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

April 30, 2006

All Things in Moderation, Including Moderation

Dear Kay,

Ohhhhhh, what a weekend. Next week the fourth graders are having their Biography Fair, where everybody dresses up like historical figures and stands in a big room telling their stories to the other students. David will be Henry Ford, so we have been assembling a Model A in a process that has taken longer than assembling a full-size Model A. We have completely dispensed with the engine and may punt the whole thing if we can't find the carburetor before Tuesday. PS Helpful hint: A can of spray paint in the hands of a six-year-old little brother results in no rock unpainted.

Some masochist asked to see what yarn we discovered on our little book tour. I wasn't going to bring up this subject at all, but today I was rooting around in the carnage here and found it all sitting hopefully in a large bag, blinking patiently and waiting for me to pay attention to it. I can't believe how much beautiful yarn there is in the world. I can't believe it all came home with me.

When I saw the list of yarn shops we would be visiting on our tour, I got nervous. I set out some guidelines, designed to keep me from getting into "trouble" when confronted with walls of yarns.

Here's how THAT idea went.

Rule 1: No yarn that I had ever purchased before. This was ironclad. With so many yarns in the world, no way was I going to bring home something I'd ever seen before.

Rule 1 Broken: After about three minutes at our first yarn shop, Seaport Yarn, New York City.

blueheronmercerized.jpg

Blue Heron Mercerized Cotton, 1,000 yards, hand dyed. I fudged this one by arguing to myself that I'd never seen this yarn anywhere else. A laceweight cotton! In those close variegated shades me love so muchy. See what I mean? Two guinea pigs of the stuff right into the tote bag.

Rule 2: No sock yarn. (OK so that one wasn't really much of a rule, considering I have never made a pair of socks in my life. I figured Rule 2 would be right up there with "Absolutely NO HEROIN while on tour.")

Rule 2 Broken: At Loop in Philadelphia. No way to avoid it, what with the sock knitters flailing around with double-pointed needles, making it look like sock knitting = portable Mardi Gras. It was like Pete Doherty was behind the counter, I tell you.

shepherdsock.jpg

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. FOUR SKEINS. Which brings us to

Rule 3: No more than three skeins of any particular yarn.

Rule 3 Broken: See above. And also at Knit Happens in Alexandria.

puresilk.jpg

Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. It was practically Easter. They were like eggs, they were. Surprisingly dense little skeins, as if mercury were a yarn.

Rule 4: No crazy-priced single skeins.

Rule 4 Broken: Knit Happens.

artyarnssilkrhapsody.jpg

Artyarns Silk Rhapsody. Good Lord, it looks like a neapolitan ice cream bar when the chocolate and strawberry and vanilla all melt and--OK I'll shut up.

Rule 4 also bit it in Huntsville at Yarn Expressions:

euroflaxhandpaint.jpg

Claudia Hand Painted Euroflax. Come on now, have you EVER SEEN SUCH A THING? What was I going to do? Not GET IT?

Rule 5: No, under any circumstances, tweedy yarn. No heathers, no Shetlands, no yarn that harkens to the North Atlantic. I have a lot of this sort of thing.

Rule 5 Broken: At virtually every single store. This was pathetic.

tweedyyarns.jpg

By the time we made it to Birmingham, I was sloppy drunk, just buying whatever looked like it had flecks and grim colors, nothing too dreary or gruesome for me. It was like sneaking vodka in a shampoo bottle. Yorkshire Tweed, Felted Tweed, Katmandu DK, whatEVER.

Sheesh.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:09 PM | Comments (47)

April 28, 2006

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Temporary Nashvillian

harlotparthenon.jpg

Dear Kay,

I tried, I really did. I managed to get a plate of fried okra within two feet of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, but she wouldn't bite. I know she was tempted--two more minutes, and she would have laid aside that avocado and gone for it.

She'll be back. I know, at this very minute, she's dreaming of fried okra as she finds her way to Lexington, Kentucky.

So, it really was a worlds-collide sort of day yesterday, just great. Trippy trippy trippy to meet someone who lives so large in my imagination. I'll let Stephanie tell you what she thought of Nashville, but I'll tell you what I thought of Stephanie.

1. Funny. Really, really funny right from the git-go. People who are professionally humorous are often not so funny when they're out of the limelight. Stephanie just wanders around telling funny stories the way I whine at my cat: often and mercilessly. It's hard to be around someone so larded up with the absurdity of life. My jaws started to hurt.

2. Caffeinated. You would admire her tolerance for coffee. You and she could have a coffee-off and it would be a nailbiter.

3. Respectful of regional traditions. We discussed how many Bless Your Hearts we had each received in recent weeks. She understood that this was a problem. She understood that when receiving a Bless Your Heart, you nod solemnly and say nothing but get out of the conversation, or state, as soon as possible.

4. Capable of childlike wonder. When confronted with things like temperate weather and people running through Centennial Park, it was like she'd discovered Santy Claus in the living room. At one point she listed to the side of the car, muttering, "Leaves. There are leaves on the trees."

5. Prompt. Condoleeza Rice doesn't hit her marks half so well as Stephanie. Send the woman to Iraq! She'd have the place tidied up snipsnap just like that.

Threaded Bliss was full of happy knitters who left happier than they came. Sheila's photos tell the tale better than I can (I was too busy sitting in the back laughing like a dork). Lemme tell you, she overcame an urge in Nashville that nobody can resist: with a karaoke machine microphone in her hand, she did not sing ONE Tammy Wynette song. No Wynonna Judd. Not even a verse of "Coal Miner's Daughter."

Sandra was there, she of the lush Koigu sock. (HAVE YOU NOTICED the number of people knitting socks?)

Jen gives you a peek at the hooha. And what a throwdown it was--guitar guys from North Carolina, Huntsvillians, socks, scarves, Rudy the dog, all that is Brentwood, and right in the middle of it, the unflappable Stephanie cracking jokes and making our jaws hurt.

It was great. Canada ho! We gotta take off for the great white north, and soon.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 04:50 PM | Comments (32)

April 27, 2006

Moderne Baby Blanket Pattern: HAUNTED

Dear Kay,

OK, I have a confession to make. The whole, entire time you were working on that Moderne baby blanket from the book, and you were using Araucania Nature Cotton, I feared that it was doomed. I didn't want to say anything, because I hoped I was wrong. But I wasn't. How did I know? Because I am at this moment sitting on the version of that blanket that I attempted myself, and it is barely worthy to be used as a chair seat napkin.

Witness this haggish piece of knitting:

hauntedlogcabin.jpg

You're looking at Blue Sky Dyed Organic Cotton, one of the world's great yarns. Soft, fluffy, cuddlier than a guinea pig. A baby blanket out of this stuff ought to be a piece-of-cake, slam-dunk no-brainer, right?

I bought this beautiful yarn in a flurry of excitement a couple of months ago. It was going to be great: I finally got to make something from the book for actual use by a baby. But hear me, woman. I know this sounds crazy, but once you start making this pattern, the yarn changes color. I knitted for a very long time, enough to finish about half the blanket, and the next morning, I woke up to discover that my beautiful chartreusey green turned mustard yellow. I don't know why this happened, or how, but it did.

Look, when we were cruising up I-65, your blanket didn't look THAT bad--maybe like something you'd find at Babies R Us, but in the nice part of Babies R Us. Something happened to that blanket, something unholy.

Charisse's blanket is beautiful. Charisse's blanket uses Rowan Calmer, the suggested yarn. See what I mean?

I don't want to spook anybody, but after seeing two blankets undergo creepy transformations, I have concluded the following:

The Moderne Baby Blanket pattern on page 79 is haunted. That pattern has a bad mojo about it that wrecks anybody's attempt to make it in any yarn other than the one specified. All I can say to anybody thinking about making it: proceed with caution! Danger! It's the Amityville Horror of blanket patterns!

Love,
Ann

PS I am about to pass out at the fact that Stephanie is coming to town today. So excited! There's so much I need to explain to her. I'll start with George Jones and go from there. I can't quite get my head around the fact that the Yarn Harlot is coming to Nashville. It's going to be quite a night at Threaded Bliss. A full report to follow, of course.

Posted by Ann at 01:27 PM | Comments (30)

April 26, 2006

That Thing We Do

babymodernearaucaniadetail.jpg

Dear Ann,

Remember how we used to do that thing with the sticks and the yarn? Gosh that was fun.

Do you ever think about taste? About how it's so specific, and everybody's is different? And how it matters so much even though it has nothing to do with function or craftsmanship?

Last week, when I realized, sadly, that I had knitted up every miter for the No Sew Mitered Blanket, and that I had reknitted all of the icky ones that I didn't like any more even though I liked them the week before when I was knitting them, I needed to start another Road Knitting project. I mean, I am not going to be riding around in a car NOT KNITTING--that would be NUTS. Because I would be riding with you, and therefore talking at you without pity, the project would have to be easy. Babies are being born all the time, and I am way behind in my handknit baby gifts. At Angel Hair, I saw Charisse knitting on her version of the Baby Moderne blanket in Rowan Calmer. I was gobsmacked by how her change of the apple green to pale blue -- just one of the four colors used in the version in the book--changed the whole look. Suddenly the sage green went more sage than green, the cream was whiter, the teal was grayer. I wanted to cook up a new colorway for the Baby Moderne. I also wanted to try some of the Araucania Nature Cotton I picked up; it's a wonderful yarn, so light for its gauge, so soft for thick cotton. Chenille-like.

The thing that was really exciting me was that to make the same size blanket in this yarn, I could downsize the number of stitches and rows by one-third. And the fabric is really soft and drapey, very baby-blankety.

So I set to work, in colors that I really liked when I picked them out. (Ominous music here--'when I picked them out' being the key phrase.)

Right from the get-go, I was not loving the way the colors went together. But I thought, maybe when I add another block, it'll come together. Then another block, and another. Then, and this was what did me in, the word 'beachball' came to mind.

babymodernearaucania.jpg
I can't stand it. I picked out these colors. I like these colors. I like this yarn. But I really, really don't like this blanket.

I started thinking about bleaching it to give it more fade and more mottle.

I started thinking about overdyeing it.

But I kept knitting. Hoping, I suppose, for that pony of yours to drop from the sky. Maybe when I got the BORDER on it, I'd like it. Right.

Hey, by the way, hon. Most of the time I was knitting on this, you were driving the car in which I was the sole passenger. Certainly the sole knitting passenger. Didja not look at this thing I was knitting, and wonder a little? Didja not think, this thing does not look like something Kay would like?

Mind you, I can't think of anything really wrong with it. I could find a tiny bathing suit to accessorize it, call it a 'baby beach blanket', and send it off to that baby girl in New Hampshire, who surely needs a beach blanket. It's, um, cheerful.

But that's the thing about taste. It's hardheaded. It will not be reasoned with. I really couldn't stand sending this blanket out into the world with my name on it (not actually ON it, but people saying, "Kay made this here....beachball shmatta").

Then the answer hit me. It hit me in a yarn store. The answer is that schoolyard favorite, the Do Over.

babymodernearaucanianewyarn.jpg

Now. Isn't that better?

The beachball schmatta? It's going to get bleached and start its new life as an ultra-cozy bath mat. The baby in New Hampshire? She's going to be styling in a sophisticated blankie that does not look at all like a beachball.

Love, Kay

P.S. Stay tuned for Adventures in Not Sewing:

stack2.jpg

Posted by Kay at 02:07 PM | Comments (36)

April 24, 2006

The Operative Word Here Is Whoopie

whoopiepie.jpg

Dear Kay--dear, faraway Kay, Kay who can no longer rummage through my yarn looking for more Cotton Classic yarn, ya big MOOCH,

You know that part of any Jacques Cousteau documentary where the divers surface after 12 hours under water, drag themselves back onto the rubber raft, and gasp, "Écoute, Jacques! Zere are amazink sings down zere"?

That's me flopping into the rubber raft. Our little book tour has revealed to me so many marvelous and weird things that it's going to take a while to process them all. At this point our work is done for the next little while. (Except for May 4 at Yarn Shop and More in Overland Park, Kansas; and May 6 at String of Purls in the town of yer birth, Omaha. Looking forward to driving around with you there and hearing about your old boyfriends.)

Nashville! Angel Hair Yarn Co.!

Remember the Long Day's Journey into Philadelphia, when we sang "On the Wings of a Snow White Dove"? Who knew that at some point we'd actually get some wings?

Our visit to Angel Hair Yarn in Nashville was a regular homecoming. Co-owners Andrea and Pam were positively SOUTHERN in their hospitality, what with the blanched asparagus, the festive beveraging, and the all-around superfriendly coziness. On the Angel Hair blog, Pam provides highlights which embrace the Mason-Dixon aesthetic of the artfully blurry photo.

The angel wings were Euroflax (of course), knitted with Pam's typically spectacular, State-Fair-worthy technique:

annwithwings.jpg

We were grateful to be labeled. I was getting suspicious because Kay was only referring to me as "Hon" or "Sugar" or "Precious" anymore.

We spotted beautiful book projects in the field at Angel Hair. Get a load of this:

charisseblanket.jpg

Charisse is making the Moderne baby blanket, only different. By changing just one color, the blanket looks totally different from the one in the book. Lesson for me: one color makes a big difference. Go Charisse!

Baby Kimono Alert! Robin realizes that a new mother often has a hard time remembering her baby's name, never mind spelling a stumper like Isaiah, so she helpfully worked buttons from Oriental Trading into the front:

isaiahcloseup.jpg

Oriental Trading has all sorts of cool buttons, but I've never seen any like the ones Robin found.

It was a fantastic night of knits, friends, and new faces like Axley's:

angelhairboy.jpg

Guys who knit--we love 'em!

Brentwood Ho! Threaded Bliss!

If anybody would like a flip book which captures every single moment of a recent Friday night at Threaded Bliss Yarns, owner Sheila provides one here. It was a night to remember, with Whoopie Pies (that's what you're looking at up there at the beginning of this entry), Amstels, and an incredible group of knitters.

My favorite moment (other than seeing how much of a Whoopie Pie a person can fit into one's mouth at one time) came when we witnessed with our own eyes the completion of a log cabin baby blanket: Lindsey jumped up, beside herself, having reached the summit of her own Mount Everest! In time for the baby shower, even!

We had a cross-crafting moment when Angela whipped out a little something she's been working on:

angelaquilt.jpg

Wowee! Brilliant!

angelaquiltkay.jpg

"See? If you just pick up stitches along the side, you could knit this whole thing."

This evening was more fun than two knitters should be allowed to have. Thank you, Sheila and David and everyone down yonder, for giving us such a hi-calorie, hi-larious night.

Epilogue

We had a late-night snack. (That's deep-fried corn on the cob, in case you're wondering.) (We swear we'll never do that again.)

At any minute, I can feel the knitting coverage returning. Thank you all for coming our our little odyssey with us.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 04:52 PM | Comments (40)

April 21, 2006

In Which Our Heroines Blab and Buy Yarn in the South

vulcan.jpg

Dear everybody,

Seeing as how Kay and I have been fighting for two days about who's going to get to blog our travels, we have made the rare decision to simulblog. You'll just have to sort out who's saying what here.

Nashville! O Nashville!

nvilleannwtvf.jpg

Ann draws strength from the Vince Lombardi quote she just read in the NewsChannel 5 break room.

There was a real fambly reunion of Hubbo's relatives at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on Monday. So supportive! They bought half the print run and ran home to order the other half on Amazon. Think what would happen if I started selling Amway! KaCHING!

Cousin Kay and Cousin Tim, who won the all-time distance award for coming from Vietnam to hear about felted boxes.

nvillekids.jpg

The Napoleon Dynamite Quote Book kicked our butt with a certain demographic. We called our agent to get her to pitch our next book, Knit for Pedro to our publisher.

Here's Angela with her superhunky husband Jim. See what Jim does when he's not tolerating a Monday night knitting event.

And so to Huntsville!

Anybody who drives south on I-65 knows that there's a Saturn 5 rocket at the state line rest stop. Some people have the Statue of Liberty; Alabama has a giant rocket.

hvillekayunderrocket.jpg

Kay just about busted an O-ring knitting under that thing.

hvillemeg.jpg

When we arrived at Yarn Expressions, we discovered that Huntsville's only yarn shop happens to be an incredibly well-edited shop. All the good stuff, but only the good stuff. Meg, the (brilliant) owner of Yarn Expressions, models her version of the Nina shawl.

hvillenina.jpg

The chartreuse takes this to a whole new place called SPRINGTIME!

hvillekoigukimono.jpg

This Koigu Oriental Jacket is by Sara, who was too modest to pose for us but suffice it to say she is adorable. This close up shows you how artfully Sara managed the uproarious Koigu shade card. When your LYS gives you a

hvillekoiguwall.jpg

wall of Koigu, it is daunting to sift through all the options. Sara's jacket, which is a pattern available from the Koigu people, left us feeling all shivery and delighted.

We had a different sort of shivery reaction when we got an eyeful of

hvillehandgrenade.jpg

this handknit hand grenade. Pull the kilt pin, and BLAMMO! It blows up into a giant cloud of itchy wool.

hvillebethjp.jpg

Beth and J.P., allied knitters in search of a better way. J.P. won a distance award for coming from Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide, people!); we have it on good authority that J.P. stands for Just Perfect. Beth, a brand-new blogger, is cooking up her own patterns based on Celtic motifs:

hvillebeth.jpg

And this hat is a prime example of her open-ended knitting.

Head South: Birmingham, or the Day We Wore Lipstick ALL DAY

bhamwbrcsign.jpg

Birmingham proved to be the ultimate test of our mettle. If you happened to be the sort of person who likes to watch local Birmingham TV, in the morning, at midday, and in the afternoon, on Wednesday you probably learned about log cabin knitting.

To be on TV in Birmingham, you have to go waaaay up Red Mountain:

bhamskyline.jpg

You're in a Hitchcock movie. The Channel 6 studio looks like a set from Vertigo, or some 1957 country club. Who has a chandelier at a TV station???? We had breakfast, then waited.

tvlineup.jpg

Between the weather and the saucy shrimp . . . that's where you'll find us. Once we learned that President Bush was coming to Montgomery, an hour south of Birmingham, we figured we'd be bumped by the wall-to-wall live feeds of the Montgomery airport. But there's no drama like the drama of two dorky handknitters having bad hair days.

Knit Nouveau

Rachel, dear Rachel came up from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and gave us a tour around her old stomping grounds. We snagged the final limeades of the day from Gilchrist's soda shop. We slurped limeades while touring the Mountain Brook shops that made us realize that we are seriously underdressing our dining tables. We gabbed as if we would be paid by the word. It was great.

bhambaby.jpg
After braving the rush hour traffic to Helena (Ha-LEE-na), we were rewarded with Knit Nouveau's youngest customer, baby Elise, who is only one week old. Her proud ma showed us a picture of herself knitting a Ballband Dishcloth during labor last week. This was during the transitional stage of labor known in the medical literature as "Post-Fair-Isle, But Still Able To Slip a Stitch WYIB". Oh, and by the way, Elise is wearing a bib from the book. Note that if the baby is young enough, the bib makes a fine blanket.

bhambabykimono.jpg

Elise demonstrates a healthy newborn "startle" reflex at the sight of a gorgeous baby kimono that Mercedes, Knit Nouveau's owner and muse, knitted for her. She'll wear it . . . someday.

We met other, larger friends: Clare and her mother-in-law Carol. Clare's wedding bouquet was felted calla lilies. Carol knits lace, weaves expertly, and makes bobbin lace. Bobbin lace, I tell you.

Here are delightful friends Jane and Kathryn, who met on a bus in Birmingham, knitting. Aw! Jane is in love with Euroflax linen yarn, and is going to experiment with pre-washing the yarn to soften it before knitting. We made her promise to give us a FULL report.

bhammercedesskirt2.jpg
A brand-new Mercedes design: a skirt in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece.

bhammercedesskirt.jpg
The hemline is fair-isled with bobbles. Bobble-isle!

Knit Nouveau is a fantastic shop with the coziest feel: three stars, worth a detour!

The next day, after all this fun, we faced the long drive from Birmingham to Nashville.

We had lunch.

It is a lucky thing that earlier in our parallel lives, as pasty parallel teenagers, we each had committed to memory every meaning-drenched syllable of the Jackson Browne song "The Load-Out." We now know that the reason we memorized this song was not to further our future careers as back-up singers as we had planned, but so that in our 40s, on the road between knitting gigs, we could just WAIL IT, as one.

When that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still wanna play.
Just make sure you've got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano.

Love, Ann and Kay

P.S. We're not done with Nashville yet.

Posted by Ann at 05:40 PM | Comments (40)

April 17, 2006

DC: Not the Colbert Report--But Chock Full of Truthiness!

Dear Kay,

Getting the bath products ready for your arrival. Lavender or grapefruit? Lavendy-grapefruit, you say? Okey-dokey!

To Silver Spring!

pamandrobby.jpg

Your dear friend Pam, who I want to hijack as MY friend, helped us find our way around the devilish streets of Washington. (Let us pause to wish that in the Afterlife, all hub-and-spoke city planners, and especially Monsieur L'Enfant, are trapped in an eternal traffic circle, or perhaps a perpetual unintended drive through Rock Creek Park.) Pam's son Robby is a grownup disguised as a second grader. He was brilliant company and a ton of fun. We tried to gently let him know that having his bed (and Pam's lovely log cabin blankie) pictured in the book does not make him "famous" as that term is ordinarily understood. He was not having any of it. His bed is FAMOUS, okay? The kid sleeps in fame every night.

Pam bought a stack of books to give as presents, and they waited at Starbucks for us to do a radio interview. (By the way, congratulations on not mentioning the most embarrassing place you've ever knitted, the way you did on that Buzz Factor interview. I'm all for keepin' it ray-all, hon, but not THAT ray-all.)

robbyatstarbucks.jpg

Robby set up a system:

starbuckssign.jpg

for signing the books. As we sat on the Starbucks terrasse, loving the Silver Spring afternoon, with the books on the table, a lady walked up and said, "Are those for sale?" Holy crud, I thought. The Starbucks people are going to kick us out because they think we're selling books on their patio. "NO," I say. I realized that the lady wasn't a barista; she was a Starbucks customer, and she was looking at the book.

"Are you a knitter?" I asked.

"Well, I'm thinking about it," she said. "I used to. May I look at the book?" She wandered off with a copy, sat down, and started reading. After a while she brought it back: "Thanks." Did she decide? Is she knitting? Was she grossed out? We will never know.

Memo to Robby: A lemonade stand is going to be a better moneymaker for you.

I have to tell you: being on the road is so disorienting, so completely out of my normal range of experience, that at this point nothing seems too weird. We're walking along, and up walks Sarah, adorable Sarah whom we met at Politics and Prose the night before. Of COURSE we run into Sarah. It's not like there are, you know, eight million people in the metro DC area. So kooky.

Here's Bill Thompson. Such a nice guy. On his radio show, Eye on Books, he has interviewed 1,700 authors. It was only a matter of time before he dipped into craft books. He brought up the knitting-versus-crochet debate, and said he had recently interviewed a crochet author who indicated that there can sometimes be tension among the varieties of yarncrafters. We made like Switzerland and didn't say a word other than "Crochet is nice."

On Wednesday, we visited a shop I have long wished to see: Knit Happens, owned by our sister Rowanette Kristine Kirby. (AKA Kristine Jirby, but let's not get into THAT, okaye?)

knithappensintro.jpg
There we were, at last, in the fabulous Pink Room of Love.

wendyandkay.jpg
Famous Knitter alert! Wendy was there! Knitting a sock! It was a trippy thing to meet her, after reading her blog for the past four years--like meeting the Easter Bunny. I resisted poking her in the arm to see if she was real, but at one point while we were doing our show and tell, I watched her working on that sock, just to see if she was as serious a knitter as I imagined her to be. Uh, YEAH. We saw an advance copy of her book! We carefully examined her jean jacket! We got a preview of her Book Tour Hairstyle 2006! What can I say, life is DAMN GOOD.

But wait--there's more. Maggi popped in, if it's possible to pop in all the way from Richmond.

knithappensmaggi.jpg
Maggi ponders the seriousness of our rug-knitting "issue."

Who has better shoes than Maggi?
knithappensmaggishoes.jpg
Nobody!

knithappensstorage.jpg
If you have ever wondered how it looks in the back room of a yarn shop, I'm sorry to tell you that it's even better than you thought.

Our stylist helped fix up the handknits. He modeled the felted boxes. He's a mensch, I tell you.

On our Day of Culture wandering through the Smithsonian, we just about blew our circuits.

celiacruzdress1.jpg

We could not get enough of Cuban superstar singer Celia Cruz's fantastic costumes and joie de salsa. Her lyrics say it all.

The Handknit Tour of the Museum of American History included: Mr. Rogers' cardigan. (Handknit by his ma, aw!) Carol Burnett's charwoman costume. We pinched our ears at it.

We knitted during the First Ladies video. Ideas for combining tabletop decor with empire-building? Plenty! Light for knitting? Not so much.

And knitting in the Castle Cafe: three stars/worth a detour.

Lady walks up, says, "Excuse me, I know this sounds odd, but would you mind giving me a small piece of that yarn? I love that color."

"Are you a knitter?" (Translation: Would you like to hear about OUR KNITTING BOOK?)

"Nooooo, I'm repainting the living room, and I love that color."

Kay snips a piece, hands it to the lady, the lady wanders off. We're here to help, people.

Farewell to Washington

Thursday night we capped off the week at the Capitol Hill outpost of the vast Stitch DC empire. We were regaled with mini-burgers, onion rings, and a denim capelet from Wrap Style that blew the mind of one of us, modeled with elan by by Stephy.

stitchdcstephycape.jpg

We met KT of Great Falls (not to be confused with KT of Arizona) (and yes, they correspond, which seems like a good basis for a blog if you ask me: All KT All the Time). KTOGF totally outstyled us--her wrap made from a length of vintage Chanel bouclé made me think vintage Chanel bouclé is what we all need. Meeting fellow online knitters is proving to be endlessly fun.

And guess what? Handknit Dishrag Fever is sweeping the nation!

stitchdccaridadishrag.jpg
Well, okay, it's sweeping Carida. Carida improved upon Brooks Jones' fantastic Mason-Dixon Washcloth by adding batting and a hand-quilted lining to make it into a proper potholder. Go Carida!

stitchdccaridasipod.jpg
Carida's iPod. If you don't have a blog because you are in grad school and you are supposed to be writing about something else, you can put your favorite dishrag images on your iPod. Just a tip.

Must run--you'll be here any minute, and I gotta clean the squirrels for the brunswick stew.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:15 AM | Comments (48)

April 16, 2006

Dept. of Hallelujahs

eastereggs06.jpg

Dear Kay,

I gotta interrupt our C-SPANlike book tour coverage for some news. Remember a few weeks ago, when I wrote you about a little girl in Nashville who was really sick? She was undiagnosed, having just a hell of a time, getting worse every day. It was a dire situation, every parent's fear.

The family started an online journal about their experiences. I hadn't known about the web sites that some families keep when a family member is ill, so despite my love of online journals, it was a new experience for me. Excruciating. It's one thing to blog about knitting; writing about a sick child is something else. But there's an efficiency to posting news, saving the family the endless repeating of details they don't want to think about again. And for this family, it was clearly a therapeutic thing to do. They're wonderful writers. It was a chronicle of a family turned topsy turvy, where each day was a leaky canoe ride down a new creepy tributary of medicine, where it was not clear how the day would go for this little girl.

This week, about four weeks after their first doctor visit, there came a diagnosis. They figured it out. They know what the problem is, a rare condition which has only around 100 documented cases in the medical literature. It is amazing, and thrilling, and the sort of gift that doesn't come often. I think of this girl's parents, who sensed something was wrong early enough that they dropped everything to figure out the problem. Their instincts led them to go full out, and it worked.

They have decided to stop writing the blog, so they can focus on returning to "normal" life, which they don't really see as normal anymore.

Never have I been so thrilled to see a blog come to an end. Happy Easter, everyone.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 02:48 PM | Comments (11)

April 15, 2006

Finally, Finely!

roomful.jpg

Dear Ann,

OK. Technical difficulties have been overcome, and at last I can sing our aria about last Saturday's events at Finely a Knitting Party, a lovely shop in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

First, a confession. We used to be confused by the name of this shop, Finely a Knitting Party. What's up with that, we wondered. Since our booksigning, we are no longer confused about the "Finely" bit (the owners are Cathy and Ed FINLEY), and we are crystal clear about the "KNITTING PARTY" part. Swarthmore knows how to knit-party, people. This town has a frenzy for down-home, back-to-basics, grass-roots knitting that cannot be described. It can only be experienced. So go there, and experience it. Cathy is waiting to teach you, and Cathy's students are waiting to welcome another member of the "Cathy Taught Me to Knit and Now I'm Crazy About Knitting" Club.

It Takes a Village

kathygusty.jpg
Our hostesses, Cathy (Ed was in the back yard, under an umbrella, tending to the HOT DOG STAND. No kidding! A hot dog stand in the rain!) and her college roommate Gusty. (Short for Augusta Jr. Yes, there is an Augusta Sr., and she's a knitter too!)

persianpoppiesscarf.jpg
Allow me to digress a moment, to discuss Gusty's scarf. It is in one of the classic Kaffe Fassett motifs, Persian Poppies. (The Kay, she adores the Persian Poppies--super-fantastic!) Gusty told me she made this scarf at a workshop with BRANDON MABLY. ("Get OUT!" I screamed.) She explained how she had made two balls of yarn by tying together lengths of different colors and fibers, and then used one for the background and one for the poppies, creating SIMULTANEOUS STRIPING of both the poppies and the background. ("Get OUT!" I screamed again.) Brandon taught a method to carry along the yarn-not-in-use so that there are no nasty cut ends to weave in. ("Get OUT!" #3, but who's counting. What a cool technique!)

tablecheetos.jpg
The table was set with Cheetos, flowers and handknits.

corsages.jpg
There were corsages for Sheriff Ann and Sheriff Kay. At the sight of which we plotzed. (I didn't take mine off until I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts on the way home and they said, "What will Sheriff Kay be having?")

bouquet.jpg
There is nothing I love better than an Appropriate Floral Tribute. This one is from the florist down the block (who attended the party OF COURSE). Check out the yarn-ball 'flowers'. Plotz-o-rama! But wait--we weren't done plotzing yet:

cheetoearrings.jpg
Cheeto Earrings. Really now. What can I say, other than CHEETO EARRINGS?

momcousin.jpg
Cathy's sweetie of a mom and her cousin. Oh, it was a family affair, all right.

crazyladies.jpg
Not sure if these two wild wimmin are friends, family, or friendsn'family.

emmieknittingjournal.jpg
Emmie shows off her knitting journal, which includes a feature we call 'dangling swatches'.

girlknitter1gran.jpg
One of the many wonderful Kid Knitters of Swarthmore. I think her name is Megan? (I hope I got it right!) With her proud gran--aw!

girlknitter2.jpg
Another Kid Knitter of Swarthmore, Lizzy, who is wearing a gorgeous Manos-y sweater she made herself. Lizzy knitted the orange and blue Swatch Feature that was so essential to the Floral Tribute. Lizzy's bag sports a button that says 'Overactive Knitter'. Needless to say, we have high hopes for the Youth of America after meeting Megan and Lizzy.

arantwinentrance.jpg
Suddenly and without warning, the sea of knitters parted and a hush fell upon the room. The cause of this instant awe? The entrance of Twins In Handknits, who overcame their temporary shyness when a baby-wrangler held out a bowl of Cheetos.

arantwins.jpg
What a sight: two gorgeous babies in magical aran hoodies and matching green beanies. Handknit by their mother. Sighs and swoons all round.

windowpotholderrug.jpg
We would be remiss if we did not mention all the cool samples of stuff from the book. Can you believe they made the potholder loop rug? Isn't that just AWESOME? There were also dishrags and a whole family of felted boxes. Not to mention a BUBBLY CURTAIN on the door of the shop! It was like falling into a rabbit hole of handknit love.

And moon pies. They had MOON PIES. The Official Weird Southern Snack of Mason-Dixon Knitting. In all 3 of the official Moon Pie flavors (chocolate, vanilla and banana).

moonpies.jpg
The phrase 'happy campers' comes to mind.

Thank you to everyone at Finely. You blew our minds with your creative genius. And the fact that you are totally, infectiously, incurably insane.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 01:59 PM | Comments (33)

April 12, 2006

Dateline: Washington

Dear Kay, my constant and I do mean constant companion,

It was so great to fly into Washington on Monday and look down from the plane to see 300,000 people thronging the streets to celebrate the art of knitting. Yaaaay knitting!

I just love Washington--all those Harrison Ford movies, all the people who tell you they have jobs with vague names like Consultant or Advisor, the fact that there ARE actual spies wandering around. I think at least two of your friends we've met are spies. Gotta be.

So much to recap. First of all, to our friends in Swarthmore, there has been an equipment malfunction of epic proportions (something about dropping a laptop in the bathtub or OK Kay accidentally erased all her Photoshopped pix), so it's killing us not to show everybody what happened in Swarthmore on Saturday at Finely a Knitting Party. We have the finest minds in computer technology working on this problem to bring you coverage of this crazy day.

Meanwhile, in Washington

'Twas an early wakey-uppo on Tuesday and a trip over to WUSA Channel 9, with the most challenging of grooming circumstances. (Nobody to tell us how not to look so pale. We had to try to look not pale on our own.) (We were pale.) Trend Reporter Ann and Meteorologist Kay arrived to discover that, luckiest of lucky days, the segment before our knitblab was . . . a chef! Robert Wiedmaier! Of Marcel's, French cuisine with a Flemish flair!

Which means, you guessed it, pork belly! Bring. It. ON!

kellyargueswithrobert.jpg

Kelly, WUSA's meterologist/chef segment host: "Is a lentil a bean?"

porkbelly.jpg

Voila! Braised for 24 hours. While we were regaling our host Andraea with tales of mitered squares (while trying not to look pale), the savory scent of Chef Robert's concoction wafted across the studio. During the break, Andraea said, "If you hang around, you can have some pork belly."

Welllll, you don't have to ask us twice.

eatingporkbelly.jpg

SLURP! Like short ribs, only porkier.

porkbellyfrenzy.jpg

Elbows flew, Kelly said to Andraea, "I may be a meterologist but I used to do roller derby, HON." Robert waved his pepper grinder like a billy club, Kay grabbed the transferware plate and made a run for the green room . . . It was a frenzy.

Dept. of Keeping It Real

We rested our pork-belly-filled bellies and decided to go visit some bookstores. We discovered the Books-a-Million store on Dupont Circle, and found to our intense joy six whole copies of our book sitting right there, waiting patiently for their destiny. The managers of the store were incredibly kind, invited us to a party they're having next month, and the whole thing left us with a love of Books-a-Million so intense that we got kind of weepy toward the end. We lovingly rubbed the six copies of the book with sake so as to make them more tender and savory, and departed.

We then decided that Books-a-Million went so well that we'd hop over to Kramer Books, a local landmark. We wandered through this most independent of independent bookstores, admiring the rafter-high stacks of Milan Kundera and Jacques Derrida, looking for the craft book section. Haaaaaaaaaaahahahaha! Craftbook shchmaftbook! The craft of fiction? Sure! The craft of crafts? Fagidaboutit! The manager, who was a pleasant enough guy, absorbed the vision of two hopeful knitting book authors blabbing on about the miracle of knitting. We couldn't rub our books with sake because there were no books to rub. "I'll order one," he said, "and we'll see how it does." No party invitation!

Would SOMEbody please go over to Kramer Books and buy that damn book just to show the guy that the miracle of knitting is a beautiful thing?????? Or at least email those people ([email protected])
and tell them that the miracle of knitting is a beautiful thing?

Politics and Pro's

elevatorbroken.jpg

We almost didn't make it to Politics and Prose (or Politics and Pro's, as our hotel puts it). Kay's dear friend managed to escape the stuck elevator, but jeez.

Politics and Prose--now THERE's a bookstore that understands that the miracle of knitting is a beautiful thing. Our host, Beth, was great, and we loved meeting such a fantastic group of

dclaceshawl.jpg

lace-knittin'

lollynsarah.jpg

Maryland Sheep and Fiber Festival-lovin' knitters. It really was a blast.

Tonight: Knit Happens, 7 pm, in Alexandria! Come celebrate the miracle of knitting. We'd bring a pork belly except that we ate it all . . .

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:51 AM | Comments (32)

April 10, 2006

Pixelfest 2006: Now With Lite Blabbing

Dear Ann,

The time we've been having lately? There are no words. Okay, I probably can come up with some words. But really, you can't say we didn't know that knitters, individually and as a group, are truly, madly and deeply strange, in the best possible way. Yet still we were unprepared. We were particularly unprepared for a Vintage Toilet Paper Cozy, which caused us to spew Moon Pie crumbs across a room on Saturday. But more about that later. For now, we have megapixels of fun.

Hot Fun at Knitty City

Before we made like Odysseus (if Odysseus were going to Philadelphia) on Thursday night, we capped off the week in New York at its newest, yummiest, friendliest shop, Knitty City, on West 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam.

knittycityphyllisannkay.jpg
The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was our beloved Phyllis, wearing the Nina Shawl she so generously contributed to the book. (I cropped myself out of this photo for Personal Reasons.)

knittycityjenny.jpg
There's nothing like a Home Crowd. Here, our pal Jenny takes a break from stalking authors who actually are famous to audition to be our Understudy Stalker in case Cara can't make it. (Jenny looks stunned because she has just found out she's on page 125 of the book. This is very fulfilling to her as a stalker. She may even lay off the other authors on her stalk-list and devote herself exclusively to us for a while. She's trying to build us up into something worth stalking. Good luck with that Jenny!)

knittycitymaggiepaul.jpg
Bronx was in da house! A rare school-night appearance by my niece Maggie and nephew Paul, age 9, who modeled in the book as Kids Who Really Knit And Aren't Just Sitting There Looking Cute With Needles In Their Hands. Double aw! We love the knitting kids, especially when they work cheap. A knitting kid can charge big money these days (they have a union), but Maggie and Paul cut us a break.

Life was good! And then we went to Hertz and picked up the Devil Car from Hell--but let's not get into that again.

A Strange Interlude

Somebody at the publisher, who no doubt thought she was being helpful, booked us onto a TV show in Philly on Friday morning.

Here you are with the Moses Bucket o' Knits outside the station.

anntvstationcn8philly.jpg
Cheer up honey! It's going to be okay!

What I learned about being on TV: If you stand behind a large Moses Basket trimmed in knitting, the pounds just melt away. On the downside, you appear to be a disembodied head floating above a Moses Basket. Well worth it, I say. I declare permanent dibs on the spot behind the Moses Basket.

Another thing I learned about being on TV: When a Cheery Chirpy Host borrows your knitting, and she sticks the empty right needle into a stitch in the middle of the row of stitches on the left needle, and yanks the yarn all the way over to that stitch and starts "knitting", the thing to do is--lissen up people--SMILE SUPPORTIVELY as if this is EXACTLY the correct way to knit. (When you think about it, it's kind of like a short row, without all that tedious knitting over to the middle and wrapping. Just jump right on into the middle of the row.) Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, say anything about how Elizabeth Zimmermann must be glaring down from heaven. Nor do I advise you to grab your knitting back. Just SMILE. It's all good.

Loop of Philly!

nightie.jpg
Look! It's the Mason-Dixon After Dark nightie! After Dark! In the window of the impeccably stylish shop Loop in downtown Philadelphia!

room.jpg
A jolly group, sitting and knitting.

Cute guy buys book for the woman in his life:
cuteguybuysbookforgirl.jpg
Aw! Will we ever get tired of the cute guys buying books? Never!

amynfrancesca.jpg
In another Cuteness Watershed Moment, here we have Amy and Francesca, who just started a two-headed blog, Two Sharp Sticks. We think that's a totally unworkable idea, but wish them well.

Seriously, y'all, we have some advice for anybody starting a two-headed knitting blog. First, make sure your hair is the same color. Francesca, I see some L'Oreal in your future if you're going to achieve the proper sunshiney bright blondey thing. Second, your names can have only three letters. Amy, you're good to go; Francesca, I hate to say it, but it's got to be Fra for you. Which isn't so bad--remember Fra Angelico? Famous fresco painter? He did all right with three letters. Third, one of you needs to move to another part of the country. Virtual friendships, over the long run, are so much tidier.

kaycraigann.jpg
Many mwahs to Loop's owner, Craig, who is a brand-new new first-time uncle. Could his cute mom have been any more excited about her first grandchild? Am I going to be sorry she told me she got her vintage Hermes scarf on eBay?

Finely a Knitting Party: Swarthmore, PA

Nothing in my previous life experience prepared me for Saturday's events at Finely a Knitting Party in beautiful downtown Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. They are drinking some serious sodapop in Swarthmore. That is the only possibly explanation for the town-wide NUTTINESS, about knitting in general, and knitting books with woodcut heads on the cover, in particular. The day can only be described in pictures, and as this post is already testing the limits of bandwidth and attention span, you will have to stay tuned.

toiletpapercozy.jpg
But it would be mean not to show the Vintage Toilet Paper Cozy With Original 1950s Toilet Paper Roll. We don't even wonder why Barbie brought it in. We needed to see it. She knew that.

See ya tonight in Washington.

Love, Kay

PS LATE-BREAKING NEWS:

The Button Contest

carbuttons.jpg

Seriously. Yer killin us. We have a tie:

From Un My Kim:

Buttons 1 and 5 are used by driver and passenger to argue about how much gas is in the tank. Driverside: I'm sure there's still enough gas in the tank; passengerside: I think we need to get gas. Press buttons instead of arguing loudly and potentially getting into an accident.
Button 2: press to point car toward the Sierra Madres.
Button 3: the carriage return, press the [ENTER] button to record your roadtrip SMELLblog.
Button 4. press this button if you think the car's dash is IDIOTIC! Buick's ingenious way of conducting market research after sale.

From Susan:

Careful with that middle button - it's the EJECT, and it works for whomever pushes it first. It's really expensive to get it reset at the dealership. The first one turns on the low blood sugar monitor, and it will cut power to the engine and force you to pull over for snacks if the readings get too low. It's a pretty good safety feature, especially if you are traveling with others who might kill you if you don't eat something already, you cranky jerk! The second one activates the boring scenery filter. The i button is the idjit button and will activate the GPS, but it will be pretty snarky about it. And the last button? Well, you push that when the smells are coming from INSIDE the car (ahem.)

Susan and Un My Kim, you have a future at General Motors. Please email us your addresses and you'll each be stuck with a book.


Posted by Kay at 09:18 AM | Comments (33)

April 09, 2006

Jamesey!

Dear Kay,

Quick! The new Knitty is up. And--as if a new Knitty wasn't enough reason to drop everything and become totally useless--there's a pattern by Mary Neal Meador, my sister-in-law.

My nephew James + gansey = Jamesey.

I just love this pattern. You do know that in some previous life, I was a fisherman's wife, sitting on the jetty, knitting like a maniac, waiting for the man to come home from the sea. Well, Mary Neal's pullover has all the elements of a traditional fisherman's gansey, but it also happens to look really modern. The length of it, the ribby goodness of it--it's got tricky details and sideways stitches and it'll give any knitter that perfect combination of the new and the familiar.

I'm crazy about this thing. And I'm crazy about seeing James, my nephew, looking like a grown up. Hard to believe, I tell you.

And if I'm not mistaken, I do believe that this pattern suggests denim yarn as a good alternative to the (beautiful!) organic cotton shown in the pictures. Just. Sayin.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:31 PM | Comments (20)

Slouching toward Philadelphia

Dear Kay,

Hi. Me again, back at the airport--the Philadelphia airport. Remember? The one where you just dropped me off, the one where we just had a knock-down drag-out about whether US Air is in Terminal A West or Terminal B? Don't worry, I forgive you for saying the sentence "I know they don't have airports with more than one gate in Nashville . . ."

And yes, I've got my earplugs hooked up. There's a woman sitting across from me who is saying something really fast into her cell phone. She looks like her eyeballs are about to pop out, and I'm just dying to find out what's eating her. But I've LEARNED. I'm not listening to THAT. No more eavesdropping for me, no matter how tantalizing it looks.

We are seriously behind on some blog business, namely announcing the winner of the photo caption contest. You allude to some elements of our trip Thursday night from New York to Philadelphia, but I don't think you've really captured the night properly. Maybe if people understand the dire circumstances under which we have been operating, they'll forgive us. It was like a combination of Escape from New York, The Amazing Race and A Clockwork Orange.

wicked.jpg

What kind of portent was this, as we drove through Times Square? Surrender, Dorothy! Why did we not turn back immediately?

Why didn't we look here to find spiritual sustenance for the road?

Stop and Slop

We sort of forgot to eat on Thursday, and by 10 pm, the pickins were limited to cigarettes, gasoline, and curly fries. Anybody can guess where we ended up: the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Service Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike.

We pulled up, and we saw this:

legsundercar.jpg

Those are human legs poking out from under that taxi.

alexanderhamilton.jpg

We paused for a moment to remember Alexander Hamilton and his contribution to our country's economic robustness.

We bought curly fries. And two hamburgers that were made no more than three days prior to our arrival. We gotta write up that special sauce recipe you invented at the Roy Rogers Fixin's Bar: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and horseradish, all what-the-hell squirted from those Alaska Pipeline-quality spigots into a big gooey slop.

Eat It and Beat It

It got later and later and later. Our car, a Buickiac Gran Tostada Sport Edition, had so many buttons that we still don't reallly know whether we were operating the defroster or launching a Stinger missile. I despise that car so much that my hands are shaking even as I write this.

blurryclock.jpg

Our vision started to blur. We clung to Amber's Mason-Dixon Road Trip CD as our sole link to reality. When we ran out of that, we turned on the radio and discovered that we really do know all the words to "Love Train" and "Last Train to Clarksville," and that it doesn't matter whether you know the words to Earth, Wind and Fire because it's mostly just inchoate howling anyway. One solemn vow we made was to cook up the ultimate Singalong CD, so everybody please suggest the best songs to sing at the top of your lungs in the middle of the night to keep you from falling asleep while driving a rented Buickiac Gran Tostada Sport Edition. Don't suggest "Bridge Over Troubled Water" because we've already put it on the list. K. C. and the Sunshine Band: ditto.

Ooo-ooh, That Smell

Bad Smell No. 1 hit right in there around Elizabeth, New Jersey. We're grateful to Elizabeth for making so many important solvents and compounds that we use every day, but jeez louise I don't think my cerebral cortex is ever going to be the same. Every once in a while we'd get a new killer smell, and eventually we kept track of them, because each had its own special quality and also because we were delirious:

No. 2: Something that has died + wet mohair note.

No. 3: Turpentine + nail polish remover + lighter fluid + super glue.

No. 4: Pond slime + old flip flops.

No. 5: What the inside of the Mayflower smelled like. Bilgewater + mildew.

By the time we got to the Pennsylvania state line, we felt bad for New Jersey. Don't get me wrong--Nashville is plenty whiffy if you hang out by the old meatpacking factory on Second Avenue. And I know that most of New Jersey is a freakin' garden state. Pennsylvania jumped right in with what had to be the worst of all, right as we crossed that really tall bridge: No. 6--Doom. The smell of doom. The scent of our own mortality! Drive faster! Quick! By the time we made it to our destination, it was well after midnight. We were running on fumes.

When finally hit the hay, we looked up, whereupon we discovered these guys:

masks.jpg

who spoke to us and said, "Hi! We kept a light on for ye!"

The Winner of the Caption Contest

It wasn't all bad. We remembered that, thanks to my blogphone, we could read the entries to the caption contest. So I started reading them aloud. At this point our blood oxygen levels were so diminished by all the bad smells that we found all the entries hysterically funny. We'd like to give prizes to all, along with a box of curly fries from the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Service Plaza. But because we had to pick only one, the book and the dishcloth cotton go to Carole:

Ann: I wonder, if Kay keeps that thumb out long enough, if the Flying Fingers van will come and pick us up.

A new contest:

carbuttons.jpg

Here's a row of buttons right in the middle of the dashboard of our rented Buickiac. The contest: Name The Function of These Buttons. Please note that we have no idea what their actual function is. Deadline is Sunday night, 8:48 pm EDT. A copy of the book to the best interpretation of these cryptic, Mayan hieroglyphs.

NEXT TIME: HIGHLIGHTS! We've had an AMAZING JOURNEY! So much to tell you!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 12:02 AM | Comments (69)

April 08, 2006

Our Relationship, Explained

Dear Ann,

At this moment, I hope you are reuniting with all 3 of The Fellas. I'm exhausted from the many hours we've spent wrassling with Mapquest and the World's Worst Rental Car (don't EVEN get me started on the Buttons From Another Planet), and really wonderful encounters with knitters. How did everybody, from age 8 on up, get to be such a great knitter? And why is it such a best-kept secret?

The Bloggable Moments are piling up. It's overwhelming, overstimulating, and over the top. But look! Ina has composed a beautifully photographed post that manages to capture last Thursday Night At Knitty City. As a free bonus, Ina captures Cara's Socks (does anyone in America have socks more famous than Cara's?), and OUR RELATIONSHIP.

Get some rest, doll, and pull-ease: POST THE WINNER OF THE CAPTION CONTEST. (Readers' advisory: the selection of the winner was delayed by LAUGHING OUR ASSES OFF all the way down the New Jersey Turnpike, the Penn Turnpike, and a bunch of wind-y roads in suburban Philly. We do apologize, but when you're exhausted and surviving on Roy Rogers, a poo-on-shoe joke will just about do you in.)

See ya Monday!

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:26 PM | Comments (4)

April 06, 2006

Manson-Nixon Road Trip

Dear Ann,

It's so crazy, this book-tour thing, innit? You show up places and hope other people will show up, and they do! Then you talk yourself silly, knit (in my case, knit and rip since I can't seem to keep a stripe pattern straight while talking), eat, pack up the Moses Basket, and head home to collapse in a heap. And I have to say, I didn't feel like a 'real' co-authoress until we got our very own stalker. So far we're not freaked out but if she stays with us past Philly we may have to consider hiring some protection. (Oh wait, Cara IS our protection.)

Yesterday was fabulous at Seaport Yarns, a shop so crammed with yarn, and so unusual in its layout (it's in an actual, working office--some of the yarn is in filing cabinets, and behind pallets of wool you find people sitting behind desks doing totally un-yarn-related work while you shop; although they don't work for the yarn shop, they are so accustomed to the arrangement that they can point you to the Blue Heron, or tell you that the Euroflax is in the conference room). Here are some scenes.

seaportbaby.jpg
We had a baby! All the way from Salt Lake City, with his mom Katherine, and his grandma, too! We had another baby, wearing her Blu jeans, and we didn't get a picture! There was even a third baby, also no picture! We are getting very lax ; MUST REFORM.

While baby sightings at knitting events are a treat, an even rarer bird is the reclusive species known as a Husband.

seaporthusband.jpg
Stephanie B was out of town on business, so she sent her husband to get her book signed. Stephanie B, we would like to congratulate you. Your husband is the poster boy for Proper Husband Management. Such was his obedience that we even got him to pose with The Nightie. (For the benefit of those whose husbands are still in training, the command was, "Heel. Stay. Leave it!")

Soundtrack

roadtripcd.jpg
Amber (she who shares the Boro Blanket Passion) showed up with her current blankie-in-progress, and look what she made! A cd for our late-night drive to Philly!

roadtripcdplaylist.jpg
The playlist is almost as awesome as the art direction. (I know you're hoping I'll sing along to Rhiannon, and I won't disappoint. Because you ARE like getting dark and then you are the darkness, babe.)

Like all raucous evenings, though, it ended badly.

seaportsubway.jpg
Memo to self: Moses Basket on the subway? Not so much.

Tonight we have our Farewell to New York at the fabulous Knitty City, 208 W. 79th St, 6-8 pm. See ya there.

Love, Kay

P.S. The winner of the caption contest is: [check here after noon].

Posted by Kay at 11:01 AM | Comments (42)

April 05, 2006

Finely A Loop Through Philadelphia

Dear Ann,

I write to you as you sit, wan and exhausted from spending yesterday evening talking about knitting while wearing pointy-toed shoes, on Joseph's bottom bunk. You have asked me, quite rightly, to let people know that we are going to PHILLY on FRIDAY.

And oh yes, let there be no doubt about one thing:

mosesbasketstreet.jpg
We are taking the Moses Basket.

mosesbaskethappykay.jpg
Just being WITH the Moses Basket induces insane euphoria.

Yowza! These Philly area events are going to be smashing, and not just because both are serving food. Here's the deets:

On Friday, April 7, from 6-8 p.m., we will be mingling, wine & cheesing and yakking at the fabulous Loop yarn shop from 6-8 pm. Loop is located at 1914 South Street, Philadelphia.

On Saturday, April 8th, from 11a.m. to 12:30 p.m., we will be knitchatting our hearts out at a shop called Finely a Knitting Party, 104 Park Avenue in Swarthmore, PA. Cathy and her crew of mad knitters will have -- get this--a HOT DOG STAND in the back yard. Knitting--Hot Dogs--could it get any better than that?

Department of Keeping It Real

Blog fodder moves in mysterious ways. Today, I found this picture on my camera. Some helpful person had snapped it while we were holding forth at Coliseum Books last night. I like to think this person was trying to take a flattering picture, but didn't know how.

annpraying.jpg

This picture just CRIES out for a contest don't you think? Here's the contest, in all its elegant, cruel simplicity.

A copy of the book and a dishrag kit will be awarded to the BEST CAPTION FOR THIS PICTURE. Leave your entry in the comments. Multiple entries allowed. Deadline: Noon tomorrow (Eastern Time).

Oh, and one rule: All captions mentioning Kay's chin(s) will be ruled Out of Bounds.

May the best caption win.
Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 01:47 PM | Comments (131)

April 04, 2006

Wheels Up

Dear Kay,

It's been a hairy morning, I tell you. Remind me to plug in the earphones next time I'm waiting for a flight.

I'm sitting at the airport gate, knitting away, and realize I am in the midst of a high school group from Kentucky going to New York for the first time. They all wear lanyards with their names written in Sharpie on them. "You will be wearing these for four days," their teacher says. "Do not under any circumstance take them off." I think about what could happen should a fifteen-year-old from Bowling Green remove her lanyard while wandering the streets of Manhattan.

Guy wearing a football jersey with the number 81 on the back looks into the backpack of a non-talking skinny guy sitting across from him and says: "Dude, did you bring a book?" You rat! I think. What a crummy thing to say!

Master of the Universe behind me has a completely intelligible conversation about how he is going to Boulder to fire Gene Hankins (name changed to protect the poor sales rep in Colorado who will be having a very bad day tomorrow). (Memo to all sales reps in Boulder, Colorado: one of you is going to have a very bad day tomorrow.) Master is clearly stoked at the prospect of dropping the guillotine. You smug weasel!

Two women who run a dress shop in Nashville are going to New York to buy for the store. "I tried on those jeans, the ones with the really low pockets, and they don't even fit. And they're even my size. The pockets. Are. Too. Low." Too-low pockets? I never thought about that. A whole new thing to worry about!

Burly guy, shaking his head: "So they walk out of the doctor's office, thinking that the aneurysm was not going to ever be a problem, guy drops dead right there in the parking lot."

Jeez, people, stop talking! You're creeping me OUT! I cannot take this!

As I board the plane, I look into the cockpit as I always do (how do they keep track of all those dials? They surely can't), and I see a crew member's hat hanging on a hook. Inside is photo of a woman and her baby. He keeps them right next to his head. Aw, man, this is just too much.

I've got a picture of the fellas as close to my head as I can manage without sort of pasting it on my forehead. It's funny: the older they get, the harder it is for me to leave them. I thought it would be the other way around, that the more independent and rational they got (OK, that's a work in progress, and I'm still working on rationality myself), the less of a pang I would feel. They'll be fine. They know I'm coming back. But as I woke up David to say ciao, I had a ferocious urge to toss him in a tote bag and bring him with me. Doesn't weigh much; he's great company. I almost had the chance to bring Clif with me, because he wrapped his legs around mine like an orangutan and hung on. Marsupial. "Have a great adventure," he said.

A minute later, Hubbo said the same thing. At this point, it's nine in the morning, and I've already had plenty of adventure. I'm hardly, even, in New York or anything.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:27 AM | Comments (35)

April 03, 2006

Loopy

oliverkay.jpg

Dear Ann,

I know you're loopy about the logistics of leaving home to go further than the grocery store (I just got an urgent email from SAVE_THE_GUINEA_PIGS.ORG). We're both loopy at the prospect of standing up in front of people and, um, saying something? Anything? Having a pulse? Not sweating through our matte foundation? But me, I also have lingering, unprocessed loopiness from my brief trip to England. So, let me just fire some pictures at you, with only the most succinct of commentary (yeah right). (Shut UP!)

Wunderkind Mit Wunderwagen

The day after arrival in London, I got on the train to Darlington. Darlington, for those unfamiliar with the geography of the British Isles, is not that far from Newcastle, the place we are always talking about taking coals to. From Darlington, I took the milk train (the conductor stepped out of the first of 2 Brio-sized cars and said, 'Go on and get on, now.') to Emmaville. (The sign doesn't actually say Emmaville, but it should. It would make it easier on us knitblog groupies making pilgrimages to the Early Original Knitbloggers.) The ride to Emmaville was about half an hour, and then I walked from the station to Emma's house--3 or 4 NYC blocks or so. I went the wrong way but luckily I was wearing the Conspicuous Pink Jacket so Emma spied me from her doorway and yoo-hooed at me. (It's a little disorienting to be yoo-hooed at by someone who ordinarily yoo-hoos atcha by email.)

We hunkered down and talked nonstop for 24 hours. Pausing to ritually exchange yarns (it was my BIRTHDAY that week, y'all ) according to the Ancient Rites of Knitblog Sisterhood, to eat some paella and to sip some Cava (my BIRTHDAY was coming up, you know). There being a 6-year-old in the house, a major wing-ding was made to celebrate my UPCOMING BIRTHDAY. 6-year-olds think everyone should be hugely excited over their birthday. (48 year olds, not so much.) It was great fun. I got, in addition to amazing HipKnits silk yarn for my next Shawl Endeavor, an extraordinary beaded handknit, which soon will have a mate. (Are you knitting right now, Emma? How about now--is it done yet?)

The highlight, though, was a sunset Hippo-Guided Tour. Without further ado, I give you A Boy and His Hippo:

oliverhippo.jpg
Oliver at the controls.

oliverstartingout.jpg
Here we go. Let me just say that Oliver likes to go FAST. Luckily there is a parental override setting so Allan could reset the maximum speed slow enough for the old folks to keep up.

olivertaillights.jpg
Note the taillights are on. Allan noticed that Oliver had programmed the indicator lights to automatically blink as he turned left or right. Disbelieving, I said, are you sure he did it himself? Allan was sure--because he had no idea, himself, how to do it.

oliversidewalk.jpg
The great thing about being in the driver's seat is that you can go where you want to go. Even if you want to go off-sidewalk. Oliver is a big believer in the longest distance between two points and the road less travelled. It's more scenic that way.

oliverheadlightswall.jpg
What fun to get EXTREMELYCLOSE to a brick wall. The better to examine the shadows cast by the headlights.

oliverelevator.jpg
In the gloaming, Oliver demonstrates one of the Hippo's coolest tricks: making a boy VERY TALL.

My heart was (is! will always be!) very full at the thought that the online knitting community contributed so freely to the fundraising for this amazing buggy. (They still need a pricey gizmo for the car so that Oliver can get more use out of the Hippo, by the way, so Oliver's Fund is still accepting contributions....just saying.) This machine opens worlds to Oliver. He is at the age of exploding independence. To see him driving such a complicated piece of machinery is nothing short of gobsmacking--but then, being a 6 year old boy, he could easily land a plane, I'm sure, given the chance to push buttons and wiggle thingies for a few minutes. Thank God for 6 year old boys and their steely determination to make stuff GO.

Okay, I've run out of time and/or energy and I've got LOTS of Loop photos to post. So I promise, TOMORROW.

loopwindow.jpg
Here's a taste.

See ya tomorrow. I'll yoo-hoo at you in person.
Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:53 AM | Comments (27)

My Bags Aren't Exactly Packed

Dear Kay,

I'm getting ready to come to New York tomorrow. Really, I've got the house running so smoothly that it's going to be No Problem to ditch out for the week to hang out in yarn shops with you, endlessly arguing the cotton vs. wool debate.

Let's see . . .

Food: Check!

House maintenance: Under control.

Driving the kids around to soccer and tennis lessons: Covered.

Keeping Hubbo up and running: He'll never know I'm gone.

Pet care: Done.

Y'all come

If you happen to be in Manhattan this week, come hang out!

Tuesday, April 4: Coliseum Books, 6-7 pm. Right there on 42nd Street and everything.

Wednesday, April 5: Seaport Yarn, 4:30-7:30 pm. We plan to knit an entire log cabin blanket in three hours. Aw, just kidding. We figure this will be like one of those Christmas open houses where you stay so long that the hostess finally says, "Well it's been fun here's your hat what's your hurry?"

Thursday, April 6: Knitty City, 6-8 pm. The city's newest yarn shop. Yay new yarn shop!

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:47 AM | Comments (27)

April 01, 2006

Archaeological Dig Unearths Long-Lost Treasure

Dear Kay,

Get a load of this tale, which landed in my In box like a dusty note from a dig in the Egyptian desert:

As I surfed through your archives, I noticed a post about Kaffe Fassett Pebbles. I just had to email you. I was gifted with stash from a retired knitter. In it was a gorgeous panel of Kaffe Fassett Pebbles (the whole back) and lots of yarn. How did I earn this stash? Well, nothing except that I am probably the only enthusiastic knitter friend she has. She has incredibly bad wrists from her job as a real-time transcriptionist, so she has taken to gardening instead of knitting. This Pebbles piece is a work of art and simply years away from my skill level. Here's a photo and another one. This panel is amazing and I am torn about what to do with it. Should I save it and wait for the day that I possess the skills to knit the arms and front panels and finish the dern thing to give back to Laura? Should I have it sewn with a lining and gift it back to Laura as an afghan? Any advice you can offer would be helpful. Thanks, Julia

What a tantalizing tale, and what an artifact. This is my favorite Kaffe Fassett pattern. It calls for 13 shades of Rowan Donegal Lambswool Tweed, including some classic gloomy Rowan shade names--Storm, Pickle, Sedge. This yarn became extinct in the early 2000s, the victim of invasive non-native species of yarn which crowded out its habitat. It was too thin, too traditional, too . . . good to live.

When I saw this pattern for the first time, years ago, I could not believe my eyes. I realize that it looks kind of like a leopard pattern gone mad, but the effect of all those tweeds together sunk deep into my psyche. Soaked right in there. O! The wonderfulness of it all.

pebbles.jpg

This pattern appeared in Rowan Number 24, fall 1998, in the geological period known as Classic Period Rowan. It appeared back before the Baroque Period began (Rowan Number 31 was the first time random embroidery appeared on a Rowan sweater), and long before the Mannerist Period started (Rowan Number 39 aka the current issue which is the craziest Rowan I ever saw).

Seeing Julia's artifact got me wondering if there are other unfinished Pebbles out there, so I went searching for other Pebbles in the field, and found this one, which Food and Yarn Angela has been working on here and there. I wouldn't even hope to see a true, finished Pebbles. It would be too much to ask. I'll see an ivory-billed woodpecker before I'll see a Pebbles.

As for Julia's dilemma about what to do with this half-finished work of art, you know the only possible solution, right? A Blogpoll!

Love,

Ann

PS Thank you, everybody, for the supportive comments about the book. Now that the book has finally come off the boat from Singapore (I was ready to go over there and hijack a cargo ship), I am just dying to see the projects what people are working on. Please, everyone, be sure to send us a photo and a few words so that we can include your work in the don't-touch-the-paint-it's-not-ready MDK Pantheon of Creative Genius. If we weren't such HTML dorks, we might have the thing up all ready.

We have already received some beautiful photos of Finished Objects. Wait 'til you see.

Posted by Ann at 10:53 AM | Comments (67)
Copyright masondixonknitting.com. Page design by fluffa! Hosted at Pretty Posies. Powered by Movable Type 3.2