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Sales Consultant and Trainer with great results and 30 years experience.  Very effective.  A little eccentric. Usually happy. Visit the Sales Dynamo website!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coffee Cup Cozy - Free Pattern

As I've hung out at the Cleveland Clinic, I've respected their effort to make the hospital as green as possible (no easy task!)  One popular choice is to skip the cardboard sleeve at the coffee shop and use one that's hand knitted or crocheted.  Folks even use them on their reusable ceramic cups to keep the coffee hotter longer. 

I made my first one of these little numbers years ago, and still use it and many others today.  I have longer sleeves for "car coffee" in the winter, and shorter ones for daily indoor use.  This pattern can be adjusted to fit your needs.  Just mind the increase ratio, and it will fit those to go cups like a glove!


Coffee Cup Cozy  Elisabeth Marino

Materials

Size US 7 needles, circular or straight
Worsted yarn in natural fiber
Yarn needle
Scrap yarn, buttons, ribbon as desired

Dimensions:  This pattern as written will make one cozy of standard dimensions, 2.75 inches across at the bottom edge, 3 inches at the top edge, and 2.75 inches tall.

Instructions
Cast on 34 sts.  If knitting in the round, join.  K1, p1 for 6 rows.
Row 7: K2, M1, K until 3 st remain, M1, K2. (36 sts)
Row 8: Purl
Row 9: K2, M1, K until 3 st remain, M1, K2. (38 sts)
Row 10: Purl.
Row 11 (RS):Knit
Row12: Purl 

Row 13: Knit 
Row 14: Purl

Repeat rows 9, 10, 11, and 12 until the cozy is the desired length, minus 3/4 inch of ribbed trim.
Row 15: K1, P1, M1, (K1 P1) until 3 st remain, M1, K1, P1. (40 sts)
Row 16 –20: K1, P1 across


Cast off loosely in K1, p1.
Tie off end.
Finishing
With regular needle and thread, sew up seam.  Sew on buttons, embroider an initial or design if desired.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Freebie Friday- Hugs For All!

Hi folks, Colleen here again!  First, a quick update... Elisabeth's son is still at the Cleveland Clinic.  He was scheduled to have surgery yesterday.  Due to other happenings at the hospital, it was postponed to today.  In the meantime, he developed a fever, and now the surgery is postponed again until the fever is gone.   

In my life, we buried Grandma A today.  Between the sadness surrounding her passing and the worry over Elisabeth's son, I am definitely getting the feeling that lots of hugs are needed all around.  Which brings me to our Freebie Friday pattern for the week. 


hugBACK
Hug is a garter stitch scarf made with 90 (yes, only 90) yards of chunky weight yarn.  Imagine the possibilities... Friend with the flu?  Give them a Hug!  Little one going on their first sleepover?  Give them a Hug!  Someone goes above and beyond to help?  Give them a Hug!  Hugs for all!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ICU is a Chilly Place

The Cleveland Clinic is as beautiful and efficient a hospital as you can imagine.  It has a plethora of high end technology, all of which generates a lot of heat.  They also tell us that germs like it warm.  For those reasons, they keep the temperatures in the ICU seriously chilly.  The nurses all dress in several layers, often including some sort of sweater, and yesterday the nurse for the next room was wearing a quilted (outerwear) jacket with her uniform.

As I sit, hour upon hour, next to Scott's bed, I get cold.  I'm knitting mittens for Mountain Colors right now, and the wool in my lap is not making me any warmer.  I have decided, though, that when I finish these mittens they are going on my hands.  (They'll get to Montana soon enough.)  I know it's August.  It's 80+ degrees outside.  But it's 63 in here.  I'm cold.

Unless I'm having a hot flash.  In my entire experience of the hot flashes, this is the one situation in which I'm truly grateful for them.  For 20-45 minutes at a time, I'm finally warm enough!  It makes wardrobe planning tricky, and I've become a big lover of scarves and shawls in this strange interlude of my life. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do it... now!

Hi folks, Colleen here!

So I had planned to write a blog post today.  Fortunately Elisabeth's life has allowed her to make the last few posts herself, but I don't want her to have to worry about keeping things fresh.  Anyway, I didn't really have a great idea for something to write.  I probably would have just given a progress update on the shawl.

And then the phone rang. 

It was my mother-in-law, informing me that a "Grandma A" passed away unexpectedly this morning.  She wasn't my grandmother, or my husband's.  In fact, I don't think I can really label what her exact relation to me is.  My best guess would be "stepgrandmother-in-law".  You know, one of those people that ends up in your family as a result of the unusual family structures that are part of life today.

What I will say is that she was a wonderful person.  Always sweet and kind, never a bad word about anyone.  I often found myself spending time with her at family gatherings, while the two hurricanes that are my children were off playing with their cousins.  We would sit together and watch Food Network or HGTV, and I would knit.  And she would ask about my knitting, always with a kind remark about whatever the current project was.

Butterflies for Grandma A
modeled by the older hurricane
Last New Year's Day, we were doing just that.  We were sitting together, watching the Rose Parade.  I was working on something (who knows what, too many projects to keep track of).  She asked me about it.  And then she asked me how much work it would be to make a hat.  She mentioned that she often gets cold and she thought that a knitted hat might be just the thing to keep the chill away.  I, of course, wholeheartedly agreed!  By the time the chocolate pie was finished, she had decided on a color, and my mind was already at the yarn shop. 

Within two weeks, the hat was finished (the Butterfly Hat by Sofiya Kremin), and I gave it to my mother-in-law to pass along to Grandma A.  Later that week, I got the first and only phone call I would ever receive from her.  She had just gotten the hat and was absolutely thrilled.  The joy in her voice warmed my heart more than the hat would ever warm her head.  Over the weeks to come, my mother-in-law commented several times how much Grandma A loved the hat.

Earlier today, after hearing the sad news, my first thought was "I'm so glad I made her that hat".  It was the kind of project that could have easily been pushed aside.  The fact that it was one of the quickest projects she could have asked for probably played a large part in actually getting it done.  But what matters is, it DID get done.  And she loved AND used it.  And I find comfort in that.

So my advice is "Do it... now!"  It doesn't have to be a knitting project, it could be anything.  We've all heard the stories of regret from people who didn't take the time to hug, kiss, call, write... and then never got the chance to.  So I'm going to go hug my little hurricanes!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Freebie Friday - too cool for school

Elisabeth here.  I'm still in Cleveland with my son at the hospital, but I have a rare internet connection, so I thought I'd share a freebie.

Yesterday in the hospital cafeteria I saw a woman wearing the vest below.  It was gorgeous!  She had made it in a mohair blend, in a marled grey/brown.   I asked her about working on it, and she mentioned that it was only her second sweater!  (She looked to be about 20 years old.)  She'd been knitting for 3 years, and found it "challenging but not hard."  Give it a try!

Cabled Teal Vest 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Markdown Sale! 30 - 50% off

All paid patterns of mine are on sale now on Ravelry.  Prices from $2 - $4!  Go to the Ravelry Store, and check it out! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Freebie Friday- 5 Shawls

Hi everyone, Colleen here again!  I spoke with Elisabeth earlier today and though her son is still in critical condition, he is off sedation and responding to familiar voices.  I could hear some definite relief in her voice, and that was music to my ears.  As soon as the medical update was over, she asked how her shawl is coming along.  I guess it’s rather cold in the hospital!

In keeping with tradition, I present you with my version of Freebie Friday.  Since I’m working on a triangular shawl in worsted weight, I trolled Ravelry for similar shawls.  All of the patterns seem to be rather adaptable to different gauges and offer options for changing the size to suit your needs.  Here are 5 for you to consider…

1: Fuzzy Bottom by Joyce Fassbender
This triangular shawlette is worked from the center back to the bottom edge.  The pattern suggests finishing off the shawl with a small amount (40 yards) of a different yarn, perfect for that small ball of luxury yarn or a little bit of leftover stash yarn. 

2. The Stay-Put Shawl by Jen Reilly
This is a formula to create a shawl to work with your particular needs.  It is worked from the center back to the bottom edge and can be stopped anywhere- great for those of us who like to use up every last scrap of yarn!

This is a basic recipe for a Scandinavian-style shawl.  Jump on this one quickly, because the designer has noted that it will eventually be released as a more detailed paid pattern.

4. Arrowhead Lace Shawl by DragonWing Arts
This shawl is worked from the bottom up and can easily be adapted to any gauge.  This one in particular looks like a great summer shawl.

5. Harvest Colors Shoulder Shawl by Lidia Tsymbal
This shawl uses a simple lace pattern to highlight the color changes of variegated yarn.  It also includes directions for a crocheted bobble trim if you’re the bobble-y type!
 

The links I provided are all to the Ravelry project pages.  The first four shawls are all published as free Ravelry downloads.  Here is a separate link to the designer’s blog post for the Harvest Colors Shoulder Shawl.  Maybe some of you will decide to knit a “hug” for someone close to you- I’d love to hear about it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Progress!

Hi everyone, Colleen again.  Elisabeth’s son was airlifted to the Cleveland Clinic yesterday, and the situation is still very critical.  Please keep the good thoughts coming, they really mean a lot to the family.

So the process of starting this shawl for our dear friend has been a comedy of errors.  It was a combination of not knowing the summer hours of the yarn shops, trying to wrangle my kids, and working around Elisabeth’s wool allergy.  Then, of course, our intrepid blogstress threw me a curve ball… pink.  Pink?  Really?  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE pink (as one glance in my closet will prove).  But I never pegged Elisabeth as a pink shawl kind of girl.  It’s a good thing I asked, since I was totally planning something in a bluish gray.

Anyway, earlier this morning the stars aligned and I was able to make it to the yarn shop when it was actually open.  The kids were informed that good behavior might just result in a trip to McDonald’s (no, I’m not above bribery!).  I poked around for a little while, and then I saw it.  One skein of Luxe Alpaca by Woodstock Yarns.  It was pink- not hot pink, not baby pink, not bubble gum pink, just a nice soft pink.  It was alpaca- 100% alpaca.  It was DK weight, but the Oscilloscope Shawl pattern seems easy enough to extend, and the 660 yards in the skein gives me plenty of room to do that.  So far, so good.  And then I saw one word on the label that completely sealed the deal.  The name of the colorway?  WINE! 

I will be casting on as soon as I post this!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Comfort Knitting

Hi folks, Colleen here!  So I’m sure you can imagine that life in Karma-land has been rather difficult lately.  Elisabeth is doing her best to keep life together for herself and her family, and those of us around her are trying to help however we can.  Friends and neighbors are taking care of groceries, yardwork and the dog.  I, on the other hand, was asked to keep the blog going.  My first reaction was “What the %$&#%&@#% am I going to write about??!!!!”  But almost immediately my brain zeroed in on the idea of comfort knitting.

I have been seeking a lot of comfort from my own knitting, and it hasn’t been working out very well.  I am coming to the end of a Very Big Project (yes, it deserves to be capitalized).  If life were chugging along normally, the VBP would be chugging along as well.  I can almost hear it … “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”.  But I am finding it difficult to keep my mind focused enough to work on it for more than 15 minutes at a time.  And the last thing I want is for the VBP to be put in time-out because it messed itself up while I wasn’t looking.

So of course I turn to my (way too big) stash of unfinished projects.  But nothing there seems right either.  Some things are too complex, others are too easy.  Some fall into the category of “should” knitting, and somehow that seems a little too much like work for now.  And then there’s always the thought that I planned on finishing the VBP before going back to any of the other projects, so I guess I don’t feel like I’m supposed to be working on any of those anyway.

Then there’s the thing that’s really trying to get on my needles.  In flipping through some old magazines, I came across the Oscilloscope Shawl by Kate Gagnon Osborn.  Yep, my mind keeps going back to it.  Maybe it’s the soft green color the sample was made in (which, oddly enough, is almost the same color as the VBP.  Maybe the softness of the alpaca/ merino/ bamboo blend is calling to me.  Maybe it’s the quick-knit aspect- that finished object is only 400 yards away.  But what I really think makes me want this project on my needles is that I have a friend who REALLY needs a hug right now, and a yarny hug can travel with her much more conveniently than I can.  Granted, Elisabeth’s wool allergy would necessitate the use of a different yarn, but that’s easy enough to handle.

So I guess I’m off to the yarn shop sometime in the very near future (more comfort there!)  My knitting won’t save the world, and it won’t magically heal her son.  But maybe I can find some comfort in the process, and hopefully Elisabeth will find some comfort in the product.  The VBP can wait for now (it’s already overdue anyway!)

What about you?  What types of projects do you turn to when you need to knit a little comfort into your life?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hospital Knitting

My son is still in critical condition, making computer time and blogging very difficult.  I will be looking to my assistant and intrepid friend, Colleen, to guest blog during this family crisis.  She's excellent, and will keep you knee-deep in fiber world until I can return.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Miss Manners and Knitting in Public

This is reprinted from the Washington Post website from July 30, 2011:

DEAR MISS MANNERS:
Over the years I have noticed people knitting in public and have had no particular problem with it. However, I am a bit put off by those who knit in church or at an event such as a recital or concert.

Is it acceptable to knit at a church, synagogue or other religious service? And what about a concert or recital? I recently attended a piano and violin recital in a small venue where someone was knitting in the third row. Surely it was evident to the performers. And if such knitting is not appropriate, how should the knitters be approached, or prevented?

GENTLE READER: Please do not -- repeat, not -- make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed that they are armed with long, pointy sticks?

Of all the multitaskers who could annoy you, Miss Manners would not have guessed that knitters would top the list. There is a centuries-long history of ladies quietly doing needlework while remaining alert to what was going on around them.

But perhaps your complaint is that they are not quiet. If the clicking of needles is what bothers you, you could appeal to the authorities at church or concert hall that as they ban texting, it is only fair to ban activities that create similar noise. And if they don’t already ban texting, you might start by asking that they do before going after those comparatively unobtrusive knitters.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

I couldn't agree more.  Knit where you like.  As long as your ball of yarn isn't getting tangled in other people's belongings or feet, chairs, etc. it's fine, and encouraged.  I've even been told by passersby when I'm knitting in public that they find it soothing.  It reminds them of relatives, sometimes from a very long time ago.   

If you are a "noisy" knitter (although I've never met one), don't knit in places that are meant to be quiet. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yarn as Food

My son is in the hospital, and hasn't been able to eat for a few days.  In the long hours of staring at hospital walls waiting for news, I've been knitting, and thinking strange thoughts.

If I hadn't eaten in days, everything would look like food.  I'm knitting with some lettuce green bison/cashmere right now, and it could easily look like my ruffley scarf is salad.  I also have some creamy Cascade Eco with me, all balled up.  Yup, I'm thinking vanilla ice cream.  If I drizzled a little of the chocolate cashmere, and topped it with a meringue of white mohair and a red button it would be a hot fudge sundae.

It's silly, I understand, but it brings up some excellent design possibilities.  I love to cook, and I love to eat new and interesting foods.  If I were to design in textures and colors that matched the foods in a meal, that would be SO cool!  A burger with all the fixings could be interesting, maybe with brown boucle yarn for the burger, and a simple tan wool for the bun.  Add accents of silky red (ketchup) and yellow (mustard), and a dash of green cotton(pickle), and it's a meal!  Or maybe the parts of Chinese broccoli lo mien?  Thanksgiving dinner?  Breakfast with bacon, eggs and toast?  Possibilities abound!

There are some colors that wouldn't be represented much because they occur infrequently in food, like purples and blues, so it's not a theory without flaws.  Inspiration comes from funny places, though.  Maybe the window of the candy store, or the gift shop, or even a car dealership will spark an idea.  For today, it will definitely not be coming from the hospital food.