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How Vivian Met Francie

Dear Ann,
I love a crossover story. You know, like Elvis being at the top of the pop AND gospel charts and probably a bunch more charts? Or, for that matter, the other Elvis, singing with Ann-Sofie von Otter and Burt Bacharach (not at the same time although THAT would be cool)—it’s all music, right? If you like music and have even a smidge of curiosity, you like different ways and means of making it.
And so it is with the mitered square. It’s in quilts, it’s in knitting, it’s in carpentry.
It’s also, for Francie anyway, in polymer clay. Check out (scroll down a little) what Francie (who also knits) did with miters and clay! In May, Francie wrote to tell me she was inspired to cook up these polymer clay mitered items, and then she sent me some examples of what she had been up to. I don’t even know her! She generously sent stitch markers and a needle case and psychedelic ponytail holders, but my very favorite item was this pin:
I love a pin. I expecially love a pin on a jean jacket. So when we went to TNNA in Indianapolis last month, I put this pin on my jean jacket, right up there with my ‘Boys Knit’, ‘I Heart Knitty’ and ‘KNIT BIG’ pins. The pins of our people. Everybody asked me about it, oohing and aahing, and I kept saying, stupidly, “You see, it’s miters.” They saw, it’s miters.
Somehow I got separated from you in the convention hall (oh, the anxiety! are we not a matched set? are we not joined at the hip?) and wandered off in search of free samples (hope springs eternal), Knitting Celebrities, and hopefully more pins. And then, there SHE was, big as life, real as real, draped in a mitered coat: Vivian Hoxbro. (Sorry Vivian for the lack of that Danish slashed-o letter in Hoxbro.) Vivian lives in Denmark. She wrote Domino Knitting, a gem of a book on knitting and joining miters, and Shadow Knitting, which teaches a clever way of getting mysterious pictures to appear in your knitting. Spooky!
I approached the Knitting Celebrity. (Digression to explain Kay’s Policy on the Greeting of Celebrities: For Regular Celebrities, as a NewYorker I am obliged to follow a strict policy of being too cool to approach or even acknowledge their existence until they are out of sight, at which point I make knowing but silent eye contact with my fellow NewYorkers, so that they know, and they know that I know, that we have just seen a celebrity. A couple of weeks ago I saw Keanu Reeves (yes! I know he is rawr-worthy to female fans everywhere, but I never can forget his stoner-like delivery of lines in Much Ado About Nothing–“Dude….I’m like totally the bad guy in this movie.”) on 23rd and Fifth–a decidely un-VIPish corner– looking lost and talking on his cellphone, and I didn’t even blink. Move along! Nothing to see here people! But Knitting Celebrities, as the glittering citizens of a subculture or perhaps another plane of existence, are fair game in my book. They must endure my “Hi! How are ya? I LOVE your work!” I believe I told Debbie Bliss I adored her, for which she inexplicably gave me a candy bar, but that’s another story.)
So anyhoo, I ran over to fawn at poor Vivian, who was so kind, and we chatted and very soon she said, ‘I love that pin! Where did you get it? You know I love miters!’ I was so proud to tell her that someone I ‘knew’ had MADE it, and we chatted on, and then I remembered: for some reason, I was carrying Francie’s mitered-square stitch markers, still on the card, IN MY PURSE. So I asked Vivian, Hey, do you use stitch markers? Well, of course she does. (She is the queen of knitting MITERS.) So wa-la! I presented Vivian Hoxbro with Francie’s lovely mitered-square stitch markers. Francie had cleverly attached the set with a kilt pin, so Vivian pinned the whole set on her jacket like a piece of jewelry.
She loved them.
Look how cute the tiny miters are, how precise.
This made me very happy. Thanks so much, Francie!
Love, Kay
PS Dishrag Beat: The Monthly Dishcloth Knitalong group, of which I am a proud (but lazy) member, has just reached 1500 members. That just boggles my mind.




  1. Debbie Bliss gave you candy when you gushed? That’s classic positive reinforcement! She’s just making sure that you continue to associate her work with Good Things (to eat or knit doesn’t matter).
    Love the mitered polymer clay. That stuff always looks like so much fun to work with.

  2. Hey, I didn’t know you were an EC fan! Henry & I were just listening to the Ann-Sofie CD the other night. And I saw Elvis at Wolf Trap right after “Painted from Memory” came out. Don’t suppose you snuck out for his recent NYC appearance? XXO

  3. that is so sweet! I, as a Californian, am also too cool to approach celebrities. They pretty much litter the landscape and my philosophy is that they are off-duty and so I contain myself and leave them alone. My husband also discourages me from snapping illicit photos of them with my cellphone!!

  4. T.N.N.A. sounds like so much fun. I work in a yarn shop, and the boss gets to go and some friends too. I guess I just like the idea of a yarn holiday.It’s a working holiday really.Working in a yarn shop is not really like working at all. I think buying yarn for a store would be like buying for the biggest stash,then sharing it with all your friends. happy knitting denny

  5. T.N.N.A. sounds like so much fun. I work in a yarn shop, and the boss gets to go and some friends too. I guess I just like the idea of a yarn holiday.It’s a working holiday really.Working in a yarn shop is not really like working at all. I think buying yarn for a store would be like buying for the biggest stash,then sharing it with all your friends. happy knitting denny

  6. Damn, I love those stitch markers! How cool!

  7. I know what you mean with the polymer miters – I saw them a few weeks ago at the KAL and I about died from wanting them! I’m jealous that you got that awesome pin. C’est la vie.

  8. I love that knitting rockstar Vivian Hoxbbro had the same damn reaction to those faboo polymer miters everyone else – including me – seems to be having. They are indeed the coolest thing ever, beautiful even if you are not a knitter.

  9. Love that pin! The miters make my eyes go wiggy!

  10. Its an excellent knitting celebrity policy to hand out candy bars to admirers. You better go stock up on a case for your next knitting public appearance. (oh, and dark chocolate is better than milk. In case I bump into you).

  11. I actually still think these thoughts:
    “If I worked out I could look like that”
    SO – when I see those mitered polymer, cool as heck, “sculpi thingies” I think:
    “If I had time I could do those”
    It could happen……….

  12. Fabulous stitch markers and pin! And I’d rather meet a knitting celebrity than Keanu Reeves any day. Sure he’s easy enough on the eyes, but as soon as he opens his mouth the thrill is gone.

  13. Kay, that is a very good story.
    I hope this will make you happy too: Posted 34 minutes ago at Elann: New Stock of Dark Indigo! Den-M-Nit Pure Indigo Cotton
    Aara xoxo

  14. I was sitting next to Vivian Hoxbro during a class break at Stitches West in 2005 and didnt even realize it was her til afterward. I believe I was bitching about the slow going on my Bohus Class swatch. She didnt even take the bait to tell me how much easier and more fun shadow knitting would have been…

  15. So no one has asked what, to me, is the BIG question: Did Francie replace your stitch markers and quilt pin or did you have to go without? I’m just wondering. Isn’t everyone?
    We all (on the KAL) were agog at her polymer miters — so clever, such great colors — and we all hinted (not so subtly) in the comments that we wanted some of that goodness, too. So you get some and give it away! Oy vey. I’m in awe of your generosity.

  16. That is an incredible story – six degrees of separation and all that – wow.

  17. You do realize that should I run into you at a knitting conference or anywhere, really, that you will have to endure a “Hi, I love your work. I have your book. Your blog is dee-vine.”
    Great story. Love the miters in clay.
    Happy Knitting,

  18. I thought I couldn’t love miters any more than I do. And then I saw Francie’s. Wunnerful.

  19. Hi Kay,
    I spent some time with Vivian this summer in Iceland and there she showed me with pride the little perfect stitch markers that she had got from you!!
    All the best with miters, Lene.

  20. Dang! I was hoping that link would send me to a retail site where I could purchase a polymer clay mitered pin and some buttons and stitch holders on a kilt pin (which I would to wear, rather than use as stitch markers, too).
    To find a “slashed O”, in Word go to Insert/Symbol, Font: (normal text) Subset: Latin-1. Or you can cut and paste this one: Vivian Høxbro. I have a document on my desktop with all the weird Norwegian letters, so I can quickly cut and paste them into my email messages to my Norwegian friends, along with a degree (º) symbol and the conversion equation from ºF to ºC so I can tell them about the weather.

  21. Everyone loves the mitres, even Ann now! That pin & the stitch markers make me think of sweets. Hmm. Mitred sweets.

  22. Oh Kay, I just love that pin! It captures the mood of your mitered square blanket so well!

  23. But isn’t Much Ado fabulous anyway? Saw the film with my family and when Keanu has his first speaking scene my dad (the least up-to-date man on pop culture that I know) leaned over and growled, “Oh great, here comes hearthrob.” Its now a classic line in the fam.

  24. I remember seeing and craving that pin!!! I will have to take a look see at her site.

  25. Wonderful story. I have just signed on to be a member of the dish cloth club 🙂 as I think everyone else at MDK has done.

  26. Vivian Hoxbro :: what she’s wearing in this picture looks like heaven, as do the pins. hard to belive the pin is flat. it looks alive!!
    i have the interweave knits spring1997 issue; hoxbro showing us about domino knitting. i go to it again and again. lovely stuff
    but ; i have not yet tried shadow knitting, although i have stashed a shadow knitting dishrag pattern…LOL…

  27. Love the pin (and the stitch markers), I think Francie could make a mint selling them on the web.

  28. AACK. Would that “dark indigo” be the same as Nashville? Somebody tell me! I have a cone of ersatz Memphis, but what I really wanted was Nashville.
    Keanu is fab as long as you know he is always Ted. Even Neo was Ted.
    And I gotta ask, how in the world do you miter sculpey??
    Disjointed much? I can sleep when I’m dead, right?

  29. The ø is quite easy on the Mac – alt+o – or you can do it in anything that understands html code (like blog software, since it parses links and such) as “& o slash;” with the spaces removed.

  30. Hi, Kay!
    I just love your story – thank you! Should have had candy – I see that – the problem is that had I had candy – I would have eaten it – and I certainly not need that – and then I wouldn’t have had candy anyway! So that’s why!
    I was so surpriced that you gave that wonderful pin to me. I use thse little markers ALWAYS. Now I know that the name of the artist who made these markers are Francie – but Francie who!
    I would love to thank her as well as I here will thank you. I really, really appreciate them.
    Happy Knitting from hot Denmark – the hottest July ever.
    Vivian Høxbro

  31. swoon!
    I’m posting after a celebrity!
    Please please please inform Francie that she needs to set up an Etsy or Ebay shop & sell mitered polymer clay things. That pin is stunning, and I can’t work out how she made it!

  32. Hi Kay,
    This is the Francie who made the cool polymer clay mitered square goodies. I’m so glad that you have been enjoying the pin. It’s great that you were able to share the stitch markers with another famous mitered square knitter. They look like they belong on Vivian’s beautiful sweater. I had no idea that my little mitered squares would be so well travelled. I loved the mitered squares from the moment that I saw them on your blog. But before picking up my knitting needles, I had to make them in clay. So after seeing everyones comments I got to work making more mitered square items. I have a website in desperate need of updating. I hope to do that very soon. If anyone is interested, just email me and I will send you a picture of what I have made up so far. http://www.francieos.com/
    Francie Owens

  33. Mary Neal,
    I’m pretty sure that “Dark Indigo” corresponds to Rowan’s “Nashville”.

  34. Right…yes…knitting-knitting-knitting….meanwhile, back to Keanu….any more details? You know, hair length, that deep voice…um…shoes?…you know, the important stuff! hmmm

  35. Knitting Celebrities are much more interesting because only WE know who they are and then we can talk because knitters recognize each other. Stealth celebrities really.

  36. Now this is the type of blog entry I love! I love Vivian’s work, too, though I’m not sure my humble knitting skills are up to her work. I, like everyone else, love LOVE the mitered pin! I attempted to dabble in clay ions ago & I was horrible at it. I’ll stick to fiber, thank you.
    BTW, you mentioned using stitch markers with miters – I am just starting my mitered afghan from your book & it’s driving me nuts all the counting I have to do. How do you use stitch markers with miters? With a garter stitch mitered square, I can clearly see where the decrease needs to go, but I just can’t seem to remember which rows I need to SSK twice & which ones I need to do once, and where I start. So I count & refer to the directions obsessively. And it’s driving me nuts! (but in a good, knitterly way)

  37. “A couple of weeks ago I saw Keanu Reeves (yes! I know he is rawr-worthy to female fans everywhere, but I never can forget his stoner-like delivery of lines in Much Ado About Nothing–“Dude….I’m like totally the bad guy in this movie.”) on 23rd and Fifth–a decidely un-VIPish corner– looking lost and talking on his cellphone, and I didn’t even blink.”
    Lived and worked in L.A. for many years. Saw many celebs at places like bookstores and gyms and a few industry events, and I was usually very cool and respectful of them and their “off time”.
    But if Keanu? I’d’ve been all over that one. Keanu in “Something’s Gotta Give” made me forgive him for “Much Ado”. Totally.
    : )

  38. Love both of your celebrity run-ins. And I love love LOVE the pin and stitch markers. I spotted them a few weeks ago when you had a link to Francie. Made me want to run out and try my hand at polymer clay, only I really don’t need another hobby. 25 is my limit, I think.
    Oh, and I agree that Keanu will always be Ted. And Much Ado About Nothing is the least of his crimes. Anybody remember Dangerous Liaisons?
    Favorite Ted Quote? “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.” Indeed.

  39. Isn’t Vivian Hoxbro the best knitting celebrity ever? After chatting with her a bit at TNNA last year and admiring not only her great style, but her lemons = lemonade attitude and continued enthusiasm about knitting design, I ran into her briefly again this winter at TNNA, stumbled over my tongue. And she said, “I liked the sweater you were wearing yesterday.”
    I’ll take that over a candy-bar any day.


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