Monday, September 16, 2013


I’ve just released my newest cardigan design, Homegrown!

I knit Homegrown up in the spring on our family trip down to Florida. Because it was warm in Florida and getting warmer back home in Wisconsin, I decided to wait until the fall to release it. Knitting with wool isn’t quite as much fun in the summer as it is in the early days of fall when the chimney smoke returns to the air. I packed Homegrown away in my antique blanket chest to wait.

Over the summer, I was browsing through Ravelry and came across a lovely and very similar and yet different, cardigan to Homegrown, called A Scholarly Cardigan by the gorgeous Holly Priestley.

I emailed Holly to get her thoughts and we decided quite quickly that it would be a lovely idea to showcase each others work since we obviously think alike (great minds!).
I am so blessed to work among such talented designers.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


This weekend we spent time at my Dad's annual "End Of Summer" picnic.
Over the years, the picnic has evolved, from barbeque, all the way to Wedding to pizza party and every year it's been a blast.
There is something about coming back  every year at the same time, to the place where I grew up to be together with the people I grew up with.

There's something about being out on the farm at this particular time of year that always gets me.

  I don't know if it's fact that the air is so heavy and honey sweet, if it's the nearly deafening sound of the crickets, or if it's watching the night hawks and swallows flitting around at dusk, but something about all of those things takes me right back to my childhood. 

One of the best things about this year's party was that some of my Dad's childhood friends made the trek out to spend time out in the country.
 My Mom and Dad grew up in Burbank, IL near Chicago's South Side.  It was a different time and a different place.
Growing up, my Dad told, and retold so many stories about his group of friends and the times they had together, stories that sound like a movie script or something right out of a book.  But isn't that what life is?  We all have a story and a cast of characters that fit perfectly into each part.
It was inspiring to watch my Dad, his brother and their friends talk about the old times, laughing at treasured, shared experiences like only people who've known each other their entire lives can, then picking up their guitars and playing into the late night like they did when they were in their 20's.
Life has been stressful for my Dad lately, but it was evident that there's nothing like the band aid of a friend's smile, or wisecrack to bring in a little sigh of relief and memory of simpler times.

Left to right: Wayne, Gary, my Uncle Frank and My Dad on the right.  Such a handsome guy isn't he?!

There's something about reconnecting with your "roots", whether it be a group of friends, or a place....

In the end of August I released a new pattern called Grassroots.
I'm always inspired by various things, but it's no secret that one of my biggest inspirations is my own youth and the country setting in which I grew up.  All of the hot summer days, tearing through the corn fields and woods in my cut off shorts and keds with my long hair, wind whipped into a million tangles.
Grassroots takes it's nature kissed detailing from those dear old days.

Here's another little piece of my "roots".... a guitar tune from two of my all time faves, James Taylor and Carly Simon.  My Dad and Mom used to play songs like this for my brother and I at night when we were very small....


It's September first and that means it's the first day of Plucktember!
Plucktember, for those who aren't familiar, is an annual, month long, knit along held by the Plucky Yarn Group .
This year, I am honored to say that my Heathered  cardigan design has been chosen as one of the knit along patterns.
So, get your Plucky yarn and your needles ready and join the fun!  There are some great prizes at the finish line!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just Some Things

The last few days have been so wonderfully lazy and warm.  Over the last few years, the end of summer always had me feeling a little blue because I knew that it would be time to send my girl away every day and I so love having her with me.  There was a level of anxiety that set in knowing that I would have to adjust my schedule to running back and forth not only to school for regular drop off and pick ups, but also the fundraisers, the special events and the field trips.  I know those things don't sound like a big deal, but when you have a 2 year old who still naps, it could be quite stressful and disruptive to the day.   This year, that stress is nowhere in sight.  In fact, the next few weeks are gearing up for a lot of fun for us!  We've been getting the house in order and organized for schooling, taking care of all of the end of summer/fall yard work and filling up the  calendar with loads of activities.  Two of the things I'm most excited about are the Indian Summer Fest as well as the Wade House Civil War Reenactment.
 We have taken Avrie to the Indian Summer Fest since we moved to Wisconsin.  She has always loved the traditional Native American music, and what child doesn't love all of the beautiful colors and dancing?  It's such a great way to introduce another culture up close and personal and we always have such a wonderful time.  In fact, a few years ago, it prompted a trip to New Mexico where we attended the Gathering Of Nations Pow Wow.  Such an amazing and spiritual experience!
My Dad is a big Civil war enthusiast and when we were growing up, he took my brother and I to a lot of camps.  None were as big as the Wade House reenactment.  I can't wait to see (and yes photograph) Avrie's face during the full scale battle.  In my opinion, there is no better way to connect with learning than through hands on, interactive experiences.  
She's been reading up online about the different battles, so that she has an idea of what's going on when we get there!  We're also exploring together, the connection between the Civil War and the Indian Wars that were happening at the same time. My hope is that we can, in a way, tie our 2 excursions together to make a really exciting cultural/historical experience that has more meaning than either would have standing alone.
While Avrie reads and Evellyn naps, I've been taking the opportunity to do some spinning.  My days have become insanely organized.  At first I thought it would be stressful, but I am finding that the more structured my day becomes, the easier things are to manage.  I actually have a spreadsheet for my day that includes workout times, school schedules, outside activities as well as personal time for spinning and knitting.  I know, I sounds crazy, but it's easier for me to look at a list throughout the day for time management and if it works, then it works.  At some point I'm sure I won't need the list, like putting aside a recipe for something you've made a thousand times...but we shall see. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Homeschool, Affectionate and Other Things

The school year is again upon us and this year, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool.
Since my first daughter was born, people have always asked whether or not I would homeschool because I, myself, grew up homeschooled.
I have historically avoided homeschooling simply because I know the amount of time and dedication that it takes. But as time has gone by, and as we've had some experience under our belts with traditional schooling, it's become a more attractive option for our family.
I have a few friends and family who very successfully homeschool and because I know very well what to expect, it hasn't been a scary choice for us.
In fact, it's been incredible seeing things come full circle as my daughter now uses the same curriculum that I used growing up.  One of the exciting things about the Calvert curriculum is that everything is mapped out for you (the teacher).  It comes with most of the supplies you'll need and offers wonderful support from actual teachers with the school that are just a phone call away. Her 2nd Grade year is looking like it will be full of fun and a pretty challenging.
One MAJOR difference between my daughter's homeschool experience and mine, is that my daughter will have so many more resources available to her, with the ever changing world of technology.  I, as her teacher, will have wonderful, internet based tools as well, for teaching and tracking progress that my mom never had available to her.  One of these tools I've found and have begun implementing is the Homeschool Tracker, which allows you to keep track of grades, progress, attendance (yes I'll know if she's there lol), and most importantly to me, print out transcripts and GPAs at the end of each year.
It is incredible to me how far the world of homeschooling has come since I was school aged and how the homeschool network has grown!  When I was growing up, we belonged to a support group of about 10 families.  The group for our county alone has over 170 members!  And let's just talk about the online community!  A friend of mine turned me on to this amazing blog that is so full of great information!  One of the things I found here that I plan to use is Family Time Fitness.  It was always hard when I was growing up, thinking of different physical activities...I know my kids can run around like banshees, but I don't know a lot about meaningful physical development for young children and I hope that this will help!
Avrie is so excited and on fire about learning, more so than she ever has been with traditional school and I'm so excited for her!
As I said before, schooling is a full time job and so, with that being said, my knitwear design has slowed down considerably, but I have been ready for the change for a long time and am embracing it fully.   I feel that God has blessed me with a portfolio that has allowed me to follow some of my dreams as well as helped me to provide the type of home experience I've always dreamed for my children. 
That's not to say that I won't be designing any longer, but that you'll most likely be seeing many more accessories and small projects with releases being spaced out quite a bit more.   I have a few larger projects that have been in the works for awhile, that are just waiting release.
I have just released a new pattern, Affectionate, the first of a few, new, upcoming hat patterns.
I've been dabbling with combining patterns, changing charts and working with textures and shapes...even a little colorwork.
I knit Affectionate with the silky, wonderful, Western-Sky-Knits-Magnolia-dk--mcn, which is just heavenly!  It was a perfect marriage for the stitch pattern in this hat.  The fabric is squishy, soft and full of drape that steam blocked out into an amazing fabric.  Treat yourself to this stuff, you won't regret it I promise!
Readers of my blog can get a 20% discount for the month of August on my new Affectionate pattern by entering the code Dandiday at check out on Ravelry.


This week seemed to be a big week for new hat releases and I was honored to be featured on the Ravelry top 20 list, this time around with Thea Coleman.  Thea also released a collection of accessories that features some amazing hats.   I have a hard time imagining that there are knitters who haven't heard of Thea, but if you haven't please check her out!  You will fall in love with her design work and she is one of the sweetest designers around.

Hmm, lets, see, in other news, I've been spinning quite a bit lately and have just reopened my Etsy shop!  All of my patterns are now available for instant download (THANK YOU ETSY!) and
keep your eyes peeled for some handspun goodness to be popping up very soon!

Now that the knitwear design has slowed, we've been spending a lot more time in the kitchen as well.
My herb garden has been a little explosive this summer with all of the rain we had earlier in the season, and so we've been making lots of goodies in the kitchen.
I think I'll be doing a video blog soon about some really wonderful cookbooks I've discovered and share some of my favorite recipes...we shall see....

Delicious chicken and herb, corn chowder.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Plum Dandi Meeting...Finally!

Nearly 3 years ago, I met one of my best friends online.
 Over the years I've met many great women online and established a lot of great relationships that have moved from one social media source to the other, but none have been as close as the friendship that I have with my friend Alica.
 When my husband and I moved to Wisconsin a few years back, I picked up knitting as a hobby to keep my mind off of the family I was missing back home. Within about a year, I began designing small items (most of which did not have any serious technique and some that didn't even include more than one size). It was one of these designs, The Heathcliff Vest that brought us together.
Alicia's daughter happened to be just the age to fit the one size I had written the pattern for and Alicia (who was already designing a bit on her own by modifying my pattern a bit) emailed me asking if it was okay to link her modified project to my pattern page.
We got to talking back and forth a bit, a little about our kids, a little about our faith in God and found that we had a lot in common.  Within 2 weeks of our first conversation, we found that we were soon to have even more in common as we both discovered our second pregnancies within 1 week of each other!  It was meant to be!
It was wonderful having a friend to chat back and forth with through the journey of who was experiencing so many of the same things that I was (oh the cravings, oh the cramping, what color are you painting the room...which cloth diapers are you using?)  We both joined the January 2011 Mommies group on Ravelry where we met even more wonderful friends.
Alicia's little Ellie

My little Evellyn (Evie)

After our daughters were born, Alicia was wanting to delve further designing and we began bouncing ideas off of each other about shapes, textures, and overall concepts.
We were finding that helping each other out and working as a team was really working for us.  The saying that two heads is better than one really is true!
 In the spring of 2012, we co-designed a matching mother and daughter pattern for Petite Purls called Albatross.
 We now talk every day, about 10 times a day, about everything and anything, from knitting, to homeschooling; from dinner to laundry.
  We are frequently asked how we "do it" because I think most people imagine that would be easy to become competitive.   But that's just it.  There is zero competition between us and  I think that it is largely in part to our shared faith and mutual encouragement of each other and genuine happiness in each others successes.  Aside from the simple fact that it is a great feeling to see your friends succeed, when you work together, each individual success is ultimately the success of the team.
 With that in mind, it makes sense to share new "finds" with each other, to tackle new techniques together and promote each other whenever we can.  AND IT'S FUN!  Have you ever seen, or experienced something really great, only to think..."if only so and so could see would even be better..."  That's how we work!
Okay, so all of this history brings me to the actual purpose of this post.   This past week Alicia and I actually met for the first time!
My family and I packed up and headed out from the Midwest, to the East.  It was wonderful!
As is totally expected, Alicia and I both wondered if things would be awkward, but of course, we just got together and laughed our heads off the entire time.
Awkward?  I think not.

Here are some photos of the journey and of the times we all spent together!
Pit stop at Niagra Falls, NY

It's always a bonus when the hubs get along too!

Pirate day!

Friends from before birth

At Fort Williams

Our wonderful hosts, Dan and Alicia

Sometimes the photo doesn't even need a caption....

Alicia's dog Cooper....enjoying hand drawn eyebrows.

And finally, we made a fun workout video for our fiber friends that I think best illustrates the amount of fun we had.