All the latest news from Tabitha's Heart.

As the Needles Click

All the latest news from Tabitha's Heart  
May 2011

In the News

Fresh Designs
The Fresh Designs series is getting closer and closer to reality.  The target date for publication of the first book is June 2011 but I will let you know more specific information as the time gets closer.  If you would like a sneak peek of some of the projects, check out this album on Facebook. One of my designs is featured there.  I have two others that will be appearing too but only one is included in the preview set. Can you guess which one is mine? I got to use a fantastic Sanguine Gryphon yarn. 

Lily Alexenia Hat

Lily Alexania Hat View 1

I have just released my 39th pattern. Can you believe it has been that many? Inspired by the bold hats of the Edwardian Era and named for a survivor of the Titanic, Lily Alexania felted hat is ridiculously quick to knit due to the loose gauge and large needles. It practically knits itself. The hat can be customized a variety of ways to make it truly unique. 
Pattern is suitable for the advanced beginner to intermediate knitter. Techniques include basic stitches, knitting in the round, simple decreases and felting. Pattern includes basic felting instructions but I will be posting detailed tutorials for felting and blocking.

Lily Alexania - View 2

Pattern available as a pdf download through Ravelry.

As a special treat, those of you who subscribe to the newsletter can get a 25% discount on the pattern price by entering the coupon code THN-LilyPromo.   
The photo shoot for this pattern was also quite an adventure.  If you haven't read it already, check out this blog post about the perils of photography. Also, don't forget to check out the photo tutorials on felting and blocking on my blog. You will find them very helpful for this hat.  The Techniques column of this newsletter includes some quick tips for embellishing your Lily Alexania too.


This bath set includes a total of 4 patterns - a towel with matching wash cloth along with a soap bag that doubles as a bath mitt and finally a larger drawstring project bag. The small bag also makes a great holder for small items in your knitting bag or purse and the larger bag is a great size for a traveling knitting project. Perfect for that one skein shawl or a pair of socks. 

The set is fantastic for gift giving. Just drop in a bar of your favorite luxury soap and you have a quick yet personal gift. And since you are getting four patterns for one price, it is a great bargain. 


All proceeds from the sale of this pattern go to support tornado relief in the southern US. 

On the Needles
Red  shawl
Another red shawl
Pink shawl (Are we noticing a theme here?)
Stranded Colorwork Hat

Coming Next Month
Sprinkles Socks
Green Chic Market Bag

A contest
More surprises

What's Cooking?

Many of you know that I have joined Weight Watchers.  The Points Plus program has really encouraged me to take a new look at what I eat and how it effects my body.  I have learned some wonderful new techniques for healthy eating and living and lost 20 pounds in the process.  One thing WW helped me do was learn to lighten up my foods while still allowing me to get full.  I have been gradually reworking my family's favorite recipes to make them healthier.  Today, I want to share a quick breakfast recipe that is a favorite in the Heart family.

Power Packed Veggie Omelet

Most omelets are pretty high in fat and calories since they are made with 2 - 3 eggs and lots of cheese and meat. This version contains only one egg (or egg substitute) but is filled with a full serving of veggies and just enough meat and cheese to give some flavor without loading up the calories.  It packs a lot of punch for its small number of points. You can mix and match your favorite veggies to come up with the combination that suits you best. Note: changing veggie amounts could effect the points plus value.

  • 2 Tbsp onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mushrooms,chopped
  • 2 Tbsp celery, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp carrot, chopped 
  • 3 - 4 fresh cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters or chunks
  • 1 egg or egg substitute
  • 1 Tbsp shredded low fat parmesan cheese 
  • 1 Tbsp real bacon pieces (like Hormel or Oscar Meyer brands but not Bacos)
  • Olive oil non-stick cooking spray
Beat egg until white and yolk are completely blended and egg is starting to get foamy. Sit aside. Spray pan lightly with cooking spray.  Saute vegetables, except tomatoes, until tender.  Remove from pan to holding dish.   Add another spritz of cooking spray and add egg, turning pan to distribute evenly.  The egg will cook quickly.  Keep tilting pan until the egg is no longer runny.  Return to surface but turn off heat.  Sprinkle with cheese and bacon pieces.  Add sauted veggies and top with tomatoes.  Gently fold omelet in half and slide onto serving plate.  Season as desired and serve immediately.

Stuffed to the brim with veggies, this omelet only has 3 Points Plus points.  You can drop the point value more by eliminating the cheese and/or bacon or substituting egg substitute or egg white for the whole egg.   Feel free to mix and match your favorite low fat cheese or meat but remember to just use enough to add a little flavor.  This filling breakfast provides you with 1 - 2 servings of vegetables and one serving of lean protein. The veggies help fill you up and provide you with tons of vitamins and minerals.


This is the time of year when I am starting to be active again. I fee that I am returning to life after a long winter hibernation. Most of my inspirations for this season of the year are tied to the vibrant colors of spring flowers. Azaleas burst forth in white and pink. The daffodils punctuate my yard with clumps of yellow. The roses accent this theme with red, pinks and yellows and Asian lilies add spots of electric orange hot pink and bright yellow to the mix. Soon the hydrangeas will add clusters of white, blue and purple. Green is a particular favorite color in spring. The green of the newly budded trees is nearly electric. So in the next few months expect to see me knitting with lots of bright colors. 
With the weather warming up I also tend to want to knit lighter, smaller projects that travel well. A pair of socks that I can grab before I go sit under a shady tree. An airy shawl knit from a fine yarn. Heavy wools are just not for me this time of year.


From the Heart

Happenings at Heart House
Our weather has entered that wild ride that means spring in the south. When we aren't sheltering from sever weather, we are spending a lot of time outdoors. So how has the Heart family been spending their spring days?

Spring Gardening
Most of our time has been spent getting a garden started. We are planning to turn a lot of our yarn into vegetable gardens. So far we have snow peas, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs. We finally have corn growing after having to plant it three times. The broccoli and cauliflower we planted were a big fail as some sort of bug killed it. We also planted a number of other types of seeds but the wishy washy weather has meant that those seeds didn't germinate. We will be replanting a lot of things in the next few weeks. I hope by the next newsletter though, that I am eating things out of my garden. So far I have only used fresh herbs. 

Butterflies & Fishes
One of the kid's science projects involved watching the development of butterflies. We ordered some larvae and the kids were able to watch them go through their entire metamorphosis. We are happy to report that all 5 of our little catepillars have reached maturity and been released into the wild. 

With the return of nice weather, Mr H's heart has turned to fishing. Most afternoons he and SmallFry disappear to the pond for a little fishing. The nice thing about this is that Princess Buttercup and I get uninterrupted knitting time. 

The Last Word

If you are still reading, thank you. I have tried to make sure my first newsletter is error free but I am sure I have missed something so please forgive any oversights. I would also love to hear your suggestions of topics you would like to see covered in future editions of the newsletter.

Happy knitting. 


Technique Talk

With the release of the Lily Alexania hat, I thought it would be fun to talk a bit about felting.  

I have just finished a series of tutorials on felting for my blog. I learned some interesting things about felting in the course of preparing the tutorials.  The most important is the importance of swatching for felting.  You will find all the reasons for swatching on my blog but here I want to address how you actually swatch for felting.  Here are the basics . 

Swatching for felting.  

1. Knit a 4 inch square in of your wool in stockinette stitch (knit on the RS, purl on the WS). 

2. Carefully measure and record exact length and width of swatch as well as stitches and rows per inch.

3. Wash the square in the method that you plan to wash the finished product. I recommend hand felting because you have more control of the final results and aren't as likely to ruin your washer's water pump. But if you prefer machine felting that is fine too. Just use whichever method you are likely to use with the finished knitted piece. (Quick hint: if you use the washer, make sure you put your knitted piece in a pillow case before you start the felting process. Your machine's water pump will thank you.)

4. Begin agitating the sample in hot water for three minutes.

5. Rinse quickly in cold water.

6. Check the degree of felting. You want the fabric to be uniform in texture and for the individual stitches to disappear. 

7. Repeat the washing and rinsing process in 3 minute intervals until you have reached the correct degree of felting.

8. Record the amount of time it took to felt the sample. 

9. Roll the swatch in a towel to remove excess water, smooth slightly and lay swatch flat to dry.

10. When sample is dry measure length and width of swatch and compare with unfelted swatch to determine the ratio of shrinkage.

11. Use these measurements to determine if adjustments will be needed in the pattern and the approximate time it will take to felt the finished project. 

More details about felting can be found on my website.

Stash Enhancement

Meadowlake Arts BFL Lace
I recently reread the book The Hobbit with my daughter. We are both J.R.R. Tolkien fanatics. In the process of reading, I was inspired to design a shawl based on the dragon Smaug. In the search for the perfect yarn for my design, I became acquainted with the lovely SelkieB, an indie dyer from Meadowlake Arts. She has a fantastic colorway called Phoenix Tail that was exactly what I had in mind for the design. I decided to try her BFL lace base for the project.

Meadowlake Arts BLF Lace - Phoenix Tail

BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester) is a new yarn to me so I wanted to share my impressions with you. Aside from being a gloriously bold color fitting for a dragon, the yarn is fabulous. BFL is exceptionally light and soft but still surprisingly strong. The yarn has a little bit of halo so it is a bit sticky. This is a good and bad thing for lace knitting. The stick makes it less likely that you will drop stitched but makes it harder to rip if you make a mistake. All in all, it is a lovely yarn that is quite a pleasure to knit.
I give it a ♥♥♥♥♥ rating.

Book Shelf

The Knitting Answer Book 
My latest library acquisition is The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe.  This is certainly not a new book but somehow one I never got around to buying.  I only got it because I needed something to add to an order so it would qualify for free shipping but now that I have the book, I wonder how I managed to survive this long without this wonderful resource.
Knitting Answer Book

The book is written in question and answer format and it covers everything from casting on to finishing and embellishing and everthing in between. I have already learned a new bind off and the proper way to knit one below. The line drawn illustrations are simple but very clear. They remind me of the type of graphics that TechKnitter uses. It's small size (6.5 x 4.5 inches) makes it a perfect book to toss in your project bag for those knitting emergencies. It is also available in Kindle format so you can carry a copy with you on your ereader, your computer or your smart phone. 

Here is a tip from 116 of The Knitting Answer Book:

Q: Can I fix wood needles that get rough or splinter?
A: Yes, Use fine sandpaper or an emery board to smooth the problem spot, then polish it with wax paper.

This handly little book is a must have for your knitting library.
I give it a ♥♥♥♥♥ rating.

Mini Challenge

The Mini-challenge for April is about embellishment. Sometimes an added embellishment is all a project needs to go from simple to smashing. Take the Lily Alexania hat for example. Plain it looks like this

But tie a bit of tulle around it,

make a big bow and voila!


For a more classic look, try encircling the hat with a piece of wide ribbon. Or add a flower or a large pin.

My challenge for you is to think of an embellishment that transforms a simple project into simply smashing project. Please feel free to share your ideas on Facebook, my Ravelry group, Twitter or email.  I will share the best ideas in the next newsletter. 

Copyright © 2011 Tabitha's Heart Design, All rights reserved.
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