Category Archives: crafting


After a long, dark year, my doctor and I have stumbled upon a new-to-me medication that is actually working for me. Instead of just existing, I’m starting to come back to life. Here are a few paintings I’ve done recently. Love the burst of creativity that has come with my reawakening.


Winter Birch. Oil pastels on canvas.

Downcast. Acrylic on canvas.

Night Fire. Acrylic on canvas.

Randomly on a Tuesday

I like Random Tuesdays.  Because they’re random.  Like me.

I’ve been in contact with one man I suspected of being my biological father.  His name isn’t quite the right match, but his age is, as well as his location at the time of my conception.

I’ve found a few other potential bio-dads.  One was a definite ‘no’, one was deceased, and one looks like me.  The one that looks like me lives in Lugoff, South Carolina.  He hasn’t responded to me yet.  Good thing I’m persistent.

My cousin Stephan committed suicide last week at age 26.  He left behind three young sons, and a lot of loving family and friends.  We drove to Anchorage last Friday for his memorial service, but didn’t quite make it.  We stopped for brunch at Rose’s Cafe in Healy, where Mia fell on her front teeth.  She bled a bit, chipping one top front tooth and loosening the other.  We debated whether we should continue to Anchorage or turn back to Fairbanks, and decided to keep on.  We hit up Alaska Native Medical Center as soon as we got to town, and good thing.  Poor Mia had fractured both top front teeth down to the nerve, and they had to be pulled.  She’s fine now, though she pronounces a few things differently, and won’t have any lasting damage to her adult teeth or rampant love of running.

We stopped at Stephan’s wake, where the place was teeming with my extended family and lots of good food.  I saw family members I haven’t seen in years, and learned that a couple of them live up my way.  We were all exhausted from the trip down so we didn’t stay long, but I was there just long enough to give my love and sympathy to Stephan’s mother, Aucha.  My most beautiful, smartest cousin, just like me.  May G-d bless you and keep you.

The kids got to hang out with a few of their cousins, Faith, Caleb, and Victoria, as well as Aunt Jessie and Grandpa.  Mia was completely captivated by all the mountains around Anchorage, poor little mountain-deprived Interior girl that she is.  We were going to take them to Beluga Point before we left town Saturday, but opted instead to take them to Valley of the Moon Park.

That’s where I got to finally catch up with an old friend, Amanda, and finally met her beau Todd and adorable son Mason.  River had fun on the swings, JR climbed on everything in sight (and has declared it his favorite park), and Mia was so taken by Amanda and Mason that she kept talking about them on the way home.  There are many, many more friends I want to see; I’ll be back in Anchorage before too long!

It was fantastic to come home after such a short trip.  My home stays messier than I want it to be, but it’s mine.  Mine, mine, mine!  The animals gave us a great greeting, as has the laundry pile.

John has a new-to-him motorcycle this summer — a 1991 Harley Davidson Sportster.  He got it late in the season, got it fixed up, and takes it out whenever he gets a chance.  I keep pushing for him to get chaps, but possibly not for the reason he wants them.  I picked up a helmet this weekend, so I’m ready just in case I get a chance to ride with him.  Hopefully he can take a long ride this coming weekend since there probably aren’t a lot of riding days left.

I’m still knitting — I have a lot of finished projects that I haven’t pictured because the kids got hold of my camera, leaving me unable to point-and-shoot at my leisure.  That’s also why there are decidedly fewer photos here on the blog.  I have a lot of knitting projects lined up, including a shawl for Amanda (because she admired the ruffly one I was wearing at the park), hats/scarves/mittens for the kids, hats for the nursery at Fairbanks Memorial, items for the upcoming homeless youth shelter, and items for various auctions like the Toys for Tots one held in Anchorage.

I’ve been reliving some drama from 15 years ago in my dreams several nights in a row.  Rather, I should call them nightmares, more appropriately.  I’m pretty much ready for that to stop.  Though last night I dreamed I was the star in a recital, and had all manner of dance training to undergo before the big show.  It was strange.

I’ve been reading about Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, tarot, and the Torah.  When I’m not reading about spirituality, I’ve been lost in Kathy Reichs books with Margaret Atwood bringing up the rear.

My cholesterol has come down over 50 points, possibly 70, since the beginning of the year, and I’m thrilled about that.  I wasn’t sure if my approach was working.  It’s still not great, but I’m getting there.

Fibromyalgia pain comes and goes.  I feel like I’m finally on the tail end of a flare.  If I hadn’t had two root canals that need to be retouched, I’d probably feel pretty good.

I’m going to scrounge up some dinner now, then hopefully finish a sock I’ve been working on for what feels like forever.


Holy absentee blogger, Batman!

I’ve sort of been writing.  Elsewhere.  Stuff more for me and less for public consumption.  I just haven’t been writing enough, which is likely why I feel… congested? emotionally.  Time for a cathartic dump.

I’ve been exhausted, aching, and/or ill, for what seems like  I have depression/anxiety/panic issues, and fibromyalgia, and chronic back pain from an ancient injury.  Those are all the basics that are with me on an almost daily basis.  I’ve had in increase in migraines (complete with aura, awesome), a resurgence of insomnia, an uptick in panic attack intensity and frequency, and some unexplained diffuse lymphadenopathy which hit me like a freight train.  And this has all just been my shit.  Each of the kids has had their own (typical, uneventful, unremarkable, viral) illness, and John has had his fair share of ickies.

So through all this shit, a lot of things have taken a back burner.  This blog was one.  My spinning.  My painting.  My knitting too, on occasion. Reading, some writing, most frivolous/fun things.

I’ve spent more time primping and preening.  I figure if I feel like absolute shit, I will at least look good.  Hot, even.

I listen to more music than before. [Side note: each of the kids has a distinct musical preference. JR = bluegrass/jam bands, classic rock. Mia = ’80s hair, metal, industrial.  River = r&b and hip hop.  These are usually incompatible genres, often leading to musical chaos and at least one disappointed child.  Thank goodness for Pandora.]

I text more, play Words with Friends, nurse an ever-teething baby.

River’s not really a baby anymore.  He’s 26+ lbs of adventure, charm, and mischief.  He turned ONE YEAR OLD on July 3.  My Itty Bitty Baby Boy is ONE.  It’s amazing, and kind of heartbreaking.  (He got cake.  He loved it.  He took his first steps just days before that.)

I’ve reconnected with some really great people.  My friends and my music have really gotten me through some crappy times these last few months.  Thank you.

My lymph nodes are all starting to calm down, finally.  My spleen still hurts, but it too is on the mend.  I have medication for the panic attacks and insomnia.  Now that I’m getting at least 4 hours of sleep a night and am in less pain, I’m starting to feel like things are looking up.

Maybe I’ll get over this mental block I have about sharing certain things and y’all might see some more posts.

Pictures soon, promise!

Random on a Tuesday

  • My youngest sister, Melinda, died at 25 on January 14, 2011.
  • We drove to Anchorage for a small memorial service for her, held on Friday, January 21, 2011.
  • It’s got me mourning my mother all over again.
  • The kids got to play with Grandpa, cousins Faith, Caleb, and Vicky, Aunts Jessie, Tasha, & Sandee, and Uncle Darrell.
  • We took family photos at my parents’ house, courtesy of Sandee Rice Photography.
  • Back at the hotel, we took the kids down to the swimming pool.  They had a blast.
  • The chlorine in the pool did crazy tightening things to the dreads forming at the back of my head.
  • Bouncing Bears is the coolest place to get kids worn out before a long road trip.
  • The living room floor is the greatest place to roll around after many long hours cooped up in car seats.
  • The wolf and the orca share the same animal spirit in Yup’ik lore.  These are the two animals I debated between in trying to identify the animal essence of my youngest child River.  JR is a polar bear.  Camilla is a lynx/mountain lion/fox.
  • I’ve spun 4 oz of a pinkish-purplish wool/alpaca batt by Bohoknitterchic Spins into 400+ yards of a fingering weight single.  Melinda loved pink.  I’m going to knit a shawl out of this yarn.
  • I’m knee-deep in laundry that needs to be done before we leave Thursday night on vacation.
  • I get a kitten after we get back.  It will go nicely with the litter box and cat food I got from John for Christmas.
  • I’m planning on getting tattooed in San Antonio and Chicago during the next couple of weeks.
  • I’ll be starting a Little Acorn Learning curriculum for JR and Camilla after our trip.  I’m excited.
  • I definitely need to get back to daily workouts.  They’ve fallen by the wayside with a marked increase in fibro pain.
  • I nearly forgot how comfortable Vans are until I bought a new pair the other day.
  • I am very clearly doing anything possible to avoid laundry and packing.
  • I have to start all that now, before Thursday gets here.


New Pattern! — Columnar socks

Now available — Columnar!

I designed these primarily to showcase the beauty of hand-painted artisan yarn. I believe I’ve accomplished this in an easy way, while lending visual interest, slight texture, and a simple counter-spell for pooling.

Columnar. Shown here in Titania colorway on Adorn Sock by Three Irish Girls.

These socks are worked in the round from the cuff down. This pattern assumes you have a basic familiarity with sock construction, though will be easy enough for beginners. This is written for use with Magic Loop, though please use whichever method of small diameter in-the-round knitting you prefer. Three sizes are available, and more can be achieved through gauge modification.

You may purchase this pattern for $5.00 via Ravelry. You do not need to be a member of Ravelry to use the link below.

More knitterly utterings

I used some Madelinetosh Sock for the first time on these Ginsing Madder Ribbed socks that I gifted to my sister-in-law Cara for her most recent milestone birthday. I had a lot of fun making them, and adore the way the colors flashed and swirled.

Ginsing Madder Ribbed

Pattern: Madder Ribbed by Nancy Bush from Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Ginsing on Madelinetosh Sock, 300 yards
Needles: 2.75 mm 40″ Addi Turbos
Gauge: 7.5 stitches per inch
Finished size: 9.5″ long foot

Here is my first time using Kells Sport for socks, and wouldn’t you figure that I used a too-small gauge and wound up with a too-dense fabric for my tastes. Oh well, it was a fun knit, and will make someone happy as these socks are not destined to stay with me.

Macbeth's Downward Spiral

Pattern: Spiraling Master Coriolis by Cat Bordhi from New Pathways for Sock Knitters
Yarn: Macbeth on Kells Sport by Three Irish Girls, October 2009 Sock Yarnista offering
Needles: 2.25 mm 40″ Addi Turbos
Gauge: 8.5 stitches/12 rows per inch
Finished size: 9.5″ long foot

And a lovely shawlette that is sadly also not destined to stay with me. As much as I adore the way this came together, it just isn’t me. Is it you?

Traveling Kate

Pattern: Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Kate on McClellan Fingering by Three Irish Girls, 336 yards
Needles: 4.0 mm Addi Lace
Gauge: 6 stitches per inch unblocked
Finished size: 66″ by 21″

Knit This!

Umbrous: A Shawl by Crystal S. McDonald

Umbrous: A Shawl by Crystal S. McDonald

Pattern: Umbrous: A Shawl by Crystal S. McDonald (that’s me, yo!) Buy it here or on Ravelry
Yarn: Mountain Cathedrals on McClellan Fingering by Three Irish Girls, February 2010 Sock Yarnista club offering. Pattern used ~425 yards, or 110 g.
Needles: 4.0 mm Addi Lace
Finished size: 60″ by 32″

Umbrous, sport weight version

Umbrous, close-up of bottom point

Close-up of body

Umbrous: A Shawl by Crystal S. McDonald (still me, yo!)
Yarn: Morgaine on Kells Sport by Three Irish Girls, October 2009 Sock Yarnista club offering. Pattern used 138 g.
Needles: 4.0 mm Addi Lace
Finished size: 60″ by 33″

Meet Umbrous. A Shawl. Umbrous is my first shawl pattern, and new designs are in the works!

Umbrous can be knit in any weight yarn, and is adjustable to any number of repeats.

My lovely team of Ravelry test knitters have done this shawl in lace weight, fingering, sport, and worsted. They’ve made them in variegateds, semi-solids, and solids. They’ve all turned out gorgeous and, yes, I know that means I’m bragging.

So, buy it now here or on Ravelry, queue it up in Ravelry, and join the Hippie Diva Creations KALs & CALs group!

Busy Needles!

Yep, I’ve had busy needles as of late!

A friend had a baby not too terribly long ago, and I made this for her as a babymooning gift:

Molly's Gifty

Pattern: Yvaine by Liz Abinante, somewhat modified — or Ravelled
Yarn: Wisdom Poems Sock
Needles: 5.0 mm (US 8) 16″ circular

I love the shawl pattern. It’s simple, versatile, and showcases yarn fabulously. I’m sure to make many (that was my second). Liz has a bunch of other awesome patterns that you should check out too.


Jellybean got some new Special Socks:

Jellybean's Special Socks - toe-up version

Pattern: Jellybean’s Special Socks by Crystal S. McDonald — soon available on my website & available now in my Ravelry store
Yarn: “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” on Culloden Sock by Three Irish Girls, and “Bells of Ireland” on Kells Sport by Three Irish Girls — both of which were exclusive Sock Yarnista Club colors
Needles: 2.5 mm 40″ Addi Turbos


I made my first lace shawl wherein I discovered I like nupps:

Swallowtail Shawl

Pattern: Swallowtail Lace Shawl by Evelyn Clark
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace
Needles: 4.0 mm 16″ circular


Camilla got an adorable new cardigan:

Sweet Pea's new cardi

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmerman, modified to have a stockinette body & short sleeves
Yarn: “Estuary” on Springvale DK by Three Irish Girls, an exclusive Dye For Glory colorway
Needles: 4.5 mm 16″ circular


JR got an awesome little jester hat, complete with bells (that I already have to replace):

JR's new hat

Pattern: Toddler Hat by Astrid Schramm
Yarn: “Estuary Brown” on Springvale DK by Three Irish Girls, a coordinating solid for the exclusive Dye For Glory colorway
Needles: 4.0 mm 16″ circular & DPNs


And now I have a handful of other projects on the needles but I’ll write about those another time!

Yummy Malabrigo

I made a pair of wool longies for Camilla out of worsted Malabrigo. Yum.

Mmmmalongies 2

Mmmmalongies 2

Pattern: Perfection Pants by Pamela Grossman (purchased at Three Irish Girls)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, 100% wool, Little Lovely colourway (purchased at The Backwards Loop)
Needles: Size 6 (4.0 mm) and size 8 (5.0 mm) 16″ bamboo circulars and bamboo double-point needles
Gauge: 4.5 stitches per inch, 5 rows per inch, in stockinette

Yes, I absolutely must buy some awesome 3IG yarn to make more of these. Even more Mmmmalabrigo, since it’s so soft and yummy.


I’ve finished my first pair of knit wool longies, and love them. I’ve knit soakers before, but I’ve only ever crocheted longies. It’s so soft, I almost want to knit a pair for myself!

Malabrigo wool longies for JR

Malabrigo wool longies for JR

Pattern: Perfection Pants by Pamela Grossman (purchased at Three Irish Girls)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, 100% wool, Oceanos colourway (purchased at The Backwards Loop)
Needles: Size 6 (4.0 mm) and size 8 (5.0 mm) 16″ bamboo circulars and bamboo double-point needles
Gauge: 4.5 stitches per inch, 5 rows per inch, in stockinette

I’m about halfway done with the pair for Camilla. I’m so excited about how these have come out that I’m sure to make many more in plenty of great colourways! I’ll definitely have to buy some special merino from Three Irish Girls. I know I’ll still crochet longies, but I’m thinking I may reserve that for workhorse wool (read: cheaper) that can handle the abuses of being used during JR’s rougher playtimes.

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