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

October 31, 2004

Stolen Munch Painting Recovered in Nashville

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Dear Kay,

Hope your Halloween is a scream.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 04:44 PM | Comments (6)

October 28, 2004

Y'all Come Back Now, Y'Hear?

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Dear Ann,

As I write this, I feel weak and wan, and I don't know why. There are many possible explanations:

--Cheese grits (48 hours, and still digesting)?
--Pulled pork (ditto)?
--Ann's gor-may quizzene (I swear I am not the source of the rumor about that doctored-up jar of spaghetti sauce; it must be Yer Pa)?
--Dishcloth cotton overdose (particularly the 'hombre' colorways)?
--Malaria (soccer practice)?
--Fright (Monday evening's Hubby Business Function, at which the nametag on my bedraggled jean jacket read "HELLO! MY NAME IS Mrs. Joad", AND I was left alone in a room with a Thomas Kinkade picture)?
--Vertigo (Tailgate Antiques Show Inhalation Disorder)?
--Fatigue (having to be NICE to people all the time, as mandated by Nashville ordinance)?
--Deep confusion (wondering whether it was Ann or me, driving the same Mom Bomb, looking in the same rear view mirror at the same kid having the same 'moment' while flinging the same Happy Meal Toy on the floor?)

Whatever it is, it's worth it. Did I have a good time? Heckyeah! I'm spending today and tomorrow relaxing, de-twanging, and catching up on my not-making-eye-contact and tofu-eating. (I'm also WAY behind at screaming "YO! PEDESTRIAN HERE!")

Here is a little album of the sights and sounds of my trip (sights, anyway; supply your own sounds and, as needed, smells).

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Bargain shopping at LaGuardia. (Congrats, Red Sox!) (Note the healthy self-esteem and gracious manners of the Typical Yankee Fan.)

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Sunday's sew-up at Angel Hair Yarn Company, which had more square footage and great yarn than is allowed in NYC, plus great tchotchkes and signs.

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Ann with Elmira's amazing quilt. I took 8 pictures but none of them do it justice. It must be seen to be fully coveted.


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Monday's sew-up, at which I was too busy sewing up and meeting the Assembled Moms of Nashville (Junior and Senior Divisions) to take nearly enough photos. This one shows Ann's neighbor Judy, a crazymad knitter who is wearing the sweater Ann made with Araucania Nature Cotton. (Yes, this is the one Ann used to call "Lumpy Tammy".) According to Ann, when she wore this sweater herself, people seemed to make a lot of references to Beth in Little Women, and other fictional characters who died of consumption. Luckily, the same colors looked

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FABULOUS on Judy!

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Homekeeping Hint for Sew-up Bee Hostesses: Save money on coasters.

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Finally, a Taste of Tailgate. The Tailgate Antiques Show. It really is in a motel. The stuff really is laid out on the beds. The salespeople really are eating lunch as you pop in to look at their wares. I stopped Ann from buying these lamps by diverting her to the nearest Coke Machine. The smell of old clothing was deafening. They had Civil War Era aprons. It was Really Something. The KayCam was in a state of shock.

Thanks so much to everybody in Nashville and Grundy County for being so welcoming. Especially Ann. All those rides to and from the Snooze Inn Convention Center were much appreciated.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 01:39 PM | Comments (8)

October 27, 2004

Kay Leaves Nashville, Brains Totally Blown

Dear everybody,

A quick red alert to let you know that the Greenville Advocate has written a fantastic profile of Greenville, Alabama's fabulous quilter and patron saint of Mason-Dixon Knitting: Elmira. Here's the article--scroll down. Thanks so much to the story's enterprising reporter, Angie Long.

Kay Gives Up Will to Live, Buys Whiffy Tablecloth, Quits Knitting

Tuesday was a push-the-envelope day that included two big stops on the Tour of Ann's World. First was an outing to Grundy County so that Kay could see for herself the challenging circumstances under which I was blogging last summer during vacation. ("Wow," she said. "The low bandwidth. I don't know how you managed.")

(To meet our pig 'n' lard requirement for the day, we had an encounter with some barbecue and cheese grits that we will never forget. It looks like we can cross EAT LUNCH off the list of things we ever have to do again.)

Second was a spin through the Tailgate Antiques Show out at Opryland. Under normal circumstances either of these would be considered a full day. To combine Grundy County and the Tailgate was to risk having our heads explode from the combination of caffeinated travel and

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whiffy old textiles.

After three hours of car knitting, after going through a hundred motel rooms of stuff ranging from Precious Artifact of Domestic Life Circa 1721 to Weird Hank of Flax That Looks Like Human Hair, it appeared that Kay had hit the outer limit of human endurance. "Cannot . . . take it . . . anymore . . . " she moaned. "Must . . . stop this . . . madness."

She managed to see clearly enough to recognize a tablecloth that needed to go home with her, but she was listing as we headed back to the Mom Bomb.

Her parting words to me as I deposited her at the Snooze Inn: "I'm giving up knitting. Luv ya."

Love,
Ann

PS Here's the 2004 Creaky/Nonfunctioning Swift of the Year:

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Posted by Ann at 07:56 AM | Comments (12)

October 25, 2004

Kay in Nashville

Dear everybody,

The scene just moments ago: Clif, five, in the back seat screaming his everloving head off, kicking his grubby little soccer cleats into the back of my seat, caterwauling about hunger and fatigue and "why are we driving into all these driveways and TURNING AROUND?" David, eight, muttering "I'm just really tired. I'm just really tired." And beside me, right there in my own vehicle, living the life that I live every freaking day, is Kay, whom I am trying to deliver to a house neither of us has ever seen before. She is thinking, How did I get here?

I was feeling a little sorry for Kay, too, having dragged her to soccer practice where every mosquito for three counties was sucking blood to last the winter. In the gloaming we tried to knit, then gave up as another soccer mom asked Kay whether the rained-out game last week was going to be rescheduled. She can pass! I thought. Kay can pass as a Nashville mom! What a complete nightmare this must be for her!

One of the reasons Kay is in Nashville, other than her ongoing humanitarian work in the area of charitable relief fiber arts, is because Hubby is here for a conference. Tonight Hubby encouraged Kay to attend a Function related to the conference, so we found ourselves in the wilds of Forest Hills searching for the Function house. Hubby was coming out by cab (you can take the fella out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the fella), and we found the Function house a lot faster than that cab driver did. It was like leaving your kid at a crummy summer camp. "Uh, Kay, call me if you need me to come get you--I'll be here in a snap."

"Don't LEAVE me here."

"Aw Kay"--interrupted by a piteous SCREECH from Clif--"you're such a smoothie in social situations, you'll be great," I said, noticing what was surely a hostess peeking out the window at the Joadlike load of humanity in her driveway.

To me it was a no-brainer: a carload of misery versus a houseful of strangers? I'd have been up that front walk faster than I could say "Seeyatomorrow."

I hope she turns up tomorrow, but I don't blame her if she doesn't.

SO Much to Report!

Ah, but there's plenty of sunshine amid the shadow in middle Tennessee these days. Sunday we had a rapturous time stitching up bwankies at Angel Hair Yarn Co.. Yes, we had Snack, thanks to Cristina who airlifted in some Tang and saltines--OK so it was Starr Ridge Hors D'Oeuvre Simple White Crackers and Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Herbal Infusion. Clearly SOMEbody's lacking a Piggly Wiggly in her home town.

In honor of our Distance Award winner, Rachel, who broke the sound barrier as she traveled from Birmingham, Alabama, to Nashville in less than fifteen minutes, we had bloody marys. In the process we discovered a new use for a number six needle.

Rachel kind of blew our minds by showing up wearing her totally foxy Rowan Elfin cardigan:

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Rachel: the excruciating ruffles of Elfin. Kay: the 28 shades of Kaffe Fassett's Smoulder. Ann: the white T shirt. Always the underachiever, always with the white T shirt.

We had a LOT of experts stitching with us:

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Laura, who pretty much had her way with this colorful cotton number.

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Paiden, whose extreme ability to sew a seam kind of humbled us all.

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Paiden's daughter Virginia, who knocked us out with her adorable personality and way with a needle. She did make us all feel as old as Methuselah, but--oh wait, we ARE as old as Methuselah.

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Robin, yes, the Robin who knits while reading and at this point has a truly spectacular Red Sox ritual that is keeping her team alive. It involves never leaving the sofa during a game, eating only seafood for dinner, and wearing an ENORMOUS Red Sox sweatshirt. Kay, still wearing black over the loss of the Yankees, managed to keep it civil. This was the only part of the afternoon that had me worried.

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This wool collection is called How Green Is My Bwankie. I love seeing the squares finding their place. Everybody's got an idea on what goes where. The secret, of course, is that there is no wrong way to put these amazing squares together.

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Here's How Green Is My Bwankie, modeled by Pam, the Angel Hair who so graciously forfeited a beautiful Sunday afternoon to hang out with a bunch of knitters. Busman's holiday for her, but we were thrilled by the afternoon.

Amy and Judy managed to evade the lens of the Kaycam--so glad you could make it.

Hope you all see a square you knitted. Thank you all for making this project happen.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Awaiting pix of today's epic sew-up here at Ann's House of Nuts. I'll let Kay describe it to you, assuming she makes it back from her morning tour tomorrow of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Webb Pierce's guitar-shaped swimming pool. Bless her heart, she's never been to Nashville before.

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:21 PM | Comments (14)

October 23, 2004

All My Squares Are Packed

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Dear Ann,

I'm leaving in 10 minutes but had to turn the page and close the book on Soccer Pullover. I spent all afternoon yesterday sewing it up with a precision I can only attribute to trying to live up to my washing machine. (Mach schnell!)

This means that late last night I did a Panic Pack. Squares: check. Boot-leg jeans: check. Caryn's Kerchief (seems perfectly Grand Ol' Opry, don't it?): check.

See ya later!

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 08:41 AM | Comments (4)

October 21, 2004

Am I Blue

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Dear Ann,

Of course I'm blue--didja hear about the Yankees? But, being a resilient person when it comes to sports, what's been getting me down is Soccer Pullover. The KayCam reads the soccer ball motif as white, but trust me--it's a lovely shade of baby blue. Which would be fine if soccer balls were baby blue, but they're not. And what are we trying to achieve, in intarsia, if not accuracy and realism?

I've spent yesterday and today trying to get right with God about this. What befuddles me most is that I have done two previous projects mixing the darkest indigo shade of denim with the ecru, without the slightest tinge of blue creeping onto the white. My conclusion: it's the washing machine.

In the basement of my old apartment building, we had three banged-up, well-meaning, coin-op Maytags. When you turned the dial to 'hot wash/cold rinse', they really tried, but it generally worked out to 'warmish wash/coolish rinse'. And they were big. They held a lot of water. The whole procedure, from filling up the tub to final rinse spin, took about 30 minutes. Maybe clothes didn't get too clean, but they didn't get much of a chance to dye each other, either.

With the new apartment came a very intimidating German washing machine installed by the previous owners. This machine has nothing on its dial as namby-pamby as 'hot wash/cold rinse'. Temperatures are calibrated in degrees, and those degrees are Fahrenheit, liebchen. Being all about efficiency and thoroughness, it holds a gallon of water and runs for a full 1 hour and 54 minutes. So when I set the Uberwascher to 170 and let it go through its paces, the effect was literally to steep Soccer Pullover in concentrated blue dye.

Afterwards, I did get out the Clorox and the Q-Tips. I did dab a little bit on the back side of two of the white sections. I tried to channel my inner Denim Person (did you see those sweaters in Denim People that were "decorated" with bleach----shriek!). But my nerve failed me. I decided I could live with the blue, and the hope that if I keep up the 2-hour washes, it will fade over time.

But now that I'm right with God about that, I need to get right with Kate Buller about this:

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Or rather, Kate Buller needs to get right with me. The trouble with this pullover pattern is that the sleeves are not set in. With drop shoulders, the shoulder seam hits the wearer partway down the arm, adding to the length of the sleeve by an amount that is hard to determine before you sew the seam and put the person in the sweater. With set-in sleeves, you can check that the length is okay by measuring the wearer from wrist to armpit; with drop-shoulder sleeves you don't know exactly how much overhang there is going to be. So when Kate told me to knit the sleeve to 10 1/2 inches, I took it on faith. I added 15% for the denim's shrinkage, bound them off, and flung them in das waschmeister.

When Joseph tried on the body and I held up the sleeves to it, it was obvious that they were too short. So I had to unravel the bind-off and add some length. I'm not worried about the color difference. The yarn is the same dye lot, so with a couple of washings it will even out. To amuse myself I put in a band of 2 x 2 ribbing to match the trim on the sleeves and edges. (Yes, this was amusing, I tell you.)

So that's my story. I'm not happy about any of this, but it's still going to be a cute sweater, and more importantly, after a year or two of Joseph rolling around in the gravel in it, I'm going to get what I long for: faded, ratty, ragged denim yarn to rip back and recycle into something totally rootsy.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 07:53 PM | Comments (21)

October 20, 2004

Come ye to Nashville, y'all

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Dear everybody,

Quick reminder:

The anticipation is building! Satellite trucks are parking in the front yard! Kay's coming to Nashville on Saturday for what promises to be a heart-stoppin' wallow in cured meats and lard-based baked products. Everybody is cordially invited to join us at two afghan sew-up parties:

Sunday, October 24, 1-4 pm: The Head Angels of Angel Hair Yarn Co., Pam and Andrea, have generously offered to open up the store for this event on a day that usually finds them at home, so this is a big treat. See! What a giant pile of afghan squares look like. Enjoy! Snax and bevs. Marvel! At how difficult it is to work with knitting while eating a Chee-to. Cross Your Fingers! That you'll take home a door prize from my knitting vault.

Monday, October 25, 9:30 am-1 pm: We're gathering here at my house. And frankly, I have invited some of my nonvirtual friends (to prove to Kay that I'm not as big a loser as she thinks/knows I am) who claim an assortment of sewing skills that is nothing short of TOTALLY LAME. You have never heard such apology, such self-deprecation, such worry over inadequate whip-stitch skills. This could be a long morning. We'll start the event with a Doggone It I'm Good Enough self-esteem workshop and a burnt offering to Alice Starmore. Email me for directions--I'm conveniently located in Green Hills, less than a mile from Krystal.

Hope you all can come by!

Love,

Ann

PS Thanks as ALWAYS to Cristina for the sew-up art. Fantastic.

Posted by Ann at 06:50 AM | Comments (6)

October 19, 2004

Big Doings in Greenville

Dear Kay,

We interrupt ongoing coverage of The Washing Of The Soccer Sweater to bring you breaking news:

The quilt has landed.

Close readers of Mason-Dixon Knitting may recall, back in January, I embarked on a plan to make quilts out of the many shirts which had belonged to Hubbo's late father. This is the story of how it all started.

Well.

When I realized that creating a quilt would put an end to all knit-related activity (and quite possibly a finger or two if I used that rotary cutter thingie), I put out a call for any quilty folks who might be interested in the projeck. A very dear family friend, Dr. Betty Ruth of Point Clear, Alabama, recommended Elmira Sanders, of Greenville, Alabama, as a woman who quilted whenever the fishing wasn't good.

After about four months of preparatory work (aka going downstairs to the basement), off went all the stripey shirts I could find, along with the copy of Kaffe Fassett's Passionate Patchwork that my high school friend Julie had sent me. (Still having a pang at sending off that luscious book, but I knew it would meet its destiny in Greenville.)

Well, Elmira beat the Alabama heat this past summer by cutting out zillions of triangles, piecing them, quilting them, and creating this:

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Amazing. Here's another view.

What's more amazing is that she is now at work on Quilt No. 2. I suggested she use whatever pattern she liked from Passionate Patchwork. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

I don't know if she realizes just how many more Herb shirts there are. She may end up working on Quilt No. 38 if she keeps this up.

This projeck has been a tender way to reconnect with a dear family friend, to make a new friend, and to find a use for a whole lot of shirts. Thank you to Julie, Betty Ruth, Elmira, and especially to Herb, who loved everything having to do with fambly.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:32 AM | Comments (31)

October 18, 2004

Late-Breaking Blueness!

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Dear Ann,

Twenty minutes into the Hot Wash cycle, this was on my kitchen floor. Waddaya think--possible problem?

I have a childlike faith that the Soccer Ball motif is not going to turn blue. The white strips in my Bricklayer denim blanket were similarly overwhelmed by the inky blueness of the darkest denim shade, and yet they did not turn blue.

But this does make me a little nervous.

Hubby was aghast that while he was running for paper towels, I was booting up the KayCam.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:12 PM | Comments (9)

Den-M-Entia

Dear Ann,

How the heck are you? Today, I'm putting the finishing touches on Soccer Pullover. In my Knitting Plan, this was a One-Week Project, from cast-on to Finished Object. At the present time, I am well into Week Two. Oh well.

I've received Reader Mail informing me that in the UK, this would be called Football Pullover. This is one of those moments when two of my strongest impulses collide. On the one hand, it is my firm policy to adopt all Anglicisms that I possibly can. Why, just last night I was telling Hubby to put a piece of luggage in the boot of our motorcar. "Blimey, man, get yer skates on--we're bloody late!" said I. (I'm not saying I'm good at pretending to be British; just that it is my firm policy to do so.)

But in this case, even if it means forgoing an opportunity to put on the Airs of the Dubiously English, I am sticking with Soccer Pullover. Why? Because I grew up in Nebraska, where the American version of football is The Most Important Thing in Life PERIOD. As a small child, I quaked when my dad leapt to his feet, roaring at Coach Bob Devaney on the television screen. The house shook, and I worried that Life As We Know It would end if we lost the annual game with Oklahoma.

Since playing football was compulsory for boys of that time and place, I also associate football with my brother looking like he was going to retch and/or cry on rides home from 'midget football' practice. I have never been more powerlessly angry at anybody, ever, than I was at the so-called 'coaches' who stood on the sidelines shouting at 10-year-olds who missed their blocking assignments. If I could have struck them dead on the spot, North Omaha would have been littered with the corpses of middle-aged tyrants.

One of my promises to my child self was that, when I grew up, as God is my witness, I'd never watch football again. Not even the Orange Bowl. I am very good at keeping promises to my child self, to the point that I have sometimes forgotten, and called home on New Year's Day, right in the middle of the Big Game. Everyone is surprised that I not only don't know the score, I don't know who "we" are playing. I'm all, Dude, I don't watch football, and they're all, 'Nah....really?' For it is unthinkable to them that anyone doesn't watch football. (I know how you love your Tennessee Titans, Ann; this is my personal baggage, which does not represent the views of Mason-Dixon Knitting.)

Enough reliving childhood trauma, therapeutic as that is (for me): back to the knitting content!

Last night during the extra innings of the Yankees/Red Sox game (oy! more sports!), I had ample (very ample) opportunity to sew the ends into the back of the Soccer Ball Motif. See how nice?

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Pop Quiz:
Sewing in the ends took me--

a. Many hours
b. More time than I can possibly justify
c. Months
d. Forever
e. All of the above

The answer is (e), but it was mindless and therefore deeply satisfying. I use the sewing-in process to make little nips and tucks that close holes in the color changes of the intarsia. I know I should prevent these holes from forming in the first place, but holes have a way of occurring even in the best intarsial experiences. (I am always so happy when I see a little hiccup in an intarsia sweater photographed in a Rowan book--they're human! Yay!) I'm curious to see what will happen on the back after the shrinking process. I tried not to pull very tight, to leave a little shrink-room. Usually the shrinkage helps keep ends from popping out, so I'm cautiously optimistic that these guys will play nice and behave themselves.

Earlier today (but not so early that I had decent light for a picture), I did a three-needle bind-off of the short-rowed shoulder seams.

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(What is that gold string? It's an elastic cord from the box of Lore's chocolates that Cheryl gave me when I visited Philly 10 days ago. When I reached the back neck on the train ride home, I improvised a stitch holder, and ate some chocolates to keep my strength up.)

And here I go, after picking up 92 stitches for the neckband:

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The white doughnut is an elastic hairband posing as a gigantic stitch marker to identify the start of a new round of the neckband. Like my resourceful pioneer ancestors, I can make a stitch holder or marker out of pretty much anything. In this case it saved me the trouble of getting off the chair and walking two steps to get a proper one out of my tool kit.

One thing I've been looking forward to is seeing how this thing fades. It goes into the hot wash tonight. Can you stand the play-by-play knitting excitement?

Happy Monday,

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 05:27 PM | Comments (13)

October 13, 2004

Hoop-a Dreams

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Dear Ann,

There is nothing I enjoy more than a raucous wedding celebration. Thirteen years ago today, such folkloric doings were taking place in Lower Manhattan, and I was the one holding onto the chair and screaming. (In a demure, bride-like way.) Here is a snapshot of the huppah, which the Judge kept calling the 'hoop-a'. Even to a Lutheran girl from Nebraska, that sounded Wrong. (Note: Huppah photo has been cropped to obscure the cattle prods that assisted in getting Hubby down the aisle. Aw, just kidding. At age 42, he was SO ready to stop having all that fun and make a Lifetime Commitment, already.)

Fun facts: Nobody at our wedding had a cell phone. All arrangements were made without Google. And most shocking of all, I was unable to blog about it. I barely was able to email people about it. Times were hard: I think I could only email people in my office. In 1991, email was pretty new-fangled if you worked for the Government.

For those considering eloping: One great benefit of having a wedding is that years later, you have pictures of people who are gone, whom you cherished, but of whom you would not otherwise have a good picture. In these pictures, they are dressed up and coiffed and spritzed and looking fab. They are hugging and kissing. They are eating hors d'oeuvres. They are dancing. These pictures are even more precious to me than the ones proving that I once had a waist.

At the time, I was a year away from renewing my vows to Knitting. I could not have imagined that I would ever be knitting anything like this:

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This little number is Soccer Pullover. I think of it as Phase I in my Strategic Plan for World Domination (and to Grow My Own Recycled Denim). I patched together the pattern from Kate Buller's Style Your Own Kids Knits (ultra-basic pullover design) and Little Badger Knitwear (soccer-ball chart). Denim devotees will note this exquisite detail: the soccer ball uses the Elusive Discontinued Black Denim, which I'm hoping will be more distinct from the dark indigo main color after the requisite hot wash 'n dry. I'll let you know how it comes out.

Time sure flies when you're having fun.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 06:19 AM | Comments (19)

October 11, 2004

Take Time To Save Time

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Dear Ann,

Wouldja lookit this sweet little cardi? I adore this pattern, and can't understand why it took me so long to finally make it. It's the Square-Neck Cardigan from Little Badger Knitwear, a book from 2000 that I like very much. Several of the designs, like this one, could just as well have been knit in 1904 as 2004. They have the old-timey look I find so compelling, yet they are clean-lined clothes for the ultra-modern baby of today.

What I most admire about this pattern is its breathtaking defiance of the Gospel According to Rowan. As it is written in the Book of Hargreaves, Ch. 2, verse 6-9: "Verily thou shalt add a buttonband after the raiment be compleat in all its parts and in all its pieces. And the righteous among ye shall knit the band on needles so small that a camel cannot pass through them any easier than a rich man can attain the Kindgom of Heaven. Unto every generation, thy children and thy children's children shalt slightly stretcheth the band. Then shalt be picketh up the stitches for the neckband. Yea, thou shalt picketh them up in great numbers, whereas the lilies of the field shall just sit there without a worry in the world."

When I was a child, I spake like a child. With the wide-eyed innocence of one barely 40, I asked the Rowan chat board, "Why, Sister Rowanettes, can we not just knit the button bands on as an integral part of the sweater?" It was explained to me that if the bands were not knit more tightly than the body, they would be loose and ruffly, and I would go directly to hell.

This little sweater is the New Testament of cardigans, all forgiveness and grace. Look how sweet the bands are, and they are knit right in, at the same gauge as the rest of the sweater. Look at the back, with its lovely touch of moss stitch--not so much moss that you get sick of knitting it, but a quietly elegant statement. I like this sweater so much that I want to crank it into the Sweater Wizard so I can make one for myself in that Tango Linen Drape I've been hoarding.

So why the title of this post? Here's why. I made this sweater in Size 1-2 years for a baby girl. The baby was born in July 2004, but I like a baby cardi to be big enough for the baby to wear when she reaches prime sweater age. But not this big.

I'm to blame for an inch or two of this mess, because my gauge, while starting out at a prim and proper 28 stitches/4 inches (for at least the first 20 minutes), turned out to be 26 stitches when Hans Blix did some unannounced inspections. Although my measuring tape warned me of the danger, I dug in my heels and refused to believe that I needed to use size 2 or -- gasp! -- size 1 needles to get gauge. The rest of the problem is down to the pattern, which does not give the final measurements, but if you do the math (as I should have done beforehand), comes out quite big for a toddler.

Seriously, although this cardi fits my almost-8-year old, a size 3-4 sweater probably would also fit her, except the sleeves. Tell me, should I give it to an older baby girl? And then knit the smaller size of this one, on the correct needles, for the new baby? I have enough Rowan 4-ply left, and it was a quick knit (one week, from cast-on to Rowenta's final blast). But somehow I'm not in the mood. Babies grow fast, right?

Just Because It's Monday

I finally took some pictures of two of the afghans we sewed up at the party on September 12:

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The Blue Afghan

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The All-Noro Afghan

I'm in awe of what Community Knitting and Self-Taught Sewing (and a drop or two of Knitting Water), can achieve. (The Red Afghan is not quite ready for its close-up yet.)

Thanks, everyone.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 01:35 AM | Comments (26)

October 07, 2004

City of Knitterly Luv

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Dear Ann,

Just a postcard to let you know (i.e., make you jealous) about my latest encounter with real, live Knitters of the Northeast. Yesterday morning, after enduring a slow-motion fish-slicing session at the 'appetizing' counter of Fairway ('cause a well-bred New Yorker never travels without her lox and bagels), I hopped the #3 subway to Penn Station. Three hours of clickety-clack (mine and the train's) later, I was in Philadelphia.

I was met at the station by Cristina and her tummy (above on the right), and we were joined at Cristina's house by Cheryl (above on the left). Cristina's gallant husband entertained their adorable 6-year-old son by launching several hundred balloon-rocket flights in the yard. The only sign of them was the occasional rude noise dopplering by outside the window, which was actually quite pleasant. Meanwhile, Cristina, Cheryl and I had a leisurely lunch 'n knit. Homemade squash soup. Hometown handmade chocolates. A tour of the Casa Cristina Textile Museum. The swapping of juicy bits of personal history (yours included of course), and a viewing of Cheryl's stunning Kureyon scarves.

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[Shopper Alert! Cheryl's scarves are for sale at Ruka on 19th Street in Center City Philadelphia. First come, first served, while quantities last!]

The kicker was an additional three hours of soothing stocking stitch back to New York.

In the words of Hideki Matsui: I live for this.

Trusting you are sufficiently envious, but still like me anyway,

Love, Kay


P.S. Speaking of baseball:
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GO YANKEES.

Posted by Kay at 01:49 PM | Comments (12)

October 05, 2004

On Piecework and Passing the Time

Dear Kay,

I was out shopping for underpants (whoops, sorry for that) when I happened across this little cardigan (not in the underpants department):

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It's two layers of mohair! So pretty together.

Knitted in Mongolia. Assembled in China. Bought in a giant suburban sprawl mall in Tennessee for the sale price of $42. I hardly know what to make of that.

I have been thinking about my reading habits of late. I used to be a great reader--read all the time, got nervous if I didn't have a book going. Now, with all this knitting going on, I can't turn the pages of a book anymore. I am missing books.

Last year a Cuban playwright, Nilo Cruz, won a Pulitzer for Anna in the Tropics, a play that takes place in a Tampa cigar factory. As the workers make cigars, one lector reads them Anna Karenina. Apparently this was a common practice--reading classics to make the piecework pass faster.

In the interest of having my own portable lector, I just spent an irritating half hour futzing around with USB cables because I wanted to be able to download audio books to listen to while I knit. The futzing led to a customer service phone call to audible.com, where, to their credit, they play audio books instead of Muzak while you wait, so I got to hear a good ten minutes of Charlotte's Web which was a shrewd choice on audible.com's part because they knew that nobody could be in a crabby mood after listening to Charlotte's Web. It turned out that the fakey iPod audible.com sent me for listening to audio books is defective, but I didn't even care because I was thinking about Wilbur and Lurvy and Charlotte and what a life-changing book that was for me.

I would suggest that it would be great to have a knitting circle with a lector like the one our dear pal Julia discovered at the Knit Cafe in L.A., but who would draw the short straw to read?

Love,
Ann

PS After some more poking around I learned that I can listen to Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress on my blogphone. Is this progress? How do those Mongolian knitters pass the time?

Posted by Ann at 10:48 AM | Comments (29)

October 01, 2004

Cat Swallows Canary

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Dear Ann,

I don't know what I did to get on the angels' good side, but it's a very nice place to be. Great things have been landing in my lap lately. I gotta crow!

On Monday, my friend Djelo (pictured above) paid me a totally unexpected call. Djelo and I met in May 1986, in Conakry, the capital city of the Republic of Guinea. I was a lawyer then. An exceedingly wet-behind-the-ears lawyer. I went to Guinea in search of documents for a case, and for my first, breathless look at Africa.

What I found there: dusty documents, and a lifelong friend. Djelo, who worked for a Guinean shipping company, took me under her wing. She drove me all around Conakry, where little children acted like Madonna and Missy Elliott had just pulled up in a stretch limo (not something I was used to). She took me clubbing in Conakry, and a few months later, I took her to SOB's in New York and to a snowy Thanksgiving in Nebraska (not something she was used to).

Anyhoo, 18 years on, I cannot tell you how perfectly priceless it is to spend time with anybody who remembers that I ever went dancing (on a weeknight!)at SOB's. When I'm with Djelo, I suddenly remember how to speak French. I am so multi-culturally cool that I hardly bat an eye when she says, 'Mais, Kay, tu as grossi.....' because I know this is not a criticism coming from her (and also because if I want to believe her when she says, 'Tu n'as pas vieilli du tout', I must take the bad with the good).

As I was leaving for my afternoon with Djelo on this glorious Monday, I stopped in my tracks. There, on the table, could it be? A PACKAGE FROM ENGLAND. From EMMA. The customs declaration said, 'KNITTED GOODS'.

I ripped it open with my teeth. The elevator came and went. Time stood still.

In the package was the gorgeous microfiber beaded bandana you see me wearing above. What better for my autumn uniform (the same dang jean jacket, every dang day) than a vibrant lace bandana (a Caryl's Kerchief, to be precise). I have been wearing it everywhere, including to my local knitting stores, where I have to remove it for thorough examination and exclaiming-over. Thank you, dear Emma! (Emma also sent Yorkshire Tweed squares for the Afghanalong, and a copy of the Yorkshire Journal to give me further material for my Anglophile fantasy life....thank you, thank you!)

'Tis The Gift (Part Deux)

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I have been remiss in show & tell about another wonderful gift. (The reason will become clear.) Remember the amazing eyelet skirt that Benedetta made from a Knitty Summer 2003 pattern? Remember how she used recycled Rowan Denim she got by ripping out an old pullover? Well, ever since then I have been writing to Benedetta telling her how much I love the idea of beat-up recycled denim, and she has been writing back telling me how much she loves it too. At some point she disclosed that she had some of this wonderful stuff left over after making the skirt, and that she had---sob! strangled sob!-- given it to her neighbor. Ben told me that she would try to swap it back. I lit a candle and hoped.

So when Benedetta showed up at the sew-up bee in September with a little bag for me, I pounced. But it was not the Neighbor's Denim at all---it was Ben's own Knitty skirt!

"Oh no! I couldn't possibly, I could nevereverEVER accept such a thing," I said, with tremendous sincerity. (All the while clutching the skirt in a death grip.) Benedetta graciously assured me that she wanted me to have it, and then slyly added that she wanted me to post a picture of me modelling it. Hence the delay.....

Benedetta, I've tried! But I cannot do it! Not when there's that gorgeous picture of you wearing it> out there in cyberspace! But it is a treasure, it does fit me (let us give thanks for drawstring waists), and I swear before everybody here in Blogville that this is my now and forever Beach Attire of Choice. Benedetta also generously gave me some pure silk yarn from Italy, with which I am going to make this.

I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, I'm SOOOOOOOOOOoooooo not worthy.

But very happy! (Canary? What canary?)

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 03:00 PM | Comments (11)
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