Free Yarn!

OK, if those titles don’t get you to read on, nothing will. First, the bread. I promised in the last post that there would be another Daily Bread installment soon. Here it is.

Getting ready:

And just out of the oven:

The recipe is Rustic Potato Loaves, from Baking With Julia. As the recipe is in a published book, and I pretty much made it as written, I won’t write it out here. A reader (if it was you, let me know, I lost track of who recommended this book) suggested this one, so I got the book out of the library. It’s a great cookbook, and I’ve been drooling over it for the past few weeks. I came home from work one night this past week, and there was a package on the counter. My sweetie had bought me my very own copy!

The recipe uses russet potatoes, flour, water, salt, yeast, and olive oil. The skins are left on the potatoes after you boil them, so add a very nice flavor and texture to the bread. I made this one with my KitchenAid mixer instead of the bread machine, as it’s a very soft dough and I wanted to have a little more control over putting it together. It turned out great. Here’s the meal it went with:

Baked potato, the bread, steamed green beans, and perfect little steaks with a mushroom-red wine sauce. Yum.

Next up, the Baby! Baby Riley (my great-niece!) was born late last week, and is clearly in the running for Cutest Baby Ever Born. She has all the earmarks of a princess-in-training. Here’s a photo:

She looks like she might have red hair, like her grandma, my sister. Her birthday present isn’t quite done yet, but that’s OK. It’s turning out to be a size that she won’t be able to wear for awhile.

Now, the Blogiversary. Three years ago this week, I started my blog. In the words of one of my favorite bluegrass artists*, “what a long, strange trip it’s been”! I’ve learned a ton of new knitting tricks from all of you, been led to a lot of great new yarn-buying shops both online and off, and met lots of new friends through this blog. Though my posting has slowed down lately, I have no intention of giving up the blog. I started this mostly to keep track of my knitting projects, but it’s turned into much more than that. Despite the fact that my husband calls you all my “imaginary friends”, I can’t imagine a week without you all here.

In honor of all my “imaginary friends”, as without you there would be no blog, I’m having a contest. I’m giving away yarn! All you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite knitting trick. It can be a fancy way to do seams, a great gadget that you couldn’t live without, a favorite pattern stitch, or just some wonderful secret trick that’s saved your knitting butt.

I’ll choose my personal favorite for one prize, and draw a random name for the other. The contest will be open for 4 days. The last eligible comment will have to be in by Sunday night at midnight. On Monday, I’ll announce the winners.

Oh, and the prizes? Yarn, of course. Two skeins each, for each lucky winner.

For the knitting trick that is my favorite:


The first skein is Heritage lace yarn, in a heavy laceweight. The color is Blueberry Hill, and it’s a silk-rayon blend, 525 yards. The second skein is Mountain Colors Bearfoot, in Bitterroot Rainbow, enough to make a pair of socks.

For the randomly drawn winner:


The first is of course Opal sock yarn, in Lollipop, from my treasured Opal stash. The second is Cherry Tree HillΒ  Glitter Alpaca yarn. The color is Northern Lights, and there’s 428 yards of it. I could see this as very luxurious socks, or perhaps a scarf, mittens, or a hat.

So spread the word, leave a comment, win some yarn!

*He is too a bluegrass artist. Check this out if you don’t believe me.


Blogiversary! — 92 Comments

  1. My favorite trick is to clip a corner off a ziploc bag before starting a ball of yarn. If you string the yarn through that hole and then zip the zip, your yarn will stay clean and not roll around the bus (ask me how I know).

  2. Baby Riley is an Angel! What a pretty baby. The bread and steaks look delish. I love the 3 needle bind off for shoulder seams. Gives everything a neat finish. Also, using a Venti plastic Starbucks cup with domed lid for holding a skein and poking the yarn thru the top. Congrats on the Blogiversary! Great idea on the tips, I have jotted down a few.

  3. Happy, happy blogaversary! I was the one who recommended Baking with Julia – isn’t that an amazing cookbook? And that potato bread is just plain incredible. Give the mixed starter bread a try, too. Well worth the time and trouble.
    Let’s see…favorite knitting tip for me is keeping track of which circular needle to knit from when knitting with two circs. I take the working end and give it a tug. The correct end will jiggle, letting me know which one to knit with. Makes it easy to figure out which is which πŸ™‚

  4. Happy Blogiversary! My favorite knitting trick is when I get stuck on a project or it gets too boring, I start another one or I buy yarn! Yay! πŸ™‚
    Okay, my actual favorite tip is having a dedicated “car project” for when you are stuck in the car for longer than you originally planned. When you’re stuck in traffic, it really helps keep the stress level down.

  5. Happy blogiversary! I was going to say mattress stitch was my favorite trick, but ‘pon reflection, I think it’s the Internet – the absolute wealth of patterns (both free and not, but at least you get to see – & hear! – what the not-free ones are like!) and tips from the pros – what did I ever do without it?

  6. Happy Blogiversary! I sort of let my second one slip by unnoticed..
    OK, tip #1: When at all possible, knit the front & back of the sweater in the round to eliminate seams. Turning a pattern upside down and knitting from the neck down on raglans works too.
    #2: When working in the round and coming to unshaped armholes from the bottom up, swap the first and last stitches of the yokes (forming an X) to prevent the underarm from laddering when worn.
    #3: Instead of binding off stair-step fashion on shoulder shaping, use short rows and then a three needle bind-off for the seam.
    #4: Learn to use double points so that sleeves can be made seamless all the way to the cuff.
    (Do you get the idea that I don’t like to sew seams? You’re right!)
    I agree completely on Jerry Garcia’s talents whether he was playing blue-grass, folk, rock or jazz. I love the fact that his music (and that of the Grateful Dead) was so eclectic that no matter what mood I’m in, I can find music that fits. Do you have the two CD Jerry Garcia Band album with Se

  7. Lorette, without a doubt that baby wins the cute baby contest!! What a sweetie!!! Thanks for your good wishes for my brother. He got out of ICU yesterday–his spinal fluid was not draining properly and he had 2 tubes sticking out of his back!! He goes home tomorrow after nearly 2 weeks in hospital. He’s thrilled. You asked about where the seafoam stitch is from. I know it is in Barbara walker (second treasure, page 218) and other stitch guides. I used 36 stitches and size 4 needles.
    My favorite knitting trick?? I love three needle bind off, but that’s not much of a trick. I guess another trick I like is EZ’s sewn bind off, which is very elastic. Oh, I know a good one. Remember hot rollers?? They had U shaped clip like things (like a wide bobby pin) to hold the rollers to your head. Well, I love those “pins” for doing cables. They stay hooked to your stitches well because of the rubber end tips and they do not get lost for the same reason. I haven’t been able to find the “pins” for years now (due to hot rollers falling out of vogue) so I use large bobby pins for cable-ing. Much less expensive. Another trick–instead of zip lock sandwich bags for my sock and “purse” knitting, I now use small quart size freezer bags. The needles don’t poke holes as frequently and they hold up much better!! My final trick is to use wooly nylon thread (sold for use in serger sewing machines) to reinforce heels and the balls of the foot for socks. The wooly nylon is invisible, the socks last forever and if the wool should wear thin, I have an existing framework of wooly nylon for duplicate stitch repairs.

  8. Happy Blogiversary, Lorette! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog during the last three years and I’m looking forward to doing so for the fourth too! Your blog is one of my favorite stops with all the wonderful posts and photographs of the knitting, traveling, family, friends, food, and pets!

  9. That beautiful baby girl is definately crown worthy, you better keep a close eye on yours! She is an absolute doll.
    My favoritie tip is for socks. Using a stiff bristel brush, brush the foot of the sock on the wrong side to “fuzz” them up. They feel so nice on the feet. I would recommend doing this to sock yarns that have some nylon in them and taking care when doing so with yarns that do not, just to be on the safe side.
    Happy Blogiversary Lorette

  10. happy blogiversary!
    favorite knitting trick/tool is a yarn that is knotted that is used to tell which row you are on. (thank you Karen Alfke) You take a length of yarn, fold it in half, and make small knotted sections.. one for every row of the particular pattern you are knitting. each time you knit a row, you advance this little knotted yarn to the next loop – so you always know where you are in the pattern.
    It’s saved my bacon many times, as I put a project down for awhile, and then knew exactly where I was when I went back.
    and great niece?? yup.. definitely a true beauty!

  11. Hi Lorette,
    Happy aniversary to you!
    My favorite trick is the magic loop and knitting two socks at the same time. Before Magic loop I hated to knit socks. The dpn’s always hurt me and I felt very uncomfertable. And I have been using dpn’s for +20years and never become comfortable with them.
    Now, knitting socks or other small circumference knittings works like a dream!

  12. Happy blogiversary. I told DH, that sock yarn would start counting as stash. But it’s okay if I don’t buy it… πŸ™‚

  13. Happy Blogthday!!! My favorite trick is the Russian Join for joining a new ball of yarn. It’s so seamless and you don’t have to weave in any ends!
    I love the “imaginary friends”. That’s a great name for us!

  14. Congratulations! Do we now call you “Aunt Doctor”? VBG!
    My favorite technique is for sock knitting. This hint helps you totally avoid ladders, and works on both DP’s and 2 circulars. When you come to a new needle, if the first stitch is to be knit, your right needle must come up UNDER the previous needle. If the first stitch is to be a purl stitch, your right needle must be ABOVE the previous needle. This leaves the shortest yarn path between the previous and new needles, and no ladders. No need to tug super tight each time – just proceed as usual.

  15. Hey! Happy blogiversary! My all-time favorite knitting miracle is the Magic Loop method for knitting socks. I love it!
    Great blog–love the bread. It looks delicious.

  16. Happy blog anniversary! Gorgeous baby! The bread looks delicious, but baking my own bread is NOT something I’m ever going to do!
    My favorite technique (has saving me from ripping out my hair) has to do with crochet chain cast on. I tie a knot in the end of the yarn, then make a slip knot and chain however much I need for the cast on. The knot in the beginning end tells me that that is “KNOT” the end to try to unravel. It’s saved me many hours of picking out.
    The other trick that’s saved me hours is to GOGGLE the name of the pattern I’m about to knit, and see if there’s any errata I need to incorporate. Finally, I took an old library card, glued a paper tape measure (from IKEA) to one side, and kitchner diagram to the other, then laminated the whole thing to carry with me. Works great!

  17. Happy blogiversary! My favorite knit tip is the EZ sewn cast-off. It makes an edge that is polished, neat, and clean that looks just like the cast-on.

  18. Happy Blogiversary! Cute Baby!
    My favorite kntting trick/tip is for socks. When I pick up stitches along the gussest,I wrap the yarn backwards. On the next row, these stitches twist and tighten up nicely to make a smooth transistion with no gaps in the knitted fabric.

  19. What? Knitting secrets? Didn’t have anyone… I try to learn secrets on the internet πŸ˜‰ That’s my secret, or :p Tell me, what did I do when I need some help before internet? Please tell me… I have not a “clue in the sea” πŸ˜‰ So, maybe… the internet it’s my secret things… … …
    I never get lost in my knitting today, I just made a loud scream and I’m get some help, πŸ˜‰
    Hugs… from someone without secrets, πŸ˜‰

  20. Happy blogiversary and congrats on the great-niece!
    Hmm. My favorite knitting tricks are simple things, such as not making a slip knot when using the long tail cast on – I just twist the yarn. Or making a “pseudo” circular swatch by knitting flat, but only in one direction, then carrying the yarn loosely across the back and knitting across again. That one got me a free copy of Stich’N’Bitch Nation when it was included. πŸ™‚

  21. Happy Blogiversary!
    Your new neice is a cutey…and she has a great name…same as my daughters. πŸ˜‰
    Well I don’t know if this is a trick…but when I join yarn I normally will twist the old piece around while knitting with the new strand. That way I don’t really have to weave in anything or end up with a hole.

  22. Happy blogiversary! I have 4 favorite tricks to share. One: use a toilet paper tube to help winding center-pull balls. Three: use one of the very skinny post-it tape flags to mark which row of a pattern I’m on. Three: When knitting on dpns, I place stitch markers to demarcate the gaps between needles, instead of putting certain numbers of stitches on each needle. Then, when I get to the end of a needle, instead of starting with an empty needle, I knit the first few stitches onto the “full” needle. I never get ladders because the gaps between needles fall at different spots each round. 4: when knitting a lace pattern with lots of difficult to remember symbols, I xerox the chart and use a highlighter to match the symbol in the chart with the stitch key. It’s easier to find what “blue” means rather than “open circle with crooked line, top of line pointed left”, which just makes my head spin!

  23. Happy anniversary!
    My very favorite technique lately has been the twisted German cast-on, especially for cuff-down socks. I learned off of a series of pictures on the web when I was looking for an extra-stretchy cast-on. Here’s a PDF completely with text and pictures:
    It’s stretchy, bouncy, looks great (to me) from either side, and it’s no any harder than a regular long-tail cast-on. It uses a little bit more yarn, but not much.
    Oh oh, I can’t stop at one. My other favorite technique is to use cheap-o polyester ribbon (those 10/$1 spools you can get at Jo-Ann, for example) when I need to take something off the needles and try it on. I use this instead of crochet cotton or some other yarn. Ribbon’s easy to thread through a needle, even a small one, yarn doesn’t stick to the ribbon, and it’s easier to thread back onto needles again once I’m through, as I find the rectangular shape keeps the stitches from drawing down into the previous row.

  24. Glad you’re still here.
    I have learned how to do 2 socks on 2 circular needles, and the tip I have to make the process really easy is this: don’t sweat about how to do the complicated cast on. Just cast on however you want and then place the socks on the needles. The only *must* is proper alignment of each ball of yarn…someday, I’ll post about this…

  25. My favorite is just using a 3×5 card with one line for each row of a pattern repeat. As I finish a row I slide down a large paper clip to the next row instruction. Lame sounding? Well it saves my butt every time!
    Happy Blogiversary!!!

  26. happy blogiversity, my tip is to use 5″ dpn’s to graft toes of socks instead of the 8″ dpn’s I use to knit them

  27. Just a quick idea I use. I store all of my circular knitting needles on a pant/skirt hanger. That way I can straighten the cords, without resorting to too much fussing with steam and the like. ( and a lot of the time, you can get the hanger for free, depending on where you shop!)
    Keep up the good work!

  28. Chris sent me by. πŸ™‚ Happy Blogiversary!!
    My favorite “gadget” is extra-sticky sticky notes! I know, not a typical “knitting” item, but I can’t live without them while knitting now…for keeping track, row by row of a complicated pattern and I can make notes on them too…and now I can’t even begin a chart-knitted project without them. Simple, cheap but priceless in my eyes!

  29. Well for me, cabling without a cable needle is the best thing I have learned. Sometimes it gets wonky and you have to have a spare dpn to rescue you from the gods of the dropped stitch but boy oh boy does it save a ton of time and energy!
    Happy Blogiversary and hopefully there are many more, I found your blog about 2 yrs ago and have been a faithful reader for that time!

  30. My favorite knitting trick is one I learned recently. It puts a lifeline in the stitches of a provisional caston. 1. Crochet a chain using crochet cotton in a similar weight to your project yarn. 2. Pick up the purl bumps of this chain on a small needle for easier execution. 3. Using your project yarn and needles, knit one, yarn over,knit one, yarn over across the row of “picked up” purl bumps until you have the total #of stitches you want to cast on. **remember the yo between each knit***. Now work your project. When it’s time to pick up the provisional stitches, “unzip” the crochet chain. This unzipped cotton thread will now be running through the first row of your open stitches! Piece-a-cake! Try a swatch. It is a really neat trick!

  31. Yikes, the odds are getting tough here. My favourite trick is keeping slippery yarns in a zip lock bag while I’m knitting and leaving just enough open for the yarn to come through. No more tangles. Works even better when you are using multiple skeins at once. Happy Blogiversary!
    Are you going to the Seattle Knitting Expo? I’ll be there on the Saturday,

  32. Happy blogiversary!
    I’m not an experienced knitter, so I don’t have a creative tip to share, but having a crochet hook handy to pick up my dropped stitches has already saved me many times (I don’t know – maybe I’m just clumsy).

  33. Happy Blogiversary! I have been reading of your knitting and travels and all the other exciting things in your life for nearly three years now and have really enjoyed it.
    My favorite tip is one I learned from watching Meg Swansen’s Shawl-Collared Vest video (she did thank someone else for this tip, but I can’t remember the person’s name just now) having to do with when it is time to cross the cable once you have established how many rows you want between crossings. Find the small hole that is at the base of last crossing and put a needle in the hole and then straight up behind the knitting to the needle holding the project. Spread the knitting tightly over the needle and count the bars between the hole at the crossing and the needle holding the project. If you are crossing the cable every 8th row, when you have 7 bars on the “counting” needle then the next time you get to a cable it is time to cross it again. This is especially handy when you have cables that cross at different numbered rows in a pattern.
    Thanks for this favorite tip question, I have learned a lot of new ones to try.

  34. Happy Bloggiversary!!! And congratulations! Riley does look like a princess in training. She’s gorgeous! I didn’t know you were a Deadhead! Since I haven’t been knitting that long (1 1/2 yrs), I don’t have the most clever trick, but what does it for me? Persisitance! The more I think I don’t understand something, I find walking away if even for 15 minutes and coming back fresh usually does it. Something a tad more useful? Using a lifeline. Not just for lace, but for any project that’s involved enough to not want to tink or rip. Your dinner looks yummy! Happy Blogiversary!

  35. My favorite tip is learning to “read” my knitting. I really look at the pattern as I am knitting it, learn what it looks like as I am knitting it….and then I won’t ever lose my place. If I put it down in a hurry in mid-row, I can just look at where I am and figure out where it is in the pattern. If it is an every-three-rows decrease, I can tell by looking when I am at the 3rd row–instead of having to count the rows. “Reading your knitting” frees you up from a lot of counting and marking (but I confess I still use stitch markers for certain pattern repeats).
    Thank you for an entertaining blog

  36. Delurking here. Happy Blogiversary! I discoverd your blog last year in March and like reading it a lot.
    It’s Monday so I am out of the competition, but let me add a knitting tip: When you have to do e.g. a k8tog just slip 7 stitches to the right needle, knit 1 st and slip the other other 7 sts over the knitted one instead of struggling with your knitting needles to get 8 sts knitted together at once. Maybe not a new trick to you, but when I read about it somewhere on the net I made a mental note and will try it next time when knitting a certain pattern that I have banished in some corner because of some multiple ktog’s.
    Greetings from Munich

  37. Oh, I bet I already missed the deadline. But happy blogiversary anyway. I hope you found the sock monkey pajamas.

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