This site is currently in beta mode. Please contact us with your comments or suggestions.

Author Archives: Selma Moss-Ward

  • Lola Saves The Day! (or... Selma takes Lola On The Road)

    LolaReturns

    It’s a fact of modern life that families often disperse for economic reasons.  My sons and my sister moved from the east coast to west coast for work.  I’m still firmly entrenched in New England.  Now I have young grandchildren who live far away.  Although I take two trips annually to California, I want to be more than an occasional presence to them, more than an image on a computer screen when we have video-chats.

    That’s how Lola saved the day!

    Readers of the Lion Brand Blog know Lola as a regular feature by cartoonist Todd Clark*.  She’s a white-haired, knitting-and-crochet–fixated lady, whose feisty energy is concealed by her grandmotherly appearance.  Nothing comes between Lola and her needlecraft, and her output of knitted and crocheted garments is on the extreme end of things.  This creates comic situations that ring true for those of us who are, shall we say, somewhat needlecraft addicted?

    A friend from the Philippines tells me that lola is the Tagalog word for grandmother.  So when I saw in Lion Brand’s Pattern Database that there are knit and crochet designs for a Lola doll, I knew the “make your own grandma” moment had come.  I set about knitting a Lola for Max and Addie, and decided to bring her to them myself.  Lola would be not just a plaything, but a grandma double, to remind them of me after I returned home, three thousand miles away.

    Lola at Metro station2

    I’m happy to report that last week Lola enjoyed her trip to California immensely.  Though the temperature on both coasts was almost the same—in the high nineties!—it was less humid in the west than in the east.  This appealed to Lola, who likes her weather and martinis dry.  Even so, she was glad to have her removable raglan cardigan with her, because you never know when you’ll be in an overly air-conditioned environment!

    Lola and I took the Metro from Santa Monica to downtown LA, enjoying the shockingly low senior citizen fare (thirty-five cents!) as well as the view from the elevated platform.  Arriving in the heart of downtown, we strolled about Union Station, appreciating its beautiful architecture, and discovering a lovely garden, with fountains and umbrella-shielded tables.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    The highlight of that day and every day, though, was spending time with Max (two-and-a-half years) and his sister, Adeline (seven months).  They’ve all along been beneficiaries of their grandmother’s knitting addiction.  Since living in a warm climate cancels the need for mittens, sweaters, and caps, Max and Addie have amassed a collection of grandma-knitted stuffed toys, some of which have been documented in previous Lion Brand Blog posts (Sheepdog, William Hedgehog, a caterpillar, a lion, Babar, and a couple of bunnies).

    lolasbabies

    Lola is the latest addition to this cast of characters.  Max, actually, calls Lola “Grandma,” and he was thrilled to learn she’d be moving into his room.  So, too, was I.  If I can’t be with these lovable children in reality, at least I can be there by proxy.

    Lola posing among prickly pear cactus paddles

    *Editor's Note: One of my favorite moments when joining Lion Brand's marketing team was discovering the brilliant Lola Comic Strips by Todd Clark. If you are, as Selma says, addicted to needlecraft, you should find yourself chuckling right along with the wry humor of this ultimate Grandma! If you find yourself needing a little Lola in your life, grab the free knit pattern here, and the free crochet pattern here. Long live Lola!

    Tagged In: Read More
  • Summer Memories in the Making: The Leaf Squares Afghan

    Summer vacation is a grand opportunity for knitting.  You’ve got time to express your creativity, time to knit to your heart’s content!  Summer is also when you’re outdoors, at the beach or pool, in your garden or a public park.  You’d love to sit under a shade tree and knit, but the thought of making something large that drapes across your lap…well, no thanks.

    IMG_4202

    The Leaf Squares Afghan will change your mind about summer knitting.  Constructed incrementally, piece by piece, it’s an entirely portable project.  You work with only a single skein at a time, so you’re not hauling around loads of yarn in the heat. Each section is only 25 rows from start to finish, ultimately measuring about 8.5 inches square.  This means that each section is small enough to pop inside a beach bag, a handbag, or even a large pocket.  You can have it with you on day trips, when traveling, or even while you’re waiting in the car to pick up kids from camp.

    Landscapes®, the yarn for this pattern, is light and lofty; knitting it is a tactile pleasure. This loftiness also guarantees that when the sections are sewn into a larger blanket you’ll have warmth without much weight.

    Landscapes has great stitch definition, silky luster, subtle and rich coloration.  Once you’ve completed the squares and joined them, you’ll see how the several colors of yarn, plus the multiplication of the leaf pattern, plus the texture and drape of the fabric, create a whole that’s much more than the sum of its parts.  It’s a magical result.

    FullSizeRender

    Equally magical, though, is the knitting of each section.  Think of each square as a knitting companion.  Take one with you as you move through your summer; before long, you’ve finished it and started another.  Each square accomplishes so much, so quickly, that you never lose interest.  In fewer than 25 rows, an embossed leaf pattern emerges within all of the four triangles composing each square.  And each square is so cleverly constructed that you’ll learn lots about knitting technique (or refresh what you already know).

    The Leaf Squares Afghan reminds me, amusingly, of Aesop’s fable of the grasshopper and the ant.  In summer the grasshopper played, while the ant worked steadily to gather food for the winter.  When summer ended, the ant had enough food stored for the winter months, while the grasshopper, who hadn’t anticipated the future, knew he would go hungry.

    In knitting the Leaf Squares Afghan I see myself as Aesop’s industrious ant preparing for winter, but with this difference—my work is also my relaxation and my play.  As I embark on summer travel, or as I sit on my screen porch at twilight, I’m having a great time knitting each and every square.  By summer’s end I’ll have finished all 36 pieces, and I’ll sew them together in the fall.  Then, in the winter, when I pull the Leaf Squares Afghan around me for some extra warmth, I’ll be reminded of the places I went and the things I did during those lovely summer days.

     

    Tagged In: Read More
  • Love that Lasts: Knitted Stuffed Animals

    Want to knit a sheepdog?  Or an elephant, rabbit, bear, or skunk?  Go for it!  I began knitting toys decades ago, for myself as much as for special kids.  Lately I’ve been knitting toys for my grandchildren.  Knit a sweater for a toddler, and she’ll outgrow it in a season.  Knit a stuffed animal for a toddler, and she’ll have a forever friend.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    I have two rules about knitting stuffed toys.  The first:  Always use a washable yarn that’s mothproof.  You want your animal to have a good, long life.  Acrylic is best for surviving love’s energy, moths, and the dust of time. I favor Vanna’s Choice® for its durability and clear, vibrant colors.  (I also admire that Lion Brand donates a percentage of Vanna’s Choice® sales to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.)

    The second rule:  Assume that the toy will not look exactly like the pattern illustration. Just as expectant parents have a vague idea of how their newborn will look, so too do knitters have a general sense of a project’s outcome.  But stuffed animals, like kids, have characters independent of the creator, and they always become distinctive selves. I promise that you’ll be delighted by the uniqueness of your knitted pet.

    Recently, when I made the Knitted Farm Animals Sheep Dog, I observed my rules, and I’m completely in love with the result.  Sheep Dog is knitted in black and white Vanna’s Choice® acrylic worsted.  Even though I carefully followed the instructions, he definitely has his own look, different from the pattern photo.  Why?

    Unlike many toy designs, Sheep Dog is knitted on straight needles, rather than double points. Sheep Dog has twelve flat pieces that are sewn together. That’s significant sewing, and his face is embroidered, too. (Here’s a tip:  leave six inches of yarn attached to each piece after binding off, and use it for seaming.) The extra steps required by the sewing, as opposed to the fewer steps required by knitting in the round, impact the toy’s appearance.

    Yet Sheep Dog has a flexibility enabled by the joint-like connections of some seams. If you look at the photo of Sheep Dog next to Babar (a free pattern on Ravelry, also knitted in Vanna’s Choice®), you’ll see that Babar’s legs—knitted on double points and integral to his torso—don’t bend, but Sheep Dog can easily sit because his legs are hinged to his body by seams.

    Since Sheep Dog’s face is embroidered—except for his nose, which is a very small knitted triangle—each knitter will impart her own sewing “signature” to his features.  That’s the main reason his individual look is guaranteed.  Gauge, and density of stuffing, will also affect Sheep Dog’s appearance.  I stuffed Sheep Dog somewhat loosely, to impart a floppy “Beanie Baby” look.  Additionally, I didn’t strictly follow the designer’s instructions for sewing Sheep Dog’s ears or tail, because I wanted him droopy.

    Sheep Dog took about a weekend to knit and assemble.  If you’re the kind of knitter who likes swift results, toys are good projects.  Just be aware that you might have a hard time surrendering your knitted pets for adoption.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Tagged In: Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. Previous
  5. ...