Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Hank" the Cat Morphed into a Fish

Henry the bear is still without a face and ears - still brewing on it. As I mentioned prior, I choose to frog the cat pattern and found this one to honor good ol' Grandma Henrietta (Hank) Oudbier (we called her G'ma OddBear) - introducing Hank the Fish, all felted and stuffed:

Prefelting and prestuffing:
Post-felting and stuffing:

I loved this pattern - Fiberspace's Fanciful Felted Fish designed by Linda Taylor - the only odd thing I found with the pattern is that it called for size 8dpns and 10.5 Circular and then it never told ya when to switch over to the circs and so I didn't - I'm pretty satisfied with the results - perfect size and only took one skein of Noro instead of three (literally one tiny scrap of yarn left over). I was going to choose some uncoordinating yarn colors to truly reflect G'ma Oddbear's poor eyesight but now I realize that had G'ma had access to some Noro Kuryeon in her day she would have spared her grandchildren the scars and taunts for her color foibles. Plus this choice goes with the under the sea theme in one of the nurseries although I wonder if it will ever end up there:

Friday, August 25, 2006

I cast on yesterday

Yesterday was my dad's birthday and I thought it was the most appropriate day for me to cast on. I got one side of the small doll done last night and will try to get the other side done tonight after work. I'm going to try and knit this in secret so there is some element of surprise for my son on his birthday. Anyway, that's my update for now. I have to work quite a bit of hours this weekend so I may not get much knitting done. Peace.

From the Laundry Room

I thought I better make a decision and post something about my project for this KAL - it did officially start on August 1st after all…anyway - I had recently walked the Relay for Life in memory of my dad so I decided to knit something to commemerate the death of our two dogs, Henry and Cody.

As a child my family had a St. Bernard, Heidi. I still remember being in the pen with my sister and lifting all of the puppies by their front paws, looking for girls. I have an affinity for larger animals - didn’t want to have the slobber of a St. Bernard or a Mastiff so my husband and I checked out the Bernese Mountain Dogs at the local dog show 14 years ago. The Berners are large dogs but have a dry mouth - perfect. We met some of the breeders and fell in love with the breed and put our names on a wait list of a breeder in the Rochester area.

We got Henry at 7 weeks old in May, 1993 - it was love at first site. We belonged to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of the Greater Twin Cities at the time and met a lot of great people (and dogs). A rescue situation came up - a lady in St. Paul wanted to get rid of her 2 year old female (her husband had died and the dog was really his…) so we adopted Cody and picked her up on Sunday, October 30, 1994. They were great pets - we did have our share of surgeries though - they are a great breed but things can happen.

We only had Cody for 5 years, she was a special little package who did not bark. She reminded me of a little old lady as she would nod her head up and down, with her tongue hanging out - when she was clearly objecting about something. She was also a very messy eater as she had a parrot or overshot mouth - but she was a sweetie and wonderful with the kids.

We had Henry for 10 years- of which the last year or so we dealt with a bone cancer that basically appeared out of nowhere. One day he was fine, the next he stumbled going down the stairs and a diagnosis was made. We made some very heroic efforts, short of amputation, and did gain a few more months of time with him. He also was very loved by all of the kids and we all had a difficult time deciding when the right time was to put him down.
Both of our dogs were very stoic and loyal. We have Henry’s ashes buried in our backyard and the kids still stand by the spot and talk to him once in a while.

For this reason I thought it would be very fitting to make something fun to display in remembrance so I am going to make a version of the “Handsome Hound” from Handknits for Kids. Mine will be a combination of her pattern and the one found in Knit1.

(We love this breed so much we decided to get another. So about 1 year later Freeway, renamed Bruno came into our home and fit right in, much to the distress of the cats…)

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Hello fellow KAL participants - here is hoping that your projects or ideas about projects are going well - a few of you have posted but it would be great to hear from more of you, although I realize Dia de los Muertos is a little ways away. I noticed that Bezzie had posted on her blog her completed doll which I think looks way cool - (hope you don't mind the link Bezzie).

My progress - presenting faceless Henry the Bear:

I'm still trying to ponder how to do his face as the pattern pic looks way cuter than I think Henry could ever hope to be. I've also made a decision regarding my prior plans to make Jeanette the Rabbit and Hank the Cat - this seaming is kicking my butt and I think baby and toddler boys are going to rip Henry's seams apart till there is just a carcass of parts. I'm planning to hit my LYS to find some patterns for some felted animals but do plan to pay tribute to Grandma Jeanette and Grandma Hank - they just may morph from a cat and rabbit to some other kind of critter - maybe like the Wonder Twins?

With the help of Madre Garcia I hope to have September Day of the Dead recipe up soon - look forward to seeing what you are all up to!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Hello there!

I thought that since I haven't done a lick of knitting tonight I might as well do something productive and do a introductory post here in the KAL. :o) So, hi!

I'm Kel (Kellie) and I'm in Lansing, MI. I have an utterly boring job that I loathe but I am also a student at Siena Heights University finishing up my long awaited Bachelors Degree so I have hope that life won't always bite. :o)

For my KAL project(s) I have no idea what I'm doing. Yay for slacking! :op I'm considering some sort of stuffed animal/doll to one day have for my children, but then I thought that maybe I'd pick projects that are useful now but also a tribute somehow. I'm still looking, basically.

As for people I'd like to do something in honor of (and don't necessarily expect to do them all by the deadline)...

My Grandma Small: who encouraged my big mouth and was proud of my ability to stand up for what I believe in even if it meant butting heads with her.

My Grannie Jones: who I never knew well enough but had a great giggle and birthed thirteen children so she must have been amazing. :o)

My Grandpa Jones: who I still wish I'd talked to.

My Ele's Kids: who have been a huge inspiration to me for almost 7 years. *Ele's Place is a healing center for grieving children. I've been a volunteer there since 1999 and ran the support group for Pre-K kids (ages 3-6).*

As soon as I figure out what the heck I'm doing, I'll share the good news. But until then, I look forward to hearing from the rest of you!

Happy Knitting!

Kicking around an idea

Hey all, I'm kicking around an idea here to go along with my day of the dead dolls and thought I'd throw it out there. My grandparents were very important in my life and all but one are departed. I've inherited lots of pictures of my Dad's parents at various stages in their life and can certainly get some of my Mom's parents from her. I'd like to create some type of collage/watercolor piece of art honoring them but here's where I'm a little confused. Is it okay to include my surviving grandmother in that as well? She and my grandfather are so linked it my mind it would seem the natural thing to do but I don't want to be tacky or disrespectful by putting her image in a piece honoring those who've departed. What do you think? Alicia

Monday, August 07, 2006

From Terri

My creative process tends to lead me down mysterious paths, presenting me with imagery it designates as Important long before revealing what that imagery means. It’s been no different with what seemed to be a straightforward project--my Day of the Dead knitalong project. I hit on what to make and how to do it weeks before the meaning of the piece emerged from its hiding place and announced its presence.

I wanted to make a doll, but the only things I liked about the doll pattern in Knit.1 were, well, the idea of making a doll and the basic shape. Didn’t like the colors, or the way the embroidery was done, or the rather empty, anonymous feeling they convey. I imagined instead a doll which followed the tradition of DOTD figurines: the body in white (since it’s meant to be a skeleton), and adorned with clothes and other things which give it meaning. I love that the Mexican tradition honors departed loved ones by representing who and what they were in life with specific attributes of their professions or hobbies.

Did I want to honor a particular person, or simply pay tribute to the idea of relatives who have passed on? At the time I bought my yarn, I couldn’t yet answer that question. But today, as I cast on my eight stitches to start the head of the large doll, I knew.
It’s my grandmother I want to honor. No, she wasn’t Mexican, and the clothes I plan to make for this doll will be nothing like what she wore in life. But she would have loved the colors, the attention to detail and the craftsmanship, and my hope is that the doll will carry some of her essence.

My grandmother had considerable artistic talent which, because of the time in which she lived and the circumstances of who she was, she was never able to pursue. I only knew her for a short time since she died when I was three, but I remember her drawing with me, both of us curled up on the sofa and armed with pencils, her charming sketches of people and abstract noodlings joining my scribbly figures on the page. I still have the handmade notebook in which she and I sketched together, and on the wall in my bedroom is a marvelous drawing she made, a stunningly sophisticated work of abstraction for something which came from the pen of an untrained artist.

Unable to even consider art school or a career as a painter, she turned her talents to more traditional women’s crafts: knitting, sewing, quilting and turning out googobs of elaborate crocheted doilies. She had to make things, and I inherited that tendency from her. I wish she’d lived long enough that I could have known her as an adult, and I often wonder if she felt frustrated and what she would have done with her life if given the option.

I see this knitalong as an opportunity for me to think more about who my grandmother was. Much of what I know about her comes from family stories, so she is present in my mind as a knitted-together, distant memory. But I do know this: she loved crafts of any sort, loved working on them herself, loved to see what others were making. She’d be pleased to know that I’m a knitter, and she’d be interested in my progress with my doll.

Whether the doll winds up being remotely like what I’m currently envisioning...we’ll see. I know how my process works, and it’s rarely written in stone. But I’m looking forward to what emerges, to surprising myself, and to putting something out there for my grandmother to see, should her spirit decide to visit.

On to the yarn.

The delightful Amy and I raided the coffers of Borealis Yarns in St. Paul and came up with treasure. We both bought Cascade wool, since the manufacturer had somehow brilliantly anticipated the colors we were wanting and sent them to the store just for us. Of course, the wonders of digital photography have reduced their vividness to mush, but here they are:

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Kristi asked me to post my story here and what I'm going to knit for the KAL but Blog Spot is doing something right now and won't let me put up a photo.... Sooooo here's the link to my post on my blog if you'd like to read the "what and why" LOL. I'm looking forward to the what and why's of all of you!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Hank" the cat, "Jeanette" the rabbit, and "Henry" the bear

I already posted this on my blog but thought it would be a good idea to post it directly on the KAL site to encourage others to share their memories, tributes, and projects. I believe Amy, my co-host, will be putting her touching tribute here as well, but until then, go check out her blog - her stories are in the true spirit of what this KAL is about!

My tribute stories are more of the dysfunctional variety- but you get what you're born into and so it goes!

I went back and forth about who I wanted to pay tribute to and how to make the tribute special and something I could pass on to the trio that is baking in my oven as I type. I finally decided on making these three stuffed toys to be named after my two grandmothers and one grandfather (my other grandfather will have an actual boy named after him so I didn't leave him out):

"Hank" the cat will be named after my grandmother Henrietta Oudbeir who went by the nickname "Hank". My grandparents all passed on when I was in elementary school so I have few memories of them. Hank was what people refer to as "good Dutch stock" - AKA - big birthing hips, breasts that could serve as a shelf and nurse a small town, and a body meant for farming tulips (this gene code got flushed out with my mom). A Dutch immigrant who was an avid knitter, Hank taught my mom to knit. Hank suffered from some serious cataracts and her color choices for the knitted sweaters she made for me as kid were crazy and in some states, illegal. I would plead for hours not to wear them cause no one in school were wearing box shaped vests in peach, puke brown, and lime green. I wonder why I choose a career as a therapist? I am going to make Hank the cat out of the craziest colors I can combine from my stash and pass my psychological scars to my own children in a less distressing and damaging way.

"Jeanette" the rabbit is a tribute to my grandma Daane. Jeanette was also a Dutch immigrant but because of severe ADHD (this gene code was passed on) would not have been able to sit still for two seconds let alone learn to knit. She was known for being a terrible cook, nervous, and felt daily naps were a requirement to good health - she believed in this so much that she would take sleeping pills to take her afternoon naps while my dad and his siblings ran loose in the city - I tell dad that if Grandma Daane did this today, child protective services would be a frequent flyer in his homestead.

"Henry" the bear is named after Grandpa Daane, another Hollander, who was a laid back, happy go lucky, and gentle guy who founded a butcher shop (this carnivore gene was washed out) that would later become a successful supermarket chain in Grand Rapids. I have the fewest memories of Grandpa Henry but hear that me and my brother have his crinkly moon-shaped eyes when we smile - the only memory I do have is of me crying in my dad's lap after Grandpa tried to entertain me by popping out his teeth. People wonder why I have an obsession with brushing and flossing my teeth and reciting to others "you don't have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!"

Please share your stories and tributes - I'm excited to see what others are up to!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Welcome to the Day of the Dead KAL

Inspired by the Summer 2006 issue of Knit.1, which has a section devoted to Frida Kahlo and includes patterns for three Day of the Dead dolls, we(Kristi and Amy) thought it would be fun to have a Day of the Dead KAL. First we thought everyone could do the Knit.1 dolls, but as we learned more about the holiday and did some homework-we realized the potential was greater than just the dolls (Kristi's in-law family is from Mexico and is a great resource not to mention willing to part with some traditional Mexican recipes that will be posted on the sidebar).

Day of the Dead is a truly amazing festivity, joyously celebrating the lives of loved ones who have died. The range of celebrations and events varies greatly within Mexico, but the common theme is celebration-not mourning. And food is a major factor, which readers of Amy's blog will know caught her attention right off the top. So we'd like to invite you all to join us. You don't have to be Hispanic or Catholic. Heck, you don't even have to have a blog. Here's what you do have to do: Commit to a Day of the Dead knitting project. Let your creativity fly! Get your hands on a copy of the Knit.1 patterns and make a set of dolls. Or perhaps knit a food fit for a celebration. Or knit something special in memory of someone special, to be used in your own Day of the Dead festivities (more on that later).

Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, so that's your deadline. Although the official start date for the KAL is August 1, this is not written in stone due to variable projects that may be chosen. Let us know, via comments or email, who you are and what you'd like to knit. We'll compile a list of participants that will be kept in a sidebar. This is not just for bloggers; if you want to participate but don't have a blog, let us know, and keep us posted with emails and digital photographs of your work-in-progress for us to post. Finally-here's the fun part! - don't just knit. Have your own Day of the Dead celebration. It can be small, or it can be your whole city's worth of knitters. You decide. Do some homework; we're providing links over on the right to information about Day of the Dead. But have a celebration, keeping true to the spirit, and send us pictures or links to your blog, showing your festivities! Remember--the key word is "festivity."There will be prizes-don't know what, don't know when, don't know why. But we'll keep posting info as we get it on this blog.

One note: we do not mean any disrespect in any way, shape, or form. We are doing this because the whole idea of celebrating people's lives seems like a particularly wonderful way to remember someone. Sure, some of the knitting may be silly-that's OK. If you're a silly person, that's how you'll be remembered yourself. Let your silliness and creativity reign! But if this offends you, you probably don't quite understand the spirit in which it's being created, and it's not the right KAL for you. Everyone else? C'mon along!

*****Back issues of Summer 2006 Knit.1 can be ordered by calling Jane Dutko at 877-860-6164. ************

Kal Kickoff August Recipe - Empanadas

A traditional turnover style desert, empanadas can be either baked or fried. Filling can vary according to region but usually includes some variation of pumpkin and spices. A traditional celebration food in Latino households, Empanadas are not for the health conscious!
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard or shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Fat for deep frying (optional)
Powdered sugar or granulated sugar
1 16oz. can pumpkin
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in lard or shortening till mixture resembles cornmeal. Beat eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring till combined (use hands if necessary).
Form dough into a ball, cover and chill for one hour.
While dough is chilling, mix together all ingredients for filling.
Divide dough into 16 portions and lightly flour a rolling surface.

Roll each portion into a 6-inch circle. Place about 3 tablespoons pumpkin filling on each. Moisten edges with a little water; fold in half, pressing edges with a fork to seal. Fry or bake as directed. Makes 16 empanadas.

To fry: Fry empanadas, a few at a time, in deep hot fat (375 degrees) for about 4 minutes or till golden, turning once. Drain on paper toweling. Sprinkle with powdered sugar

To bake: Place empanadas on baking sheet.

Brush tops with a little milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Wait to cool.