"The Nation's Leading Bi-Regional Knitting Blog" --Ann's husband • "Kay sure is wasting a lot of time on this" --Kay's husband

July 31, 2003

Dateline: Pawleys

Dear Kay,

We're having a hot and chaotic time here on the South Carolina coast, with all the plumbing issues and malfunctioning phone problems of home. Adding four little boys into the equation means a) constant vigiliance and b) multiple daily trips to Big Lots/Pawleys Playland/Wal-mart and any other purveyor of plastic stuff.

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The eight-pound ball of yarn is down to about four pounds, and at this point it's a Gee's Bend kind of look at one end, and a World Tour of Acrylic at the other. We're heading into a big stretch of white, which will make or break the subtle color rhythms. Or something. All I want to know is, which friend of David's donated the rainbow clown wig boucle to this effort?

I have taught two kids to knit in the past few days. One was a six-year-old girl who said not a single word until she had finished an entire row of the abovementioned clown wig boucle. She looked up, blinked, and said, "I get it."

The other is my four-year-old nephew, who grooves on the off-pops-Jack part.

The drive down to Pawleys from Nashville was epic, highlighted by a stay at the Best Western Dumplin Valley, followed by a heart-attack breakfast at the Ole Smoky Grill. I have a photo of Jon filling the gas tank, silhouetted against the Grand Ole FIREWORKS sign. We had what can only be described as the Freak Out in Florence, when we'd been on the road for nine hours and suddenly realized that the interstate had come to an end, with two hours of driving to go. The one benefit of a long-ass car ride is that Hubbo got into a truck driver groove and let me knit on my All Seasons Cotton Splash ALL day long.

I know what you mean about ASC--its extreme sponginess is a new thing for me, and even after going down a needle size, it does have a kind of floppiness.

Kay, this whole Moonbeam experience has me a little teary and proud. I'll tell you the parts I wish I could redo, now that you've laid on the props. The side seams bug me. I wish I'd done a selvage stitch at the edges, which Becky of Fluffa has been going on about. And there is one stitch at the back of the neck where a cast-off row didn't really connect properly, and it left a hole that I could NOT fix. Yecch. And I still think I have ribbing issues, which may partly be made worse by the nature of Linen Drape. Ah, WHATEVER. Start picking out your next sweater.

Posted by Ann at 12:26 PM | Comments (8)

July 29, 2003

For a Hoot

Dear Ann--Run, don't walk, to curlsandpurls.prettyposies.com, where my gifted curly headed wacked out pal Elisabeth has posted her artistic interpretation of .... me! Any fool can see that I am wearing Smoulder by our boy Kaffe, and that I did an impeccable job on it, even without benefit of a blocking board. (And yes, I am that cute.)

Curlsandpurls should be in our Places We Love, but that would mean you have to come back from the beach and do it. I've tried, I've really tried, but can't figure it out. Each day that CurlsandPurls is absent from our list, a Sicilian curse of vengeance hangs over our heads (Lis assures me it's nothing personal). I'm sort of used to it, but I worry about you.

Posted by Kay at 12:57 PM | Comments (3)

July 28, 2003

Ready, Set, INHALE!!!

...which is what I will have to do nonstop whenever I am wearing my FABULOUS NEW TOP, MOONBEAM, which was waiting on my doorstep at midnight last night. What was I thinking asking Ann to knit this for me?? It's so sexy, so sultry, so slinky---so very, very Somebody Else! But Ann took all of my instructions ('Make it on the wide side', etc.) very much to heart, and so in fact it is quite flattering, provided I bear in mind the need to clench the abdominals with all my might, at all times. As a piece of knitting, Moonbeam is an impeccable exemplar of the House of Ann. I am pleased as can be.

I was in a bit of a fugue state last night. Not only was I prancing around the apartment in Moonbeam, checking myself out from all angles (to the bewildered amusement of the Husband, who keeps thinking he has Seen It All), but I ripped open my 'exclusive free gift for members' (to quote the Husband, in tones of deep resignation, 'You got another knitting thing in the mail.'). In gratitude for my membership renewal, Rowan had sent me a Kaffe Fassett Tumbling Blocks cushion kit in a zippy colorway of 6 shades of Rowanspun 4 ply. Need I say more? Gently hyperventilating, I wound up 3 balls of it, started making 2 little bundles for each block of color (double-stranding yarn for a 6-color intarsia project--are they totally, completely MAD over there at Holmfirth??), and then I did the first 6 rows, in slow motion. I hope somebody out there will understand that I had no choice about this. It was 2 a.m. before I hung up my tangled mass of Rowanspun and passed out in a state of deep bliss. I had been up for an hour this morning before I remembered all of this happening, as if in a dream.

Posted by Kay at 11:00 AM | Comments (5)

July 25, 2003

FIBER ARTS BOY OF THE YEAR!!

Dear Ann,

I am well aware that there are laws against child labor, and in theory I am very much in favor of these laws, but why can't David make ME an 8 pound ball of finger knitting?? I had dibbies on the funky rug department of this blog, you know. And you took shameless advantage of your position as his mother, in getting him to part with it.

And the RUG!! What a fab fab rug you are making. It is fab in its own right, but when you consider the PROVENANCE.....I can already hear the docent at the American Folk Art Museum whispering reverently, 'Now THIS piece is among the earliest in the collaboration of mother-and-son folk ruggers from Tennessee. Please, STEP AWAY FROM THE RUG.'

I need David's help with our potholder situation up here. We love making potholders until the last quarter or so, when it takes so much brute strength to weave in the last loops. Are the Target loops by any chance stretchier than the fancy schmancy loops I'm getting here?? What is David's secret? I will be slightly mollified--slightly, I say--if you would do me the honor of sending me a few potholders to experiment with. I think they would make awesome bottoms for bags. If you didn't finish the loops around the edges, you could just pick up and knit a bag in the round. A bunch of them sewn or crocheted together would make a mighty fine mat or rug, and you could do a Judi Boisson style border using double stranded cotton yarn, again by picking up stitches around the edges.

So many weird home textiles to make, so little time.

Posted by Kay at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)

Vacation knitting plans

Kay--I'm heading out of town this afternoon for a week at the beach, so of course I have spent considerable time planning my knitting. The All Seasons Cotton Splash is going along for brainless car knitting (I'd take the eight-pound-ball of yarn, it's so fun, but I'd need to put a child out of the car to make room).

I'm taking a bunch of Donegal Lambswool to try out fair isle color combinations--after one fair isle sweater a year ago for my niece Ann, I'm getting the urge again. But this time I want to do it in the round to avoid the dreaded purl-row pattern-backwards problem. And because I'm too spastic to do fair isle with two hands (who ARE those people?), it's bound to be much easier to do it slip stitch style when there are only knit stitches to do.

Posted by Ann at 09:06 AM

Eight-pound ball of yarn

Kay--Your rugmania is contagious. Yesterday I was propping my feet up on David's eight-pound ball of finger knitting, and it hit my like a thunderclap: there's a rug in that thar ball of yarn.

So on a pre-vacation provisioning trip to Wal-Mart (the only place I could find that hasn't sold out of potholder loops), I picked up some 17s ($5.87 instead of $17 at my local yarn shop, though of course these are aluminum, not lovingly hand-rubbed bonga-bangi wood or whatever). Got home, cast on, and here we go:

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Here's David just before I told him I would pay him for his giant ball of yarn. His expression shifted to delighted, greedy joy moments later.

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I get it, I totally get the rug thing. It's not really knitting, with needles this size, it's more like construction. So GIANT! So FAST! How big a rug are you planning to make with your squares? I see a two-by-five for the fellas' bathroom with this one.

Posted by Ann at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)

July 23, 2003

Rug fever, the 7-year-old's way

Kay--So David, he of the eight-pound ball of finger knitting, has taken on potholders with a vengeance this summer. He's gone through two giant bags of loops, and keeping him stocked is like feeding a grasshopper. I am sorely tempted to somehow knit these squares together:

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Posted by Ann at 09:24 PM | Comments (3)

Don't Get Me Started on Rugs!

Ann--I'm onto you: you're baiting me with that rag rug entry. Of course I went straight to the link and ogled the Bulls Eye Rug. I didn't find the explanation of how it's made all that ..... helpful, though.

My Maysville Rug Filler (aka 'mop yarn') rug project is languishing in a shopping bag. Let's review: In June I went to Downtown Yarns, a place I have no business frequenting given the size of my stash. Rita had these huge hanks of brightly colored yarn resembling the stuff a mop is made of. It was $6 for an enormous skein. Rita had made a charming knitted rug with several shades of green and blue. Nature took its course and I walked out with armfuls of the stuff and the resolve to invent a sturdy, funky bathmat. I knit a garter stitch one up that very night (it goes fast on Number 15s!), but found it too floppy. Then I started experimenting with moss stitch and knitting along a strand of Lang Filo in a contrasting color (which I just happened to have on hand). I made a bunch of 12 inch squares with every intention of figuring out how to join them together into substantial funky rugs and/or bathmats. Still they sit in the shopping bag, along with a bunch more mop yarn that I made a special trip back to Rita's for. Hmmm... do you suppose she's got it on sale now???

When I get my fab new Kay-cam I will post the squares in all their mighty funkitude.

Posted by Kay at 07:31 PM | Comments (3)

Knitted rugs

Here's one knitted rug I really like, a bullseye rug. (Scroll down to see it.) Knit a long narrow strip, then coil it from the center. I can imagine lots of color fun with this idea. Maybe I'll get rug fever, too.

Posted by Ann at 08:05 AM | Comments (1)

July 22, 2003

Ode to Rowanspun 4 Ply

Anybody who knows me doesn't know that I have a righteous stash of my all-time favorite yarn, the discontinued Rowan Donegal Lambswool. NObody actually knows the full extent of my warehouse. So tweedy! So thin! Such a fine skinny fabric it makes! If I ever got up the nerve, it would be excellent for delving into the world of Kaffe's intarsiamania. I'm content to stick to simpler stuff for the moment, but I am cranking up to do a fairisle using some of my precious stuff.

In the interest of fairness, and in the interest of buying something, I took home a skein of Donegal Lambswool's alleged replacement in the Rowan line, Rowanspun 4 Ply. The acid green color is fantastic, with a strand of yellow and some kooky flecks thrown in, but I was worried that it would be too . . . fluffy . . . too NOT Donegal Lambswool. But I was happily surprised to find that it knits up all terrific. Here it is on my number 2s:

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We'll see what comes of my discovery. Stashportunity?

Posted by Ann at 10:19 PM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2003

Baby William gets knitty

So for the first time in my life I finished a baby sweater BEFORE the baby arrived. My old colleague Elizabeth Herbert finally gave up the ghost, two weeks and a day after the due date, and William Herbert is now here. I'll be taking his little pale green doodah over to him tomorrow. It's from Debbie Bliss's QUICK BABY KNITS (not to be confused with BABY QUICK KNITS, QUICK KNITS FOR BABIES, or QUICKIE BABY KNITS or any of her other 800 like-named books). It's Rowan Cotton Glace, which I love. I'm getting more and more interested in smaller-gauged yarns--those thin fabrics are worth the extra work, I'm finding.

Here 'tis:
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Posted by Ann at 11:39 PM | Comments (3)

July 19, 2003

Moonbeam finis!

So, Kay, I finished up Moonbeam. Deelighted. Hope you don't hate it. I've made a little pop-up window so that you can wait to see it in person—or look now if you're in that go-ahead-and-open-it-now mood. Anyway, our nation of readers worldwide can take a peek if they like:

Kay's very own Moonbeam

I'm ready to exchange again whenever you like. Tonzafun, truly.
8) Ann in Nashville


Posted by Ann at 07:59 PM | Comments (3)

July 18, 2003

Obligatory Cat Photo

It's not a knitting blog without a photo of a cat. So here's evidence of the cat cloning that happened this morning when I awoke and found our cat, Kitty Wells, sitting on the bench next to a cat I've never seen before.

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Posted by Ann at 06:20 PM | Comments (1)

A Favorite Writer

"I believe in goodness. I'm amazed by the amount of goodness in the world."

Carol Shields died two days ago. She is one of my favorite writers, who wrote with such humanity and understanding.

Carol Shields, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Novelist, Dies at 68

Posted by Ann at 11:44 AM

July 17, 2003

Re: A Vanished Post

My only comments:

1. Too sick to knit is a bad, bad thing. Very sorry for your misery.

2. Who would name a sweater Salt Lake City? Of COURSE it's miserable.

3. Re the solace of 15-ball stockinette: I'm thinking of starting a king-size blanket, garter stitch, that I will turn to whenever a project is misbehaving. I will use whatever yarn I have in excess, and it will be the ultimate mindless piece of knitting. Once I cast on the 1500 stitches, on those 70" circulars, I'll be on my way.

4. Your dream is a killer. It warms my heart that you picture me in Target, and even more that you accurately picture me with unnecessary plastic objects.

Posted by Ann at 03:55 PM | Comments (1)

Kaffe Watch!

So here I am flipping through the Peruvian Connection catalog, which any knitter looks at with admiration and head-shaking amazement (28-dark-color intarsia in meandering leaf patterns) when I come across Kaffe Fassett and one of his dotty-patterned cardigans. His dot patterns are my favorite, and this one is a steal at $498.

Posted by Ann at 03:36 PM | Comments (1)

A vanished post!

Kay! I just discovered the following post by you on our other blog, which I never saw until just now. MAN, is this confusing. I'm moving it here because it's such a fine piece of Kayness, and it's nice about me which I never tire of, and at least this way you're in our new improved blog. x0 Ann

Ann Withdrawal

Where is Ann? Ann has headed for the hills, literally. She has tossed her brood, her knitting and her Squeaky in the back of the car and headed for increasingly rural surroundings. (Being a provincial New York type, I imagine that there was no need to pack footwear and that there WILL be a jug band at some point.)

I miss ol' Ann. I had a dream about Ann last night. In this dream, I ran into Ann at Target (where else?); she was pushing a big red cart piled high with unnecessary plastic objects. To my disappointment, real-life Ann (who I've never met--see FAQs about Kay and Ann) turned out to be one of my former legal colleagues who moved to a Southern state. I liked this colleague just fine, but let's just say she was No Ann. So I was gnashing my teeth and wondering why this pal would play such a mean--and bizarrely elaborate -- trick (writing all those emails, immersing herself in the trials, tribs and trivia of knitting, inventing a vast imaginary stash containing the fabled Rowan Lightweight DK and other now-vanished yarns in colors like "Orkney", not to mention joining Rowan International and deceiving all those kindhearted British ladies....). Then, just before I woke up, I realized that this person could never impersonate Ann, because I used to edit her, and she did not write like Ann!! Dreams are seldom resolved so neatly.

The Knitting Front

Things are in a mess on the knitting front. I had a bout of food poisoning Monday night, that lingered into Tuesday and Wednesday and weakened my very life force, i.e., the drive to knit. I ended up tearing out my 30 rows of intarsia'd lizard for Robby's cushion, because I had dropped a stitch somewhere and am too much of a perfectionist to simply restore the errant stitch and let my lizard friend have one stitch askew on his right paw. Once I start ripping back intarsia, I can never seem to get it back on the needles. It became a sorry, tangled mess. My teenage niece Kristin, who is visiting, asked if I had ever been involved in a more tragic knitting situation (two years ago I got her so enthused about knitting that she made an entire blanket from Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick--now she's wise-cracking) --I'm sure I have been, but I can't remember when.

I only have one project that I'm in the middle of--Salt Lake City in the Jaeger Trinity book. I'm into the second repeat of that outrageous braided center cable, but haven't picked it up for weeks. Not the thing to take up when one is in a bad knitting mood--every 4 or 5 stitches one must get out the cable needle, squint at the slanty lines on the chart and figure out whether to twist it left or right. Since Not Knitting is not an option, it seems like the only way out is to embark on a stocking stitch marathon from one of my Rowan books. One of those 15-ballers they like to design to sell a lot of yarn. Something so blousy and balloony that I will never actually wear it, but I will get a lot of soothing clickety-clack out of it. What will it be?

Favorite Spam Title of the Day: "Lose Weight the Spiritual Way!!"

Posted by Ann at 03:28 PM

Sewing Up Moonbeam

Just about finished sewing up Moonbeam. The set-in sleeves went in better than I thought they would. A couple of sleevy seams and I'm done. Woopy!

Grooming rant:

Yesterday I took the fellas to the Opryland Hotel, the largest hotel east of Las Vegas. It is the first thing that people who have been to Nashville mention to me ("How about that hoTEL?"), and it is just about the worst place in the universe. However, a mother in possession of two small boys is surely in want of a diversion. While on the indoor boat ride in the section of the hotel known as the Delta (I think Legionnaire's Disease every time I get a whiff of that atrium), I noticed six of my fellow passengers were sporting the dregs of long-ago pedicures. Excuse me, but HOW HARD IS IT to remove nail polish? Yecch! Double yecch! I'm going to start handing out little bottles of Cutex.

Posted by Ann at 01:24 PM

July 15, 2003

Blocking Moonbeam

Got out the Rowenta this afternoon for a steamfest while the fellas made potholder upon potholder (David) and played Busy Town on the computer (Clif). I have noticed that the more I knit, the less attention the fellas get. Hmm. May need to think about that.

Until then, here's Moonbeam in a pre-steam mode:

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I've never knitted a ribbed sweater, and I'm amazed at how incredibly stretchy it is, horizontally, that is. Goes halfway to Memphis. Looks really skinny when it's not stretched out on a person or a board. Get ready, Kay.

Posted by Ann at 05:12 PM

July 14, 2003

Back from the Mountain

Two book ideas came out of my week in the mountains with sister Buffy:

1. How to Cook Without Actually Cooking. This book would explain how to use cereal for three meals a day. Could be subtitled "Leave the Flavorful World Behind."

2. The No-Dishwasher Diet. This would be subtitled "Do Without Processed Foods and a Dishwasher! Lose Ten Pounds in a Week!" I noticed in my week without a dishwasher that I often forewent food because I didn't want to handwash another dish. Well, imagine if I LIVED that way. No ice cream, no brownies, no fudge. I'd eat maybe once a day. And that thought led me to the next obvious thought: if I had to live the way the pioneers did (sans Pringles), without any of the exotic, processed delights that I live on (Famous Amos cookies), I would weigh less. If I had to make my own potato chips, well, I wouldn't be making them. Or eating them. Except for being totally miserable, it would be great.

Posted by Ann at 11:32 PM | Comments (1)

Splash Begins

Kay--On my week in the mountains, I had a great moment finishing your ultrafoxy Moonbeam. Now I need only to sew it up, and off it goes. The Linen Drape behaved better and better as time passed, so that last sleeve looks considerably less burbly than the back. You'll never notice. Shyeah.

Late that night I started my recovery knitting, Splash from the Rowan All Seasons Cotton book. If the purple looks familiar, well, it was leftovers from the yarn I sent you for my Kelly which, by the way, I'm STILL WAITING FOR. Here's what the nubbins look like on the edge.

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Dreadlocks is what I think they look like. Weird, but fun to make.

Posted by Ann at 07:43 PM | Comments (2)
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