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Not on the Podium

Dateline: Torino, Italy, or Kay’s Apartment (You Decide)
Lame-Assed Hat Maker Lets Down Team, Claims Not To Care
Saying she ‘resents the comparisons to Bode Miller’, Team Dulaan member Kay Gardiner admitted that despite her legendary swagger (“just Kay being Kay”) and her great promise to bring home the Gold Medal, she failed to finish 16 hats in 16 days. Denying Italian press reports that she had hit every nightclub in Torino and drunk more than a medicinal amount of grappa, Gardiner tried to explain the loss:
‘I had plenty of yarn, although some of it was a little whiffy from being in a lady’s basement since 1973. I had plenty of encouragement. My Pantyhose Connector Parts held up just fine. I’m not making any excuses, okay? I got cocky and thought I could do corrugated ribbing on all of them without slowing down. My electrolytes got a little low, and I started thinking that I could take a break for a non-hat project once in a while……basically I just blew it. I think it was really over when, somewhere around Day 13, I realized that the Knitting Olympics was not really, um, the Olympics–that it was a totally made-up thing, you know? I let the idea creep in that I could knit a couple of hats the week after the Olympics, and they’d still want them in Mongolia. That was the beginning of the end. I started some serious non-hatting right then and there. I actually finished the back and one front of a cardigan before I realized my mistake.’
Here are some highlights from Gardiner’s reckless, feckless run. These are to be viewed while listening to the Italian national anthem being sung by the winner of the men’s 50-kilometer cross-country race, while he in turn was listening to a recording of a 9-year-old girl singing the Italian national anthem (wasn’t that THE BEST??? Can we have a 9-year-old girl sing OUR national anthem next time? And can it sound a little more like Toreadores?).
Hat 5, which taught that single-stranded Rio de la Plata (like Manos) was not thick enough for my idea of Mongolian winter. This will be nice Indoor Headwear or perhaps something to wear under a hood. From here on out, it was double-stranding all the way.
Juicies and blahs–the love affair with Noro yarns against a solid Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky. Warm, bulky, but stretchy. I learned the combined method (pick with the left and throw with the right) and embraced it for life. (But yo–I tried it knitting back and forth and it don’t do right on the Wrong Side. For me, it’s strictly an in-the-round technique. At least until somebody can teach me how to purl Continental.)
Yodel-ay-hee-HOO, y’all! This here’s a true ALPINE hat. It’s less pointy when worn. But still kinda pointy. I’m not saying it’s not pointy. Zig-zaggy fair isle is a fine way to entertain yourself when knitting a hat, and you get that scrumpy warm stranding of the yarn across the wrong side.
When I did one without the roll brim, the result was a little pillboxy. But this one may be my favorite. It’s in olive Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky and a turquoisey-gray colorway of Noro Transgressions, I mean Transitions. Toasty warm, as only a yarn made from Multiple Mammals can be.
Ann, at the beginning you taunted that I was going to make 16 tiny hats. That would not have been very Olympian of me, now, would it? This was my smallest hat, and it would fit a 2-4 year old. I sniffily point out that it has the same number of stitches as the other hats, it’s just worsted weight instead of bulky. Sniff!
This one isn’t pointy when it’s on a kid’s head. Noro scraps mixed with lady’s basement yarn. This yarn was on the Island of Misfit Yarns for a looooooong time. I’m happy to have found it a home; when mixed with a yarn without Noticeable Basement Smell, the hat as a whole had Barely Noticeable Basement smell. I think I’ll give it a Eucalan swish before sending it off on its journey.
Lady’s Basement Yarn
I have to give a shout out to my singing-group friend Sanna. Sanna knits. On the eve of the Olympics, Sanna emailed me with one of those messages that makes your fight-or-flight chemicals kick in. I was not sure whether to be really excited or frightened to death. Sanna reported that her sister, who used to knit a ‘long time ago’, had found some old yarn.
In her basement. Where there had been a flood. Years ago. Did I want it? (Is the hair standing up on the back of your neck now?)
Now, I’m sure there is a smell that I hate more than Flooded Basement Smell, but I can’t think of it right now. Yet I was intrigued by the concept of really old yarn. I was hoping that we were not talking really old Wintuk. Here’s the Sanna’s Sister’s Basement Yarn, group shot:
Okay, so there was a bit of a Dreadlock Effect going on with this yarn, but it was all good. The blue stuff especially. I think that if we send it to the lab for some DNA testing, the blue stuff will be found to be the Mother of Colinette, which Welsh archeologists have been trying to find for years. Sanna’s sister probably bought it with every intention of whipping up the very first Ab Fab Throw, but then cast on something else instead.
My courage in accepting Basement Yarn was richly rewarded by this:
A Bloomingdale’s price tag. Yes. Proof that once, before the Birth of the Bar Code and perhaps at the Dawn of the Ball Point Pen, they sold yarn at Bloomingdale’s. And, not surprisingly, the Bloomingdale’s yarn was some pricey yarn. $1.50 an ounce!
I did not use as much of this yarn on hats as I would have liked to. Hats, it turns out, do not burn much of a hole in a healthy stash of Basement Yarn. But eventually, with the help of Eucalan, this yarn will live on.
Love, Kay



  1. Well done, 13 out of 16 is not bad at all. You can always blame your family. They just got in the way.
    Maybe you should send the bloomy picture to them and ask them when they are going to have the rest for sale?
    I have visions of wooden counters and proper staff that knew their yarns.
    I had a bad experience last time I shopped for yarn in my local department store.
    I am very impressed with all your diffrent hats. I think they are amazing.

  2. 13 hats in 16 days? You have Knit Your Bit for sure! Now you just need a Team Mongolia button…

  3. You done good, girl! It’s not a medal, but be on the lookout for a little prize (you can wait a few days, getting it into tomorrow’s mail at best ~)

  4. Girl, you’ve done yourself proud! Think of it this way: You entered 16 events, and completed 13 of them! I think that just rocks. Heck, your hero Bode didn’t do as well as you did!
    You do, for sure, get points for artistic expression and a high degree of difficulty for that whole corrugated rib thing! Whoo!
    (And if you manage to learn to purl Continental…please teach me!!!)
    On to Beijing!

  5. looks like you did a pretty good job to me!!

  6. Kay, If the delightful Ms Cohen could fall on her cute little butt and still win the silver, then finishing 12-1/2 of 16 hats meant to warm the heads of homeless Mongolian orphans (it’s not Toreador, but surely there is a violin playing something in the background here) must also merit a silver medal. Kindly find a medium height step stool to perch upon while the Mongolian National Anthem plays (http://david.national-anthems.net/mn.htm) and the awards committee hangs a silver washer strung from a double strand of (cotton) Noro around your modestly bowed neck and presents you with a bouquet of felted flowers. Alas, I spent too much of my Olympic knitting time driving to and from hockey rinks (to include a 12+ hr each way road trip to Phoenix for my 11yo son’s tournament) and it took its toll. Though I did finish 4 preemie hat/bootie sets, and 3/4 of a Dulaan hat, my main project- the MIL’s cashmere-silk lace scarf kicked my butt and tumbled me down the snowy slope to crash into the hay bales. After ripping and cursing and re-casting on (rinse and repeat) thru two different patterns with repeats too long and complicated to memorize or pay attention to while watching hockey (and no, I don’t need bifocals but thanks for asking), I finally stumbled upon a lovely, simple pattern called “field of flowers”. So it will be finished soon and may even be mailed to the Irish MIL before St Paddy’s Day. I guess I’ll play Danny Boy instead of a national anthem.

  7. well done to you for completing so many hats. It’s not the victory that one must savours but the experience that one was part of it.
    xo P

  8. Although I was not an official entrant, I did manage to put away 3 Dulaan hats. SO, since I’m not on the list, you can have my 3 hats. Do the math. YOU WIN!!
    Can we both have tiaras?

  9. Ah, Mary Neal makes the day again! Hurrah for hats for Dulaan. Also, hurray for basement yarn; it is so mysterious and cool (albeit smelly).

  10. Woooooooo! 13/16 ain’t bad, lady! And those are some cool hats.
    I suppose you could just put some pantyhose on your head and claim that they’re hats, much like claiming that they make a costume.

  11. Fabuloso! Like Dora’s Delicioso! πŸ™‚ Awesome hats.

  12. I have never seen so much corrugated ribbing in my life! You ambidextrous FREAK! They’re more colorful than all the Olympic rings moodged together! I can’t believe you did so much knitting, and such wacked-out colorful knitting either. I was expecting a batch of gray wool hats. Who knew?
    Send one to the Really Mean Italian Skater while you’re at it–she’d go apologize to her partner in a second.
    x0x0x0x0x Brava!

  13. “righteous” looking hats, kay! gold medals all. no spills…. just thrills…..

  14. Hilarious. Bode, you’re not. Well done on the 13 out of 16.
    Continental purling is a bit odd, isn’t it? I knit continental, and I suppose I purl continental too sinceit’s in my left hand…but we call it the ghetto version. Not suitable for textbook status or even anything close. But, it works.

  15. Fantastic hats,one and all.
    Kisses dekivered. ;-]

  16. Well done all around!
    By the way, if you want to get out the basement smell altogether, soak the yarn in borax overnight, rinse, then dry. I got bags full of yarn leftover from my grandmother’s knitting days, and all of it had seen pretty impressive water damage and oh the smell. After borax the smell was completely gone and I knitted away with abandon.

  17. 13 hats is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
    AND, just the idea of buying yarn from Bloomingdales is…well, words fail me. I am definitely a little verklempt.

  18. You performed admirably. And you made some majorly funky hats. Good for you.

  19. If you ever disclose your exact address, watch out — I’m coming for those blue yarns! They are gorgeous colors.
    Congrats on the hats! They, too, are gorgeous.

  20. I too think this is a Sasha rather than a Bode. That corrugated ribbing! The warm as toast brims. I am humbled. I fear my Dulaan mittens are indoor rather than outdoor kits, but still, fingers and heads need everything we can give them. You are a human radiator, heat and light, you crazy fair isle time gambler you.

  21. I LOVE your hats, I LOVE your story, I LOVE your heart. 12.3 hats in my book is almost as good as 16. And thus ends my statistical analysis — can you see why I did not enter some sort of mathy profession?
    I heart your Dulaanness.

  22. All I see are 13 warm heads. In my mind you’re more like Joey Cheek than Bode. That makes you Cheeky. I love that word. Cheeky. Which you are. L, C


  24. Dude. Finish the hats. The little kids in Mongolee-ah won’t care if you are wearing a medal, nor if you have the chest to pin it on.
    You so rock for even trying, and your hats are wonderful. Go! Go! Go! Yay, Kay!

  25. For artistic merit, this judge awards a perfect 10.

  26. They say the real measure of a nation’s Olympic team prowess is based on the team’s depth. And that is determined not by how many medals the country walks away with but by how many top 8 finishes a nation has. I’d say, medal or no medal, you are definitely a top 8 finisher. You’ll always be a gold medalist in our hearts.

  27. P.S. And all of the hats are beautiful. Really stunning.

  28. They are excellent hats – I’d definitely award you extra credit for style.

  29. Thirteen out of sixteen hats in the Olympics certainly trumps Chad Hedrick’s results. See what happens when you knit well and don’t shoot off your mouth? Congrats — they are lovely!

  30. I am in awe.
    I did finish my 16 hats, but none of them are as complicated or gorgeous as yours. No corrugated rib to be seen.
    You rock, and totally deserve high scores on your component/artistic/presentation marks.

  31. I’m not sure which is more impressive, knitting 13 hats (even if they aren’t 16 hats) or venturing in to the basement yarn.
    That midwestern “use every scrap” ethic dies hard, doesn’t it? We save string. We save cool whip containers. My mother died with a suitcase full of clean dustcloths in her basement. (Because, after all, you never know when you might need to suddenly immigrate to Canada in the dead of night, and you’ll want to bring a good supply of dustcloths.)

  32. With added points for fresh color combinations and two-handed corrugating, you qualify for the podium! Those are some bee-yoot-iful hats.

  33. I’m sure it’s no surprise that you receive a gold medal from ME!
    The Mongolian kids and I say thank you, thank you, a million times thank you!!!!!
    -Ryan, The Dulaan Project

  34. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful commentary and the “claiming not to care.” I, too, let down my multiple teams by being 5 (count ’em, FIVE) rows too late at the finish. My husband’s attempt to cheer me with a comparison to Bode Miller did not help and the ensuing histrionics were worthy of the Italian figure skater. My sweater is now complete, however, and I return to Dulaan knitting. I “heart” your hats, as will the Mongolians.

  35. I have to say, I think this was the best Olympic effort shown by any American. I wish you had gone to Torino to represent our country! You have more characteristics I appreciate than that darn Mr. Miller.
    Good work! I am so proud. πŸ™‚
    Gold medal to you.

  36. Hat number 9 is my favourite! πŸ™‚

  37. The hats are amazing! An worthy Olympic effort that will be appreciated by many.

  38. wow. i’m certainly impressed. if you’d done all 16 you’d have to have sacrificed breathing, or peeing, and that’d just take all the fun out of it.
    now where are all the heads for these hats?


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