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

Spoiler Alert

Dear Ann,
Hi. What’s up with you? [SPOILER ALERT] I’m knitting blankets. But my blankets are getting too big to carry around, especially in this heat. Experienced knitter that I am, I know the answer to this one: cast on something new! [SPOILER ALERT] Another blanket!
The latest blanket began its journey as a Gaia shawl. Before that, it was an impulse purchase, one early-summer evening at La Casita: 6 balls of Noro Aya in Color No. 12. While Mr. Noro’s colorways usually are mysterious in origin, this one seems clearly to be inspired by cherry trees in spring. You’ve got your blossoms, your bark, your green leaves and your leaf litter. It’s all right there. I fell in love with it in the skein–the odd juxtaposition of pastel pink and dead, earthy neutrals. I am always trying, as a matter of ongoing spiritual growth, to cure my prejudice against pastels. As Josef Albers teaches, all colors are good, once placed in their proper context, where they rub shoulders with the right other colors. I sat with my 6 skeins for a few weeks, not wanting to break the spell. Then I saw Gale’s post about her latest Gaia. Sold! (OK so it’s a free pattern. But, sold!)
So, next up: knit to LA (via Omaha) and back in early July. Start to get a sinking feeling. Consult with colorific friends. Unfurl Gaia-in-progress on the Adirondack Chair of Facing Difficult Truths.
I am just not feeling the love. What I like about Gaia–the way the eyelets and texture switches accentuate Noro’s stripes–isn’t working for me with this colorway. I feel like the pattern is too busy; the eyelets are breaking up the stripes too much, and it’s just not a happy thing. (This is very subjective, needless to say.)
Surveying friends, knitting and non-, there were many who counseled me to finish it. It’s almost done, right? Somebody will love it. I have a teenage girl. She has teenage friends. Maybe everybody will love it. But it was not about whether the shawl/scarf is attractive (it is). For me, it was about whether what I initially loved about these colors, together in the skein, was manifesting itself in the knitting-up of the yarn. And it was not. (Remember, this is subjective. Don’t judge me.)
So, as an experiment, I log-cabined Aya skein #4. The only rule, inspired by Gaia, was to bind off a strip, and start a new one, at the color changes. This is difficult! Noro’s color changes, while dramatic, occur so subtly and incrementally that it’s a judgment call every time. Is this still grey? Is it lavender now? Whoa, is it going brown on me? Should I wait until it’s More Brown? Wait! Now it’s orange! Is there enough orange for a reasonable-sized strip?
[SPOILER ALERT] In other words, I’m having a fabulous time. Don’t know what will happen to 6 not-quite-the-same-dimensioned log cabin blocks, but I’m thinking about that while I’m knitting. Improvisational blankets give you time to work out the problems they engender.
In other news, 2 kids, a pair of rubber rain boots still in their Land’s End packaging, and bales (actual bales, zipped into duffel bags) of dirty clothes and muddy shoes returned home from camp last week. One tube of toothpaste was suspiciously untouched. (Not naming names. But this tube of toothpaste had a name label on it.)
[SPOILER ALERT] Olive was not the only one wagging her tail and battening down the Ears of Extreme Emotion.
P.S. For more photo documentation of My Life With This Dog, see Gale’s reportage.



  1. Kay-you did exactly the right thing with the Noro. If the WIP is not making you happy then amen to dismantling and recycling. Every yarn has a home. Sometimes it just takes a while to figure out where.

  2. Love the filthy dirty camp feet! That is a boy who had fun at camp ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Um. Wow. Those *are* dirty feet! Holy cow. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I’m actually working on a blanket, too. A double-ten Stitch (Ravelry link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/double-ten-stitch ) that I had PLANNED would be a series of smallish squares then sewn together, but I’m only around a few corners so far and it’s already about 20″ wide, so now it’s looking like it’ll be one, big square instead. Not what I had in mind in this heat! (Thankfully, the house is air conditioned.) Your Noro log cabin, though? Lovely, as always!

  5. Love the log cabin version…go with that! You are creative enough to come up with a way to piece it together. Make sure you show us the finished project.

  6. So much better in Log Cabin form!

  7. LOVE the log cabin version and while I thought the shawl looked great I understnad your desire to better match yarn and pattern and stitch. I am one strip away from finishing my first Mitered Square and I love the pattern even more than when I bought it several months ago! However, I do have a slight hole in the center of my cross — I think I need to make sure my e-cast on stitches are tighter near the join next time? I am contemplating putting a faux quilting knot there (in the lighter Noro)but hoping to avoid breaking up the Noro color wonderfulness.

  8. How can the same colorway look great as a log cabin and so aggressively fugly as a shawl? Oh, that Mr Noro. Soo mysterious.

  9. a hint: when i knit with Noro, i first wind it on the ballwinder (named Harvey). that way i know how many knots ive got, and if they totally bugger up the colours. then i knit from the outside of the cake, with a small claw-type hair clip nearby. when the energized single just gets Too Much, i use the hair clip to pinch the working yarn to the cake and let it unwind. the log cabin looks way better than the Gaia, but we have already discussed the fate of my Gaia.

  10. Our tastes are different; I like the Gaia but not sure I like the log cabin square. But you are the boss of your knitting, and you get to choose! Go forth and knit more squares.

  11. I see what you mean about Joseph’s feet. If I had feet that colour Neil would not let me in the house, I suspect. But then I am not a 12 year old boy. To be truthful, Carrie’s look a bit mucky too.
    Assuming you and Olive were as excited as each other, what I want to know is:
    Did you wee yourself a bit with excitement like I am sure she did?
    B x x x

  12. Good call on the log cabin, that colour combo sounds awful on paper (I struggle with pastels too, but can’t quite ignore them either..) but look amazing together in the garter square. I’m frogging an almost finished piece because of yarn/stich and pattern mis-match. Has to be done sometimes, if only to be able to sleep peacefully at night.

  13. Certainly an example of courage in knitting–ripping out a nearly completed project. But the log cabin version looks so much younger/modern. (The shawl was a bit grandmotherly.) I like your decision.

  14. such a sweet camp homecoming! aww…
    i am sad to see that Gaia go. looks like i’m alone here in preferring how that was turning out. of course, your log cabin blanket will be stunning, but i’m off to play Taps on my kazoo.

  15. That photo of the kids with Olive just melts my stone-cold heart.

  16. That yarn in the log cabin is stunning. The shawl was looking bland.

  17. Hi Kay, have enjoyed watching the shawl, but I see what you mean with the colors, a dear Noro surprise! Guess that’s why we love it! Have a few to play with that I bought a few weeks ago at Colorful Stitches in Lenox,MA. I think maybe it’s time to do a blanket,your enthusiasum rubs off easy, and I am a sucker for starting something new!Dirty feet are the signs of happy kids…

  18. I was totally gonna suggest that it was meant for yet another foray into Log-Cabining! No moss growing on you, Kay. And I agree – not in love with the shawl, adore the quilt square.

  19. Well, be pleased that there were bales of dirty clothes. This probably confirms that clothes were changed. Some kids I know brought almost everthing home about as clean as they left.

  20. What is it about kids and toothbrushing at camp? Camp #1, toothbrush never made the suitcase so she borrowed her tent-mate’s (allegedly). Camp #2 (which was a boat) – “oh, there was no extra water for washing, mom” – ick!!! Camp #3 – only a slight improvement, after inserting numerous tooth-brushing reminder notes in the duffel. Oy!
    They leave with a neatly organized bag of precisely labeled clean clothes; they return with a bag of dirt.

  21. The best thing about the log cabins is that they are small enough to be awesome summer knitting. (I’m still working on my sock yarn version of the mitred crosses. If I’d stopped when a normal person would have stopped, I’d be done already.)

  22. it is really beautiful as a log cabin blanket. amazing what a difference what and how you knit something makes. at first i was sure that they wre not the same yarn.

  23. What a difference the shape and design make for the yarn!
    and sad to say, but they seem to continue bringing bags/baskets of dirty clothes home even from college.
    just read today (yesterday) that Craig Ferguson’s show from Paris is set to air next week. Must save some croissants or raspberries and creme fraiche.

  24. Love that photo of Joseph, would title it simply ‘Coming home’ with a swell of theme music….

  25. No judgment – knit what you want to knit! The log cabins look great and it looks like completely different yarn, which my brain is having a hard time digesting (in a good way, kind of like fiber).

  26. Just came home from camp, myself. There was a little knitting, but mostly music. Missed the big black dog, too!

  27. Is it? Could it be? Was Joseph (growing up–so handsome!) looking sad that the time had come to be separated from the little blond girl (foreground of the picture)? Was the little blond girl also feeling the separation? She, too, looks so sad.
    Will stay tuned for the next exciting chapter……
    Thanks for writing, Kay. Keep on keeping on.

  28. Wow. You pulled off the Noro Lifestyle Lift with that one.

  29. Good call on the Noro! I agree that it’s always subjective, but I think the colors look fresh and interesting in the log cabin, whereas they seem dowdy and fussy in the Gaia. But I admit to a lifelong struggle with pastels. The picture of the children and Olive nicely sums up what childhood summer should be.

  30. Doesn’t matter what you knit. You knit good and it always look purrrty.
    Being a slower knitter than you, I must say it would have been hard for me to rip that beauty-full shawl work. However, I’m deep into log cabins myself these days…recently finished a Moderne Baby Blanket and now working on another log cabin based somewhat on Joseph’s coat of many colors but with fewer colors and more square-ish…so I do understand.
    P.S. My copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting Between the Lines is showing a bit of wear. I LOVE that book!

  31. Great photos of Noro in transition. Wasn’t Gale’s workshop great?

  32. Glad you ( and Olive) got to welcome the kids home!
    I so relate to the Gaia problem. I have some gorgeous Silk Garden Sock that I started to make a Gaia with, and I just rededicated it to a version of the shawl Concentric, partnering it with some like-colored Itata from Aruacania (I can never remember how to spell it). It is coming out gorgeous. With Noro – and I knit a lot of Noro! – you have to have the right pattern, and if you don’t feel the love it is always worth regrouping. Your square looks fantastic! It’s amazing how different the colors can look when placed in clumps rather than going for skinny stripes. (Having said that, I wonder what will happen to my half-pi-like shawl when it gets much bigger; but I sure am loving it now!)

  33. Oh, and thanks for the inspiration for what to do with some Aya I bought a while back that I cannot – for the life of me – remember what I intended it for! Log Cabin it is!

  34. Oh, the teeth were brushed…using someone else’s toothpaste. You know it. The new best bud. Here’s what happened. Child made it to the sink without the toothpaste but with the brush. Couldn’t be bothere to go back to pick up the paste, so borrowed the paste each time at the sink. New friend didn’t mind.

  35. Hi Kay – You are not a PINKY-PURPLE color gal. If you were you would have enjoyed the knit on the GAIA shawl. The colors are fabulous and set each other off beautiful. That being said, I often have to delete one color from the yarn when I knit with Noro yarn. “That bright neon yellow in the middle of all those wonderful purples and greens?” Ugh. I love Mr. Noro’s colors, but for some garments, the occasional harsh color in my expert color eye does need to be removed for complete enjoyment of the yarn and resulting color combos. Best – Hester

  36. Kay —
    For some reason, I looked at the ‘tweets’ column, and wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ for the link to the dyslexia font. My younger son is dyslexic, and we are constantly searching for ways to enhance his reading.
    Thanks again

  37. Love those “hobbit feet”


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