Rhinebeck! Who’s going?

Friday evening my teenager and I are hopping in the car and taking a road trip like we have for the previous three years. We’ll pop an autumnal playlist in the CD player (maybe this, this, or probably this) and drive up the New York State Thruway in the dark until we reach our hotel.

The next morning, we’ll find a place to get some coffee and a pastry to-go, and enjoy the beautiful foliage on our trip to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.

I’ve already started checking the weather for Saturday, and I was so excited to see this:


Now that is perfect weather. In the past, it’s been too warm in the afternoon for sweater-wearing, but 54F°? No, I don’t think there’s much danger of overheating in that temperature. Yay!

This will be our fourth time going there together, and there is just one thing that I’d like to do differently: I’d like to keep to myself less.

I would like to be comfortable socializing with other yarn enthusiasts, wandering into the Ravelry gathering, saying hello to people who I may recognize from their online presences, etc. But left to my own devices, I know it won’t happen. I’m just too timid for my own good!

Every year my son, who is not exactly Mr. Outgoing himself, pushes me to be more social. “You should go introduce yourself,” he has said on multiple occasions. And I have usually replied with, “you think? Should I? No… should I? Do you think she’ll even remember we exchanged email? Nah.”  And so on.

So this year, I have decided that maybe I should just accept that I am never going to be the one to initiate the conversation, and instead try to get some of YOU to make the first move for me.

button_mockupI have just ordered some snazzy Polka Dot Cottage buttons (that’s a mockup pictured there – fingers crossed they show up in time) and some business cards with coupon codes on the back.

If you come over and introduce yourself to me at Rhinebeck, I will give you a button (while supplies last) and a coupon code worth $5 off any pattern or tutorial purchase in the Downloads Shop.

Sound cool? I hope so! I really would love to put some faces to familiar names, and I am very enthusiastic about the process of chatting with some like-minded folks at the festival. I just need a little help getting started :-)

How will you know me? First off, I will only be there SATURDAY, so don’t look for me on Sunday 😉 Also, this is me:


(unless my new glasses have not yet arrived in the mail, in which case this is me:)


and the plan is to wear this sweater:

My finished Caribou!

Additionally, I will have this guy with me (and he will probably not be wearing any handknits because he is a teenager and because “no Mom, I’m not a hipster”):

Aidan, Sophomore

He and I both will be wearing one of the aforementioned Polka Dot Cottage buttons, and I will have a tote bag with my Polka Dot Cottage logo slung over my shoulder. I’ll also have on a Ravelry button with my name and Ravelry ID (lclarke522) written on it.

If any of these things change, I’ll be sure to blog it, or Instagram/Tweet it with the hashtag #pdcsayhello (feel free to use that hashtag to get my attention!)


TWiP: Colorful and Cozy

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

I’m a little surprised how colorful this week’s mosaic is, considering how gray and boring I have felt most of that time. I spent all of Monday laying on the couch, sneezing and coughing, and as much time as possible the surrounding days just taking it easy. I would not have said this was a particular bright or vibrant week, and yet… I guess I surround myself with lots of color and cozy things when I feel under the weather, eh?

At this point my cold has reached the point of being nothing more than a minor annoyance (yay!) and we’ve taken a little trek down to the Washington DC area for the weekend. We don’t have much planned aside from kicking back and enjoying the hotel room while Neil does his thing at Capclave. I did see a Hancocks Fabric on our way here, and I’ve never spotted one of those out in the wild before, so that may be a good Saturday afternoon destination. For me, I mean. I can’t imagine either of my boys calling that a “good” destination :-)

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot with my DSLR for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some phone snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


Instagram: A certain husband is getting impatient for his sweater to be done. He’s working my fingers to the bone today 😋

365: 2015 276/365 – Yeah, I’ve spent all day pretty much sitting on my bed, knitting, and watching Netflix. I’ve got a bit of a cold, so I feel justified taking it easy. And oh! I just saw When Harry Met Sally is available on Amazon Prime Video! That movie is a favorite, and I haven’t seen it in ages. I know what I’m doing for the next hour and 36 minutes :-)


365: 2015 277/365 – Happy 5th birthday to my nephew! His party was one of the highlights of a very busy Sunday :-) [at my brother-in-law’s house]

Instagram: Why, yes, I did heat up some coffee just so that I’d have somewhere to dunk my pumpkin biscotti… I don’t regret it 😊☕


365: 2015 278/365 – It’s Day 3 of my cold. Traditionally for me, Day 3 is the peak of miserableness in the cold cycle. It’s the day where I’m good for little more than watching TV and blowing my nose. It’s a little nice, in its own way, to have an excuse to take it super easy, although it would be better without all of the sneezing and such :-p


365: 2015 279/365 – Day 4 of my cold. Feeling more human :-) I even baked cookies (if putting hunks of pre-made dough onto a cookie sheet and pressing “bake” on the oven can be considered baking…)


365: 2015 280/365 – These little bowls are my favorite thing in my kitchen cabinets right now.


Instagram: I want to create high quality repeating digital patterns out of our family #crochet blankets, so I brought them to the brightest spot in the house for a little photo shoot 😊📷 #pdcneutralsquaresblanket #pdcmodfloralblanket #pdclakesideforestblanket #pdcflufysgrannysquareblanket

365: 2015 281/365 – That moment you realize that the one and only picture you took for 365 was blurry, but you didn’t realize it in time because you took it off of the camera the following day and now it’s too late to take another one.


365: 2015 282/365 – Hellooooooo, Gaithersburg! Let the kicking back commence. [in Maryland]

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Bookish: 6 recent titles for crafty peeps

2015 273/365

Periodically publishers send me free books to review. I love this. I’m like a kid on Christmas when a new title unexpectedly lands in my mailbox, and I often drop everything to curl up on the couch with it.

The problem is that once I have finished flipping through the book, no matter how much I loved it, I have a hard time carving out enough time to really give it a thorough review here. I end up putting off the task, waiting until I am in a place to do it justice. And sometimes that works out just fine.

But other times? I never do get around to telling you about them. And that’s just silly.

So I’m taking the pressure off of myself to go in-depth with these individually, and making it ok to do round-up type posts when I have a nice little pile of books accumulated.

Now, I mentioned at the beginning of this post that these books were sent to me for free by the publishers. The usual disclaimers apply here, and I should also tell you that if a book didn’t appeal to me, I won’t be mentioning it. These six books are not the only ones I was sent. They’re just the ones I liked the most :-)

Geek Knits

Geek Knits

Geek Knits by Joan of Dark (aka Toni Carr) published by St. Martin’s Griffin

I’ll admit it – this book grabbed me at first simply because I am geek enough to recognize a number of the models. (I am also a tiny bit relieved to learn that I am not so much of a geek that I recognize everyone).

In this book you will find a number of geek-culture-inspired knits to make, all of them modeled by popular figures in fandom. The interesting twist here is that the personalities are not paired with knits related to their own fame. For instance, you’ve got Rene Auberjonois (pictured above), who is known for playing Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, wearing a scarf inspired by Doctor Who.

There are over 30 projects for everything from accessories to garments to toys, all of which pay homage to science fiction or fantasy in some way.

Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, John Scalzi, Adam Savage, Paul and Storm, Teryl Rothery, and John Scalzi are among the many familiar faces who model the projects.

See Geek Knits on Amazon.com

Makery Sewing

Makery Sewing

Makery Sewing by Kate Smith Published by Octopus Publishing

I reviewed the first Makery book a little over a year ago, and I really liked it. This one is more of the same, but with an emphasis on sewing.

The aesthetic is one I find pleasing: bold geometrics paired with natural linen and delicate florals. While she doesn’t usually say what specific fabrics she is using in her projects, I’m pretty sure I spy some Liberty of London in there. (Their cotton lawns are so spendy, but so lovely.)

You’ll find more than 30 projects to sew, each one falling under the heading of Fashion, Gifts, or Home. There are full-size patterns included in the back of the book.

See Makery Sewing on Amazon

Zendoodle Coloring Books

Zendoodle Coloring Books

Zen Doodle Coloring: Inspiring Zendalas by Julia Snegireva published by St. Martin’s Griffin


I love the idea of coloring books for grown-ups, and if I could ever remember that I had the darn things in my collection, I probably would have sharpened my colored pencils and done a few pages by now!

The images are printed on one side only, so you don’t have to worry about front and back designs competing with each other. Plus the pages are perforated, so you can remove your masterpieces from the book if you wish.

I like the idea of using super fine point Sharpies on some of these designs, but I would probably either remove the page first, or put some scrap paper underneath it, because I think the pages might not be thick enough to handle Sharpie ink without bleeding through.

See the Zen Doodle books on Amazon

Big Knits

Big Knits

Big Knits by Martin Storey published by St. Martin’s Griffin

I have never knit a Martin Storey pattern, although I have borrowed several of his previous books from the library and really enjoyed browsing through them. This book is no different. It’s beautifully photographed, and it has some lovely projects. My favorites are the cabled designs, especially the two photographed above, and a wrap that isn’t pictured.

One word of caution, however: you would think with a name like “Big Knits” you’d be getting a collection of plus-sized patterns. The description on the cover and the intro from the author seem to back this up. Look at the patterns, though, and the bust size usually ranges from 36″ to 46″. Last time I checked, a 36-inch bust was not “plus size.” I’m somewhere in the middle of that range, and I don’t wear plus sizes, either.

So, I would say that I think there are some nice, knittable patterns in this book, but be aware that the target audience is more in the L to 2XL range, and not any bigger. Unless, of course, you are knitting one of the many wraps – they are meant to fit any size.

Also, a few of the sweaters in this book are real stinkers, in that they make the model look much heavier than she is. By putting a curvy woman in a boxy cardigan, you hide her lovely hourglass shape and make her look heavy all over. Boxy is not a big deal if you’re hanging around the house in your sweats all day, but it’s definitely not a look I would want to spend a month knitting up.

Despite all of these caveats, I still chose to include the book in my roundup because the patterns I do like in this collection, I really like. And I happen to be in the right size range to pull them off. I suggest you look inside the book via Amazon and see for yourself if they’d work for you or your figure.

See Big Knits on Amazon

Simple Color Knitting

Simple Color Knitting

Simple Color Knitting by Erika Knight published by St. Martin’s Griffin

I am realizing that I really like Erika Knight. I reviewed Simple Crocheting three years ago, and I’m still using the little table toppers I made from it. In fact, I have considered making more of them.

This book delves into a topic that I’ve found intimidating in the past – color knitting.

Simple stripes, I can do. But anything more complicated feels, well, complicated! So I welcome this book and it’s 15-page swatch gallery.

Several types of colorwork (plying & phasing, striping, stranding, color blocking, embroidering, and slipping stitches) is explained in detail, shown in swatch form, and then used in a project or two.

There are 20 projects in total, all featuring the simple color aesthetic that I loved from Simple Crocheting.

See Simple Color Knitting on Amazon

And there you have it! I hope you find something for yourself among these gems :-)

TWiP: Technical Difficulties

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

I upgraded to Windows 10 this week. The process itself went almost smoothly, although there was a little glitch at the end. It was nothing I couldn’t solve with a quick Google search.

However, since that night, there has often been no such thing as a “quick Google search” as my ability to pull up web pages in Chrome has left something to be desired.

Additionally, I have never seen Lightroom move so slowly.

Last night (the time when I usually write these TWiP posts), I was feeling a cold come on, I had spent all day running errands in the rain, and I was looking forward to putting together this post in less than half an hour, and then spending the rest of my night cozied up with my knitting. I’m reaching a point in Neil’s sweater where I could probably finish it within a day or two of hunkering down, and what better time to hunker than a rainy weekend?

Well, between Lightroom and Chrome, I was working on photo-related stuff until about 10pm. So frustrating! I usually love photo-editing and blogging, but not when 90% of the time is spent waiting for the software to respond. Ugh.

I finally gave up, spent an hour on the sweater, and went to bed.

This morning things are looking better. I ran a troubleshooter on both Lightroom and Chrome, and the new settings appear to be working much better now (knock on wood). When I finish here, I will have all day to devote to that sweater. Yay!

This is a good thing for two reasons:

  1. I still feel like I’m in the early stages of a cold, and that makes me want to lay around all day.
  2. The last few days have been chilly, and Neil is on blood-thinners which make him cold anyway, and he’s been giving me puppy dog eyes over this sweater and its lack of completion. I had to let him put the heat on in the house yesterday, though I was hoping to hold off on that for a bit!
  3. I’ve got a busy Sunday ahead of me, and so I’m claiming today for myself :-)

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot with my DSLR for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some phone snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


Instagram: Coffee and a new magazine in bed. I like to ease into my weekends like this 😀

365: 2015 269/365 – This was an exceedingly appropriate shirt for my Saturday. I made some real progress on Neil’s sweater.


365: 2015 270/365 – Welp, it’s that time of year again where I get little grass seeds all over my clothes every time I walk down the path.


365: 2015 271/365 – I like it when my snack bowl matches my paper straw 😉


365: 2015 272/365 – Wheeeeeee! My fun new shoes arrived today!

Instagram: Picked up my new glasses today, and I am having serious second thoughts… I have 90 days to return them if I decide I can’t pull off such big round frames.


365: 2015 273/365 – Been collecting a small pile of books to review. Finally decided that I’d never get around to writing anything in-depth about any of them, and instead I’m doing a roundup. On the blog soon :-)


365: 2015 274/365 – Today the dining room got a little makeover, courtesy of some great hand-me-downs: new table+chairs and new painting. Yay! (This is making me want to replace the blinds and light fixture now – both things that I was perfectly happy with before today, LOL!)


365: 2015 275/365 – Raindrops are falling on my head.

Instagram: So many times leaving the house today, so many times getting rained on. This should be the last trip, then it’s cozy, warm, and dry for the night ☔

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!