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

November 29, 2004

Gifts

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Dear Ann,

At last, I've been to Boston. This means I can no longer stun my fellow New Yorkers by telling them, "Would you believe, I've never been to Boston?" But it was worth it.

Boston is wonderful on many levels. As befits the cradle of the American Revolution, there are many fine National Park Service historical sites. The kids and I are on the same page about this: We [heart] monuments. They are going to move on, any day now, I'm sure, to the next stage of normal child development, which Dr. T. Berry Brazelton has described as "hating boring statues or commemorative plaques of any kind, particularly when forced to view them with one's boring parents". But at this moment, we are As One in our love of things like trudging up 294 steps to the top of the obelisk of the Bunker Hill Monument, or placing stones on Paul Revere's grave, as if he were a departed friend we actually knew in life:

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Paulie, we hardly knew ye!

It was a tender Thanksgiving. We usually spend this holiday at home, surrounded by casseroles assembled from a cornucopia of canned goods, but this year we had a wedding to attend in Cambridge. We were invited to spend the weekend with Hubby's cousin, a son of Hubby's wonderful Aunt Ruth. Ruth died on the last day of 2003, at what was, for her, the very young age of 86. We spent some time leafing through old photo albums, full of yellowing black & white photos and often rueful captions in Ruth's emphatic hand. Here's one I especially like:

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Ruth (on the left, no hat) was in her teens, posing with her sister Eleanor. This photo is a postcard that they sent from England, where they were living, to their parents in Germany, where they could not return. Ruth always had the same fierce look in photos, unless she didn't realize you were taking her picture. She usually realized you were taking her picture.

Being as how it was Thanksgiving, naturally there was yoga:

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Ruth's daughter-in-law Gail is a yoga instructor. Mats aplenty--enough for the whole family. Ruth was a physical therapist and into All Things Holistic. She was very proud of Gail's yoga creds. Shallow thing that I am, I am considering yoga solely because I want to look like this in my 50s:

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Since I didn't look like this in my 20s, 30s, or 40s, I may need some Remedial Fixer-Upper Yoga.

As we were packing the car, they brought out these:
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Ruth had left these at their house last Thanksgiving, with the request that they give them to Carrie and Joseph on New Year's, which we had planned to celebrate together. That was So Ruth; the fierce glare was strictly for photographs and Republicans. We don't know which one is for which kid, but we'll figure that out. It will be fun to see what Ruth had picked out for them, if we can stand to open them.

Love, Kay

P.S. Knitting content? You say you want knitting content? Over the four days, I knit 2 dishrags and a strip for one of my Gee's Bend Quilt Knockoffs, er, homages. In other knitting-related Mondo Bizarro News, as I was walking into the Ladies at a Service Area along Interstate 495 yesterday, who was walking out? Alison. Yes, THAT Alison! The same Alison who came to the Manhattan Sew-Up Bee, and whose knitting class I attended last Tuesday night as a Guest Helper-Outer. Alison was wearing a gorgeous, perfectly knitted and finished, Debbie Bliss bobbly jacket; I was not.



Posted by Kay at 09:37 AM | Comments (9)

November 25, 2004

The Thanksgiving Story

Dear Kay,

A brief hello and Happy Thanksgiving to you and everybody all over the place. For our friends who may not be familiar with the Thanksgiving story, I thought I'd provide a quick overview of what went down back in 1621 or whenever.

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Pilgrims seeking religious freedom sailed west from Europe. They had rilly big white sails and a brown boat which traveled thousands of miles over very blue water. Contrary to many legends, they were not chased by submarines at any point in their journey.

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After a whole lot of work, they managed to survive their first year, and they made some native friends. To celebrate their first year, they rigged up a rotisserie and roasted a deer.

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They cooked savory stews.

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They got out their best black picnic blanket and ate themselves silly.

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It is possible that the natives got a little queasy, what with all the stew.

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After much feasting and celebrating, the natives keeled over in a satisfied, friendly stupor.

May all thanksgivers find equally satisfied, friendly stupors tonight.

Love,
Ann


Posted by Ann at 05:46 PM | Comments (8)

November 22, 2004

Dolman Rerouted

Dear Ann,

Remember this?

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You don't? This is Dolman Updated, a design in the Fall 2003 Interweave Knits. Back in November 2003, I was knitting this then-brand-new pattern in the back seat of a tiny car that was careening and skidding around the hills of the Piedmont region of Italy. Usually just before or after eating a meal with 4 appetizers and a blur of other courses after that.

Dolman Updated is a simple yet ingenious pattern. See how the seams are on the outside? See how the sleeves are not knit separately, but formed by casting on stitches when the armhole level is reached (you can't really see that, but I'm telling you)? See how it's constructed of 4 nearly-identical pieces? I made this sweater because I liked its easygoing esprit de sweatshirt. I also thought it would be just the therapy to shake off my Bad Dolmans of the Eighties.

What? You don't remember the Bad Dolmans of the Eighties? Here's a reminder:

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The thing to note here is that the armhole begins at the waist. Why was this considered good? We don't know. It did a great job of disguising under-arm dingle-dangle, and it allowed plenty of cargo space for emergency Kleenex, but at what cost?

Not all that bad, you say? How about this one:

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Doesn't that just sear your brain cells? I wore a lot of these sleeves In The Day. I suppose I didn't have much choice; these were the sleeves that Fate dealt me. The good thing about having worn a lot of Dolman sleeves is that I now have a healthy respect for the concept of the Set In Sleeve, and its also-flattering cousin, the Raglan. I think there should be a PBS Documentary--a Nova or a Frontline or at least a The American Experience-- devoted to the pioneers who spread knowledge about these crucial Dolman Alternatives throughout our land.

But I digress (quel surprise). All I really wanted to tell you is that I finally finished the dang thing. I had knit all the pieces by the time I returned from vacation. (This was in 2003.) I promptly blocked it and sewed up the 4 'inside-out' backstitch seams, which I found challenging (being the Queen of Mattress Stitch but not even a minor royal of backstitch). Then I left it in the bottom of my Sew-up Basket. For a full year.

The reason is that during the partial sewing-up, I had twigged to the fact that the sleeves were WAY too long for me. I probably could have figured this out from reading the pattern, but I didn't have even the faintest premonition until after I had knit up 12 balls of Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim Aran. Since these sleeves are knit sideways instead of top-down or bottom-up, there is no practical way to shorten them, and they can't be reknit without re-knitting most of the sweater.

To make matters worse, it was only after I had sewn the thing halfway up that I unearthed this little Repressed Memory: I have a Tummy Issue. The issue being that my tummy is Convex where it ought to be Concave. Wearing a boxy little pullover like this calls a good deal of attention to this Issue. Eww.

Time to Recalculate Route. My task became selecting a long-armed, flat-tummied recipient. And luckily, I happen to know a long-armed, flat-tummied recipient:

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Pam! I sewed the last underarm seam in Pam's living room. The arms were a bit long, but it's a sweatshirt. The arms are joogeable. Another nice thing is that like me, Pam has a wool allergy, so she appreciates the fact that my version of the Dolman Updated is in cotton.

I call this a Happy Ending. I still need to find a way to exorcize my Bad Dolmans of the 80s, but it's a comfort to know that Pam has gotten rid of her Dolman ghosts, shoulder pads and all.

Love, Kay

P.S. And lookie here! Pam's been Log-Cabinning:

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Pam started knitting about a year ago. Other than scarves, this is her first project. It's in Peaches & Creme, the very best 100% cotton yarn you can buy for $1.28 a ball. She let me pick out the colors. Cheerful, no?

Posted by Kay at 12:57 PM | Comments (26)

November 17, 2004

Travels With Pam

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Dear Ann,

As you know, last week I got on an early-morning train and headed for Washington, D.C. and a 24-hour visit with my friend Pam. Pam and I, due to circumstances beyond our control, seldom see each other more than once a year. Due to these same children, I mean circumstances, we rarely talk on the phone. So when we see each other, it goes something like this:

I'M SO GLAD TO SEEEEEEEEEEEEE YOU!TALKTALKTALKTALKTALK[driving]TALKTALKTALKTALKTALK[eating and drinking]TALKTALKTALKTALKTALK[collapse into sleep for a couple of hours]TALKTALKTALKTALKTALK[coffee]TALKTALKTALKTALKTALK [more driving]TALKTALK---OHMYGODI'LLMISSMY TRAINGOODBYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!LOVEYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

This time was different in one way: the nonstop yakking was accompanied by Good Works. Pam is the Activities Coordinator at Revitz House, an independent living facility for seniors. The sponsor of Revitz House is a Jewish organization, so a large proportion of the population happens to be Jewish. A large proportion also happens to be from New York City. Most importantly for our purposes, a very healthy proportion of the population happens to be knitters.

Almost a year ago, Pam, a new knitter herself, tapped into this interest by starting a Knitting Club at Revitz House. When she heard our call for squares for the Afghanalong for Afghans, she told the Revitz knitters about it. They responded with a COUPLE HUNDRED squares. To save postage, and the last few square feet in my apartment, I asked her to stockpile the squares until later in the Afghanalong. I promised that we would have an exclusive Revitz House sew-up party, with a Special Guest Appearance by a Famous Celebrity Co-Blogger. When you couldn't seem to detach yourself from your duties in Nashville, I decided they would have to make do with me.

Pam is not Jewish, a fact that is well known to each and every resident of Revitz House. They have made it their business to ensure that Pam receives an Honorary Doctorate in Jewish-American Culture. For example, this is Pam's filing cabinet:

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Important vocabulary words require illustration:

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Pam is from a tiny town in rural Virginia. She has the bony foxiness of a woman in a Walker Evans photo. She is more your Loretta Lynn type than your Bella Abzug type. Even though I know where she works, it is still a giggle when she lets fly with remarks like, 'He's a shnorrer.'

The Sew-Up

I took the Metro from Union Station, arriving at Revitz House at noon. The assembled Knitting Club had been working on the afghans since 10 a.m., making great progress. I was an object of great curiosity. I received a thorough inspection. According to Ancient Hebrew Custom, we ate Chinese food for lunch. I had brought a Chocolate Babka From New York, which was greeted with many swoons and sighs before being devoured and wrapped in napkins to save for later. Then the Sewing Up resumed for the rest of the afternoon. The KayCam was there:

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Gloria and Dora. Dora made the striped lavender pullover she is wearing. Fine gauge. Lovely.

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Gloria modelling my "Core" jacket in Rowan Denim. It fits her perfectly. She wants me to make her one. She really wants me to make her one. She made that very clear.

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This is Freida. Having spent many years working in New York's Garment District for well-known design houses, Frieda was kind of overqualified for whip-stitching squares together, but she did not let that stop her. She fondly reminisced about her days in the city she calls 'My New York', with emphasis on the West 30s and Forest Hills in Queens. This started everyone else sharing their childhood memories, and made me feel very privileged to be a (Metro)card-carrying New Yorker with 24-hour access to decent babka.

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Here's Renee. Renee told about how she used to save the 7 cents she was given (5 cents for the subway and 2 cents for a bus transfer) by walking to school from the West 90s, across Central Park, and all the way over to Lexington in the 60s. Renee has had several careers, including one in jewelry design, including making cloisonne with her own two hands. What is Yiddish for 'gobsmacked'? (In my opinion, 'gobsmacked' is such a good word, it ought to be Yiddish.)

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This is Pearl. Pearl knit more squares for the Afghanalong than anybody else. Not just anybody else at Revitz House. Anybody else.

Last But Not Least

It grieves me to report that I was having such a good time yakking and snacking that I failed to capture every sewer-upper on the KayCam; I know I missed at least two Sylvias. But there was one person who specifically requested--no, directed--that I take several shots of her.

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This is Rebecca. (Photo by Kay. Prop styling by Rebecca. Hair and makeup by Rebecca.)

Rebecca is 94. She was born in 1910. Over time, she has amassed an impressive collection of politically incorrect Jackie Mason type jokes and one-liners, and perfected her deadpan delivery. I'm going to share one, because it gave me spasms of merriment, which had NOTHING TO DO WITH MY OWN MOTHER-IN-LAW, I TELL YOU!

Rebecca's Joke

[Preface (to this and every Rebecca joke): You're not Jewish, are you? You probably won't get it. I'll tell you anyway and if you don't get it I'll explain after.]

A man tells his mother, 'Ma, I'm so happy. I found the girl I'm going to marry. She's so wonderful, she's so beautiful, and guess what? She's an American Indian. Her name is Sitting Water. I love her so much, that I took an Indian name also. My new name is Sitting Bull. Mother dear, I think it would be so nice, and it would make Sitting Water feel so welcome in our family, if you would also take an Indian name.'

His mother replied. 'All right. I'm Sitting Shiva.'

You don't have to be a non-Jewish woman married to a Jewish man to enjoy this joke, but it certainly helps.

Rebecca wants me to make her a poncho. With 'holes'. She made that very clear.

The next day, when I arrived in Penn Station, a few blocks south of the Garment District, I said hello to Freida's New York.

Thanks to everyone in the Revitz Knitting Club, for the wonderful time, and for sewing up at least four beautiful afghans. Special thanks to Pam.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:03 AM | Comments (43)

November 15, 2004

From the Bagram Bazaar

Dear Kay,

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Sometimes the mailbox provides a total surprise. A bit of Afghanistan showed up the other day, from our now nonvirtual friend Tish whom we met in the flesh at the New York sew-up.

These scarves (she sent two) were sent to her by her sister Jenny, who as you recall is a member of the armed forces stationed in Afghanistan. Here's what Tish tells us:

"These are the size headscarves normally worn by men, but with the ouster of the Taliban more and more women are getting out from under the burka and wearing these scarves for modesty.

"My son brought me a burka when he was home recently on two weeks R&R, and believe me, those things are enough to keep any woman 'under control.' The burka is full length around the sides and down the back, while the front extends to just below the waist--presumably so the hands are free to carry children, packages, etc. The top is heavily pleated so that it fits very firmly around the head, and there is a small section over the eyes that is made up of tiny embroidered eyelets so that you can see out (front only, you have no peripheral vision), but no one can really see the woman's eyes.

"My very modern, 21-year-old college daughter summed it up best: 'This is what the Taliban made women wear. I'm glad they're in caves now, living on rats and bugs. it's just barely what they deserve.' "

I'm looking at this scarf, which is airy and shiny and doesn't weigh a thing.

Thanks so much to Tish for sharing this tangible piece of life in that faraway place.

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:18 AM | Comments (10)

November 12, 2004

It Happens

Dear Ann,

I'm back from my 24-hour blitz of metropolitan Washington, D.C., its senior housing and its yarn stores. I will brief you fully on Monday. But since a picture paints a thousand words, let's just say I had a:

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Good Time.

Thanks, Kristine.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:39 PM | Comments (8)

November 11, 2004

Image Stabilizer

Dear Kay,

I know you've been out of town and all, but I've been on a little journey myself. A downward journey, I guess you could say. A slide into slovenliness, a slobward slant, a slow roll. My sister Buffy might whisper to you, if she had got a load of me this week, "Well. Kay. She's just let herself go."

It all started when stuff started breaking: the Anncam, my glasses, my bad-fitting pants, my wished-for trip to Toronto, every single lame idea I had for a knitting project, my screened porch project. ("Uh, ma'am, no I don't think it's going to be done by Thanksgiving. But I do hope to have entertainable surfaces ready by then.") It was when I hadn't used a pot in the kitchen for one solid week that I realized that things were amiss. (Macaroni and cheese does not count as cooking. That's stirring.)

The low moment came yesterday when I was trying to pick a new camera. It became the single most important decision of my life. Nothing else mattered more than figuring out which camera was to become the new Anncam. And no purchase could more perfectly devolve into an endless cycle of Googling, reading Steves-digicams.com, the Digital Camera Review, Amazon, Instapundit (Hubbo claimed Instapundit wrote a lot about this subject), and the Rosetta Stone, Consumer Reports.

My perseverance on this topic just about did me in. Shouldn't I fix dinner or something?

When I awoke this morning, I had a revelation. I'll decide. I'll pick. I'll go to the camera store, see what the dude says, and go with it. I won't even take my Consumer Reports.

And you know what? Billy, the dude, said what I needed was a camera with an image stabilizer. "Man, are YOU ever right," I told him. "Where do I sign?"

On the way out, I passed Banana Republic. There were my new pants, right there in the window. When I got home, I picked up David's sweet little Rowan Wool Cotton pullover and thought, by golly, if I'm not going to come up with something to knit, I'll just wear this sweater. If my glasses are broken, I'll just wear my backup glasses that make me look so much like Kay that it will scare the bejeezus out of her.

David's sweater is not a bad fit, if you like a cropped fit and three-quarter sleeves. My Kayspecs make me feel like Kay. And here you go, a beautiful sight if ever there was one: my first stabilized picture taken with the new AnnCam.

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I'm still bummed about missing the sew-up throwdown at Stephanie's, but at least I can see what it was like on her blog.

Everything's going to be OK. I even fixed dinner tonight, and used about six pots.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:43 PM | Comments (18)

November 09, 2004

The Beginning of a Circle

Dear Kay,

Well, I've gone and done the unthinkable. I've joined a nonvirtual, real-life knitting group.

Helped start one, actually--it's a group of women who go to my church. It all started a few months ago when a mother of triplets suggested that the women of our church start a listserv. Before you know it, people were setting up walking groups, talking about sex education, and generally feeling all connected and cozy. It was only a matter of time before a knitter, the effervescent Judy (who is the sort of person who makes you want to give her a sweater), pointed out the obvious fact that what this group needed was a knitting circle.

Until Judy and I got together to cook up the details of the knitting group, I didn't know what kind of knitter Judy is: a ferocious one. It turns out that she, who lives a block away from me, has a stash that resembles a New York City yarn shop. Chenille, boucle, eyelash, superfuzz, chunkywunky, all sorted by color. The ponchos coming out of that woman's soul! I had no idea. We talked about knitting for four hours.

The first meetup was last Friday. We added at least four new knitters to the fold, and I even had the rare opportunity to teach one of our priests, the Ultra Reverend Anne, how to cast on. It wasn't exactly a faith-based initiative. But it was clear that Anne had SOME kind of outside help, because she had that row of stitches done faster than I could fetch a piece of coffee cake.

On Sunday morning, as I stood in line waiting for my coffee, one fellow knitter reported the trapezoidalization of her scarf--"It went from eleven stitches to nineteen just like that." Another told me that she'd already cranked a foot of scarf, ripped it out because it had developed a mysterious buttonhole-like deal in the middle, and redid it. A third told me that she had a moment in traffic where she asked herself, "Do I have time to knit here?"

People I have seen for years suddenly speak a language that I thought was from my own little weird world. I can hardly describe how disorienting, and pleasant, it is.

What I wish is this: that everybody we know online could hang out the way this knitting group did last Friday. That social thing--to talk while knitting, to sit there and not say a word while somebody else lets fly some outrageous tale, to see someone's face as she tells the sad story--that's the only thing we can't quite capture through our computers. OK, that and the ability to pass yarn via email.

That said, there is in the online world of knitting plenty of room for a wacked-out obsessiveness that makes it possible to talk about, um, mattress stitch until we have thoroughly talked about it. I'm not at all sure my new knitting friends could stand it. Yet.

I guess that's why it's so remarkable when online friends actually do get together. I see Stephanie's sew-up party and that houseful of women, up there in Toronto, a thousand miles away, sewing up afghans, and I'm trying to figure out what everybody looks like. ("That's AARA!") I see in one of the afghans my crummy log cabin square (See it? Second row, fifth square), and I just laugh and laugh. To think that a virtual world can turn into a loud, splendid afternoon in a newly painted house, well. How great is that?

Love,
Ann

PS As of this writing, the AnnCam is lying belly up on my desk, lens hideously and permanently extended, croaked out with the dire words SYSTEM ERROR on its screen. To meet the picture requirements set forth in the Mason-Dixon Knitting Rules of Composition, here are some tender memories from your trip to Nashville:

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Fully caffeinated, ready to go.

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You try and try, but you just can't get away from the log cabins.

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Weirdo collection of buttons stitched to Revolutionary-era paper plates.

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Part of the Grundy County Parade of Shacks.

Posted by Ann at 03:39 AM | Comments (12)

November 07, 2004

Sunday Sunny Sunday

Dear Ann,

Before knitting, my sport was running. Kay was to running what the garter-stitch blanket is to knitting: nothing flashy, and taking a good long while to finish.

Marathon Sunday always makes me wistful. The most recent of my two New York City Marathons was 1994. Ten years ago. I ran with two sturdy friends, who are still sturdy friends. Here we are that morning, pre-race as you can tell by how perky and well-groomed we look.

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Only one of these three people does not have a knitting blog today. Coincidence? I think not.

In today's women's race, it was a glorious day for Britain. Paula Radcliffe was tough as nails, and she needed to be, for the competition was fierce.

It was also a glorious day for an Afghanalong Sew-up Bee! I can't wait to read Stephanie's report on the proceedings in Toronto, how they managed when half the squares failed to arrive, what they ate and drank, and whether Stephanie was hanging wallpaper and/or pouring concrete while her guests stitched. I was sorry not to be able to attend. Even sorrier after I learned that this was going to be a bra-optional event. My kind of gal, the Harlot.

In her honor, I got out the Number 13s and whipped up A Very Harlot Poncho (one of Stephanie's Free Patterns) in slightly reduced format. It's a fast, fun knit, and especially exotic if you rarely knit in the round. A chance to use my stitch markers? Stocking stitch without purling? Sign me up!

Here's Carrie trying it on for size, with the circular cable still in, after two skeins of Noro Kureyon in Shade 52.

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Awww!

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Double awww!

I finished it with the better part of a third skein. I purposely made it a bit short, for freedom of movement, and I'm not going to fringe it, for the same reason. (Harlot-watchers will note that I also tweaked the neck a little bit.) Due to my loosey-goosey gauge, I probably could have gone down to Size 11 or 10 1/2 needles without sacrificing drape. The fabric is a bit more open than I think is ideal for warmth. Do you think I could felt it ever so slightly to make the stitches a bit tighter and give it a bit of fuzz? Do you think I would run the risk of creating a poncho for an American Girl doll or even a Barbie, neither of which Ms. Diehard Feminist deigns to own?

I am ready to cast on an even teensier one, in Koigu, for Rosie. I have a feeling that A Very Harlot Poncho may be my new Mitered Square. By which I mean, I just might make 80 of them.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 01:31 AM | Comments (17)

November 03, 2004

A Message From Das Uberwascher

ACHTUNG FRAU MASON UND DIXON KAY!

Ich bin das uberwascher, hier.

Rememberen sie das blauenpuddlen on die kuchenfloor?

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Ich feelen nein so gut. Ach! Die orang taffelclothier ist Kaput!

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Jah! Die gemutlich und bestest taffelcloth! Ach! Telefonen Herr WascherDoktor!

Mach Schnell! Nein strikken! Nein even das neue babyKardigan:

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Nein drinken liebfraumilch! Nein essen tschokolade! Mach Schnell!

Hugs und Kusses von

Das Uberwasher

(Apologies to everybody in the world who speaks actual German. I'm punch-drunk after spending 45 minutes on my wet kitchen floor, being talked through how to drain Herr Miele -- who I'm told is 'very old' -- and pry his door open to rescue my sopping wet, bestest orange tablecloth. I was so brave! The water was so yucky! Must knit all afternoon just to calm down. The newly cast-on baby cardigan is Candy from Rowan 31, which has been taking up stash space for long enough. I tweaked the colors a little bit to match a size 4 dress of Carrie's that Rosie will soon be ready for.)

Posted by Kay at 11:09 AM | Comments (16)

November 01, 2004

Mattress Seam Delirium

Dear Ann,

So, let's say you want to knit something the size of a queen bed, or perhaps big enough to cover your dining room table (with all the leaves in). Something chockfull of bits and pieces. Something like this:

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And let's say you book a comfy room at a nice hotel on Project Fantasy Island (this brilliant bon mot courtesy of today's serving of CurlsandPurlsNYC). You stay there, dementedly knitting away and ordering from Room Service, until you have 80 squares done.

All the sane people are no longer with us. It's just us nuts, pondering how to sew up such prodigiousness of squares. Being the self-proclaimed Mattress Stitch Queen of the Northern Hemisphere or At Least My Own Mind, I chose:

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Mattress Stitch, aka Ladder Stitch, aka Invisible Seam. The advantages of Mattress Stitch are (a) I'm the Queen of it, meaning I sort of know how to do it, and (b) It makes the stripes of the squares come together very neatly on the Right Side. This is because of the First Principle of Mattress Stitch: There is a stitch-for-stitch, row-for-row correspondence. Since each of these squares has exactly the same number of stitches and rows, Mattress Stitch should result in perfect joins. (Key word in previous sentence: "should".) (For a picture illustrating Mattress Stitch, go here and scroll down to 'Invisible Seam'.)

The Wrong Side, however, is another story. On the Wrong Side, Mattress Stitch leaves Highly Visible Ridges. Nice, neat Ridges, but a bit unkempt even for the Wrong Side of something. We'll think about that....later. We're hell-bent for Mattress Stitch.

As I sewed away, I took many photographs. Some of them tedious and instructional, and others worthy of National Geographic Magazine in that they will transport you to a weird and wonderful world far, far away. So come with me, my nutty little friends.

Here are two strips of mitered squares. Each square has already been mattress-stitched out of 4 mitered corner squares, and then mattress-stitched to the other squares to form the strips. As you can see from this picture:

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....in order to sew these strips together, you will have to navigate 2 kinds of Intersections. The first type is the Straight Intersection:

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At a Straight Intersection, you have the four pieces coming together at right angles. Easy-peasy. Unless you:

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.....screw up. Whoopsie! This kind of screw-up results from forgetting the First Principle of Mattress Stitch. Somewhere along the way, you have forgotten about stitch-for-stitch correspondence. You have gotten one stitch ahead of yourself. All you have to do is, go back to the last intersection (which is all nice and neat and holier-than-thou), and re-seam. Pay attention this time, okay?

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See? All better. The only real trick with Mattress Stitching over this kind of intersection is to remember not to let your needle go any deeper than the stitches that are on top of the fabric. Do not dig your needle down into the seams that you made when you joined the corners to make the squares. When you cross from one square to the next on one side of the seam, you must cross from one square to the next on the other side of the seam on the very next stitch.

The more challenging type of intersection is the Mitered Angle Weirdo Intersection, where you are trying to join neatly four angled corners where you have made miter decreases. (These intersections look like 'X's.) In the series of photos that follow, I attempt to show how the MAWI Intersection can be traversed successfully. I cannot really explain it in words, other than to repeat that once you cross from one square to the next on one side of the seam, you must cross immediately with the very next stitch you take on the other side of the seam. (Click on these photos to enlarge.) And remember to keep your needle on top of the fabric.

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Danger: you are approaching the intersection.

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Easy....does it; you're safely across.

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See? Nice and tidy.

When you pull the 'ladders' of the mattress seam taut, some jooging may be necessary to straighten out the seam. Who among us is so perfect that we cannot benefit from a little jooging? So much of life is just Good Jooging.

People ask me, Kay, did you get sick of this project? After all, my short attention span for sweaters is well known; I have had two fully-knitted sweaters in my Finish Up (Sometime) Basket, with only a seam or two left, for at least 9 months. But in this case, I have sewn all the seams, I am on the third of four border edges, and I have yet to get tired of my fabulous Beach Blanket. The bigger it gets, the more exercise I get turning it around to start another endless border row, but the scenery along the way is always delightful.

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Happy Monday!

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 09:20 AM | Comments (32)
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