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Sunday Morning Musings

   The sun is golden, the sky azure, the air cold and still, a haze softening the mountains I see from my seat.  Like a cat, I found the pool of warm light near the dining room doors to the deck. The house is silent except for the electronic hum of the appliances. Here I sit with my coffee and oatmeal, being thankful for my health and the trappings of nearly 40 years of work.
    For almost 34 years now, I have been married to my husband, my best friend.  Together we have raised 3 children, a handful of pets, lost 3 of our parents,  owned several houses and now make our home in a log house of our design, it embracing many thousands of hours of loving labor by our eldest son and his partner.  Our life together has been good, no great.  We have had our share of medical scares, some serious, some inconvenient, but we are fortunate to be active and healthy for our ages. And fortunate to have loving children with their own mates and children, for us as grandparents to love, spoil, and cherish.
     As we are rural and sit amidst many acres of pastureland surrounded by trees, we often see deer, turkey, songbirds and hawks, hear the neighbor’s cattle and the coyotes.  Occassionally we see the coyotes,  a snake, a ground hog, and once a black bear. It is truly beautiful and peaceful here. At night without the light pollution of the cities, the sky is glittering with diamonds of light.  Last night with the moon so full, the house and nearby cedars were casting shadows, and a bold deer grazed within feet of the back deck.
    We are not isolated, however, with a major university town only 15 miles away with restaurants, shopping, entertainment, libraries and parks.  We have the best of both worlds.
    Now that I’ve counted my blessings, I will ponder how to spend the rest of this glorious winter day for tomorrow brings rain, snow, and wind.


SNOWY DAY MITTENS for making or wearing on such days.

This is a quick knit in spite of the colorwork.

Size woman’s 8″ circumference, 10.5″ length

1 skein Black Aran weight wool
12 yards Off white worsted or Aran weight wool
12 yards Gray worsted or Aran weight wool
8 yards Red wine worsted or Aran weight wool
Size US 7 circ or DPNs or size to get gauge
Stitch marker
Tapestry needle
Yarn bobbins (optional), if using yarn bobbins, wind white, gray, and red yarns on bobbins.

Gauge is 10 st X 14 rows = 2 inches in St st
Make 2
  • With black yarn, cast on 40 stitches using a stretchy cast on such as long tail.  Place marker and join in the round being careful not to twist stitches.
  • Knit 4 rows of 1 X 1 rib
  • Rows 1-3: Join white and begin pattern; *Knit 3 white, 1 black* repeat to end of round.

Drop white and cut yarn leaving enough tail to weave in later.

  • Rows 4-6: Join gray and work pattern;
  •  K 1 gray, *K1 black, 3 gray* repeat to last three stitches in round, K1 black, K2 gray
Drop gray and cut yarn.
  • Rows 7-9: Join red and work pattern for 3 rows;*K3 red, K1 black* repeat to end of round.

Drop red, cut yarn.

  • Rows 10-12: Join gray and repeat rows 4-6. Drop gray and cut yarn.
  • Rows 13-15: Join white and repeat rows 1-3. Drop white and cut yarn.
Remainder of mitt will be knit in black.

Work in stockinette for 2″.

Place first 7 stitches onto scrap yarn or flexible stitch hoder for thumb. CO7 stitches and knit to end of round.

Continue to work in stockinette for 5.5″.

To shape the top of the mitt, follow the next two rows 3 times.

*K2tog* repeat to end of round


Cut yarn leaving a tail. Thread through the remaining stitches, pull tight, secure and weave in end on wrong side.

  • Make thumb: 
  • Place stitches from yarn onto needle, pick up 9 stitches on sides and top of opening for a total of 16 stitches. Knit stockinette for 2″.
Next round, K2tog around, cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches, draw tight, secure and weave in end on wrong side.
  • Weave in ends from cuff.
  • Colorwork hint: while working cuff, twist the two working colors every two stitches.

Copywrite 2012 Fran Stafford


The Ruby Hat is an easy hat, knit in the round and a good way to sample several stitch patterns. It fits a 22″ head.

Material required:
1 skein worsted or heavy worsted
size US 8 circ or DPNs
tapestry needle
Cast on 80 stitches using a stretchy cast on such as long tail, place marker and join in the round.
Row 1 Knit
Row 2 Purl
Repeat these 2 rows 4 more times

Row 11-16:  1 X 1 rib

Row 17: *K2tog, YO* repeat to end of row
Row 18: Knit
Row 19: *K2tog, YO* repeat to end of row
Row 20: Knit

Row 21: Purl
Row 22: Knit
Repeat these two rows 3 more times ending on a knit row

Knit 8 rows

Decrease for crown:
Row 1: *Knit 8, K2tog* to end of round,
Row 2: Knit round (repeat for all even numbered rows)
Row 3: *Knit 7, K2tog* to end of round
Row 5: *Knit 6, K2tog* to end of round
Row 7: *Knit 5, K2tog* to end of round
Row 9: *Knit 4, K2tog* to end of round
Row 10: K2tog to end of round
Row 11: Repeat row 10
Cut yarn about 8″ long and thread through remaining stitches and draw up tight. Secure and weave in loose ends.

Copywrite 2012 Fran Stafford

The Beauty and Desolation of Winter

Winter with it’s skeletonized trees provides glimpses into the woods not seen at other seasons, especially when there is a carpet of snow.   Allowing the voyeuristic peeks at deer and turkey browsing within the fringes of the woodlot.

It provides a respite from the weekly mowing and weeding, but lacks the color and depth of texture offered by the other seasons.

Sitting by a woodfire with a cup of tea or glass of wine, good book or knitting in hand is a pleasure only offered by the winter chill beyond the glass.

An occassional walk in the snow or ski trip, bundled up against the cold is invigorating and spurs the sedentary body to activity.

 Though I love these aspects of winter, it is my least favorite season.  It always begins with a winding down of the holidays with family and friends, with deconstructing the seasonal decorations and putting them away for another year.  And the dark brought on by the short days and long nights, the days of cloud cover that seem to far outnumber the days of sunshine is unmotivating and drab.

As it is going to be this way for the next 3 or 4 months, at least let it snow, real snow, not the dustings we have had so far.

Home Again, Finally

This evening, we had our first measurable snowfall, just as the temperatures plummeted from 31f to 19f.  When this occurred, we were about 35 miles from home on our return from our nearly a week of family and friends visitation and we were in 2 cars, as part of our visiting was to go from Virginia Beach, to Vienna, VA on our way home to pick up my car that we loaned to our son’s family for the holidays.  About 10 minutes into the storm, chaos began on I-81, with a pickup truck accident and fire, then a multivehicle accident a few hundred yards farther along and dozens of tractor trailers that couldn’t climb the icy snow coated road, so traffic slowed to a literal 3 mph, then stopped.  My car was critically low on fuel as we approached this mess with intentions to stop and get fuel just where the first accident occurred.  As we inched along, the fuel gauge needle continued to creep farther and farther into the red.  Just as I feared that I was going to run out of gas, causing further havoc on the interstate, the trucks who couldn’t get up the hill were spreading out allowing the cars to slowly weave through them and get off the exits.  My Honda has a 14 gallon tank, it took 13.6 gals at the pump. Sigh of relief.  We only saw one more accident after leaving the interstate, but those 35 miles took us 2 hours to complete.  Oh, and to add insult to this situation, the check engine light came on shortly after fueling and I just spent an arm and leg having the 120,000 mile servicing done.  That is just going to have to wait for another day.

The New Year

This has been a whirlwind few days of family and friends.  Off to Virginia Beach, we finally celebrated Christmas with our youngest and his family with two wonderful dinners prepared by them, gift exchange, and enjoying their children experience “Christmas” morning (they postponed their celebration until Thursday eve and Friday morning as our son worked Christmas eve and day).  That is the joy of Christmas to grandparents.

It was joyful to visit with my 88 year old, still very active Dad and my stepmom.  It cheers me that he is still active enough to deliver meals on wheels to shut-ins half his age, to prepare all of their meals, care for his gardens and yard.  I hope to remain as healthy and active as he when I am his age.

New Years Eve took us to Jim’s sisters house then together we  celebrated with our ski club friends at one of their homes, music, dancing, food and fun.  It has been way too many years since we partied, usually we stay  home alone and watch the Times Square ball drop.  What a fun time we had, even though I chose to be the designated driver and only had one glass of wine all night.

Our holiday week is winding down with a quick trip to northern Virginia for one night with our eldest and his family before heading back home to the mountains for a predicted blast of arctic weather cold and snow.

Though Christmas Day was spent alone this year with phone calls to kids, friends and family, we have certainly had plenty of time with family and friends to make up for it.  My wish to you and yours is a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

Nadia Lattice Lace Scarf

This blog is going to primarily be for knitting related topics and a way to share patterns of my designs.  Though this is not my first design, it is the first to be published.  The scarf is in honor of the birth of my granddaughter on Thanksgiving Day.

It is a simple lightweight scarf from a single skein of fingering weight yarn.


250 yds or more fingering weight
US 7 needles
Tapestry needle

Pattern repeat is 6 rows

Cast on 25 stitches using long tail cast on

Knit 6 rows in stockinette.

Row 1 – Knit 1, *yarn over, knit 2 together*
Row 2 – Repeat row 1
Row 3 – Repeat row 1
Row 4 – Repeat row 1
Row 5 & 6 knit

Repeat pattern until desired length.
Knit 6 rows, bind off loosely.
Block to open the lace
Finished scarf will vary according to gauge but should be about 5″ wide and 60″ long.

  1. copywrite Fran Stafford 2011  This pattern is free to use, items may be made and sold, but the pattern may not be published without my permission.

First holiday alone

We knew this time would come, but found we weren’t prepared for it.  Having come from a family of three children with many fond Christmas memories, it was easy to establish traditions and memories for our three children.  Christmas eve was spent celebrating with extended family for a turkey and ham dinner at our house, or at my father’s.  Christmas morning with our children at home, sometimes with grandparents, sometimes, just family, an open house buffet of treats for family and visitors, Christmas stockings, Santa, and gifts that indulged our children often stretching our budget.

As our children grew up, left home, and started their own families, we still often had one or more of them home on Christmas Day, or we traveled to one of them to spend the morning watching their children enjoy the excitement of Christmas morning.

This year was to be different.  Our eldest and his family were to spend Christmas Day with his son’s other grandparents.  They visited us for one night a couple days before Christmas and had our celebrations then.  Our daughter and her husband had just had a new baby on Thanksgiving Day and we had traveled to see them the next week, taking their gift with us.  Our youngest, had to work Christmas eve and Christmas Day, so we will travel to celebrate with them later this week.  That left just my husband and me to greet the day and carry on our traditions as best we could without children in the house.  It just isn’t the same, in spite of my efforts to prepare his favorite breakfast and later a small turkey dinner, it was still too quiet and sedate.

Next year, we will be sure to be at the home of one of our kids on Christmas morning and savor the sounds and excitement of the children.