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Applaud the Goats Gently

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Dear Ann,
As venerable co-bloggettes, you and I are as one on certain of Life’s Important Issues and Values. There are countless situations in which I do not have to consult you to know exactly What Would Ann Do. By way of illustration:
Situation #1: Brooch Made of Human Hair, vaguely unsettling in appearance, half price, cash only. BUY. IT.
Situation #2: Come home on Sunday afternoon to faint whiff of earlier pancakes. OPEN THE WINDOWS, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS WELL-ORDERED AND NEATLY KEPT AND TO PRESERVE THE MEMORY OF OUR SAINTED GRANDMOTHERS FROM THE DISHONOR OF OLD PANCAKE SMELL!
Situation #3: Acquaintance rings up and says, “I’ve got these tickets to a Martha Stewart Show taping and I was wonderrrr…….” JUMP UP AND DOWN AND SCREAM, PICK ME PICK ME!
So. Yeah. When my synagogue pal, Kitty, called with her second-hand, friend-of-a-friend tickets, I was all over it, like white on al dente basmati rice.
I had never seen Martha. I have subscribed to Martha since the first year of her magazine. In the days when it was really odd to see a lady with lipstick perched in a canoe (harvesting wild rice if memory serves) on the cover of her eponymous home-perfection magazine. But I had never seen the woman in person.
I had a great time. A smattering of apercus for ya:
Martha is a nice lady. Many be-headsetted young people swirl about her, buzzing and fussing. She stands still, in knife-edged khakis, heels and an impeccable blue shirt, conserving the Martha essence for the start of the show.
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Poignant moment: A few minutes before the show, Martha standing on her mark, stroking the head of Hannah, a goat, who is waiting impatiently to be milked on national TV. There is great sincerity between Martha and Hannah. It is actually touching. Hannah was leaning so far into Martha that she nearly fell off her milking ledge.
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(Hannah with another person she likes, Farmer John.)
Martha is a concentrated, quiet presence. They dial up the volume on her when she speaks.
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The guy who works the crowd, who I assume you know if you watch the show regularly, is hilarious, really laying on the Noo Yawk shtick. To keep the audience (all of us in solid-colored bright tops, as instructed on our tickets –”no grey, no black, no neutrals”) clappy, during the commercials he hands out treats from a giant mailbag of swag. (No t-shirt cannon for this crowd; it ain’t Nascar.) Goodies included plastic kitty-litter boxes. I didn’t get one. I was cool with that.
People really love Martha. (Why did this surprise me?) There was much tender and supportive laughter when Martha said anything gently funny or self-deprecating. The lady next to me said, “Martha loves animals SO MUCH. She really cares about them.” If I had said something like, “As long as they’re delicious, or lay eggs the right shade of blue,” there would have been an honest-to-goodness throwdown of peach and coral shirts in the top row. I am just saying: Do NOT mess with Martha, even if you’re just kidding around and you know she loves animals.
Swag we all got: the June 2010 issue of Everyday Food (delicious! easy! full of recipes for the weekly veggie box I start getting on June 1 and am terrified of! Why don’t I subscribe to this?); a copy of The Bucolic Plague, the story of a pair of Manhattanites who become gentlemen goat farmers and the stars of the new reality show, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” (charming! goaty!); and a voucher for 8 pounds of Martha-approved dog food. (Where else would you get free dog food?) Also a tasting of delicious goat cheese from the aforesaid Beekman Boys.
Anyway, it was a hoot and a half. Classic 1950s television, without irony. And while I have previously admired Martha in a nervous way, now I can say that I actually like her. (The show I saw airs on May 26, the last show of the fifth season. That’s me in the top row, in the coral top. Next to the lady in the coral top. Next to the lady in the peach top.)
Meanwhile, The Knitting
It took me three weeks to knit Volt, give or take a few tears of impotent rage. It then took me 3 weeks to put the i-cord on, and if I could have procrastinated another 3 weeks before Kitchenering 4 measly stitches of i-cord together, I know that I would have. I would do a few rounds, be struck with a clear vision of the futility of human existence, and find something else to knit on. Or simply fall into a deep, restorative sleep. The only way I finally finished it was by hauling it around and making it my only subway knitting. It is not easy to apply i-cord to a humungous wad of shawl while traveling on public transportation, but if it’s the only knitting available, I will do it. I will do it and like it. But it was all very stop n’ starty. I finally finished it last night because the weather has been chilly and I can actually wear it.
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(Getting in a few rounds of i-cord while waiting for Martha.)
All you expert, no-nonsense Kitchenaires: respect. I find it fiddly and tangly and Quite Unpleasant and I’m no good at it and furthermore I do not wish to be good at it, so there. “As if to knit and take it off, as if to purl and leave it on”—SHUT UP! I HATE YOU! (As Craig Ferguson says, I look forward to your letters.)
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Lookie–I put it on the blocking wires last night at midnight, and when I awoke this morning it was fresh as a daisy and free of terrier depradations. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Olive to a swath of cashmere on the floor.
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Well, not actually that early, if Olive has found a sweet unauthorized cushion arrangement.
Volt is a lovely thing. I am grateful to Grace Anna Farrow for this genre-busting pattern. And on a Mother’s Day excursion to Purl Soho, I restocked my cashmere, to make another design from The Fine Line, Dawn. Shawls for the un-shawlish. Slanty puzzles to knit.
More photos when the sun comes out and I lose 10 pounds. OK, maybe only one of those things is going to happen.
Love,
Kay

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Volt is beautiful — and I love how it is drying on a color-coordinated background!

  2. I have always suspected that I would like Martha — now I’m sure of it. Thanks for sharing the experience and for the photo of the gorgeous Volt (for years I have felt that I must be the only soul alive who does not care for the Kitchener stitch – so refreshing to know I’m not alone in the world). And, I’ve said it before that Olive is one adorable dog.

  3. Cashmere on the floor with a small mammal in the house? This is folly! (Except apparently it isn’t, since there was no terrier nestled in the cashmere in your photo.) As for the Kitchenering, the written instructions might as well be in Swahili for all the sense they make to me — but I can grasp them just fine if someone TELLS me how to do it. Maybe it’s just a matter of accommodating your learning style.

  4. OMG! I love Martha! And I love her show-and I would love to go see the show.
    I subscribe to Everyday Food and I love it. Good recipes and great dinner ideas. :)
    I love your shawl too :)

  5. A wonderful day at the tv studio (did you get to pet any of the goats?), a beautiful shawl completed, and a loveable dog not messing up said shawl. What fun, Kay!

  6. Ah love those Olive pix! And the Volt is spectacular–I am amassing laceweight cashmere in hopes of doing one myself. (And how much is required for that edging?)
    My take on Kitchener stitch is that you always slide off the stitch that doesn’t seem to make sense, and somehow it works out!

  7. Oh my gosh, I met one of the fabulous Beekman Boys one Saturday at the Fairway in Red Hook. He was hawking his lovely cheese and we had a nice chat about knitting, sheep and fiber. I had no idea they had a TV show, book and all other manner of promotional stuff!
    The Volt is super cool.

  8. Hi there, wow, what an exciting adventure to get to see Martha in all her glory! I wanted to comment how gorgeous those cherry blossom photos are, so lovely!

  9. LOVE Volt! It’s really so pretty and modern and go-with-everythingish. Very nice job! What does Dawn look like?
    I was always a bit anti-Martha because she hates knitting so I figured there’s something wrong with her. But if you like her, then I’ll like her, too. As for that magazine: it’s the best. All the recipes are designed to be quick and easy but w/ lots of flavor. We’ve subscribed for years. April 2008 is dogeared and falling apart but others are a close second. We heartily recommend it.

  10. I swear, Kay, please don’t EVER stop writing about these experiences. It’s like being there. Only funnier. Goat milking and slanty shawls! Fun!

  11. Excellent reportage! And always welcome Olive picture. Really, she is so so so cute… wish you would make little Olive stuffed toys.

  12. Best Olive photograph yet!
    And really, they have all been very, very good. But this one is outstanding :)

  13. I’m glad Martha charmed you. She would charm me if she had you both on the show. I still have the first year of magazines, and have lately renewed my subscription. But she’s not a knitting rock star with a tres chic volt.

  14. Congratulations! It look beautiful. And, I’m with you on Kitchener. Bah.
    (P.S. — Good news. The sun is finally out today in Chicago and it is a picture perfect spring day. Should reach you by Saturday, if general trends hold.)

  15. This sentence has so many different applications:
    “I would do a few rounds, be struck with a clear vision of the futility of human existence, and find something else to…”
    -Knitting
    -Working at any menial job far beneath my actual skills and intelligence
    -Smoking pot in college
    -Cleaning
    -Talking to my mother
    -Breathing (on bad days)
    And, you know, it made me laugh.
    (very cool about seeing Marty. Love her!)

  16. I went to see Martha and loved her too! But I found her a little scary frankly. However, and I’m not being gloaty here, but I sat in the FRONT ROW!!! It was pretty close for comfort. My girlfriend and I got odd swag, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and something else useful but embarrassing to walk around NYC carrying.
    Your dog is the best sleeper on the planet.

  17. Crazy, crazy jealous. I saw Martha in a book talk at the Y, late-eighties, and have been smitten ever since.
    Last night, reading the lastest MSL, I actually felt my brain build new neural pathways as I realized that in every feature, ALL THE HUMANS ARE WEARING COORDINATED OUTFITS. Lawn-game ladies: cotton cardigans. Sunday Suppers folk: small florals. Go have a lookie.

  18. In 1994, a friend and I were co-chairs of a fundraising committee . . . and we brought Martha to town for An Event. Now, I liked Martha way back then. . . but I was Unprepared for the amount of Martha-love this Event would generate!!!! Oh, my, does that woman have Fans. Martha was wonderful, and just a little bit demanding (which is, after, what you’d expect!). We had to send her staff hourly weather updates the day before she arrived; her drinking water had to be at a specific temperature; there was a “dress code.” It was fun; it was crazy; and it was a Giant Success! We made a boatload of money — thanks to Martha!
    Love Volt! So cool!

  19. Crazy, crazy jealous. I saw Martha in a book talk at the Y, late-eighties, and have been smitten ever since.
    Last night, reading the lastest MSL, I actually felt my brain build new neural pathways as I realized that in every feature, ALL THE HUMANS ARE WEARING COORDINATED OUTFITS. Lawn-game ladies: cotton cardigans. Sunday Suppers folk: small florals. Go have a lookie.

  20. Olive is the cutest thing ever. Volt is lovely too, but I adore your little Miss Olive.

  21. I haven’t met Martha, but I saw her do an Easter(?) show with her mom. I fell in love with her for ever that day. Except I still hate that celadon green color.
    Anne couldn’t go, because Anne? Bright-colored tee?

  22. Kay, have you tried TECHknitter’s way to graft? I tell you it was a revelation to me and I can actually remember how to do it without looking it up each time which I feel is a pretty major miracle. (http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/05/easier-way-to-kitchener-stitch-also.html)
    If you don’t want to try, I understand. I hate straight/single point needles with a deep and unabiding, irrational passion. And they’ve never even done anything to me!

  23. HOLY CRAP DUDE! Martha Stewart!!
    So. Awesome.
    Also, I really like that show that her daughter does – Whatever Martha on Fine Living. It’s too funny to watch Martha’s own daughter make fun of those ever-present blue shirts.

  24. HOLY CRAP DUDE! Martha Stewart!!
    So. Awesome.
    Also, I really like that show that her daughter does – Whatever Martha on Fine Living. It’s too funny to watch Martha’s own daughter make fun of those ever-present blue shirts.

  25. sorry about that

  26. Beautiful Volt! Adorable Olive.

  27. If I ever get back to NYC I am going to become an Olive-napper. . .. she is just toooooo cute and my cocker Buster would love her as well.
    I can always count on you two to give me joy and help me believe in the goodness of knitters!!

  28. I am sooooo jealous of you! I would love to go to her show, will have to make it a goal next year. I have been a fan since before she wrote a book..she had some stories in Family Circle ,then wrote columns for House Beautiful…and I have Seventeen magazine with her modeling ( I do hang on to things)I have her trial magazine and everything ever since.She came to Boston when her Gardening book came out and I got to meet her. She was very gracious…just as I imagined! Thanks for sharing, loved hearing about it!

  29. oh my heavens, ….is VOLT blocking on the back of a lovely quilt?
    remember martha’s famous crocheted poncho?

  30. I swear, you do the coolest things! Volt is inspirational and Olive looks like a baby fox curled up like that.

  31. I have to admit that I’d love to see video of Martha Stewart watchers brawling in the audience. Insults like “I bet you only pipe three petal flowers on your cupcakes” or “Don’t you know that’s not a Martha approved shade of coral?” would be hilarious.
    Also, wonderful Volt and wonderful Olive picture. My terrier always has a favorite cushion and there’s nothing I can do about it.

  32. I don’t know who/which I covet more–Olive or your Volt! They’re both wonderful. Did you get any extra width on your shawl by using the cashmere? I look forward to your reports on Dawn.

  33. Love that Olive photo. Makes you want to scoop her up (but then of course, she would be an awake and far less calm terrier!!)

  34. May I say, this is an absolutely perfect post. An inside look at Martha’s show, Volt, I-cord, Kitchener complainin’, cashmere, Purl Soho . . . who could ask for anything more?

  35. Oh, do read the Bucolic Plague. I read an ARC of it and it is so, so much fun. Josh is a peach (his previous memoir is also fantastic) and I hope this book does well for him! I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it.

  36. Oh, how I love to see little doggies and kitties curled up like that! It just makes me go all mushy inside (while Olive has a particularly special gift of cute, cute, cute…) And the blocking wires look so “it’s time YOU get a set, Diane”. I mean, Volt just comes into its own (with very little effort, I’ll bet) at the “hand” of those wires .
    Buuut, how do you “Kitchener” I-Cord together? Like I’ve done the Kitchener stitch to weave the toes of socks together, however that’s within the same ROUND–but the beginning and ending ends of I-Cord? How is that accomplished?
    Thanks for the nice post.
    LoveDiane

  37. That is so awesome. I’ve always loved Martha, DVR her show every day. Thanks for the description and the photos in case I never get to see her show live!!!

  38. I wish I could remember where I read the Kitchener Stitch instructions that didn’t make me want to hang their author in effigy, but they’re somewheres…oh well. Once you get the “as if” metaphysics of it, you’ll love it as much as you love CF. (Has HE ever been a guest on Martha?)

  39. If there was a “like” button to click for that shawl, I totally would.

  40. Ah, Martha. I got so damned (allowed here?) mad when she went to trial that I bought her stock. Did well, too, thank you very much. Went to see her after she got out of the clink. Dragged another old feminist along; convinced her that Martha needed our support, that the way she was treated was a contemporary version of bad stuff from suffrage days.
    Impressed how you continue to push envelope with your knitting. Hope to finish two projects, move on to Elann Incense Denim– reminds me of Rowan , sort of.

  41. I enjoy kitchenering, and I do not like Martha Stewart.
    There, I’ve said it. I expect letters……..

  42. Oh, Martha, Martha, Martha . . . I finally realized recently that I want to be Martha when I grow up. She has an equine dentist!!! Not that I have a horse, but . . . still! Have you seen her peony garden???
    Volt is like . . . a volt! It’s quite handsome and I admire your ability to see it to the end. You now have something quite lovely to see you through NY chills.
    And Olive is a lovely thing, too, all curled up and sleeping.

  43. Laughin’ out loud at the Martha Without Irony. I wish you had uttered that line about the delicious animals and the eggs the right shade of blue–a peach-colored brawl would have livened up the proceedings. Thanks for the photos and commentary! Almost like bein’ there!
    Also, kitchener? I’m a hater, too.

  44. Just wanted to thank you for the great advice on NYC last week.
    Mom enjoyed the Bouchon Bakery and we got fitted for bras at Macy’s and saw Lend Me a Tenor at The Music Box Theater.
    NYC is a fun place for a couple of southern women out on the town.

  45. Kay, I just gotta ask: did you give Amanda, above, advice on bra-fitting at Macy’s? How come you never gave ME bra-fitting advice?

  46. I want Olive!

  47. Do you think we need a Facebook campaign to get you and Ann as guests on Martha’s show? If it worked for Betty White . . . Your account from the back row was hilarious! Knife-edged khakis!

  48. You had me at Martha Stewart live and good-natured goats. Does it get any better than that?

  49. oh I am so jealous of your Martha experience! I must begin planning one of these shawls!

  50. Did you know that it really isn’t that hard to get tickets to Martha’s show? I’ve been 2x, and had to turn down tickets 2x because I can only make her afternoon tapings, not the morning ones. The 2 I’ve been to there for the handmade knit shows she’s done. The audience was a showcase of beautiful knitting. The first knitting show actually had very little knitting, the second year was much better but the give aways were horrible. First year, book on how to make sock animals; second year, how to knit kits from Lion Brand filled with acrylic rainbow boucle and huge plastic needles-seen on sale on their website clearanced at less than $7.00. I’m sure the whose are archived on the Martha Stewart website Several handknits were featured on each show but the real beauties were left in the audience.
    The Volt, of course, is absolutley beautiful.