The Next Big Thing: A Global Blog Tour


The Next Big Thing: A Global Blog Tour has finally arrived here.  Thank you Anna Levine and Anne Ylvisaker for tagging me.


Now it’s my turn to share my book and tag others.


1) What is the title of your book?

 Room for the Baby

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

That’s a great question.

I have always loved making things. Through the years, I have made pot holders, lanyards, crepe paper flowers, and hand looms. Once I even made an angel from an old paperback book. The craft that stuck was knitting. But that's another story.

The idea for Room for the Baby comes from a lifetime of making and remaking. The mother in the book is like many crafters I know, saving the bits and pieces of what others give them.


3) What genre does your book fall under?

Room for the Baby is a picture book.


4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Don’t you think Julia Roberts would be great as the mother. Plus she’s a knitter.  How about George Clooney for the dad? I do like handsome fathers. Any ideas for the narrator? I'm stumped.


5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“A little boy frets that the sewing room where his baby sister or brother will sleep will never be emptied of things his mother has collected from neighbors for years, but she uses those things to sew and knit everything from diapers to Hanukkah gifts.”

Aren’t editors brilliant at condensing a picture book story into one sentence?


6) Who is publishing your book?

 Random House


7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Would you believe I wrote the first draft of Room For the Baby more than 25 years ago? It took me maybe a week to write it and a quarter of a century to revise it. Back then it was called Yetta the Scrap Saver.




8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Sims Tabac's telling of the classic tale of repurposing a coat -- Joseph had a Little Overcoat. 


9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The original inspiration for this story came from many places: the Coney Island neighborhood where my grandmother Yetta Skale lived, my childhood memories of celebrating the Jewish holidays, and my love of making and remaking.


10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Jana Christy's illustrations. I hope readers will visit her website  and check out her latest work.


Thank you for stopping by.

Let Next Big Thing Blog Tour continue!

Tagging ...

Jeannie Brett

Wild About Bearswritten and illustrated by Jeannie Brett

Take a bear-by-bear journey to learn about the world’s eight bear species in this nonfiction picture book.



Dori Butler


The Buddy Files #6: Case of the school Ghost (which comes out in paperback next month).

When therapy dog, Buddy, attends the fourth grade sleep over in the school's library, he solves the mystery of the school ghost.



Lela Nargi

The Honeybee Man illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker.

A story inspired by a real Brooklyn apiarist and his delicious honey. 



Liza Woodruff



If It's Snowy and You Know Clap Your Hands written by Kim Norm.

A fun filled romp through winter -- to the tune of If You're Happy and You know It. Sterling, Fall 2013



Anne Ylvisaker


Button Down 

Ned, of the comically unlucky Button family, hasn't caught a thing in his life until he faces bully Burton Ward in a challenge to catch their town hero's football.


Room for the Baby


First Review!

Everyone is thrilled that there’s going to be a new baby, but where will the child sleep?
Mom’s sewing room would be perfect, but it is full to the brim with worn-out clothes, leftover yarn and boxes of odds and ends donated by neighbors who know Mom is a master at recycling and repurposing. As months pass, filled with weekly Sabbath celebrations and Jewish holiday traditions, Mom and all the neighbors are busy, happily sewing, knitting and crafting, making diapers, baby clothes and mittens for anyone who expresses a need. The whole family gets into the act; Dad makes a crib from a steamer trunk, and the young narrator organizes a giveaway of free stuff. The sewing room is gradually transformed into a beautiful room for the baby, who receives a joyous welcome. Edwards moves the events through the year, introducing a warm, loving, traditional Jewish family and a close-knit multicultural city community. Information about Jewish holidays, especially the food, is neatly and deliciously incorporated. Underlying themes focus on the processes and satisfaction of creative arts and crafts as well the green concept of reusing found items for new purposes. Christy’s bright illustrations, as well as the endpapers, are filled with amusing details, patterns and textures, along with a sense of movement and busy endeavor.
Warmth and comfort abound. (Picture book. 3-8) Kirkus, July 2012

Available soon!
On Sale: September 25, 2012
Pages: 32 | ISBN: 978-0-375-87090-3

Summertime Knitting


Summer is a great season to knit. Elizabeth Zimmerman, the matriarch of American knitting, suggests shawls are a perfect July project. Others would vote for stitching a satisfying simple cotton wash cloth.  Or an airy lacy scarf. Instead of wool, you might cast on a lace-weight cotton, or bamboo.

Summer vacations and relaxing allows us to catch up on our knitterly reading. To help you enjoy this hot weather opportunity, I’m happy to announce that through July 1oth, Open Road Media is offering the ebook version of my book,  A Knitter’s Home Companion, and other popular STC titles for a mere 4.99. In celebration of summer knitting, Open Road is blogging and tweeting patterns for knitting projects, playlists to enjoy while knitting, and even cool recipes for drinks to sip while you knit and read.

Summertime knitting. Are you ready?

Selected Open Road Media Blog Posts

Canal House Homemade Iced Tea

Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

WickerWork Accessory Bag

Go to Gimbels


In the classic movie  Miracle on 34th Street, Macy's Santa Claus sends a customer to the store's competitor. Macy's didn't stock the toy she wanted, but Gimbels did.

"Go to Gimbels," he tells her. "They have it."

This week, instead of my usual post, I offer one of my favorite Youtubes. I also encourage you to visit other blogs and websites.

Here are a few you might enjoy.


Free Cabin Porn -- this is not pornography

That's So Vegan

Vintage Verity

Threads of Feelings

Recommended: Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic


“First put the whole pod in your mouth, holding the end of it between your fingertips,” Auntie instructed. “Then gently close your lips and pull the pod straight out, sucking all the salty juice.”

Ginnie Lo, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic

The first time I read the Lo sisters'  Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic, I was so taken by Ginnie Lo’s storytelling, I didn’t even notice that her sister Beth’s full page illustrations were ceramic plates. I missed obvious clues; the oval shaped images against a light grey background and the plate’s shadow creating a darker grey beneath it. I did catch her subtle and unusual color choices and the vintage feel of her images. There’s a heart beat in every picture, including the spot illustrations that appear on the text pages.

Ginnie Lo’s careful and compassionate tale of her family, immediate and extended, reveals their efforts to stay together in a new and foreign country. Her parents and her aunt and uncle had left China to study in America, but the “political upheaval in China” prevented their return.” Because we understand their loneliness, we triumph with them as they create community. We also learn the significance of soybeans to the Chinese. And so when the family takes a ride in the countryside and happens upon what seems to them a cultural impossibility, soybeans in America, it is a joy appreciated by the reader.

You want more details, right? Of course, you do. So hurry out and get yourself a copy of Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic. Don’t forget to pick some soybeans on the way home. Make sure they are shelled so you can eat them the Aunt Yang way. Even the frozen type will do. You’ll crave them when you are done reading.  

Highly Recommended. Starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist and School Library Journal.

Immigration, community, and finding home in a new country,

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic, written by Ginnie Lo and illustrated by Beth Lo

Book preview on Publisher’s Website 

Beth Lo’s website

Summer Reading


One spring, many years ago, I had a reading epiphany in the check-out line at Rainbow, a huge grocery store on St. Paul's seedy University Avenue. That winter, like most Minnesota winters, was long, cold, and snow white. So long that I feared warmth and color would never come back. But they did, of course. And one sunny day that spring, while I waited my turn with the cashier, I spied Summer People on the book rack nearby.

I had been a Marge Piercy fan since my college days. Once, when my oldest daughters were very young, I viewed her up close. Close enough to introduce myself and let her know how much I admired her work.  I held back, though. Embarrassed by what I perceived were my own shortcomings as an artist. Instead I observed her and attended to my children's needs.

Summer People is a steamy read.  It proved to be a perfect summer companion and a welcomed break from my usual fare of more serious and  heavy reading. It opened up my reading vista. And not just for summer.

There's stack of library books on my studio floor. Two, actually. Individual titles are scattered about the house. A small grouping has taken up residence on my night stand. Added to this delicious mix, are the New Yorkers, enticing issues that had the misfortune of arriving on busy winter weeks. Now it's summer, a season of long days filled with the hope of endless possibilities.

What are you reading?


Lunaria annua




Their name comes from what their seed pod looks like after the flowers are gone; they’re biennials, coming back year after year. They’re also called Honesty plant. Never knew honesty was a color. And a majestically purple one at that. Curious.  Alison J. Hyde  spindyeknit 


The plant I thought was a wildflower is a Lunaria annua. It is also known as silver dollar, money plant, and honesty plant. After the plant blooms purple flowers, the coin-like pods appear. Next year I will look out for them.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my query and contest. I'm grateful for all the answers and links you supplied. An extra big thanks to Sharron McElmeel for spread the word to members of her maillist.

There are five winners! Signed copies of A Baker’s Portrait will soon be on the way to Chrissy Postema, Tasha Bergson-Michelson, Marge, Suzanne Metz and Katie Hubert. They correctly identified the”wildflower.” Emails will be sent to the winners. Do contact me if you are a winner and haven’t received an e-notice.


I am sitting on my thinking rock. The cows in the pasture across the road are sunning themselves. They lead a carefree life of grazing and milling about. But that's not the subject of today's post.

This blog is tucked into the edges of the Internet. And sometimes I hear from a reader. Occasionally with helpful advice. So today I appeal to you to help me identify this delicate and graceful plant. The leaves look like tiny fragile paper coins. I think they prefer the shade. That's where I spotted them.

In gratitude for your help, the reader who furnishes the correct answer will receive a signed copy of my book, A Baker's Portrait.


Miss Rumphius


This blog post needs to be short. I am in a bit of hurry this morning. My seeds are soaking. And when my morning studio work is done, I am going to plant them. Lupines. Lupines for my Miss Rumphuis Garden.

Miss Alice Rumphuis, the Miss Rumphuis Barbara Cooney created for us, spread lupine seeds as she walked about. But that was in Maine. And many years ago. My lupine packets strongly advise soaking the seeds in tempid water for 24 hours before planting. And who am I to disagree?

If you haven't met Miss Rumphuis, or even if you are old pal, you will enjoy this lovely Verbatim Studios telling of her story-- narrated by Tara Rose Stromberg, produced by The End Audio Productions, mixed by Roman Chimienti, and edited by Jessica Rondash.  click here to visit their Youtube site




Where the fairies are


They appeared on Mother's Day in Hickory Hill Park. We noticed them on our walk, alerted by an unexpected glint in the trees. Fairies. What were they doing in Iowa City?

The answer came later in the week. That's when I discovered their houses scattered here and there. Tiny little places, decorated with bits and pieces of nature. Some brazen, visible, in plain sight. Others, as would be expected, off the path,  shaded by bush and bramble.

Have they moved here? Will they stay?

I hope so!

Bows and Branches


A bow. A hair clip. Found in the park, and later, transplanted to a slender branch about a half mile away. There it waits for the next step in its journey. The branch is broken now. The leaves brown, sway with the wind. Soon it all may blow away. Taking the bow to Kansas, perhaps.



What to make some leaves? They are quick, easy, and fun. Guaranteed not to brown.

Small Leaf Pattern (my favorite leaf pattern) Knit

Felted Leaf Pattern - crochet

Felted Leaf Wreath- crochet

Index Card Inspiration and Treasures



This has been a week of filing stray ideas, hastily noted quotes, and telephone conversation sketches. Sometimes it's hard for me to let go of even the smallest fragments of my working life. Could they someday be a clue, a sign post needed when I am lost in a story? Who knows. So with hope and confidence, I trim them to size, tack them down on homemade index cards, and accord them a place in my studio.


Junior Navigator

The map was never far away. The road atlas was always within reach.  On the way home, the bag of spicy peanuts, purchased at a convenience store, rested between between us. The driver and the junior navigator.

We left early Saturday morning, and by late Sunday afternoon, we arrived at the Old Order Mennonite community in Delano, Tennessee. The fields were green and lush.  When we asked for directions to the family we were visiting, a teenage boy, riding his colt for the first time, led us there. Our visit was a short one, but the days seemed longer somehow. No electricity, no electronic interruptions to conversations or meals. We sat through an end of the school year celebration. We took a buggy ride. Neighbors brought by a meal to share. After supper the men stayed inside to talk, the women gathered outside. The children playing were outside, too. The boys running about. The girls milling around in twos and threes. Many of them, mothers in waiting, lovingly cradled the available babies.

We left before lunch on Tuesday, ready for hot showers, ready to plug back into our phones and the Internet. Ready to move freely without a prayerful eye watching over us. And most of all, ready to rejoin the world where a woman's voice can be heard.