Swatching and Math

Today’s confession is that I’m not good at following through. As such, that will likely be my last Sunday Confession.

Onto new business, I haven’t been posting as much as I had been because I’m finding myself very busy lately. With A being back in school 3 days a week, the 1.5 hours I get to myself is overshadowed by the 2.5 hours of getting him ready and walking him to and from school. I also signed myself up for swimming lessons, which I love, but they are taking up two evenings a week.

When I have been getting some free time lately I’ve been planning my new girl’s sweater/jacket design. This one is going to be fairly complex again so I’m having to learn some new techniques along the way. The idea for the sweater came while looking for a fall jacket for P last week. I didn’t like anything I saw but I did like the looks of some chunky, fair isle cardigans. After seeing those I couldn’t get them out f my head and I’ve been preoccupied with designing my own ever since.

I spent some time trying to come up with my own fair isle motif. It didn’t take me long to figure out that not only is a good motif extremely complex, it’s just not the type of designing I’m good at. Instead I hit the book store and found 200 Fair Isle Motifs, which is an incredible directory of all things Fair Isle.

Then I dug through my yarn stash and found a bunch of Cascade 220 in lots of different colours. I wanted the sweater to be nice and dense so I picked a US 5 needle and started swatching. Happy with how the swatch turned out I began all the math. I’ve now got the measurements worked out for 5 different sizes and converted them to stitch and row counts. I’ve started writing what I know of the pattern so far and will make the rest up as I go.

I cast on this morning for my sample, which will eventually be P’s fall jacket. Hopefully I will finish it and the pattern before we’re fully into winter coat season. Stay tuned for more updates on the pattern writing and progress on the sweater. I figure posting about it will keep me motivated to finish!

World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

No really, they might be the world’s best chocolate chip cookies. This is the recipe my mom always used when I was growing up, so this is what I expect chocolate chip cookies to taste like. Perhaps I am a bit biased since this is my reference point for all chocolate chip cookies, but I have it on authority from other people that this is a damn good recipe. I’m not sure where it came from, my mom thinks that it came from the back of a package or something. I just checked to make sure, and it is not the Nestle Tollhouse recipe (that would have been embarassing).  Now that I’ve talked it up, here it is.

Makes ~14 cookies


1/2 Cup shortening

1/2 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Cup chocolate chips (I like using the mini ones)


Preheat oven to 350 F

Cream shortening and both sugars. You don’t need a stand-mixer to do this, but I sure do love my candy-apple-red lady












Add egg and vanilla and mix













Mix together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a small bowl









Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and blend













Mix in chocolate chips












Spoon ~2 Tbsp. dollops onto parchment-lined baking sheet









Like so









Cook 8-10 minutes, until golden on the bottom edges










Let cool on a wire rack until you can no longer bear the wait.


Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

Inspired by my sister’s request for a pair of knit boot cuffs, I put together a new pattern over the weekend. “Jen’s Boot Cuffs” has already been completed by one test-knitter and I am sending it off to a technical editor when I am done this post. While my first pattern “Everyday Hoodie” is still being perfected, this new pattern has flown off the needles and should be released very soon. I can’t contain my excitement!

Sunday Confessions Vol. 2

I don’t like cleaning.  I don’t know very many people that do. But most people, when faced with the choice between cleaning or letting their house fall into disarray and filth, would choose to clean. Not me. Until a few months ago I would just let it get really nasty and then do the bare minimum to keep the place from being a health and safety hazard. Now I just don’t clean at all, I pay someone else to do it for me. So there’s my confession, I am so lazy that I’m willing to spend good money to not have to clean my own home.

Tomato Noodles…

…is the really classy name we use at our house for the pasta dish I made for dinner tonight. A more suitable name might be “Versatile Noodles” since they are very easy and inexpensive to make, kid friendly, yet classy enough to serve to company. I started making the Penne Arrabbiata recipe from the Williams Sonoma Pasta cookbook, but they offered a variation on the recipe to turn it into Puttanesca instead. While I liked the idea of adding capers and olives, there was no way I was even going to think of adding anchovies. So what I make is somewhere in between the two recipes, but cannot really be called either. So we call them Tomato Noodles, and we eat them once a week.

Tomato Noodles

Note: I tend to switch things up every time I make this, depending on what I have on hand. Sometimes I’ll add a splash of red wine if I have an open bottle that hasn’t, for some strange reason, been finished. Sometimes I’ll add basil paste if I don’t have any fresh. Tonight I added parsley out of the garden because I had a lot of it.


1/4 C olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

Generous pinch of red pepper flakes (I tend to cut back so the kids don’t scream)

1 (35 oz) can of plum tomatoes, chopped with juice

salt & pepper (if adding capers I tend to not add any extra salt)

12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Generous pinch of dried oregano

Splash of balsamic vinegar (optional, but I find it really brightens up the flavor)

1/2 C olives, halved and pitted (I just add whatever olives I have on hand)

1/4 C capers

1 lb pasta (I usually use penne or fusilli)



Put large pot of water on to boil and cook noodles until tender

Meanwhile, add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to large skillet and heat over medium heat, being careful not to burn garlic

Add tomatoes and raise heat to medium-high

Simmer for 5 minutes or so

Add salt, pepper, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar, olives and capers

Simmer until pasta is done, but do not let it reduce too much (if it gets dry you can add some of the pasta water)

When pasta is done, drain and add to sauce. Mix, serve with parmesan cheese.


Picky-eater approved!