Dimensions: 56”(142 cm) wide X 28” (71 cm) neck to point
2 skeins Malabrigo Rios or other worsted Merino wool
US size 8 needle
Tapestry needle
Set  up rows
CO 3 stitches
Knit 3 rows in garter stitch increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of each row (I use knit front and back of second stitch).
Pattern repeat rows:
*K1, YO* to end of row, no increase at start of row
Knit 1 row dropping the YOs from the previous row, increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of the row.
Knit 2 rows in garter stitch increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of each row.
Continue pattern repeat rows until shawl is desired size, ending with a knit row.  Bind off using preferred bind off method.  Weave in loose ends.

This is a quick shawl, generous and warm.
copywrite Fran Stafford 2012

Global warming?

Last eve was balmy, creek flooding rain falling beating on our metal roof.  Calm enough to not stir the windchimes off the back deck.  It had rained all day, sometimes like gentle spring rain, at other times torrential downpours.  The region needs the rain, so I can’t grouse about it too much, though it reminds me of the winters past on the east coast, 40F, rainy and raw.  Not the spring showers that are pleasant to walk in.

This morning brought a new spectrum.  It was 20F when I arose, only expected to make it to the mid 20’s today.  As often happens in this mountain hollow, the wind is blowing like it wants to remove our house from its path, a steady 25 mph with gusts reaching 45 mph.  The other morning surprise is a dusting of snow and light snow trying to fall.  The air is a swirling mass of white, mostly looking like it is blowing horizontally to the next mountain. I’m hoping more will find its way to the ground.

Growing up in eastern Virginia, before moving westward to the mountains, I always heard the saying, “if you don’t like the weather today, stick around for 24 hours, it will change.”  That seems to be true of this winter in the mountains too.

Wednesday Night Comraderie

     Wednesday night is Ladies Night Out, though we have a couple of husbands that come along and hang out on the fringes, accepting a bit of joshing from the group, giving some back, and always willing to accept goodies when we celebrate a birthday.  The size and composition of the group varies from week to week, but the purpose is the same, to socialize, knit together as we are all knitters, have show and tell, share patterns, yarn, needles and ideas.
     In some circles, these groups are called Stitch and Bitch, or Knit Night.  We have fondly nicknamed ourselves Clicks and Sticks.
     Our venue welcomes us, they have a huge table we take over each week, eating, drinking tea or coffee or an occassional beer or wine and sharing our week.  This group at times is silly, at times a support group, always friends.  When a friend from our group moves on due to job change, we celebrate our friendship with a party usually involving more food, yarn goodies and a new address book that we all fill with our addresses, emails or other means of contact, so that we can stay in touch.
     A few times of the year, we move to someone’s home and celebrate our friendship with a potluck.  Always we bring our knitting and/or spinning and continue to enjoy the Wednesday Night comraderie, even if it is on a Saturday.
    I cherish this group, they were my first friends when I moved to the mountains and I hope they continue to be called my friends for years to come.

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.

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family