. That surgeon wanted to operate first which scared me. I felt more and more that we should go with UCLA. 

Before my diagnosis, our Pastor and his wife came over and gave us the skinny on what we should expect. He had cancer last year and went through chemo and surgery. Their daughter also had cancer at 14 so they know the system well. It was very reassuring to have their guidance. They told us to be patient, that there is a lot of waiting, for insurance, for doctors, how to work around the office staff. Boy was that true. First we were waiting for insurance approvals and my husband was on top of it. Then waiting for doctor appointments and review boards. It was a long month. 

But only a month! Last Saturday our bluegrass band played at our monthly gig, “The Lord’s Kitchen.” Our church has a Saturday each month where they feed the needy a hot meal and we are the entertainment. On the way there I said, “Last month we didn’t even know anything was wrong.” Now I had already had one round of chemo. It seems like forever sometimes, but God moves fast. I remember when my mom was diagnosed that things moved very fast toward surgery. 

My church family has been such a blessing. My knitting group has been so wonderful. When I found out something was wrong I told Stephanie at Unwind that I might not be able to teach the blanket class. She said, “Forget the class!” I was with her when trying to make an appointment for the CT scan. They told me they couldn’t see me until the following week. When I hung up she said, “Call them back! Didn’t the order say STAT?” Sure enough it did, but there was some back and forth with the place anyway. I got in to one of their other offices the following day. Looking back at the calendar I am amazed at how fast things happened – in slow motion! I guess it’s like being in a car crash. Everything just slows down in your perception.

I emailed some women that I knew are prayer warriors and they have been praying and calling (just when I needed it most!) and reassuring me. They send me scriptures that comfort me. One of my friends gave me a set of meditation and healing cds. I have been falling asleep with them, but this morning I actually used it like you’re supposed to and I have more energy today. It could be that I am near the end of the chemo cycle, but I like to think that the meditation helped.

The best thing is that when I saw Dr. Glaspy last Thursday he said that I was looking good. He asked me if I had any discomfort and I realized that I didn’t! He said that is a good sign, that the chemo is working. I didn’t realize that it could work that fast, but I am grateful. I have had days since with some discomfort, but none like before. I am hopeful.

If I lose my hair it should be some time next week. Just in case I made a hat.

The Lizzie Hat

The Lizzie Hat — Yarn: Lang Yarns Sol & Sol Luxe

Swoon —– Yarn: Fyberspates Faery wings 4ply

And since it is really cold in the chemo room, I finished my Swoon.





*I’m really middle aged, but I like being called young!

12 Steps to Improve Your Knitting Skills

It’s getting hot here in southern California. What an awesome time to work on an afghan! Seriously, the cool thing about this afghan is that it will not heat up your lap as you knit. It is knit in 12 squares and pieced together at the end. I will be teaching a class on the Building Blocks Afghan starting on May 12 at Unwind Yarn. You can sign up at the Unwind website.

We will work on one square per week. Whether you are an adventurous beginner or more experienced, your skills will improve every week. Online videos are also available for help in between.

So keep cool and come join the fun!  At the end you will have a lovely sampler blanket and amaze your friends with your awesome knitting skills. Put 6 squares together for an heirloom baby blanket. Hey, a two for one class!

LA County Yarn Crawl

The 3rd annual LA County Yarn Crawl begins tomorrow! Are you ready? Last year I visited each and every shop. There were over 30 (I can’t quite remember how many). I believe I forgot to blog about it last year. I did make some voice recordings after most of the stops to tell my impression of each store. (I didn’t listen to them either…) So sad. Anyway, this year I will not be crawling. I tell you that was one heck of a schlep! From Santa Clarita to Claremont, through Whittier and Redondo Beach, up through Long Beach and LA, to Santa Monica and through the San Fernando Valley… Well, you can see the map here.Yarn Crawl 2013 Map

This year I will be working at my LYS, Unwind in Burbank. We hope you will join us. 

There will be a book signing, custom swatch & wear consultations, lots of great yarn and free patterns. We have Colinton in all colors, Shibui and many special yarns. I hope to see you there!

Bookmark your Yarn Crawl Map or use KnitMap.


One of my new year’s resolutions is to finish all my UFOs. I decided to start with the Ohm Shawl. The yarn is 3 skeins of beautiful Serenity Silk Singles from Zen Yarn Garden. I got the yarn at Unwind’s Passport Club back in April. I loved the sample, so I couldn’t resist the whole package.

I put it aside because I got bored with the pattern. The center is really repetitive. And of course I wanted to start other projects 😉 . I realized after I picked it up again that it is probably called Ohm because you could meditate while you do this. Not too taxing on the brain.


I picked it up when we went for a mini vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. As it turned out I only had two repeats of the chart to finish before moving on to the next color and chart. I quickly finished color number two and started working on the border. This morning to my dismay, I ran short of yarn. I am so close to finishing. I am really upset that the skein didn’t last for the whole border. It is supposed to be 430 yards. Did I do something wrong or was the skein short?


There are 18 grams of the reddish brown left, 67 grams of the blue and 226 total in the shawl. It’s hard to say if the skein was short. There are 100g to a skein and my total is 311 grams. Maybe I should have gone down a needle size or two.

Whatever…  I’m not redoing it now. Back into hibernation it goes. Unless some kind knitter out there has an unwanted skein of the dark brown Serenity Silk Single they’d like to sell. Even a partial skein… Please????!!!!


It really is all about the cat anyway…


New Patterns!

I have just published two new patterns on Ravelry! They use the delicious Mountaintop Vail by Classic Elite. The yarn is so wonderfully soft, you’ll want to wear them all the time! These two projects compliment each other with similar details like the rolled hem. 

Web-Crop-DSC_0674 Night At The Opera Gloves

The inspiration came from the yarn itself and the special limited edition, hand dyed version by Gail Callahan, the Kangaroo Dyer. These will only be available through Unwind Yarn’s Road Trip Club. Some lucky folks may have seen this and possibly purchased some at the Squam Retreat this past spring. Lucky dogs!

I love how this yarn looks in plain stockinette. The stitch definition is fabulous and I decided to use stripes for the long gloves. Not just any stripes, but Fibonacci stripes. They add a fun modern look. The gloves are soooo soft because Vail is 70% baby alpaca and 30% bamboo viscose. They will keep your arms warm for sure, but you’ll be stylin’ at the same time!

Again, for the hat, I decided to use stockinette. It starts from the bottom up, utilizing the natural curl of stockinette stitch for a quick, easy project. I used a centered double decrease so that the top would come together like a star. The “butterfly” embellishment at the front adds a cute detail to an otherwise plain hat. I was surprised that the pink yarn striped in the round, very subtly.   

The hat was inspired by Dom from Project Runway Season 12. She wore a similar hat in some of the episodes, sometimes with a brooch pinned to it. One of the challenges used butterflies as the inspiration, and this hat is a nod to her and her fabulous creations. 

Dom's Avant-Garde Butterfly

Dom’s Avant-Garde Butterfly