Friday, December 23, 2016

Fa la la la love

Dear Hearts,

It is with great exuberance that I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, lovely Winter Solstice or whatever and however you wish to be greeted in this, oh, so lovely time of the year.

Traveling during the holidays has always been, to me, a joy. Ever since my first plane ride across the Atlantic, so many years past, I have come to love discovering the old traditions of new friends in fascinating places.

For example, that first Christmas holiday abroad, I discovered in Denmark, Christmas is called Jul, an old Nordic word for "feast". The Danes, during in the Middle Ages adopted the custom of candles. Candles along with food and money were given to the poor as charity. Even today, some Danes still refer to Christmas as the "feast of the candles".

I love that. Nothing better than a few candles to help see us through these shorter, darker days.

And once, traveling through Bethlehem during my time at University, I had the pleasure of attending services as a guest of a friends family in the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Much to my delight, three Christmas Eve services occurred simultaneously in different parts of the church that Eve – in three different languages. A wonder to behold.

Exploring further east one year I found myself in Hong Kong. While the Chinese do not actually celebrate the holiday, the tradition came to Hong Kong with the British. There, Santa is sometimes called Dun Che Lao Ren, which translates to “Christmas Old Man”. Which, to me, sounds so very English.

But, I digress.

I am currently settling in to a night flight to Como, Italy. I will be spending the holiday with some very dear friends. While there I will also be indulging in a lovely cooking class at Amy's Cucina (you can find it on Trip Advisor). 

I discovered Amy's Cucina earlier in the year and cooking there is delightful. Amy LaVia is the consumate host and her chef Alessandro certainly knows his business. I cannot wait to re-experience the pumpkin ravioli and the tiramisu. Although, I am excited to see what surprises they have in store for us. Delizioso, miei cari.

Which reminds me, I better hurry and finish the pot holders I am creating. I know I'll need them.

On another note, I have left my elves with express orders to enjoy time with their families this season as should we all. I also told them to get busy on my new website. Those darling elves, have a lot of plans for 2017 and I, for one, can hardly wait to share them with you.

Ah, the steward seems to be channeling Bette Davis. I believe he just said, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night." So, for now, from somewhere over the Atlantic, darlings, I must say, "Ciao!".

Yours ever,

Mrs Crosby

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tallent-ed in California

Traveling on the west coast recently I had the pleasure to sit down with a very "tallented" designer. Yes, dears, spellcheck is all over that one, but I do have good reason for this orthographic error.

California girl Stephannie Tallent, or StephCat on Ravelry, is a wonderful designer and author. She has inspired me and many, many others with her books The Wild West Collection, California Revival Knits, and Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock . They are truly some of my favorites. Her work is refreshing and inspiring. On another note, I was lucky enough to take her Craftsy Class, Custom Colorwork Techniques: Mitts, and it is one I surely recommend.

I sat down with Stephannie over a cocktail at Manhattan House in Manhattan Beach. It's a rustic little eatery with locally sourced, seasonal fare & classic cocktails. As I, to be traditional, sipped a Manhattan, we discussed life, travel and her lovely patterns and designs. Here is what she had to say.

Okay, let's start with something simple. Where were you born?

I was born in Bellflower, California, and lived in Long Beach until I was 5. We moved to Riverside after that, then to Arizona when I was 10.

Arizona is beautiful, if a bit hot. Where do you live now? 

Here in Hermosa Beach California, since 2000.

I do love California. The weather is almost perfect. What place, that you’ve lived, would you call your favorite? And why?  

I really love Hermosa Beach.  It's a tiny beach town within the Los Angeles area, just about 15 min from the airport. It's very laid back, and the beach here is beautiful.  There's so much to do here -- beach stuff, hiking, bicycling, restaurants, breweries....

Do you enjoy travel? 

Oh, I do!  I love seeing new places, eating regional food, seeing everything from different architectural styles, to natural settings, meeting new people.

And what, if I may ask, is the place you long to see again?

Bora Bora. My husband and I got to visit French Polynesia about 10 years or so ago. We cried as we were taken to the airport to leave. All those pictures you see of turquoise water? It's really that color.It is a truly magical set of islands.

Second choice: Roma.  I always thought I'd love Florence, Firenze, more, but the first time I ever visited Rome, I fell in love.  I don't know what it's like to live there, but I love visiting.

Rome is my second favorite city in Europe. The gelato and the Campari make for a wonderful afternoon. So, what new place or places do you dream of seeing?

Too many to name!  Too many places to still see.

I know, I know, the world is a big beautiful place. What three things do you never travel without? 

Knitting, reading material, a refillable water bottle.

Hydration is key to feeling and looking one's best. What is your favorite part of a trip away from home? 

Trying new food, wine, beer, etc.

What do you like least about being away from home?

I miss our kitties!

Wonderful. So tell me dear, how did you come to be entangled in the wonderful world of yarn?

I've knitted on & off for nearly forty years, and got excited about designing around 7 years ago.

I love knitting and crochet, but at times it can prove to be a challenge. Have you any pet peeves or joys about the knitting process?

I wish I could knit faster. I'm not slow, but there's simply not enough time.

Haha, yes, time is always at a premium. So moving right along to patterns, what design would you like to have featured with our little tête-à-tête

Beneath the Moon. And Alongshore, lol.

They are two of my favorites. And as the suns sets here on the beach, oh, so apropos. Tell me something of how these designs came to be. Were you responding to a personal need?

I was in love with the flower edging from Isn't It Romantic, and wanted to do more with it. I also wanted to play with a new-to-me design shape. Initially I started doing a simpler main body, but I tried the leaf motif and utterly fell in love with it too.

It is exquisite. How was your experience of the yarn? Reticule, correct?.

Yes. Oh my gosh. I adore that peacock colorway. It's one of those colorways that seduces you into knitting more and more just to see how it comes out.

I agree. You have done such beautiful work with our yarns. I am truly amazed at your talents, Ms. Tallent. Thank you so much, darling, for being a part of our big, wide yarn world. Thank you.

Until we meet again, dear hearts, I remain,
Mrs. Crosby

For more on Stephannie Tallent visit her website at or find her on Ravelry as StephCat.