“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Deja-vous? Don’t Mind If I Do

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Dear Ann,
Where does the time go? It’s hard to keep track, especially if you keep knitting the same thing over and over.
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This is the nice clean carpet in the airport in Madison, where I spent 5 hours of serenity on Sunday, waiting for LaGuardia to work through its storm delays. Just me, a Spotted Cow, a baggie of cheese curds (from the newstand; this was Madison), and a freshly-acquired hoard of Sophie’s Toes famous hand-dyed sock yarn, which I had scored at the marketplace of the Madison Knitters Guild’s fantastic Knit In 2010.
(One could ask the impertinent question: Kay! Honey! What about those 2 shawls you just cast on, one of them in freakin’ CASHMERE?
Well. The circs I had were just not working out for me. Snaggy joins (need I say more). Also, counting those uneven repeats on the Volt? –Not something I am capable of while drinking a Spotted Cow, munching on cheese curds, or blabbing my head off with the Extreme Adventure Knitters of Mad City. I do not mean, by any means, to abandon my Volt. Volt is on the way!)
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But back to my new log cabin. It started many moons ago, when I saw photos of Emily’s sock-yarn Barn Raising. I had always liked the Barn Raising. Now, with Emily’s brilliant soft centers of color, I lurved the Barn Raising.
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Problem: I once made one of those miters-in-the-round. I did not enjoy the around-and-around on either 2 circs or 5 dpns. Just not my thing; hurty on the wrists of a sock weenie. So I thought I’d change my Barn Raising to a Cabin Raising.
It’s totally different this way. The centers of the squares don’t have the exquisite blur of Emily’s version. But I like it anyway. I’m a garter stitch person and must accept the limitations of the form. It tickles me, perversely, to be knitting a BLANKET on Number 2 needles. Quel fabric. Quel drape. Quel long time this is going to take me. But to paraphrase Wisconsin’s most famous knitter (and let’s face it, its most famous citizen), “Elizabeth” as she is known in Madison, a garter stitch blanket on bitty widdle needles just means more of my favorite hobby! How could that be a bad thing?
Here’s a secret about Emily’s yarns: the neutrals are amazing. I know! She’s known for the fabulous drenchy colour colour colour! But the Pewter and the Oatmeal and the Latte are plenty stimulating to the retinae.
The Piercing of the Dale (Sensitive Persons Strongly Cautioned)
When I arrived in Madison, Connie My Guide took me directly (with just a quick stop at Culver’s for a restorative Butter Burger and frozen custard) to The Sow’s Ear in Verona.
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The Sow’s Ear is your destination for Nordic Beer Cozies (bottle or can), and a selection of North American and European yarns that we can only dream about in New York. Also serves delicious coffee.
This would have been great but for the traumatic event I witnessed there. I remember it all in slow motion.
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Meet Gail, or at least her t-shirt. (Sorry Gail! In real life, you have a head!)
I will put it to you straight: Gail was about to CUT INTO A DALE OF NORWAY SWEATER. (With embroidery on it for Pete’s sake! I know!)
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Why was she doing this? It was an emergency: the appearance of a woman’s bottom was at stake.
To wit, the hem of the pullover extended below her bottom in a way Gail deemed unflattering to the said region. (The cowards in attendance felt we could live with the length. We LOVED the length. Dale of NORWAY! Finished! Wear it with pride and move ON!)
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With the courage of the damned, Gail snipped a stitch, and without mercy or consideration for onlookers, stuck her finger through the hole. She proceeded to rip to a bottom-enhancing length.
There was much murmuring in the crowd about whether Gail should pick up and knit the ribbings down, or cut the ribbings, too, and Kitchener them on. (I know! Lord Kitchener intended that technique for 10 stitches at the toe of a sock! Let’s not exaggerate!) Gail decided to knit down (phew).
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The patient survived. This was a bracing start to a delightful weekend. Thank you, knitters of Madison! Thank you, mighty Madison Knitters Guild! Thank you Kate and thank you Connie! Thank you Franklin for the nonstop giggles! And thank you vendors at the market!
Love,
Kay
P.S. of Pedantry: In the title, I misspelled deja vu on purpose. Translation of the fractured French is “do you deja?” For extra-credit sticklers and French majors out there, I also realize that deja is missing an accent. There is only so much time in the day.

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58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. I love vous! And damn, am hankering for some tricot-tourisme. Good job Gail, for that kind of fearless kneedlework we’ve come to expect at MDK. mwah!

  2. zOMG I am ffffiiiiiiiiirrrrrsssttt!
    Does that make me cool? No? Well onward then.
    Wicked funny post. At first I saw that carpet and thought you were knitting THAT. Then I see your square and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I read you’re knitting a BLANKET on size 2s and I got woozy. But hey, it’s all fun.
    And I do deja if you must know.

  3. Oh, how wonderful to know you enjoyed your foray to Madison. Your guides clearly took you to the Very Most Important Places. Welcome, and Bon Voyage!

  4. New Glarus Brewery for the win! Spotted Cow, om nom nom nom the Fat Squirrel is good too and so it the Cherry Stout. One can not go wrong with a New Glarus beer!

  5. Ohh, Spotted Cow!!! Only thing better is Fat Squirrel. I have to get a yearly fix when I visit the family at Christmas. Next year I’m driving so I can take a few cases back with me!
    You’ve made me a little homesick. Until I look outside at the sunshine and 70 degrees, flowers and tress blooming and best of all NO SNOW!

  6. Oh, I just love your posts. What fun, vicariously! And I agree, those neutrals are stunning. I’m sort of zeroing in on the gorgeousity of neutrals lately. Seeing new things and all (having always been a slave to the darker brighter colors).

  7. I, too have been digging out my little stash of sockyarn remnants and have enjoyed making somewhat wonkier squares with them. I now find I have used my stash of leftover sockyarn so need to knit some more socks to make the leftovers, to make the log-cabins.

  8. I started a modern log cabin blanket out of sock yarn, but I made one fatal error. I did not have enough colors in my chosen pallet to create a harmonious image. It’s been in timeout for a while, waiting for me to either decide that the glaringly bright colors can be added willy-nilly to the mix or to buy an appropriate color or two and work on finishing this thing before I die of old age!

  9. How beautiful grey can be! Especially when contrasted by some fruity colour.

  10. Love your blanket! You make my Dale of Norway cutting sound more drastic than it felt at the time. But, now that I need to re-knit it feels even more drastic. Now that you have “outed” me, I need to get knitting to finish the sweater!!

  11. Oh Kay, what a great post! As I also share your love of garter stitch, it was wonderful to see it taken to the 2 extreme! And I got the title of your post — AND, bonus points, when I visited Madison last summer I also went to Culver’s (twice in one day!) AND the Sow’s Ear — and I have the souvenir yarn and tote bag to prove it. Your Cabin Raising reminds me that I have 24(!overachiever — the pattern only called for 20) squares of Kureyon and Lamb’s Pride just waiting for a sale on an appropriate border/binding color–the Valentine’s Day reds and St. Patrick’s Day greens just wouldn’t cut it – come to think of it, I have a neutral grey or taupe in mind! Maybe your post will inspire someone in the innernets to slash prices for me! Thanks for all your help and encouragement with my first log cabin attempts. I am hooked!

  12. Oh…I love that idea. I tried a miter in the round and mine -even with blocking- looked like little mountains. I see some stash busting in my future.

  13. I love this post, Kay…and I LOVE Madison, land of lakes and wonderful knitting stores. I tried to get Andrew to apply to grad school there, but he was concerned I would “visit too much.”

  14. The photo of your knitting lying on the Madison airport carpet did not fit onto my monitor all at once, so I saw just the carpet — and thought, Wow, what a cool garter stitch blankie in foggy neutrals! But, but… how did she do it? Those squares and rectangle are WEIRD!
    Now I have the idea for such a blankie in the back of my head. Someday…

  15. Amazing Dale! at least she wasn’t cutting into the colourwork, right?

  16. Hi Kay! You are such a sweetheart–thanks for the plug! It was wonderful to finally meet you. And see Ann again–Hi Ann! (Waving!) Seeing those squares…I might be getting the blanket fever again. Now I want to try it in Log Cabin. Only mine might be drenchy. xo

  17. Voulez vous?
    Another blanket. Where do you PUT them all?!!! Lovely, though… x x x

  18. Kay! Kay! Kay!
    After I got my paperback copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting and spent a few days dithering about what to knit, I decided on a Log Cabin baby blankie and I LOVE IT! I am cruising along a warp speed practically, and am already planning the next dozen or two! So! Excited!

  19. Oh Kay!!! I missed you so much…the sweater surgery was almost more than I could bear…bare? Anyhoo – hope you had fun eating cheese curds!!!

  20. Oh, plus, you can easily make accent marks by switching your keyboard option to the International Keyboard. It only takes a tee-tiny bit of getting used to (essentially, if you hit the apostrophe before a vowel, you get an acute accent; if you hit shift+apostrophe, vowel you get an umlaut, etc), but it makes fancy french writing easy-peasy. Or should I say – il est trés facile?

  21. Actually the déjà is missing 2 accents, but since it’s capitalized, that may be up to you. I think you’re covered.
    If you happen to need them in the future, I use alt-0233 and alt-0224 to get those pesky accents.
    And I think of you ladies every time I pass by the box of old t-shirts in the spare room that I’m hanging onto for “calamari” yarn. One day!

  22. Holy Cow! On the cutting and all the dairy products!!! I kinda want to go to Wisconsin now.

  23. RE: Cutting a Dale of Norway Sweater…
    After I came back to consciousness from my faint… gobsmacked, but enthralled…
    Frederick the Great: “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”
    Might be some accent marks missing, but I had it in the back of my mind… so had to wiki it, and found….
    “Pour les vaincre, messieurs, il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace et la Patrie sera sauvée!” Danton
    Meaning: “To defeat them, gentlemen, we need audacity, still more audacity, and audacity forever, and the Fatherland will be saved!”
    I would posit, as Knitters we say: To defeat the focus on a woman’s bottom… we need audacity, still more audacity, and audacity forever! With the scissors, our most excellent appearance will be saved.
    Wow.

  24. Love the post – love the log cabin – love Butter Burgers and frozen custard! I’m so glad Gail decided to re-knit rather than graft the ribbing, which would have certainly sent my home with a migraine just thinking ’bout it.

  25. Cut into a sweater! Just because it’s too long!!! I can’t imagine. (Mostly because my familly is cursed with long torsos, a nightmare when knitting sweaters.) You are a braver soul than I Gail.

  26. I’ve been avoiding that self-same surgery on my Orangina. (In black. Fingering weight.) I’m never going to wear it as a tunic; thanks for the kick in the pants.

  27. OMG, Gail is brave. She’s quite a trooper. I think the length isn’t so bad.

  28. Madtown, where it us’ ta be perpetchully 1969. Gone to the yuppies, sadly.

  29. In my earlier comment, forgot to pass on to you another garter stitch project which looks great in sock yarn — as I am one who LOVES to buy handpainted sock yarn more than I love to knit socks (although I do like them! quite a bit in fact!), I am always thinking about my sock yarn “collection” and how I could use it for other things — a la (yep, I left off the accent, please don’t deduct too many points)your Barn Cabin — so I jumped on the Baktus train. I recently finished one from Rock Creek Yarns Green Sand Beach sock yarn and it is beautiful!

  30. I think the cutting was wise. A sweater that beautiful might just sit in a drawer all lonesome if it didn’t appeal to the owner. Now it will party, party party!!!

  31. What scares me the most about Gail cutting up her mighty sweater is not the cutting itself, although that feels scary too. It’s the cup of coffee not just near the sweater, but actually touching it with what looks like a sleeve wrapped around the cup.

  32. Every time you start another blanket, I am thrilled. My dream is to make a queen-sized log cabin out of, yes, sock yarn. I just can’t decide on the colors…sunrise? beach/ocean? desert? And I am always glad when you highlight garter stitch. You show us the beauty that comes from such a simple stitch. My fingers are just itching to get started, but first must start and finish a log-cabin for one of my college girl nieces. Ah well, at least it is in garter stitch!
    Thank you for this lovely post!

  33. As a French major, I love speaking “Franglais” and squealed with delight at “Quel fabric. Quel drape. Quel long time this is going to take me.”
    J’adore your blog.

  34. This makes twice now that I’ve missed you ladies on tour, which I’m not very happy about, but at least I can have Spotted Cow and cheese curds anytime (well, almost any time) I want. Doesn’t make up for it, though.
    And here’s some useless trivia: a bar in NYC may be fined/have its license revoked for selling Spotted Cow. It’s not licensed for sale outside of Wisconsin. That would explain all the Illinois plate cars weighed down with cases of New Glarus heading back south.

  35. Yes! log cabinning in sock yarn, blankie style! I started a queen size sock yarn blanket in log cabin blocks last August — progress report is that 30 blocks are done, and ends are woven in on all but 5. I’m going to knit them together like a quilt sashing, and have been fussing about the color, but I think I’ve decided on a chocolate brown from Malabrigo. Once I finish weaving in ends, I’m planning a photo session which I will post on Ravelry – will alert you! Onward!

  36. Like Meg McG, I also thought the airport rug was a large bit of knitting (and I was wondering just how large your carry on bag was!). After suggesting that my LYS knit group (which is not to be confused with my library or coffee shop group) knit a few squares to donate as a group to last summer’s Sock Summit Barn Raising charity raffle blankies, which then turned into a “hey, why don’t we make our own blankie to donate” and which I somehow became the coordinator for (how the heck does that happen?!), I ended up knitting a LOT of socky squares (20+ I think- they are sort of addictive and people donated such pretty odd balls of left over sock yarn for me to try. Koigu, STR, Cherry Tree Hill!). Group members sewed together the squares into columns after our resident quilters and artists chose the layout (we ended up with 32 extra squares to donate along with the blankie) and I took the columns home to sew them into a blanket. Danger Will Robinson! My soon to be college freshman fell in love with it and wanted one to take to college. On the one hand- teenager wants Mom to knit something that will be on display on her dorm room bed for all to see (YAY!). On the other hand, the kid wants me to knit a blanket with sock yarn on US 0-2s! Is she NUTZ?!#@*! So we compromised. I knit a barn raising on size US7s using 12 squares Noro Kureyon (mostly stash from when I’d buy an odd skein here and there from the sale bin) and alternated with 12 coordinating squares of Lamb’s Pride Worsted. I crocheted the squares together for added strength (and another pop of color since- you know- lime, orange you glad, hot pink, turquoise, etc weren’t quite bright enough!) and it is now on her bed and her friends think she has the coolest Mom. I’m perusing the worsted end of the stash for another one since the 9yo put in her order. I’m thinking a Courthouse Steps or Traditional Log Cabin with hot pink “chimneys”. I’ll leave the socky squares to you. :)

  37. Kay, you (once again) have all the synapses in my brain working together at full speed (this does not occur often, sort of like the equinox): barn/cabin raising, sock yarn, garter blankie on size two’s–wow!
    Thanks.
    LoveDiane

  38. aw. yer welcome.
    “hurty on the wrists of a sock weenie” is a great line, bytheway.

  39. I love greys very, very much. Sea-washed stones when the tide retreats, the tilted stones of an Aran wall, or the countless craggy outcrops of New England’s stony spine…what could be more complex or more simple?
    I will be among the many fans of Greys, eagerly following the growth of your blankie. You will have a retinue of retinae. :)

  40. where’s the like button for Ponka’s comment? Cause I need one

  41. I’ve done the snip & kitchener twice: once on a cabled vest that was too short and then on a Lopi sweater that was too long. (No, I was not knitting for Goldilocks.) I call the shortening procedure a tummy tuck.

  42. Only you could find a log cabin airport carpet. I wonder if they put it down in your honor. I love every word of this post!!

  43. I love you guys. Please do not ever stop this blog. And thank you for turning me on to yet another site that features knitting. AND QUILTING.

  44. I agree that “Madison Airport Carpet” would actually be a brilliant design. Looks like 2 row garter st stripes w/ some pieces wrong side up. Now I totally want to go to Madison to behold the beauty of their industrial carpet.
    I can see it now: Mason Dixon Knitting: Leaving on a Jet Plane featuring 27 designs inspired by airports. Also possibly extended to cover things like ferry docks and train tracks. Just think of the travel made necessary by such a book pitch!

  45. Yay for Culvers. I love Culvers. Always get desert. Their custard is amazing. So are their butter burgers.

  46. Mille pardons, Kay, mais … not just one accent but two, two, two accents missing: déjà.
    -Helen, former professor of French, quelle surprise

  47. You’ve gotta hand it to those people in the Wisconsin airports…there are cheese curds at every turn! That’s why I love having a client in Milwaukee!

  48. “There is only so much time in a day.”
    More time, perversely (and conversely), when one feels like crap or is stuck waiting in an airport.
    Unfortunately I am not stuck in an airport right now. Feh.
    (love the blanket, by the way. This is my effort to make this entire comment NOT about me.)
    Your blanket reminds me of that witticism (falsely) attributed to Reubens. When asked why he liked painting larger women, he replied “because there is more of them to paint!

  49. Did’ya know you can get DEEP FRIED cheese curds at Culver’s? You’ll have to do carry-out, though, to enjoy them with Spotted Cow.

  50. parly voo

  51. Dear knitter,
    I happen to be a Norwegian. I love your beer huggers, however, in Norway we do not have the need for keeping the beer cold. It is cold enough outside. I therefore suggest that you change the flag to English, as they love their beers warm…

  52. OMG! You were right over by where I live ( the air port is over there >>>> across the street. ) Any way, I saw you guys at the knit-in and that was so fun. I forget who had the cat, but my grandma would whisper to me that she used to have a cat like that when my dad and aunt were kids. The cat’s name was Zorro. I just wanted to say that I had a very fun time, and yes, an airport carpet can be very inspiring. ;)

  53. Glad you had a good time in Madison. It’s a great city and enjoyed every sunny minute there. The snowy bits drove me away far, far south to Atlanta. Do come and visit us here too.
    Loved reading the post and comments about Madison but what drew me most were the pictures of your squares. Especially the one where it matches the carpet. ha! I like the little square of color surrounded by neutral and vice versa. It will be a great blanket in the end.
    I was just gifted alot of yarn, by the daughter of a knitter. This is a real life example of SABLE Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.
    Her mother had clearly set aside some yarn to make into something for the grand kids but passed away before she could. The kids are too big for the sweater patterns she picked out (plus the 80s style just isn’t going to work). So my friend asked me to use the yarn for blankets they could use into adulthood.
    The Baby Moderne of course is an option but I’m liking the idea of taking the 80s brights and surrounding them with big borders of the neutrals my friend also gave me.
    I did this last year when she first gave me a bunch of her mother’s yarn. Pics and post at http://redisforpassion-red.blogspot.com/2009/07/chocolate-box-need-another-name.html

  54. good to see you at KC… want to hear about the zigzag shawl….
    -s

  55. I really like the bright patches surrounded by neutrals . I’m just wondering how you sew these together.. Mattress stitch? Crochet? Other?
    margieinmaryland

  56. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought the carpet was a see of perfect grey knit stitches. I love all your log cabin blocks. I don’t even need a barn raising square to go wonky (by wonky I mean puffed up in the middle) I somehow
    manage to do that on log cabin blocks too. I made a joeseph’s blanket of many colors that could never lay flat -I just don’t know where I go so wrong… Anyway, the cutting of the sweater—yikes! I’m always afraid of seeing a steek go wrong on a blog. Congrats to her for having the cuts so it will stay out of a drawer and be worn!

  57. Beer cozies – I can see how that could be confusing. Here in Wisconsin, and I’m betting also in other places that are cold and beer thirsty, we put the cozy on the cold beer bottle so we can drink it without our hands getting too cold when we’re not wearing mittens. And for the friction, if we are wearing mittens. If you try to hold a cold beer bottle with a mittened hand, it’s slippery. The cozy helps the bottle stick to your mitten. They are so helpful when drinking beer outside in the cold weather, like at a football game, ice fishing and other outside sports.

  58. That’s it. I’m moving to Wisconsin. It’s the only option.