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Blog 2018-03-26T09:24:21+00:00

Book Review and Giveaway: Mosaic & Lace Knits

mosaic and lace knitting book cover

I love new-to-me knitting books. What a treat it was to discover Barbara Benson’s Mosaic & Lace Knits: 20 Innovative Patterns Combining Slip-Stitch Colorwork and Lace Techniques! In it she fuses lace and mosaic techniques to create patterns that have the lovely drape and lightness of lace and also the excitement of color.

I’ve had some experience knitting mosaic designs before, but still I found myself utterly absorbed by the book’s in-depth description of the mosaic technique. Barbara’s writing style is easy and conversational, yet full of great tips. She explains the mosaic charts made popular by Barbara Walker. Then she tells us why she deviates from that convention, adding the “return row” to accommodate her use of lace stitches. (I confess that when I come across Walker’s style of chart, where every charted row represents two rows of knitting, I always re-chart it to include all rows; I find it more fun and relaxing.)

One of the sections I learned the most from is the discussion of carrying yarns up the edges in a way where the edges match each other. I’ve made several striped shawls over the years and the difference between the right and left edges has always bugged me. Barbara solved the problem brilliantly.

The book’s 20 patterns include a nice variety of projects, from mittens to scarves to shawls, hats and more.

Love Child shawl

When I review a book I like to make a project from it to assess the author’s pattern writing. I made the “Love Child” shawl above (which I’ll post about in the future). I was very happy with the clarity of the instructions. Each pattern includes photos that show the entire project and also detailed close-ups.

The next project I want to make is the “Pinwheel Market Bag”:

Mosaic & lace market bag


“Sailing Diamonds” is one of several fun hats:

Mosaic & Lace hat

The book’s back matter includes a variety of useful cast-ons and bind-offs, seaming techniques, and a well-done table of abbreviations. All very helpful!

The Giveaway

I really like Mosaic & Lace Knits and I’m giving you a chance to win an autographed copy of your own. Many of the patterns are perfect for summer knitting, as the lace gives them lightness. That’s why I’m calling this the “Summer Solstice Giveaway”. The drawing will be open until midnight Eastern Time on Wednesday, June 20th. We’ll celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 21st with a random drawing of the winning name.

To enter the random drawing, simply leave a comment here on this post. Please include your contact information in your comment so I can let you know if you’re the winner. (One comment per person, please, with only one comment and email address per person.)

I can mail this book anywhere in the world as long as there are no postal or delivery restrictions.


Mosaic & Lace Knits: 20 Innovative Patterns Combining Slip-Stitch Colorwork and Lace Techniques by Barbara Benson. You can find more of Barbara’s patterns on her Ravelry designer page

Publisher: Stackpole Books.   March 31, 2017. 128 pages

Available in paperback and Kindle

Errata for the book can be found here

June 6th, 2018|Book Review, Giveaway, Techniques|67 Comments

Texas Adventures: LBJ State Park Stone Cabin

LBJ State Park entrance


West of Austin, Texas, near Stonewall, is an historic farm I thoroughly enjoyed visiting. Of course I would love it – it’s a farm, after all! Anybody who knows me, knows I love rural living.

The Living History Farm at the LBJ State Park consists of an old stone cottage, a more “modern” Victorian home, a beautiful barn, and chickens. Lots of chickens. The park interpreters wear period clothing and do all the farm and household chores as they were done in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s.

The Cabin

The area was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800’s. Typically, they’d start off their homestead by building a modest log cabin. When possible, they later quarried local limestone to create additions or new homes similar to the hewed-stone architecture common in their homeland, Germany.

LBJ log and stone cabin


I’m completely addicted to the TV show Barnwood Builders, so have learned there’s an art to filling in the gaps between logs, or chinking. I was fascinated to learn at the Living Farm cabin that unique to the Germans was the method of adding small rocks between the logs when they added the mortar. I wish I knew what kind of trees they used for these logs:

LBJ living history logs cabin

Canned goods and the butter churn:

LBJ stone cabin canning butter churn


I love thick walls and deep window sills. I don’t know why the jug is wrapped in cloth. Maybe to soak up condensation? If anybody knows the answer to this, please leave a comment!

LBJ stone cabin window sill


The interpreters actually make the lye soap used for all sorts of cleaning. And for getting rid of lice. After learning about the process, which involved rendering beef or pork fat, soaking wood ash, and then cooking and stirring the concoction in huge vats for who-know-how-long, I’m left grateful that I can simply grab cleaning products off the shelf whenever I need them.

LBJ stone cabin lye soap


The back of the cabin shows clearly the stone addition to the original log structure.

LBJ log and stone cabin


In a future post I’ll show you how the next generation was able to prosper and build a Victorian-style home.





May 26th, 2018|Travel|0 Comments

Using Lifelines in Blocking

I love using lifelines in large projects, especially when lace is involved. When I stand back and realize I’ve made a giant mistake, I can easily rip back to the lifeline, rather than having to tink it all or rip back to the beginning. I used to one lifeline. I moved it as I went along, taking it out and re-using it in the row where I needed it next. When all the knitting was finished, I’d take the lifeline out and then block the project.

At some point I ended up leaving my lifelines in place when I knit a shawl. When I went to block it I had one of those light bulb moments where I realized that the lifelines were helping me to space sections of the shawl evenly. I found them especially useful for measuring along diagonals and curves.

The first project I did this for was a shawl with three wedges. The happy “mistake” of leaving the lifelines in allowed me to use them as guides when I blocked the piece. Where the gridlines of my blocking board were covered by the shawl, I could easily measure along and between lifelines to make sure all the sections matched:


Recently I finished knitting a shawl called Ripplerock. I used lifelines in the body of the work so when I made the inevitable mistakes, I wouldn’t have too much to rip back and re-knit. The shawl’s design uses a lace border which is joined to the body as it is worked. I ended up using short lifelines at the end of every other repeat of the border. They were super-useful when I blocked it:



I like this so much, I may just try adding lifelines into pieces where I wouldn’t normally need them. I imagine for things like pieced sweaters they could come in handy not only for blocking but – if used at consistent row intervals – for seaming too.

Do you have ideas for unexpected ways to use lifelines? I’d love to hear about them!



May 1st, 2018|Shawls|0 Comments

Texas Adventures: Fredericksburg Wildseed Farms

Just outside Fredericksburg, Texas, is the most astonishing wildflower farm!

Wildseed Farms has over 200 acres of wildflowers that they use to produce seeds. Visitors are welcome to stroll along the mowed paths through the flowers. They can also visit the garden shop, have a snack, or browse the gift shop.

Widlflowers Wildseed Farms Texas

Similar to the lupines we loved so much in California, in Texas they’re called Bluebonnets. The poppies were a familiar sight as well.

Wildflowers Bluebonnets Poppies

Texans tend to be crazy for their universities, with staunch loyalties and intense rivalries (something I’m getting used to now, being in the thick of Ohio vs Michigan). Texas A&M’s school colors are maroon and white, so this maroon variation is a favorite among “Aggies”.

Wildflowers Bluebonnets

I was lucky to be at Wildseed when the red poppies were in full bloom. I was awestruck by the intensity of the color!

Wildflowers Poppies Texas

April 20th, 2018|Nature, Travel|1 Comment
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