Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn Crawl is on through Sunday, September 25.

A Dingo Ate My Blogwork

Dear Ann,
I emerge from the wreckage of window replacement to renew our correspondence. Last week SOMEBODY in this household thought it would be a sensible idea to replace 4 circa 1929 steel casement windows with State of The Art Vinyl Windows That Will Change Your Life For the Better. I hate to do violence to anything that has survived 75 years, even if it is a nondescript steel casement window that has been painted and repainted and never properly stripped before repainting again. But since the single-pane 1929 models were riddled with cracks that were letting in appalling amounts of city soot and noise, not to mention the freezing cold in winter, I acquiesced in the plot to do them in. And the windows did not go quietly. It was a struggle to the death between window and woman. In the end, woman won, but at what cost?
What I failed to understand about the plan was that jackhammers would be involved. That no amount of plastic sheeting and duct tape would prevent a mist of plaster dust from descending on every surface in my home including my own skin. Vengeance is mine, saith the windows.
With rising dread and panic, I ran into the bedroom and tried to save the stash. Out of the closet came the 22 plastic storage boxes. Harvesting from doorknobs and behind the furniture, I emptied no fewer than 11 tote bags containing projects abandoned mid-row and new yarn that never got put away to begin with. I unearthed 17 knitting needles I had forgotten I owned. Tape measures? I have tape measures again! I vacuumed, I shook out, I cussed a little, I packed up stuff I don’t want and sent it to somebody who may want it. I organized by fiber and color. And, I will admit, I tossed a few particularly fugly bits of it into the trash. Such was my extremis that I RIPPED OUT A SHAWL, people. The shawl had 3 and a half hanks of Euroflax in it, but I hadn’t worked on it since 2004. I don’t want a green linen shawl anymore. I’ve worn out the top that would have matched it. I sat there, grim as hell, ripping and winding.
I wish I had a picture of my plastic-shrouded kitchen with gaping, jagged maws where windows should be. Instead I give you a new window with attractive insulation, and the exposed rubble of 1929.
It looks all innocent-like, when actually it is as bad as a window can get. A window into the heart of darkness.
Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Baby Sweaters
So where was I?
Here is another baby sweater that was knitted during our sojourn in the Great Midwest, and sewn up on Mother’s Day. On Wednesday I ran out of the plaster dust storm with this in a shopping bag, rang my neighbor’s doorbell, and said, HERE’S A SWEATER FOR ISAAC NOW SHUT YOUR DOOR BEFORE THE DUST GETS YAAAAAAAA!
The pattern is the Fisherman’s Tee from Oat Couture. Ganseyish! It’s a simple design but a clever one: the open shoulder seams and deep neck opening make it easy to put on and take off. Instead of wool, I used Rowan Denim. (An unconventional choice, I know, but it just came to me in a vision.)
Too many of my finished projects have been abandoned while waiting to shop for buttons, so I used mismatched vintage buttons from the sewing box. They’re charming (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). We’re all about the Charm.
And yes, I did use the bleach pen, but no Motorcycle Mama look this time. Just a tasteful touch on the tips of the edgings. I left the seams open at the cuffs and hem.
I followed my Handknit Gifting Guidelines by garnishing with a non-handknit. This year, apparently, we’re doing hats. A stroller kid can’t have too many hats.
Sunday in the Yarn Store With Wendy
On Sunday I got some most excellent R & R, sitting in Knitty City on a gorgeous spring day, knitting and listening to this one read from this one. A mellow, funny, inspiring time was had by all.
Thanks to Wendy, we experienced the love that dare not speak its name. Oh yes: Qiviut. We’re talking the down of the musk ox, baby. Exotic. Rare. Heavenly. ( Wendy travels with beaded qiviut. Other people are breaking their backs hauling suitcases crammed with dishcloth cotton. Just saying.)
It was a blast for those of us listening and I hope for Wendy, too.
After Wendy headed home, I found it hard to leave the yarn store, and not just because there was more Dust Abatement waiting for me at home. There were all kinds of cool things there.
Like this sweater Elaine is making. Elaine is participating in the Follow the Leader aran knitalong, which is sort of an Advanced Placement knitalong. The pullover is so dense that I am sure it is waterproof. Puts my loosey-goosey cable work to shame. I’m a poser!
The real shocker of the day was when I looked up and saw my Former Boss:
She Who Must Be Obeyed (Or At Least Given A Plausible Explanation). In a yarn store. Why was she there? I couldn’t even imagine. Jane is not a crafty type of woman. Jane has people to sue. She has other people to defend from suits. She has legal thoughts occurring in her brain every single second.
But here’s the thing. Jane is of Irish heritage. I do not wish to stereotype or generalize about an entire people, but I do believe that a woman of Jane’s genetic makeup can resist the needles for only so long. Still, I could hardly believe that the reason Jane had stopped by the yarn store was to buy her first skein of yarn and her first set of needles–on her own, without somebody like me dragging her. What is the likelihood that I would be there to witness this moment? We sat down and in under 20 seconds she had mastered the knit stitch. Her tension was even, her repetitive motions were repetitive, she required no rhymes. Knowing a Gifted Pupil when I see one, I tried to get her to learn to purl (‘just get it over with!’ the crowd chanted), but she wants to save that bit of excitement for later.
Love, Kay




  1. Funny how the desire to protect your stash turns into an all out organization of it, huh?

  2. You continue to kill me and taunt me with the denim. You promised that you’d give me some when we met. You remember? I do. When it comes to the denim, I have a memory like an elephant. All else, memory like a sieve. But the denim: I forget not.
    That sweater is the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen, ESPECIALLY with the mismatched vintage buttons. I LOVE.

  3. If you’re giving Norma denim, you better have some for me too. That’s all I’m saying.

  4. Ohholyhell window replacement? That is a new kind of torture. We always toyed with the idea in Old House the First. We wanted to, but we weren’t brave enough. I bow to thee.

  5. You’ll love the new windows next window when your heating bill will be drastically reduced. But now, dust and stuff, yucko. But the thrill of finding al that “new” yarn!
    Funny meeting your old boss like that! What a crazy coincidence!

  6. That sweater is so cute. And I love the buttons! They look perfect. Good work with the bleach pen. It makes the sweater looks just a bit worn,

  7. In looking at your stash laid out, I see a trend..is ALL the blue yarn denim? Blue happens to be my favorite color, jeans happen to be my favorite article of clothing. I’ve got to get some of that denim…it’s my destiny. I should stop fighting it.

  8. Oh, the little knit shirt/sweater is sooo cute. Perfect for my grandsons. When I read about your dash to protect stash I immediately got panic stricken about possibilities where my own stash could be harmed. It, too, is all over the house. Must go home, must get organized, must protect stash!!!!

  9. The new baby sweater is the cutest thing. Last week’s too. Baby-sweater-of-the-week? I’ve got one to make and I’m thinking…Denim? Denim must be the way to go.

  10. I made the Fisherman’s Tee for Bruno when he was a baby! He wore it with tights, little corduroy booties and a felt crown and sash to be a king for his first Halloween. I do love Memory Lane and the buttons you picked are perfect.

  11. Kay I love that denim baby sweater! I love the buttons on it!

  12. Windows. Been there, done that. Muck everywhere. When they did mine they took the two out in our bedroom, then the chap appeared downstairs to say he ‘had a problem’. He’d made the new ones 3″ too small all round. But by now the old ones were smashed, so we had to live for a week with the new (too small ones) wedged in with bits of wood, stuffed with newspaper for draught exclusion. In February. In London. Count yourself lucky!
    Anyway, another wonderful use of bleach. And I love the red buttons – it’s IN this season for mismatched buttons, you know.

  13. My favorite moment: 17 needles. Not 17 PAIRS, or some number which can be divided INTO pairs, but 17 NEEDLES.
    I love that.

  14. “(An unconventional choice, I know, but it just came to me in a vision.)”
    I will giggle all day.
    You lead such a brave and adventurous life! I must get over my envy problem.

  15. well, I love that gansey… gorgeous, especially with the bleaching.
    As for the windows, as someone that has lived through several building projects, I feel your pain.

  16. We’ve had a similar rescue program going on in my house thanks to MOTHS. (Note plural form.) In the STASH, (or as my husband thoughtlessly refers to it, The Moth Buffet).
    I’ll be o.k., eventually, and so will the stash, eventually. Can’t say the same for the moths.

  17. You’re giving away denim? That’s what Norma said.

  18. I feel your window replacement pain!! The massive (3 stories and a basement) brick 1900’s house I lived in at West Point went thru a renovation which included lead abatement and the renovation of all windows and doors and involved living thru a NY summer and early fall with plastic sheeting for windows, workers walking on scaffolding outside the non-existant windows (including bedrooms and bathrooms) starting at 7am every day, workmen walking in and out of the house all day leaving doors open and letting the bugs in and the dog out, dirt and plaster dust and paint splatters on every surface, and hollow core interior doors in place of the front and back doors all winter. (They were smaller and had lovely pieces of scrap plywood nailed above them to “make them fit”. We got to shovel snow inside the house as well as outside that winter.) That was the year my yarn and I cemented our love affair with the 2 gallon Ziploc bag. My new house has new windows, which while they don’t have history and character, do keep the ouside outside where it belongs.

  19. Oooh, that baby sweater is wonderful! Love it. And your attention to detail with the bleach pen makes it that much more en vogue for the wee one. (the worn denim look, as you know, is all the rage.)
    Thank goodness for the saved stash. Can you imagine what your insurance company would have had to pay? They wouldn’t have believed the money you’ve got invested in that top photograph.

  20. You are a brave woman. Window replacement and shawl ripping all in one day. Sounds scary to me. The denim sweater is adorable and the mismatched buttons absolutely make it. Former boss in the yarn store = fate. We knitters will evenutally rule the world.

  21. I very much love the baby sweater; it most certainly has a vintage-y, heirloom look about it. Must be the buttons!
    I love mix and match buttons. I made a quilt for my baby girl that was “tied” by securing all the layers of the quilt with an assortment of mother-of-pearl buttons from my mother’s old button box. None matched, yet the look was cohesive. It is my favorite part of that quilt, no wonder I’m drawn to that detail it in other pieces. Beautiful job, Kay.

  22. love the baby sweater– more classic than that you can NOT get. lovely.

  23. The angst.The pain. The joy. Reunions. Stylish knitwear,with buttons and ”ageing”. A book reading. Other knitters. All that and replacement windows. This post has it all. I laughed. I cried. I loved every word of it.

  24. We’re in the middle of building work – I go out and buy yarn when the dust (and the noise) gets too bad. Works for me.
    I love the baby gansey – I can see why all of your friends are having babies.

  25. *waves* Hi, new here. Nothing much to say, just thought I’d quit lurking and actually comment.
    Love all the blues in your stash, makes a girl feel better about her own small (but growing) mostly blue stash. I keep thinking I should get other colors, but the blue is just so pretty!

  26. all wendys covet qivuit.
    we’re crazy like that.

  27. Love the baby sweater! I have knit that pattern myself–ain’t it fun? The mismatched vintage buttons thing is great.

  28. So, in order to find my numerous missing tape-measures all I have to do is take out a 1929 window, right? Our house is full of 1929 windows and lost tape-measures and I never realised the link.

  29. and jane, former boss, is “woman of a certain age” who is a beginning knitter. that’s what really impressed this old lady. yes, i like your knitting too, feel your window pain (sorry), but creativity in the third age gets my first line attention. yours, naomi


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