Friday, September 30, 2011

The Monsters Under My Bed

“There’s no monster
Under your bed.
There’s no such thing,”
My father said.

“Here, I’ll show you.”
Down on the floor,
Lifting the quilt …
An ominous roar!

Piercing red eyes,
Slobbering snout.
Razor sharp claws
Came flashing out.

They grabbed my dad,
Slashing his head
And pulled him down
Under my bed.

Crunch, crunch of bones.
Smack, smack of lips.
Slow ooze of gore
As life’s blood slips.

“Help,” pleaded Dad.
“Yum!” in reply.
Dad should have known.
I never lie.

 On this, the very last day of September, it occurs to us that we have forgotten to mention that we had this poem and illustration published in this month's issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree.

We've been enjoying delving into our "dark side" which is what that magazine celebrates. Underneath the Juniper Tree is intended for kids 7 and up. It reminds us of the delicious thrill of scaring ourselves silly the way we once did with ghost stories around the campfire.

The funny thing is that the older we get, the less we want to be scared. We've discovered we can't watch some of those intense serial killer/police drama/everyone getting blown up or beaten to a pulp TV shows or else we'll have our age! Heck, some nights even Peter Mansbridge on The National can set us off.

Grandma Coco's never been accused of having an excessively sunny personality. However, as fun as it is to stretch and reach creatively, this poem and drawing are probably as dark as she can (or wants to) go.

Check out Underneath the Juniper Tree. Tomorrow they'll post the October issue online (it's free!) and October means "Hallowe'en" so it's probably going to be a good one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New beginnings and one loose end

We've been finishing so many projects lately that if we're going to show Works in Progress for the weekly check-in at the Needle and Thread Network, we're going to have to start some new ones. Fortunately, that's never a problem.

We're thinking ahead to the holiday season so we've got socks on the needles.....

For this pair we've chosen the same yarn that we're using for the Papa Bear Sampler Scarf but in a different colourway. It's Sock It To Me Dankai, Colour 62, Raku Glaze. There's quite a bit of brown in this blend. Very soft, very long colour changes. We love it.  It seems very similar to the Lang Jawoll Mystery we just had such success with. 72 stitches on 2.75 mm bamboo double points. Cuff down (as usual). We have a recipient in mind but it's a secret. Now, after the ribbing, what pattern stitch should we choose???

A second pair of socks for one of the kids who actually likes and wears our socks. He's an ice fisherman so we make him thick, warm and sturdy socks. We're using 2 strands of yarn at once. One strand of's Sock It To Me Soft Focus Colour 68, Water Lilies. And one strand of's, Sock It To Me 4-ply in a dark grey which we bought a while ago. We like to combine 2 strands of yarn. You just never know what you'll end up with. In this case, we're hoping the stripes will be muted by the grey. 56 stitches on 3.5 mm double points.

Funny thing about the 2 balls of Sock It To Me. They're both superwash and were purchased at the same time. In fact, you can still buy them but they're very different yarns. The Dankai is soft. We mean really soft. The Soft Focus, not so much. The Dankai was produced in Turkey and the Soft Focus in Italy.

We'll just pick up these 2 sock projects and work a few rounds on one and a few rounds on the other when we're watching TV and before you know it we'll have socks.

 What else? Oh, yeah. Remember Coco's Cap? The little cap we designed for preemies and newborns? A little while ago Dowager left a comment asking if we'd ever made Coco's Caps in larger sizes. Dowager was thinking that cap would be cute for older kids and adults. We think so, too.

So....this is a gauge swatch. The first step on the path to a working pattern. We'll keep you updated on our progress.

Yesterday, was one of those glorious late summer days in the Kingdom of Coco. We don't like to brag but here's a peek at our view from the deck.

The sumac's beginning to turn red. It was still and warm and the leaves on the trees are beginning to colour and get crispy so that when the wind does stir, they rustle. Grandma Coco sat on the deck, knitting in hand and enjoyed a cold beverage with Mr. Coco. And here was our charming and most lady-like companion. She's an indoor-only kitty but she does like to lie on the deck (and never seems to think about venturing further afield).

"Why? Where would I do?" she asks.

Finally, as promised...... the one loose end.... the giveaway.....


We hope you'll enjoy Norman's Blankie.

Please send us your mailing address and we'll send a copy of the book off to you.

And if you didn't win a copy (sorry!), click here to find out how to get one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week #4 - Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along

Each week sees us a little farther along. We're into fall now and this is the last installment of September. We hope you're enjoying this project as much as we are. So little work at one time for such a great pay-off.


This week it's  Plain Diamonds  for us. Just straight knit and purl stitches. Very simple but effective. There are now 46 stitches on the needle. Remember the 5 garter stitch border stitches on each edge.

Row 1 (Right Side):  k4 * p1, k8;  repeat from * to last 5 stitches, p1, k4.
Row 2: p3, * k3, p6; repeat from * to last 6 stitches, k3, p3.
Row 3: k2, * p5, k4; repeat from * to last 7 stitches, p5, k2.
Row 4: p1, * k7, p2; repeat from * to last 8 stitches, k7, p1.
Row 5: purl
Row 6: same as Row 4
Row 7: same as Row 3
Row 8: same as Row 2

Repeat these 8 rows, 4 times and then work Rows 1 - 5, once more. (37 rows)

Here’s the chart:


And here comes the separator:

Knit 5 rows this time increasing 1 stitch (by knitting into the front and back of any stitch) anywhere in the middle of the last row. (47 stitches total)

Week 4 means that we've completed 33% or fully 1/3 of the scarf!

A .PDF for this week's exciting episode can be found HERE.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunshiny cats, amazing socks and more

Cassie's getting a late start. Note all her toys strewn around her. She stays up half the night carting them around....and wailing. Why does she wail? If anyone knows, please do share. She is a happy kitty. She has food and toys and lots of love. She is a mystery. A beautiful mystery.

And now for something amazing........

These are the green socks. Finished. That's really not the amazing part....contrary to what some might think. Look closely. They are mates. True (pretty near!) identical mates. Amazing! We started with one single ball of Lang Jawoll Magic Superwash. It weighed 98 grm (with the label) when we started. We knitted and weighed (obsessively) because we wanted to use as much of the yarn as possible (if you remember), making the sock legs as long as we could WITHOUT (and we can't stress this enough) having to rip the first sock back because we ran short on the second sock.

You all know how much we like math. No joke. We weighed and we calculated how much yarn we used as we went along. We have notes like: 84 gr. left, 5 inches from beginning. We thought we had it calculated pretty well and in the end...... Success! We had very little wool left. is a complete and total, mind-boggling FLUKE! that these 2 socks are so similar..... especially when you consider how long the colour repeats are in this wool. We doubt we'll ever be able to repeat such a performance. We should just retire now. Several claims were made on these socks while they were in production but in the end, they're going to Mr. Coco and they fit him perfectly.

Here's a question for anyone who has knitted with this wool before. Somewhere during the knitting of the ribbing of the second sock we found a loosely tied knot....not a break, just a knot. Is this the manufacturer's indication of the true centre of the skein? It seems to be at the appropriate spot. That would be cool, if it was intentional.

Another one of those Razzle-Dazzle what is this? puzzles?????

No, this is our version of this from Stitch Nation Yarn.

Aren't they just the sweetest little hats you ever did see?

Unfortunately, we don't have access to a little baby right now and Cassie was sleeping and not inclined to model (but wouldn't that have been adorable?). We do know where to find a cute little baby though. Can't wait to see her in it.

Don't forget tomorrow's Part 4 of the Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along. There's still lots of time to catch up, if you've been thinking about joining in. We're planning to have a little gift for anyone who completes their scarf and sends us a picture. (Just in case you needed more incentive.)

And finally.....don't forget you have until Wednesday to go here and leave a comment to win a copy of Norman's Blankie.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How to deal with pesky salesmen (IF: 'Ferocious')

Tired of being bamboozled by unscrupulous door-to-door salesmen, Grandma Coco has been practicing her ferocious look. This may end badly. And the worst thing is, there isn't a darn thing Cassie can do to stop it.

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is 'Ferocious'. That's probably all we need to say on the matter....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Norman's Blankie

Illustration from Norman's Blankie Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Boy, oh, boy, have we got news today! Our little book got published and we held it in our hands yesterday for the very first time. We felt like proud first-time parents! And, as such, we're going to give you the full story, complete with pictures. You might want to get a cup of tea and settle in. We don't do concise.

Norman's Blankie is a children's picture book we wrote and illustrated years ago. It's the story of a baby whose mother makes him a quilt. As he grows, he takes his quilt with him everywhere he goes but at some point, that quilt starts to look a little ratty. Norman's mother knows just what to do .... and so would any other mother/quilter/seamstress. It's a heartwarming story of a quilt but it's also about a mother's love and the way we carry that love with us all through life.


Earlier this year we read that Fun With Books was looking to publish books for their fabulous program. What? you don't know about Fun With Books?? Well, we've been following them for years now. They are a bunch of volunteers....about 200 of them now....who give away books to children under 5 for the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of fostering literacy. Not one member of the organization gets paid. And any child 5 and under in the Counties of Leeds and Grenville (that's eastern Ontario, Canada) can register to have a book delivered (by hand!) to him/her every other month. It used to be monthly but like everyone else, in these trying times, Fun With Books has had to cut back.

So, where were we? Oh, yes. Yesterday, we went with Mr. Coco to meet the team that packages the books for delivery. We helped stuff about 1700 copies of our book into envelopes. Bernie Boesveld, the chairman, made us very welcome and told us that in the 17 years that Fun With Books has been operating they've delivered about a half a million books! Imagine all the children who've begun their reading lives because of this group.
Illustration from Norman's Blankie Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011 

In the beginning, they handed out Little Golden Books that they bought but nowadays, in an effort to cut costs, they've begun to publish their own books. And that is why they've begun scouring the closets and desk drawers of local authors and illustrators. Grandma Coco thinks there are a lot more under-appreciated manuscripts out there. When Fun With Books publishes our books, we all win.

Fun With Books gets a little funding from time to time but, boy, could they ever use a little more. So, if you'd like a copy of the book or you'd just like to make a donation to a very good cause, please click on over to their site (click on fund raising in the left hand column). You can mail a cheque to them or you can click on the button and donate with Paypal. The book retails for $8.00 and it costs them another dollar or 2 depending where you live to mail it out so please be generous. (Apart from the tiny fee that charges, every penny goes to Fun With Books. Grandma Coco's not taking a dime. We just wanted you to know that.) Be sure to say you want a copy of  Norman's Blankie  and be sure to include your address.....either with your cheque or in the box on the form.

Now, for everyone who read all the way to the end, we'd like to do a giveaway!! Leave us a comment on this blog post and tell us about your first reading experience or the blankie your mommy made for you when you were a baby or just what you think about literacy and children. We'll pick a winner randomly next Wednesday, September 28, 2011 and mail out a copy of Norman's Blankie to the winner.

Thanks for reading ... and thanks for supporting this great cause.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Week #3

Can it be 3 weeks already? Time sure flies when you're knittin'. We know we have at least a little company on this knitting adventure. Grandma Coco's liking the way ours is going.

This week we'll add 6 inches of the Broken Rib Diagonal. There are so many traditional stitch patterns out there that would work in this manly scarf, we keep changing our minds on which one to do next.

There are now 46 stitches on the needle. Remember the 5 garter stitch border stitches on each edge.

The Broken Rib Diagonal goes like this:

Row 1 (Right Side): * k4, p2; repeat from * to end.
Row 2: * k2, p4; repeat from * to end.
Row 3: same as Row 1
Row 4: same as Row 2
Row 5: k2 * p2, k4; repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p2, k2
Row 6: p2 * k2, p4; repeat from * to last 4 stitches, k2, p2
Row 7: same as Row 5
Row 8: same as Row 6
Row 9: * p2, k4; repeat from * to end.
Row 10: * p4, k2; repeat from * to end
Row 11: same as Row 9
Row 12: same as Row 10

Repeat these 12 rows, 3 times. (36 rows)

Here's the chart:
Right click to enlarge for a printable size.
We knit 6 rows this time, even….no increases or decreases (46 stitches total) for the separator section.

We've put a .PDF of this week's installment here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday - a little of this, a little of that

Grandma Coco is terribly embarrassed. She just figured out how this WIP thing-y works. Or at least she thinks she has. Finally. We are linking to the Needle and Thread Network. Very cool. All-Canadian, we think. And that in itself is cool.

So, what are we working on?

 Not this.

Nope. This is done, put a fork in it, done.
And it seems to have passed the Cassie test.

No, we are working on this.......

The Papa Bear Sampler Scarf

Still. And maybe for some time to come since it's a Knit-along and scheduled to finish on November 29th. Feel free to join in, if you like. All the info can be found here. Or click on the label "Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along" at the bottom of this post and all the relevant posts will be grouped together.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Week # 2

Welcome back!

Last week we were all about trying new things like the cable cast-on and cabling without a special needle. This week, let’s take things easy with a simple texture stitch. 

Waffle Stitch

There are now 47 stitches on the needle. Remember the 5 garter stitch border stitches on each edge.

Row 1 (Right side): P1, * (K2, P1) repeat from * to end.
Row 2: K1, * (P2, K1) repeat from * to end.
Row 3:  same as 1st row
Row 4:  knit

Repeat these 4 rows, 9 times. (36 rows)

Here’s the chart for you chart lovers. Please remember, you need to be aware which side of the work you’re on…..the right (public) side or the wrong (not meant to be seen) side. In this instance, the odd rows are the right side and the evens are the wrong side. Hope that’s clear.

Work the separator section:

Knit 4 rows this time, decreasing 1 stitch in the middle of the last row by knitting 2 stitches together. (46 stitches total)

And now, at the end of Week # 2, here’s what we have…..

You can download a .PDF of this week's pattern installment here
If you have any questions, please just ask. And, if you'd like to join us on Ravelry to meet other knitters who are also working on The Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along, you'll find us here. We have a group!

Monday, September 12, 2011

(A Most Unlikely) Kitchen for Mr. Toast's Creative Tuesday

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Once Upon a Time........before Grandma Coco even dreamed of the Kingdom of Coco, she was often trundled around the country in a car with her younger brother by her Mum and Dad. Summer vacations almost always saw them on the road. Sometimes they stayed in motels, sometimes they camped in a tent and later they towed a tiny travel trailer. They went coast to coast in Canada, and into the US. Her parents were great travellers. Her brother still is. She, however, never caught the bug. Perhaps this little story will help explain why.

One bright morning, they found themselves fresh off the ferry in Prince Edward Island..... a beautiful place. This was so long ago that you still had to access it by ferry....or by airplane, I guess, but that was, to the Cocos at least, a very exotic form of travel. The Dad was a great organizer and everyone always felt safe with him in charge. On this particular trip, some glitch occurred ....some convention or festival had filled up all the motels. The Dad and the brother stood in side-by-side pay phones and started calling around in a desperate search for accommodation. Finally, success! The brother reported that there was a room waiting for them at The Borden Inn. He was a hero. For a while.

Off they went to find The Borden Inn. Jubilation quickly turned to despair. It was a dump. The kids weren't even allowed to enter the room until it had been given the Full Lysol Treatment. The Mum was a great believer in the germ killing properties of Lysol and used it copiously.

The rest of the day was spent driving the island looking for a better place and, in time, they found it....a clean and comfortable cabin close to the ocean. The only problem was it wouldn't be available until the next day. The family was doomed to spend one night back at The Borden Inn.

Needless to say, the kids slept great even with the cloud of Lysol fumes. The parents probably did not because first thing the next morning, they rounded up everyone and everything, packed up the car and headed straight for the beach. The dad found a good solid rock and set up his trusty Coleman campstove. One of the first things he did was brew the coffee for the Mum. She was always more agreeable after her coffee. (Remember, this was pre-Timmys. Hard as it is to imagine a world without a Tim Horton's on every corner....and sand dune.) And, right there, in that most improbable of kitchens, the Dad set to work and cooked up the best breakfast that family ever tasted. Hard to say if it was the location with the ocean waves crashing and the sun rising or the fresh sea air or just the relief that things were going to get better from there on in. Whatever the reason, that breakfast made the cut and lives today in Grandma Coco's cerebral Book of Happy Memories.

You can see other artists' interpretation of the "kitchen" theme here at Mr. Toast's Creative Tuesdays.

Let's see.....What else? 

Oh, yeah. Tomorrow's Week 2 of the Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along. Be sure to check back then for the next installment. We have a big party goin' on over on Ravelry. If you'd like to join in the fun, you can find us HERE.

And Little S's Santa Suit progresses under Cassie's watchful eye .....

Waitin' for Santa

Friday, September 9, 2011

A return to Zen and an invitation

It seems a long time since we Zentangled. This week's challenge from the Diva is #38 and involves using only one tangle....Paradox. It was hard!!! but we're jumping right back in with both feet now that are eyes are pretty much back to normal. We had a funny moment this week when we went outside and looked around and were suddenly struck by how bright and crisp and clear everything was. We actually caught ourself touching our lenses to see if we really had our glasses on!! (We did.) What an odd sensation.

An Invitation.....Come one, come all......

Our Lady-of-the-comments, Kate, asked about the possibility of a Ravelry group for discussing our progress on the Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along. When we checked the rules, we need 3 members to start a group and oddly, Grandma Coco and Cheryl only count as one. Fortunately, our new friend, Judith, jumped up and offered to be our 3rd. So.....Ta-da!! We have a Ravelry group...... The Papa Bear Sampler Scarf Knit-along group. Please join us, if you're so inclined. Grandma Coco is looking forward to meeting new friends and she welcomes your input on the scarf. 

We talk back!
To Pat: We envy the closeness you have with your sisters. The way you described the prayer shawls you all made is lovely.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Papa Bear Sampler Scarf - Week #1

Welcome! Today we start our first knit-along. Grandma Coco's so excited she hardly slept a wink all night.

You will need 400 to 500 metres/yards fingering weight wool (sock yarn would work well) and for needles, choose the size that lets you achieve a loose and lofty fabric, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5mm (US8).

Cast On 48 stitches loosely. We like a stretchy cast on for this like a cable cast on.

Knit 7 rows in garter stitch (knit every row) and after the first row, slip the first stitch of every row.

From here on, the first and last 5 stitches of every row are continued in garter stitch for the edging. You can place a marker, if you think you’ll forget.

Our first stitch pattern is All-over Lattice. This is an old stitch pattern (as are all the stitch patterns we'll be using). Simple knit and purl stitches, transformed only by the order in which they're done. Pretty cool, eh?

Row 1: purl
Row 2: knit
Row 3: purl
Row 4: K1, *C4B, K4, C4F;  repeat from *  to last stitch, K1
Row 5: purl
Row 6: knit
Row 7: purl
Row 8: K3, C4F, C4B, *K4, C4F, C4B repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

C4B = Cable 4 Back – Slip next 2 stitches onto cable needle and hold to back. Knit next 2 stitches from left hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from cable needle.

C4F = Cable 4 Front – Slip next 2 stitches onto cable needle and hold to front. Knit next 2 stitches from left hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from cable needle.

Repeat these 8 rows 4 times and then work Rows 1 to 4. Total 36 rows.

Here’s a chart for the pattern. Left click on the photo and it should enlarge so you can print it or just download the .PDF below.  Row 1 starts on the wrong side of the knitting.

You can use a cable needle to make these cables in the traditional manner OR you can stretch a little and try to cable without an extra needle. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Kinda fun, really. Just remember to pinch the base of the stitches that you’re slipping off the needle. That way they can’t go anywhere. (Where would they go anyway?) Here’s everything you need to know about cables, including how to do it without the special needle.    There are also videos on YouTube you can google.

Once  you’ve completed the section of All-Over Lattice, there is a separator strip between the blocks of fancy stitches. Knit 5 rows (starting on the wrong side) and this time, decrease 1 stitch on the last of these rows by knitting 2 stitches together somewhere in the middle of the row. (47 stitches total) You’re now ready to start a right-side row.

That’s it for Week #1.  Don’t worry if yours doesn’t look as neat as ours. We cheated and blocked this bit for the photograph. Before blocking it’s a little uneven. Blocking is the penicillin of the knitting world. Be sure to come back next Tuesday for the next exciting installment.

If you'd like to print these directions, click here for a downloadable PDF.

The Papa Bear Sampler Scarf © Cheryl Coville 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting Ready

Everybody ready for tomorrow? 
Got your lunch packed and your clean clothes laid out? 

What about your yarn? 
This is what we finally decided on:

Isn't it beautiful? And so soft!!! We wish you all could feel it. 

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
 See ya tomorrow!

Illustration Friday: Mysterious

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011
"Who's your mysterious little friend, Sean?"

A silly little doodle to celebrate the beginning of the school year. We remember those momentous first days. We were always excited to begin anew and fearful of what that might bring. As always there are personal bits in this drawing. Let us just offer this clue....  that we wore braids for our first 13 years and we're pretty sure we wore this exact expression of anxiety most of the time, too.