Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2012
The Illustration Friday prompt this week is "Capable". This led to an awful lot of rumination here in the Kingdom. Some days we feel capable of pretty near anything. Other days we don't.  On the doubt-ridden days, wouldn't it be great to have a big old Mary Poppins-esque carpet bag filled to the brim with all those confidence boosting remedies? Things like Elixer of Excellence and Compote of Creativity? How 'bout a big can of Lucky Lozenges?  Or a spray bomb of Creative Block Be-Gone? Probably the one most important jar we'd like to find in our bag would be filled with Hope because without that, we'd be goners.

Monday, February 27, 2012

While we decide which path to take

Time to switch gears while we wait for inspiration for the mittens. That inspiration will come in its own time. It always does. Grandma Coco knows it can never be rushed.

Ah, here's the ticket! A pretty bracelet to take our mind off the conundrum that is THE MITTEN. When we found the glazed porcelain heart bead, we just knew it wanted to be the centrepiece in this bracelet. There's a definite mossy-green mottling going on with this heart bead. (Moss green is currently one of our favourite colours.) Beige/tan cord and turquoise and gold beads make this piece sparkle.

This bracelet measures 7 3/4" long and 3/4" wide. The heart bead itself is about 1" long (to the point).

Since we currently have a rather large inventory of bracelets on hand (and due to the fact that we still find ourselves wanting to make more of them!) we've spent a few fun minutes creating a little online shop over at Big Cartel. So, if you're so inclined, this bracelet could be yours.

CoCoKnots at
Do you know about Big Cartel? It's like Etsy but for us smaller fish, it has an option that doesn't charge us anything to use their services. We really are small fish. Small fish with a huge bead addiction. We either need to find a way to fund that addiction or get help. We choose the former.

~ Cheers!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Never a straight line

Like the course of true love, knitting projects rarely run least in our experience. Sigh.

Cool button, right?
Our keyhole design detail was supposed to fall smack dab in the middle of the back of the hand, just above the wrist. Due to a basic misunderstanding on our part of where the thumb is situated, the keyhole isn't where we'd intended. We went to bed last night thoroughly annoyed.

Grandma Coco was soundly scolding Cheryl because, really, who else should know where her thumb is located? However, when we got up this morning, photographed the offending mitten and then saw it on the monitor, we both thought, "Not so bad, really. In fact, kind of a cool design feature this off-centre keyhole." So, we just have to reverse it for the left-hand mitten.

"Not so fast," said Cheryl. "What about that wonky edging on the liner?" Oh, yeah. That's gonna be a problem alright. Because it's stockinette, it's tending to curl over onto itself. We had thought that a crocheted edging would straighten that right out but.....Nope!

Right now we're thinking of cutting that part off, picking up live stitches and attempting life support with a knitted-on edging. Originally, we had thought something more ruffled anyway. This may be the universe giving us a second chance. That is if the universe cares which it probably doesn't.

Also, that attached I-cord turned out to be way fussy when we were trying to pick up the stitches around the curved keyhole. Additional attention may be required there. Stay tuned.

This morning Grandma Coco slept in a little bit and when she awoke, the lovely Cassie was not in her usual spot on the bed. Hmmmm.....where could she be? Smart little cookie that she is, Cassie was lounging in the one sun-filled spot in the whole house. She'd decided to start her Florida vacation early and as the sun moved throughout the morning, so did Cassie....from sunny spot to sunny spot.

"Hey, where's that waiter with my breakfast?"
~ Winter holiday greetings from the sunny Kingdom of Coco!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Knitting in Real Time

Knitting is one of those incremental activities. It builds stitch by stitch, over time. If we showed you  photos of a knitting project on consecutive days you might be hard pressed to see any progress at all. Sometimes, we confess, we show process photos once we've completed the project. That's the safe approach. It makes us look good.

Showing our knitting in real time, however, is a little more risky. We have an idea where we're headed but we might change our minds as we go along and in fact, we might fall short of our goal. We might, in fact, {gasp!} fail.

Grandma Coco's been a bit tight-lipped about our mittens. At the risk of boring everyone with a shapeless bit of brown, we have decided to go ahead and share today's photo and come clean about the plan. However we've cleverly included a postcard we received this week from Kate as a distraction. Isn't it cute?? A sweet little frog framed by crazy quilting.

The Mittenly Photo showing Kate's Crazy Quilted Postcard

The Mittenly Plan

We envision layered mittens made out of fine wool. (We are working up to the gorgeous Lang Jawoll Baby Alpaca we received last week.) We're using sock weight wool because we love the feel of knitting with fine (thin) wool and delicate needles. We also have a ton of sock weight wool on hand. We think of these as socks for your hands. Two layers will be warm and they'll give us a chance to experiment. So, you already saw the inside layer....the off-white wool liners. They'll have a decorative edging at the cuff. Probably crocheted.

Now, we're on to the top layer. They need to be just slightly larger than the liner so they'll fit over top. We used KnitPicks Bare for the liner with 2.5mm KnitPicks Harmony needles. For the outer mittens we're using Elann's Sock-it-to-me with 3.25 mm. Bryspun needles. We have plans for using up some sock yarn leftovers in textured stitch patterns but for now, these brown ones are plain Jane stockinette. They are sized to fit us. We're not ashamed of this selfish attitude. This way, we always have a hand at the ready to try on the knitting for fitting as we go. So, they'll fit a small lady's hand.... 6 1/4 inches from wrist to the tip of our middle finger and 6 3/4 inches in circumference.

For this particular pair, the outer layer will have a keyhole opening on the back of the hand. There will be attached I-Cord all around this keyhole and the wrist with a button loop and a lovely button we've already found. We're not sure yet if there will be wool embroidery, too. We love the look of wool embroidery and we're just dying to do some but it might be too much for this little pair.

So, for now, dear friends, this is our plan. Like all good plans, it may change. There's plenty of wiggle room.

~ Is it snowing where you are? It is here. Big, soft flakes after an unusually snowless winter. Wishing you snow, if you want some, and none if you don't!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bland and Boring

Remember when you were a kid and your mother made you eat your vegetables before you could have dessert? Now when you're all grown up (and should therefore be able to call the shots), ever notice how many times you still have to wait for dessert (metaphorically speaking)? We do.

Partly, it's because we've discovered there's a certain pleasure in the anticipation. Partly, it's because you really do need to build on a strong foundation. Ask the piggies. They know. It's the house that's made of bricks that survives.

Here are our mittens.....the foundation of our project. They needed to be close-fitting and although you can't see it in the photo, they do fit us perfectly. They needed a special little cuff-thingy (technical term) and that's what they have.

Now, bring on the fun!

Linking today to the Needle and Thread Network which is an ever-growing group of Canadian needleworkers.  Hop on over and have a look!

~ Cheers!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

L'idée du jour

We keep jotting down new ideas. Some go in our sketchbooks and some in little notebooks we keep with each project. Some go in our calendar. Whatever's handy. We just jot them down as they come to us and most of the time, they hibernate. Sometimes they get lost and never see the light of day again. Sometimes just writing them down is enough to scratch the itch.

And then there are the ideas that keep tickling us. They wake us up at night and whisper to us, "What do you suppose would happen if....?" We've learned these are the keepers, the ones where we can get excited enough to see them through. Duetta was one of those ideas. She's been sitting around for at least a couple of years. Maybe longer. A sketch in a book. Lonely. Patiently waiting her turn.

Today, we're working on another one of those persistent ideas. Here's what we've got so far but this is just the beginning. We have very grand ideas for them.

~ Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

We love presents

Now that Duetta is safely in the hands of our capable pattern testers (thank you to those of you who offered!) and while we wait patiently for them to do their respective things, we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Now, where were we? Ah, yes....

Is Cassie going to take up beading?

We ordered some beads and then we ordered some more beads and then!! A few sweeties who went on vacation all the way to Czechoslovakia for Christmas took the time out of their holiday to buy these for us!! So beautiful. Isn't the net cone just the prettiest way to package beads? And the little cellophane bag with the dainty wispy tie was so pretty we hardly wanted to open it. We can assure you though that we DID open it and that we spent a very happy afternoon sifting through all those beads. We sorted them out and organized all the similar ones by shape and colour. What is it about beads that makes it so pleasant to run your fingers through them?

Look at the felted purse. Oh, it's lovely, too. We can see lots of uses for it.

As well, one of the sweeties is particularly crafty and she made us these:

And they are perfect for holding our special one-of-a-kind beads. There's velcro at the top to close the bag and yet the clear vinyl lets us see exactly what's inside. Before we knew it, we had all our beads organized. And that's rare for us. Grandma Coco's not the organized type.

But that's not all!

Look what else they brought us!! Wool! Two balls of Baby Alpaca to be specific.

Can you hear them? They're whispering, "Gloves!!! We want to be gloves!"

Who are we to deny them?


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It's Wednesday again. And we're trying really hard to keep the screaming caps and the exclamation marks to a minimum. But today's the day we promised we'd show you our newest design. We're so excited. Never has anything come together so easily, so well and so close to our vision.

Duetta Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2012

This is   Duetta  ...... where quilting and knitting come together to make beautiful music.......and a pretty darling little baby sweater. The knitting brings softness, drape and a comfortable fit while the quilted yoke lends structure and beauty.

We've done it with an appliquéd heart design and we've done a paper-pieced chevron design. Of course, the peek we showed last week was this crazy quilted version. We think you could do just about anything on that yoke. Cross-stitch, maybe? Embroidery, for sure.

The knitting's done in fingering weight yarn which could include sock yarn. The quilting requires less than a fat quarter of fabric. Duetta is a very simple design that assumes only a basic level of knitting and quilting skills. It is sized for 9 - 12 months.

Copyright © Stephanie Coville 2012
The hardest part is probably finding a cute baby worthy of such a lovely sweater. But, we've got that covered, too. How lucky are we?

Copyright © Stephanie Coville 2012
Grandma Coco has already tested the pattern and according to our friend Kate, that means it's ready for Beta testing (which is where an objective third party tries it out). We are therefore looking for a couple of people who would like to test drive it. We'd like someone to try the appliquéd hearts version and someone to make the paper-pieced chevron design and report back on their experience. Ideally, we'd like that to be done in the next month. So, if you'd like to make a sweet baby sweater, please contact us at:  grandmacocosdesigns (at) gmail (dot) com  and we'll send you out the Beta version of Duetta.

This being Wednesday, we're linking to the Needle and Thread Network.
Be sure to click on over and see what the other Canadian needleworkers are up to.

~ Happy Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine for Mr. Coco

CoCoMan Socks Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2012
We suppose we could have chosen flowers or candy....or even cookies....but in the end, there's nothing like a good pair of wool socks to keep a man happy. These socks have been in the works for a while now and Mr. Coco's had his eye on them all this time. For one thing, they're grey and that's pretty close to his favourite colour (which is black!). He's the original Mr. Conservative that way. For another thing, the pattern  stitch is very classic ....not lacey or froofroo at all. (We're not actually sure that's the correct spelling of "froofroo" but we think everyone will understand.)

Just look at that patterned heel!

From our point of view, these socks were very fun to knit. There's a mock cable thing going on that keeps the knitting going. And the heel flap!!! Oh, the heel flap. It's not boring at all. It showcases that fancy stitch pattern all the way down to the ground.

Here they are as we headed toward the heel of the second sock.

We used Lang Jawoll Magic Superwash and once again had tremendous luck with the stripes matching from one sock to the other. It's a really lovely wool to knit with and we have one more ball in our stash. It's beige to browns so that will be another pair of great socks to look forward to.

We want to thank our friend Kate for test knitting this pattern.

If you'd like to knit your man (or maybe yourself!) a pair of CoCoMan socks for Valentine's Day or any other occasion, we've loaded the pattern into our Ravelry store where it's available for immediate download for only a toonie! (That's two dollars for all you non-residents of the Kingdom of Coco.)

CoCoMan Socks Pattern

~ Happy Valentine's Day!

PS...Only one more sleep until we unveil our new project!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

In anticipation

CoCoCookies © Cheryl Coville 2012

Yeah, yeah, we know we're a day early but it's never too early  
(or too late!) to say "I love you", is it?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Look, Ma! We're crazy quilting!

We are SO close to being ready to show our top-secret project! It's very exciting but for now all we dare show is this little pink peek. We never really tried to crazy quilt before but with Kathy for inspiration, we've been dying to try. This little project provided the perfect opportunity. We're linking up with the Needle and Thread Network because this is what we're working on this Wednesday.  We hope by next Wednesday we'll be ready to show (and tell) all. Be sure to come back for the big reveal. For now check out what other Canadian crafters are up to.

~ Mysteriously yours,

Monday, February 6, 2012

February Cat Nap

.......which looks a lot like a January cat nap 
or a June cat nap or a .......

~ Wishing everyone a sun-drenched snooze today,

Friday, February 3, 2012

Best Cookie Recipe EVER!!

First of all, Grandma Coco would like to apologize to anyone who receives these blog updates via email. We've discovered that sometimes these updates look a little bit like a dog's breakfast. We thought Blogger's tendency to mangle our prose might be the price to pay for the ease of getting our oh-so-valuable insights delivered right to your inbox. Fortunately, Maria (editor of The Quilt Pattern Magazine) has lots more experience than we do with such things and she has tipped us off as to what the problem might be. We will endeavour to do better in future.

For right now, what better way to make amends than with cookies? Here's the best recipe we've found yet for cookies you can roll out and cut and decorate, if you're so inclined. We'd credit the original creator except we don't remember where we got the recipe and besides, we sort of changed it up a we are wont to do. Surprise, surprise.

CoCoCookie Baking Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2012
Brown Sugar Oatmeal Shortbread Cookies

1 3/4 cups flour
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter-flavoured Crisco
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Mix them up in the usual way.....Cream the Crisco and brown sugar. Mix all the other ingredients together and add them to the Crisco and brown sugar. Leave the dough to chill a while in the fridge. Roll out, cut and bake on parchment paper at about 325F until they start to look golden brown around the edges. We found they were a tad fragile straight out of the oven so be sure to let them sit for a moment on the cookie sheet before you try to move them to a rack.

~ Low Cal Cookies for EVERYONE!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy G-Day!

One of the great advantages of having your own kingdom is that you get to make the rules. Grandma Coco loves this aspect of kingdom ownership. You get to decide the calendar, too, and you get to dictate which holidays make the cut. Today marks one of the highlights of the Kingdom of Coco calendar. Ta-Da!!! 

Happy Groundhog Day!!!

CoCoCookie ... Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2012
Oh, you can have your Christmases and your Hallowe’ens with the malls all tarted up for weeks in advance with stuff to do and stuff to buy and stuff to wrap up and give. No, we think Groundhog Day is one of the better holidays. A saner holiday. No real advance planning to worry about. No lists. No hype. Martha Stewart’s not much interested in it so there’s no one setting the bar absurdly high.

We recognize it has a fairly weak backstory, to wit, according to tradition, the lowly groundhog will awaken from his slumber and poke his head outside his burrow. If he sees his shadow (ie, if the sun is shining) legend has it he’ll be scared back into his snug little home where he’ll sleep for another 6 weeks until spring arrives. On the other hand, if it’s cloudy, there won’t be a shadow for him to see, will there? Either way, we’ll still have to wait 6 weeks for spring. Lame, right?

CoCoCookies ... Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2012
But sort of sweet at the same time. And harmless.  And in a climate as bleak as February in the Kingdom of Coco, we’ll take any excuse for a holiday.

So, it is our pleasure on this winter morning to salute Gordy Groundhog (Official Groundhog of the Realm) and thank him for setting his alarm clock for such an early hour and for being such a good sport. We imagine him emerging from his cozy abode, squinting and shielding his winter weary eyes from the sun’s glare dazzling off the snow, and thinking, “I don’t know about you, but I’m going back to bed.”

Now, that’s a holiday Grandma Coco can really get behind.

~ Happy Groundhog Day to all!