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It’s a wonderful life…

Because I get to see the mess created by five year old hands learning their way around the kitchen.



Because of homemade ciabatta bread croutons, baked with olive oil and kosher salt.


And some freshly shaved parmesan never hurt matters, either.


Because of little girls who spend twenty minutes fashioning the perfect heart-shaped biscuit for their daddy.


Because of the patina on the baking sheet that has faithfully seen us through every holiday, every good time and bad time.

Because my children are learning to do things they can someday teach their own children.

Who will, of course, live with me. Because I said so.


Because a two year old in a footie sleeper and a five year old in a Cleopatra Halloween costume can have the best "Valemtime's Day ever" with their very own mama in their very own kitchen.

Because I can see the years slipping through my hands with every blink, and because I have a camera to document the moments.


Because plastic cups are just as good as fancy biscuit cutters.

Because the jumbly, misshapen ones taste better than the perfectly round ones when you see the pride on your baby's face.


Because even though my Valemtime's Day wasn't full of jewelry and trips to Paris, it was full of love and good food.

And hello? There were warm homemade biscuits at my Valemtime's Day. Beat that with a stick.


And you? Did anything special happen to you on Valemtime's Day?

Some things you may not know.

Here are some things you may not know.

1. I get very freckly in the summer time, despite my diligent application of SPF. This is very important information, please write it down.


2. I do things last minute. I just got back from an 8:00 pm shopping trip to Target to purchase Valentine's Day cards for my children's classes. If the calendar is to be believed, that means I had four hours left before it was actually Valentine's Day. That could be an improvement over last year's performance.

3. I have a son. There's a lot of talk about girls 'round these parts, what with the logo you see in the upper left corner and all. But I do have a son who is tall and handsome with blonde hair and blue eyes.


4. My son will probably be at least 6'7" when he grows up. Everyone will want him to play sports.

5. I don't really like sports. I like knitting and other safe hobbies in which serious injury is unlikely. Hobbies like reading and baking molten chocolate cakes.  I think I will force my son to work for the family yarn business and become a pastry chef on the side.

Yes, that is what I will do. And he will live at home with me forever and clean the bathrooms and bake for me and rinse the yarn down at the studio.

6.  Both of my daughters have brown eyes. Sisters are the sweetest thing you've ever seen in your life, bar none. I recommend getting yourself a pair of sisters, if possible.


This is a toddler sister (whose arms bear the marks of her passion, drawing) entertaining a baby sister.  Better than Bravo reality TV, I'm telling you. It's better than The Real Housewives of Orange County, better than Top Chef, better than Project Runway.

7. My children all have different colored hair. Blonde, auburn, dark brown.  My mom finds this very remarkable and comments on it often.  My mom loves her grandbabies. I need some grandbabies, come to think of it.

8. This child will not let me brush her hair.  I swear she believes I am lighting her head on fire when I try to gently comb or brush it.  I've tried detanglers of every kind. It's not even so much the tangles, she just hates the feel of anything being done to her head. Any tips?


9. Soon, you will see a new blog design here at The Yarnista. It will have a wider center column so I can post larger pictures. My designer is a saint, she takes all of my scatterbrained ideas and makes a cohesive look out of them. And then she puts up with my endless, "What about this? How about that?" stuff that designers usually hate.

10. I am cooking dinner for the hubs tomorrow night. Here is the menu he's requested:

-- Steak

-- Sauteed mushrooms

-- Homemade biscuits

-- Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons

-- Bacon wrapped scallops

-- Peach cobbler

Certainly not the most cohesive menu. Certainly not the "I'll just whip up a chocolate dessert" kind of menu I was initially thinking of. But we've been together for 11 years and I love him and he deserves it. I did have to throw in the Caesar salad, because left to his own devices, he would never touch anything green, ever ever ever.

I have never made peach cobbler before, and peaches are not in season, so I think I'll be left using canned peaches. I guarantee you he'll think it's just as good.

11. I am almost done with my club colorway pictures for March. This is a fun month.

12. We'll be opening to new club members in March. If you've been pondering it and aren't currently on the waiting list, send us an email (threeirishgirls AT gmail DOT com), and we'll add you and notify you when a slot becomes available.

13. I have a fuzzy green bathrobe that my sister gave me for Christmas last year that I am wearing right now.

Good night from the land of snow and half plowed roads.


An amazing brain.

Some people have amazing brains.  I do not pretend to be one of them.

Some people's brains can learn six languages effortlessly, or allow them to see exactly how a steam locomotive is assembled, or how to take pictures of objects that are millions of light years away.

Marjan from Yarnissima has a cool brain.  Out of her brain has come arguably one of the best collections of sock designs in the world -- certainly some of the most original and architecturally challenging.

If I could keep Marjan on staff, I would. I would like to move her from the Netherlands, along with her family of course, and give her a lovely office with a window and some yarn. I would make her a cup of tea and come back and check on her a while later.

I know she would come up with patterns like this, because she already has:

When you put them on, it looks like your ankle is wearing a necklace.  I've had the very good fortune of getting to know Marjan -- and her personality is just as lovely as her designs.

Today, I give you something new from one of the great creative brains of the world, an exclusive pattern called The Portland Gussets.

Look at those amazing, curved lines.

I would love to have one of these kinds of brains.

I would love to have a pair of these socks.  They speak to me.

This pattern was inspired by Marjan's trip from the Netherlands to Portland, OR. We met at the Sock Summit -- some of you were probably lucky enough to take one of her classes. Her pattern writing skills are also second to none -- everything is beautifully illustrated, clearly explained, and edited to the Nth degree.

So, support one the great (independent) brains of the world. You can click on this link and buy one of her patterns. and perhaps a pattern from some of the other creative greats of the knitting world. If you do, be sure to choose the Download shipping option, so you won't be charged anything. When you're done clicking through all the screens, you'll be taken to a link for the PDF, and you'll also be emailed a copy, just in case you aren't able to download it immediately.

You get started knitting up some ankle necklaces or some Portland Gussets. I'm off to use my comparatively average brain to think up a way to retain Marjan on staff...

We don’t need no education.

Yes indeedy, the snow is high, deep, cold, and white.  I'm sure you've seen it on the news, or experienced it firsthand.  This is the snowiest winter on record in the DC area, and we're feeling it pretty acutely. This Southern city is just not equipped to remove over 40" of snow from the roads in a timely fashion. School has been canceled for the past five days. People everywhere are infected with the stir-crazies.

Here's how tall some of the banks are. I am six feet tall, in comparison.


But on to today's real topic.

I've mentioned before that I'm working on the curriculum for my upcoming class at The Yarn Spot in Wheaton, MD.  In addition to the course materials, I've also been practicing my classroom management skills. Knitters can be difficult to work with.

Twelve years of teaching high school taught me a couple of things about teenagers, and one of them is that they respond very well to humor. If you can make something funny, they will cooperate with you far better than if you try to play it straight. After I realized this and stopped trying to impress them with my useless Minnesota trivia, I had time to develop my repertoire of accents, ranging from hillbilly to Queen Elizabeth.

Somehow, it's more interesting to 10th graders when you lecture on judicial review in a Minnesota accent.  (Note to educators: to students on the East and West Coast, a Minnesota accent will be one of the funniest things they've ever heard.)

I've already decided that the entire Yarn Spot class will be conducted in my over-the-top, worse-than-Paris-Hilton Valley Girl accent. Because knitters are pretty much like teenagers, right? Right?

In addition to the accents, I have an arsenal of ridiculous facial expressions, and I'm trying to narrow down which ones I'll be using during the class. I've included the standard classroom application for each face, but need help translating these to a knitting class application. Feedback is welcome.

Face #1:


Used when examining an badly forged hall pass. It's best followed with:


And then a statement like, "Good try, but this is obviously your handwriting. Next time, try writing it on something other than a paper towel."

Face #2:


Used when fifteen year old boys are making strange noises, emitting strange smells, or asking you ridiculous questions like, "Can I please, PLEASE share a desk with Tiffany for just this one class period? PLEASE!?"  No verbal followup is usually required when using this option. If this face is held long enough, students will eventually give up and say, "ALL RIGHT. That's what I thought you were going to say," and go back to their desks.

Face #3:


Used when teenage girls try to convince you that Miley Cyrus is a legitimate musical artist. Followed with, "I don't understand a word you just said. What language was that?"

Face #4:


This is the, "I don't really care that you don't want to do the homework" face. Followed with, "I'm pretty sure you're going to live through it," or, "If your arm falls off from all the writing, just let me know, and I'll get my first aid kit out."

Face #5: The Eyebrow of Death


See, THIS is why you can't get Botox and use my system. Look at how the brow must furrow and arch simultaneously. This face is so ridiculous, such a caricature, that it has a twofold effect on teenagers. First, they freeze in their tracks. Then, they laugh and say, "OK, OK! I get it!"

This technique is especially effective when coupled with the phrase, "Let me show you the eyebrow of death," and then a dramatic gesture in which you move your sideswept bangs out of the way so they can better see your expression.

And finally.

Finally, I bring you the worst thing you've ever seen in your whole life. It is so bad, my fingers are trembling at the mere sight of it.

Get ready.

Put down what you're drinking.

This is the face I used to make when I was five and I was really REALLY angry with my mother. I would make this face to convey my extreme anger, and everyone would promptly burst out laughing, which would make me even angrier.

When you use it on students, they can't help themselves. They shriek with laughter. They say, "Do it again! Do it again! Do it again!"

It's bad.

You may never look at me the same way again.

Fair warning.







Face #6:


When the wild rumpus begins -- and you know it will eventually -- whip this baby out and stand there as still as a stone.

I haven't sent anyone to the principal's office in years. I didn't need to -- all I had to do is talk like I just jumped off the turnip truck and make a face like this:


and I could usually get 32 hormonally-charged beings to at least fake a little cooperation. I just hope this will be sufficient to keep these knitters under control.

What do you think? Will any of these faces work on my knitting students, or do I need to come up with new ones? Oh dear, what if no one listens to me? What if someone calls me an ugly whore, like on my first day as a high school teacher?

Oh dear.

Oh dear.


On a scale of 1-10, how neurotic are you? Assuming that 1 is: not neurotic in the slightest, nothing makes me anxious or distressed and a 10 is: neuroses have taken over my life.

For most things in my life, I would say I'm a three. I do not live my life ruled by anxiety and neuroses, but I have a normal amount of motherly concern for my children's safety.

For a few things, I am a twelve. There are some things that absolutely drive me crazy, and I can't explain why. I think that's what makes it a neurosis, right? It's not logical or rational. It just is.

This is one of those things:


It's twisted wrong, just all wrong. Wrong wrong wrongwrongwrong.

This is a Z twist. That's ZEE, not ZED. Which is another one of my neuroses, which I'll explain later.

There are two ways to twist up a skein of yarn: one results in a Z twist, and one in an S twist.  It's all based on which direction you rotate your arm in, clockwise or counter-clockwise. Clockwise is correct.


This is the wrong way. According to me. For no other reason than it just feels wrong in my hands.

This is the correct way. If you've ever received a skein of yarn from me, I can pretty much guarantee it looks like the picture below.




See the difference?


One is correct and one is not, that's the main difference.

According to me.

Another of my neuroses -- maybe a six on the scale -- is the word zed instead of zee.

I do not feel zee is fundamentally more correct, historically speaking. Of course, zed existed first and is used in almost every other English speaking country.

Zed just sounds wrong. According to me.

My friend likes to tease me that she's going to open a store called Zed's just to grate on my nerves.  If she really wanted to annoy me, she would open a yarn shop called Zed's and use the Zed twist on all of her skeins. I would be sure not to visit.

Here are a few other neuroses of mine:

1. AM Sports Radio. I can't explain why, but it sounds like static. Loud static. Hate it.

2. Top sheets. I dislike them. I use my flat sheets as bed skirts.

3. Tucked in blankets. I like my covers to move with me, and when they're tucked in, they can't.

4. Warm feet, cold ankles. I have to wear socks in my slippers, because I can't stand for my ankles to feel naked all by themselves. I am perfectly happy barefoot in the summer, though. My ankles just want my feet to be naked too.

OK, your turn to weigh in on S vs. Z twisting of the yarn. And don't leave my ankles all naked-y -- what are some of your neuroses?


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