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

January 27, 2004

Overheated

Dear Kay,

Have I mentioned that it's COLD around here? We've had a fire going all afternoon, and now that it's late, the fireplace is all het up and I'm thinking getting some of those Bagel Bites out of the freezer and throwing 'em on a spit for a bit of colonial fireside rotisserie. Here, have a seat:

fireplace.jpg
A scene from 'Backdraft'

If you look closely, you can see a burned-up Lucky Charms cereal box in the front.

I'd like to say I've been zonked out in front of the fire all day, toying with some new knitting project, but that would be only a fantasy. I've been slaving like a Trojan, I tell you. I finished that sprawlbustin' newsletter that has haunted me like an overdue Blockbuster rental (quick: go donate something to Sprawlbustin' Soccer Moms Knitting for a Better Way), so I have rewarded myself with a free procrastination bonus on that gardening books roundup I've been meaning to finish.

Which gave me plenty of time tonight for a lovely interlude with . . .

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Punch!

The blocking of Punch, to be exact. The pins! The pins pins pins pins pins pins! I've cranked through a mess of Jo Sharp DK to get this Punchy pullover close to doneness. I hestitate to bring this up, but I know the way I know a shoe is going to be killing me in an hour, there are Significant Sleeve Issues looming here.

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Top o' the raglan to ya

Looks kind of hinky to me, but nothing that a little aggressive stitch-picking-up can't hide. The larger issue is, of course, length. I can't figure out how I could knit two entire whole sleeves without noticing a two-inch overshot on each one. Wha. Wa. Ah. Thankin.

Should we go ahead and have that Midwinter Sleeve Dissection Laboratory? I welcome any wisdom about what to do (except for that advice to reknit ANYthing), but really. What is my problem? If these sleeves are joogeable, they shall be jooged.

I think the chimney smoke is starting to get to me . . .

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:16 PM | Comments (15)

January 25, 2004

Happy Monkey Year

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Dear Ann,

I sure hope 'lazing around with hubbo' is a euphemism for what I think it is a euphemism for.

But while you two turtledoves were eating hotel waffles and watching old movies (what did you think I meant?) I was freezing my earflaps off yesterday afternoon in the single-digit temperature, trying to give Joseph a fun tour of Chinatown during the New Year festivities. We were in the neighborhood, and he was intrigued, as only a 5-year-old can be, at the fantasy that we had taken the N train to actual China.

Here's a short KayCam tour:

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The confetti-littered street---

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--one of many holiday-stuff stores that look like a Kaffe Fassett design--

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--and, thanks to my boy's sharp eyes, the neighborhood version of my very favorite no-parking sign! (Of course there was a car parked there.)

In other news, I'm mad as a hatter. Given the weather and many requests resulting from a felted Noro Iro hat I made for Carrie, I've finished two hats this weekend and I have another two on the needles. Borrowing from the Cat in the Hat, here's Thing One, the Jelly hat from Rowan's Tadpoles and Tiddlers book, in an Anny Blatt wool I never seem to run out of, and Thing Two, the same hat in one skein of Noro Kureyon stretched with some Aran wool I have a kilo of, for my nephew Paul. Thing Three (on the needles) is a huge bucket hat in Noro Big Kureyon, to be felted down to Human Head Size for my sister-in-law Kathy, and Thing Four (on the needles) is a roll-edge hat in Noro Kureyon and Manos, to be felted down to Human Kid Head Size for my niece Maggie. Since Maggie, Paul and Kathy have a father and husband who might feel left out if he didn't get a hat, too, I have to get another one on the needles asap for my brother-in-law Ron, and hopefully finish it in time for protection from this cold snap.

In other news, I found these in my house:

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Can't imagine how they got into our Barbie-Free Zone, but I'm thinking about putting them up on eBay. Talk about man bites dog--moi, a seller on eBay? Freaky.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 03:24 PM | Comments (7)

January 24, 2004

girls gone mild

dear kay

lazing around with hubbo this weekend at a hotel at least four miles from home. have forgotten how to eat a meal that doesn't include ketchup.

back to uncivilization tomorrow.

love,
ann

am heading for the burrito stand to shake it off.

Posted by Ann at 02:35 PM | Comments (1)

January 19, 2004

88 Triangles Down, 712 to Go

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Dear Kay,

As Scooby Doo would say, "Ruh roh."

Saturday afternoon I endured that most difficult of trials, a trip to Michael's with the two fellas. This was no trip in search of paint or clay or July 4th bunting or little shells to glue on boxes or soap kits with lavender-smelling drops or any of the other 46 reasons we go to the crafts store. Oh, no. This was a trip for ME.

To get this:

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The Olfa 45 mm rotary cutter. The world's most life-threatening craft tool. It's like the X-acto knife people put their heads together and thought, Man. If we could just make this blade more dangerous.

I just couldn't help myself. I have all of Hubbo's dad's shirts sorted out, and there are enough to make a stripey quilt, a checked one, a solid one, and a madras one.

The stripey shirts called to me all day, and finally I had to have a go at them. I got out my Math-o-meter 2000 and calculated how many triangles I would need to cut in order to make a Kaffe Fassett Striped Boxes Quilt (see Found Objects), and 800 isn't really THAT many triangles once you pop in that depressing Beck record and get in a malevolent groove. My Olfa can cut five layers of fabric at once, plus one small finger or cat tail.

The plan is to enlist the help of Elmira, quiltmistress of Greenville, Alabama, to piece and quilt these triangles into their Kaffeish destiny. Thank you to Dr. Betty Ruth of Point Clear, Alabama, for pointing me in the direction of Elmira.

And really extraspecial thanks to Julie M. for sending the copy of Passionate Patchwork, which got this whole mania started.

I'm looking forward to figuring out the lay of the squares, once I finish snipping.

There is not even the remotest chance that we will need to rename our blog Mason-Dixon Quilting, but I hope you'll bear with me while I get this out of my system. I frankly don't know how people can do this particular craft. But I'm sure the quilters of the world are over there wondering about those weird knitter people.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:10 PM | Comments (33)

January 15, 2004

Bad Boy, Bad Boy

[WARNING: No Knitting Content; Minimal Crochet; Some Acrylic]

New York (AP)

Officials have confirmed that a rodent known as 'Hammy' escaped this evening from a minimum-security facility in Manhattan. Probationary agents, who reportedly were seeking to obtain Hammy's cooperation in an investigation of what happens when a hamster is allowed free run of a Brio train set, lost sight of the furry felon when he ducked under a radiator cover. Senior officials who do not care if they are named, missy, have confirmed that their subordinates' actions in removing Hammy from his usual place of confinement and transporting him across the apartment without authorization will result in severe disciplinary proceedings such as not reading a chapter of Little House on the Prairie tonight and maybe even tomorrow night.

A high-level administration official was called away from reading knitting blogs and talking on the telephone to personally oversee the stakeout of Hammy's hideout. After a special operations unit removed the radiator cover, the crime scene was strewn with sunflower seeds, and agents settled in with flashlights and low-calorie beers for a long night.

Authorities credit the eventual capture of Hammy, who had eluded a cardboard roadblock set up outside the radiator and holed up in a nearby closet containing men's shoes and neckties going back to the mid-80s, to information provided by this woman:
bootsy.jpg

The informant, shown wearing a Noro beret and a purple acrylic poncho to protect her identity, provided the break agents were hoping for when she suggested that Hammy might be in the closet and it wouldn't hurt to look.

Authorities deny that the poncho-wearing cooperator is in fact Bootsy Collins.


Posted by Kay at 12:00 AM | Comments (33)

January 12, 2004

Winter Flower

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Dear Ann,

I am ever amazed at the parallels in our lives. There you are, the trunk of your Mom Bomb loaded with Herb's memory-charged shirt collection. Here I am, cuddling a cardigan I knit for Hubby's Aunt Ruth a year ago. After her memorial service on Saturday, I asked her sons if I might have it. They generously sent me straight to her closet, where I found it in one of the neat stacks of sweaters and cardis. She was an outdoorsy, sweater-and-jeans woman throughout her 86 adventurous years. She liked to tell that when she married in the 1940s, she insisted that John agree in advance that she could wear bluejeans. He did, and she did.

So here's Winter Flower, a cardi from Rowan 28. Aunt Ruth picked it out herself at Colorful Stitches, a gorgeous yarn store down the road from her in Lenox, Massachusetts. Ruth did not knit, and so had no idea that carpeting a Felted Tweed background with flowers and tiny leaves in whispery DK Soft would be a bit, er, challenging for me. I reduced the intarsia quotient drastically by cutting back the flowers to borders around the bottom, up the front lapels, and around the cuffs, but I still moaned piteously from time to time at how slowly it was going. She told me she loved it and got compliments from needleworking friends. It means a lot to me to have it.

Now the technical challenge: Winter Flower is destined for my sister-in-law Kathy, who loves handknits and does not share my wool allergy, but whose arms are 4 inches shorter than the sleeves. Can I possibly chop them in the middle and graft the cuffs back on, thereby salvaging the flowers, or should I just face up to reality, chop the cuffs, pick up the stitches and knit plain cuffs on? I will need plenty of handholding. Brace yourself: We may have to have an actual telephone conversation.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 02:21 PM | Comments (16)

January 09, 2004

phonebloggin'!

dear kay

hubbi gave me a wacky phone for christmas and it appears that I can blog from it.

is this progress?

needless to say it's a pain to capitalize on this thing and punctuation is no picnic either.

I think this is how the japanese got started with haiku.

a wireless browser.
so convenient and yet not.
keys like ladybugs.

love
ann

Posted by Ann at 09:15 PM | Comments (9)

Another Humble Homage

Dear Ann,

I'm in a quilty kind of mood, too. Must be the January weather. And as you know, I'm becoming more and more fond of knitting things that are square or at least rectangular. Things with no pattern, or a pattern that you can memorize or fudge if you forget, that nevertheless turn out reassuringly o.k.

Here's why I don't take up quilting: D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (One of my all-time favorite country song lyrics:. "Our D.I.V.O.R.C.E. becomes final toda-ay/Me and little J.O.E. will be going a-wa-ay/ I love you dear, and this will be pure H.E. double-L for me/ I wish that we could stop this D.I.V.O.R.C.E."). You see, Hubby didn't sign up for the knitting; I sprung it on him a couple of years into the deal. He's been real nice about it and all, but if UPS shows up with a used Singer I bought on eBay, I think he'd have the law on his side.

The solution, for Hubby and me, is to do my quilting via knitting. My latest, greatest dream is to knit an interpretation of this stunning 1950s quilt by Jessie T. Pettway:

Bars.jpg

An image of this quilt was used to promote the Gee's Bend Quilts exhibit at the Whitney Museum last year. In person, it is awe-inspiring. I do not aim to copy its artistry, but simply say grace for it.

I would appreciate input on the design. In contrast to my version of Loretta Pettway's Courthouse Steps quilt, which was basically trying to be a knitted replica of the original, I'd like to vary this one, without losing its essence. One thing I'm thinking of doing is replacing the solid red bars with -- you guessed it -- Rowan Denim in the dark indigo shade called Nashville. I'd like to do these strips a bit wider, in a textured stitch that would bring handquilting to mind, zig-zags or garter ridges perhaps. For the strips of pieced triangles, the plan (raw-THER ambitious) is to work short-row triangles using my prized collection of discontinued shades of Rowan Handknit DK Cotton. Making a blanket instead of a garment will mean I can keep an album of these colors forever, without spilling coffee on them or washing them down to nubs, or getting tired of a sweater style. I'd like to use more colors than Jessie T. Pettway did, without sacrificing the rhythm of her color repeats. I'll probably use more blues and greens.

I'm most concerned that the denim is the wrong move; is the vivid red of the quilt its defining quality? But since I am going to knit the strips as separate, portable pieces (like scarves, really), I will have a chance to abandon the denim and re-use it (recycled denim yarn is itself a thing to be coveted, in my book) if it deadens the look of the blanket.

I'd love to hear your views and those of our readers.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 01:26 PM | Comments (15)

January 08, 2004

Making Lemonade

Dear Kay,

I've been thinking about a fambly projeck. [WARNING: Utter lack of knitting content follows. Frolic and Detour into Completely Different Fiber Arts Category. If you're looking for dishcloths, keep a-moving.]

As you know, I have spent the past few months helping sort things out at my late father-in-law's house. In between intermittent bouts of sorrow at the emptying out of that most friendly of houses ("Omigod they saved every postcard we sent them from our honeymoon--BOOhooooo" and "I met your mom in this very kitchen--booHOOOOO"), I have had lots of time to remember Herb and the things that made him special to us. Anybody who knew Herb would tell you he was a dapper dresser. Few could tell you that he had about 200 shirts in his closet.

And about four other closets of clothes, too. The decision was made to give it all to Goodwill, but I could not let those shirts go. Oxford cloth, windowpane checks, stripes, plaids, every shade of blue--fantastic. And the madras shirts: fifty of them, a lifetime of holiday trips in there. I think men's shirts were to Herb what shoes are to women: collectible! Here's what's in the back of the Mom Bomb these days:

herbshirts.jpg

You know where I'm heading with this: Quiltville. I want to have quilts made for Hubbo, his brother, and sister. My question to you and everybody out there: who could make these quilts for me?

If I had girls, I'd sit them down with a rotary cutter and teach them (and me) the age-old art of quilting. But I don't, and the fellas would probably end up rotary-cutting each other. A new project like this would cut mightily into my knitting time, too. Can't have that. So. I'm hoping you have a dear quilty friend who's run out of ideas. Or, if any of our Amish/pioneer/overeducated East Coast readers are looking for a project, I have a very fine one. Just give a holler.

And it's supposed to be a surprise, so whatever you do, don't tell my brother-in-law.

Love,
Ann

PS When the movers came the other day to take out the furniture, their packing blankets looked for all the world like Gee's Bend quilts. Pieces of different fabrics stitched together willynilly, big colorblocks with that wavy quilting all over them. Didn't have the Anncam with me, alas--too busy BooHOOOing about the lumpy head-shaped ashtray Hubbo made when he was six. And I'm sure the movers would have been thrilled to hold up a packing blanket so I could get the proper light on it.

Posted by Ann at 09:56 PM | Comments (11)

January 06, 2004

The Unraveling of It All

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Dear Kay,

While you have been poking around in the Smoky Mountains for cotton by the ton, I've been motoring on this Punch pullover, the raglanfest I'm cooking up for a fambly member. Everything is chugging along, though I'm concerned that this Jo Sharp DK, used in place of Rowan Wool Cotton, may be too scratchy unless my fambly member wears something under it. And it may be too close fitting to do that. So the whole thing is up in the air.

But it's such a fine little pattern that I'm forging ahead. Sadly, and I mean SADLY, I had a creeping miserable realization as I sat with David while he practiced the piano last night. Number one: David didn't want to practice. Number two: I'd done the stripe pattern on the first sleeve in the wrong order. The top two stripes of the sleeves need to align with the stripes on the front and back, and, halfway up el sleeve, I realized that using three colors for this sweater instead of the five they call for has, um, ramifications. It just didn't come out right. So, for posterity, here's the sleeve I frogged last night while bickering with David:

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At the end of "Highland Tune" I had a grumpy son, a pile of unraveled yarn, and not much else.

I do wonder: will such wavy yarn re-knit properly? I think I read in the Principles of Knitting that I'm supposed to wash, steam press, and re-roll yarn that has been knitted once. Shyeah. As soon as I finish giving my Blackface sheep their morning comb-out.

Love,
Ann

PS The dirt shades I see in this sweater make it hard to imagine giving it away. It would so, so fit into my Soils of the Southeast collection of knitwear.

PSS to Ben: I saw your comment at curlsandpurlsNYC that you are contemplating a knitalong of Punch using Jo Sharp DK. I'd have to encourage a knitbehind, because I'm not sure this sweater will be soft and snurgly enough in this yarn. Watch 'n' wait?

Posted by Ann at 09:12 AM | Comments (10)

January 04, 2004

Don't Go Changin'

Dear Ann,

Your letter roused me from my Christmas-pudding-induced post-holiday torpor (it was delicious by the way; thanks Polly!). Whatchyoutalkinbout, girl, with this Total Change In Ann Presentation? Is there some other Pamela Lee out there, with closets full of wool cardigans to match every known color of dirt, that I don't know about? Remember one of our 1001 Official Mason-Dixon Knitting Mottos for 2004: "Be Who You Are".

But that's just me being selfish again. You see, Ann, I spent many a long night this holiday season, listening to the wind howl across the land mass known as Middle Kansas and turboing away on the Olive cardi from Rowan #26 that I'm making for you. You can say many things about Olive. You can say it's tweedy, you can say it's sensible, you can even say it's de rigueur for the "Depression-Era Librarian Couture" exhibit they're surely going to put on someday at the Met's Costume Institute. Another thing you can say about Olive is, it's Not Exactly Pamela Lee. I'm inches away from completing the second sleeve, with needles poised for that dowdy-licious Peter Pan collar (avec crochet trim!), so please reconsider any drastic makeover plans.

In other holiday news, here is my friend's toddler, aka Baby Rose, wearing a hippy-dippy poncho I knit for her:

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It's 3 hanks of Manos del Uruguay in a subtly variegated hot pink. I hate attaching fringes, but my reward this time is that the fringe is Rosie's favorite aspect of her poncho. The poncho has a neat, shrug-like design. The sleeves are seamed shut so that the poncho won't get twisted as Rosie goes about her activities of daily living, and the buttons mean no over-the-head struggles. I know you like outdoor pix, so here you go. (More photos of Rosie? Twist my arm.)

While in Kansas, I discovered the yarn aisle at the Wichita Walmart. No sheep were shorn in the production of this yarn selection. But there is plenty of nice cotton for $1.28 a ball (less if you buy it by the pound on cones). I picked up a couple of skeins of Peaches and Cream, one in 'Faded Denim' and one in 'Fiesta Ombre', one thing led to another, and--
dishcloth.jpg

whoopsie: I made 2 dishcloths! The pattern was printed inside the ball band. I never thought of myself as the dishcloth-knitting type, but this waffle-y slip-stitch pattern was addictive. Knitting candy. Pure relaxation. Given my knitting obsession with all things square and homely, I started thinking about what nice bath mats and beach blankets and wall-to-wall floor coverings one could make, given enough time and enough Peaches and Cream. Watch This Space.

It's good to be back in Blogville with ya. Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 07:42 PM | Comments (38)

January 01, 2004

The New Me, Step One

Dear Kay,

Happy new year! Thought I'd go ahead and get the semi-annual photo of Me out of the way, so that you will be able at year's end to contrast my current appearance with the botoxed, collagened, hair-extended, bleached-out, lifted and separated self I'll be by December 31. New Year's resolution: become Pamela Lee.

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Knitting as Marital Aid!

This superfuzzy New Year's Eve-quality scarf is the result of my sister Buffy's pressie, two flurfy balls of On Line Punta, straight from her LYS in Norfolk, Virginia.

Never having knitted bouclé, or fur, or bouclé fur for that matter, or anything lacking even a smidge of a natural fiber, I had to dive in and see what would happen. Rayon/nylon/acrylic, all in one! I think NASA developed this yarn for use on the space shuttle.

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Is it alive? The guinea pig is dying to nest in this.

Thanks to Buffy for leading me to the Yarn of the Future. Bootsy Collins has nothing on me. (PS If you take nothing else from this letter, at least check out Bootsy's funktastic web site.)

Item Number Two

Any New Year's resolutions out there? Hope everybody's knitting and grooving in the new year.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 06:46 PM | Comments (11)
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