Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Archive for September 2010

Beginning Knitting Classes in Duluth

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Learn to knit!

Come learn to knit while enjoying coffee, tea, and cookies in a beautiful historic barn. You may have visited the barn during some of the Seasons at the Barn sales, now here’s another chance! I have been a knitter for over 6 years and have been teaching craft classes for the past year. In my beginning knitting class, you will learn how to knit a pair of cute and functional fingerless mitts. You will acquire essential knitting skills, including casting on, binding off, and the knit and purl stitches, the stitches that make up the most of almost every knitting project. You will also learn how to read a knitting pattern and how to seam flat knitting.

Class Information:
The class will consist of two 2 hour sessions one week apart, and there are two sets of dates the class is available. The total cost of the class will be $30 plus the cost of supplies, which you will purchase separately and bring with you to class. I will send you a supplies list once you register for the class.

Beginning Knitting class #1 will meet on Tuesday, October 12th and again on Tuesday, October 26th from 7pm to 9pm on both days.
Beginning Knitting class #2 will meet on Saturday, October 16th and again on Saturday, October 23rd from 10am to 12pm on both days.

Pre-registration, including the class fee, is required prior to the day of class. You will be considered officially registered once payment is received. I can accept payment by credit card through PayPal (preferred) or by cash or check in the mail. I reserve the right to cancel the class in the event that a minimum number of people do not sign up. In the event that it is canceled, you will be notified no later than three days prior to the class date and you will receive a full refund.

To register for the class, or just to get more information, you may email me at

The barn:

The project:
IMG_2221 IMG_2231


Written by nikkinbird

September 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm

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Garter yoke cardigan finished and new project.

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IMG_2245The Garter Yoke Cardigan has been sitting around for a few days, waiting for its ends to be woven in and to be blocked. Yesterday, I finally did it. It had surprisingly fewer ends than I’d thought from looking at it (while wearing it and dancing around dangling the ends from the sleeves so that Tashi the kitty would chase them). It is also taking a really long time to dry. I had to switch it to drier towel today because the towel under it was so damp, the thing was never going to dry. Now it seems on the right track, and I shall soon have a new fall sweater! Only, I need to get buttons. Still, can’t wait!

On Monday night I had a knit night with my friend Mel. She brought wine, Chris made a fire in the fireplace, and knitting commenced. It was a lovely evening. We drank the wine out of coffee mugs, and I started my Nordic Mittens in two colors instead of the multiple colors shown on the pattern page. This is simply because I chose the pattern after having purchased yarn. Also, since it’s my first go at real color work, I probably wouldn’t want to be dealing with striping at the same time, too. It’s going well so far, I think. I’m a little concerned about yarn dominance, which is affected by how you hold both colors of yarn. I think I have everything straight, and am holding the dominant color so that it strands under the background color. Still, I think my stitches are going to be awfully uneven and wonky on this first mitten. I hope blocking will straighten it out! I’m about 10 rows above the cuff now, but here is a picture of the cuff:

I’ve decided that I’m going to take Mel’s advice. She said that when people look at my knitting and say, “That looks hard, was it hard?” I should just answer, “Yes.”

Beginner’s Garter-edged Mitts – Free Pattern!

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Blue & purple variegated fingerless mittsSo I knit another pair of the garter edged mitts. Both pairs were simply meant to be examples that I could bring to the knitting class I’ll be teaching, but I’ve been wearing the first pair around. Various things have happened to my past pairs of fingerless mitts/armwarmers/whatever you choose to call them. One is unraveling, one is missing its mate, one of another pair got thrown in with the wash by mistake and felted, another is missing. So it’s a good thing I have these! Now that I’m used to having them, going outside in fall seems incomplete without fingerless mitts. It’s not quite cold enough for mittens, but not warm enough for me to bear having my wrists exposed! Fingerless mitts are the perfect in-between. Isn’t this pair pretty? I’ve had this yarn around for quite awhile, and thought it would be great for a more colorful pair of these mitts.

As promised, here comes a pattern! Click here to download a nice little one page pdf file, or keep reading to view the pattern online.

Beginner’s Garter Edge Mitts

I love fingerless mitts. When I learned to knit, they were the first project I finished, and they quickly became a staple in my wardrobe for the long fall, winter, and spring seasons in Duluth, MN. I knit these fingerless mitts because I needed an easy but not too boring project that I could use to teach beginning knitters. Knit flat and seamed, the beginner will practice casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and binding off.

Any worsted weight yarn
Size 8 needles
Darning needle or tapestry needle


Cast on 28 stitches, leaving a 12” tail of yarn.

Rows 1-6: Knit. The fabric created by knitting all rows like this is called garter stitch.

Row 7 (RS, or right side): Knit.

Row 8 (WS, or wrong side): Purl.

The fabric created by alternating knit and purl rows is called stockinette stitch.

Continue in stockinette stitch until the piece measures 7”, or as longer if you prefer longer mitts.

Beginning on a RS row, knit 6 more rows.

Bind off leaving a 12” tail.


It is recommended to block the piece before seaming. Blocking will even out the stitches and help the piece lay flat, so seaming will be easier. To block, wet the piece in room temperature water and squeeze excess moisture out with a towel. Lay flat and straighten piece out to dry.

Using tail of yarn from cast on, seam the two sides together for 1.75 inches. Secure last stitch in seam by running yarn through it once more. Weave in remaining yarn and trim.

Using tail of yarn from bind off, seam beginning on other end of work. Seam until opening between the two seams (thumbhole) is about 1.75” wide. Try the mitt on and test size of thumbhole to adjust it to your preference. Secure last stitch in seam by running yarn through it again, weave in end and trim.

Written by nikkinbird

September 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Beginner’s Garter-edged Mitts

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Garter-edged Mitts Look, I designed some mitts! I designed these super simple fingerless mitts to use to teach people how to knit. I wanted something that could be knit up quickly, teach the knit stitch and purl stitch, and cast on and bind off. I think these mitts accomplish this pretty well. They are knit flat and seamed up afterward, leaving a gap in the seam for the thumb hole. In the past, I have been known to be pretty hasty with seams, and as a result was dissatisfied with a sweater I made (which I then accidentally felted in the wash anyway, sadly), so this time I made sure to do it right. This article on was very helpful and I think they turned out very well. The pictures I took were before blocking, so the stitches still look a little uneven. I will take more after blocking and probably write up a pattern and make it all into a nice little printable pdf. I love pdfs for being so printable, and that my MacBook’s “print” window allows me to easily convert files into pdfs so that when I send people documents, I know they will see them formatted the way I want! Anyway, moving on…

In other news, we are still enjoying fall.Knitting and hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. We had our first fire in the fireplace, and it was oh so cozy! Unfortunately, the house filled with the smell of smoke, so the chimney isn’t drafting right, so we can’t have another cozy fire until we have someone look at it. Still, I’m thrilled that we have a real wood burning fireplace. The cats appear to love it as well. Tashi in particular has always had a thing for staring at flames. I have a picture of him somewhere laying in front of a candle, staring intently with squinty eyes. The fireplace evokes the same effect.

Written by nikkinbird

September 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Garter yoke cardigan

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I’m making progress on the Garter Yoke Cardigan. I’ve got one sleeve done, and have started the other! IMG_2198Would ya look at that? As far as I can tell, it should fit me perfectly. Based on my swatch, I don’t think it should act too much differently after blocking. I’m wondering if that is because I already blocked the yarn the first time I knit the sweater, and it won’t really stretch out more, or if it’s because I used more appropriately sized needles, so the knitting isn’t as big and stretchy? Either way, if it grows a little during blocking, it should be exactly perfect. There’s a possibility the sleeves could end up too long, but since I always seem to have a problem with sleeves that are too short, I think I can deal with that.

I want to finish this sweater so I can get started on my next project. IMG_1654I bought some yarn a while back (in February, it turns out) so that I could practice stranded colorwork. For whatever reason, I was sure sport weight was the right weight yarn to buy. Now, I’m discovering that most of the stranded mitten patterns I like are written for fingering weight! Thanks to Ravelry’s awesome search function, I found enough sport weight stranded colorwork mittens that I’ve narrowed it down to two patterns: The Nordic Mittens pattern, or this pattern from Drops. The bluish gray and teal yarns in this picture are what I’m using.

Speaking of projects, I’m going to be teaching knitting classes! The classes will be held in the barn at Chris’s parents’ house, which should be very fun. Chris’s mom and her friends just had an amazing shabby chic furniture sale in the barn and it seemed like a huge success, from what I saw of it. So, now I need to hammer out the details, like what kind of project to knit, how much I should try to teach in a 2 hour class, and other things. I’m excited though! I certainly have plenty of experience teaching crafts, but only to kids! This will be a whole different dynamic. I’m hoping for better motivation, since the people will have chosen and paid for the class and all.

Written by nikkinbird

September 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Apple pie, applesauce, apples apples apples!

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It’s a delightfully blustery, gray day in Duluth and Chris and I finally fulfilled one of our plans to come hang out at a coffee shop and get things done. I just spent over an hour writing on a fiction story I’ve been working on, and now I’m taking a break by making a blog post. Holy productive!

Last week we finally harvested all of the apples on one of the trees in our backyard. When we moved in, we were delighted to see apples, but assumed they’d probably just stay little, sour apples. But they kept growing, and we actually got many good, large, tasty apples! Still a bit smaller and more bitter than grocery store apples, but perfectly edible. More and more apples started falling from the tree by themselves, meaning they were getting ripe, so we picked the rest of the good ones so they wouldn’t go to waste.

Those are all of the good apples in that bucket, from only one of the trees. As I understand it, both of the trees are apple trees, but only the right one was fruit-bearing this year. Hopefully next year we’ll get apples on both trees! Not wanting all those apples to go to waste before we could eat them all, we got down to processing them. Processing them for pies…

And applesauce!

Applesauce is sooo easy, it was great and tasty. I just made up a rough recipe after reading various versions of applesauce provided by google. Chris’s mom took a bunch of the apples to make into pie filling and freeze for later, so I used the rest for applesauce since we already made three pies. Unfortunately, a lot of the apples were brown or worm-eaten. I’m fairly certain worm-trails in the apples are harmless, but they creep me out anyway, so I cut those parts out. After sorting the good from the bad, I had way less apples than called for in most of the recipes I saw. So I estimated!

This is what I did:
Put 2-3 cups of apples in a pan with 1/2 cup of water.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all of the apples are mushy.
Put apples in a bowl and mash with potato masher or fork.
Add 1/8 cup sugar and cinnamon to taste.
And, voila! Applesauce.

I was worried about the small amount of water at first, wondering how so many apples could actually boil in that small amount of water, but these recipes online know what they’re talking about. The moisture comes out of the apples and they boil just fine.

Did I mention that I love fall?

Written by nikkinbird

September 7, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Duluth homecoming.

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So, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, and I need to remedy that. I do want to get this going more regularly. It’s been almost a year since I started it, and I’ve been pretty on and off with it. Boo.

One big change that happened is that Chris and I moved to Duluth at the beginning of August! We bought a house with the help of his parents, and so far it has been amazing. They are doing a lot of improvements to it and overall, I just love it better than renting. We are so lucky. Moving and unpacking and getting settled had us pretty busy for awhile, but now we’ve kind of settled into a sort of routine, even though we still have lots of organizing to do. One thing we are doing today is going to get little felt feet to put on the bottom of our dining room table and chairs. This is our dining room right now:

In knitting news, I restarted the garter yoke cardigan, which you can see here in its first, giant incarnation. I ripped it all out months ago, and had the balls of yarn sitting around waiting for me to decide if I should try another pattern with it or retry this one. It seems that the yarn really wanted to be a garter yoke cardigan, and, after swatching properly this time, I restarted it about a week and a half ago. Funnily enough. I got closest to gauge with the size needles specified in the pattern, a size 7, instead of the size 9 I used before. So I hope it works out this time. I have now learned my lesson to not only swatch, but to wash the swatch and block it before measuring its gauge! Here is my progress after about a week and a half:
The only size 7 circulars I had were metal needles, which tend to hurt my hands more than bamboo. However, being nearly jobless*, I need to save the 8-10 bucks I’d spend on new needles for food. Plus, I’m worried that switching to different needles may somehow change my gauge. Who knows. So today I am on a knitting break, since my hands are sore from how much knitting I did yesterday. Bummer. I’ve been itching to do some beading for awhile, though, so I can satisfy my crafting urges that way.

*nearly jobless=working part time at the job I had in when I was in college while I look for more full-time work.

Written by nikkinbird

September 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Knitting

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