The Get-Up-and-Go Messy Bun Hat . . . and More Knitting Pattern Rants

Some months back (fall 2016), I began receiving emails and Facebook posts from friends asking if I would knit a messy bun hat. The only problem was that every link they sent to me showed a crocheted hat instead of a knit one.

I did a deeper search on the Internet, and I found some lovely messy bun hat designs, but nothing quite like my friends wanted. So, I designed one.

The pattern is a lightweight version of my OhSo winter hat, with adjustments. It, too, calls for bulky yarn, but the overall weight doesn’t sit as heavy on the head, and it works well fall through spring.

I began selling my finished messy bun hats on Etsy, and I’m happy to say they flew off the shelves. I’m still selling them there, and I’ve also received a lot of custom orders for various colors.

People started asking me for the pattern, so I wrote one using Knit Picks’ Chroma Twist Bulky, and I queried Knit Picks to see if they would like to feature it as part of the Independent Designer Program, the same as they did for my Organic Cotton Heirloom Baby Hat.

Knit Picks’ Chroma Twist Bulky is perfect for this hat. It is 70% wool and 30% nylon, and the nylon gives the yarn just enough stretch to allow for a wide-rib brim design. The colorways Knit Picks offers are stunning, and each one has its own personality.

Knit Picks Chroma Twist Bulky also wears extremely well. When I was designing the hat, I ripped out the same skein many times to start over. Despite ripping and ripping, the yarn didn’t pill, also thanks to the nylon, I’m sure.

Note: While Knit Picks Chroma Twist Bulky is resistant to pilling, it does get softer with each use, and it develops a soft halo with use and after washing and drying — in a good way.

Knit Picks Chroma Twist Bulky is a washable yarn, and care should be taken when blocking, as it likes to stretch when blocked. The good news is that, unless you need to stretch it, you can just lay it flat or put it on a head form (a balloon blown to the radius you want also works), mist it with water, pat into place, and let dry.

Care: I find it best to hand wash it. If you prefer to machine wash, do it separately, inside-out, on an extra-gentle cycle and tumble dry separately, on light. Then, remove while lightly damp and lay flat to dry. Washing and over-drying the hat could cause a small amount of shrinkage, so you may want to re-block it on a form or balloon after washing, if you’ve tumble dried it too long.

Every skein of Chroma Twist Bulky is different so that each hat will be unique. The overall colorway will be the same, but which colors twist with which, and the order in which they appear will vary, sometimes dramatically. Each hat will be one-of-a-kind.

I’m happy to say, Knit Picks wanted the pattern, so once again I wrote the pattern, and I hired the talented Elke Probst as a project knitter and tech editor.

This time, I decided to also hire a professional photographer, Patty McGuire of PattyMac Knits.

You might not think you know Patty, but you may know her quite well. You know the cat hats that are all the rage these days? Well, it is probably Patty who designed the first one and possibly the BEST one because it fits a person’s head so well. Patty designed the hat way back in 2015. She designed it because she loves cats. That was her only motivation, and her design is adorable. She has a podcast and tutorials, too.

Find Patty at

I wish more knitters understood what goes into producing a well-written pattern. Even a simple design can take an incredibly long time to write, and I have the deepest respect for designers who go to the trouble to get the instructions, logistics, and photos exactly as they should be.

As I have written previously in the post about my Organic Cotton Baby Hat, I am sick to death of being burned by poorly-written patterns, especially ones I’ve had to purchase.

So, if you’re thinking of buying a Get-Up-and-Go Messy Bun Hat pattern, why should you consider this one, and what makes it different? And why should you purchase it instead of finding one that’s free?

-It is well-written, thanks to my working with a team of dedicated professionals. (I’m a good writer, but no one is so good they can’t use editing.)

-It includes directions on how to turn the hat into a traditional, closed-top hat if you like.

-It gives an option on how to customize the hat, so the length fits anyone (similar to the OhSo Hat pattern).

-I am available to offer knitting support and to answer any questions you may have.

-It gives tips on what to do if you use a different yarn instead.

-I will love you forever for supporting your knitting community.

Which brings up something else I’d like to mention: I wish all designers would state why they have chosen their recommended yarn. What is it about the yarn that makes it perfect for the pattern? What is the fiber content? What should a knitter know when choosing another yarn instead? How does well (or not-so-well) does the yarn block, wash, and wear?

Designers: I hope you have a reason for choosing the yarn you do. Choosing it because your best friend makes it isn’t the right reason; choosing it because you want free yarn support isn’t the right reason; choosing it because you just happen to have it lying around in your stash and need to use it for something it isn’t the right reason. These are all ploys, and they are unprofessional.

The yarn is perfect for the pattern. That’s the right reason.

When I buy a pattern, I want to feel as through the designer deeply cares about me as well as the design. A pattern should have a heart, a soul, and a conscience. Knitters deserve nothing less.

The Get-Up-and-Go Messy Bun hat pattern is available here:

-Through your local yarn shop for $4.99. Just ask them to purchase it for you through the Ravelry LYS supported platform. Your shop will earn a portion of the price, and your purchase will go to your Ravelry Library, just as if you had downloaded it yourself. You can also ask your shop to recommend a yarn they have in stock. This hat knits up beautifully in many, appropriate bulky yarns. Thank you for supporting your local yarn shop!

By the way, someone recently told me that a ton of yarn shops closed in 2016. Come on, everyone, those yarn shops are our sanctuary, and they need our support!

-On Knit Picks with an optional kit for $12.99:

On Ravelry for $4.99:

On Craftsy for $4.99:

In my Etsy Shop for $4.99:

I am also taking orders for finished hats, through my Etsy Shop:


Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Gluten-Free Cruise on Celebrity Summit: A Review

In October 2016, my husband Howard and I took a 14-day Canada/New England cruise on the Celebrity Summit, so I thought I’d write about my experience, with an emphasis on food, although love had a lot to do with it, too. After 39 years of marriage, Howard and I are still kids at heart. Here we are, holding hands on Celebrity’s Sky Deck and enjoying every minute:

If you’re new to the Knitting Is Gluten Free Blog, know that I must eat gluten-free. I do it because I have to and not because I want to eat that way. If I don’t follow a super-strict gluten-free diet, I get VERY sick. So, when I travel, being able to eat gluten-free, without worry, is the most important part of my trip.

When I’ve asked people to describe their gluten-free experience on Celebrity, I’ve mostly received short, simple answers, but what I craved was a lot of detail. So, for those of you who are like me, here comes detail!

Let’s get the basic cruise review stuff out of the way:

Embarkation and debarkation in Cape Liberty, New Jersey was fast and easy.

The Summit: It shows a little age in spots, but had it not been for other reviewers pointing this out in travel forums, I doubt I would have noticed it. The Summit is beautiful and clean.

Crew: The best. Everyone was friendly, caring, helpful, and fun. This was my husband’s and my 4th cruise (the last one on Crystal), and the service was the best we’ve experienced. Everyone was outstanding.

I want to give special thanks to Maître D’ Ken who always went above and beyond to help make my dining experience safe and delicious. He’s a gem. If you have to eat gluten-free or have allergies or other food restrictions, absolutely ask for him. Introduce yourself and tell him about your needs. I guarantee he’ll do everything in his power to make you happy.

Entertainment: The shows were good. The afternoon and early evening lounge acts (pianist/singer or singing duo) were okay and nothing we sought.

Enrichment Activities: Meh, although I didn’t attend many. I went to a “snowflake” class where everyone cut snowflakes out of paper that had the design already drawn on it. It felt like an elementary school activity. Had it not been so challenging to use the kiddie scissors provided (and people had to wait to use them since there weren’t enough) I would have likened it to a nursing home activity.

Fellow passengers: Engaging and fun. It seemed as though most everyone was friendly and in a good mood, which is something we haven’t always experienced on other cruise lines. Howard and I made some new friends, too. Socializing more than minimally is unusual for us because we usually keep to ourselves. But, this time we traveled with cousins (LOVE you, Barb and Bob), and bar visits with them gave us the opportunity to meet some great folks. From now on, I’m going to be more sociable when I cruise. The people we met made our trip the best.

Dining: This is where it gets good. While some constructive comments follow, my overall rating for Celebrity’s gluten-free experience is excellent, and I look forward to cruising on Celebrity again.

Before I begin, I’d like to give some news. Celebrity Cruise Line has said they would launch a Dine Aware Program in November 2016. Dine Aware helps the food service industry better serve customers who have food allergies or intolerances. I first read about it on Cruise Critic, here:

I also started a thread about it on Cruise Critic, here:

I haven’t seen much about the launch since the August press release, and when I was on my October Celebrity cruise, it was before implementation. So, much of what I have to say here may turn even more positive in the future.

Buffet: Foods that were gluten free had labels to identify them, which was great. However, because I am hypersensitive to gluten (a fraction of a crumb can make me sick for a week), buffets are not safe for me since the risk of cross-contamination is great.

I want to give Celebrity credit, because upon receiving notification of my super-hyper-gluten-sensitivity from my travel agent, they sent me an email to recommend I not eat at the buffet, and they specifically cited the risk of cross-contamination as the reason. Impressive. I travel a lot, and banquet and buffet venues have a nasty habit of promising to be safe when they’re not. Bravo, Celebrity.

Let me give you an example: At the meat carving station, there was a roast labeled as being gluten free. However, sitting next to the roast was a sausage which was NOT gluten free. The server was using the same knife to cut the sausage as used to cut the roast. If I had had a slice of the roast, I would have been cross-contaminated (yes, it does happen that easily).

Another example: At the dessert station, there were pseudo “cakes” and “pies” labeled gluten-free. They were not individually plated. A lot of people served themselves instead of waiting for a server. The utensils they used had gluten all over them, or they would plop the cake down on their plate, right next to something with gluten in it, and then put the serving utensil back with the gluten-free item. Also, the servers served regular cake next to the gluten-free stuff, and on more than one occasion, I saw crumbs of gluten fall where they did not belong.

So, thank you, Celebrity, for warning me about the buffet.

That said, if I found Ken, he would go in the back, and he would custom serve buffet items to me. I never had a problem with anything he served me. And, he makes the best gluten-free sandwiches in the world.

Which reminds me, the gluten-free bread on The Summit is good—nothing fancy, just your basic, gluten-free bread, but it was soft and delicious. I enjoyed it toasted, too, but it was nice to know it didn’t have to be toasted to be good.

On the buffet, there were some desserts that were self-contained in individual serving cups, and I felt safe with those, especially if they weren’t sitting next to something that might cause cross contamination. Most of them were good.

There is gluten-free pizza offered in the buffet, made separately upon special request. The crust is weird and needs to be crisp instead of soggy, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I told myself it wasn’t pizza but an odd appetizer instead.

I tried the pizza three times. The first time, I had no issues, but the next two times I had a slight reaction. It can come from something as simple as someone touching my pizza without putting on fresh gloves. So, I stayed away from the pizza station after that.

My dream is to see a Celebrity have a DEDICATED gluten-free station in the buffet. That would be heavenly. I’d be able to eat at a buffet and feel like a normal person. As more and more people discover they have gluten intolerance, perhaps the day will come.

Main Dining Room: I enjoyed the food in the main dining room, and I appreciated that the gluten-free items had labels on the menu. On most cruise ships, I always have to order what I want the day before, but as long as I stuck to the gluten-free choices on Celebrity, I didn’t have to do so, which came in handy, especially at lunch. Plus, I don’t always know what I’m going to feel like eating the next day.

However, at dinner, the server still brought me the next day’s menu, just in case I wanted something prepared gluten-free that wasn’t already gluten-free. I appreciated that.

A word of advice: If you are unsure if a menu item is gluten-free, ask, ask, and ask again, and make sure the server speaks directly with the chef.

One day at lunch, the large menu at the entrance of the main dining room had a dish (if memory serves, it was Pad Thai) marked as being gluten-free. Pad Thai uses rice noodles and is often safe. It excited me to see it on the menu.

However, on my individual menu, the dish was not labeled as being gluten-free. I asked the waiter to check, but in retrospect, I don’t think he understood that it was labeled gluten-free on one menu and not the other.

When he checked, he said, “If it is labeled gluten-free, it is gluten-free.”

So, I ordered it.


While they might have been using rice noodles, after the first bite, I detected soy sauce. I called for the waiter, and I asked him to please make sure that the soy sauce being used was gluten free (most soy sauce is not).

Alas, it was not. While I only had one small bite, after returning to my room, I started to feel sick, and oh boy, was I ever!

Did I get so sick that I clogged the plumbing system in my room?

Don’t ask.

Okay, ask.

Indeed, I did. And, even if I must say so myself, I did a fine job of it.

Now here’s the thing: Those of us who must keep vigil on food know that sometimes mistakes happen. We must be steadfast in guarding every bite. Diligence is the curse of having to deal with food allergies and intolerances—difficult and sad, but true.

Whose fault was it that I received contaminated food?

Celebrity’s? Yes, but also my own. I should have made sure the server spoke with the chef directly, and I should have known that “If it is labeled gluten-free, it is gluten-free,” is a questionable answer, especially since it was not labeled gluten free on both menus.

Truth told, on a 14-day holiday, I expected to have at least one setback. Mistakes have happened to me everywhere, including Walt Disney World, which I adore and which has the reputation of offering the most responsible gluten-free options in the world.

If I have food issues, vigilance is the key, and when it comes to questionable offerings, I hold the key.

The food in the main dining room was good and sometimes great. The service was outstanding. The escargot was five-star, and steaks cooked as I requested. The leg of lamb was a favorite.

Some of the gluten-free desserts were good, but I would have liked more variety. I get tired of crème brûlée (it’s the go-to gluten-free dessert EVERYWHERE), but I must say, their crème brûlée was excellent, and the flavored crème brûlée was wonderful, with pistachio my favorite. I didn’t enjoy the ice cream. It tasted cheap. I’m picky when it comes to ice cream.

Howard and I booked “Aqua Class” on Celebrity, which offers Blu—a separate dining room for dinner, just for Aqua Class travelers.

We enjoyed Blu. I had breakfast there almost every day. Mostly, I had eggs and bacon along with gluten-free bread. Everything came to me hot and cooked to perfection.

Blu has a gluten-free pastry available if you ask for it. As the days went by, the pastry started to taste harder, and yes, I know this sounds crazy, but I still enjoyed it. As it hardened, it was wonderful with coffee, rather like biscotti. (I’m a glass-half-full person. Can you tell?)

We did not eat dinner in Blu as much as I might have liked. The couple we traveled with preferred the main dining room. However, I would ask to see the dinner menu from Blu every evening prior, and if there was something I wanted, the staff was happy to accommodate me.

Note: I’m not sure if shared menus are available on all Celebrity ships. On The Summit, all dining venues use a shared kitchen. I am told this makes it easier to fill requests.

The menu in Blu did not have gluten-free items marked as in the main dining room, but they were happy to point me in the right direction or take special requests. The eggs Benedict, which is not on Blu’s breakfast menu, is particularly good and the chef’s recipe is naturally gluten-free. They substitute gluten free bread for the English muffin. Ask for it!

Café al Bacio & Gelateria is a lovely, designer coffee and tea café. Howard and I visited there at least once a day. The coffee and teas are gluten free, but, when ordering anything from Café al Bacio, I had to be careful. Despite my telling them I needed only gluten-free selections, they would sometimes still put a biscotti on my plate, and they didn’t always understand when I told them that it wasn’t enough to merely remove the biscotti, as it left cross-contamination behind. As such, I needed to watch them throughout the preparation instead of taking a seat and waiting to be served.

Café al Bacio & Gelateria also has delicious, gluten-free macaroons. Here again, I had to watch closely to make sure the tongs they used were not the ones used in the regular cookies. Not everyone at the café understood me when I requested gluten free, and I had an impossible time at the gelato station trying to get them to understand scoop cross-contamination.

Aqua Spa: This is a small buffet area near the solarium. Here also, gluten-free choices had labels. The selections here are light and healthy, and I enjoyed them. On embarkation day, I didn’t realize Aqua Spa was open. How I wish I did! The only place open for me, for lunch, was the buffet.

Almost everyone is expected to dine in the buffet for lunch on embarkation day. Only Concierge Class travelers (a class under Aqua) can eat lunch in the main dining room on that day. Suite Class travelers have a private restaurant which is open for lunch every day, but Aqua Class Blu never opens for lunch, and no exceptions are made to allow those with food issues to eat in the main dining room. I would be lovely if Blu would open for lunch, if only on embarkation day.

I ended up eating gluten-free pizza in the buffet, but I would have preferred eating from Aqua Spa, where the foods come individually plated which makes the chance of cross contamination slight. Some non-gluten free foods were next to gluten-free, which isn’t perfect, but it was much safer than eating in the buffet. I had no issues from any of the gluten free food from Aqua Spa, and I ate there frequently throughout the trip. There weren’t many choices (a couple simple, ultra-healthy dishes), but I appreciated the offerings.

Next time, I’m heading for Aqua Spa for lunch on the first day!

As of this writing, Celebrity recommends that those with strong food allergies or intolerances limit their dining to the Main Dining Room or the Aqua Class and Suite Class private dining rooms. However, I dined at the specialty restaurants without issue. I was sure to speak to the Maître D’ to request the menus and to ask that he made sure I’d be safe.

Tuscan Grille: This is Celebrity’s Italian steakhouse. The food was so good that we ate there twice and then a third time because I won a free dinner.

It is Tuscan Grille’s custom to serve Limoncello at the end of the meal, but store-bought Limoncello can be problematic for those with gluten-intolerance. The staff was so knowledgeable that at dessert, instead of bringing me Limoncello, they crafted a custom Lemoncello just for me, and I didn’t even know enough to ask for it. Volcan, our server, was outstanding in every way.

Qsine: Oh, how we loved this place! The food was outstanding. It is an experience difficult to describe and best experienced personally. The menu features small bites, but they are not small. From what I hear, most everyone who eats there has a tendency to over-order. Thankfully, our server knew enough to cut us off before we went overboard. Be sure to try the sushi lollipops. Because of notice, they also prepared French fries for me in a dedicated fryer. They were the best French fries I’ve ever had. Everything we ordered was excellent.

I never ordered room service. Next time, I must give it a go.

We enjoyed our experience so much that we’ve booked another Celebrity 14-day cruise, to take place in 2018. I look forward to seeing what Celebrity does with Dine Aware, and I hope to report that it is possible to go for 14 days with no issues whatsoever.

Also, Celebrity, please: Along with making the dining experience even safer, how about offering a dedicated gluten-free station in the buffet, as mentioned above?

Now, that would be true “Modern Luxury.”

Love to all,

This blog is brought to you by my Etsy Shop: SimplyHeavenKnits

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Thoughts upon Publishing a Pattern with Knit Picks


Have you ever wondered what it might be like to publish a knitting or crochet pattern at, under their Independent Designer Program (IDP)?

Me, too! And now I know . . .

I have always loved Knit Picks products, and I’ve also been happy with their knitting patterns. Now that I’ve had one of my patterns chosen to be part of Knit Picks IDP Program, I feel proud. Here’s the story:

Last year, I attended The National Needle Arts Association (TNNA) Trade Show for the first time. I loved it. While there, one of my goals was to research organic yarns. More than anything, I wanted to fall in love with an organic cotton yarn.

Why? Because my background in the gluten-free community taught me how difficult it can be to cope with intolerance and allergies. While I am not allergic to wool or other fibers, I know that many people are, and finding hand knits that are kind to sensitive skin can be a challenge.

I was playing with a design for a newborn baby hat. I felt an organic cotton yarn would be the perfect choice for a safe, hypoallergenic hat. I wanted the yarn to be a true worsted weight, and I wanted my pattern to be an easy knit and reversible, to suit a boy or a girl. I also wanted it to have a use after a baby outgrows it.

The top of my hat sits flat when turned upside down, which made me realize it could convert into a decorative bowl. It is great to hold cotton swabs or similar things . . . and, if you put a battery-operated votive inside, it also makes a nice nightlight. This gave me an additional reason to choose cotton, since a touch of spray starch might help stiffen the hat when turning it into a bowl.


At TNNA, I relished scouting the floor as I dreamed of finding the perfect yarn. I sampled cotton yarns, and then I sampled some more. I loved the look and feel of organic cotton, but, as much as I wanted to love it, I disliked knitting with it. The yarn split, and it split, and it split.

And it split.

While I found many other wonderful things at TNNA (don’t ask me how much I spent), I felt sad in not having conquered my cotton quest.

However, I did settle on one organic cotton yarn I found there. Sadly, along with splitting, the yarn was more of a sport weight than worsted, but it worked well enough to put my pattern into place.

I queried the yarn company to see if they had an interest in my pattern. They did, but they wanted to own all rights to it. That didn’t interest me.

It was a blessing in disguise.

I don’t remember if I had been fiddling around on the Internet or if a new Knit Picks catalog arrived, but somehow, I discovered Knit Picks Simply Cotton Organic Worsted Yarn. I wondered if it might also split when I knit with it, so I ordered some to see.

When I opened the box, heaven opened, too. As I lifted the skein, I felt the softness and saw how it had a plumper look than other organic cotton yarns I tried — a true worsted weight! It was perfect. This would make my hat pattern a fast knit as well as an easy one.

It was love at first stitch. I enjoyed what I like to call “Nirvana knitting.” Nirvana knitting allows a knitter’s hands to luxuriate in tranquility and suppleness. For many knitters, it is the ultimate tactile experience–even better than lingering in a feather bed on a Sunday morning.

It gets better. No split. NO SPLIT! Thank you, Knit Picks.

I wondered if Knit Picks might have an interest in publishing my pattern, so I explored their Independent Designers Program.

Heaven opened again.

Not only does Knit Picks allow designers to retain all rights, they also allow the designer to set the price and–yes!–sell the pattern elsewhere.

If you explore the IDP program (link below), you’ll see how Knit Picks requires “well written, professional submissions,” and you’ll see how test knitting and tech editing is the designer’s responsibility.

Here’s where my trip to TNNA really paid off. While there, I met THE charming and talented tech editor and test knitter, Elke Probst. She shared her portfolio with me, and I enjoyed hearing about her work with top designers and yarn companies.

Any writer with intelligence and a conscience knows that, no matter how well-written a piece may appear, it should be run past an expert. I hired Elke, and the two of us had a blast working together as we spit-polished my piece. She’s brilliant.

Time out for a rant. Few things burn my bones more than purchasing a pattern only to find it hasn’t been properly test knit or tech edited. There is no excuse for it. Designers who have the nerve to sell such patterns should have their needles broken and yarn pulled, much the same as a soldier losing rank and medals.

First, I queried Knit Picks to see if they had an interest in my submitting my pattern. I’m happy to say, they did.

So, off my pattern went for Knit Picks’ final consideration. I don’t remember exactly how long I waited for a response, but if memory serves, it was longer than the 30 days quoted on their site. Of course, it felt more like 30 years. Submissions have a way of doing that.

It was worth the wait. My Organic Cotton Heirloom Baby Hat now has a home at Knit Picks. While my baby hat may be knit in any worsted weight yarn, Knit Picks married my design with the perfect yarn, and the pattern for the Organic Cotton Heirloom Baby Hat was born.

Have you knit the Organic Cotton Heirloom Baby Hat or worked with the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program? Do you agree or disagree that a designer has an absolute obligation to have a pattern painstakingly tech knit and edited before expecting people to pay their hard-earned money for it? I’d love to hear from you.

Note: If you purchase my pattern on KnitPicks, Craftsy, or Etsy, but you would like to have a copy in your Ravelry library, write to me. Include a copy of your receipt along with your Ravelry user name, and I’ll gift you with an extra copy for your library.

Find the Organic Cotton Heirloom Baby Hat patter on Knit Picks here.

Find the pattern on Ravelry, here.

Find the pattern on Craftsy, here.

Find the pattern in my Etsy shop, SimplyHeavenKnits, here.

If you’d like to contact tech editor/test knitter Elke Probst, write to me through Ravelry (see below) or my Etsy shop.

Find information on KnitPicks Independent Designer Program here.

Love to all,

This blog is brought to you by my Etsy Shop: SimplyHeavenKnits

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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How I Made My Old Cast Iron Pots and Pans Safe for Gluten-Free Cooking

NOTE:  This writing speaks of my experience only and, as far as I know, it is not a proven method.  Use at your discretion.

cast iron

When I learned I had to eat gluten-free, it saddened me to stop using my porous kitchen tools.  Wood, plastic, non-stick surfaces, cast iron, etc. . . . they all hold gluten.

Hardest of all was giving up my much-loved cast iron pots and pans — all of them were perfectly seasoned and a joy to use for cooking and baking.

Two of my cast iron skillets are vintage.  The first was given to me by a friend’s mother back in 1971.  It is a massive thing, passed down to her from her grandmother.  My friend’s mom had another cast iron skillet the same size, and she didn’t need two, so she gave me one.  (Don’t you just love it when miracles like that happen?)

The other is a skillet I purchased at an antique show some years back.  When I picked it up, it practically glowed with a history of great food . . . and when I felt the inner surface, I could tell it had been cleaned and seasoned with the care and respect cast iron deserves.  I could almost absorb the love it had cooked and coddled throughout the years . . .

That, or it was used as a wifely training device to bop a husband on the head.  I remember seeing vintage post cards illustrating women doing such things.  Yipes!


I doubt it was used for training.  It was well-seasoned and much-loved.  Whatever its purpose, it was on top of a stove and not on the back of a noggin.

I cherish those pans.

So, for a while, I relinquished my cast iron to my husband and daughters to use when making something with poison a/k/a gluten in it.

It killed me! I was envious beyond belief and longed for those pans like a baby who’s lost a pacifier.  Once you’ve mastered cooking with cast iron, nothing else works quite the same.

I read about how you can clean old cast iron by putting it in a self-cleaning oven, on the clean setting, and just let it go.  It is supposed to be a bit of a mess to do this.  I’m not sure if it works — I don’t have a self-cleaning oven (which you’d most certainly discover if you looked inside mine).

Here’s what I did:

1- I resolved to give up and allow my cast iron to lose its seasoning.

For those unfamiliar with cast iron cooking: a well-seasoned pan has been through countless uses and NEVER cleaned with soap.  Here’s how I do it:  I scrub the pan with Kosher salt and a gluten-free scrubby (that is, one dedicated to cleaning my cookware), then I disinfect with heat by putting it on a hot burner or into a hot oven and letting it go until it is HOT, HOT, HOT.

A seasoned pan is a sacred pan.  Why?  Because, when used correctly, food won’t stick to it. It is better than any non-stick cookware on the market, and it doesn’t wear out.  Just ask any owner of a greasy spoon or roadside diner.

2- I put my cast iron in the dishwasher and ran it with dish washing detergent (which is a no-no in the cast iron world), and I ran it a couple times.  Then I ran it a couple times more times, this time with no soap.

3- I re-seasoned the pans by rubbing them with oil, reheating them, and then letting them cool.

4- Then I made something greasy in each piece– fried, high fat hamburger, to be exact, cooked low and slow with the meat spread all over the bottom to coat each inch.  Bacon would also work — that sort of thing.  This helps season the pans.  I didn’t eat it, not just yet, in case of cross-contamination.  I served it to my family instead.

5- Then, I continued to treat my cast iron the way I always did–cleaning with salt, water, then heat.

6- I told my family to never use our cast iron for anything other than gluten-free food.

The miracle:  I then used the pans for myself, and I had no issues!  I am highly sensitive to gluten and did not react at all.  I’m still using the pans without any problems, and because I use them so often, they are now seasoned beautifully. Life is good.

Gluten-free pancakes, anyone?

Love to all,


This blog is brought to you by my Etsy Shop: SimplyHeavenKnits — come visit!


Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Take This (Knitting) Job and SHOVE IT!



I worked on a cowl for the last two nights.  It is seed stitch – Knit 1, Purl 1, on straight needles, divided over an odd number of rows, so the stitches alternate with each row. Easy knitting. (Knitters will understand this . . . if you’re not a knitter, don’t worry, there’s still something to be shared with you here.)

Except, I’ve had a bit of stress at work lately, and I’ve also had my mind on a lot of things other than knitting–for example, my health . . . so my stitches don’t always go the way they should. Well, no.  That stuff is just an excuse.  The truth: I’m not a perfect knitter, so my stitches always don’t go the way they should, even when life is a joy.

Confession made.

So, taking into consideration that I’m not a perfect knitter, add to this that I’m working crazy hard to have enough hand-knits ready to sell at a craft fair in December, 2015.  As I finish what I knit, I’m putting the finished objects on Etsy:

Why just let my finishes pieces sit here, all alone, and no where to go?  Maybe I’ll be blessed with a buyer to two in the meantime! Also, I am knitting the cowl on size US 19 needles (definition: HUGE, clumsy needles), with two strands of worsted weight yarn held together.

No big deal, or so I thought.  Except that it is harder for me to work with large needles than small ones, and two strands are not as easy as one.  Large needles are supposed to make knitting go faster because the stitches are larger, but as much as I enjoy knitting with them, it isn’t faster for me.

The December craft show has me feeling happy and excited–I love knitting for it, but it is also a challenge.  I have quotas I’ve set for myself (at least two finished items per week), and I have a lot of knitting to do between now and then, so any little setback is not a little setback.  It is a BIG setback.

And this cowl was driving me crazy.

Tonight, I worked on a row that, no matter what I did, I came out ending in a Purl 1 when it should have ended in a Knit 1.  I’d get to two stitches before the end of the row, see that the count wasn’t going to come out right and have the same problem, rip back, knit again, rip back, knit again, again, again, again.

I know how to read my knitting, but with the larger stitches, I didn’t always see them as I should, and I think I was counting one double strand as two, so my stitch count kept coming out right . . . but, I’d still end up wrong.

So, I kept knitting back, and knitting back, and knitting back . . . I finally got to where I said forget it.  I told myself I was going to make a smaller cowl and finish the row, in all its imperfection, bind off, and not offer it for sale.

And as I did, I had to knit those last two stitches, only to find that the last two stitches were actually three stitches tied together with the loops a little entangled.

In other words, my knitting had been right all along!

Moral?  Oh, I don’t know.  Make up your own.  There are countless lessons found in every mistake, and every mistake means to teach a person only what that person is meant to learn.

For me:  Trust yourself despite your mistakes.  Never turn back, and keep going until the end.

I love the lessons knitting brings, even when I want to tear my hair out.

Love to all,


Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Do You Trust Etsy?


Has anyone else read the article “How Etsy Raped America?” (Link at end of this post.) A friend shared it with me.

As I announced in my last blog post, I sell on Etsy (SimplyHeavenKnits), so I thought it might be interesting to hear what others who buy or sell on Etsy think of the article.

I’ve had only good experiences there, but I am also VERY careful to research a seller and read feedback before ordering. What I sell is absolutely hand-knit by me, Lee Bernstein, in Schererville, Indiana, USA.

Many hours and/or days go into each piece.  There are other truly hand-made-in-America sellers on Etsy, and it honors me to be among them. It is so sad that it might be harder to sell on Etsy because of those who don’t sell what they seem. Here’s the article, entitled:

How Etsy Raped America

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Lee’s New Etsy Shop: SimplyHeavenKnits


SHKwithcopyright Announcing my new Etsy shop:  SimplyHeavenKnits

I hope you’ll come visit and add my shop as a favorite.  I’d love to sell one of my hand knits to you!

About Lee Bernstein and SimplyHeavenKnits:

If you’re looking for an artisan who loves to focus on quality and the highest standards in customer service, then you’ve come to the right place.  The items found here have been perfected to make absolutely sure they’ll make you, or a loved-one, happy.

About me: In my “day-job life,” I manage a financial institution. I am also a writer. I wrote “I Love You,” also know as “The Barney Song.” Other writings include having written for eBay, SoHo Publishing (Knit Simple Magazine), New England Antiques Journal, Wiley, Hungry Minds Press, Weight Watchers North America/Canada, and more.

Unconditional love found here: I absolutely guarantee that you will like what you purchase from me or your money back.

While I am new to Etsy, I have long-standing high seller ratings on Ebay and Amazon. Feel free to send me a message if you would like to view my seller information on either site.

My story: I taught myself to knit at age 8, but I gave it up because I became frustrated whenever I needed help. Back then, I didn’t know about quality yarns or yarn shops, and I didn’t know any other knitters.

Dime store books and patterns only took me as far as my skills would allow. Back then, many patterns were filled with errors, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Fast forward to my adult life: When I learned I was seriously gluten-intolerant, I needed something, ANYTHING, to keep my mind off of feeling sorry for myself. (Note: I don’t give up gluten as a fad–heck no! I love wheat and miss it every day. I give it up because. alas, I get incredibly sick, even if I eat a fraction of a crumb).

An “angel on my shoulder” reminded me of my love of knitting and guided me to yarn shops and the internet to help me perfect my skills. That “angel” helped turn a curse into a blessing, for which I am eternally grateful.

And now, Simply Heaven Knits has been born:


Love, Lee

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Almost Worse than Gluten

cockroachEarilier this week, my family and I had dinner at a favorite restaurant.   We ordered gluten-free tortilla chips from a dedicated fryer and, because we could not finish them, I took some home.

Tonight, when I reheated the chips and ate a few, I gasped as I discovered what appeared to be a deep-fried bug alongside the chips.  It looked for all the world like a crispy cockroach, antennae and all.

I felt sick.  Not knowing what to do, I called hubby Howard in an effort to feel better.  

“Howard, I just ate a few tortilla chips, and then I discovered what looks to be a deep fried cockroach!”

Howard, who knows how seriously ill I become if I eat anything with wheat flour, took a deep breath and replied, “Let’s hope it wasn’t breaded.”

Gotta love that man.  He keeps me grounded.

Love to all,




Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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How to Order a Gluten-Free Football . . .


Have you ever had something quirky or amusing happen to you while trying to eat responsibly? Having to eat gluten free or live with any food intolerance or allergy is no laughing matter, yet sometimes it helps to lighten-up . . .

I remember once traveling on business and going out to dinner with an associate friend.  I ordered steak and a baked potato, which was to be prepared in a strictly gluten-free area, of course–something the restaurant promised they could do when I called them earlier that day.

At the restaurant, I told the waiter all about how I’d get very sick if I ingested even the smallest amount of gluten.  He said he understood and assured me the kitchen would take excellent care of me . . . yet, he steadfastly refused to bring me a baked potato.  He said it had “much gluten.”

I said, “What the heck is the chef putting into, or on, that potato?”

He, in a charming Italian accent, said, “Oh, nothing, oh, no, no, no. But so much gluten!  It’s all gluten, gluten.”

Gluten gluten? Double gluten? What the . . . ?

The remaining discussion lasted long enough for me to finish a glass of wine. I was determined to get to the bottom of it–not the wine (despite having done a lovely job of it), but the potato.

What was the problem? The sour cream? The bacon?  The chives?

The butter?  Was it the butter?  Did someone churn the butter with a wheat stalk?

We went around and around. Where, oh where, were they hiding the wheat, barley or rye?

I ordered a second glass of wine, but the waiter would not budge.  His eyes sharpened as he raised his eyebrows as if to insinuate, Pazza! As if ordering the potato isn’t crazy enough, now you’re ordering more wine? Whatsamaddawityou?

My friend started drinking her wine with intensity.  Poor thing. Her dining with someone willing to overturn the universe for the sake of a potato must have been quite a pain in the spud.

The waiter was getting annoyed, too.  His concern caused his voice to grow louder, and he became quite animated as he tried to explain gluten-gluten to a birdbrain.

Hands flapping while patting his belly, he talked about . . . well, I couldn’t quite make out what he was talking about, until he got to the part about how   “. . . a person grows big, big round and can have big, big problems above the  . . .” did he say, belly button?

Yes.  Okay.  Right!  Now I get it.  He means bloating!  He means experiencing upper intestinal distress!  He’s showing me what it’s like to need an endoscopy!  

I had no idea what this had to do with a potato, but feeling relieved that he really did understand, I grinned and bobbed my head in agreement.

This calmed him a bit.

My friend kept drinking.

He smiled back and relaxed, yet he still would not take my order. Instead, he kept patting his stomach while embellishing on how, if I wasn’t careful, my blood sugar . . .

Blood sugar?

AH-HA!  He was confusing gluten with glucose.

Not to worry. Before I was done placing my order, I put on my game face, called for the manager and made sure both of them understood the difference in terms.

They were ever so nice about it.  Delightful even.  One might go so far as to say they quivered with wanting to deliver the finest customer service, all the while feeling a clobber of guilt mixed with a fear.  TRIP ADVISOR!  YELP!  Yipes.  They hurried off to place my order . . .

The waiter brought my steak, then he rushed back to the kitchen to get my potato.

He needed both hands.

As he returned to the table, the potato loomed large from far across the dining room floor .  .  . and when he placed it in front of me, I gasped. No doubt, everyone in the room gasped.  It was crazy huge and looked more like a football than a baked potato.

Well, I guess they finally understood.  I guess I won and got what I ordered.   As I savored the score, I wondered whether I should eat the potato or kick it through some gluten-free goalpost.

I ate it.

Love to all, from Lee.  (PS:  If you’ve had some amusing experiences while coping with food issues, please join the discussion in the Knitting Is Gluten Free group on Ravelry, here, or post your comments below.)

Knit the OhSo Hat: Photos and info here.

What do you wish you knew how to knit? Satisfaction guaranteed knitting and crochet tutorials here. Thank you to Designer Nenah Galati and Knitting Korner for helping support Knitting is Gluten Free.

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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The Scream

Note:  OhSo Hat information found here.


This post has been purchased, in a modified version, by Vogue Knitting: Knit Simple Magazine, (one of my favorite knitting magazines) for their Winter, 2013 edition.  It will appear on their Last Stitch page.  Thank you, Knit Simple!

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Announcing: The OhSo Hat, Easy, Warm, Double-Brimmed

Well, I did it. I designed a hat and wrote a knitting pattern.

I had been toying with designing a hat for a while, and I ended up with a pattern that’s warm and appeals to those who think they do not usually look good in hats. It is traditional, but with a twist, and it is oh, so easy for beginners to understand.

And so, The OhSo:

The OhSo Hat: Easy, Warm, Double-Brimmed
Oh, so easy to knit. Even a beginner can knit it in a day or two.

Oh, so warm – Like, really warm.

Oh, so wearable. The Renaissance-style double brim complements any size face, which makes it perfect for anyone, including those who feel they do not look good in hats.

What you need to know before knitting your OhSo:

1- How to cast on using a long-tail cast on (you may also use the Twisted German or Old Norwegian cast on).

2- How to knit in the round on a circular needle. You may convert the pattern to double points, Magic Loop, or the Traveling Method, but the directions are written for two circular needles.

3- How to purl.

4- How to knit two together (K2tog)

5- To finish the top of the hat: How to knit with two circular
needles. Again, you may use double points, Magic Loop, or the Traveling Method.

Supplies needed:
1- 110-120 yards of any chunky (bulky) yarn. Super bulky is also an option.

2- Two 6mm (U.S. 10) circular needles – one with a 16-inch cable. The second size 6mm (U.S. 10) circular can have a cable length of any size. Or, if you prefer to knit on two circular needles from beginning to end, you may use whatever cable lengths work best for you.

3- A ruler and a soft tape measure.

4- A large-eye tapestry needle

5- Optional: Knitting needle tips to protect yarn from coming off the needles as you try on your hat.

Gauge: 3-4 stitches per inch. Because this is a one-size fits all user-friendly pattern, the design allows for flexibility in gauge.

The pattern has no abbreviations, and it is easy to understand. It has been featured as a well-written pattern on the Knitting Pipeline Podcast and The Knit Wits Podcast, and it has been included in the WWKP (Well-Written Knitting Patterns) Group on Ravelry.

If you are a member of the Knitting is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry, we have a Knit-A-Long for the OhSo Hat there. Here’s the link:—fiber-is-gluten-free/1973453/1-25
If you’d like to purchase the OhSo Hat pattern, it is $5.00 here:

Feedback welcome.

Love to all,
PS: Many thanks to daughter Michelle for modeling the hat.

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Are You Feeling Blue?

This is a quick one . . .

Many who have gluten-intolerance (or other food issues) find themselves feeling down from time to time. If you are one of them, and if you would like to know you’re not alone, there is an excellent thread going on in the Knitting is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry, here:—fiber-is-gluten-free/1922516/1-25#7

I hope you’ll come by and share a hug, whether it is to relate to feeling depressed or to give a few uplifting words on how things can (and will) get better.

The holidays can be tough when it comes to food, especially for those who are recently diagnosed . . . but with friends who care, life is good.

See you there.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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On Sunday, August 14, my husband Howard and I drove up to the Michigan Fiber Festival. Howard likes to drive, which is pretty cool considering I knew the trip would afford me five solid, roundtrip hours of knitting.

I spent endless hours in preparation for the event. I got up early and shopped for a day’s worth of gluten-free food, came home and then did the most important thing: I packed my knitting.

It’s always important to bring too much stuff–food and knitting, both–but especially knitting. The way I see it, a knitter can live without food for a while, but a knitter can never live without a bag filled with enough projects to last a few months (and that’s only if the knitter is going out for an hour or so).

For a five hour trip? Well . . . let’s just say Howard had to talk me down from renting a tour bus.

So, after waking pre-dawn and packing like pioneers loading a Conestoga wagon, we vowed not to think about the price of gasoline, smiled, and made our way to the Allegan, Michigan Fairgrounds . . .

It rained like crazy on the way — flash flood crazy. It wasn’t easy driving there, but by the time we arrived, it was a beautiful day.

As we pulled up, I said, “Wow, plenty of parking. This is great. I’m really glad we got here so early.”


As it turned out, we were a week early, which was just a little more early than we had planned.

I cringed. “Oh no. I’m sorry, Howard. I guess I must have gotten the date wrong.”

Howard’s eyes became sling-shots.

I wanted to say, So, what’s with the look? Are you kidding? This is not a problem. I have enough yarn for a week. Pick a parking spot.

But instead, I pulled out a few snack bars and handed them to Howard. He likes to eat when he is, shall we say, just a tad frustrated.

So, let’s start this blog post all over again . . .

On Sunday, August 21, Howard and I drove up to the Michigan Fiber Festival. Howard still liked to drive, thank goodness, especially considering that two attempts at going to the Michigan Fiber Festival upped my combined knitting time to TEN solid, roundtrip hours.

The best part of all those hours on the road: I finally finished Howard’s Sock Love 2 socks — a perfect gift for someone so entirely understanding of my addiction:

This time, we arrived without a snag. Once there, I shopped while Howard sat and listened to music on his iPod. He probably listened to a lot of David Olney considering that we went hear David perform at a house concert the night before.

Howard is great that way. He actually loves coming with me to fiber-related events. Not because he loves fiber arts. Oh, no, no, no. It’s because he loves to have long stretches of time to listen to music. Time where he is away from everything. Time where there’s nothing else to do but listen. Time where he doesn’t have to feel guilty about just sitting there for hours, indulging in one of his greatest pleasures.

Any knitter can certainly relate to that feeling.

Side note: Someone recently asked Howard about what a person can learn by going to fiber festivals and trade shows, and he joked, “I don’t know what Lee’s learned, but I think I’ve learned that if a person were to choose between crack and yarn, they might be better off choosing crack. It’s not as addictive . . . and it’s way less expensive.”

The Festival overflowed with vendors — over 200 of them — almost all of them independent artists with booth after booth of goods that were not only beautiful but painstakingly produced.

For me, most exciting part of the festival was visiting the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm booth, where I had the opportunity to meet owner Andrea, who is also a member of the Knitting is Gluten Free Group on Ravelry:

Andrea is an amazing person who, after starting her alpaca farm in the fall of 2008, grew to become an expert at in producing, as she calls it, Wonder Roving and Wonder Yarn (from, where else: her Wonder Herd).

Then, in 2010, Andrea became a Certified Sorter Apprentice. If you’re wondering what that means, here, in Andrea’s words, is the answer from her website:

What does this mean?
It means that I am trained to look at fleeces to determine their textile grade.

Why is this important?
It’s important because fiber needs to be properly sorted to make a better quality product. There is more usable fiber from each alpaca and less waste at the mill when properly sorted.

What are the advantages?
As a fiber producers, you will receive an individual sort record for each alpaca, a sort summary for the entire clip, assistance with herd management and increased usable fiber which means increased profit potential along with suggested uses for each grade of fiber I sort.

So, if you own an alpaca farm and find processing fiber or skirting too overwhelming, Andrea is the miracle-worker who can help see you through.

I went crazy over Andrea’s yarns and stood for what seemed forever trying to decide which skein to buy . . .

I settled on a bulky yarn in her Deep Sunset colorway:

The wool is a mixture of targhee wool, huacaya alpaca, suri alpaca, and merino wool — here’s a close-up:

I’d been working on designing a hat pattern, and I knew Andrea’s yarn would be perfect for it.

I love this skein so much. On the way home, I kept grabbing it and squeezing it. I felt as though I were a child cuddling a new stuffed toy.

Since then, I’ve started the hat, and the yarn is a dream to knit with – I’ll keep you posted on how it is coming. In the meantime, I’m enjoying this yarn so much, I know I’ll definitely want to purchase more yarn from Wonder Why Alpaca Farm in the future.

I wonder if she has enough to fill a tour bus?

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Confused about the Proposed Gluten Free Labeling Laws?

Breaking news: Here is an excellent update / explaination on Gluten Free Labeling Laws:

“Dr. Stefano Guandalini, Medical Director, of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago, shares his analysis of the Safety Assessment . . .”

Dr. Guandalini is a hero of mine. He brought an understanding of celiac disease and gluten-intolerance to the U.S.A. — many of the positive changes in the celiac community can be traced back to the wonderful work Dr. Guandalini has done.

At the time, the medical community felt that celiac just wasn’t a problem for North Americans. Dr. Stefano knew better. He realized that it wasn’t that people here didn’t get celiac disease, it was that they weren’t being diagnosed. He has also consistently been on the cutting edge of understanding the importance of taking non-celiac gluten-intolerance very seriously.

From The University of Chicago:

Dr. Guandalini, originally from Naples, Italy, was shocked to learn how few Americans were diagnosed with Celiac Disease when he came to the United States in the early 1990’s. Dr. Guandalini quickly discovered the reason for the lack of diagnoses in the United States.

It wasn’t that it was less common (in fact, current research shows the prevalence of celiac disease is approximately 1 in 100 Americans); rather it was that U.S. medical doctors had for years been taught that celiac disease was extremely rare and were therefore not screening patients for the disease.

More . . .

Dr. Guandalini is founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Dr. Guandalini received his medical degree from the University of Messina, in Italy, in 1971, where he graduated with high honors. After his pediatric residency at University of Messina, he completed his fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at the prestigious University of Naples, where he became an Assistant Professor. In 1977-79, he spent two years as a research associate in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, where he did active bench research on the pathophysiology of diarrheal disease. Shortly after he returned to Italy, he received a promotion to associate professor and then became a full professor at the University of Naples in 1988. From 1990 to 1995, Dr. Guandalini served as the Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Catanzaro.

Dr. Guandalini’s scientific and professional career has focused on diarrheal diseases of children, with a major emphasis on celiac disease. In 1990 he coordinated a national effort in Italy resulting in the publication of the largest series of patients ever published, which resulted in the revision of the 20-year-old ESPGHAN guidelines for diagnosing celiac disease. These new guidelines are currently used worldwide both for pediatric and adult celiac patients.

I hope you enjoy reading what Dr. Guandalini has to say about gluten-free labeling laws. Comments welcome.

Love to all,
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Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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GLUTEN FREE LABELING LAWS -Time to Voice Your Opinion

Hi, Everyone:

I’m back from summer hiatus. I’ll have a knitting update soon, but for now, it is important to begin with this important press release from the Food and Drug Administration:

Begin copy . . .

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today reopened the comment period for its 2007 proposal on labeling foods as “gluten-free.” The agency is also making available a safety assessment of exposure to gluten for people with celiac disease (CD) and invites comment on these additional data.

One of the criteria proposed is that foods bearing the claim cannot contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten. The agency based the proposal, in part, on the available methods for gluten detection. The validated methods could not reliably detect the amount of gluten in a food when the level was less than 20 ppm. The threshold of less than 20 ppm also is similar to “gluten-free” labeling standards used by many other countries.

People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. About 1 percent of the United States population is estimated to have the disease.

“Before finalizing our gluten-free definition, we want up-to-date input from affected consumers, the food industry, and others to help assure that the label strikes the right balance,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods. “We must take into account the need to protect individuals with celiac disease from adverse health consequences while ensuring that food manufacturers can meet the needs of consumers by producing a wide variety of gluten-free foods.”

The proposed rule conforms to the standard set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 2008, which requires that foods labeled as “gluten-free” not contain more than 20 ppm gluten. This standard has been adopted in regulations by the 27 countries composing the Commission of European Communities.

The FDA encourages members of the food industry, state and local governments, consumers, and other interested parties to offer comments and suggestions about gluten-free labeling in docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 at [note from Lee: see below]. The docket will officially open for comments after noon on Aug 3, 2011 and will remain open for 60 days.

To submit your comments electronically to the docket go to!home
1. Choose “Submit a Comment” from the top task bar
2. Enter the docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 in the “Keyword” space
3. Select “Search”

To submit your comments to the docket by mail, use the following address:

The Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

Include docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 on each page of your written comments.

For more information:

Federal Register Notice (scroll to FDA–temporary link will update when document publishes on Aug. 3):

Gluten-Free Portal (scroll to Gluten-Free):

FDA’s Proposed Rule on the Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods:

Questions and Answers on the Gluten-Free Labeling Proposed Rule:

Consumer Update on the Gluten-Free Labeling Proposed Rule:

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

. . . end copy

Please spread the word. We need as many people as possible to voice their opinion.

For others’ opinions and more information regarding the labeling law, here are some resources:

Celiac Disease Foundation:

It’s great to be back.

PS: (Added August 14, 2011): Join the Knitting is Gluten Free Blog! You’ll receive updates every time a new page appears (usually once to twice a month) and you’ll be able to leave comments. Feel free to promote your fiber, crafting, or food-related blog, podcast, etc. in your posts. To register, click here.

Hugs to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Camp KIP, Daybreak Shawl & Paradise . . .

Last week, I attended Camp KIP, a knitting retreat in New Haven, MO (more about Camp KIP below). While there, I worked on a large portion of my Daybreak Shawl, pattern by designer Stephen West.


I knit the last couple rows at the airport while waiting for my flight home. Here is a close-up to show the colors better:

I named it my Camp Kip New Mexico Sunrise Shawl, in honor of Camp KIP and with love for the way a New Mexico sunrise/sunset looks when I visit my daughter Michelle in Las Cruses, MN. You can find details of this project on Ravelry, here.

I loved working on this pattern and am now a huge fan of Designer Stephen West. I learned about him while listening to The Knitmore Girls Podcast, and soon after, the Knitting Pipeline Podcast inspired me to choose this pattern as my first Stephen West Design.

This was my first pattern shawl. I will always affectionately think of it as my Camp KIP 2011 shawl. Not just because I finished it before I came home from camp, but because it anchors me to the people I met there.

Every time I wrap this shawl around me, I will wrap myself in the memory of the most incredible group of knitters — all of them friends now.

For those who do not knit, let me tell you: If you ever want to meet the most charismatic people in the world, find a group of knitters . . . and then watch out, because before you know it, you’ll become addicted to wanting to be around them.

I promise: you’ll want to befriend every knitter in the world.

Who knows, you may even want to start knitting yourself.

Why are knitters so much fun to be around?

1- Knitters are an incredibly intelligent group of people.

2- Knitters are have sharp, quick wits, and many (if not most) are great humorists– some specialize in deadpan, others in one-liners, while others tell the most entertaining stories. Regardless, they’ll keep you engaged, and they’ll keep you smiling.

3- Knitters are as resourceful as they are creative. They know how to turn a problem around and make everything okay. This is a special gift, yet I’ve never met a knitter who doesn’t have it. It amazes me.

4- Knitters are attractive, and young knitters (the majority now) are wise beyond their years. The rest of us have more spirit and youth than any non-knitter, regardless of our age.

Here’s the thing: Knitting is magic in the way it urges a brain to behave. Knitters find it almost impossible to knit and worry at the same time. Seriously. If you’re a knitter, pay attention to what happens to you when you have an urge to worry about something. If you’re like many, you’ll find that you have to put your knitting down in order to do it.

So, imagine a camp with over 100 people, all of them knitting, spinning, talking, laughing, sharing, caring, being creative, being resourceful . . . and here’s the most important part:


Knitting just does that for people.

Okay, now add Cedar Creek Conference Center to the mix — great staff, sparkling clean accommodations with the halls decorated with the most amazing handmade quilts — over 200 of them . . . food . . .

Oh, time out about the food! For those with food needs, allergies or intolerances, Cedar Creek will cater to you. I ate there for three and a half days without issue. Talk about heaven.

I have multiple food issues, yet I was able to relax and enjoy my stay knowing that they were taking the very best care of me. On top of it, the kitchen and wait staff really cared. It was wonderful.
(If you plan on going there and you have food intolerances, be sure to call ahead to let them know. If you do, they will take especially good care of you.)

There’s a brewery on site, a golf course, a western town, and more. Being gluten-free, I didn’t visit the brewery, but I had a great time at a wine-tasting . . . and tasting . . . and tasting.

Knitters are pretty damn good party people, too.

It was a blast meeting all the podcasters who were there. You’ll find the list here. Jackie from KIPPING It Real was the brainchild behind the whole thing. Talk about someone with talent, resourcefulness, a sense of humor and filled with love: Jackie is it.

But so was everyone there. That’s what made Camp KIP paradise.

Wow, and to think that if I hadn’t been diagnosed with all of my crazy food-intolerances, I may never have taken up knitting again.

What a blessing.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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FLAWED . . .

This one’s for cooking enthusiasts who understand knitting lingo. . .

This week, Howard and I bought a new enamel cast iron Dutch oven.
Gluten free boeuf bourguignon, here we come!

Julia Child’s original recipe for boeuf bourguignon is very gluten-friendly, by the way. Just substitute gluten-free flour for the small amount of flour in the recipe. It is perfect.

So, lovers of Julia Child as we are, we were excited.

When we got home and inspected it, I noticed a flaw in the enamel on the side that exposes the cast iron underneath. Not good — it will give way to more exposed cast iron over time.

“Oh no,” I said. “It’s flawed. We’re going to have to take it back.”

Howard paused, thought for a minute, then said . . .

“Are you sure this isn’t just a design element?”*

Love to all,
Lee — *PS: For non-knitters out there, I’ll quote from The Secret Language of Knitters by Mary Beth Temple: “Design Elements: noun: Mistakes. As in ‘The fact that one sleeve is five inches longer than the other is not a mistake, it is a design element.'”

Till next time . . .

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Gluten and Allergen Free Expo U.S. – Chicago, Dallas and ?

It is time once again for the U.S. annual Gluten and Allergen Free Expo.

This year, the Expo will take place in Chicago, Dallas . . . and here’s good news: there will be an Expo in another major city, to be determined.

You can vote for your favorite city by visiting the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo Site — more information below.

Chicago: Tickets available now. If you want to attend only the vendor fair: Tickets are $11.50 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door. Kids under 12 are free.

There will be TONS of free handouts and samples.

April 29 – May 1 (April 30-May 1 are full days for the public)
The Wyndham Hotel
3000 Warrenville Road
Lisle, Illinois 60532
(708) 555-1212

Hotel deal available here:

If you wish to take advantage of the other perks or attend cooking classes/hear speakers, the tickets are $175 a day. There’s a full line-up of speakers/demos both days, with breakfast and an optional dinner outing included.

Schedule here:

List of presenters here:

There is also a bread baking class on Friday for $75 that promises to teach you “how to bake really amazing gluten free bread,” here:

Dallas: – Tickets available starting May 15
October 1-2

The Westin Park Central
12720 Merit Drive
Dallas, Texas 75251
(972) 385-3000

Hotel deal available here:

Two full-days of gluten and allergen free cooking demonstrations by notable chefs, cookbook authors and nutritionists – watch the site for more information to come.

• Come one or both days (October 1 & 2, 2011)
• Admission to Vendor Fair each day (site did not specify if this was free)
• Printed Recipes & Information
• GFCF lunch and Gift Bag

More information:

Gluten and Allergen Free Expo Website:

Vote to bring the Expo to your city here:

Are you going — I’d love to meet you — let me know. Have you gone in the past? What did you think of the Expo website and list of classes/demos/lectures? Let us know by posting a comment — would love to hear more!

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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PODCASTS: What Makes Them So Addictive?

As a follow-up to Winter Warmth, I want to give special thanks to Paula of the Knitting Pipeline Podcast.

In her podcasts, Paula always has a short segment entitled Nature Notes. In Episode 27, she talks about American Eagles. Listening to her helped inspire Howard and me to visit Starved Rock State Park, for which I will always remain most grateful. It was wonderful to rekindle positive feelings about winter – feelings I had not felt in many years.

It amazes me how someone can say a few simple words about something–all the while probably laboring under the assumption that while the words may form an interesting story, they certainly aren’t life-changing . . . and then the words go out . . . and then they touch a person in a form never anticipated . . . and then miracles happen in a beautiful and unexpected way.

Thank you, Paula.

Note to knitters or want-to-be knitters: Knitting Pipeline overflows with knitting tips including book reviews, heartfelt stories and on the blog side, videos. Paula draws much of her inspiration from her admiration of–and friendship with–Elizabeth Zimmerman, the woman who revolutionized the modern practice of knitting. Paula often shares EZ memories, letters and stories with her listeners. Each one is more endearing than the next.

Like so many of us, I love a number of podcasts, and I’m sure I’ll be highlighting more of them in the future. Just as with Knitting Pipeline, some of them have enhanced or changed my life. I fall in love with the shows and often feel as though I know the podcasters personally. As such, I have become a podcast-aholic of sorts.

Countless knitters take pleasure in listening to podcasts while knitting, but for many of us, the gratification goes deeper . . .

Perhaps what attracts us to podcasts is how– just as we can touch the projects on our needles, we can reach out and touch the show. When listeners leave a comment on show notes, write a review or participate in a forum, the podcasters almost always listen. They care. They relate to us and respond. It isn’t like listening to a radio or television show where the host is so inaccessible that letters get buried or answered by an auto-signature machine.

There’s more to it though, and I have been trying to analyze exactly why podcasts attract me as they do. Regardless of if a podcaster is slapdash or sophisticated, there is something about podcasts that touch me in the most profound way. For months now, I’ve been trying to understand why.

Until writing this I had yet to figure it out, but (and this is one of the cool things about blogging), while I was putting this post together, it hit me . . .

I am dating myself when I say this: Podcasts remind me of the “underground music” radio shows I used to treasure waaay back in the Sixties. As it is often said, knitting isn’t a hobby; it’s a lifestyle . . . and the same is true of music.

Whether it’s blues, psychedelic, grunge, punk, hip hop, country, classical . . . or whether it is something as simple as a favorite lullaby: When a person becomes entrenched in music, it defines the person and creates a culture the person might not otherwise have known . . . and the same is true of knitting . . . and so it goes . . .

I found the following definition of underground music on Wikipedia:

While the term comprises a range of different musical genres, they can typically share common values, such as the valuing of sincerity and intimacy; an emphasis on freedom of creative expression; an appreciation of artistic creativity.


Replace the word “musical” with “knitting,” and you get a perfect portrayal of what life in the knitting community is all about. No wonder podcasts have touched knitters in such a deep way.

In April, I’ll have the pleasure of being part of Camp KIP, a knitting retreat with a number of podcasters attending. Camp KIP is the brainchild of Jackie from the KIPPING it Real Podcast (another favorite). I look forward to attending, making new friends, and to thanking podcasters for making a difference in my life.

The knitting lifestyle is wonderful and, as defined above, has added so much to the values knitters share: sincerity, intimacy, an emphasis on freedom of creative expression . . . and an appreciation of artistic creativity. Podcasts help add to it.

If you have a favorite podcast, please feel free to comment about it at the end of this post — you are welcome to include links.

In addition to reading the posts here, if you’re new to podcasts and would like to explore more about knitting podcasts:

1- Check out the Podcast Junkies Group on Ravelry – in particular, see the “What is Your Favorite Knitting Podcast” thread.

2- Ravelry has an extensive list of podcasts here.

Now it’s your turn: Which podcasts are YOUR favorites, and why? Leave your comments, below. Feel free to post your love for ANY podcast, whether it be about food intolerances, knitting, or whatever.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Winter Warmth

As I write this, it is around 6:00 A.M., February 1.

Here in the Midwest, we are bracing for a snow storm – they say Northwest Indiana may get up to 20 inches of snow, along with drifting, slipping, sliding, shivering, moaning . . . bitching.

Flashback to childhood: Snow was magnificent back then–a playground of white in a fairyland world. The first snow was always the best snow because it reminded me of how there would soon be sledding, snowmen, and with luck, no school.

My best friend and I used to play a game. Upon having spotted the first snowflake of the year, one would phone the other to squeal “Happy first snow!” The friend who telephoned the other friend first was the winner. THE WINNER–that’s the key. Snow was all about winning back then.

In youth, the miracle of precipitation is seen as a victory of nature.

Somewhere along the way, I lost those feelings.

Maybe it was learning to drive that did it. All it takes is one good skid to remind oneself just how threatening snow can be.

Or maybe it was aging and listening to people talk about how each winter gets harder and more painful to bear.

Pain does indeed have a lot to do with it. This makes me wonder if perhaps my dread of winter came from my not realizing to what extent gluten-intolerance was messing with my body. Part of this was witnessed by my having developed Raynaud’s Syndrome which, among other things, keeps my hands and feet almost-always cold. For me, it became worse each year.

I also stopped absorbing nutrients and lost Vitamin D. This caused weakness and pain, and it caused my arms and legs to go numb in the winter.

That was then.

Last month, Howard and I visited Starved Rock, Illinois, where countless Bald Eagles spend winter every year. It was snowy, icy, and colder than cold, yet I was able to bird watch outside for as long as I wished.

To aid my Raynaud’s, I wore two pairs of socks and three pairs of gloves, much of it wool (hand knit by yours truly). Remember the little brother from the movie A Christmas Story? That was me, bundled in layers as I toddled into the snow.

Starved Rock was beautiful. The Bald Eagles gave us goosebumps . . . and the snow? It was splendid. It filled me with the same delight I knew as a child. Being there reminded me of how, as an adult and before I was diagnosed, I was a “starved rock” of sorts – void of mobility and hungry for things I’d yet to understand.

It has taken me a while, but I’ve grown to realize that my having been diagnosed with gluten-intolerance was a gift of nourishment, not a curse of deprivation.

It has now been over a year since my diagnosis and the beginning of my gluten-free (and now, corn free) diet.

My body absorbs nutrients.

I am not in pain the way I once was.

I feel younger than I have in many years, and . . .

I am knitting again.

With knitting added to the scene (another love I left behind in childhood), life turns into a landscape where cold weather draws winter even closer to my heart. Nothing hugs winter better than wool.

Winter has become a playground again.

As I listen to today’s storm warning, I know all is well. When the storm hits, I’ll pray everyone stays safe, then I’ll knit in the knowing that what I hold keeps me warm inside as well as out.

Bring on the snow. These years have become my formative years, and I look forward to the flurry.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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What Life is All About

I am home today with an upset stomach — not gluten — more like the flu.

After I left work to come home, I talked to hubby Howard, and he said he hasn’t been feeling all that great either. We are wondering if we ate something yesterday that might be causing the problem.

Anyway, while I am between “bouts,” I have a little time on my hands, so I thought I’d get in a quick post.

On Ravelry, I’ve been having a lovely discussion with my Ravelry friend Linda about being lazy.

Time out: At this point, you need to know that I am a horrible housekeeper. I am a great day-job worker (or I hope so, anyway), but I am not-so-good at daily household tasks once I get home.

Anyway, Linda said something about being lazy, and I commented back to her that she was my type of person . . . and then she wrote back to ask if I was a lazy person, too.

After pondering the question a bit, I answered that all depends on how you define lazy. I like to think of it as being excellent at prioritizing.

The way I look at it: If on the day I die, I am lucky enough to have any semblance of memory left, I won’t remember if I dusted, washed the dishes or straightened the house. What I’ll remember is time spent with family and friends … and knitting.

Not lazy. Smart.

Anyone else out there feel the same way?

(Thanks Linda, for inspiring this. You are a wonderful, NOT-lazy friend.)

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Since my last blog, I’ve had a few mishaps.

First, I’ve been waiting, praying, hoping to hear from Southwest Airlines. On my trip back from Stitches East in October, I left a ton of treasure in the seat pocket:

1- A large project bag filled with countless knitting notions and a stack of Knitting is Gluten Free business cards

2- A binder filled with patterns, errata, project notes, newsletters, yarn labels – all of it affectionately organized in individual document protectors.

After I claimed my luggage in Chicago, I noticed the loss. Distraught and heartsick, I filed a claim right away. To date, nothing has surfaced.

One of three things has happened:

1- Someone has yet to contact me
2- Someone assumed my stuff was worthless and threw it away
3- Someone stole it

What do you think?

My bet is #2, especially since forgotten items are not the airline’s responsibility . . . and if the attendants had watched me knit in flight, they would have seen me grimace after every dropped stitch. Heck, by the end of the flight they might have assumed I wanted to trash the whole thing. Who knows.

One thing for sure: If someone stole my notions, it wasn’t a knitter. Knitters are the most benevolent people in the world, especially when it comes to caring for fellow knitters. A knitter would call or write immediately (info on business cards), and upon returning everything, throw in an extra pattern or two just for fun.

No, my stuff was definitely not stolen. I mean, come on, who other than a knitter would want it?

Oh my gosh . . . I hadn’t thought about this until now . . . but I wonder . . . do you think . . . that maybe there might be a black market for knitting notions? Right now, might some non-knitting-yet-crafty rover be standing in an alleyway, flashing a point protector from behind a trench coat?

I hope so. At at least it would mean someone understood the value of it all.

Next . . .

As moths in Indiana have a way of diminishing in winter, Milo the Moth Hunting Dachshund has taken to eating wool instead.

That’s right. Wool.

And not just any wool. Finished projects.

As an appetizer, he chose the second side slip cloche I’ve made. The pattern is from the hat on cover of Boutique Knits, by Laura Irwin:

Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin, Interweave Press

This time, I knit it in Ella Rae Classic wool in a plum colorway (113). It was going to be for me, but it looked as good on daughter Michelle as the first one I knit for her (Dale Baby Ull Merino, gray 0007, with Filatura Di Crosa Fancy, colorway 36):

. . . so while she was home for the holidays, I gave her the second cloche, too.

Without realizing the danger, she left her new hat unattended, and Milo being the artful dodger he is, helped himself to flippy, flapper part. He did minimal damage, but the whole thing still needed to be frogged to get to it.

(For my non-knitting friends out there, frogging means “rip it, rip it, rip it.”)

I came up with an idea: Felt it, just a little to lock in the stitches, then trim the flap!

I left it in the washing machine too long. For the record, this yarn felts beautifully.

Bye-bye, boutique hat. Hello, felted bowl.

Next . . .

Milo frogged my Supreme Possum Merino Mittens.

This time, it looked as though Milo was attacking more than snacking. Perhaps he thought the mittens were badgers.

I loved those mittens beyond belief. For someone with Raynaud’s Syndrome (me), possum is a perfect fiber. They were oh, oh, oh so incredibly soft and warm (notes here), and also the first mittens I made. I was proud of them, and I miss them.


You know, the more I think about it: It must be karma.

Remember back when I got so gosh darn excited about Milo eating moths? Well, I think maybe the universe is getting even with me for enjoying it so much.

You see, I have always been one of those people who puts spiders outside instead of killing them . . . and as silly as it may sound, I have driven more than one house mouse to an ever-so-distant woodland to grant it a new home.

Truth be told, if given the opportunity I would probably want to rescue a tapeworm.

Yep. Karma. I mean, think about it: Moths eat wool (what makes this even worse is that I’ve since learned that not all moths eat wool) . . .

. . . and Milo eats moths . . .

. . . and then I go all online and everything to flaunt it all . . .

. . . and now . . . Milo eats wool while I suffer in a shot framed in what feels-all-the-world like an Ed Wood movie:


Come to think of it, the possum might be getting his digs in, too.

Sometimes, I think about how life might have been so much easier if I could just eat wheat.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Sock Enters The Deathly Hallows

Sunday, November 28, Crack of Dawn: This morning begins as a quiet and beautiful one. I wake to a pink sunrise, laced with anticipation in knowing that Howard and I will see the latest Harry Potter film this afternoon.

I reflect on the day ahead. I think about how I will bring some knitting with me to the theater. Not Howard’s socks (I’m on the second one!), but instead the cotton, garter stitch shawl I started when I was first learning how to knit.

The shawl is for my niece Chrissy, who has been waiting for it forever. I save the shawl for times that call for mindless knitting: Prayer. Meditation. Phone conversations. Movie theaters. OR, when I’m so frustrated with something that if I don’t grab knitting, I’ll put my fist through a wall.

You know what? That fist feeling hasn’t to me happened in a long time now.

For those of you who follow my gluten-free gallivanting, you know that one of the side effects of being seriously glutened (at least for me) is becoming cranky, micro-managerial, overly sensitive . . .

I become a bitch.

So knitting has become one of my best friends. It calms me. It challenges me. It comforts me. It waits for me. It forgives me when I mess up. It helps me overcome my most bitchy, glutened moments.

Knitting also keeps me from feeling sorry for myself. When I cannot eat what I want, I turn to my best friend.

The food thing has become even more challenging as of late.

I was recently told that, in addition to gluten-intolerance, I am also sensitive to corn . . .

Movie theater.


Movie theater.


Movie theater.


Normally, I would have written the above copy like this:

MovietheaterpopcornMovietheaterpopcornMovietheaterpopcorn . . .

Instead, I wrote Movie theater and Popcorn separately with a period after each, because for the first time in my life, I now have to keep movie theaters and popcorn separated. Period.

I can’t help but wonder if this is the way the dark lords of corn seek revenge for my having smuggled homemade popcorn into movie theaters for, like, EVER.

You can see why bringing my best friend into the movie theater is important to me.

Non-knitters will ask, “How can you knit in the dark?”

I will answer: “Are you kidding? How can I not? It’s survival mechanism . . .”

Back to the beautiful day . . .

I wake up early and make a pot of tea, which I’ve been inspired to drink again instead of coffee, thanks to a recent blog post by Stephanie Pearl McPhee a/k/a the Yarn Harlot, who is a hero of mine and, good grief, I’ve now mentioned her in so many of my blog posts that I’m beginning to wonder if she is becoming a Saint-of-sorts in my life.

You’ll find The Yarn Harlott blog here.

This morning is perfect. Blissful. In addition to working on Howard’s second sock, I listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on unabridged audio. I started the whole series of HP books yesterday. I’ve gone far too long just watching the movies without reading the books. How dare I?

Fast forward to 10:30 A.M. I have been at it for hours now, sitting in the kitchen, knitting, reading, sipping tea, basking in life. Smiling.

Howard peeks his head around the corner and tells me he is going to take a bath.

Howard is hard of hearing. Without hearing aids (not waterproof), he can’t, well, hear. Having to wear hearing aids has been a blessing to Howard at times. When I’ve been glutened, all he has to do is remove them, and he is instantly transported to a land where everything is right, good, silent and peaceful.

I smile and nod in reply, knowing he won’t hear me if I say anything. Then I go back to knitting, reading, sipping, basking and smiling. I start to think: Maybe I have found my own land of silent and peaceful.

Enter Milo-the-Moth-Hunting-Dachshund. Milo is 11 months old and still a puppy. He is also a faster-than-the-fastest dachshund, and (even though I would NEVER race a dog) he could outrun a greyhound if there were a moth at the finish line.

Certain phrases excite Milo. One of them is, “What are you doing?” which, when said in an excited, high-pitched playful-like tone, sets Milo into doing a happy dance with tail wagging, tongue waving, fur flying.

Milo smiles when he does his happy dance. He really does.

For some reason though, Milo is having a mellow morning as well. Curious.

As Howard runs the bath water, Milo paddle-foots his way into the kitchen and kneads his paws up my legs. I lean down and absentmindedly say, “Hi, there, good boy! What are you doing?”

Peppy puppy returns. He bounds straight up to lick me on the face. As he does, he bops me on the nose.

And, this is where it gets interesting:

My hand grabs my nose, my sock yarn dangles and somehow manages to hook itself to Milo’s collar. I have a knee-jerk reaction, which startles Milo, and as Milo backs away, my yarn goes with him.

“Yaauuuuuaaaaauuuugh! Oh Milo no . . .no, no!”

Then, before I fully realized what I was saying, I said it again: “Milo, what are you doing?”

HAPPY DANCE. Prancing puppy, racing, smiling. Go, puppy go. Out the kitchen, into the living room, down the hallway . . .

Over the river and through the woods.

Now, I am running. I am chasing Milo frantically. I really don’t remember what I was saying, but I remember trying to hoot “STOP!” while laughing hysterically and trying not to panic.

Remember my best friend? Well, now that friend is being unmercifully drug through the house and . . .oh NO! Now my yarn is headed dangerously close to a spot where I see Milo had an accident earlier.

I stop laughing. It is at his point where I enter the Deathly Hallows. This happened much earlier in the day than I had anticipated. “STOP! Wait!”

Luckily, I was able to counter the pup at the poop. Phew. But then, Milo sees it, and he sees that I see what he sees, and he immediately takes off running in the other direction.

“Whhaaaa-ah-ah-ah, aughhhhhhh, no, no, NO! Come! Wait. Stay. No, Milo, Milo, wait!”

Meanwhile, Howard bathes in relaxation. For him, everything is silent and peaceful.

. . . back to chaos: As Milo springs happily through the house and I scuttle after him, I realize I can’t stop laughing. A thought comes to mind: Back in glutened days, I would be having a fit, but today I am laughing.

Yes, yarn is everywhere. Yes, my sock is doomed. And as doom looms, I see my life play before me in a culmination of I Love Lucy and Strega Nona.

Eventually Milo jumps on the bed where I somehow manage to dislodge the yarn from his collar despite the pants, wags and waves.

Slowly, I make my way back through the house, rewinding the yarn, rewinding the yarn, rewinding the yarn . . . until it reaches my sock who (yes, who)–and this is unbelievable—remains unscathed.

It seems as though the line of yarn that traveled with Milo flew off of the yarn cake instead of the needles. I am clueless as to how the sock survived all of this.

It is a miracle.

Saint Stephanie, was it you?

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
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Continuing with my previous blog post, hubby’s socks are coming along fine. Here they are so far, looking a bit rough. When I’m done knitting them, a proper blocking will ease them into looking smoother (I hope) . . .

So, the other day, I was talking to a friend who was uneasy about all the work that goes into knitting a pair of plain ol’, white wool, size 13EE socks.

She asked me how much I pay for sock yarn. When I replied that it is not unusual to pay $18 to $20 a skein, she shrieked, “And you still have do to do all the work!? What? Are you nuts? Why not just buy a pair?”

Oh, the pain.

I decided not to tell her that for a men’s size 13EE, I had to buy two skeins.

Sweet hubby Howard, if you are reading this: I’m sorry if you are now lying on the floor in hope of smelling salts.

We don’t have any.

Live with it.

Back to my friend: Her question was not new to me, and for knitters in general, it is far from new. “Why not just buy it” has irked pointy-sticks folks for ages. I was forewarned about it in blogs, conversations and books (Yarn Harlott comes to mind).

Forewarned is forearmed. I wanted to be prepared with an answer.

I had decided the best way to conquer “why not buy cheaper, faster knit stuff” was to explain that knitting is entertainment, which, if you consider the price per hour, makes knitting a bargain.

When the question came this last time, I thought I was ready with an answer . . .

I turned to my friend and said, “Well, how much would you pay for dinner out and a movie? Probably much more than I pay for a skein of sock yarn . . . and how long does your entertainment last? Less than one night? Well, let me tell you, for far less money, I get to entertain myself for . . . for . . . “

Then I stopped. I realized I had no idea how long it takes to knit a pair of socks.

So, I simply said, “. . . for . . . for . . . forever,” which I figured was pretty close to the truth since that’s what knitting a pair of socks feels like.

I vowed to get a better answer.

Off I went to visit Ravelry’s Sock Knitters Anonymous Forum, where I asked fellow sockaholics how many hours it takes them to knit a pair of socks.

The most popular answer seemed to be 20 hours. This might change since the thread is still active. If you are a member of Ravelry, you can find it here.

While I’ve never timed myself, I would guess it takes me around 30 hours, especially since I’m still new to knitting socks. So, let’s figure an average of 25 hours a pair.

With thanks to all my friends on Sock Knitters Anonymous I now have a more definite answer.

Wow! For 20 U.S. dollars, I get 25 hours of fun. That’s 80 cents an hour for pleasure beyond belief, plus it is calorie free, gluten free, etc.

AND I end up with socks that are priceless.

Such a deal.

Your turn: What do you say when someone asks why you don’t buy socks, sweaters, hats, etc. instead of knitting them?

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Today, I started knitting a pair of white wool socks for my husband Howard. He wears a size 13EE.

In normal (instead of teeny-tiny sock size) stitches, that is roughly the equivalent of knitting a football stadium cozy.

That’s what love will do.


Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Stitches East, A Car Collision, A Felted Bag, A Knitting Addiction and More . . .

Wow – so much has happened since I last posted.

First, this:

Do you plan on attending Stitches East in Hartford Connecticut October 28-31, 2010? If so, plan to visit Booth 927. That’s where Knitting Korner’s Nenah Galati will have her space this year . . . and I’ll be working there with her. I’d love it if you’d stop by and say hello.

It is a great pleasure to work with Nenah. I met her after I purchased her SOCK I: How to Knit Socks on Two Circular Needles DVD in July. I had a technical question about playing the DVD, left a generic, general message on what I thought was a standard help line . . . but she personally returned my call the next day (this blew me away).

We started chatting and became fast friends. I’ve been working with her ever since, and I love every minute of it.

My current knitting projects include my making my way through all of Nenah’s instructional DVDs. She has 20 of them, so it is a huge project for me. Right now, I’m knitting my way through How to Knit A Boxy Cardigan and enjoying it.

Nenah’s DVDs have an amazing effect on people. She is just like one of us (albeit a very smart one of us), with a calming, down-to-earth, nurturing personality. I love how she makes knitting or crochet mistakes, admits it and just lets the camera keep rolling as she corrects. This makes Nenah very Julia Child-like in the way she instructs—sensible yet confident, with an “Oh what the heck, you’re human, fix the darn thing and keep filming” attitude, which is endearing.

Nenah even includes her outtakes at the end of each DVD. Make sure you go to the bathroom first to spare having an accident as you watch and laugh.

Speaking of accidents, next story . . .

Ask me what’s new. This is what’s new:

A few weeks back, Howard and I were stopped at a light on U.S. Highway 30 in Merrillville, Indiana, and we were rear-ended by a gal going an estimated 40+ miles per hour.

Everyone walked away from the accident, which is the only thing that matters. At first, I was quite accepting of the accident despite our car being totaled . . . but that’s not the story. This story is about how I learned just how unfathomable my addiction to knitting has become.

See the trunk? The collision smashed it to where it couldn’t be opened at the scene, so it had to be towed full of whatever stuff was in there.

My brain scrambled to remember. We were on our way to a bring-your-own-lawn-chair birthday party, so there two new lawn chairs in there. I remembered there were also some CDs, a few books, including my gluten-free grocery store guide, a gallon of windshield wiper fluid, and countless reusable, canvas shopping bags. It is my ritual to carry a ridiculously large stack of those bags everywhere with me, so when I shop, I can forget to bring them into the store.

No big loss.

Then, just as I had reconciled it all; just as I was giving myself a mental hug for not freaking out over the accident having happened; just as the tow truck slowly pulled away as Howard and I were waving good-bye to our grand, old car . . . I remembered I HAD A KNITTING PROJECT IN THE TRUCK.

Holy crap.

It was my first attempt at a felted bag—a Noni Nomad Hobo felted bag, thank you very much, for which I paid major big bucks because I broke down and bought a month’s worth of knitting classes to go along with it . . . and don’t let that used Cadillac fool you, I don’t have major big bucks.

Besides, if you know anything about purchasing knitting lessons, purse hardware, and endless yards of yarn, then you know that I paid far more for the purse than I did for the car.

Noni's Photo of Nomad Hobo Bags

Panic time. This was on a busy highway. As I flailed and wailed, gapers gathered.

What the heck are you looking at? Don’t you understand? That purse took me forever to knit, and when I finished it, it had felted beautifully! It was cute! It was plump! And it had the most perfect, little bottom . . . and now my baby is being carried away in the trampled trunk of a compressed car! SHUT UP! STOP STARING! Go away.

I mean, after all, who in the same situation wouldn’t squawk at gawkers? It’s not as though such things as knitting projects could ever be replaced. Each stitch is precious, priceless, and a perfect work of art. Each project is a masterpiece, and each . . .

Okay. Wait. Hold on a minute.

First, I may be exaggerating this story a bit (except for the price of the purse). And much, if not all, of the panic I felt may have played out in my head rather than on the street. Yet either way, it was at that moment I realized my addiction to knitting had whorled out of control.

I stopped to take pause and to reflect on my attitude. Good grief, where was my mind at?

Of course felted bags can be replaced. Of course they can, of course they can, of course they can. I knew that. I really did.

Further more, only life is precious, not knitting, and only the cosmos is priceless, not knitting . . . and only love is a perfect work of art, not knitting.

Deep breath. Okay. Right.

That was then.

This is now: I’m still addicted to knitting, and I’m damn glad the junkyard was able to pry open the trunk and give me purse back!

This is one bag I’ll remember to carry with me into the store.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Is There a Cure for Autoimmune Disease?

“Isabel, a cute 10-year-old girl from Texas who loved riding horses, walked into my office a year and a half ago with one of the most severe cases of autoimmune disease I had ever seen. Her face was swollen, her skin was inflamed, her joints were swollen, her immune system was attacking her entire body–her muscles, her skin, her joints, her blood vessels, her liver, and her white and red blood cells. Isabel couldn’t squeeze her hand or make a fist. The tips of her fingers and toes were always cold from Raynaud’s disease that inflammed her blood vessels. She was tired and miserable and was losing her hair. Isabel was on elephant doses of intravenous steroids every three weeks just to keep her alive, and she was taking prednisone, aspirin, acid blockers, and methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug used to shut down the immune system daily . . .”

So begins an article in the October 10, 2010 Huffington Post: “Is There a Cure for Autoimmune Disease,” by Mark Hyman, M.D. Many members here will find this article interesting, thought-provoking and –depending on who reads it–anything from frustrating to inspiring.

If you scroll down after the article, there are a number of Huffington readers’ posts in response to the piece. You might find these of use, too.

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you have links to other articles of interest you’d like to share? When you have a moment, please share you thoughts with us here.

My thoughts: Dr. Hyman can be quite a marketer at times, but he also has interesting information that’s worth referencing if only to lead you on a journey to other articles and information. Dr. Hyman is also an author and has written many books on health, one of the most popular being The UltraMind Solution: The Simple Way to Defeat Depression, Overcome Anxiety, and Sharpen Your Mind. Suggestion: Read them from the library before purchasing.

More great information and thoughtful discussions: If you haven’t already, be sure to join our Ravelry Discussion Group at here: OH MY GOSH, just wait until you see all the outstanding recipes posted there. Thanks to members’ talents, we have everything from chicken pot pie to onion rings. (Special thanks to FireBear for these two and more.)

UPDATE: Congratulations to AnnaMarie, winner of the contest posted in the last blog. Her name was drawn to win her choice of a Nenah Galati Knitting Korner DVD. AnnaMarie: I’ve emailed you with the details. Thank you (and everyone here) for your comments!

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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What is a Reasonably Intelligent, Squirming, Fidgeting, Wiggly-Butt to Do?

UPDATE: Congratulations to AnnaMarie, whose name was drawn as winner of her choice of a KnittingKorner DVE. AnnaMarie: I’ve emailed you with the details. Thank you (and everyone here) for your comments.

If you have been diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, and if you hope that changing the way you eat will be worth all the fuss and frustration, you’ve come to the right place. I hope this little story will help you keep on keeping on.

On the surface, this is about knitting . . . but it really about how changing foods might spark a change in your behavior.

Project vs. Process: A Love Story

They say there are two types of knitters: Project knitters and process knitters. Most knitters are a little of each, but knitters usually display one trait more than the other.

One is not better than the other. It deals with how you feel about projects and how long they hold your interest.

Project knitters love to get the job done. They like the process of knitting, but they LOVE finishing, gifting, wearing, displaying, posting about it. Completion=gratification.

With process knitters, the thrill lives at the beginning of the project more than the end. Give process knitters anything that allows them to play with a new fiber, technique, or pattern and they’re hyped. Because process=gratification, process knitters can get bored and move onto a second, third . . . hundredth project before they finish anything.

I know process knitters well. Until this year, I was process knitter.

Heck, I was a process everything.

Want proof? I have an unfinished needlepoint sitting in our basement bathroom (yes, the bathroom — don’t ask). I’ve been meaning to move it into safer storage for a while now . . .

It has been sitting there since 1980.

I often wonder why I haven’t moved it.

I want to believe there is a reason for everything, so I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the canvas has a calling. Perhaps it’s been sitting there for over 30 freaking years to remind me of the story of my life.

1. Find project

2. Get excited

3. Start

4. Fall in love

5. Become obsessed

6. Enjoy

7. Get bored

8. Move on

Wow. Looking at this, I just realized that an argument can be made that the same holds true with everything from books to (for others) boyfriends, but that’s for their blog.

Amazingly, since I started eating a gluten-free diet, I’ve changed.

I’m a project knitter now. At age 57, I never thought a dramatic personality change could happen, but it did.

I can’t tell you how many knitting projects I abandoned, B.C. (Before Celiac testing). I lost count.

However, I can tell you exactly how many projects I finished B.C., even though it has been over 40 years since I put my needles down.

I finished two knitting projects. Exactly two.

First, I knit a pair of slippers. I think they were called knit-a-square-then-fold-them-over-and-sew-them-into-slip/and/slide-on-the-linoleum slippers. I made them complete with pom-poms so, when I fell, I could tell which end was up.

Years passed. I started many knitting projects and completed . . . none of them.

Then 1968 hit. It was all about freedom and free-style, so I knit a self-designed, bright red, seed stitch, down-to-past-your-knees-and-way-too-wide-for-anyone boyfriend scarf.

With uneven edges.

It must have been love, because I FINISHED IT!

Well, kind of. The scarf was supposed to have fringe. I never fringed it.

However, seeing as how boyfriend became husband despite scarf, I say it counts.

These two projects were so poorly knit, anyone would want to forget about them. Not I; I cherish the memory. That’s how much knitting meant, and means, to me.

Fast forward to spring 2010. It is now A.D. (After Diagnosis). I have only been knitting for about 4 months. I have finished (or am in the process of finishing) every project I’ve started – ten, count them, TEN projects, as of tonight:

Two doggie coats

A prayer shawl

Two ascots

Two scarves

A sock

Three hats . . .

. . . and more swatches than I ever thought possible. I mention this for those who knit . . . because those who knit know how knitting swatches counts more than anything AND is the last most knitters want to do.

On the needles:

A cardigan – I just started it. I’m almost finished with the back.

That second sock – which I’m really doing! No second sock syndrome, thank goodness. I keep these with me for times when I need something small and easy to grab – waiting for appointments, etc.

A cotton shawl (all garter stitch, so when I talk on the phone I can knit mindlessly).

Almost done:

A felted purse (needs sewing)

I like each project and have little doubt I’ll finish each one. The thought of an unfinished project makes me cringe now. That said, I am sure it is just a matter of time until I land upon a project which I really hate working on. In that case, it may be better to move on.

Life is short. Time will tell.

So what happened? Gluten-free is what happened, and I’m not kidding.

Ask my husband to tell you how long I was able to sit still before going gluten-free. He’ll tell you it wasn’t long—fifteen minutes, maybe, on a good day. As the years passed, I got worse, up until A.D.

More proof?

Okay . . .

Go back to my childhood. Ask any teacher, especially my elementary school teachers, and they’ll put my report cards in front of you—the ones that say I have “potential” if only I could “concentrate, stop talking and SIT STILL.”

Of course, on every report card, it reads as if my behavior was my or my parents’ fault, because in the 50’s and 60’s it was.

Had I been the same child today, I’m sure I would have been put on some sort of medication. This is sad because all I really needed was to start eating the right foods.

My point: If you are a reasonably intelligent squirming, fidgeting, wiggly-butt who’s recently been diagnosed as being gluten-intolerant . . . hang in there! If you’re like many of us, living inside you is the real you—the one who’s been waiting to be born, regardless of your age.

I must add: When it comes to sticking to a knitting project, learning from the worldwide, lovable knitting community helps, as does learning from local yarn shops and using Nenah Galati’s knitting DVDs.

I’ve learned that books and patterns alone don’t do it for me, at least not yet. I learn best if my instructions are visual, tactile, and auditory, and if it is all three at the same time, so much the better.

Having a kind and caring person demonstrate things as I knit helps so much. Perhaps that’s why so many old-school learners—those who learned from an experienced friend or relative—stuck with it and learned best.

In conclusion: These days, as much as I love starting something new, the idea of finishing a project is what excites me the most. For me, the feeling of knowing I can do it is gratifying beyond belief.

Few things beat sitting still and staying there, right beside my knitting, as though it were a best friend.

Because it is.


Copyright 2010, Lee Bernstein. All rights reserved.

Contest: Chose any or all of the following questions and answer them in the comment section, below.

On October 9, a random winner will be chosen to receive one of Nenah Galati’s How-To Knit / Crochet DVDs. If you’re the winner, you’ll pick which DVD you’d like.

UPDATE: Congratulations to AnnaMarie, whose name was drawn as winner of her choice of a Nenah Galati Knitting Korner DVD. AnnaMarie: I’ve emailed you with the details. Thank you (and everyone here) for your comments!

Everyone else, even though the contest deadline has passed, we’d still love to hear from you. Please keep posting!


Are you a project knitter or a pattern knitter, and how do you know?

Has eating a gluten-free diet changed the way you manage projects? What difference have you noticed?

What method of learning works best for you?

Good luck!

Some fun links . . .

Join the Ravelry Knitting is Gluten Free Forum here:

If you would like email notification when a new blog post appears, please email your request to

Copyright 2010, Lee Bernstein – All Rights Reserved

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Such a sweet photo of our newest Dachshund, Milo . . . but do not let his soft, long-haired-red-sabled-demeanor fool you.

Underneath there lives a dog of steel.

He’s a bird (well, no . . . actually, he’s a dachshund)

He’s a plane (well, no . . . actually, he’s a dachshund).

He’s Superdog! (Yes, he really IS Superdog).

By day, Milo is an undercover pup. At night, he defends the knitting world against attacks on wool.

It all began a little over a week ago . . .

It was dusk. Milo was quietly sitting by the sliding glass kitchen door.

As I opened the door to let him out, there came a flash of marvel (also known as the porch light), as the world shone down upon Milo to illuminate his enemies and reveal Milo’s true self.

Moths. They were everywhere, desending upon our house in numbers larger than I’ve noticed in a lifetime. It was as though the buggers knew I had taken up knitting again . . . and they knew the house held the treasure of a delicious, ever-growing stash of wool.

I gasped and, as I flailed my arms like a . . . well, like a crazy woman flailing her arms, I knew my wool and I were doomed.

But then, just when the night looked darkest . . .

Milo spots the bad guys . . .

He jumps! He bounds!

He snaps! He chews!

He swallows.

Faster than a speeding bullet

More powerful than a locomotive

Able to leap sliding glass doors in a single bound

My hero.

Moth hunting has since become Milo’s mission. At the first sight of one, he runs into his booth (also known as the kitchen curtain which feels like a cape). Then, upon my opening the door . . . he emerges, transformed into into MILO THE MOTH HUNTING DACHSHUND!


Don’t tell me miracles don’t happen.

Today, the 21st day of September, 2010, I’m naming Milo the official mascot of Knitting is Gluten Free.

Okay, all fans of Knitting is Gluten Free, all together now:


Everyone else, kindly keep your kryptonite to yourself.

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Can Knitting Change Your Life?

Daughter Michelle Loving Her Prayer Shawl, Spring 2010

Today’s blog post isn’t about eating gluten free nearly as much as it is about how knitting can change your life for the better.

However, for those who may be new here, I’ll give a little of my gluten free background . . .

In September of 2009, I was diagnosed with acute gluten-intolerance. Transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle was difficult for me (see my earlier posts for more info), and I found myself feeling sorry for myself most of the time.

I also became obsessed with complaining about living gluten free. I drove people crazy.

Truth be told, I had been on a negativity binge for quite a while, long before being diagnosed. This was against-the-grain for me (pun intended), because I am one of those gals who deeply believes that positive feelings bring positive results while negative feelings bring negative results.

Negativity hurts. And it keeps hurting until you come to the realization that happiness is a whole lot easier and a lot more fun.

So then, why was I living on the dark side?

Gluten had a lot to do with it. I didn’t know it yet, but eating gluten made me feel low, lethargic and lost. Like others who feel the symptoms, my neuropathy, body aches, brain fog, gastro issues and (for me) weight gain, really brought me down.

And when you’re down, you start to think negatively . . .

. . . and, after a while, thinking negatively becomes a habit . . .

. . . and then the habit attracts more negativity . . . and so it goes.

(That and sometimes it’s just easier to be a bitch.)

I won’t bore you with all the things that were going on in my life at the time. What matters: I came to the realization that I needed to attract more positive energy into my life.

Okay . . . fast forward to last spring. My husband Howard and I were planning a trip to New Mexico to visit our oldest daughter, Michelle (pictured above).

New Mexican food is my favorite food in the world, but New Mexico can put you to task when it comes to finding restaurants that understand gluten free food preparation.

At first, I thought I should expect everyone on the trip to go along with where I could eat and what I could do . . . but that was my ego speaking, and ego-speak is the same as it’s-all-about-me-speak, and in my world, it’s-all-about-me-speak doesn’t attract positive energy.

I needed to find something to keep myself happy while others did what they wanted to do.

For those who will write to me to remind me that a lot of Mexican and New Mexican food is gluten free: I am so hyper sensitive that even pure corn tortillas and store-bought beans cause reactions in me, unless they are Certified Gluten Free.

So, I decided to handle the problem the old-fashioned way. I prayed for guidance and asked to be shown how to get over my pity party.

Then, a few days later, it just hit . . . KNIT!

It came out of nowhere. For the life of me, I can’t remember what made knitting cross my mind.

Wanting to knit didn’t make any sense—none whatsoever. Neurological problems caused my hands to be numb much of the time, and when they weren’t numb, they hurt like the devil.

Knitting was the last thing I wanted to do.

And even though I loved knitting years back, I was never good at it. I wasn’t even semi-good at it. I failed at most projects, and failing doesn’t feel good.

Yet, something in my gut kept pushing me to knit. It was strong and wouldn’t let go. Despite all the reasons to the contrary, the thought of knitting again excited me and made me bubble up inside.

Then I read about how the act of knitting is a lot like meditation. The philosophy behind this is something along the line of if-knitting-is-a-simultaneous-right-and-left-brain-coordination-sort-of-thing, then it is difficult, if not impossible, to knit and worry at the same time.

Sounded good to me.

Next, I looked for a beginner’s project to take with me to New Mexico—something to give to Michelle.

A garter stitch prayer shawl pattern practically fell in my lap.

Sounded good to me.

Next, I read about how there are all these knitters out there, all over the world, who use prayer shawl knitting as positive time to either pray, chant, or think only positive thoughts.

Sounded good to me.

So, I set out to knit with only one rule: I would allow myself to knit only as long as I thought positive thoughts . . . and they had to be HONEST positive thoughts.

How long can you go without thinking a negative thought?

Have you ever looked at it?

Have you ever timed yourself?

For me, it was a minute or two, max.

And positive affirmations don’t work for me, either. Unless I honestly believe what I’m saying and honestly feel fantastic as I say it, it’s a lot like dunking a turd into whipping cream while expecting dessert.

So, the moment a negative thought would enter my mind, I’d start knitting more “religiously,” chanting something, anything positive.

After a few weeks of knitting positive, good thoughts became a habit again.

Good grief, they had to! I became so freaking addicted to knitting, I spent every free moment I had doing it.

Ask me if my house is clean. (Ask me if it ever was.)

I began taking my knitting everywhere, including casual parties – you know, the ones where everyone sits around eating . . . and eating . . . and eating ALL NIGHT . . . and none of it is gluten free . . . those parties where self-pity starts to creep in?

Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit!

I didn’t care if I looked silly knitting while everyone else ate, ate, ate, ate, ate.

Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit!

And on the road, and on the phone, and in the airport, and on trying days, in the bathroom-

Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit!

I know you see the happy ending coming, so I’ll keep it short:

Life became a hoot again.

That said, I must tell you that when I screw up a pattern or drop a few stitches (something I do a lot), there are more than a few curse words that make their way into the hoot.

But that’s okay.

Because even though I want to throw the project across the room, it is a positive anger. Does that make sense?

Honest anger isn’t the same as negativity.

I remember when Michelle was a toddler and she tried to run across the street for the first time. I was angry, frustrated, frightened, confused, even guilty . . . but I was so in love with her that, even as I screamed my lungs out, it made it all worthwhile. Michelle learned from it and moved on.

Anger of this sort is not a negative thing. It is a reactive thing.

The same thing is true with screwing up a knitting project. Good, old fashioned, healthy anger and frustration never hurt a soul as long as the soul learns from it and moves on.

I could go on and on about all this positivity stuff, but enough is enough. I’ll end by leaving you with this quotation:

“The act of knitting provides comfort in times when life weighs the most.” — Adrienne Martini (from Sweater Quest, My Year of Knitting Dangerously).

So true, so true.

Now, if I could just get the weight off . . .

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day

September 13 is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day.

There is a good chance you know someone who is gluten-intolerant, but they do not know it. It’s estimated that 1 in around 100 people actually have diagnosable Celiac disease, and many more are gluten intolerant. Sadly, many people are misdiagnosed or they do not know they should seek medical assistance.

Sure Foods Living has an excellent post about gluten-intolerance and celiac disease symptoms here: Symptoms

Please take a moment to read it and ask yourself if you or anyone you know might benefit from learning more. Here in the U.S.A., an excellent resource for assistance is the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

A partial list of the symptoms I had are here.

Spread the word, save a life.


Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Knitting Is Gluten Free Now has a Forum on Ravelry

A lot of members here want this blog to be more interactive than it is now. I agree!

I’m happy to report we now have a Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum / Discussion Group on Ravelry.

Just go to Ravelry, sign in, then click on Groups in the tabbed bars at the top of the page, and search for Knitting Is Gluten Free, which will take you to the group portal. Just click on the icon, then click on the “discussion” tab to enter the forum.

You are welcome to upload photos of your projects or yarns, too. This is the perfect way to share what you’re knitting, crocheting, cooking, eating, whatever.

We’re a new forum there, and we already have over 30 members. Please stop by and introduce yourself.

I would guess that most everyone here has heard of Ravelry, but if you’re new to the internet knitting community, let me tell you: Ravelry is awesome.

If you spin, knit, crochet or work with fiber arts in any way, you’ll love it. Warning: Ravelry is addictive.

But then, so is knitting!

You’ll need to register on Ravelry to join. It is free. The community there is warm, friendly and a whole lot of fun.

You can search for patterns, people, projects, yarns, groups . . . hold on. I’m not going to try to explain it all here. It would be like trying to explain Disney World in a word or two. Just go, be amazed and enjoy.

See you there!

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Birth Announcement: My First Sock . . .

Proud Parent of First Born Sock
Name: Opal Rainforest VI Sock Yarn, Color 4007 Furst Kunterbunt – yarn purchased at Sheep’s Clothing, Valparaiso, Indiana
Born: September 5, 2010 at 12:22 P.M. on two size 2 circular needles
Weight: 1.35 ounces
Pattern: SOCK I: How to Knit Socks on Two Circular Needles DVD, by Nenah Galati – Nenah is a friend. I loved this DVD so much!
Labor pains: Minimal

First born photo:

And it fits!

Getting a leg up with Lee


Believe me, if I can give birth to a sock, anyone can . . . and it doesn’t even take nine months — more like three weeks. I’m still in awe of how The Yarn Harlot procreated, labored and birthed all in one day (see my earlier blog post). But then, I guess harlots get a lot of practice.

Just between you and me, I’m a little worried about this sock. It’s loud, and it may not sleep through the night. But, just like any new born, it’s soft, warm and cuddly. I won’t mind.

Off to nurse a glass of wine,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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STITCHES MIDWEST 2010: What Would YOU Do If You Were Surrounded by Knitting Heaven For a Day?

There is a God, there is a God, THERE IS A GOD . . .

. . . and God knits!

To prove it, I entered the purly gates of Stitches Midwest last Friday. What a wonderful day . . .

For those who have never been to Stitches Midwest, it is a four-day fiber showcase that features a large vendor market floor, book signings, classes, fashion shows and more. A lengthy explanation would take pages. You must attend to experience it.

I went to Stitches assuming I would buy countless skeins of yarn. Yet, despite falling in love with more yarn than I ever thought possible, I decided to wait.

One reason is because I’ll be at Stitches East in Hartford, Connecticut this October. (More to come about this later.) Since yarn is easy to pack, I used my willpower.

That, and maybe I’ll win the lottery by then.

So, instead, I concentrated on getting my knitting projects organized.

I am not an organized knitter, yet. I am anything but an organized knitter.

But I keep trying.

I have hope.

And thanks to Stitches Midwest, I also have a Diddy, a/k/a The Nantucket Diddy Bagg. (Do you sense a review coming on? Yep . . . I am really impressed with this one, which means I am posting it both on and here.)

I didn’t know I wanted a Diddy. I thought maybe I wanted a few smaller project bags and a carpet bag, but no.

Do you know what it’s like to go shopping, all the while thinking you know what you’re looking for . . . and then you turn a corner . . . and then this thing that you never knew existed sits there flirting with you, and now you want it more than anything else in the world?



I fell in love with it immediately. Here’s why: I usually have 4-6 projects going at one time, and I like to carry as many of them with me as possible, everywhere. That way, I when I screw up one project, I have another . . . and another . . . and another. Fun.

My problem: I don’t have a way to carry everything easily, so I wind up carrying multiple tote bags. Half the time I don’t know which tools are in which bag. It drives me nuts.

Can you relate? If you’re like me, you’ve probably left your car with a project in hand, only to later discover your extra knitting tools were in a different bag . . . OR at the airport, you discover you’ve left something at home. A knitter’s nightmare.

But in my Diddy, I can fit it all: tools, projects, books, notes, glasses, gluten free snacks, dropped stitches—the works.

I can easily carry 3-5 smaller projects in individual project bags (such as socks, hats, gloves) or 1-3 larger projects (long scarf size) or 1 very large project that’s grown to a good size (like a large shawl or afghan), along with notebooks, tools, etc., all organized.

I tell you, I was like a little kid when I got home with this thing. Just for fun, I packed it, unpacked it, and re-packed it again and again, just to see how much I could fit in it and in how many different ways.

Open it to create a tool shelf – having the ability to open it this way also makes it PERFECT for packing in a suitcase.

Zip it into a tote bag with all the tools on the outside (as shown in first Diddy photo, above).

Zip it into a tote bag with all the tools on the inside (this is my preferred way of using the bag).

It is up to you how you’ll carry the bag: It converts to a tote, a roll, or backpack. So far, I’ve used mine as a tote. It carries comfortably in my hand or flung over my shoulder.

This bag is washable; it was designed by a master carpenter, and it is constructed of double thick 600 denier Polyester Canvas, thereby making it a perfect consideration for your estate plan.

I’d write more about the versatility, but since I’ve only had this bag for about a week, I’m still discovering new ways to use it.

If you have a Diddy, I’d welcome hearing your tales.

If you want to see a Diddy and are attending Stitches East this October, The Nantucket Bagg Company will have a booth there. You can also find information about them here.

Or, hey, if you’re in the mood for a county-and-western-Diddy-ditty-twaing-bang-song-thang, go HERE!

Yee haw. There’s nothing like listening to The Crocheting Cowboy sing about his Diddy to get you in the mood for . . . in the mood for . . .

Storage solutions!


Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Overcoming Sock Block: In Praise of The Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

“When I knit on the dark side, I go from Holy to hole, Lee . . . in like, five minutes flat.” ~Lee Bernstein~

As I made my internet rounds before leaving for work this morning, I visited The Yarn Harlot Blog.

Have you heard of The Yarn Harlot (a/k/a Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)? Most knitters have heard of her, but since I am a new knitter, she is new to me.

I am quite a fan of hers.  Stephanie is a remarkable knitter and spinner. She is also a gifted blogger, speaker, author, and more.

Stephanie writes knitting humor. 

Yes, I said knitting humor

I’m serious.  Just read her books, and you’ll get it.  If you knit, I promise you’ll laugh as you read.

My favorite book so far: At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women who Knit Too Much

So, I go to The Yarn Harlot blog today to find that Stephanie has written all about how she just up-and-knit a full-size sock in only one day. She also posted beautiful photos of the finished pair of socks, thereby reminding me that if I don’t get some photos up here soon, I’ll turn into a blogging bore.

You’ll find the blog post here — you’ll need to scroll down until you find the date August 18:

As you’ll see if you visit her blog, the yarn she used caused her socks not to match entirely, but that’s another matter.  SHE KNIT A SOCK IN A DAY!  Freaking fabulous.

This raised my appreciation of Stephanie to a whole new level.

Aside from master instructor Nenah Galati (I’ll be writing about her knitting DVDs in a blog to come), I don’t know if this blog has other sock knitters on it. 

Heck, I don’t even know if this blog has any serious readers on it – is there anyone out there today? My stats show that tons of people are looking, but please post a comment so I’ll know if it is true.

Anyway, if you are not a sock knitter, let me tell you: knitting a sock takes some time.

The sock I’m currently working on has almost as many stitches as a oversize prayer shawl I made for my oldest daughter.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah, photo to come.) 

This sock is giving me grief (darn it, yes, photo to come). 

Not because it isn’t enjoyable.

Not because it takes time.

Not for lack of excellent instruction (Nenah taught me). 

Rather, the grief comes from my lack of concentration. 

You see, lately I’ve been knitting at the end of the day, right after I get home from work, before dinner . . . 

That’s my tired, wind-down time, and when I combine knitting with winding down on an empty stomach, I drift into a world where the devil sits on my shoulder and makes me drop stitches.   (Later, he’ll also try to tempt me to eat too much.)

When I knit on the dark side, I go from Holy to hole, Lee . . . in like, five minutes flat.  

Other times, when sock knitting is going more smoothly, it seems as though the sock is taking forever, even when I’m not making mistakes.

Every morning, I wake up looking forward to the time I will spend knitting before the day is over. This morning was different, though. My struggles with my mistakes had me thinking about skipping my sock tonight.

Yarn Harlot to the rescue! Stephanie’s post about knitting a sock in a day reminded me how things in life improve if only a person keeps trying. She gave me the courage to continue. 

You see, Stephanie hasn’t always been able to knit a sock in a day.  In her books, she writes about how knitting can become a black hole where your work never progresses, no matter how much you knit.

How I can relate!

Stephanie: Thank you for knowing me so well. Thank you understanding me. Thank you for becoming such a dear, sweet, personal friend.

Well, no.  Stephanie has no clue who I am, BUT she understands knitters, which means she understands me, and that’s a blessing.

Why? Because Stephanie helps me laugh at my mistakes. 

So, I decided to dedicate tonight’s blog to Stephanie.  I am also thanking her directly, on her blog.  I am writing this to her in response to It’s a bird, it’s a plane, which is her knit-a-sock-in-a-day blog post:


Thank the heavens, you have given me hope.

My next move: Touch hands to cheeks (the FACE ones) then open palms and raise arms in glory while swinging them around my head like a crazy person, chanting: Praise be to The Yarn Harlot! Note: If I do this in a U.S. southern accent, it will probably work even better.

Okay, Stephanie . . . your post came at just the right time.

For the last stinkin’ week I’ve spent more time knitting backwards than forwards. I don’t know why, but when I turn the heel of a sock, my brain fights me every step of the way.

I mean, for Pete’s sake, knitting a sock is not all THAT darn difficult. All it takes is a little concentration . . . the problem is, there’s a sock devil out there, lurking, smirking and testing my will.

But thanks to you, I now have all good faith that I’ll eventually be able to knit a pair of socks in a month (forget the day thing for now) — and that I’ll knit them forwards, not backwards.



Since I’m a strong advocate for paying good things forward, I’m posting this for any fellow stitch droppers out there.  I hope that if you, too, get frustrated with knitting mistakes, you’ll find The Yarn Harlot and learn about the wonderful woman who can make you smile in spite of it all. 

PS:  I know I promised a post about how knitting helped me cope with liviing gluten free.  It’s coming. Right now, though, I’ve been too busy knitting, dropping stitches . . . and laughing about it. 

Off to knit that sock . . .

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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Feeling Sorry for Yourself:

If it leads to knitting, maybe it’s a blessing . . .

“Any time anyone works to cope with serious changes in diet, there are emotional stages we all face. We are all in the same family.” ~Lee Bernstein~

(Note: Be sure to visit the knitting and food tips at the end of this blog)

One of the things I’m proudest of in life is losing over 100 pounds. Except for a stubborn 15 pounds, I’ve kept it off for almost 20 years now.

So, when I was told I could no longer eat anything that contained wheat, barley or rye, I said to myself, “That’s okay. I can do this. I’m an expert at overcoming food challenges.”

It was odd. I was relieved. revived even, to learn I had gluten-intolerance. My brain and my body had become so excruciatingly ill from gluten, I was grateful to learn I could heal myself by doing something as simple as giving up certain foods.

Well let me tell you, it wasn’t so easy.

As it turns out, I’m one of those gals so sensitive to gluten that even foods labeled “gluten free” can cause me to have a horrible reaction.

Gluten hides, too. It lurks in everything from flavored coffee to licorice to soy sauce.

One of the biggest challenges was remaining symptomatic after giving up gluten in foods. I learned I had to give up my favorite brands of cosmetics, toothpaste, soap, and hair products. I had to stop using our toaster, convection oven, along with anything plastic, wood, non-stick, cast iron (in this case, perfectly seasoned antique cast iron—that one really hurt). This is just a small, partial list—it went on and on.

Because I am so sensitive, I also get reactions to a lot of packaged foods normally considered gluten-free. The problem is they share facilities or lines with gluten or wheat products.

Cross contamination is a challenge, too, especially in restaurants. Unless the kitchen and wait staff are as conscientious as surgical nurses, contamination can happen.

Let’s say I go to a restaurant and order a salad with vinegar and oil dressing. Salad greens, vinegar and oil are all gluten-free.

However, just prior to cutting a tomato for my salad, the preparer assembled a sandwich for another diner. He wipes his hands afterwards rather than scrubbing or putting on never-used gloves. Or maybe a server—someone who has handled tray after tray of gluten-filled meals—puts a straw in my water without scrubbing or putting on gloves first.

These simple acts can cause cross contamination and cause a reaction that may last, at least for me, up to a week.

It is even more difficult to dine with friends and family in their homes. I can’t even use the same can opener as other people.

So as you can see, all of this going gluten free stuff wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be.

It was time for a pity party.

And so, I set about mourning the loss of food and the loss of having control over it. I became quite angry about it – a typical stage of grief.

In other words, I turned into a bitch.

It stuck me how, in many ways, the feelings I experienced were the same as the feelings anyone feels when they have to deal with food issues—allergies, weight loss, diabetes, whatever.

Any time anyone works to cope with serious changes in diet, there are emotional stages we must all face. We are all in the same family.

My rules might be more stringent than the rules some other people have, but my rules also were much easier than wellness issues faced by countless others.

I needed to get over it.

Knitting to the rescue!

Stay tuned . . . my next post will be about how knitting helped turn my life around.

Tips of the Week:

Knitting: I learned this at Sheep’s Clothing yarn shop in Valparaiso, Indiana.

If you use a long-tail cast on and find yourself wondering how much yarn to use for the tail, take the needle you’ll use and loosely wrap the yarn around the needle—one wrap for every cast on.

If you like, add an inch or two more at the end, just to make sure you’ll have enough. Then, proceed to do a long-tail cast on, making sure that the tail yarn goes around your pointer finger and not your thumb.

The pointer finger uses the most yarn during the long-tail cast on process.

I never knew this. I used to put the tail around my thumb. Consequently, I always end up with a tail longer than the devil . . . and please don’t ask me how many times I’d start knitting the first row (sometimes even the second or third or tenth) with the tail instead of the working yarn (even if I trimmed it). I guess the devil made me do it.

This long-tail cast on tip worked perfectly for me. Try it and let me know if it works for you, too. Feel free to share other cast-on tips, too.

Gluten-Free Tip:

I can’t use most store-packaged dried beans due to processing cross-contamination. Since being diagnosed, I’ve tried to find a source for legumes that are packaged gluten-free.

I found one: They carry wholesale nuts, legumes, whole grains (certified oatmeal and quinoa included), dried fruits and more. Many of the items are GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group of North America) Certified Gluten Free.

Not all of NutsOnline products are certified, but many of them are. Look for the Certified Gluten Free designation in the individual product listing.

Many of their products are also Kosher and/or organic. The prices are reasonable. The more you order, the less you’ll pay in shipping charges. Of course, if you have an allergy to nuts, check with NutsOnline first to see if these items are safe to order.

They also have sample packets available if you like to try a little before you buy a lot.

So far, I’ve used their fava beans, organic quinoa, organic cannellini beans, and their cranberry beans, all without issue. Yipee!

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