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

The Great Unwinding Party of 2005

Dear Kay,
You know I hate to leave you hanging when it comes to the burning issue of Reporting On Events Involving Knitters. But I had to get home from Chicago, find the dang USB cable to hook up the Anncam, and do the trickiest Photoshopping of my life in order to bring you the full report on what was for me a really mind-blowing evening.
I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that a bunch of women who don’t know each other would go to a fair amount of trouble (hour-long train rides from Geneva, travel while toting a warm artichoke dip, bringing lasagna on a train, and on and on) in order to hang out and knit.
Maybe that’s actually not all that surprising. Running away from home is everybody’s fantasy, right? And it did involve knitting. But still.
The scene: The Sister-in-law Mary Neal’s loft.
Once people started arriving, the traditional Pile Up Of The Knitting Bags began by the door. Alice the yarn-sniffing cat inspected each one.
So much chow! Chow of all sorts: dippish chow, layered pasta chow, chocolate chow. Everybody brought chow!
Karen brought Garrett’s popcorn, which need not be explained to Chicagoans, but suffice it to say that the caramel/cheese mix is one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Dana brought a pineapple of hospitality. Dana is getting married in three months. Mazel tov! We’ll be there!
Collette, Elizabeth, and Erica, who brought peppermint bark AND artichoke dip. The two food groups: sugar and mayo.
Helen, she of the lasagna, and Emily, who is wearing the handknit she cooked up when she decided to teach herself Fair Isle. Note, of course, the tweedy goodness. I should point out that Emily is actually famous for her quilts, which will take your breath away and which you can see here.
The gang from Geneva was kind of hilarious. They all brought socks:
Carla’s sock.
Emily’s sock.
Jodee’s sock. I’m telling you, Kay, the sock train is leaving and we better get on board.
Here’s the hostess di tutti hostesses Mary Neal, who was accused of having hair that isn’t really all that red though I of course disagree, along with Corinne (whose book of doggie knits is coming in 2007) and Bonne Marie. Yes, Bonne Marie as in Bonne Marie of Chicknits.
Now, you can guess how the evening went. Everybody pretended to chat in a friendly way for as long as they could stand it, then one by one we dropped like flies to start the knitting portion of the evening.
I tried to work on the new lace shawl I started on the plane, using Thing 2, the mercerized Blue Heron cotton that has been marinating for several months. You can see how successful I was.
The ostensible reason for the evening was winding yarn for the Perfect Sweater project. But honestly, when the conversation was cooking and the socks were flying, the yarn-winding pretty much fell by the wayside. I was glad that Cristina managed to crank a ball of Noro, in the name of common decency:
At the end of the evening, we said tearful farewells, swore we would stay sweet, and we declared the whole thing a ton of fun. And yes, we did finish
the bourbon milkshakes.
Happy new year, amies! Thank you, Mary Neal, for hosting us, and thank you, everyone, for coming.




  1. looks like a great party, sorry I missed it in my old-town. looking forward to ny post holiday affair.

  2. Wow that looks like a great party. You want to come to Seattle next?

  3. What fun!
    And, Mary Neal, forgive the non-knitting content, but, I am coveting your bookshelves and the contents therein.
    Genevans: I was just commenting to Andrea, one of the owners of my LYS, that I thought socks and mittens were on the way back. Proof postive!

  4. Ditto the above commenter on the bookshelves and my coveting them. Moreso than the yarn, even. Of course, bookshelves like that in my house would only end with a flurry of pages on the floor, having been ripped by a maniac 2 year old.
    looks like a good time was had by all, aided no doubt by that bourbon milkshake (for which i NEED the recipe!)

  5. just like the ole quilting bees of yesteryear…..

  6. So wonderful of Ann and Mary Neal to host the Chicago MDK party! Lots of fun seeing some familiar faces and meeting some new folks, as well.
    Mary Neal’s loft (and that peppermint bark) rocks!

  7. oh what fun… I wished I was there … but like Robin, I covet those bookshelves big time. happy new year!

  8. I have been cross-eyed with jealousy that I couldn’t be in Chicago for the winding party … and am still envious, but happy that you all had such a good time. Yarn and bourbon milkshakes are a good combination (although I’m wondering how much tinking took place on the day after …)
    Great photos. Lucky ladies.

  9. OMG. Bourbon MILKSHAKES? Damn, woman. And I thought I was crazy for drinking Champagne straight from the bottle…
    Still haven’t bought my 220. I think my wallet is rebelling.

  10. Thank you everyone who came. It was truly fun.
    The bookshelves are from http://www.issdesigns.com. I ordered the already-made-up packages, which are less expensive than a la carte. They were, in fact, fairly easy to install. The company sent me a Christmas card! (I gotta ask: Was this order really that significant?)

  11. Ooh La La – your pictures are SUPERB!!! OOh the food – captured in all its atmospheric goodness – just lovely!
    And more lovely, the wonderful hospitality you & Mary Neal showered us all with – a amiling, cozy bountiful warming on a midwinter’s eve…
    And most lovely – the gathering of knitters from near and far to make that circle hum – I thank you for making such a memorable night happen, Ann, I wish you were my neighbor and am so glad Mary Neal is here to stay!

  12. O I’m so sad I couldn’t be there – what a great loft! Jodee, what yarn are you using for your sock – it looks wonderful. Happy New Year!

  13. 1. There will be another sock train coming along any minute. Me, I worry I’ll get run over by the sock train.
    2. In re: Bonne Marie. You know when you are using one of those satellite navigation systems in a rental car, and you don’t turn when it expected you to, and it says ‘Recalculating. Route.’? Well, since spying that tattoo on Her ChicKnitship’s arm, I am recalculating route!
    Seriously reconsidering the tattoo-free lifestyle. I feel so lacking in embellishment.
    3. Dang me! I am sorry I missed the fun. I love a good knitting party! We won’t even try to find an apartment with as many books in it for the New York Version. xox Kay

  14. Such a great gathering! Really, the highlight of the holidays for me this year. Ann and Mary Neal are lovely hostesses, and the guests all just delightful! Thank you so much for a marvelous party!

  15. Looks like we have at least two votes for the next meeting to be in Seattle. I’m sure we could set aside our lattes for one evening and learn to drink bourbon milkshakes. I have purchased my 220, in a lovely shade of purple, and have needles at the ready. Happy New Year to all.

  16. Mmmm. Bourbon milk shake. I’m very jealous. I love Mary Neal’s loft. As a former Chicagoan, I have to take a stab at her neighborhood. It must be westside – Pilson, the area just south of downtown, or maybe Wicker Park? I miss that city! Glad you had such a great time!

  17. Ann – I’m SO sorry I missed the party – had a dachshund-related emergency, and spent the evening at the vet clinic. Could have used a bourbon milkshake, for sure. Still could, actually…..

  18. Thank you both for hosting. Mary Neal, it was wonderful for you to open your home to a bunch of women with weapons. It was really lovely, even if I was a little nervous. (I told Ann that when I asked my husband, “What if nobody likes me?”, he gently replied, “You can come home early then sweetie.”) It was so nice to get together and just hang out–people who would probably never meet, sitting around, knitting, talking about all sorts of stuff. (After the stories about Corinne’s boyfriend I wanna marry him–I LOVE him!)

  19. The knits–socks and shawls and amazing feats of cabling! Susan’s very cool table-top swift! Susan herself! And I had to leave just as she and all those wonderful women settled down to knit and tell stories! But, okay, not really “poor me.” Thanks again to Ann and Mary Neal (who should have her own network, let alone blog).
    xo, c.

  20. hey ann,
    great to meet you at TNNA. the book is smashing! you and kay are a phenom!!


A bit of news from us, every now and again.

(Your email is safe with us.)