Knitting, Uncategorized

Baby hats here, baby hats there, baby hats everywhere


Now that you’ve seen all the socks I’ve been busy with this past year, you probably are wondering what I do with my leftover sock yarn. Well, I use it for newborn baby hats. 

This is my favorite pattern. You can show off some crazy yarns plus have fun with the top knot. The best part for the baby is that there are no seams or attached pieces to pull off with miniature hands.

The photo on the right shows what the I-cord looks like before shaping the top knot. You can make a sort I-cord to form a single loop, or go crazy with three loops, or maybe even a tassle.

The photo below shows what it looks like using two different yarn colors. I do recommend staying with like type yarns but playing with color, a lot.

These nifty hats have gone to Pittsburgh, PA; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; Gig Harbor, WA; Apex, NC.



Tracy family socks 2010

Originally uploaded by Knitting In The Woods

Each year I knit socks for everyone in the family. This is sometimes quite a challenge since there are not many patterns for children’s socks. This year I did Mom and daughter’s socks using the same yarn. I used Hand Dyed Sock Yarn, ‘Denali’ in Teal. For Papa, I used Plymouth ‘Happy Feet DK’ in Camo. And for the young man who is growing like a weed and not likely to stop for some time now, I used Plymouth “Encore Sock’, DK weight color 7789. Papa and son’s pattern came from Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. There are great hints and tips in this book plus how to work with different weight yarns and how they affect the resulting size. I’ve used it for 3 years now. It is my Go To sock knitting book.
As a side note, the Denali yarn was beautiful to knit up, Happy Feet is a very sturdy yarn (excellent choice for men), and Encore Sock knit up soft and supple and quick.

Book Reviews

Dark of the Moon by John Sandford


 Dark of the Moon by John Sandford is the latest book my husband and I have read by this dynamic author. He is one of our favorite authors. Be aware that his books can be a bit violent. Because of that I put him in the ‘guy book’ category. Basically we alternate serious, dynamic, ‘guy books’ with lighter cozies or more humorous authors. Cozies are books that take place in locations that are considered familiar, comfortable, or safe. Something like Agatha Christie’s. Other ‘guy book’ favorites include Clive Cussler, David Hosp, Robert B. Parker, William Kent Krueger, etc.

I have trouble putting Nevada Barr and Dana Stabanow in either category. They both set their mysteries in awesome panoramic outdoor wonder worlds. And although these locations can be considered beautiful, I can’t call them safe or comfortable. So, to me, they’re serious mysteries but not rock’em, sock’em types. In the cozy or humorous category, some of our favorites include Janet Evanovich, Diane Mott Davidson, Nancy Bell, Joanna Fluke, and Charlaine Harris.

Getting back to Dark of the Moon, it’s the first book with Virgil Flowers playing the hero. Lucas Davenport (Sandford’s oft protagonist) only appears via phone conversations. Virgil is considered a ‘sensitive’ cop with writing, fishing, and skirt chasing skills. And although it’s a relief to see Sandford working with a different character, it’s easy to see Virgil has a way to go to be as rich and diverse a hero as Lucas is. With that said during the second half of the book things really pick up. There’s a ton of action and overlapping plot developments. Virgil’s job is to solve a series of bazaar murders based on events that occurred over 20 years ago. The victims either played a roll in the event or helped cover up the unfortunate results. In every chapter new information sends Virgil and the audience in new directions. I highly recommend this book and give it a 4 ½ star review out of 5.

On a side note, we were condo shopping in St. Paul Minnesota last spring and oddly enough did a walk through on a unit that Sandford used as a place to write away from home. In my mind, I pictured yellow sticky notes all across the wall in the living room as he developed his plots. On breaks I also imagined him having a cup of coffee or tea on the balcony with it’s privacy screen overlooking Mears Park. Unfortunately the condo was a bit small for all our paraphernalia, so we passed on it as a viable option.

See for information on his current and future releases. An added bonus on this website includes a page of links listing mystery and thriller authors many of which are our favorites too. Enjoy!


Rehab a Doll House

The latest project that falls within the purview of down-sizing is finding new life for my daughters’ Fisher Price Play Family House. When we dug it out of the toy box, it was clear it had seen better days. On the other hand, it was also clear that it had been well loved.

After a discussion with my daughter who was looking into doll house options for her 3 year old, we decided that the play family house was a good choice. However, it was in need of a serious rehab effort. If you are not familiar with this doll house, the body of the house is yellow plastic with masonite floors. The siding and interior walls are papered with homey scenes. Most of these houses have lost a good deal of the wallpaper as was the case with ours. So new ‘siding’ was in order. I decided to recover the exterior and add detail with stickers:

1. I went on a search to find Contact paper to cover the exterior. I was concerned that it would be hard to find since it had been years since I last bought some. I started at our local home builder stores without success. Then on a whim, I went to Target where I happily located a display with several designs. There I located a pattern that looked like granite which would be a good background for decorating.
2. Next I had to go sticker shopping. This is not as easy as it used to be. 15 or 20 years ago it was all the rage to collect any number of stickers and put them in albums. I know because my youngest daughter did just that. I haven’t seen the same kind of mania recently but kids are frequently incorporating stickers into their art designs. Fortunately I found some cute stickers that would add some pizzazz: ivy groupings to add landscaping, sparkly flowers to nestle in the ivy, and iridescent butterflies to fly around the flowers.
3. The next step was the hardest, getting off the partially torn wallpaper. I tried olive oil (apply and let sit over night), goop off, sand paper, and scraping. None were really fantastic, but olive oil was one of the best especially a week later after it had sat a while (so be patient). My biggest recommendation is to iteratively use olive oil, then scrape, then repeat. Then move to sand paper and back to olive oil and scraping. Finish with Dawn or other good grease fighting soap and scrape off the last bit of goo. Although wallpaper remover might do the trick, I do not recommend it unless you plan to remove all the wallpaper otherwise you could loose more coverings that you want.
4. After the house was completely dry, I glued down all loose wallpaper that was still in good condition.
5. Then working with a matt knife or small box cutter and a wide ruler (such as those used in quilting so you can be sure you’re cutting perpendicular edges), starting from the bottom or ground and working up, I measured and cut out the exterior sides. Contact paper is great for this because there’s a grid on the reverse side making easy work of measuring and straight cutting. Then holding the paper up to the house, I used my fingers to crease the paper under the eaves at each end. Using this crease-line as a guide made cutting around the roof line easy work. Next I measured and marked the dormers and used the same crease technique for the eaves. Finally, I temporarily taped the Contact paper to the sides then turned the play house over and traced the outline of windows and doorways. I cut the windows a little wider than the template so they wouldn’t get rubbed on the edges. Finally, I pulled the backing away from the bottom 2 inches, placed them on the house, and worked my way up to the roof.
6. Decorating was the next step, I added ivy stickers to the bottom corners and a longer ivy sticker to the middle under the roof. I decided to let my granddaughter, Eleanor, have fun with the butterfly and flower stickers and put them where she wanted.

All in all, this project was a phenomenal success. Lessons Learned: it would look better with all exterior walls the same, but time was essential so it would be ready by Christmas.
I do have to report, that she loved it! The first thing she did was to add some butterflies, then arrange the furniture and people. Now all we have to do is set up rules for who gets to play with it (she or her brother) when and how.

Holidays, Retirement, Travel

Holiday Letter


This year we officially entered the real estate market with mixed emotions and results. Needless to say, the market was not cooperative and we are still Normal people for a while longer. That is, we live in Normal, IL. I can’t tell you how many open houses we’ve had. Each one required a certain level of mayhem and pandemonium during the preparation.  In anticipation of one such event, I did a quick run through of the upstairs rooms. These are rooms I don’t normally visit since they are now devoid of human habitation and the associated detritus. On this occasion, I looked out the window and found a sizeable fish on the roof. Well, I says to myself, that’s a pretty athletic fish (imagining he had jumped/flew to the roof from the lake)! Obviously that couldn’t be the case, but that crow or hawk was pretty athletic themselves to have carried off the lift. Fortunately, it was dried up and not stinky anymore. So I cheerily opened the window and removed the carcass.  

 We continue to comb through our ‘treasures’ in hopes of finding new and appreciative homes for them. We’ve had quite a bit of good luck with Craigslist and Freecycle and have even navigated around several scam attempts. The latest to go was our beautiful 9 foot lighted Christmas tree (used only twice, took a whole week to decorate each time!) to a young woman who’s never had one of her own before. We’re still looking for a home for our Civil War era walnut wardrobe with fantastic detail (including ivory keyholes). Know anyone?

 Our biggest success was the distribution of over 66 vintage glass lamp shades. This was my husband’s manic collection from over 40 years of garage sales. It started as a necessity to be able to replace lamp shades at the apartments we owned and rented out. But over the years it got out of hand. In order to find new homes for these, we spent several days running around our town (Old House Society, Habitat for Humanity warehouse, etc.).  Then we did the same thing in Minneapolis with better results. All the lamp shades now reside at Architectural Antiques (a very neat place to find unusual architectural features for your home or garden). Basically we traded them ‘in kind’ and now have a huge credit with which to play.

Our health is reasonably good for a couple of old f…s. Ray’s had a knee replacement, a broken ankle (yes, the blind guy was riding his bike), and ended up with a big toe joint replacement. I’m doing pretty good, going to Zumba Gold, swim and yoga when I can, quilt and knit, and otherwise make weak attempts at drawing and writing.

This spring we’re going to try a retirement village in Mesa, Arizona for a couple months. I have mixed emotions about it, but I am very excited about exploring a part of the country I have only passed through for an educational conference. On my list to see so far are the Petrified Forrest, Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon.

Best wishes to you and those close to you for the New Year.

… June