"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 30, 2006

Red Scarf Part Deux

Dear Ann,

So, how the heck've ya been? It's taken me an entire week to unwind from 2 manic days in San Diego.

Meanwhile, I've managed to keep Kay's Folk Art Factory limping along, with a nice mix of Instant Gratification Projects and Might Be Finished In This Lifetime Projects. The instant gratifiers are a lot more fun. Just saying.

Headed For A Theological Seminary Near You

You know how when you mosey over to Norma's to see what she's up to, you sometimes get this feeling that there is a bandwagon about to leave without you, so HURRY UP AND JUMP ON, YA SLACKER! That happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Norma was blogging about a new Red Scarf Project. This is a project to send a handmade Valentine's Day scarf to a college student who has aged out of foster care. Since I don't have a nearby Einstein's Bagels to take my scarf to, I was supposed to mail it out by last Friday. Only trouble was, I didn't cast on until Saturday. So I mailed it today. Hopefully they'll still be packing up scarves when they get it tomorrow.

My red yarn inventory consisted of a skein of Manos in tomato red, a half skein of Manos in deep red/magenta variegated, and a skein of wild and wonderful why-did-I-buy-this Noro Kujako in many different colors, including magenta, eggplant, and pink. Here's what I made:

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Is it just me, or is this scarf a little churchy? You could totally wear this in a Gospel Choir, or perhaps to officiate at a baptism. I didn't notice this until it was all done and too late to secularize.

I cast on this scarf while waiting at Bank Street College for Patricia Polacco to sign a book for Carrie aka Patricia Polacco's Greatest Fan. Since Patricia Polacco is the author of The Keeping Quilt, I thought it was appropriate to be knitting a little red schmatteh. (A little red schmatteh plays a starring role in The Keeping Quilt--if you quilt, knit, or have ever grieved for a lost loved one, this book is a must.)

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Ignore the bluish cast in the previous photo. The true color of the Kujako shows here.

I started with horizontal stripes, since all the stylin' kids are wearing horizontal stripes this year. But in the past I've had this problem of the cast-on edge being tighter than the bound-off edge, causing Curvature of the Stripes. I could have avoided this by casting onto two needles to keep it loose, but have I mentioned I was waiting for Patricia Polacco? I didn't have another needle. So I cast on normally, knit to approximately the middle of the scarf, bound off, and then picked up stitches along the cast-on edge, and knit the other half of the scarf in the other direction. This straightened out the curve and made me feel Clever and Resourceful.

I didn't quite know what to do with the Kujako. The stripey portion of the scarf was coming out a bit short. So I log-cabined some Kujako onto one end, knit the second horizontal stripey portion, log-cabinned onto that end some more (stairsteps!), did some fat stripes, and bound off. I still had bits of the two Manos yarns left, and half of the Kujako, so I went to the other end. At this point I was bored with log cabinning (shameful but true), so I went back to my arsenal of Easy Fun Riffs on the Square Shape, and knit two stripey miters. I still had some Kujako so with a mighty effort at an unfamiliar skill, I single-crocheted all the way around.

I hope the recipient likes it, and feels the knitterly luv.

A Small Object

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Lookit! I made a pin cushion! I am trying to get back my rusted, busted embroidery chops. In seventh grade home economics class, I embroidered a big piece of green and white gingham with Excessively Cute Animals. It was so cute, in fact, that somebody stole it. (True that! The McMillan Junior High School of the 70s was a hellhole--a kid flaunted gingham at her peril.)

This is from a kit I bought at City Quilter. Kits are a great way to spoon-feed oneself a new skill. Lack of skill, however, did not defeat my inclination, in all crafts, to alter instructions. As I was about to sew the little felt fried-egg flower onto the cushion top, I felt it looked a little too Early American. I remembered reading somewhere about how you could applique a raw-edged piece of fabric by simply turning the edge under as you stitch. I grabbed a snippet of Kaffe Fassett's 'Spools' fabric from my Underutilized Fabric Stash. It seemed so perfect for the fried-egg vibe of this pin cushion. I tried it, and it worked! Buttonhole Stitch is da bomb. Most embroidery stitches are way too free-handy and subject to Operator Error for this knitter's grid-based mentality. But Buttonhole Stitch is nice and regular. You can get the hang of it. It behaves itself. From here on out, everything that needs sewing down is getting Buttonhole Stitched. (Aw look! It's a pincushion party!)

Department of Sweaters That Will Never Be Finished

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In December I started making Raspy from Denim People. (So those dropped stitches are on purpose. I eliminated the ones in the boobal area. Another of my silly middle-aged phobias--Fear of Flashing the Foundation Garments. I am becoming my mother. If not my grandmother.) I finished the front, which is identical to the back (yawn), on the pilgrimage to and from TNNA, and in other situations where I had absolutely nothing more interesting to knit.

The picture shows the difference that shrinkage makes--the bottom piece has not been washed and dried, the top piece has. A note to People Who Look At Me Funny When I Tell Them Denim Only Shrinks In One Direction: see how the shrinkage is all in the length and not in the width. This is one of the mysteries of the universe. Believe it. When will Raspy be finished? Hopefully while I live and breathe and knit upon this Earth. It's a long stretch of stockinette is all I'm saying.

Happy Monday!

Love, Kay

PS Hey everybody! We just realized the comments aren't working right. Leave 'em and we'll get 'em up on the blog. I just sent Ann down to the basement with a hammer and she's trying to fix it. I can tell she's working, by the cussing.

PPS Two of the guests at the Pincushion Party were NOT made by me! I did not mean to claim credit for such masterworks of the pincushiony art. The one I like to call Eat Your Heart Out Cezanne is by Cristina, who not only needle-felted that peach, she threw the teeny bowl it's resting in. The pointy one is called--get this--"MIddle Earth". It was made by Cassi of Bella Dia. (Well, I did make those felted balls in the stripey bowl; I think of them as bite-sized pincushions.)

Posted by Kay at 12:07 PM | Comments (35)

January 25, 2006

Truth #4: Give Your Handknits to People on Painkillers

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Dear Kay,

You know, it was just delicious to be away, wasn't it? It made me realize how important travel is, how refreshing it is to be in a different place, to make that phone call home and have your son say to you, "Hi Mom. I can't really talk--I gotta go shoot off the homemade fireworks we made."

I managed to F an O during the odyssey to San Diego. I've been cranking on a Kiri shawl for a beloved pal who is currently undergoing some plumbing work. She's a knitter herself, so I'm kind of nerbous about giving her this shawl--maybe I'll give it to her while the Oxycontin is still flowing so she'll just look at it and go, "What a pretty sail you made. I love pirates too!"

I haven't blocked this yet, and you know how I am about the blocking. Blocking is the dental floss of knitting. Nobody likes it, but you never regret having done it, right?

A quick peek at this Kiri reveals some startling truths.

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Truth #1: Only the slightest of color variegation works for a lace pattern.

I love this yarn, as you know. Its sheeny shine makes me think of a sari, and this particular shade is particularly spicy. But this shade of Blue Heron mercerized cotton is probably a bit too variegated for a lace project. If you wear this thing over black, it looks great. But a lighter color underneath makes it hard to see the pattern. If I'm knitting lace, I'm wanting people to see the fact that lace is present. There are holes in this thing, people. On purpose.

Truth #2: It's easier to work a pattern when you have the pattern with you.

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As I ran around throwing stuff into my suitcase, I tried really hard to remember to pack the Kiri edging pattern--you know, the scallopy doodah part that makes it all look kind of Morticia Addams? Well, I did pack it, but I lost it somewhere in the Nashville airport, so you know and I know that some Southwest Airlines flight attendant is happily edging an airplane blanket while I had to Move On and Wing It. In the interest of finishing Kiri fast, before my pal's drugs wore off, I settled for an eyelet border and some garter stitch. She, being a knitter, will see this for what it is: a desperate act by a desperate woman. Or, being on drugs, she will see it and proclaim, "Polka dots!"

Truth #3: It's OK to knit a pattern more than once.

Until now, I have never knitted a pattern more than once. It has been a hard and fast rule for me: no repeats until I've knitted every pattern ever written. But I saw different things when working this Kiri, and it's such a lark of a thing, that I really loved it. Thanks so much, Polly, for a tasty shawl.

Off to block this thing asap.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:12 AM | Comments (39)

January 21, 2006

The Most Exciting Thing We Have Ever Done Except Childbirth Which This Actually Resembles in Some Ways, Or, Shakespeare's Great but He Didn't Have 30 Awesome Patterns

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Dear y'all,

It's not often that we write at the same time, but it's not often that we get to announce that

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our book is off the presses! It's a real live book!

Like every new parent, we immediately checked out the new arrival. Look, it has a title page! It has a back cover! Aw, it's so cute when it's all nekkid. It even has a little bar code.

A Vignette

Scene: Molasses-in-Winter Printers, Ltd., Singapore. It is 2 am. Sounds of clanking machinery.

Dramatis personae: BILL, the press operator and JEDEDIAH, his boss

BILL [holding a press proof]: Hey Jedediah, check out this new knitting book.

JEDEDIAH: What, that Manson-Nixon book? Creepy title, don't you think?

BILL: Yeah. But it's so colorful! And so full of projects! I just LOVE a knitted nightgown, don't you?

JEDEDIAH: [shrugs] You know I'm more of a crochet person.

A Preview

The problem is, the rest of the books have to come from Singapore, and they are NOT traveling business class, to be sure. Until the slow boat arrives, we proudly present:

A Peek at Manson-Nixon Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide.

A Road Trip!

Get this. We are writing to you from San Freakin' Diego, California, which is so not Nashville and NOT New York that we feel like we have fallen into some parallel universe where there are walls of yarn all over the place. We are here for an event called The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) winter show. (Our publishing team calls it 'Ta-NAH', which is one of the many reasons why we heart our team.) It a trade show where yarn shop folks buy yarn and stuff (stuff being a category that includes BOOKS) from yarn manufacturers and makers of stuff.

We have a few early observations to share: it is terrible to be surrounded by yarn which is NOT FOR SALE. It is wonderful to meet people who read our blog. There is no pair of shoes comfortable enough to last through a ten-hour day on a cement floor. Euroflax has a stunning linen/mohair blend called Kidlin Mystic and Kidlin Pixie. We have to reknit every shawl we have made in this yarn.

Other observations: if you are a knitter, and your yarn trade show is taking place next door to an extreme sports/skateboarding trade show, nobody is going to mistake you for an extreme sports/skateboarding enthusiast. This place is filled, totally, with 18-year-old boys wearing black and skateboarding through the lobby. Ann was hit by a wayward skateboard when she was checking in.

Having a great time--wish you were here! Ta-NAH for now,

Love,

Kay and Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:09 PM | Comments (92)

January 19, 2006

My Olympic Effort

Dear Kay,

Never one to be left behind, and always the last one finished, I have already begun my Olympic Knitting Project. I realize that beginning three weeks before the Olympics begins is pretty much in defiance of Olympic Knitting regulations. But that's OK--at least Tonya Harding's henchmen aren't going to be whacking my knuckles with a tire iron or anything.

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Guess what I'm making! I'm feeling lively and playful already.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 12:15 PM | Comments (35)

January 17, 2006

On Irregularity and the Rejection of Certain Notions

Dear Kay,

I don't often write here about Hubbo, mostly because he likes to keep a low profile. I'm not saying he works for the CIA, or the NSA, or Wal-Mart, even. But he may be the last human who can qualify to be attorney general; he's upstanding, he is.

He is literally upstanding, too, about 6'3" of upstanding, which is why (I'm embarrassed to say) I've never made a sweater for him. The problem with potentially handknitting something for Hubbo is that not only is he on the tall side, he's on the warm side. He is the warmest human I know--a marvel of metabolism, toasty when I'm frozone, coatless most of the time. Like a six year old. He's just not a very good target for someone who likes to make sweaters.

Until now. I accidentally knitted a sweater for Hubbo.

I started this sweater last summer, the Summer of Green, when I decided I had to knit a Teva Durham sweater from Loop-d-Loop or die. I've run on about Teva before. Knitting from her book would put me in her world, which has to be a very interesting place. I wanted to diminish my stash, and I wanted something simple enough that it would suit my dissolute summer knitting habits.

Here's what came of that:

Pattern: The Irregular Rib Raglan with Toggle (page 71, for you Teva freaks)

Yarn: Rowan Magpie, Tarragon color. The Gregory Peck of yarns, really. If Atticus Finch didn't live in Alabama, and he was chilly enough that he actually needed an irregular rib raglan with toggle, he'd pick Magpie. Rowan's decision to discontinue Magpie ranks right up there with the theft of the Nun Bun. Low! Cruel!

Why It's EZ: One-size-fits-all pattern. I figured if the winsome young thing on the cover of Loop-d-Loop could wear this, so could the not-really-so-winsome I. More on this later. And it's knitted in the round. What could better suit a dissolute summer knitter?

Let's Go to the Videotape

This sweater was a ton of fun to make: it hits that sweet spot of rhythmic knitting combined with clever bits that keep you on your toes. But it was not without its weird moments.

After chugging up the body, which toward the top takes a freaky turn when you're doing one set-in sleeve and one raglan with a flappy deal on one side, it's time to sew the shoulder seam. (There's only one. How irregular!) Because the ribbing is irregular, the ribs don't particularly line up, which is fine because the word irregular is right there in the name of the garment and I would have been bummed to have this tidbit too orderly. But it is HIGHLY irregular when you somehow turn the tube inside out and do the seam inside out. This is BEYOND irregular; this is "incompetent."

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This really is inside out, no matter how many times you tell yourself it isn't.

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Here we see the dark moment of the soul. It is at this point that you doubt the whole project. The set-in sleeve looks so emaciated that there's no way it's all going to hook up. And the raglan sleeve looks five times longer than a sleeve ought to look. Teva Durham is completely nuts. I am filled with loathing.

But she's not nuts. She's clever. She understands ribbing, and stretchiness, and the fact that a human inhabiting a sweater can significantly change its shape.

When I finally got all the sleeves and raglan flaps and collar all done, I tried on this sweater, and it was just too much for me. I love the irregular ribs, I love the irregular sleeves, but it's just a pound and a half of sweater (I weighed it), and I'm a half-pound sweater kind of girl.

I decided to see just how one-size-fits-all this sweater really is, and Hubbo gamely agreed to try it on. There are a dozen reasons why I thought he would hate it. It is not gray. It is not thin. It is not symmetrical, and for a guy who thinks a lot about symmetry, this should have been a dealbreaker.

"It's cozy," he said, after I jooged the sleeves and discovered that it fits him fine. "You made it. I like it." He looked down. "What is this thingie?"

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Now. You notice how Son David has artfully placed a hand over Dad's chest. No, he is not offering fealty, nor is he propping up his father. He's covering up THIS:

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A toggle.

This toggle is a bone of contention, let me tell you. Hubbo can take some assymetry, but he cannot take a toggle. The toggle is O'er The Top; the fact that the flap that the toggle is supposed to hold together is actually sewed together means that the toggle is not functional. It is decorative. And we cannot have something DECORATIVE ON A MAN SWEATER. The man does not want to be photographed in a handknit which includes a toggle.

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I can't say I disagree, really. It's a fine sweater, toggle or no.

Off it goes, to the toggle trash heap. Which is kind of a shame, because in attaching the toggle I discovered a new craft for us:

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Leatherwork! We can tool our own belts!

Love,
Ann

PS Today is David's tenth birthday. Here he is with small Clif after he and their four friends collected all the snow in Grundy County during their sleepover on the mountain. (Deliverance Meets Lord of the Flies--you weren't kidding.)

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The snowball ended up where all great snowballs end up.

Posted by Ann at 01:10 PM | Comments (56)

January 13, 2006

It's Delightful, It's Delicious, It's De-lurking

Dear Ann,

Shame on ya! You didn't tell me about National De-Lurking Week! I had to find out about it on the street, and it's almost over.

The best part about National De-Lurking Week, aside from the rampant exhibitionism of all those Former Lurkers revealing themselves in all their de-loveliness, is the buttons!

Here are a few of my favorites, all of which can be found here.

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Always wondered where this one came from!

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For the lurker with matching shoes and handbag.

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In the words of Yoda, "Bones, throw you must."

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This one is from Our President.

Lurker Knitting

In silence and utter anonymity, I knit two scarves that must be exposed to the eternal sunshine of the world wide web.

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The pattern is Jo Sharp's, from Scarf Style, only I didn't make it in Rare Comfort Kid Mohair, but in Mountain Colors Cashmere.

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You heard me: cashmere. Two skeins of the softest, most draping-est yarn ever on my needles. I think it's dyed with indigo, because there were a few odd greeny-yellow spots. I chose to think of these little blots as "flaws that enhance" (like Marilyn's beauty mark), in light of how much this precious yarn costs. Worth every penny, spots and all.

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It was a pressie, so it got rolled up in a hand-dyed silk ribbon. The recipient loved it. Grateful recipients of knitting make life worth living. They encourage us to keep knitting for others. Whether this is a good thing or not, history will decide.

Department of Keep Yer Mitts Offa It

Over the New Year's weekend, I knit 5 stashed skeins of Muench Touch Me, which also costs the earth I might add, into another Scarf Styles wonder.

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Vintage Velvet. Aptly named, this one. You knit it up, wondering all the while whether you really are the type who goes for this fuzzy, over-bright, over-shiny, chunky and slightly twisty yarn. It is, after all, a core of wool surrounded by a halo of synthetic sweepings from the Shiny Flurf Factory. It's a Novelty Yarn at a Premium Fiber Snob Price.

BUT. You knit on, trying to get your money's worth. You think about who you will dump it on if it comes out of the washer and dryer still looking like something you'd buy from a street vendor 2-for-$10. (A sparkly relative, no doubt.)

You follow the instructions, to wash it hot, dry it until almost dry. (Lord knows I love to hot-wash and shrink me some yarn.)

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And you get THIS. It really does look like vintage cut-velvet. You forbid anyone else to touch it. You will be buried in the thing. It is worth the 15 bucks a skein, for it has made you whole. (Note: Get a load of my "natural" blond highlights. Just call me Breck Girl; only everybody-who-sees-me knows for sure.)

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Or whatever. It's a nice scarf.

Happy National De-lurking Weekend. I will spend it trying to get Neve and Gliz out of my retinas. Do the organizers of the Olympics not know about Jess Hutchison? Do they not realize that we need a handknit robot Olympic Mascot? What is the world coming to?

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:23 PM | Comments (85)

January 11, 2006

Perfect Sweater: Naive Utopia? We Think Not!

Dear Kay, and Keepers of the Olympic Flame,

Knitty's technical editor Mandy is picking away at the Perfect Sweater pattern like some CSI investigator. Oh, it's a crime scene all right.

Such care! Such meticulation! And two brave knitters are testing out the size small pullover pattern to make sure it's ready for prime time before we send it to all the also-brave designers who are going to be designing the many neckline styles we all so desperately desire.

Kendall of Oklahoma (not to be confused with Mutual of Omaha) is working like a Trojan as well, test-knitting this pattern and unearthing all sorts of embarrassing missteps in the area of shortrowing and, um, counting stitches. She's starting a blog, www.annslamepatternwritingskills.com, where she'll share every excruciating error.

Here are ultracovert snaps of Kendall's progress. These were taken with a camera embedded in the end of her needle:

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And Vast Amount of Spare Time Kathy of Southern-California-Soon-of-Oregon has delved so deeply into the issue of armhole shaping that graph paper is required. (Remember: Kathy has vast amounts of spare time. Shyeahright.)

We should all thank these brave souls for diving into the pattern. We may actually achieve perfection with this kind of help.

If you have picked out a shade of Cascade 220 for your Perfect Sweater, please lemme know which color you chose. I'm creating a database of Cascade Yarn shades. Don't ask me why; it just seems tidier or something.

A Deadline!

Now. With the new year upon us, there has been no end of questions about when the Perfect Sweater pattern will be complete. I do believe that Jan has come up with a deadline that is ambitious yet feasible: the Winter Olympics.

Opening ceremonies are February 10. I'm thinking that the passion of the Games is something we all need in these hard times, peace among different populations, fair play in sports, the unselfish sharing of joys and emotions which seem to be contradicted by the daily news, as if they were nothing but a naive utopia.

This is not the case for us, nor is it for all those who firmly believe in the Olympic Spirit and strive to give it body and soul, for the volunteers, the torchbearers, the sportsmen and those who bear witness to the value of participation with their work and commitment to being there at all costs.
The Olympic spirit-- the athletic spirit--is an integral part of the hope for a better future--

OH CRAP I'm repeating the promo copy from the Olympic web site. Never mind the allegedly sexually harrassing U.S. skeleton team coach. (Do we have any skeletoners out there? What kind of insane sport is this?) Never mind steroids. Dammit, y'all, we are going to knit this sweater in the name of peace among different populations, fair play in sports, the unselfish sharing of joys and emotions--in the name of Neve and Gliz, the snowball and ice cube mascots of the Torino Olympics!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:50 AM | Comments (36)

January 08, 2006

Houston, We Don't Really Have a Problem

Dear Kay,

You know that movie with Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon where they're astronauts? Apollo 13? When they're on the fifth Moon mission and they're all jacked up but the networks won't even cover their little Live-From-Space broadcast because it's just not news anymore?

You know when you're having children, and you get past that first one, and the second one, and that third one comes out just great and what a cute baby she is--whoops did we get a baby book oh great here put in this lock of hair that's plenty oh and maybe this hospital baby bracelet?

That's what we're talking about here with the subsequent steeks of my life. Steek the First was the epic, hands-clammy sort of knitting event that rivaled only the first time I went rapelling. (OK so I went rapelling exactly once and it was because I loved Ben Swift so mightily that I would fling myself off a low cliff for him.) Unlike Ben Swift, my sweater will never forsake me for some perky tennis player. But I have to say, I found Steeks Two and Three uneventful in the extreme. So I'll include some creepy shots of scissors to make it all feel more alarming and dangerous.

The Neck Steek

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How weird is this thing? The reason you do this steek is a) so you can keep knitting in the round and preserve the pattern without interruption, b) so you can do decreases along the front neckline so that the neckline will be shaped. And c) because life just isn't complicated enough already.

For Steek the First I didn't show any photos of the literal, actual whacking of the knitting, and I recall somebody commented on that. YOU commented, I do believe. As IF I had prove how it was that I ended up with a hole in the middle of my knitting? Like I faked it? Like some freakin' faked-up Moon landing? Would I lie to you? Even in the name of high-drama blogation?

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I even used the Ancestral Mom Scissors, the ones we as children were not allowed to use on cardboard or ANYthing. We weren't even allowed to LOOK at these scissors. They were the lone possession of my mother's that nobody else could touch. We could go through her jewelry box and wear her opal ring. We could clomp around the house in her high heels. We could do gymnastics on her bed. But the scissors. Well. So sacred are they that lo these 20 years after Mother went to the Knitting Circle in the Sky, I won't let MY children look at these scissors.

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SNIP SNIP SNIP.

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Holey hole, Batman. It's a neckhole.

I was so chuffed at whacking the neck steek that I cranked out the collar using a circular that was two inches too long but who the hell cares even though the resulting collar isn't exactly tight as a drum or anything:

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While cranking this collar I remembered my fascination with corrugated ribbing. I LOVE corrugated ribbing! (Shut up, Cara.) K2, P2, but using two colors. The EZ way to do this is to start with Color 1 and K2, sl 2, K2. After you go all the way around, you use Color 2 and sl 2, P2, sl 2, and you end up with a ribbing that is decorative yet inelastic. Just the way I like my men!

Wellanyway, that was such fun that I moved on to

Armhole Steek the Second

See what I mean? See how this is right up there with chronicling a garter stitch scarf? See? Stay with me--maybe there'll be an explosion or something.

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Steek. (The strip of checkerboard stuff.)

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CHOPPING THE STEEK.

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Great whackin' maw resulting from steek being chopped.

Next time: The Return of the Perfect Sweater! We have test-knitters bravely trying out The Pattern to make sure there are no faulty O-rings. A full report to come shortly. LATER CLARIFICATION: Neckline designers, do not fear! Just to be clear, we're still at the elementary stage of getting the very first basic pattern right, before we send it to all the neckline designers. I just want to make sure we're sending you a solid pattern before everybody starts modifying it. See, if we find some dumb mistake in the basic pattern, and people start modifying the pattern using an incorrect pattern, it gets all, like, confusing. As soon as we're set on this first pattern, we're going to have a neckline-designing festival. Thanks to all for your patience! Perfection in '06!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 03:14 PM | Comments (38)

January 05, 2006

Museum Quality

Dear Ann,

My dear, can you hear my posh British accent coming at you through the computer screen? Rally, old thing, I'd be obliged if you'd get your skates on and go over to the Victoria & Albert Museum's website where you will see, among the precious artifacts painstakingly catalogued therein, my little ole knitting.

You think I'm pulling your leg don't you. Well go on--check it out. Here, we have the oldest knitted item in the V & A's collection, an Egyptian sandal sock. (The Ancient Egyptians loved the Birkenstocks--who knew?) Here, we have Elsa Schiaparelli's famous trompe l'oeil Bow Jumper from 1927, a wink to the stylemaker's involvement with the Surrealist movement. And here, wondering what trompe l'oeil means, anyway, is the humble and homely Taro Blankie knitted by the humble and homely me. See? I wasn't fibbing.

Everybody can do it! Knitters themselves can write the history of what knitters were knitting in the early 21st Century. Simply go here to upload images of non-garment items. It's like PictureTrail or Flickr, except for the part about how IT'S THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM.

Gail Durbin, who works at the V & A (surprise! she's a knitter!), kindly clued us in about this new feature of the V & A website, and said that the V & A welcomes contributions from knitters everywhere. No garments, but if you've knitted a blanket or a bag, a bowl or perhaps a jellyfish, this is the place for you.

People, why are you still here? Shoo! Skedaddle! Git on over to the V & A and upload a non-garment for Posterity. Last one in is a rotten pair of sandal socks!

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 09:05 AM | Comments (28)

January 03, 2006

Every Day a Big Knitting

Dear Ann,

The time has come. Don't try to stop me. Let me remind you of our agreement: I get one Barbra Streisand song a year, to do with as I wish. Think of it as a caution to all those parents out there, about the dangers of what is coming out of their teenager's clock radio every morning. In my case, back in the 70s and early 80s, there was a lot of Babs. It's not something I can do anything about, so let's just get it over with. Here we go, with some highlights from the past year's blogging, to the deathless arpeggios and glissandos of "Evergreen".


Love, soft as the kid mohair

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Luv, fresh as our 'natural' blond hair.

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One blog that is shared by two,
I have found with you.

Like the girl, who cain't say no
I was jonesin' for just one...more....row

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Blog---- ageless and evergreen

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Seldom seen by two.

You and I will make each knit a first,
ev'ry day a Big Knitting.

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Comments rise and their sass is unrehearsed

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We're glad that y'all heer'd us,
'cause we have the weirdest .....

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Blaw-aw-awg

two lights that shine as one,
morning glory and midnight sun.

Some Time, we'll spin the dog (hair of);


Ti-i-i-i-ime won't change the oddness of


.....one blog...

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.......ageless and ever ......
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Ever.......

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....green....

Happy 2006 y'all.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 04:19 PM | Comments (43)

January 02, 2006

The Great Unwinding Party of 2005

Dear Kay,

You know I hate to leave you hanging when it comes to the burning issue of Reporting On Events Involving Knitters. But I had to get home from Chicago, find the dang USB cable to hook up the Anncam, and do the trickiest Photoshopping of my life in order to bring you the full report on what was for me a really mind-blowing evening.

I still can't quite get my head around the fact that a bunch of women who don't know each other would go to a fair amount of trouble (hour-long train rides from Geneva, travel while toting a warm artichoke dip, bringing lasagna on a train, and on and on) in order to hang out and knit.

Maybe that's actually not all that surprising. Running away from home is everybody's fantasy, right? And it did involve knitting. But still.

The scene: The Sister-in-law Mary Neal's loft.
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Once people started arriving, the traditional Pile Up Of The Knitting Bags began by the door. Alice the yarn-sniffing cat inspected each one.

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So much chow! Chow of all sorts: dippish chow, layered pasta chow, chocolate chow. Everybody brought chow!

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Karen brought Garrett's popcorn, which need not be explained to Chicagoans, but suffice it to say that the caramel/cheese mix is one of Oprah's Favorite Things.

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Dana brought a pineapple of hospitality. Dana is getting married in three months. Mazel tov! We'll be there!

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Collette, Elizabeth, and Erica, who brought peppermint bark AND artichoke dip. The two food groups: sugar and mayo.

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Helen, she of the lasagna, and Emily, who is wearing the handknit she cooked up when she decided to teach herself Fair Isle. Note, of course, the tweedy goodness. I should point out that Emily is actually famous for her quilts, which will take your breath away and which you can see here.

The gang from Geneva was kind of hilarious. They all brought socks:

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Carla's sock.

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Emily's sock.

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Jodee's sock. I'm telling you, Kay, the sock train is leaving and we better get on board.

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Here's the hostess di tutti hostesses Mary Neal, who was accused of having hair that isn't really all that red though I of course disagree, along with Corinne (whose book of doggie knits is coming in 2007) and Bonne Marie. Yes, Bonne Marie as in Bonne Marie of Chicknits.

Now, you can guess how the evening went. Everybody pretended to chat in a friendly way for as long as they could stand it, then one by one we dropped like flies to start the knitting portion of the evening.

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I tried to work on the new lace shawl I started on the plane, using Thing 2, the mercerized Blue Heron cotton that has been marinating for several months. You can see how successful I was.

The ostensible reason for the evening was winding yarn for the Perfect Sweater project. But honestly, when the conversation was cooking and the socks were flying, the yarn-winding pretty much fell by the wayside. I was glad that Cristina managed to crank a ball of Noro, in the name of common decency:

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At the end of the evening, we said tearful farewells, swore we would stay sweet, and we declared the whole thing a ton of fun. And yes, we did finish

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the bourbon milkshakes.

Happy new year, amies! Thank you, Mary Neal, for hosting us, and thank you, everyone, for coming.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:18 AM | Comments (20)
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