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

My Funny Cowlentine

Dear Ann,
Lots to report and little time (I have to get dolled up for the Carnival of Love tonight–tickets available at the door! Fried foods! Sexy people! Good cause!), so here goes.
New Cowl In Town
Honey Cowl Five, in madelinetosh DK (shade: Scarlet), 2 skeins. This is for a small person, so in hopes of getting a wide, wrappy cowl out of 2 skeins of the Tosh, I cast on only 150 stitches (compared with 220 for the full-on Honey Cowl). It’s a tight wrap on an adult (or 15-year-old) neck, so this may be a failed cowl. But my recipient is only ten, and the length will grow a smidge with blocking, so I’m still hoping. If it won’t wrap twice, it will be severely diminished in functionality–too short to wrap, and too long to provide much warmth in the unwrapped position. But mighty stylish looking.
By the way, the Berrocco Ultra Alpaca in the picture? That’s the fixings for Honey Cowl Six. What can I say, people really like them. Everybody should have one. At least until I really can’t knit one more.
Department of Other People’s Knitting: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
On Saturday I was privileged to have a private moment with this blanket.
This is Kaffe Fassett’s Madras Throw, which was featured in Rowan Magazine issue 47. The yarn is Rowan Summer Tweed. Lots and lots of it. The knitter is our mutual friend Lauren Picker. The sofa is Lauren’s sofa. O the intarsia!
Photographs do not do justice to this work. Lauren passes herself off as a regular old knitter, but it took serious chops to pull this off. I mean, who really knits intarsia at this scale? Think about the tangle that you have to pull from on the rows where you’re knitting those small center squares. It leaves me breathless and a little queasy.
MDK Bookshelf
There are some worthy new knitting, and knitting-related, books out there.
Knit Your Own Dog, by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne
OK, so this is a novelty book. Yes, but what knitting! Such sculptural virtuosity and fine workmanship. A couple of examples, at random.
Bulldog face.
And how did they manage to portray, in knitting, the body language of a pug?
The yarns are all Rowan, as befits a collection of “25 Pedigree Pooches.” A very handy little book to have when someone, inevitably, demands that you knit them a dog. When that day comes, this book will be your best friend.
Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.
If you give children’s books as baby gifts in an effort to influence young minds in favor of the needle arts (what? like you don’t do that?), this one is right up there on the Kid Textile Classics shelf with Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback, and The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco. A simple story of generosity, well told and beautifully illustrated. A treat.
The Piece de Resistance
We will have to say more about this later, much more, but I could not let the publication date of this book pass without shouting it from the rooftops.
At long last, after all we’ve been through, wandering in the desert while it was out of print, buying up old copies for the price of a used car—The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt is back in print. Back in print! Back in print! And it is “Completely Revised & Updated,” by June Hemmons Hiatt herself. She had me at the Introduction to the Second Edition, where she recounts how, 10 years ago, when she learned that “the physical materials to reprint it had been lost,” she took it upon herself to type the entire original text back into the computer.
“I type fast,” she writes.
“I love you,” I cried.
There is much to be said. You know the first edition well, whereas I am just discovering this amazing work for the first time. For now I will just say that I’m so, so glad it’s back. Y’all know what to do. Welcome it. Love it. Type it into your computer.

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  1. Wonderful post!
    I love that blanket but just thinking about all that went into it makes me tired.

  2. “I type fast.” Wow. That’s dedication, not even to your craft, but to the other followers of your craft.
    Like the previous Cookie, I’m leaving off thinking about that blanket. I don’t want to feel bad about myself. Think I’ll go crochet a toaster-cosy, perk up my self-esteem.

  3. I can’t help cowling in love with you!
    I think you should start a contest to create the best cowl pun/play on words using song titles…the winner gets a copy of that adorable Knit Your Own Dog book:-)

  4. Take that smallish cowl and hang it from a peg for a while. It will stretch. And stretch. And stretch. That is how my 6-foot scarves become 9-foot scarves.

  5. In a total coincidence, I checked out both of those books from the library today! I like to make sure I will love them before I buy them. I love them.

  6. I LOVE that blanket. Thankfully I’m on a yarn diet. Have to finish my Moderne before I buy yarn for another or my DH will kill me. I do have the old version of that book, but heck, just for restyling I might buy the new one just so she gets the royalty. I love that story. I type fast too, but, jeekers.

  7. Okay, post 2. Secret City. How cool is that (and are you)!!

  8. I bought the Knit a Dog book late last fall so I could knit a pit bull for #1 Son and Fiance. Haven’t done it yet, but they will have the dog for a few years…

  9. I’m lovin’ the Valentine cowl! Such a luscious shade, and the blanket leaves me speechless. I’m a blanket maker, and that one makes me drool with envy… perhaps I’ll tackle something similar one day.
    I too am looking forward to the new & improved POK. I’m one of the fortunate few who ran into an old copy, and snagged it for a steal… after months of watching them go on Amazon for big money. I’ve seen the dog book, but the kiddie books look like must haves. I’m lovin’ the illustrations. So textural… thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. Other children’s books to check out:
    Sophie’s Masterpiece
    The Quilt Maker’s Gift
    Mr. Nick’s Knitting
    Socks for Supper

  11. I don’t care if you type as fast as my Oma, who worked in a Church office for decades, and still types over 100wpm though she is now a great grandma several times over. That is *still* a TON of work! I happen to know my hubby will be getting me a copy of this, shortly, so I am on pins and needles to get acquainted with it…
    Making a mental note of all the knitting/needlework propaganda to check out of the library for my children. Thanks.

  12. and my new POK is due to arrive chez nous (per Amazon) sometime between 2/20 & 2/24. I’ve had the original one since it came out, so it will be interesting to contrast and compare; I’m SO not used to looking at books these days – age has made me prefer the larger type on computer screens …

  13. Oh, that extraordinary blanket — quintessential Kaffe! That said, given the gorgeous color range that Summer Tweed comes in, I bet a log-cabin translation/adaptation would look almost as gorgeous. Which reminds me, I have a bag full of Summer Tweed orphan skeins somewhere. Aha.

  14. I need to knit a pug for a friend. I’ve observed that they tend to love their pugs with absolute abandon. Some might say beyond reason. But I wouldn’t say that.

  15. I bet you’ll stop with the Honey Cowls when you run out of good titles. Which may be never. (and that’s Ok with me). xo

  16. If you liked “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat”, check out “Something from Nothing” by Phoebe Gilman. Based on the same story, with very special illustrations.

  17. Kay, I’m beginning to believe that you may have a serious Honey Cowl addiction. Perhaps you should seek help, or at least lay off the cowls for awhile to see if you have any serious withdrawal symptoms. After all, spring and summer are just around the corner, and who is going to need a cowl then? Maybe a ballband dishcloth (or 20 dishcloths) would take the edge off….
    On the book subject, according to Amazon, my pre-ordered POK is on it’s way to me now! Can’t wait to thumb through the pages. I bought the Joseph’s Coat book and the Keeping Quilt book after you recommended them some time in the past, and my grandchildren love both of them. I’ll have to purchase this new one for the grandkids.
    Mary G. in Texas

  18. I am not a dog person, but that bulldog face… So fine!
    What’s Ann knittin’ these days?

  19. I had to buy the children’s book for my grand baby to be. shh. its a secret.
    is that an applied i cord on that sexy cowl?

  20. Thanks for sharing the photo of that blanket! You’ve got me thinking about all the summer tweed I have in my stash for a sweater I decided wasn’t going to be “me” after all. I’ve got Rowan 47, too.
    But come on, Kay! Surely there’s a way to make the same design in garter stitch? I took your workshop in Katonah, and I’ll bet there’s a way to avoid the tangle.
    BTW – You inspired me to take time away from my mitered squares blanket to whip up a cowl in MadTosh dk ginger. It’s a beaut! I can see the compulsion to keep making more of them. Those slipped stitches make it practically knit itself!
    Great post!

  21. What wonderful news! I am *thrilled* to have heard it here first. YAY!
    Knitted bulldogs and pugs also yes!

  22. I really need (like, really, really need) Principles of Knitting. I keep checking to see if it is available in eBook form so I can have knitting instructions whereever I go!

  23. Oh my…another gorgeous blanket! And the red cowl is perfect for this time of year, you know? Now I’m off to pick up my own copy of June’s book, b/c I trust your judgement.

  24. That blanket–I think I need to go lie down. So beautiful. So many ends. So many colors.

  25. OK, I give up, you talked me into it, I’m going to knit the Honey Cowl.
    Please knit an Olive and post the pic.

  26. I think I just found the project to replace my polka dot blankets! I love the squares… and her colors are yummy!

  27. I made the corgi for my boss out of Shetland wool. Very annoying knit but worth the gratitude. I don’t have it on my ravelry page yet but it’s on my blog. I’m fighting the urge to knit the French bulldog for another friend. I borrowed the book from the knitter who is borrowing my MDK1.

  28. Olive’s looking a bit beleaguered. Did you toss her in the washer with the felting by accident? Still totally adorable, mind you. Maybe just jealous of the knitted pug.

  29. Add “A New Coat for Anna” to the all-things-fiber children’s books, and a volume that contains “The Seven Swans.”

  30. A copy of the Principles of Knitting seen in the wild! A dear friend of mine told me a couple of years agao that she was doing the copy editing for that book. I was amazed. My copy of the first edition was snagged at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale for $5. Best rummage sale find ever.

  31. A knitted Olive pattern please (don’t think I could create it!)

  32. I ran across Extra Yarn at the bookstore over the weekend and thought it was wonderful. I’ll be buying it for my cousin’s new baby; I wish there was a board-book version, but we can save the regular one for when she’s old enough to not rip the pages out. In the meantime I’ll keep adding to the pile of hand knits I’ve made for her (she’s the first baby girl to come along in our family since my daughter was born 20 years ago, so I’ve gone a little nuts with the knitting).

  33. Oh, the books! I would love to see the original illustrations to the children’s book … as they look so charmingly beautiful! I miss the Simms Taback book (he just died, I think) and love the Patricia Polloco; our other favorite was Zin Zin Zin a Violin. Kid is 14 and I can still recite it!
    (ever see Eric Carle illustrations in the original? they are amazingly beautiful — overlays of colored papers …)

  34. how about a cowl for olive?

  35. Ok, so you finally did it. I’ve started a Honey Cowl. I hope you’re happy!

  36. i keep coming back to stare at that blanket. if i had any intarsia skillz at all i’d pounce on it. so lovely.

  37. Thanks for the blanket love, Kay! I’m enjoying the procession of cowls and agree with the commenter who suggested that you make one for Olive.

  38. I love that you get on a knitting kick when you love a pattern! I do that too and sometimes think I overdo it, but can’t help myself when I find the perfect pattern.
    Is that Ultra Alpaca or Ultra Alpaca Light you are planning to use for your next Honey Cowl? I have some of each of those yarns in my stash and think I will try this pattern myself. Must jump on that Honey Cowl bandwagon!

  39. The blanket blows me away. And that pug is so cute! I’ve a non-pedigree pooch, but I think if I added a lab head to a corgi body with a short lab tail I could get pretty close. I’ll have to see about getting that book.
    I’m still not making the cowl. But is an active not-making. I’m working on swatches for a baby blanket; the one I’m on is a slipped stitch called honeycomb.

  40. So far I have knit two of the Honey Cowls – what a great thing to wear and gift! I have also knit two Pembroke welsh corgis – one tri-color named Rupert and one sable named Wallie. Somewhere on the knit your own dog site, there are pictures of the two. Meanwhile, the lively Wallie wants to go to the beach!

  41. What a blanket! Need a Principle on my bookshelf soon!

  42. More Olive!

  43. So glad you posted the cowl first — I started ogling the blanket, then went to coveting the blanket and then started thinking about all of that intarsia and all of those ends to weave. Got so weak in the knees that I had to take a break. Thanks for the heads up about “The Principles of Knitting,” ’cause I have to have it.

  44. I’ve also just joined the Honey Cowl club – currently in the midst of a small one for my mum’s birthday, using a very nice merino/cashmere/silk blend yarn I was lukcy enough to chance upon at the LYS….feels so nice and has sheen from the silk too. As for the blanket – it looks amazing, but having just completed a knitted Log Cabin blanket, I can appreciate how long that blanket may have taken her….yet, I now have a strange compulsion to start a Courthouse Steps model from your first book. I may just be a closet sadist, I suspect! PS – have rented that dog book from the local library, it’s a real hoot.

  45. anyway to turn that cowl into a blanket?

  46. Amazon delivered my copy of The PofK about a half hour ago and it’s taking every fiber (ha) of my being not to feign some believable illness (for a Friday afternoon) and head home to start reading. The book is really IMPRESSIVE in its size and scope & I can’t wait to correct the “techniques” [bad habits] I’ve picked up over the years. This is something so exciting that only you, dear MDK readers, can understand!

  47. Hey Kay, was that you outside The Today Show Thursday morning? I choked on my toast when the camera panned past you.

  48. Book update – those clevel people who brought you the Best in Show dog book, now have a companion volume of knitted cats! Yes, found it in my local library yesterday with a rather fetching Siamese on the cover.

  49. Totally loved Joseph – must get that Extra Yarn book even though I have noone to love it but MOI.


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