Knit Your Love by Martina Behm

009I already miss knitting this pattern. I guess that means I have to make another soon.  The garter stitch is very soothing, but the little hearts on the end keep it from being boring. The recipient seemed to like it and I hope it brings her comfort.


When blocking, all the little hearts are pinned out so that they don’t fold and the yarn overs are visible between the hearts and the body of the shawl.




After blocking  they are so sweet! The yarn is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in the Tart colorway. I have two more skeins of this in my stash in other colors and one may grow up to be another Knit Your Love.


Finished Object – Striped Socks

A few years ago I found one 50 gram ball of black Regia sock yarn in the sale bin at my LYS and I used it to sew watermelon seeds onto a Watermelon Sweater by Alana Dakos that I made for my cousin’s little girl. This used up about 10 yards of yarn, so I had plenty left, but not enough for two socks.  socks 061

When I saw the Plain Jane colorway of Vice Paradigm Sock yarn at my LYS about a month ago, I bought it without having any idea what I wanted to do with it. I don’t advise such irresponsible yarn shopping, but this time it worked out. The black Regia was the perfect foil to the psychedelic colors of the Plain Jane, so striped socks seemed like a good plan.  I learned how to do a jogless join about a third of the way into my second sock, so I count this project as a new technique opportunity as well. socks 062

I didn’t really use a pattern, I just knit 2×2 ribbing for about an inch and a half, then knit in stockinette for about 6 inches. I put in a rip cord for an afterthought heel, the knit the foot until it was 2.5 inches shorter than my foot, then began the toe.  Since my toes are not pointed, I don’t care for the usual  “decrease on both sides equally” toe.   I decrease on one side only each row until I have about twelve stitches left on each needle, then Kitchener it up for right and left toes that fit my foot shape. socks 065

Torching Ten Update – Week 4

This week I didn’t really torch, it was more of a smolder.  I lost 0.2 pounds, but it’s progress so I will take it.  My running mileage grew to 17 for the week with my eye on 20 for next week. The temperatures should start coming out of the triple digits around here soon, so that will be great for my running Mojo.

Now for the sciencey bit: a very small but cool study published in the journal Cell Metabolism and found on Science Daily pits low carb diets vs. low fat diets. In the study, researchers tested a mathematical model which predicted that low carb diets would promote more fat burning, but low fat diets would produce more fat loss. Nineteen participants lived in a controlled environment for two weeks while eating a low fat diet that included the same number of carbs that participants were used to eating. In other words, the only variable that changed was fat level in the diet.  This protocol was repeated for another two weeks with a low carb diet in which fat was kept at the participants normal levels.

The results indicated that the models were correct in predicting that low fat diets promote more fat loss than low carb diets even though low carb diets promote more fat burning.

BUT WAIT! Before you tear open those Snackwell’s Fat Free cookies, read a quote from the study’s author: “There is one set of beliefs that says all calories are exactly equal when it comes to body fat loss and there’s another that says carbohydrate calories are particularly fattening, so cutting those should lead to more fat loss,” Hall says. “Our results showed that, actually, not all calories are created equal when it comes to body fat loss, but over the long term, it’s pretty close.”

This means that even though these 19 participants lost more weight over two weeks on a low fat diet compared to a low carb diet, we don’t know what would happen if the study lengths were extended. It is not ethical to keep volunteers shut up in a research facility for 9 – 12 months, so we will still have to keep conducting our own n=1 experiments in our own research facilities; our homes.

Photo by Matthias Ripp. Used under Creative Commons licence.
Photo by Matthias Ripp. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Beginning Bra Sewing

When I first learned how to sew in Home Economics class in high school, I dreamed of sewing my own lingerie. However, with only my allowance money (!) and the local big box store as resources, that did not happen. Fast forward to the present where I have a real job and a whole world of resources at my keystroke and call via the internet, and I can make my own lingerie.


I started with the Watson Bra and Panty set by Cloth Habit as it looked beginner friendly and had great reviews with other sewing bloggers. This pattern was very easy to follow and had detailed instructions on stitch width and length at each step of construction. I tested it with some $2/ yard fabric and the cups were a little small, so when I made my real version with the fabric from my kit from Blackbird Fabrics I went up a cup size. I also shortened the height of the cradle and band as I am very short-waisted. I really like the finished bra. It is comfortable and gives a good shape under clothes. The only problem I had was that my sewing machine balked at every fabric combination I put under it this whole project. I will need to spend some quality time with the manual before I sew more lingerie, which I will be doing very soon!


Torching Ten Update – Week 3

I am happy to report that this week I ran 15 miles and torched one pound! I feel like I am on the road to getting back to my 20 mile per week average distance. This will get me ready for half marathon training in the fall. Strength training three times per week has also been key to helping me feel good and run well.

zoo run 019

As for the sciencey bit, straight from the “Duh” department, “They found that, those who identified themselves as being ‘overweight’ were more likely to report overeating in response to stress and this predicted subsequent weight gain.” This quote is from Science Daily about a research study that finds a correlation between people thinking they are overweight and gaining more weight as time passes. The article is titled, “Believing You Are Overweight May Lead to Further Weight Gain.”  The abstract is not very specific about the statistics used the analyze the data, but my take away is that beating yourself up about extra pounds is counter productive and that a positive attitude towards yourself will help when making any lifestyle changes. Again, duh!

Spinning Merino and Silk

This year at the Magnolia State Fiber Festival in Vicksburg, MS, I bought some fiber from Alisha Goes Around.  The braid was 8 ounces of 80% Merino and 20% silk in an emerald green, white, and golden yellow colorway. This is the second braid of Merino/ silk that I have spun and it was very soft and easy to work with. I spun the singles on my light drop spindle and plied the two ply yarn on my larger Ashford drop spindle.

yarn 001

As you can see, some of the mini skeins are a bulky weight and some are more of a DK weight. I started out spinning thicker singles, but got better at drafting the fiber out finer as I went.  The photos do not really show the intensity of the emerald greens or the golden tones of the yellows. This fiber was very enjoyable for spinning and I would buy from Alisha Goes Around again if I ever catch her at a festival.

yarn 003The yarn needs to be washed, but I have so many knitting projects on the go right now, I am in no hurry. The yield is about 150 – 200 yards of yarn in various weights. I am planning to knit this into a mobius cowl in plain stockinette to show off the beautiful color changes in the yarn.

Knit Your Love by Martina Behm

When a friend or colleague is going through a rough time, I like to knit a shawl for them.  Knitting is such a comfort to me that I hope to transfer some of that comfort to them through the knitted object. That may be magical thinking, but I do think that handmade gifts convey a sense of love and thoughtfulness that a store bought gift cannot.

knit 001

The Knit Your Love shawl by Martina Behm seemed like a good choice for a co-worker when they need a little love and encouragement.  The yarn is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in the colorway Tart. I am about half-way finished with the small shawl and hope to be done before school starts again. This pattern is mostly garter stitch and the hearts repeat is easy to memorize, so it makes for pretty relaxing knitting. I pray for the recipient while I knit, so that makes it a double hug for her.

knit 002

“Sew Many Dresses, So Little Time” Pattern Testing

Being a huge fan of The Knitmore Girls Podcast, when I heard their review for the book Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time by Tanya Wehlan, I knew that I wanted my own copy. The premise of this book is that each bodice pattern matches each skirt pattern, with variations of collars and sleeves for an almost unlimited supply of mix and match dress patterns. This sounded like my ultimate sewing dream!

dress 004

To test the patterns in the book, I chose a basic princess bodice with a cap sleeve and half circle skirt.  I had an extreme-sale knit blend from Girl Charlee to use as my test fabric.  The book suggests tracing the pattern for your waist size, so that is what I did.  There is not a pattern included for the half circle skirt, but clear directions are given for drafting your own based on measurements. I chose not to line the bodice because I was just testing the pattern and used a self made bias binding for the neck edge.

This photo really shows the extra fabric in the bodice back.
This photo really shows the extra fabric in the bodice back.

The skirt came out beautifully and can be used again on a knit with no changes. The bodice came out too wide with tons of extra fabric in the back.  This is a problem for me with ready to wear garments, also. The author included pattern fitting tips and the instructions for adjusting the flat pattern for a narrower back are the best I have seen before. I think the next time I try this bodice I will start with a smaller size and then do the back adjustments and should get a better fit. I think that with the patterns and tutorials in this book, I can put together many interesting and well fitting dresses.

Torching Ten – Week 2 Update

This week I have managed to torch zero, unfortunately.  This is part of the process, and patience is always required when losing weight.  I am taking a moderate carbohydrate, zero sugar approach to weight loss as recommended by my doctor. I am strength training two to three times per week, also as recommended. I think the real loss will come when I bump my running back up to about 20 miles per week. For comparison, this week I ran about 11 miles. Training for the triathlon required me to sacrifice some of my running time to biking and swimming, so it will take a few weeks to build up to my optimal levels again.

Photo by Daniella Segura. Used with permission under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Daniella Segura. Used with permission under Creative Commons License.: F

For this week’s weight loss research report, I was very interested to read about a small study in  Science Daily (30 men and 30 women) that used a “concentrated extract of thylakoids” of the kind found in spinach. The subjects were give either a single dose of the concentrate or a placebo and it was found the in men the extract showed a “trend toward decreased energy intake” (i.e. eating less), while a previous study showed a decrease in cravings for sweets in women.  While this study did use a double blind methodology, meaning that neither the subject nor the researchers knew who was getting the actual extract instead of a placebo, the sample size is really too small to indicate anything except that further testing is required. My take away from this small study is that a spinach salad for lunch may help to alleviate my afternoon sweet cravings.  As spinach is full of nutrients and I like it anyway, it seems like a good n=1 experiment. I will report my findings here next week!