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Living on Tammy Time

Dear Kay,
I am guessing that you have given up hope altogether that I will ever write about knitting. You’re quakin’ in your Mom Shoes that I’m going to sit here and tell you about the hilarious send-up of country music, The Doyle and Debbie Show, which Hubbo and I saw on Sairdy night.
And give you constant updates about our vegetable garden.
Zukes and cukes are up. Beans nowhere in sight.
And report on the health of our newest family member, Dr. Betta, named by Clif.
Every time I walk past that fishbowl I expect to see Dr. Betta belly up. I have no confidence that we can sustain this Siamese fighting fish any better than we can raise cucumbers.
Well, missy, YE OF LITTLE FAITH. Guess what I made this weekend? Go ahead. Guess. You’ll NEVER EVER WEVER guess.
If you were at the Hampton Inn in Green Hills this weekend, and you were in the conference room, you would have found me, and a congenial gathering of the Knitting and Crochet Guild of Nashville, snackin’ on cheese cubes and making a junior-sized, all-wool, 100% authentic tam.
The hat of the islands, that most round and colorful head topper. You see a tam, and within ten minutes you’ll find yourself on a golf course wearing knickers and pretending you’re at St. Andrews.
Here’s my tam, which I’m calling Tammy, with its two-tone corrugated ribbing, a tubular cast on, double decreases out the wazoo, and a colorway that can only be called yooneek. I take full responsibility for the yarn here–I grabbed my bag of Harrisville worsted on the way to class and hoped for the best. I think my chief learning from this class was that choosing yarn colors carefully can pretty much make a difference in a Fair Isle project.
Our teacher:
The incomparable Beth Brown-Reinsel, whose serene nature was not disturbed despite her proximity to 80 double-pointed needles.
Beth explained many things to us, in her calm way that belies a woman who can work Fair Isle on the tiniest needles with the most colors imaginable without going bonkers. She talked about contrast. And weaving, and dominant color and yarn spinning and meeting Alice Starmore.
She said that tams are traditionally blocked on a plate.
I wasn’t able to stay for day 2 of this workshop. (I could pretend I was at Kroger for only so long without raising suspicions at home.) A crying shame, because I love ganseys. But Beth did sign my copy of her Knitted Ganseys, which is a classic.
Beth says she’s at work on a book about Scandinavian knitting, which has been under way for a while now. It will be a classic too. Sort of like these tams.
Have you ever seen so many tams in one place other than a national convention of The United Tam Wearers of America? Fellow participant Liana was kind enough to send along a class picture. (Her sock monkey colorway tam, top right, is pure stinkin’ brilliant.)
Whatever you say about me, you can’t say I never made a tam. Top that, missy!
PS FROM KAY: I never do this, and it might even be against The Rules, but I have to jump in and urge everybody to click on that link to The Doyle and Debbie Show. “Strum and drang”–it’s killing me! Be sure to read the lyrics while you enjoy the fine music.

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  1. I took Beth’s tam class at Stitches East 2005, and it was fabulous! Hmm…I still need to block my little tam. I keep meaning to make a me-sized one.
    I also took her Aran sweaters in the round class that weekend (I told her it was my all-Beth Stitches, because the only other thing I did there besides her classes was shop. And shop some more. And blow the ramen noodles budget). The Arans class was also fantastic. I finished my mini-sweater in my hotel room that night, but then I realized that I’d forgotten to knit the saddle of the second saddle sleeve! Only a severely deformed teddy bear can wear it. I still need to rip and fix that saddle, then hang the little sweater on my wall.

  2. Wowie, wow, wow! That is one heckuva tam! You done good, missy!

  3. Tammy is beautiful! And so are all the others in the photo. I like your colour choice, so there. :O) I must try one too. Very interesting project, and not a slog! samm

  4. The tam is beautiful! I took a class from Beth just about 2 months ago on top down arans. She is absolutely the most awesome person to hang with. You’re right, she’s so serene and the serenity just calms the room right down.
    Cuz we knitters are a crazy lot.

  5. I like your colours the best…. I hope you’d wear more than your knickers if you were on a golf course here. Mind you, any red-blooded male golfer wouldn’t. (Possibly one of those different-across-the-pond jobbies!)

  6. Ohhh, pretty!!!

  7. I really like your colorway! In fact, it matches my coat….

  8. My daughter wants a tam with a “hard” bill. Sort of a re-creation of a Notre Dame hat she covets that belongs to her grandmother. I keep tellin’her just to take the darn thing – Grandma probably hasn’t worn it for at least 20 years, but I guess I raised her right (or she’s scared of Grandma!)Any suggestions on where I can find a pattern for a tam with a hard bill?

  9. Vas is das “tubular cast on?” I will go seek it on the online but do tell Miss Ann.

  10. The Beth Brown-Reinsel tam that I made for my daughter (who was about 7 yo at the time) was one most fun things I have ever knit. Beth herself helped my daughter pick out the colors. It was the last year that she had a booth at Maryland Sheep & Wool–a year or two before the knitting craze really hit–and I remember thinking at the time how lucky I was to be able to buy it from her in person and how crazy it was that hundreds of people weren’t swarming her booth.

  11. Uh-oh, Ann’s thrown down the gauntlet. And a good Tam was had by all!

  12. Great tams, batman! I love them! And a class with Beth Brown-Reisel? How lucky are you?

  13. Note to Clif: Did you consider naming the betta ‘Moe’? How about ‘Nevah’? “Doo”? Just wondering.
    We have a betta bowl from Grandma but No Betta.

  14. I love the colors in your tam. What a cool thing to make… I would have never thought of it but now I have to have one!

  15. That fish looks lonely to me. Why don’t you put another one of them in there with him and see what happens?

  16. My betta fish is over three years old now somehow. It can barely swim. Only eats half the time and spends most of it’s time lying on it’s side playing dead at the bottom of the tank. But the fish won’t die.

  17. Shshshsh..do you hear that silvery little twinkling sound? It’s ME, worshipping from afar. I only *whisper* “fair isle”; I are strictly a one-color knitter who admires Tammy through watery eyes. I are an uncommon happy knitter, but those fancy-dancy bits? Beyond me.

  18. I heart the Tam. I cannot wear one without fear of attempting and completely futzing a Highland Fling. It’s a sickness.

  19. I used to be a Tam O’Shanter making machine in my misspent youth. Love the colorwork on yours!
    And thanks so much for the Doyle and Debbie Show link. OMG, that’s a hoot and a holler!

  20. Kay, I’m confused. Why do we need the lyrics? I understood ’em perfectly. Do you mean to tell me you couldn’t? I’m shocked! Could it be that there are genetic mutations in Yankee hearing? Is the “nasal twang” out of hearing range above the M-D line? Odd. Really Odd. They sound perfectly normal to me. Like all my neighbors here in MS.

  21. the first pic reminds me of a fuzzy fruit bowl…..why not?

  22. De-lurking to thank you for the Doyle and Debbie link. Tams are nice and all, but I desperately needed a laugh on this cold,rainy night as I sit here with a sore throat and runny nose, feeling sorry for myself. With two out of three kids sick. On income tax deadline day. Facing dwindling supplies of chocolate. Okay, I’ll stop now.

  23. I remember EZ saying something about blocking tams on plates, but she only mentioned it as the ‘best way’ not traditional. Your’s is beautiful! I’ve been wanting to knit one for myself. What weight yarn and size needle did you use?

  24. Plus it makes a lovely plate cozy…

  25. OK, just back from Doyle & Debbie: too, too funny. Do what Kay says! And yes, “sing” does rhyme with “twang.”

  26. You had a nice bunch of colors in that bag of Harrisville. I LIKE to be yooneek, donchew?

  27. Just FYI- it’s actually a myth that bettas need and like very shallow water and small spaces! Their minimum tank size should be at least a gallon – anything less than that needs daily water changes that are very stressful to the fishy.

  28. now those are some seriously arty (and lovely!) photos of peonies. my own perennials are barely an inch and a half out of the earth, and even redder than they should be, i swear they’re chapped by the cold. i’m thinking of knitting them cozies.

  29. I took Beth’s class in Aran cardigans from the top down (or something like that) and it was terrific! I was so impressed with her ability to make the class work for knitters with highly varying levels of experience. Plus she’s really nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would take another class with her in a heartbeat.
    So who’s coming to Maryland this year?

  30. Your tam is great! And thank you for that link to the Doyle and Debbie Show! They are hilarious!

  31. if you block it on a plate, could you do a slight felting in the dishwasher??? i’m just sayin’…

  32. I have an urge to knit something for my betta

  33. Congrats on Dr. Betta. It is nearly impossible to kill a Siamese fighting fish. They are much easier to maintain than cucumber plants, certainly.
    I had one in college and it survived a two-week period when my friend forgot to come by and feed it while I was out of town. They don’t move much, and often seem to have bit the dust, but then turn out to just be “resting.”

  34. I adore your tam, and I adore Beth Brown-Reinsel. I can’t wait for her next book.

  35. The tam colors match the fishbowl picture.
    How do you _do_ that?


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