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Craft. Work. Knit.

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Dear Ann,
FINALLY! I’ve been dragged out of seclusion by your mention of Ann Weaver. I’ve been crushing on the designs in Ann Weaver’s recent book, Craft. Work. Knit, since someone with a good eye introduced me to them last autumn. I got my hot little hands on a copy of this self-published gem, and fell in love. It was the good kind of love. The kind that inspires you to finish up a couple of projects so you can cast on something epic.
The something epic being the Albers Shawl. To me, this is no shawl. This is a blanket that you can see through. I only recently gave myself permission to cast on. I’m stalled, due to poor yarn quantity forecasting, in the middle of the very first square (which is 140 stitches x 140 garter ridges). I’m using the yarn that is most sacred to me: Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere 2 ply. And I’m making this thing for the best possible reason. I don’t need it, I don’t want to wear it–I’m making it because it is a beautiful thing, and because it captured my imagination. It’s a log cabin thang, people. I can’t explain it. Something about the colors. Something about the hugeness. Something about the sheerness and stretch of laceweight on US 7 needles. Something about the log cabin block being square but not symmetrical. It just gets me.
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My second favorite pattern in the book is, quite predictably, the Albers Cowl. Ann Weaver based each square on one of Josef Albers’ “portrait of a square” paintings, which are color studies. I didn’t need anything more. But then, she had to go and have her beautiful MOM model it in the book. Stop it, already! I’m knitting it! You’re killing me! Forget all my snarking about “the cowl is the new fingerless mitts”–I’m knitting this cowl. Koigu solids. Or maybe that Madeleine Tosh stuff people are so nuts about. Again, it’s the color juxtapositions and the asymmetry of each square. Hey–maybe I’ll give it to my Mom.
Anyway, I hear you, 100 percent. This book, and Ann Weaver’s work overall, is a blast of fresh air. I got to meet Ann in person when she was visiting New York in early December last year. I couldn’t attend her event, but we got together for coffee the next day, and somehow I ended up driving her to Providence, Rhode Island that same night. (Knitters. What can you do.) She’s a doll. She can talk as much as ME, Ann. I know: scary! Our conversation on I95 that evening was the My Dinner With Andre of log cabin knitting. There are things I have been thinking about log cabin knitting that I have not even been able to confide in you, Ann, and I unloaded every single one of them on young Ann Weaver. Bless her heart! Anyway, watch this space. 2011 is going to be a Josef Albers kind of year.
As Long As I’m Typing
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I have so much unblogged bloggage that I’m not going to even try to catch up. But 2011 did start out beautifully. For the past 11 years, I’ve taken a walk on the beach on January 1. It seems so glamorous, and also hopeful, to walk in the wind, and mostly in solitude. But this year I had lots of company.
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The stalwart Orna, who keeps exclaiming over the ocean, even though she grew up one block from the sea. Orna took many pictures of driftwood and shells.
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Girls took many pictures of each other.
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Olive recorded nothing, but smelled everything.
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Rosie and Ronnie, the former a study in cerise.
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And more of the dearly beloved and the gently hung over. Life is good.
Garter Stitch Gazette
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Meanwhile, I finished a whole blanket while I was gone. A splendid blanket. I cannot say enough about it, but I cannot really say anything about it, because it’s a variation on a design in a fantastic book by a friend that will not come out until later this year. But working on it has got me on fire again for log cabin knitting, and blanket knitting in general.
I do want to share this now, in case I forget later. BLOCKING. When you knit something in garter stitch, and you finish knitting it and weaving in the ends, it looks so great that you are sorely tempted to call it done. It’s not lace, so there is no crying need to block it just to be able to SEE it. But please, please, please, wash it and block it anyway. A simple, straightforward block where you just lay it out flat without stretching it, straighten the edges with your fingers, and let it dry. No wires, no pins, just a wash and a flat, orderly drying session. A blanket knit in any yarn will benefit greatly from this treatment. But if it’s knit in Noro Silk Garden, it will be transformed from beautiful but crunchy to a softness and drape that is nigh unto cashmere. You knitted the thing. It took a fair bit of your life. So block it. You’re welcome.
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It started out as a special wedding present.
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But I don’t think I can let it go. That never happens to me. I am always ready to let knitting go, and get onto the next knitting. Pal Amber saw it today, and when I confessed this, she said, “Give them a Pendleton.” You have to earn a blanket like this. You have to knit it.
Love,
Kay
P.S. A gratuitous picture of Olive, because she looks so noble and matches the furniture.
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She is a Custom Mutt.

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. I am SO with you on the Albers Cowl! Gotta cast on . . . .

  2. Olive looks like a tiny Rin Tin Tin here.

  3. As soon as I saw that Albers Shawl after following Ann’s link only moments ago I KNEW you would knit it. After Volt, I’m only up for the cowl ~ maybe you’ll help me choose colors?
    Silk Garden blooms beautifully, doesn’t it? I see the color of my good old (c.2004) Klaralund pullover in your gorgeous blanket . . .

  4. Olive, the Wonder Dog, is what I thought when I saw the last photo of her. You’re making me want one of my own…..

  5. Dogs that match furniture are the best! When we bought our new sofa, they asked what color cushions we wanted and I said, “Liza-colored.” We ended up with oatmeal, which blends very nicely with Liza hair-fluff. (That is, when you get up you’ll be covered with Liza fluff, but you would never know it just from looking at the sofa!) Sadly, our last dog was a black and white beagle…. no matter what color you wore, you were wrong!
    Olive does indeed look regal, and incredibly lovable.

  6. You know when you read something and something just *clicks* in your mind, even if it’s not really related (at least not directly) to what you’re reading?
    I had that happen while reading this post. I’m figuring out what to do with a large blank wall in my bedroom and suffering from too many things-I-like, and it occurred to me while reading this: blocks. (No, not from the blocking part of the post. From the log cabin part.) I can make 12×12 squares in a variety of materials/patterns/themes and that way I can use my surplus of ideas in the geometric style that I love.
    So thanks!

  7. Ann Weaver is the Best! She was in Seattle in the Fall and spoke to the Seattle Knitters Guild and we got the chance to spend some time together as she was without car and I had one :)
    She makes you believe in “the possible.”
    And it made me laugh when you mentioned “My Dinner With Andre” as Wallace Shawn was in town on Friday and my husband and I went to here him speak. He is remarkable and I am challenged by him – in a good way. Oh to be that intelligent, witty, acerbic and a deep thinker to boot!

  8. Oh, the colors in your Silk Garden blanket make my heart sing!

  9. Love the Albers cowl too although I share your skepticism re: cowls in general. However, I am in Paris right now and I can report confidently that cowls are everywhere (mostly in variations of light grey,medium grey,dark grey, or brown for variety’s sake).
    You are killing us softly with your teaser on the Noro blanket. Oh well.
    May I suggest a blanket in beach-on-New Year’s Day colorways at some point in the future?

  10. Noble indeed. All of it, but especially Olive! x x x

  11. I’m with you and Ann about Ann Weaver. I love her designs, but was thinking that I’m nowhere near hip enough to wear any of them. You’re spot on about that cowl. It may need to be my next project.
    But that blanket! You have to keep it – it matches the furniture. And you are such a tease! Please tell me that book will be out soon. My brain hurts from trying to figure out how it works. Those little squares going in different directions – maybe I just need more coffee and a big piece of graph paper.

  12. You’ve coined a new term for our hound: custom mutt.

  13. Every time I get to work and check my Google Reader to see a new post from Mason Dixon, I have to fight the urge to tell my boss I’m sick so I could go home and knit! My mom gave me your book two years ago for Christmas on a whim, in a way only mothers can know what their daughters truly want to do before even the daughter herself knows…..and I’ve been knitting ever since! It’s quite addicting, but in a good way, cause it’s actually useful!! :)

  14. Preaching to the converted here. Ann is absolutely adorable and sooooooo nice. I bought the very first copy of her book in Boston as soon as I knew it had the Albers cowl in it. I’ve already done one square of the cowl, started the shawl and made the Button Coil scarf. Love her.

  15. Great post! It’s got everything: the call from seclusion by the passion for the new project, the love of family and dear friends, a beautiful (if somewhat mysterious) blanket (AND the permission to self to keep said blanket, after all), the best dog around, great blocking advice (which I will gratefully remember and follow). All of that against the background of the majestic and timeless ocean.
    Oh, what a feeling!
    Thanks.
    LoveDiane

  16. Excellent post! I’ve now discovered a new fab designer (as though I don’t already have 250+ things I want to knit!), learned that I must, must, must block garter stitch, and saw an elegant Olive posing beautifully! Wanted to share a brilliant idea that I had the other day…and Olive will appreciate this…I was knitting the “Bark-A-Lounger” (a knitty.com pattern) for my dog, Rocco and realized that the half-finished Log Cabin Blanket (thank you, Mason Dixon Knitting ladies, for turning me on to that!) would make a most excellent dog bed, if formed into a pillow cover, a la the Bark-A-Lounger…to felt or not…that is the question… Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. Going back to the log cabins in your first book, are you and Ann aware that Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing is closing down? Another loss for the south and for all knitters everywhere.

  18. More Albers in the air, just ran into this earlier this week:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/stitchindye/5319897689/

  19. I love that you love garter stitch as much as I do! I see my knitting pals casting on and knitting all manner of amazing, and amazingly complicated, things, while I sit with my log cabin blanket, and sometimes–not often, mind, just sometimes–I think I should try something amazingly complicated, too. But then my hands sink into the softness and comfort and simple beauty of garter stitch and I’m more than content to keep on, one simple, lovely stitch at a time.
    I am so getting “Craft Work Knit.” Craft Work Love.

  20. The beach is always the best place to welcome the new year or see out the old.
    And hey, I’D love a Pendleton blanket or two; I know just which styles, too.
    Great “noble dog” pose from Olive. She doesn’t miss a beat.

  21. I love the idea of the Albers shawl, but I haven’t finished my sock yarn modern log blanket (I ran into a problem where I decided some of the colors I was working with were unattractive together). I really think I should finish the first blanket before working on a second even bigger blanket/shawl/thing.

  22. Your simple words and photos about the beach on New Year’s Day did something funny to my heart. I can’t tell if it was longing, loneliness, or empathy, but I actually welled up and wished I could reach out a hand to you.

  23. Oh, oh, all of you are too sweet. And guess what? I got to see that blanket! Okay, it wasn’t finished, but I got to see the inspiration and a good chunk of it, and… wow.
    Olive. Bespoke mutt.

  24. Our little Olive is all grown up, isn’t she? She’s still a cutie, but she’s not a puppy anymore.

  25. Haha! My cat and dog BOTH match the furniture. Yay for custom pets.
    Now if only they would match my knitting so I wouldn’t have to give gifts that clearly are smattered with pet-hair….

  26. All I can say about this post is : I AGREE!
    What a post, filled with beauty, inspiration, art & and loved ones. And log cabins in a wide range of natural fibers. I am thrilled that you are keeping the blanket you just finished, that way I can see it again sometime, finished . Masterpiece! (Mistresspiece? whatev).

  27. I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one!
    I knit gifts for people all the time, but toward the end, little fingers of doubt creep in – “are they REALLY worthy of a handknit thingamabob? Mmmm. Probably I should go buy something for them and the thingamabob can stay here. With someone who appreciates hand knits.”

  28. Ann Weaver’s Tempest cardigan is one of the best things I’ve ever knit, so when her ebook became available I bought it immediately. There isn’t a think in there that I wouldn’t wear proudly. She’s a gem, and so are you.

  29. really? Olive is not a breed? truly darling

  30. log cabin is your middle name….yip-eee!

  31. love it when favourite knitting blogs bring me back to something i’ve seen and loved (but since shuffled by-out-of-the queue that is my mind). the button coil is the best! thx for more info on Ann Weaver! xo

  32. new blanket? WHAT blanket???
    I only see the wonder that is Olive!

  33. I so agree about the Albers cowl and blanket-I agree Ann Weaver is great!
    Now on to the gorgeous noro blanket-I Need to know this friend of yours who has a book….your colors are beautiful, they look like an ice cream sundae on a cloud-silly, huh?

  34. Love that blanket. Please post pattern source/recipe and details when you can.

  35. Kay, if you were only to blog about Olive, log cabin, garter stitch, and dishcloths from now on, that would be enough!
    Would you let us know what your next favorite dishcloth cotton is after Peaches n Creme so when we all run out of it, we will know the next best thing to buy? Thank you!

  36. Just wanted to let you know that you have infected me with this Albers shawl craziness. I bought the pattern, I have laceweight in four colors, and am just now scrounging for a longish circular with which to knit it. And now I have to work through five mozillion lines of garter stitch. It is like five times as bad as that darn Dr. Who scarf I made a few years ago. So darn you, Kay. Darn you to heck.
    (Just kidding, of course. thanks so much for inspiring me, lady. I definitely need it.)

  37. memories of cold weather walks along
    the jersey shore long time ago thank you
    you all had enough snow to take my bragging
    rights away but i can say it can snow in fl
    guess i wll work on my garter stitch
    and will block it
    tour jours gai kid happy new year

  38. LOVE the log cabin blanket. Can you share what Noro colorway that is?

  39. Gorgeous post — from the beach, to the knitting, and to the ever-gorgeous Olive.

  40. Hi there, nice to meet you, Jody here. I came through Kayce’s blog and I’m glad I found you. I’m not a knitter – there are so many knitting projects I left behind…but I love your blog, the pictures of the ocean and blues and greens of the knitting. My mother and sister are very inventive knitters, knitting the “Pom Pom Ponchette’ and “The Very Long Scarf Indeed’ chronicled on my blog under “Peoplepash”….

  41. You have successfully incited additions to the ‘must knit’ list, again. (sigh) Pal Amber is right, a knitted blanket is for a marriage that has been tested a bit, or a hopeful wee person addition. Keep.It.

  42. Oh you siren, you! I’ve already started on the Albers shawl with the called-for yarn and you HAD to bring up the c-word (cashmere, of course!). What book??? what book??? My kingdom for a title…

  43. I don’t believe that any photo of Olive could be gratuitous.

  44. I stumbled on your blog this morning and had such a good time reading it. You are hysterical. Thanks for a pleasant morning.

  45. The blanket is lovely. I (well, my dogs) would also like to have one so i will be looking for your friend’s book as soon as it is released.

  46. I’m thrilled to see that others are as smitten with garter stitch (and Noro Silk Garden!) as I am. I so agree with Kymm.

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