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

Weekend Updates

Dear Ann,
I could wallow in my 1960s Barbie memories forever (you know I’m not kidding), but I must break away to update you on several important matters.
The Afghanalong Update
(Square One, landing.)
My sweet friend Lis, who prides herself on not being a pushy and competitive New Yorker, nevertheless wanted to be the first to present us with a square for the Afghanalong for Afghans. So we met for lunch (those are chopsticks, not knitting needles!), and she handed over a delectable orange square in Cascade 220, in a popcorn pattern Lis wanted to try from the 365 Knitting Stitches A Year Perpetual Calendar. It’s a gem. Bright and bubbly, like Lis herself.
Which raises a couple of points about the Afghanalong.
First, you will note that Lis did not do a garter-stitch border. Several people have asked me whether the garter-stitch borders are mandatory, whether there is any penalty for submitting an otherwise conforming square which is lacking garter-stitch borders, and if so, what is the penalty and can it be waived (some of these people were lawyers, obviously).
After convening an all-night session of the Supreme Afghanalong Rules Committee, we (meaning, I) have decided that garter-stitch borders are not necessary. They are nice, but not necessary. As long as the edges will lie flat and not curl and are reasonably even, there is no problem, no penalty, no temporary restraining order–just a big Thank You So Much. The whole purpose of the garter-stitch-border rule was not to oppress or bore people, but simply to make the squares easy to sew up. Bear that in mind, and knit away to your heart’s content.
The other point Lis’s square raises is, what a great idea it is to use the Afghanalong as an opportunity to try new stitch patterns.
Thanks to everyone who has written to say they’re joining in!
The Log Cabin Update
I stopped into my favorite LYS, Downtown Yarns (which finally has a website!) today, and Rita showed me a little booklet called ‘The Log Cabin Afghan Revisited’, which is put out by Carol A. Anderson in Carpenter, Iowa (504-426-0070). This homely little booklet contains very detailed directions for making a knitted blanket that is very close to the traditional Log Cabin quilt in its design and layout. I got the booklet for my archives, in case I ever reform my convention-busting log cabin ways.
Carol’s construction method is, to my mind, futzier than the one I’ve been preaching, but if you can’t abide all that casting-off and picking-up for each strip, you might want to try it. Carol’s method is to put the last row of stitches for each strip on a holder until you come around again to knit the next strip. Personally I’d rather cast off and pick up than fiddle with stitchholders or extra needles, and I think the cast-off rows look more like quilt piecing, and add some needed structural oomph (Carol’s method results in multi-directional intarsia stripes). But the stitch-holder method does give the advantage of being able to knit the squares together with a 3-needle bind-off instead of having to seam them together.
Is anybody still awake?
The Me Update
I got a fantastic package in the mail yesterday, from, of all places, Norway. Sissel is a Rowanette who knits amazing Norwegian sweaters and virtually every pattern for Rowan Summer Tweed. For fun, she knit Old Tile from Rowan 34. (Brandon Mably reportedly fainted dead away when he learned that somebody had actually knit the thing. He said, ‘Blimey! I was just foolin’ with y’all!’). (OK I made that up. I sometimes converse with Brandon in my mind–you gotta problem with that? By the way, Brandon says hi and he hopes everybody realizes that except when speaking to me telepathically, he doesn’t ever use Blimey and Y’all in the same sentence.)
I give you this background so that you will know that this Sissel is the Sissel with whom I am doing a fun international yarn exchange. Here’s what Sissel sent:
Needless to say, I experienced Extreme Fiber Delight! ‘Sumatra’ mercerized cotton in a gorgeous shade of deep blue (same gauge as All Seasons Cotton, but suaver and drapier)! The ‘River Jeans’ rendition of denim yarn! Skeins of 2 fine-gauge white cottons suitable for traditional christening gowns! Not to mention the chocolate, which needed no translation.
Sissel also included booklets with amazing Sandnesgarn patterns (one page is pictured above). I would love to knit one of the little dirndls for Baby Rose. It may surprise you to learn that Baby Rose is a Norwegian American. Yes, Rose’s mom Diana is a Norsky, and she will jump into the freezing ocean to prove it to you. Diana plans to instill Viking Pride in her daughter through a program of vigorous outdoor activity, second helpings of pickled herring, and clopping around in clogs from an early age. At this stage of my Knitting Journey, Norwegian dirndls are Fantasy Camp Knitting. But if I ever get the chance to meet Sissel in person, I hope to learn the technique from her.
Have a happy weekend, and don’t forget to go to the DMV and renew your
license plates!
Love, Kay



  1. Downtown Yarns is a great store! I’ve only visited it once, nearly two years ago, but the service was excellent! Rita was very helpful.
    Your Norweigan haul looks wonderful too!

  2. in case, no one has said it this week, i love mason-dixon knitting! you two always make me smile and often laugh out loud just enough so my children think i’m a lunatic sitting alone in the library. of course brandon would say blimey and y’all in the same sentence. πŸ™‚ in your mind. πŸ™‚ loved the barbie thread from the other day. loved that someone else had malibu barbie and ken, my daughters think i made up that name. malibu? why? well, they were tan. oh, that explains it. anyway, keep up the wonderful blogging and knitting. thanks.

  3. Kay,
    Lesson in Norwegian: This is not a dirndl (that`s something Austrian I think), but a knitted version of the Hardanger bunad. Bunad is the traditional Norwegian festive costume appropiate at any occasion from a wedding to a ball at the royal palace (not that one ever gets invited there, but who knows). For the record, the skirt on the girl`s bunad has pleats, and the whole thing is knitted in a baby weight merino wool, 30 sts to 10 cm. You have to be REALLY dedicated to start something like this. Unfortunately I am not the patient type. Other than that it is only knit and purl stitches…
    ps: Baby Rose won`t be any less Norwegian if she skips the lessons in ‘jump in freezing water’ and ‘pickled herrings’. Be a good auntie and keep her away from that.

  4. Wow!! I never thought of it as experiencing “Extreme Fiber Delight”! is it like a Karma Sumatra?? πŸ™‚

  5. What lovely Norwegian goodies.I love Sissel parcels too ! I suppose you’ll have to share your chocolate ?…
    Lovely 1st square too.I’m pleased to read that the garter border is not compulsory. ;-]

  6. Oh, thank God, that garter stitch border requirement was driving me mad.
    I’ve finished five squares, but now I can branch out and have more fun as long as the things lie flat. I promise they won’t be too hard to sew together.

  7. Marnie! Five squares? You’re a living doll. If you keep this up, you’ll have your very own afghan for an Afghan. Mille grazie!
    Kay, Sissel’s Norskpakage or whatever is so totally up your alley: all cotton all the time. What a skinsensitive pressie.
    Sissel, are you SURE those are Hardanger bunads? I woulda sworn they were dirndls, but what does my Alabama-born self know?
    I say we get some Hardanger bunads under way to wear at our festive sewing-up parties. Get a little knitting water going, open up the herring, toss on the bunads, and a good time will be had by all. We’ll be jumping into the icy Cumberland before we know it.
    And Lisa–thanks for putting up with us. As the immortal Donna Fargo* would say, “I’m the happiest girl, in the whoooooooole, U.S.A.”
    xoxoxo Ann
    *Who? Meet this Nashville songbird at donnafargo.com.

  8. Not only are my afghan squares also coming along nicely, but they are proving to be a great opportunity to practise my fair-isle – all be it with a garter stitch border. Indeed my fair-isle is in some need of practice, but I promise not to send anything that doesn’t come up decently after full onslaught blocking and steaming.

  9. I just started the log cabin afghan…I think it’going to be fun and obsessive…psst…I’m using a handpainted yarn..

  10. Dear Ann and Kay, are effusions as well as comments allowed? I’m truly enjoying square making (five go in the mail tomorrow). But this is about my co-obsession: lopi felted bowls. Start with one skein; make a garter stitch square 20 st. by 20 ridges; pick up 20 stitches along each side; knit up until the skein’s almost done; decrease by 10% all the way around and bind off; put it through the hot wash four times. These make me unreasonably happy–I had to share. Regards, Cristina

  11. Denise–Pulleeeeeeeeeeese show us a pic of the Handpaint Log Cabin! I started up a Noro Silk Garden Log Cabin, in wee size, for a baby stroller blanket (special baby with Japanese American mom so I was hell-bent to use Noro), then ripped it back. I’m used to log cabinning with cotton. With wool, the straight lines went a bit curvy; this problem is currently Under Analysis. I liked the way Noro’s subtle stripes go around and around the log cabin, and I loved not having to break the yarn and change colors as I went around. I got this idea from TESSA who has a Silk Garden Log Cabin throw all to herself. Now that I’m back at square one (literally), I’m thinking of doing this baby blanket in the entrelac pattern in one of Debbie Bliss’s Noro books. The color 88 is a bit un-babyish–purply grays, appley greens, and beigey tans, but I think it works as a stroller/carseat blanket and it’s so gorgeous I couldn’t resist it. It wouldn’t hurt me to do something new,as I’ve never entrelacked.
    Sissel….somehow I knew dirndl was not the right word. And now that I know how many stitches to the inch, and that we’re talking about pleats, I’m quite sure that Rosie’s Norwegianness would not be enhanced by having a handknit bunad. Back to Miss Bea’s lifestyle for Rosie.
    Emma–the chocolate did not survive until morning. The kids and I were not one bit daunted by its giant size, nor by the Norwegian writing all over it. Many teeth make light work.
    Marnie–5 squares! If this is what you can accomplish under the tyranny of the Garter Stitch Border Rule, the mind boggles at what is to come. Don’t peak too soon, and send those squares in for the March 1 drawing!!
    To all–sorry about that garter stitch rule. Just chalk it up to my inexperience at Afghanalong administration! Love, Kay

  12. Cristina–Just out of curiosity, and NOT because I am knitting up one of these bowls TONIGHT or anything RIDICULOUS like that, how long is the thing when you are ‘almost’ done with the skein of Lopi? I’m trying this method out with Kureyon, which I think is finer-gauge than Lopi, but I am wondering how long it should be, pre-felting. I may just eyeball it and see how it comes out, perhaps more vase than bowl but we’ll see. I’ve been wanting to do a felted bowl ever since everybody was talking about one that was in Interweave’s Spin Off magazine a while back. Fine BBC News knitting for this evening. Thanks for effusing. Love, Kay

  13. Kay,
    I’m knitting with Sumatra at the moment, bought from the same lovely Sissel last year!! Love it almost as much as ASC. I’m doing the Easy Jacket from the Debbie Bliss Denim book.
    I see Sissel already beat me to the Norwegian lesson. I’m actually the “proud” owner of a bunad myself, and would wear it if I was ever invited to a ball at the royal palace. My mum embroiidered mine for my confirmation… It took almost two years to finish.. yes I do let her borrow it from time to time.
    As for Rosies lessions in all things Norwegian, I’m with Sissel, no pickled herring or jumping in cold water required, but I think she should be introduced to Kaviar..red fish paste that comes in toothpaste tubes. We spread it on rye bread… I’ll bring some over in March. My mum brought a year’s supply over this weekend, as the Swedish one is not quite right…

  14. Dear Kay, “almost” means wrapping the remaining yarn around the circumference of the bowl and having enough to get it to go around at least three times. Unfortunately, my latest bowl is already felted and happily drying upturned on a glass bowl in a sunny window (wish I could provide a visual aid because the sight of it is cheerful in a pleasantly poignant way). It’s just too densely felted to count rows. Gravity will pull the finished product into bowl shape and you can decrease more than 10% if you want the bowl more bowly.

  15. Cristina–Right now it looks like an inordinately colorful little pork-pie hat. I’m going to felt it in the unreliable basement washing machine and see what the heck happens. The thrill of discovery!!! xox Kay


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