May 30, 2013

  • My new ‘Baby’!


    While not actually a ‘baby’, I did carry this around inside me for an incredible length of time!

    I’ve been promising ‘SOON!’ for SO LONG!

    I just couldn’t bear to tell you until I had absolutely everything done.


    But Now…I can finally shout it from the rooftops!


    Mrs. Mouse’s Menu Cookbook is finished!

    She’s got a pretty cover, and has gone to the printer.




    They tell me I can start mailing out First Edition signed copies August, 2013!

    I’ve got some celebrating to do!

    And you’re invited!


    Between now and August 1, 2013, you can get $5.00 off the cover price!

    Just follow the instructions on the book page, below, and soon your very own First Edition signed copy will be winging it’s way to you!


    Yes, really! For true!! (geez, I’ve waited a long time to say that!)

    Book page is here:

    Free Book Sample is here:

    Direct ordering from either the Book page, or here:


    Isn’t that great?

    And now you know what I worked on finishing up that month in Ireland, once I got some sleep, that is. 


    Sorry it took so long to get it to you.

    Thanks for hanging around during the process!




May 29, 2013

  • I don’t make a habit of running away

    You may have wondered at the long silence on the blog front. Well, here’s the story.

    I don’t make a habit of running away from home … 

    …though it’s long been an understanding between my husband and I that if I need to do so I can. 

    His job requires frequent moves and neither one of us has any control over when they occur, or where. We’d often talked about what would happen if he were sent to the frozen north or to a desert somewhere and I’d firmly stated that I’d try anywhere he was sent on for size and if I found it to be too much I’d go visit family or rent a small apartment somewhere until he found himself somewhere civilized again.

    Every time a move was coming up we’d reiterate that option. And during 20 years of moves I’d never once had to take the opt-out plan.

    I had expected if I were to leave it would be because of harsh, unlivable conditions. No one, not even I, expected those breaking point conditions to be in Rome, Italy! So I guess it came as a little surprise to family, friends and even me, when in the Spring of 2013 I had had enough. 

    It started with a winter move, a first for us.  

    The preceding two and a half years had been stressful for both of us, he because of the nature of his work and me because of a poor landlord and the strain of maintaining an overflowing social schedule without allowing enough Introvert-required down time. During that time we had also traveled all over Europe, and to The States for the joyful wedding of our favorite (and only) daughter, lost three beloved pets to illness and old age and I had been plagued with near constant health issues. So, needless to say, even before the move I was exhausted. 

    Balancing the winter holidays around moving companies and required bureaucratic visits & paperwork and attempting to learn yet another language and culture while wringing the last hurrah of enjoyment from the current exotic local took my reserves down to a dangerous low.

    We were warned the new assignment was considered ‘remote’, meaning it was a few hours away from the normal assignment support structure. We’d be living right in the community instead of on a work-centric compound. But we weren’t concerned. We’d done that once before, our first assignment to Germany, and it had been fine. This time we were being sent to Italy, an ancient civilized country, home of the Roman Senate, the Aqueduct, Colosseum & Pantheon, free flowing water fountains, thousands of years of history to be enjoyed and explored. I’d visited Italy once on a tour and loved it. It would be warm and sunny. The people were friendly. I love the food. How bad could it be?

    Famous last words, right?

    It wasn’t warm. It was cold. And rainy. January is January, after all. I’m not sure why I expected any different, except whenever I thought of Italy it was of sunshine. In January, February? Not so much with the sun.

    The food was everything I remembered, pasta, grilled vegetables, cannoli, but their food culture has them eating dinner when I normally would be getting ready for bed. It’s amazing how bad even excellent food can taste when you’re struggling to stay awake long enough to eat it. Thank heavens for the pizza shops, open nearly all day and into the early evening.

    But the apartment we were assigned was the worst part. 

    My husband and I, we’re country folks. We love living out away from town and the privacy and quiet a stand alone house gives so for nearly all of our moves that’s what we look for in a place to live. 

    This job was different. Because of the limited time we’d be there, just six months, and the high prices and tight availability of rentals where the landlord spoke English we’d be moving into a fully furnished assigned apartment. It was only six months. How bad could it be. 

    Again, those words. I got to find out.

    Before we accepted the quarters and moved we had been assured it would be quiet. We were told it was very convenient to stores, buses, parks. It was an older building with comfortable furniture and all the modern conveniences. It was  full of older, established families, mostly little old ladies and gents. There was a quiet time to be enforced. It was in a business section so while maybe a little noisy during the day, it quieted right down after rush hour. 

    What they didn’t say was it was on the fourth floor, in the center of the building, next to the elevator and stairs. They didn’t mention that the culture revolved around daily family gatherings full of loud conversations, or the thin walls, ceilings or floors. They didn’t tell us that some of the other tenants were under 24 hour in-home nursing care for dementia, about the help-nurse buzzers that rang day and night or the nurse’s shoes clacking across tile floors echoing through the walls. They didn’t say a thing about the others who were just barely mobile by hanging onto the back of a kitchen chair, scraping it across the floor, then toddling along after it at odd hours. Or the senile woman in the apartment upstairs who would open and close her shutters or vacuum from 10:30pm to 2:30 am every night. Or about the yelling screaming fights from the apartment next door, or the loud moans of the dying elderly woman below.

    Daytime brought the traffic noises, loud radios, scream of brakes, honking horns from the people triple parked outside. Even with the windows closed and the fans going for white noise it was too loud to nap. Earplugs caused ear infections, and noise canceling headphones were too bulky to sleep for long. The people my husband worked with were having the same luck with their assigned housing. And there was nothing the landlords could do about any of it. 

    I was averaging 2-3 hours of broken sleep a night, constantly sick, not able to enjoy any of the things I’d hoped to experience in Rome because of being so completely drained and exhausted. It started having a terrible effect on my marriage. No matter how compatible you are, no two people should be that tired and live together. And I’m no angel when I’m that rung out, let me tell you. 

    I felt trapped, angry, scared and alone.

    I was either going to go mad, get a divorce or run away. 

    I chose the later.

    But where to go?

    Rent in Rome is insanely expensive, so there was little money left over for a second extra rent, much less plane fare back home to The States. Anywhere else in Rome would be just as noisy, according to everyone I talked to. Renting somewhere out in the country in Italy was moderately less expensive, but still outrageous. And I didn’t speak Italian yet, not enough to get by, really, unless I stayed at a tourist spot that knew English, but then the cost would be too high. 

    I was afraid I was stuck with no way out.

    And then I thought of Ireland. 

    My husband and I had vacationed there when we were assigned to Germany and loved it. They spoke English. And plane fare there was cheap. After looking around the Internet I was able to find a place I could afford for a month. It wouldn’t keep me out of Rome for the whole of the assignment, but maybe it would be enough to regain my health, and my sanity, and I could put the time to good use writing that novel I’d been thinking about, or catching up on other writing works in progress in my backlog folder. 

    Discussing it with my husband was easy. 

    Which would he rather, a divorce or living single for a month? 

    Thankfully, he still loved me. 

    I emailed my sister back in The States what I was thinking of doing, and she emailed back,

     Once had a psychologist tell me that running away is a perfectly valid option and decision.  I’m sorry to hear that Rome has impaired your health like this, and glad you are taking care of yourself by leaving.  How wonderful that you have both the ability and opportunity to do so.

    Emails were sent, reservations made, and I set off for my first ever solitary writing retreat to a cottage in the Ireland countryside, sight unseen, with one suitcase and a computer bag, heart in hand, hope like wings on my shoulders.

    One month later, here I am, back in Italy, with a wonderful secret. 

    Check back tomorrow, and I’ll show you what happened in Ireland!


March 26, 2013

  • Anyone there?


    Due to lack of interest, this project is tabled until Fall.

    I’ll be in contact with those who said they were interested when I begin again.

    —End Update—


    Okay, I was going to post the next segment of planning for my poncho KAL today.

    But then I began to wonder if it was a KAL of one.

    I know I haven’t really posted anything anyone else can do yet, other than their own planning for yarn.

    But I’m wondering if anyone is interested in this stuff.

    Do you want to know the planning stages?

    Do you just want a pattern?

    Are you interested in Knitting Along with me?


    I’ll plan and knit my poncho by myself without posting about it if no one is interested.

    So, before I go on and on about this anymore…

    Anyone there?

    Anyone interested in this?

March 25, 2013

  • Poncho Kal – Prep: Keeping notes

    Part of my design process is keeping notes, not only of the final decisions, but also of the possibilities considered along the way.

    The choices and challenges I face in this early process I keep in a small notebook in my craft bag. 

    As I list the options, I write pros and cons for each until I begin to make decisions about the final form.

    As each choice is made, it informs the other choices, until all or almost all of the variables are chosen.

    At that point, I make a note of the final choices and open a project page.

    This allows me to make progress notes and keep track of needle size online. If I’m on the road, and away from my craft design book, I can access information that will allow me to keep working on the project. For instance, if a needle or hook goes missing, I may not remember what size I was working with. A quick look on my online project page, and I can stop into a local yarn shop, replace the crafting tool, and keep on working.

    I also record stopping points, questions, problems, solutions and dates of progress.

    Then, when the pattern is finished, I can gather the information from all the sources – quick paper notes in the project bag, Ravelry project page, blog postings and the early design pages – and collate them into a pattern capable of being test knit.

    The Ravelry project page for this garment is:

March 24, 2013

  • Poncho KAL – Prep: Design decisions

     Next, I’ll need to decide on basic features.

    What exactly do I want the finished piece to look like?

    My goal is to have warm neck, shoulders, arms and back, but not deep winter warm.

    I want to be able to adjust my temperature while wearing this garment by opening up the front, and I want it easy on and off without pulling it over my head. So, open front is a must for me, and since I’m not fond of sewing in zippers, I’ll go with buttons for my closure. 

    So, I know I want a way to keep my neck warm. There are many designs to do that, but for this I think I prefer a collar. I’ll need to decide what type of collar it shall be. How tight? Loose or fitted? How tall? Single thickness or doubled? Fold over? Straight? Shawl type? What stitch pattern? Knit first, top down? Picked up and knit up at the end?

    I know I want an open front with button closures. Do I want button holes or loops?-not sure yet.

    Knit in edges? Definitely.

    Next, on to the shoulder shaping. Raglan? Pie? Contiguous by SusieM? That last is a way to make a seamless fitted shoulder that looks and fits similarly to a seamed fitted one, but without the fuss of knitting in pieces and sewing up seams. It’s a nice way to get a great personalized fit. Raglan is pretty easy, and Pie shaping is easier yet, but I like the look of a fitted shoulder, so I’m going to go with Contiguous for mine. Don’t worry. It’s much easier to knit than to say. :)

    Length?  Long enough to keep my neck, shoulders, arms and waist warm. I want to have mine go at least to my waist; hip length or longer would be preferred. No longer than knee length. I probably won’t make it that long. More than likely, hip or just past. The yarn I’m using is light enough I could comfortably wear that length or longer without putting too much strain on my shoulders, And I like the swing look of the mid length models.

    Once last thing – Access. I want to stay wrapped up warm inside, yet have easy access for my hands to reach and do things without pulling the garment open to let in cold air, or putting pressure on my arms. One option I’ve thought of is simple flaps that divide along the front from just above waist level to the hem of the poncho. That would be easy-out, non-binding, and easy to knit. It would also let a lot of cold wind inside on a breezy day. Not optional.

    Another option is slits in the front to reach through. Those would also be easy to knit, but have the potential to be binding or pull the garment up or let cold air in, too. For this option, placement, depth, and borders could solve most of these issues. It won’t allow me to wear the poncho and lift my arms out and up over my head without lifting the poncho, too, but if I knit them the right size and put them in the right place, and add an insulating border to block the wind, I think it would allow me to walk a dog, shop and have a coffee without the poncho binding.

    Next up, textures.

March 23, 2013

  • Poncho KAL – Prep: The yarn

    Since this is going to be designed as I knit, there will be a few things I need to decide before I can begin.

    First, the yarn. I’m using already purchased, stashed away yarn for this project.

    I have a 32 ounce giant ball of soft worsted weight acrylic in a medium denim color I’ll be using. I don’t expect to use it all, but I’ll have it if I do.

    If you are knitting along with me, you have a few options for yarn.

    You can get 32 ounces of yarn all the same color and dye lot.

    Or decide to buy yarn as you go.

    One potential problem with buying as you go is that you may have skeins that don’t match the rest of your yarn, even if you go with the same color.

    You don’t have to knit it all in one color as I am.

    You can do stripes if you choose, or each element a different color, or gradients from dark to light of a single color, or any other color option you wish.

    I would suggest you begin and end with the same weight of yarn, and the same fiber type for the whole project. I’ve tried mixing it up with weight and fibers and it didn’t always work out so well. Something like this, that will have a bit of weight to it, you’ll probably want to have one fiber and weight the whole way through.

    Next up, design decisions.


March 22, 2013

  • Wakey, Wakey!

    Okay, time to wake this blog up.

    How does a Knit-A-Long or Crochet-A-Long sound?

    Anyone interested in making a worsted weight, button up the front, top-down poncho with me?

    I’m picturing something easy and textural, with a button collar and room to move around inside, with exit slots for hands and arms, but still plenty warm for those cool spring breezes and chilly evenings.

    If you’re interested, pick out a yarn that has no dye lot, because we’ll be designing this as we go and I’m not sure of yardage at this point.

    Yeah, it will be an adventure.

    Wanna play?

October 14, 2012

  • Aunt Maggie’s Slippers, Translated to German


       Last week, a local friend brought over a pair of slippers to show me.

    They were knit, and quite worn on the bottom. The way she handled them I could tell they were well loved.

    She told me they were knit by her Oma, her mother’s mother, her Grandmother, for her daughter. 

    It had been her Oma’s practice to knit a pair of warm slippers for everyone in the family for the winter.

    She was never seen with a pattern, only yarn and needles clicking away, and when she died a few years ago, the knowledge of how to knit those slippers passed with her.

    Now my friend’s daughter wanted to learn how to knit those slippers so she could carry on the tradition for the family.

    My friend, knowing I loved to knit, brought the slippers to me, hoping I could figure out how to knit them, and teach her how.

    I took a good look at the slippers, and promised to teach her if I could. 

    I also told her the pattern looked familiar, as though I’d seen it before. I promised to look around the pattern websites I knew on the Internet and see if I could find something similar. 

    She wanted to knit that exact pattern, the one used by her Oma. I told her I’d see what I could find, but that yes, we could recreate that pattern from scratch if we needed to.

    After searching most of one day, finding many slippers that were similar, but not quite the same, I finally found it.

    Aunt Maggie’s Slippers, by Bev Qualheim, [] is exactly the same pattern as Oma’s, down to the double strand knitting and method of decreases. I sent the link to my friend, and she agreed it was the same, but…

    My friend’s English is limited. My German is likewise limited.

    I could teach her how to knit the slippers by showing her, step by step, but it would help her remember how to knit them in the future if the pattern was available in German for her to follow.

    So, back to the Internet I went.

    I posted a request on Ravelry for translation help, and after getting permission from the designer, Bev Qualheim, for permission for the translation, a translator was found! Manfredovna on Ravelry, Katharina Sokiran was able to get a translation done and sent to me before my friend came over to learn the slippers.

    I wish I could show you the look of relief and joy on her face to be able to knit the slippers her Oma made.

    Per Bev’s request, I’m posting Katharina’s translation from English to German on my blog, so she can add a link from the translation to the pattern on her website.

    All rights to the original pattern remain with the designer.
    All rights to the German translation remain with the translator.

    Thank you, Bev! and Thank you Katharina!

    You’ve helped bring a family tradition back to life. 


    Tante Maggies Puschen
     Copyright Bev Qualheim 1988 

    (Photo (c) Bioengiknitter found here:

    (Translation to German by Katharina Sokiran)

    Nachdem ich überall für einer Anleitung für Hausschuhe wie diese,
    die Tante Maggie und meine Mutter früher zu stricken pflegten, gesucht hatte,
    habe ich endlich eine in einem alten Buch aus den 40er Jahren gefunden.
    Ich habe sie sogar leicht verbessert, damit das Nacharbeiten einfacher wird!

    Anleitung in Kindergröße, Angaben für Damen- und Herrengröße in Klammern

    Stricknadeln US 9 oder 5,5 mm (6,5 mm für Herrenslipper) und 3 oz (knapp 100 g) 10-fach-Garn mit einer Lauflänge von 200–240 m per 100 g („worsted weight“).

    Maschenprobe einfädig: 16 M = 10 cm, 32 Reihen = 16 Rippen = 10 cm
    Maschenprobe doppelfädig: 14 M = 10 cm, 28 Reihen = 16 Rippen = 10 cm

    Diese Slipper können ein- oder doppelfädig gearbeitet werden, doppelfädige sind jedoch wärmer.

    27 (29–35) Maschen anschlagen.
    1. Reihe (Rückreihe): 9 (9–11) re M, 1 li M, 7 (9–11) re M, 1 M li, 9 (9–11) re M.
    2. Reihe (Rückreihe): alle Maschen rechts

    Diese beiden Reihen immer wiederholen, bis das Strickstück 8 (10, 10) cm kürzer als der Fuß ist (Strickstück ca. 20 (24,32) cm hoch), dabei mit einer Rückreihe enden. Die verbleibenden 8 (10, 10) cm werden für die Ausarbeitung der Fußspitze benötigt.

    1. Reihe: 1 M li, *1 M re, 1 M li; von * bis Reihenende immer wh.
    2. Reihe: 1 M re, *1 M li, 1 M re; von * bis Reihenende immer wh.
    Diese 2 Reihen Rippenmuster über insgesamt 5 (4, 4) cm arb., dabei mit einer Rückreihe enden.

    1. Abnahmereihe: 7 (7–9) M im Rippenmuster arb.,* 1 M abh., 1 M re und abgehobene darüberziehen, 1 M re, 2 M re zusammenstricken. *, 3 (5–7) M im Rippenmuster arb., zwischen * noch einmal wh., Reihe im Rippenmuster beenden; 23 (25–31) M gesamt.
    Nächste Reihe: 7 (7–9) M im Rippenmuster arb., 3 M li, 3 (5–7) M im Rippenmuster arb., 3 M li, Reihe im Rippenmuster beenden.

    2. Abnahmereihe: 6 (6–8) M stricken, * 2 M re zusammenstricken., 1 M re, 1 M abh., 1 M re und abgehobene darüberziehen *, 1 (3–5) M stricken, zwischen * noch einmal wh., Reihe beenden; 19 (21–27) M gesamt.

    Garn abschneiden, dabei 30 cm zum Zusammennnähen daranlassen.
    Garnende in eine Wollnadel einfädeln. Diesen Faden durch die restlichen Zehenmaschen ziehen, M dabei von der Stricknadel heben. Fest anziehen. Fadenende noch ein zweites Mal durch alle Maschen fädeln und vernähen.

    Fertigstellung – bei jedem Slipper, Anschlagkante rechts auf rechts halbiert übereinanderlegen (Innenseite des Slippers nach außen zeigend) und 7,5 (10,12,5) cm von der Zehe zusammennähen, so daß gerade genügend Raum für den Fuß bleibt. 4 Stiche zurücknähen und Faden abschneiden. Faden an der Ferse wieder ansetzen und Ferse zusammennähen. Zweiten Slipper genauso zusammennähen. Wenn gewünscht, eine Bommel aufnähen.

    Für eine rutschfeste Sohle (praktisch für Kinder oder ältere Personen), rutschfesten Spraygummi wie auf der jeweiligen Produktverpackung angegeben auf die Außenseite der Slippersohle sprühen. Für die abgebildeten Slipper wurde ein maschinenwaschbarer Sprühgummi verwendet. Nicht zu dick auftragen, nicht für PVC verwenden und nicht auf den Fußboden sprühen (Zeitung unterlegen).