Miss Gioia

Monday, August 24, 2009

Felted Flower

Little felted flower pin from Knitty.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bib Swap

When I get into a crafting rut, I tend to make bibs. Lots of bibs. They are simple, which in my world means "can be done while mindlessly watching television." But they also can be great canvases for creativity. Lately I used the bib pattern to test out some of the antique piping I bought at the Paris flea market. Pretty nice with a red monogram and checked lining.

I have been playing around with swap-bot lately, and I decided it was time for me to host a swap of my own. Would you like to join? The head on over to sign up before May 15. Once partners are assigned, you will have three weeks to work on your bib and put it in the mail (deadline is June 6). You can sew, knit or crochet - whatever works for you! I hope people have fun with this. See you at swap-bot.

Free bib resources

Sewing patterns:
Chickpea Sewing Studio Pattern
Nested bib pattern
I use version B from this site for most of my bibs. I added seam allowances to the pattern so I could use two fabrics, turn and top stitch.

Knitting patterns:
Simple baby bib
Cable-edged bib
Intarsia Bib pattern

Crochet patterns:
Coats and Clark pattern
Super cute US flag bib

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Monday, March 2, 2009

A Humble Dishcloth

I signed up for a simple dishcloth swap recently. Again, I dug into stash for this project. The yarn is 50% hemp/50% cotton, which makes it ideal for scrubbing dishes. The hemp knit fabric gets softer as you wash it. Some say that it wears very similar to linen.

I used the Ballband Dishcloth pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting. The pattern calls for two colors to show off the slipped stitches, but I think it looks lovely in monochrome ecru.

I am traveling to Europe this week for work. I hope to pick up some nice soap there to send along with this humble dishcloth to my swap partner in America.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Sweater Day

It was an unusually cold day in Taipei, so we broke out the sweater I made for Miss G a while back. It is cotton, not wool, but even cotton is too hot for most Taiwan days.

I love the bright yellow/ orange color against Gioia's skin. I am proud of this handknit. It was a good one.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Flower Washcloth

Flower washcloth from Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick. Made with cotton chenille from the stash on 4.0 mm double pointed needles. A very quick and easy project. I made most of this on a high-speed train ride to and from Tainan this week.

I need to knit only from stash for a while. My stash is so large that it probably will take me a loooong while to make a noticeable dent. Buying more yarn when I have a cupboard full is silly, methinks.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Myrrh - Vintage Velvet

Louise's backtack packages have arrived! I can now tell you about my gifts. The first was Myrrh, a special gift for the recipient. For this one, I knit the Vintage Velvet pattern from Scarf Style. The pattern calls for 5 balls of Muench Touch Me, which had put me off from making it before now - very pricey. The chenille was difficult to work with, especially when a row or two had to be frogged. But it was well worth the effort (and the expense). The finished scarf looks very professional. One cannot even tell it was handknit. Not that looking handknit is bad, but.... I am not sure if any other yarn would yield the same results after felting, so any future versions will have to be made with the same yarn.

The scarf took about three weeks to finish, which kind of put me behind schedule with the other two items. But I was pleased with the end result and think I will make more for future gifts.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sneaky Peaky

Myrrh is done.
Gold is nearly done.
This weekend is for Frankincense.

My backtack is on track.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pinafore in Action

I made this little pinafore dress for G in early 2007, which, as it turns out, was before she was even born. I made the 2-3 year old size, but she can wear it now at 17 months because she is so tall for her age.

This is undoubtedly one of the best things I have ever knit. I am so pleased. The style is classic and flattering, but the denim material is strong enough for rough play. The only issue is that the silk ribbon flowers on the front make washing difficult. I think I am going to either hand wash it or wash it on the delicate cycle in the machine.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


The yarn for one of my three Backtack projects has arrived. I ordered the yarn only after I found out my partner's color preferences (hi Louise!) Which was a bit of a risk because the finished projects - this one included - have to be in the mail at the end of November. Not much time, especially if the package got lost on its way to Taiwan. But it arrived! So now I have to just cast on and get knitting.

What is Backtack, you say? Well, it is a swap. The idea is that you make three items for a known recipient along these themes:
Gold - Something sparkly
Frankincense - Something with a sensory aspect (e.g., smell, taste)
Myrrh - Something special for the recipient
This yarn will become my myrrh. Something special. For Louise.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Toasty Topper

Toasty topper for our trip to Istanbul: done. Chances that Gioia will actually let it stay on her head for longer than two minutes: slim to none.

Perhaps she will tolerate it better when it is not 95 degrees outside. Perhaps.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still Knitting

Only two thirds of the way through the red scarf. Must.. get.. cracking... I hope to finish it up on my trip to the United States next week. If I do, then I can mail it in country instead of trusting it to the Taiwan postal system. Which is not so good at delivering things, especially my magazines.

I am using the Irish Hiking Scarf pattern, and I am liking it a LOT. It looks much more complicated than it is. Just slow going, but that is more my fault (and hot Taipei's fault) than the pattern's. I am using yarn that has been in my stash for years - Berroco's Uxbridge tweed - with size 8 circular needles.

Nice little project for an even nicer cause. I am ready to finish the scarf though, so I can move on to fall sewing for kiddo. Or maybe a new dolly.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Shout Out for the Red Scarf Project

Do you know about the Red Scarf project? Sponsored by the Orphan Foundation of America, the project accepts donations of handmade scarves and sends them to college students who have grown up in the US foster care system as part of a Valentine's Day package.

This will be my third year of participating in the program. My last red scarf was knit in December 2006. When I got my needles out last Christmas to make a third scarf, I found out they had moved the deadline to early fall and I HAD MISSED IT. I was very bummed out. But the deadline was moved up because OFA received 15,000 scarves the previous year. So many, in fact, that it seemed to have overwhelmed their volunteer staff who sort and package the scarves. How excellent is that?

There are so many kids in the world who don't have families. It is hard for those of us with Moms and Dads and daughters who giggle when you tickle their bellies to imagine, but it is true. Participating in this program is is a way for me to connect - ever so slightly - with someone who is overcoming great odds. Someone working to get a college degree and better him or herself without the support of a family. Hopefully this one little scarf will send a message to the recipient that I think he or she is fabulous and can achieve so very much.

If you would like to make a scarf, here are the details. Apparently it is quality over quantity now, given the love in the knitting community these days, so make it a good one. Also, if you post about the Red Scarf Project on your blog or somewhere equally visible, you may win a prize thanks to Scout.

Tomorrow I will announce the winner and prize of my own little contest. Yes, there indeed was a winner....so check back.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Baby Bell Bottoms

In the 11th hour before we leave for China, I managed to finish one more project. These pants were started back in the fall. My interest in knitting has been touch and go lately, though, so they sat unfinished in a plastic bag for the longest time.

The pattern is available here (for free). This is the 18 month size, knit on size 6 straights and circulars with KnitPicks cotton.

Very nice pattern, very cute pants. Now I just have to go pick up the little baby bottom to go in them.

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Friday, November 16, 2007


It seems that I do, indeed, have a problem. We have carried my *sizeable* yarn stash though two moves now. Each time, I try to pare it down, to remove the skeins that I know will never be knit. Yet I still have enough materials to clothe a small army.

But these skeins, these balls of angora and sari silk, are so lovely. It hurts me to give them away. Surely one day I will work through it all, right?

We bought this great antique pharmacy chest in Beijing. It is a massive piece of furniture, so big that it had to be craned up the side of our new apartment building and brought in through the window.

The chest has tons of little draws with compartments inside - to separate the herbs from the roots in Chinese medicine you see. Except we have to herbs, no roots. All we have is a tremendous pile of yarn.

And so, my friends, if you come to visit, you will not see my towering pile o' yarn. It will all be safely hidden away, disguised as Chinese powders and potions. But if you peek inside...


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Child's Placket Sweater

Chocolate is modeling a new baby sweater knit from a pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The original pattern was published with so many errors that they released a full corrected version online.

I used Knitpicks' Shine Worsted yarn in a luscious pumpkin orange (really 23809 "sunflower"). Alas, the pictures here do not quite do the color justice. This is a size 1-2 years, knit on size seven circulars and DPNs. I wound up using 3.5 balls, instead of 3, so it may be a little big. Looks proportional, though, so it should fit Miss G at some point in her life.

Overall, very cute. Raglan sleeves are easy-peasy. Who knew?

It is a good thing that Chocolate is an excellent sport about all of this modeling. Some boys get quite touchy about having their picture taken.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Bad News Bears

I was all excited about packaging up my blanket this week. I tossed it in the wash in preparation, as I have done many times before with these blankets, then took it out to put in the dryer. And then I noticed new, funny little bumps all over the blanket. Weird, I thought. Well, it should straighten out in the dryer.

Hmmm no. It seems that I forgot that our new super duper washer was bought for the express purpose of boiling diapers. And that it is normally set to wash on warm-hot. Which is not so good for cotton chenille. Some threads shrunk in and tightened the weave, but some pieces were left out of the action. They now stick out all over both sides of the blanket like spines on a calcium deficient porcupine.

Long story -> short: I ruined my blanket. The one for poor AIDS babies in Africa. The one that needs to be in the US by June 15. The one that took a month to make.

Before it looked like a calm oasis of cotton, now it looks like a cat scratching pad. For a while, I tried to convince myself that it would be OK if I just wove in all of the ends sticking out back into the blanket, but as you would expect, it didn't really work.

For some reason, I am pretty zen about the experience. After all, it was my own damn fault. I even started a new blanket in hopes of finishing by the deadline. But in the deep recesses of my mind, I know that is just wishful thinking.



Monday, May 28, 2007

Blanket the World

During the eight hours we spent on the road this past weekend, I managed to finish the blanket* I have been working on all month. For some reason, this one took longer to complete than normal. I usually knit on planes as I travel around, but lately I have taken to just staring off into space or sleeping. Gotta snap outta that habit.

I have knit this particular blanket many times. It is a modified version of the "Building Blocks" baby blanket from the Yarn Girls' Guide to Kids Knits. I used Mystical Creations' hand-dyed chenille yarn, double stranded, knit on long size 11 circular needles. I really like this pattern for baby gifts. It is super quick (usually) because the yarn is so big and bulky, and the yarn is quite elegant - for chenille anyway. I often combine a variegated color with a solid, like in this version, for a really cool mottled effect. Also, the MC yarn is much cheaper than the Crystal Palace called for in the pattern. Bonus.

Has anyone else noticed that the Yarn Girls' pattern for this blanket is suspiciously similar to the "Basketweave Blanket" pattern in Falick and Nicholas' Knitting for Baby, which was published two years earlier? Seems weird to me that the second book did not even reference the first, which is pretty well known and hard to ignore. Creative license, maybe, but what about some respect? To be fair, I have knit the Basketweave Blanket too - on size 4 needles - and Holy Moley did it take a long time! I went right back to fat yarn and big needles for baby blanket gifts after that experience.

This time, I didn't start this blanket with a recipient in mind. I wasn't quite sure who needed this one or why, but I just assumed I would figure it out. Then last week, I was listening (and knitting) to the Cast-on podcast on a plane back from Shanghai. I heard Ms. Dayne mention the Casting on for Kenya project. Some nice people are collecting hand-knit blankets to take to children living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Well, I thought to the blanket, that is who you are for. Thanks for letting me know.

*What's that you say? Who cares about the stoopid knitting? Tell us about your roadtrip to the World Heritage sites? Ahhh, yes. Patience, grasshopper. Patience.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Remember this knitted pinafore from a while ago? I finally got around to finishing the embroidery on the dark stripe today.

Now this dress will have to be handwashed, but it is a small price to pay because the embroidery makes it really special.

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

More Bibs, Please

Who knew that bibs were the perfect airplane knitting? Well, besides socks, of course.

I'm diggin' the stripes these days, can you tell?

This pattern is from Mason Dixon Knitting, made from leftover Denin yarn. When I say leftover, I mean that I barely made it through the last row. One strap is a row shorter than the other, in fact, but you cannot REALLY tell unless you know. And now you all do.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

More 1824

Yep. Love this yarn. Only two balls left in the stash. Oh so very sad.

Petal bib from One Skein by Leigh Radford. Modeled by Chocolate, Chris' bear. Knit on size 6 needles with Mission Falls 1824 cotton yarn. A very cute pattern. I think this will become a staple baby gift: useful, unusual and only half a day to make.

A word about Chocolate - I got him for Chris at a cheesy mall in the Detroit suburbs. I was on a business trip, and as I made my way back to Chicago, I had Chocolate sticking out of my backpack. An elderly man stopped me to say "Oh is that for a little boy back home?" I answered - "Why, yes. For my husband."

We love Chocolate. He will be one of the adult stuffies, we think. You see, Miss G will have her dolls, Chris has his stuffed animals, and I have my babies too. Only fair?


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oh Joelle, You Have Done Me Wrong

This week I knit the cotton baby hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It was a really quick knit and I loved the yarn called for in the pattern - Mission Falls 1824 cotton.

There is a big fat error in the pattern, though, and I didn't discover it until the very end. As I finished the I-cord and began to weave it through the eyelet holes, I was astounded to find that there were an odd number of holes where there should have been an even number. Other people have discovered the same issue, but I was not smart enough to remember before I cast on. I don't have the heart to re-knit the whole hat. But I know it will always bug me, that extra hole under the bow.

For your next book, dearest Joelle, please hire a new technical editor. Your designs are too stylish to be marred by errors like these.


Sunday, March 4, 2007


Whoo ... It has been all China, all the time 'round here, hasn't it? Don't worry, I have been crafting away in the background. Over Chinese New Year, I finished the pinafore. It definitely needs some silk ribbon embroidered flowers on the front - white daisies with yellow centers, I think.

To recap, this is the denim pinafore from Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Little Cherubs knit with Denim-it yarn from Elann.

Now, off to order the silk ribbon!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cherished Babies

Buttons, finally! I finished this little sweater last August during our trip to Egypt, but I couldn't find buttons. For a while, I was searching for the right buttons, even ordering some from the internet (alas, too small). Finally, I settled for ANY buttons I could find here in Beijing.

Originally, I thought this would be a sweater for Miss G, but I think I will instead give it to an orphanage. This is a 6-9 months size and, although I knit at the proper gague, it sure looks small. Sizing has me stumped, really, because I am not sure how big our daughter will be when we pick her up. From what I read, people's experiences vary from 15 pounds at gotcha day to a whopping 24 pounds. These are all stories from people who requested babies, mind you. How do you plan for that?

So this little sweater will go to a place where it is needed and where surely it will fit someone. For those who are interested, this is the Chunky Knit Cardigan pattern from Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Cherished Babies knit with a cotton/ wool blend yarn from Knitpicks.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Denim Pinafore

Pinafores have always seemed so romantic to me. For little girls, of course. I would look ridiculous in one. But if you are a lady of three, you should wear a pinafore as often as possible.

Here is a WIP shot of a denim version from Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Little Cherubs. I began knitting this project last Sunday, and I am astonished to be almost up to the armhole decreases on the first side. All that progress was made despite the fact that I forgot to bring an extra ball of yarn on my trip to Hong Kong this week. Of course I ran out and had nothing to do on the 3.5 hour trip back to Beijing.

The pattern calls for six balls of denim yarn for the 2-3 year old size (smallest one), but I have 5 balls of one color and one ball of a darker color. I have decided to try inserting a darker stripe across the chest and later adding some silk ribbon daisies on the front. Really a design feature and not a cheap-o strategy, right?


Monday, January 15, 2007

Preemie hat #1

For real, y'all.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hat for Which Baby?

One of my friends here in Beijing asked if I would be willing to knit some preemie hats for a local orphanage in ShunYi. I set to work with some stash yarn, but quickly realized that an angora cap is probably neither practical nor preferred for use on babies. Turns out it looks pretty cute on one of my resident babies, though. All she needs is a red velour/ white fake fur outfit so she can be a Christmas dolly.

Don't worry, I have cast on for another hat with more practical yarn.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Red Scarf Project

The house is much quieter today. The 'rents have gone home, and Chris is sick on the couch. I have been sewing on my new serger all day - more or less successfully. It took me three hours to figure out how to thread the machine, only succeeding after I broke down and read the manual...

The results of today's sewing efforts will be revealed in a later post, however. Today's picture is of an item recently knit for the Orphan Foundation of America's 2007 Red Scarf Project. These scarves will be part of a Valentine's Day care package for former foster care students who are now in college in the United States. I made one last year too; perhaps this can be my new holiday tradition.

This year's red scarf was knit with a wool and (yikes!) acrylic blend that I picked up in Thailand as emergency yarn. In an attempt to create a unisex scarf, I used a simple moss stitch pattern. The final scarf was around 70 inches long. As an aside, I used my glass needles from Namaste for this project, and they were super smooth. Aside from fears of being turned back by airport security screeners, I really enjoyed these needles. They are very pretty and the scarf was done in less than a week - with frequent Christmas interruptions too.