Monthly Archives: March 2016

Review: Refined Knits

Review: Refined Knits post image

2016-02-18 002

First, the facts:

Title: Refined Knits

Author: Jennifer Wood

Published by: Interweave Press, 2016

Pages: 159

Type: Women’s clothing


Knitting with Grace
Enduring Cables
Timeless Lace
Elegant Aran Lace

KS: Refined Knits

The In-Depth Look:

Elegance is the name of the game in this collection of classic knitwear.

Mostly sweaters, but with some accessories, these patterns aren’t trying to be “edgy” and “new,” but instead are focusing on refining shapes that are already familiar.

The author writes, “Cables and lace are special enough by themselves, but there is something wondrous in combining the two-like uniting strength and grace. I absolutely love playing with stitch patterns, rearranting, adding a lace stitch here, cable there until it becomes just right. Cabling and knitting lace are the two techniques that I concentrated on for this book. … Once you begin knitting these beautiful, contemporary pieces based on old techniques, you will love the old-style knitting rhythm and the modern results.”

Using cables and lace as her playground, the author dresses up pullovers and cardigans to be something new, something sophisticated. There are eleven sweaters here, but also several shawls, a hat, and a pair of mitts. The shapes are graceful and elegant–more fitted than not, though nothing is skin tight or seeming difficult to wear.

As you’d expect from a good knitting book, there are schematics and charts. There are good pictures of details, as well as the more atmospheric, arty kind of shots.

What can I say? It’s classy.

You can get your own copy at or at your local shop.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Classy

Decluttering: Books

Books are the number one hardest thing for me to get rid of. I thought it would be yarn or fiber arts related goods, but selling my drum carder taught me that I’m just fine without it. Books though. For more than half my life books have been my identity–I was a reader, a writer– it was mandataory that I have a large book collection.

Our bookshelves were messy
Our bookshelves were messy

Because of that, it took me a few weeks after purging my clothes to make it over to my bookshelves. That’s right, shelves. I have one in the bedroom, two in the living room, and my husband has three in his office. (I didn’t touch his books, and he flat out refused to get rid of them on his own. He even rescued a few volumes from my discard pile.)

Yes, that is a doorknob and a half-knit sock you see.
And the tall one had become a place to keep things out of toddler’s reach.

I had two rules. in discarding.
1. I had to really love the book, and want to reread it and / or use it in future.
2. If I loved it, but had the eBook, I had to get rid of the paper copy.

For whatever reason, I didn't think this would be such a huge job when I started...
All of my books sorted into piles

Out of about 300 books, I only ended up keeping 100, most of which fit on the one bookshelf in the bedroom. The rest are all art/business related books, so they will live in the studio, and even then, there are only about a dozen. Most of the books I am gettind rid of are old books I either couldn’t or didn’t want to sell back to the college bookstore. For some reason, when I was in college, I wanted to keep all of my English-major related books.

He's been very helpful through this whole clutter culling process, so much so that I've accidentally thrown away some important thing Felix decided we didn't need anymore.
Felix is helping sort books.

I haven’t cracked a single one of them in the five years since I graduated. Obviously, I’m over it.

Not surprisingly, the books I kept were by the authors I love the most, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Thomas Hardy, The Brontes, etc. The rest are about gardening and farming–all of the things that make me dream and give me joy.

Secret, most of the discards are still in boxes on my back porch as I slowly find places to donate them.
The Final Sort. The keepers in the front, the discards in the back

One surprise was that I kept only two knitting books. I am discarding some gorgeous pattern books (interested in snatching one up? Stay tuned, I’ll have them up for grabs in a few days), because I almost always knit from indie patterns on ravelry. Downloading patterns takes up so much less space.

Now I have all of my books in one place, organized by author and subject, and easy to find.

There are roughly 60 books here. Most of the young adult books and the Harry Potter books went to live in the kids' room.
The end product

I expected to me be sad to see so many volumes go, but I feel lighter for having pared down my collection to only my favorite books. And, next time we move, we’ll have 200 fewer books to haul.

What are the books you can’t live without?

PS, You might have noticed that I didn’t blog about purging my closet. It’s always been easy for me to get rid of clothes, I have little emotional attachment to most garments, and generally only buy what I need to get by for awhile. I would like to be more intentional about what I bring into my collection in the future, but being in the middle of a pregnancy, clothes only cross my mind when I complain about how all my maternity pants are still too big, and all of my regular pants are way too small.

Productive Holiday Weekend

I just love weekends when we can get plenty accomplished – even if it’s not remotely close to our entire list!



First campfire of the year? Check! As you can tell from Oona’s face, marshmallows were most certainly toasted and enjoyed.


Saturday was a whirlwind of gardening, rock moving, cleaning, egg-coloring, and watching The Great British Bake-Off.










I’m rather happy about how the new duck enclosure is coming along. We’ve got their house in the corner of the front garden, with room on the one side waiting for their little pool to be placed in. I started bringing rocks up from the back field to surround the pool and give them a bit of a ramp to get in it. Once they are feathered out and ready to go out there I’ll cover the entire top of the pen with bird netting for some extra protection. Foxes here seem to prefer duck dinner to anything else, and they’re certainly not deterred by the presence of dogs.


As for the duckies themselves, I swear they are 5 times bigger every ten minutes. Their tails are starting to feather, and I hope the rest is soon to follow; I’m going to need that big tub in a few weeks when the chicks get here!


Tagged: Farm, Garden, Pets

7 a.m. ferry …


The Islander – August 2005 – Martha’s Vineyard


Weekly Challenge: Half-Light…

The prompt is tosee if you can capture the beauty of morning or evening half-light in your corner of the globe.


These photos of sunset were taken at a friend’s house on Martha’s Vineyard.  Supper on a screened in porch overlooking Vineyard Sound, followed by the most dramatic and beautiful sunset I’d ever seen.  Perfect end to a perfect evening.

It started like this …


And then exploded into this.



Spring Farm Update

It’s the busiest time of year here, farming-wise. We still have school full-time, and on top of that seedlings have been started and need tending-to, garden beds are needing turning and deep-mulching, hooves need trimming, coops need freshening, fences need mending.

Plus we got a few ducklings! And 18 chicks will be delivered in April!

Somewhere in between all that I’m trying (and usually failing) to keep the house clean, keep everyone fed, and knit.


We also just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. We woke up to rainbow garlands all over the house, along with little paper pots of gold, and a banner covered with shamrocks (we got married on St. Patrick’s Day).  We have the best kids.  Our friend Kim came for dinner, Maddie made festive cupcakes, and we had a wonderful evening.





We’ve called them Bourbon, Waddles, Dipper, and Flapjack.


I even got my Cormo/Mohair skeins dyed pink.  They came out perfect, I think. There’s some subtle variegation going on that doesn’t really come across in the photos, but it’s going to make a lovely throw blanket.


Little miss Poppet likes it, too. She kept trying to roll in it and steal it.


Last but certainly not least, we got a nice, fresh delivery of hay! It might be expensive, but it makes me feel so happy to see so much put aside for the flock. This should get us through until fall.

Today I’ll be cleaning all day, and tomorrow we’ll be spending outside getting the gardens finished for seeding before we color our eggs. Much to be done!

Tagged: Farm, Garden, Knitting, Pets

Easter 2016 …


Cornbread Recipe

I've got another fun illustration for you all!  This one is a really nice cornbread recipe I made last Thanksgiving.  I was pleased with the results and will be making it again. Next time, for added texture, I might add canned or fresh cooked corn to it for a bit more added texture and cut a bit of the liquid.

Either way process was interesting for this one.  I started back in November with a little sketch I did by the recipe itself... and finally got the time to finish it!


Lilies …




Just Kids …