The Ultimate Cardigan

It has been a little while since I last posted, but only because I've been hard at work on my latest knit! It's a little something from Vogue Knitting Magazine I call the Ultimate Cardigan, because it has so many different style elements all in one garment. It has cables on the front; wide ribbing at hem, cuffs, and collar; a belt; a shawl collar; and big buttons! I used a machine washable wool yarn called Washable Ewe by Stitch Nation in the color Zinnia. It took about 6 weeks to complete, and thanks to JoAnn sending me coupons all the time, I was able to purchase all of the yarn and the buttons for less than $30! (Fellow knitters will know that the sky is really the limit when it comes to price ranges in yarn!) So, without further ado, the Ultimate Cardigan!


A closeup of the cables

and finally, on me!

Not the Usual Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last weekend at Whole Foods I picked up a bag of almond flour and was anxious to give it a shot. So today I actually used it in two different things: my breakfast pancakes (yum!), and chocolate chip cookies! I just ate one. and they are SO yummy! They're still soft and delicious, but they have a lovely nutty flavor that tastes so nice with the chocolate chips. I got the recipe here.

Fall Flannel

Time for a cozy new flannel bathrobe! I found some great pink and black buffalo plaid flannel at my local JoAnn Fabric, this Butterick pattern on sale for $0.99, and I was in business. I also bought plain black fabric for the contrasting collar and cuffs. It turned out pretty well, I think, and it sure is cozy! Bring on the fall weather!

One Final Warm Weather Sweater

Before cold weather comes, I quickly made one final warm-weather sweater. It's a short sleeved top with a drapey sort of cowl neck, and it has a side tie at the waist. It was featured on the Knitscene magazine cover of the Winter/Spring 2011 issue, and I've wanted to make it ever since. My mom, a newer knitter, made it as her first sweater, and it was a wild success, so I just had to have one of my own! I also had a Groupon coupon to Sit 'n Knit, a local yarn shop, so I was able to buy the Bebe Cotsoy yarn I used at a discount. It's a very wearable soft 50/50 blend of soy and organic cotton. I love how it turned out! It's soft and drapey and comfortable. It didn't take too long either; I finished it in about three weeks.


The finished product!

The Morse Code Tunic called because of the random dashes and dots! It's made of cotton yarn, but I think I still need to wait until it's low 70's before I can comfortably wear it. Up top the shoulders and sleeves are held together with buttons, which I can undo and wear it in an off-the-shoulder way if I feel like it. I took way too long to finish it, but here it is!

Hurricane? What hurricane?

Well, we made it through Hurricane Irene! We actually had almost no bad weather from it... very little rain, and some wind. We did lose power, though. It was out from about 10:30am Sunday until 4:30am Monday (but it did come back on for about 10 minutes Sunday night at around 10pm). Other areas experienced flooding and severe winds and property damage, and many are still without power, and could be for days. My heart goes out to them, and I feel lucky not to have been in harm's way. Pretty weird... a hurricane and an earthquake within one week! And I wouldn't have noticed either, had we not lost power. During the power outage I plugged my iPod into speakers that don't require power and we listened to an audiobook while I worked on my knitting. I even knit by candle light for a while when it got dark! I finished my Morse code sweater, which I'll post pictures of soon, and I started on a new sweater. Here's a sneak peek...

The purple is much more... purple... in real life!

Check out my brand new second blog!

Just started it... The Home Economist: Liberty Edition. Another facet of the Home Economist :-)


Best. Tomato sauce. Ever.

Well, at least I think it's the best! It's one of my own thrown-together creations. I've made it three times so far, and every time I have it, I crave it even more! It uses few ingredients, but it's incredibly flavorful. Since I don't measure things out when I make it, I'll just estimate:

Melissa's Madly Marvelous Mushroom Marinara (mmmmm.....)

  1. Melt several tbsps of butter in a saucepan. Don't be stingy! If you're feeling fancy, add a splash of white wine.
  2. Add about one chopped garlic clove and stir for a few seconds.
  3. Add a carton of sliced portobello mushrooms. Sautee for several minutes.
  4. Add one can of diced tomatoes. Or more, if you want to make a bigger batch.
  5. Add tarragon. This is important. Not oregano, not basil. About a heaping tsp of tarragon.
  6. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce has reduced a bit; maybe 25 minutes or so.
  7. You shouldn't really need to add any salt because it's already really flavorful, but if you do, go easy.
  8. Serve over pasta with some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. 
Buon appatito!*

*optional step 9: give me credit for the recipe when you make it! (Or blame... whichever!)

A Moment Worth Sharing

"Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere."
 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gypsy Skirt Update

Last year the blog New Dress a Day became really popular (I followed it myself) as a young woman challenged herself, a la Julie & Julia, to take a different thrift-store dress every day and transform it into something she'd actually want to wear. The challenge was one year, and her total budget was $365, or one dollar per dress. With humor and wit she blogged these quick and amazing changes and inspired many others to take to their sewing machines.

Today, I present my own dress re-make.

Here's the before, a waaaay too big dress that had some promise with the gypsy skirt:

I cut off the top, removed the side zipper, took in the sides a couple of inches, and cut off the red top-stitching from the tiers of the skirt. A simple drawstring later, and it's a cute white gypsy skirt, perfect for summer!

The Liberty Garden

A few of my readers will know about the vegetable garden I started last summer at our local Thompsonville Community Garden. Well, this year's growing season is well underway and the garden is really thriving!

This was taken a week or two ago... it's even bigger now!
I've even made a few fresh-picked salads using lettuce and radishes right from the garden. Now that's fresh!

Somehow even veggies you aren't crazy about seem to taste better when you grew them yourself!

I even decided to "accessorize" the garden this year with this flower outdoor lawn ornament made of recycled spoons and forks. Fun!

You know, with all of the negative information out there about today's agricorporate culture (did I just coin a word?) that makes us sicker and poorer, it makes so much sense to grow what you can. You can easily have a beautiful, bountiful organic garden that yields delicious, nutritious, inexpensive food! Even a few pots out on your patio will work. 

Have you ever heard of a Victory garden? During wartime, there were major efforts to encourage people to help out and grow food because food production had fallen so severely. We may be at war (boo!), but we don't face that problem today. Agribusiness is big business, and government subsides, tariffs, and quotas unnaturally distort prices and market signals. You can, in your own quiet way, resist this with what I'm calling the Liberty Garden. Grow what you can, support local family farms by buying from their farm stands, and at the grocery store vote with your dollars by buying things you believe in. 

Happy gardening!

P.S. I just want to add that this is my 100th post! Yay!

Yet ANOTHER Cannibal Sweater

Well, I've done it again, and it wasn't because I tried reading while knitting. I've made the back half of the Morse Tunic several inches too short! Thank goodness I've only knit a few inches of it, but I'll still have to rip out all those stitches to start over and make the longer length. The problem is, when I was casting on my first stitches, I picked the wrong number from the three given. I forgot that the numbers given represented different lengths for the tunic, and not different sizes around, because it's knit from side-to-side and not up-and-down. So now I've got another Cannibal Sweater, and the yarn I rip from the bad one will be knit into the new one. Sigh! :-)

Wish I'd realized sooner... oh well! 

On a Serious Note, Two Thumbs DOWN for Gov. Malloy

Dear Friends,

Normally I keep this blog very light and almost never political, with the exception of a snarky Tweet over there on the right every now and then. But today I got an email from Amazon that affects me and this blog directly, so I thought I'd share. If you're bored already, move on with my blessings, and come back later when I have more fun things to share. If you take a quick look around my blog page here, you'll notice that I've removed the Amazon search box, My Amazon Store, and an ad at the bottom of the page. I was a member of the Amazon Associates Program that allows you to earn commission from Amazon by successfully referring a customer to Amazon via my site here. As of today, however, as a Connecticut resident, our new governor, Dan Malloy signed an unconstitutional and very business unfriendly law into effect that now prohibits me from doing this. Feel free to read the email below from Amazon explaining the situation. 

Anyway, I'm really not happy about this. so today I'm using my blog as my own private soapbox. Don't we have enough problems in CT, Mr. Malloy, without you making things even worse for everyone? I personally had a bad feeling and a bias against him from the very beginning. Back when he was just starting to run for office, before the race started to heat up, we were at a Rock Cats baseball game on the same night. He was going around introducing himself and campaigning, as politicians do. We were volunteering with people from CREC (Capital Region Education Council), and even though he was standing mere feet away form our table for quite a while, sometimes just chatting with his aid, he never came over to talk to us. Talk about a missed opportunity to discuss education! But then there was this:  for part of the game he was seated very close to us, with his aid, watching the game. Then he got up and left, leaving his trash (beverage and whatnot) under his seat. This bugged me. A man who is trying to seem like an Average Joe at a ballgame is too good to throw away his own trash, and leaves it for others to clean up? At that point, I knew nothing about his politics, but was instantly turned off. Obviously he hasn't redeemed himself in my eyes.


Hello,For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of Connecticut residents. Unfortunately, the budget signed by Governor Malloy contains a sales tax provision that compels us to terminate this program for Connecticut-based participants effective immediately. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by Connecticut-based affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state. 
We opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside Connecticut, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action. 
As a result of the new law, contracts with all Connecticut residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program will be terminated today, June 10, 2011. Those Connecticut residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to,MYHABIT.COM or Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before today, June 10, 2011, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. 
You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Connecticut. If you are not currently a resident of Connecticut, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state after June 10, 2011, please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program. 
To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to Connecticut residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from 
We have enjoyed working with you and other Connecticut-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to Connecticut residents. 
Regards,The Amazon Associates Team

Nerd Crafts!

I just came across a fun blog post displaying some very creative quilts displaying all kinds of great geeky lore, from Star Trek to Dr. Who. Check it out!

If quilting isn't your thing, check out these adorable crocheted Star Wars characters!

Warm Weather Knitting

My sister gave me a great knitting book in April for my birthday, Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel. I find that a lot of sweater patterns are rather boxy, over-sized, and otherwise have a lot more ease (extra room) than I want in a sweater. I like my clothes to be fitted, not frumpy! This book solves that problem with 25 stylish, attractive, and fitted patterns that range in difficulty from easy to experienced.

I'm working on a cotton short-sleeve tunic top that I'll be able to wear in warmer weather (although not hot weather, of course!). It's unique in that it's knit side-to-side instead of top-down or bottom up. It uses randomly placed knits and purls that you improvise yourself to create a dash-line Morse code look. I'm using Cascade Yarns "Cotton Club" in a light blue.

What the finished product is supposed to look like

Spot the hidden "M" :-)

Memorial Day Weekend

There are always so many fun parades and festivals going on during Memorial Day Weekend, and this year was no exception! This year I made it to the MA Sheep and Woolcraft Fair and the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton.

The Sheep and Woolcraft Fair had stall after stall of handspun and hand dyed yarns of every kind... all very tempting! There were also copious amounts of roving, or unspun fibers, for the spinners out there (of which I do not count myself). There were, of course, plenty of sheep. They even had good old fashioned sheep-dog competitions (but where was Babe?). My favorite fuzzy friends, though, were the angora rabbits, whose unbelievable fluffy and soft fur is shed for angora yarn. Gosh, they're cute!



Sheepdog Competition
The Paradise City Arts Festival isn't your usual craft fair (there were no dips or olive oils to sample here! boo!) but rather a surprising and large collection of truly fine and creative goods. Here you would see everything from lawn sculptures to handwoven silks to beautiful jewelry. I absolutely loved the jewelry by Ananda Khalsa (and would have bought some if I didn't have a self-imposed spending limit of $20!). I was smitten by Yardbirds, fun animal sculptures in all sizes made from recycled junkyard materials by Richard Kolb (of Louisville, KY!).
Giant Moose


Not sure who created this dog, but I love it!

Pilgrimage to WEBS Annual Tent Sale!

This past weekend WEBS held its annual tent sale, and there was no way I'd miss that! Neither could any other knitter in New England, apparently! It was definitely crowded with lots of happy knitters and crocheters, and I saw more than a few great things I was tempted to load into my shopping bag!

First though, we stopped in town to get breakfast at Bruegger's Bagels (I had smoked salmon and cream cheese on a skinny bagel!), and I saw this knitted graffiti on a parking meter. It says "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL", with a little red heart underneath, which is very cute. This is the kind of graffiti we should see more of!

This is going to knit up really comfy!

At WEBS, I bought a bag of this pleasant light blue (kind of a cornflower blue) cotton yarn for only $2.60 per ball. I'm using it to make this tunic, which I'm calling the Morse Tunic because of the random lines and dashes in it made up of knits and purls, from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel. It'll be a nice warmer-weather top. 

For REAL do-it-yourselfers, these two cute Alpacas were on sale out front! I'm not sure I'll ever get into spinning my own yarn, but these two are adorable! 

Pining for the Highlands

A friend of mine was recently in Scotland, and at my request, she found some nice local Shetland wool for me! I wanted to make something classically Scottish with my undyed cream-colored wool, so I chose a cabled beret. I couldn't bring myself to go all the way with a pompom on top like a traditional Tam O'Shanter; it's a little too much for me. The beret is very reminiscent of handmade Aran sweaters worn by fishermen in Scotland.

Scappa Aran: 100% Scottish Shetland Wool

Work in progress

It's blocking over a dinner plate to get its shape. It's a brighter white in this photo, but it's more ivory in reality
The Finished Product!

Wow, what would I give to be able to trek all over Great Britain in my tweeds and argyle and cable knits! Someday!

A Great Picture-Board Website

I recently came across this great website where you can save all of those great images you come across online. It's like an online art board. Group things however you want , write notes about them, and "pin" them to your board. It's called, and it's really easy to use. You can even "follow" other users (like Twitter) and see what they're pinning, and you can pin anything you like from anyone's board to your own board. It's great for artists, designers, crafters, and basically anyone even slightly inclined to any visual aesthetics. I used to just save images to a file folder on my computer, but this is way more fun! You never know where you'll find inspiration for your next project! They even have a "Pin It" bookmarklet to let you quickly and easily pin things you come across to your board. For the super-organized, create custom boards, like "All Things Plaid" or "Scandinavian Needlework"... whatever your interest.


This was a rather impromptu project, born of the fact that I was running around doing laundry and wanted to listen to my iPod, but didn't have any pockets in my sweatpants, and I needed free hands. I found some scraps of denim from the skirt I made last summer and made this sash belt/fanny-pack/iPod holder. Kind of a cute hip-slung sort of thing, since I didn't want it to resemble a body-builder's back brace. Hence the FannyPod was born. I promise I'll try to come up with a better name. It'll be good for the gym too, which is where I'm off to next.

I knew those plastic rings would come in handy someday!

Added a button just to make sure the iPod doesn't fall out while in use

Finally, the Finished Shrug

OK, so the shrug has been finished over a week now, but I was just too lazy to take a picture of myself in it! Enough is enough... here it is (of course Casper found his way into this picture too!)

Back to the Shrug!

We now return you to our regularly scheduled knitting! After a nice entrelac break, it's back to the shrug, and it's now blocking. Once it's dry I just have to sew the sleeve seams and then knit a ribbed band around the front opening. I'd say it's just in time for spring, but considering it's snowing today, maybe it'll actually be a little early! ;-)

p.s. Happy 3rd birthday to my kitty, Casper! :-)

Spring Flowers

It's a beautiful and sunny day, so I'm sharing some pretty flowers with you. :-)

Entrelac Sneak Peek

When I went to WEBS on Saturday for my "Exploring Entrelac" class, I had the intention of buying some nice multicolored yarn to use on an entrelac cowl. I'm making the pattern featured in Rosemary Drysdale's book. I found some amazing discounted yarn in WEBS' warehouse in the back of the store: Noro Silk Garden (in a discontinued color, hence the discount...otherwise it would have cost about twice as much). It's a rustic-looking silk/kid mohair/ lamb's wool blend that gradually changes between several beautiful colors. Here's what a plain knit-up swatch would look like in the color I chose:

My entrelac skills are pretty solid now, and I can knit along merrily without having to refer to the pattern at this point. It looks really amazing knit up with this yarn! Here's a sneak peek at my upcoming cowl...

I have several cardigans that match the colors in this yarn... Yay for an accessory I'll be able to match with lots of things!

I think the way the colors fleck and blend makes it look like a wearable oil painting. :-)


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