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

Vertigo, Psycho, You Name It

Dear Kay,
Well, I’m home! The doors shut so plumbly, the hot water comes in less than ten minutes, the giant slugs bigger than my thumb are nowhere to be seen. Keep Manhattan–just give me the suburban Nashville lifestyle, dahlink.
So much to tell!
State Fair
Let’s review the State Fair Knitting situation. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that this is taking so long. Other, nobler knitters have cranked Kiris and Taros and needle-felted coffee cups, yea have already won blue ribbons, and here I am, two-rows-forward-one-row-back, for weeks at a time.
For those who weren’t with us back in 1984 when I started this thing, here’s what I’m making as my entry in the Tennessee State Fair:
It’s in a girl’s size 4. Like, you could put this thing on a small poodle. Shetland wools, knitted on size 3s.
I read somewhere that Alfred Hitchcock delighted in the initial creation of his movies. He had a ritual: he would take a single sheet of foolscap. (Why it had to be foolscap and not just a plain old Big Piece of Paper, I don’t know–but that’s why he’s Hitchcock and I’m a renter of Hitchcock.) He wrote the simple, straightforward premise of the movie, then added levels of detail around it. The fun for him was in in sketching out the entire movie right there on a single page. But he disliked the actual filming–pure tedium compared to that initial creative process.
Oh, Mr. Hitchcock, I know just what you’re talking about. The actual filming, it is hell.
The truth is, I’m just too spacey at the moment to remember to knit the correct number of rows in each color, or I forget to decrease, or I can’t seem to find two solid hours of knitting to crank this thing out. Ten minutes here and there haven’t added up to much this summer.
So, as my first act of independence after spending the summer 24/7 with the fellas, I abandoned ship and headed to Angel Hair Yarn to crank out the last sleeve.
Hardcore Technical Blabbing
The first sleeve of Fern just about killed me–I followed Ann Budd’s pattern for a crewneck cardigan set-in sleeve, but the cap came out way too shallow. I know not why it didn’t work. It simply did not. In addition, I couldn’t get my stripes to match up with the front and back pieces of the sweater. I finally recalculated the thing and got something that sort of resembles a sleeve. I don’t promise that the stripes will line up when the time comes. We’ll just call that the wabi sabi part.
Yet to do:
Slightly Stretched Buttonhole Bands: 2 (Yech! I hate these!)
Seams: 4 (The easiest bit of finishing, she said hopefully)
Three-needle Bind Off: 2 shoulders (A total of 32 stitches, but such drama)
Collar: 1 (Is hot glue allowed in a state fair knitting entry?)
Weaving in of Ends: 256 (My most Kaylike moment to date)
Embroidering of fiddleheads: 30 (Or however many time and patience allows)
Buttons: 8 (Guaranteed to be sewn on in the parking lot outside the Creative Arts Building at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds on the afternoon of August 31)
I need yer advice:

While at Angel Hair Yarn Co. . . . A Knitting Photo Safari
I had a rare sighting of Rowans. It’s just not that often that a person catches sight of a pure, perfect Rowan in the field. Sure, it’s easy to see them in the magazine, or as a store sample, but I managed to glimpse not one but two free-range, human-crafted Rowans. A Beaded Rowan. An Intarsia Rowan.
Here are Allison and Nan, who make alarmingly beautiful models for their own creations.
Allison’s Valpo is done in Cotton Glace, a real polkadotty dessert with of-the-moment bell sleeves.
Nan’s Chicago (from the current Rowan 37, in Rowan Calmer) is waiting for
the FIFTY-SEVEN knitted flowers to be added along the collar. What you can’t see are the hundreds of tiny beads all over the sweater. A confection! Knitting insanity! And Kay, Allison just happened to be toting a Rowan jean jacket in Calmer. I’m not saying she was showing off or anything, but . . .
Very inspiring to see knitters dive in, go for it, and come up with the pearls of knitting perfection.
Westward, Ho!
The fambly and I are coming to Los Angeles next Monday for a few days to see Hubbo’s brother’s new baby girl. (And if the baby doesn’t arrive soon, we may be there for the birth!) I’d be grateful for suggestions about a great place to sneak away for some knitting. If anybody’s up for a visit, please let me know. I’ll tell you all about the La Brea Tar Pits.




  1. My favorites are Unwind in Burbank and Wildfiber in Santa Monica (but La Knitterie Parisienne is a must for Noro fans).

  2. Hey, Ann, with or without fiddleheads, you wanna auction that thing off when it’s a prize-winner? Because I know a 4-y-o it would look real sweet on . . . Oh, but maybe it will go to Hubbo’s baby-to-be ~

  3. Ann, you and me, we can TAKE this Schemer Betsy. Knock her out cold. All I want is the owl. You can have the fox, the walrus, you name it.
    I think Fern is coming along just SWELL.
    I am sort of hating your svelte pals in the perfect Rowans. I mean that in the best possible way of course; I say it with love. You go girls! Fox-ay! Particularly envious of the Calmer jean jacket! And the bravery to knit that stylish asterisky polka dot thing! It’s perfect, dammit!!!!!!
    Peace out,

  4. Of course a lot depends on what part of town you’ll be in… on the westside, Wildfiber in Santa Monica is nice (good sales in the back), but I prefer A Mano Yarn Center (www.amanoyarn.com) on Venice Blvd. In the West Hollywood area, Knit Cafe on Melrose (www.knitcafe.com — and not far from the tar pits! Knitters Studio on 3rd St. and Suss on Beverly Blvd. are both also close to there) is great. In Hollywood, Black Sheep Knitterie is small but nice (on Yucca, right by the Capitol Records building), and my choice for the San Fernando Valley is not Knitterie Parisienne (too chaotic!), but Stitch Cafe (www.stitchcafe.com) on Magnolia in Valley Village.
    So there you have slightly more than two cents worth from a random L.A. reader.

  5. Ann. I didn’t even bother to vote in your dang blogpoll about the fiddlehead embroidery. Though I will in a minnit. Maybe.
    The Important Message is that You’re Not Going To Weave in those ends. You Will Sew Them. With A Machine. If you still wanna be all perfect with your hand-done mattress kitchener invisible blah blah blah, you can, but first you will run a very tiny machine stitch along the edges of those pieces with their perfect and multitudinous stripes, and then you will trim all of those perfectly secured ends right off and pretend they were never even looking at you.
    Do this for your sanity and do it for my sanity, and for the sake of all knitters. For if you actually weave in those ends, every time forever after when I am ready to take the easy way, the shortcut, I will think of you, and I will guilt myself into doing it the hard way, repeating to myself that “Well, if Ann could weave in 256,482 ends on a tiny lil ol’ kid’s sweater, well, jeez, I’d better just do it the long way.”
    I beg you. Sew And Cut.

  6. Can you knit and eat a fish taco at the same time? If so, Sietes Mares somewhere in Silver Lake is where you should go.
    Enjoy and congratulations to your brother in law and his wife!

  7. wow .. it’s looking really pretty. I think you ought to auction it too, I know a 4 year old that might be interested….

  8. I agree with amber about not weaving in the ends. I also wanted to tell you why I voted to embroider the fiddle heads after it was all sewn up. First, it has to be blocked first or the fiddle heads could cause the fabric to pucker after blocking. Second, I think it would look neat if a fiddle head or 2 went over the seams. i would look more like they just grew there.

  9. Those amazing animals are needle felted and I doubt whoever had fun making them would just plain stop, so get the thumbscrews, I mean, tea and biscuits out and invite Betsy over.

  10. Jayme stole my comment! I was going to say EXACTLY that – in order for the fiddleheads to look as organic as possible, some should wander hither and yon over seams.

  11. Love the Fern pieces – the stripes are great. I also like Allison’s choice of color for Valpo – inspired!

  12. ditto on wildfiber in santa monica, and knit cafe on melrose….. or you could just settle down on the lawn outside, and let the boys ramble through the la brea tar pits. just watch where you sit…. unbeknownst to you and others,…. tar is still oozing up out of the ground.

  13. Knit Cafe on Melrose just east of LaCienega is the best. It was the site of the Yarn Harlot’s LA booksigning. The store is beautifully done and the people are the best! I hope that you have a great time.

  14. Another good reason for waiting until the end for the embroidery is that you can scale it back a bit if you start to run out of time. Also, it’ll be easier for you to visualize how you want it with a completed sweater in front of you. And, of course, others have made an excellent point of being able to embroider over the seams.
    I think Amber’s idea of sewing down the ends would save you time and anguish, but I would consider how it may affect how the sweater is judged. I assume experienced knitters will be evaluating your work at the Fair and it could count against you if the ends are not woven in the way they’re “supposed” to be. I’m just speculating about that, though. Maybe if you sew them down, the judges will admire your efficiency.
    ps–Your mention of Hitchcock just led to a small creative flash–I have no idea why this entered my mind, but next year I’m sending out Valentines with a Hitchcock theme. ” ‘I Confess’, I want you for my Valentine;” “I have a ‘Suspicion’ you will be my Valentine;” “You leave me ‘Spellbound'”. Etc., etc. Whew–I need a liedown now.

  15. Ann, Fern is so beautiful if those judges don’t give it best in show, they are off their collective rockers!However, I do agree with Stephy, sewing the ends might hurt the “purity” of your knitting in the judges eyes.
    It’s just beautiful.

  16. I am laughing at the very THOUGHT of Ann, OUR ANN SHAYNE who is SUCH A FUSSPOT ABOUT FINISHING, machining those ends down and cutting them.
    Amber: It’s a great idea. A sound idea. A sensible idea. I am definitely going to use it on my own stripe projects of the future. But I’m not holding my breath for Ann. I think she would sooner appear before the State Fair Judges in her housecoat with curlers in her hair.
    I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. xoxo Kay

  17. Hello? Knit Cafe! (Truth is, those are all great stores – LA has a wealth of knitting riches.) And yes, if you have the time I would love to meet up with my sister of the pretty posies. (If you can, e-mail me at this address as I don’t currently have access to the pretty posy one). Hope to see you in LALALand soon! xox

  18. King Tut is in town, so the tar pits may not be a great destination (parking woes and all). I put in two votes – One for WildFiber in Santa Monica, and one for L’Atelier, on Montana Ave…. It’s down the street from the most fantastic gelato/sorbets west of Italy!
    Or take yourselves east on the 10 to Pasadena’s Huntington Gardens – beautiful lawns for boys to run about and knock each other down, nice shady places for knitters to sit and knit.

  19. do.not.sit.on.the.ground.at.the.tar.pits……..don’t ask me how i know!
    wildfiber is awesome…. http://www.wildfiber.com/about.html
    so is alamitos bay yarn company down in the long beach area… http://www.yarncompany.com/index2.html
    if you get to orange county, then look up both the yarn lady… http://www.yarncompany.com/index2.html or velona’s… http://www.velona.com/
    sit ‘n knit is smaller in the anaheim area… http://www.sitnknit.net/
    happy shopping..and bring a big suitcase…or a box to ship it home in!

  20. Come to Knit Cafe! Melrose Ave, close to Tar Pits (and Sweet Lady Jane- incredible pastries) and, um, I work there, so I’m v. v. biased. If you do visit us, won’t you please email me so if it isn’t during my regular work hours, I can still say hello…?


A bit of news from us, every now and again.

(Your email is safe with us.)