If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Lookie Here!

Dear Ann,
Hey—have you noticed this space over here in the middle? Why, look: it’s our blog! Just like I remember it!
Sturm und Drang
Sorry I’ve been so unreliable in blabbing my every thought. My excuses are mostly in the category of ‘The Dog Ate My Blogwork’. I’ve been overwhelmed by the effort to transform our home of many years into a Dee-Luxe Family Apartment that someone would actually want to buy. This has involved draconian paper-disposal measures, the putting out to pasture of creaky and/or crappy furniture, the borrowing of bodacious furniture, and pretty much hourly vacuuming. My wedding-present vases have been so constantly replenished with spring flowers that they are filing an unfair labor practices complaint. One of them tried to return itself to Bloomingdale’s. Overtime was not what they signed up for, 12 years ago. They are accustomed to a quiet life in the back of a kitchen cabinet, working mainly on holidays, or when we have a new baby or a dinner party (equally rare occurrences). Now they know how cushy they’ve had it all these years.
In addition, I shopped and cooked for two nights worth of Passover short ribs and one afternoon’s worth of Easter festivities. (For Cristina–here’s a peek at the washi eggs .) In addition, the Teenage Dell Technician paid two visits to fix my busted Blog-o-matic, which I had previously taken apart with my bare hands in a nightmarish 77-minute telephone call with the Dell People. In addition, Carrie became Glassy-Eyed Feverish Waif for a solid 5 days last week. (She’s fine now.)
Come what came, I followed Elizabeth Zimmerman’s advice to knit on through all crises. Such excellent advice! I would modify it, in my case, to specify that one knit only the most soothing projects. As soon as anything needs to be counted or figured out or sewn up—stop, drop and roll!
Taro’s Blankie
Every day, I found some time to work on Baby Taro’s stroller blankie:
The Taro Blankie is done, and just needs a do-over of the border, which I ripped out because I had done it too tightly on the first try. I’m really happy with it; it’s almost as groovy as the borrowed coffee table it’s draped over (designed by my friend Rick Shaver)! Here’s a close-up . It was pure relaxation to watch the self-striping Noro Silk Garden transform itself into blocks of softly undulating color. I went down two needle sizes to a US 6 to get a properly weathertight fabric. Knitting to this gauge made my wrists ache, so I wouldn’t do it again, but I do like the snugness. Little Taro will probably not need such a warm blanket for a while, but when he does, his Bug-A-Boo will be well insulated with toasty silk and mohair.
The Anti-Stitch
This past weekend, I went to the LYS to pick up an extra ball to finish the Taro Blankie, and I fell, hard, for Elsebeth Lavold’s new yarn, Cotton Patine (there should be an accent there–pa-tee-NAY), and her book of elegant patterns for it. Feeling like a break before taking a second run at the Taro Blankie border, I made this
–for Carrie. It’s the Agatha top, designed for both women and girls. In a slightly elongated Size 6, it took just over 2 balls of yarn.
It was a quick and entertaining knit, once I devoted some Scowling and Cussing to Ms. Lavold’s chart for the lace motif. I always thought that the chief virtue of charting out a knitting pattern was one-to-one correspondence: each square stands for one stitch. When you are doing something that involves more than one stitch, the symbol covers all pertinent stitches. Not true in Lavold Land. ‘Knit 2 together’ is indicated by a symbol placed on just one stitch, and you are supposed to just know, I guess, which stitch you are supposed to knit it together with. Same for ‘Slip 1 st, k2tog, psso’–a 3-stitch maneuver indicated by a mark on one stitch.
The most mysterious and metaphysical of Ms. Lavold’s symbols, to me at least, was the blackened out square. The blackened out square is defined to mean ‘no stitch’. Wha..? What is a ‘no stitch’? When you get there, what are you supposed to DO? Observe a moment of silence? Drop a stitch? Declare that, despite strong evidence of a stitch, this is ‘no stitch’? Gnashing my teeth in existential angst, I wondered: what am I supposed to do to this absence of a stitch, to this negation of all that is stitchy? Please, Ms. Lavold, tell me!
Here’s what I figured out, after much cogitation. When you get to the stitch marked ‘no stitch’, you do to that stitch what it says to do to the NEXT STITCH, which is usually something that you do to MORE THAN ONE STITCH.
Maybe I’m a bit slow. Maybe lots of designers chart this way. I make no claim to experience in lace-knitting. I’m just saying, I think it could be a bit more straightforward. Now that I understand it, it seems obvious. But it took me a while to get there.
It’s great to be back. I close with a gratuitous picture documenting that my girl did wear her Lacy sweater on Passover:
Dayenu, y’all!
Love, Kay



  1. Hiya Kay! What a beautiful blanket! The colors are wonderful! I’m eyeing that Lavold cotton too – esp. those blue colors! Cannot find manos orange for Virginia pillow – am thinking about peace fleece colors. Current draft is still all outside edges and one big hand in the middle! I need some kind of sacrificial ritual to jumpstart this project again – that “o for a muse o’ fire” thing.

  2. Gorgeous blanket – I’d like that as a jacket, when you have a spare moment or two. I actually did do a jacket in Kureyon, in garter stitch entrelac, found it fascinating to do once I’d worked out what happened each side. Some little while ago on the Knitting Curmudgeon blog, Mar. was complaining like only she can about an Elizabeth Lavold pattern (a red waistcoat) in Knitters, how it wasn’t written/charted like most other patterns. That was a cable, not lace. So you are not alone in wondering about stitches that disappear into a black hole….

  3. Hi Kay, fabulous knits you have been a busy bee.
    Just a word to say I empathise with you on the Lavold patterns, I made some mittens from a Christmas pressie from Krisitine (Digitalyarn). The first mitten took me about a day, to figure out the pattern and frog and go back and realise that I should have been doing a lot of ‘at the same time’ stuff that I hadn’t paid attention too on first reading. The second mitt only took about an hour, so I had learnt from my mistakes!
    I was almost beginning to totally doubt my knitting skills.

  4. Kay!
    Good to see you back in the land of blogville!
    You’ve certainly been busy while you’ve been absent from the centre section – Taro’s blankie is a thing of beauty – utterly gorgeous. I’ve never quite been able to get my head around lace charts – cable ones seem to be bad enough (I’m knitting Jenna’s Rogue at the moment & although her instructions are good, the whole umpteen pages of charts (or that’s what it feels like) does tend to get me peeved after it’s slipped off the sofa *again*!
    For some bizarre reason kaffe’s colour charts never affect me like that – maybe its because Rowan print them so small…
    BTW – I’ve now acquired (thanks to the generosity of my lovely family with b’day cash) all the yarn for Shaded Diamonds. Expect me to be knitting it for a very l o n g time.

  5. That blankie is the loveliest knitted thing ever.
    I believe the black squares indicate a stitch that was there in the previous row, but you did something to make it disappear, like a K2tog. The black is like a little moment of silence for the former stitch. Also, it keeps the size of the chart even, instead of having it narrow and widen as stitches are temporarily gained or lost.
    But I don’t actually knit lace from charts. Give me words any day.

  6. Dear Kay,
    I really need to know the number of the colour of Silk Garden that you used for that blankie because I have never seen such a beautiful colourway and I MUST GET SOME or I might even die.

  7. Aara–Breathe deeply; stay with us. I will try to remember the color number. It is very like another color, that has a brighter apple green and a more intense purple. This one, the women at Downtown Yarns absolutely made me buy. They declared it to be the best color, period.
    Marnie–yes, you are right. If you read the charts vertically, they make complete sense. The problem is, I knit horizontally. I just could have used an explanation, beyond ‘A horizontal row corresponds to a row of knitting and a vertical row is a straight line of stitches, one over the other.’–which was Lavold’s entire attempt at a clue. I now agree about the vertical part, but disagree about the horizontal correspondence. The other charts are better because they make sense both vertically and horizontally. And I am unanimous in that view! (Oh how I miss the endless reruns of Are You Being Served? on Channel 21!!!!!)
    Jo–soon it will not be so devastating for something to fall off the sofa. Your ability to raise yourself up and fetch it (in less than a half hour) will return, I promise.
    Jill–you made the jacket! I used the jacket back instructions for the blankie, because I wanted it smaller than the endless throw. I love the boxy shape and think the fabric would make a great jacket for wearing over winter clothes. And the tiny bit of wool in the blend did not seem to bother me……..I, too, found the entrelac method to be fascinating and almost addictive. Who thought of it? It’s so clever. It’s not difficult, yet one cannot doze off for a moment or it gets messed up. At the beginning I was attaching the blocks to the wrong sides of each other, which formed three-dimensional structures which were quite interesting. Debbie New would have left them in, I’m quite sure! Like giant bobbles.
    It was fun knitting in unphotographed solitude, but I found I truly missed the feedback!!! Thanks, all! Love, Kay

  8. That is the cutest baby blanket ever! Is it really only one color? Yes, you must remember which one it is. I’ve never tried entrelacking, but that is inspiration indeed. Bravo.

  9. Silk Garden is indeed marvelous! I’m making Rosedale (from Knitty) and love watching the colors grow. And so soft!
    I was knitting on it at my LYS Knit Night last night listening to a bunch of knitters discuss….what else? Pedicures! I kept my “painted in the kitchen yesterday morning so I could wear sandals to work” toes planted out of sight under the table! Oh, my…who knew that blog-reading would lead to PEDICURE expenditures?!?!?!?

  10. MaryB–Everything in New York is expensive except nail care. There are more nail salons than Starbucks, honestly. They compete with each other for whose Spa Chairs do the most stuff! I am loyal, however, to a place that is shockingly without vibrating chairs. I love the wafting scent of Sea Breeze antiseptic! I love the clucking pronouncement, every time, that ‘Your feet are in BAAAAAAAAAD shape! When was the last time you were here? Why don’t you moisturize??’
    My only complaint about the Silk Garden is those lumpy spots where they seem to have attached a clump of roving to the strand, and usually in a color that doesn’t seem to fit in, like, in my case, pure white. In the finished blanket, though, I find that I like the random white spots–Noro knows what he is doing. And then there are those mysterious bits of what looks like floor sweepings, or something the goat rolled in.

  11. Kay–That bwankie is pure fabulous. I lurve it. It’s so subtle, and the colors are almost colorless enough for me.
    And I love seeing Carrie hunkered down in her Lacy sweater. Supercute.
    Jo–Shaded Diamonds? It’s so cool, and so very LONG. We will enjoy hearing how that little project goes.
    Mary B–If you think blog-reading is expensive, think about blog-WRITING. I don’t think I can afford to do this much longer. We’ve got college to pay for in ten years, and it’s going to be a sad day when I say to David, “Son. Sometimes a boy has to face realities. Sometimes we don’t have all our dreams come true–but what a great-looking collection of sweaters you have!”
    Marnie–Having knit lace only once, I’m no expert. But I’m so visual that the lace chart really saved me. When it’s a string of words, I get all lost in the yo kpsso 2tog ss. I’m so dense.

  12. kay… welcome back! we missed you! the taro blankie is more than luscious… lucky babe recipient. i’m positive that E.Z. guides us through our trials and tribulations…. i just love completing a piece with 2″ of yarn to spare… she soothes the savage beast. adoring your pics…. and carrie looks the sweetest ever! please keep her young. all the 7 year old girls in CA. look like britney spears! horrors! love, carolyn m.

  13. Wow Kay. That is a lot of knitting. Here I am whining about projects that never finish (do you suppose it has anything to do with the three new ones I started that distract me?), and you go off to the yarn store, buy something, and it’s done, even allowing time for cursing at the pattern. I’m very impressed, both by the productivity and the products! Baby blanket, in particular, is darling.

  14. I’m I mistaken or was that stroller over $700? Tommy and I are looking into buying a house, I don’t think we will ever be able to pay for the baby that comes next. Thank goodness we have talked about getting a dog first to try out!!

  15. Aw Kimberly–I nearly dropped my teeth when I heard about the Bug-A-Boo and started seeing them on the street. Crazy! I remember thinking the MacLarens were expensive! If you’re not living in New York, where babies never leave the house (and moms cannot do the errands) without their rough and ready all-terrain strollers, the $20 umbrella models from Toys R Us will get you through all moments of stroller need. xox Kay

  16. Kay,what a fabulous and productive knitter you are ! The Silk Garden entrelac is truly beautiful,and makes me want to entrelac my way through my Silk Garden stash !
    Carrie looks so pretty in her lovely pink Lacy,and the Lavold cotton lacy top will be gorgeous.Good pattern detective work.
    See how much you get done when you don’t spend your spare minutes reading blogs & blogging ! Still,I missed you and your square display.
    Ann,if that acreage is a ‘back yard’ how big is a ‘garden’ ? I’m pleased to see that some of your bulbs survived your cruel,neglectful treatment.Spring forces us all into the fresh air and light.
    How’s the St*rmore ? I have a cuff !

  17. Kay – I love your Taro Blankie. Beautiful, beautiful colors, and I bet it’s baby soft!

  18. Really Adorable Stroller Blankie. What a lucky bonnie snuggled baby!

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