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

May 30, 2006

Why They Call It Quilting

impatientpatchworker.jpg

Dear Ann,

Hope you're having a Grand Time viewing the canyon. I would imagine there is some interesting wildlife to be seen out there. Slithering, creeping, crawling, man-eating--the whole Circle of Life. Me, I've been dealing with the typical fauna of Lawn Guyland. Oh sure, sometimes they get a little crabby, but they're harmless, really. I'm guessing that if the cee-ment wigwams were a challenge for the Swiss Family Shayne, the Grand Canyon is every bit as thrill-filled. I hope you make it out in one piece. Four pieces. Whatever--the same way you went in!

That's All Over Now

For a second there last week, I thought that maybe quilting was The New Knitting. I considered how to go about sucking you, my co-bloguette, into the vortex. "Mason-Dixon Quilting": doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Wouldn't it give us just LOADS to talk about? Seeing as how we don't know how to DO it?

Over the weekend, the plan was to practice up on the "quilting" in quilting. You know, the part where you make a sandwich out of the patchwork you had so much fun making, the batting that you felt proud to ask for in the fabric store (all-cotton, the thinnest kind, by order of Denyse herself), and the backing that is sort of just a piece of fabric or maybe 2 pieces of fabric, and you sew these 3 layers together with sharp, tiny needles (so sharp! so tiny!) and the smallest stitches you can muster? In a more or less decorative way?

pillowtop.jpg
So here we have the Practice Item. A little patchwork pillow cover. The 9 main patches are from Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy collection, log cabinned with a strip of orange Heather Ross ('Fireflies'--isn't it the best orange?) and a cool Japanese import (from Purl Patchwork, the store that makes you buy fabric, whether you sew or not--it is not about USING the fabric, it is about HAVING the fabric).

You are always telling me that with the right tools, you can do anything. One thing I'm considering is to buy every single tool on the fascinating Gizmo Wall at Purl Patchwork, and teach myself to quilt by figuring out how to use each one. In the short term, though, I bought:

1. A Clover 'air-erasable' pen to mark out my quilting lines (my lines formed SQUARES--who knew?)
2. Quilter's Safety Pins. Guess what: they're safety pins--I understand how they function!
3. Super tiny needles (I don't know why, but I expected hand-quilting needles to be long and scary-looking. In fact, they are very short-- and scary looking.)
4. Cotton quilting thread. I love this stuff. It's ultra smooth and thin, but it has BODY. Somebody (hint, hint) ought to try it for making Scribble Lace.

pilloweraser.jpg
So I marked out my lines with my Air-Erasable pen. Apparently, my air is very potent, because within only a few hours, it started to erase itself. By which I mean, the lines were disappearing faster than I could quilt them. Now admittedly I am not the world's fastest hand-quilter, but I would like a little more time. I think I need a different product. Do regular No. 2 pencils work for this?

pillowpinbaste.jpg
Then I pin-basted the layers together. It was starting to dawn on me that this was going to be Fiddly, this hand-quilting thing.

I started quilting, using the 'rocker' method of loading 3 stitches on the tiny needle before pulling the thread through the fabric. One of the things Denyse Schmidt says in her book is this:

Holding one hand beneath the work and using the hand with the thimble to stitch, insert the needle down through the Quilt Top just far enough so you feel the point of the needle with one of your fingers underneath. Catch the fabric of the Quilt Back and pass the needle back up through the Quilt Top, USING THE FINGER UNDERNEATH TO PUSH THE QUILT UP SLIGHTLY AT THE STITCH.

No WAY, I thought. This woman actually expects me to stick my hand underneath the work, right where I am poking this tiny sharp needle, and use that hand to guide fabric onto a tiny sharp needle, which I CANNOT SEE? Is she some kind of a sadist who wants me to poke my poor fingers into bloody stumps? By which I mean, I was skeptical about my ability to do this maneuver.

But such is my respect for the great DS, that I tried it. And as I tried it, I had that feeling some people have described feeling when they spin for the first time. The "I Have Done This Before" feeling. I tell you, I got a chill. My hands knew how to do it. Insert scary music here!

So, in a past life I may have quilted, but I don't think the Past Me really enjoyed it that much. It takes a long time. There is a fair amount of knotting threads and threading needles, and needles coming unthreaded and knots coming unknotted. I'm not sure it's worth it to me. Machine quilting has the allure of ... the machine! And I am, so far, attracted to quilting for the playing-with-fabric, not for the handwork, much as I admire it.

I did knit this past weekend, by the way. On my knitted version of Whatta Buncha! So it was all DS, all the time for 3 whole days. When not going 'ew' at the steady stream of hermit crabs presented for my inspection.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 02:40 PM | Comments (68)

May 27, 2006

What a Bunch of Squares

Dear Ann,

So, so sorry to hear about Kitty. She was such a sweet, petite cat. And, maybe it was from being named after an old-time Country & Western star, but (sing it with me!) she was a one-woman cat. She never sat on a visitor's knitting. Although once she did jump in my lap by mistake. (I was hunched at your computer, wearing glasses, and knitting--a mistake anybody could make.) Both of us were surprised. I envied you having a Higher Order Pet, and such a kindly one.

I'm heading offline for what we hope will be sunshine and Fambly Fun this weekend. I'm feeling a bit rugged, because for the past two nights I've stayed up 'til all hours...

dsquilt.jpg
Piecing the 25 squares of my interpretation of Denyse Schmidt's quilt What a Bunch of Squares (note the template-free wonkiness of those strips--it's a gift, people).

There is so much about sewing that I didn't know, it's breathtaking. But what fun to race through a queen-size quilt top. (Can I just offer up a small, ardent thanksgiving for this thing called the 'needle threader', which we didn't have on the home ec sewing machines in the 7th grade?) It's killing me not to take the machine with me for the weekend, so I can Git R Done!

Happy holiday weekend to those in the US!

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 08:52 AM | Comments (22)

May 26, 2006

End-of-School Feeling

kitty.jpg

Dear Kay,

Oh, for pity's sake, what a week it has been. It's the cat, I'm telling you.

I've been spending a lot of time in our garage and driveway, sitting and watching our cat be sick. I haven't written here about Kitty Wells, our raven-haired cat of twelve years, but today I have to write because it's Elegy Day for this beloved pet.

Kitty has consumed my thoughts during this most challenging of weeks known as The End of School. The week when you drive your kids and your kids' classmates to end-of-the-year class parties which last an average of 42 hours. The week when you realize that in about four days, you will be responsible for your children 24 hours a day instead of 17. The week before your younger son's birthday, and you haven't even had Thought One about organizing a birthday party of any sort, never mind a cool birthday party. The week before you're leaving for the Grand Freaking Canyon.

Through all this, I worried about Kitty. I won't go into the details, but basically, her seizures returned last weekend with a vengeance after six blissful months of remission from whatever horrible thing was making her brain act weird.

I just returned from taking Kitty to the vet to be put to sleep. I am a mess.

The picture above shows Kitty in a classic Kitty moment: loping through the grass at the edge of whatever was going on. Lurker.

Like her hard-bit country singer namesake, Kitty was a survivor. Her sister, a completely different-looking cat named Patsy Cline, died more than five years ago. Since then, Kitty always hovered close to the house, always ready to mooch a dish of milk or a bite of chicken. She wouldn't hunt a mouse if the mouse sat down between her paws.

She loved a nap, she loved to sit on whatever I was knitting, while I was knitting it, and she loved to catch the breeze on my windowsill while I sat at my desk. Aw hell, she was a world-class cat.

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:59 AM | Comments (154)

May 24, 2006

Quilting for Dummies

Dear Ann,

Good news! The new windows seem to be staying bolted into the walls, the dust is settling at a rate I can almost keep up with, the kids are in school, and I find myself with an unexpected free afternoon. So, obviously, I'm going to make a quilt.

HAHAHAHahahahaha. No really! I'm going to make a quilt! But first I'm going to write a tutorial, How To Make a Quilt By Kay Gardiner Who Has Never Made a Quilt.

Step 1: Get a copy of Denyse Schmidt Quilts, by Denyse Schmidt. (I mean, if you are going to make a quilt, make it a cool one, right? There are no cooler quilts than DS quilts.)

wbspage.jpg

Step 2: Choose your quilt. I chose, of all things, a log cabin: "What A Bunch of Squares". It's a Courthouse Steps layout, very simple. Denyse gives you templates in the back of the book, so that your log cabin strips will be wonky, not straight, and your centers will be different sizes. With the arrogance that comes with having absolutely no experience making quilts, I decided, WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' TEMPLATES. I mean, if I can't make a strip wonky, what good am I? The saving grace is that you can square up each log cabin before you join them into the quilt top. That's my theory.

layoutsquare.jpg
Step 3: Before you do anything else, KNIT THE QUILT. Do not, under any circumstances, skip this step. Sure, it's a shortcut not to knit a whole quilt before starting the fabric version. But Grasshopper, it is only by going through your stash and knitting up yarns in a variety of shades of 'Lake', 'Limeade', and 'Lemonade', that you truly understand qu'est-ce que c'est le Lake, le Limeade, et le Lemonade. (Sometimes, I find, Lemonade is orange.) There are 9 more knitted squares in my basket. I had a blast mixing different cotton yarns. The center patch is a self-striping cotton by Katia called 'Jamaica'--isn't it the Lake-iest?

fabric.jpg

Step 4: When you are one with the Lake, the Lemonade, and the Limeade, choose your fabrics. Cut. Sew. No problem.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Love, Kay

P.S. Setting up my photo shoot on last night's Magnetic Poetry surface, I found the following sentences composed by Carrie.

square.jpg
I have no small amount of maternal pride at the one about the President. Hubby and I are doing strong work, raising the next generation of Upper West Siders.


Posted by Kay at 10:51 AM | Comments (37)

May 23, 2006

Going Native

Dear Kay,

While you have been wandering around your apartment in your EPA dust abatement suit, I've been trying to catch up on my sleep. Last weekend we spent the night in a cement teepee, and I'm still having that Iron Eyes Cody feeling.

wigwams.jpg

Here ya go: you're looking at a member of the National Register of Historic Places, Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky. Not to be confused with Wigwam Village #6 in Holbrook, Arizona, nor with the other four Wigwam Villages that have gone the way of the great peace pipe smoke in the sky. I think it made the Register of Historic Places because it is a quaint reminder that in the olden days of the 1930s--when Highway 31 was the only way to get from Nashville to Chicago--people didn't really care much what sort of bedroom they had as long as it had at least four walls and a roof one wall and a peak.

Now, I realize that this doesn't really count as "camping," but our friends Skip and Betsy, who are the hardy sort who keep a cord of firewood in the back of the Suburban just in case there's a chance for a campfire, thought it would be a good way to introduce us to life in the great outdoors. I'm pretty sure we were the wimpiest of the eleven families drafted for this weekend. People kept coming up to me and asking, "Are you guys OK? Is this going to be OK?" People handed me beers as if I didn't understand what could be in the Igloo coolers which were lined up by the grill. I was given instructions in how to repurpose a wire hanger into a marshmallow skewer. In a hopeful moment, I was put in charge of Hershey bar distribution.

Twelve wigwams, twelve families. Minimum of two kids per family. Fifty humans in a dozen 12'-circumference wigwams, each with one hermetically sealed window a foot off the ground. Oh, it was camping all right. ROUGHING IT. The stories coming out of those wigwams were the sort of survival tales that you hear only on the Discovery Channel:

"When the power went off at midnight, and the fan died, I was haunted by the sound of my children breathing. They just . . . kept . . . breathing . . ."

"My Monsters Inc. sleeping bag covered only a third of my body. If I didn't keep moving it around, I might have gotten . . . really chilly."

"As I lay in the bed, I planned the next thirty years of my life."

"Is this what Das Boot was like?"

"I wondered whether I could have been breathing recirculated air."

"Soft bed make man soft."

Jon Krakauer will be writing a book about this trip: Into Thick Air.

I Know You're Wondering

How did you get any knitting done in such harsh conditions? Between the guacamole making and the sitting in the fold-up chairs and the beverages and the grilled meats and the random flying balls from the kickball game, it was not easy. I squoze a few rows onto what I'm proud to call My Third Sock:

sockfleeceartist.jpg

Yes, that's the Fleece Artist Merino yarn that came from that Canadian person. It's knitting up thicker than the Trekking XXL, for those of you keeping a spreadsheet of sock yarn data. I'm using my very favorite sock pattern (oh right, it's the only sock pattern I know), the Simple Sock from Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Two Circulars.

sockfleeceartistheel.jpg

This is what I call the Interesting Part. I pretty much almost didn't fix dinner last night because I had arrived at the Interesting Part. It's such a bit of architecture, making a tube of knitting turn a corner and still be a tube. That fits a foot. Which has a heel poking out.

When we got home from our wigwam weekend, Betsy said we were good sports. I think we're ready for their annual two-week trip to Minnesota in the cabin with no running water or electricity. Piece of CAKE.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:45 AM | Comments (34)

May 22, 2006

A Dingo Ate My Blogwork

stashmay2006.jpg

Dear Ann,

I emerge from the wreckage of window replacement to renew our correspondence. Last week SOMEBODY in this household thought it would be a sensible idea to replace 4 circa 1929 steel casement windows with State of The Art Vinyl Windows That Will Change Your Life For the Better. I hate to do violence to anything that has survived 75 years, even if it is a nondescript steel casement window that has been painted and repainted and never properly stripped before repainting again. But since the single-pane 1929 models were riddled with cracks that were letting in appalling amounts of city soot and noise, not to mention the freezing cold in winter, I acquiesced in the plot to do them in. And the windows did not go quietly. It was a struggle to the death between window and woman. In the end, woman won, but at what cost?

What I failed to understand about the plan was that jackhammers would be involved. That no amount of plastic sheeting and duct tape would prevent a mist of plaster dust from descending on every surface in my home including my own skin. Vengeance is mine, saith the windows.

With rising dread and panic, I ran into the bedroom and tried to save the stash. Out of the closet came the 22 plastic storage boxes. Harvesting from doorknobs and behind the furniture, I emptied no fewer than 11 tote bags containing projects abandoned mid-row and new yarn that never got put away to begin with. I unearthed 17 knitting needles I had forgotten I owned. Tape measures? I have tape measures again! I vacuumed, I shook out, I cussed a little, I packed up stuff I don't want and sent it to somebody who may want it. I organized by fiber and color. And, I will admit, I tossed a few particularly fugly bits of it into the trash. Such was my extremis that I RIPPED OUT A SHAWL, people. The shawl had 3 and a half hanks of Euroflax in it, but I hadn't worked on it since 2004. I don't want a green linen shawl anymore. I've worn out the top that would have matched it. I sat there, grim as hell, ripping and winding.

I wish I had a picture of my plastic-shrouded kitchen with gaping, jagged maws where windows should be. Instead I give you a new window with attractive insulation, and the exposed rubble of 1929.

newwindow.jpg
It looks all innocent-like, when actually it is as bad as a window can get. A window into the heart of darkness.

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Baby Sweaters

So where was I?

isaacpullover.jpg
Here is another baby sweater that was knitted during our sojourn in the Great Midwest, and sewn up on Mother's Day. On Wednesday I ran out of the plaster dust storm with this in a shopping bag, rang my neighbor's doorbell, and said, HERE'S A SWEATER FOR ISAAC NOW SHUT YOUR DOOR BEFORE THE DUST GETS YAAAAAAAA!

The pattern is the Fisherman's Tee from Oat Couture. Ganseyish! It's a simple design but a clever one: the open shoulder seams and deep neck opening make it easy to put on and take off. Instead of wool, I used Rowan Denim. (An unconventional choice, I know, but it just came to me in a vision.)

isaacbuttons.jpg
Too many of my finished projects have been abandoned while waiting to shop for buttons, so I used mismatched vintage buttons from the sewing box. They're charming (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). We're all about the Charm.

isaachem.jpg
And yes, I did use the bleach pen, but no Motorcycle Mama look this time. Just a tasteful touch on the tips of the edgings. I left the seams open at the cuffs and hem.

isaachat.jpg
I followed my Handknit Gifting Guidelines by garnishing with a non-handknit. This year, apparently, we're doing hats. A stroller kid can't have too many hats.

Sunday in the Yarn Store With Wendy

wendyknittycity.jpg

On Sunday I got some most excellent R & R, sitting in Knitty City on a gorgeous spring day, knitting and listening to this one read from this one. A mellow, funny, inspiring time was had by all.

quiviut.jpg
Thanks to Wendy, we experienced the love that dare not speak its name. Oh yes: Qiviut. We're talking the down of the musk ox, baby. Exotic. Rare. Heavenly. ( Wendy travels with beaded qiviut. Other people are breaking their backs hauling suitcases crammed with dishcloth cotton. Just saying.)

It was a blast for those of us listening and I hope for Wendy, too.

After Wendy headed home, I found it hard to leave the yarn store, and not just because there was more Dust Abatement waiting for me at home. There were all kinds of cool things there.

elainearan.jpg
Like this sweater Elaine is making. Elaine is participating in the Follow the Leader aran knitalong, which is sort of an Advanced Placement knitalong. The pullover is so dense that I am sure it is waterproof. Puts my loosey-goosey cable work to shame. I'm a poser!

The real shocker of the day was when I looked up and saw my Former Boss:

jane.jpg
She Who Must Be Obeyed (Or At Least Given A Plausible Explanation). In a yarn store. Why was she there? I couldn't even imagine. Jane is not a crafty type of woman. Jane has people to sue. She has other people to defend from suits. She has legal thoughts occurring in her brain every single second.

But here's the thing. Jane is of Irish heritage. I do not wish to stereotype or generalize about an entire people, but I do believe that a woman of Jane's genetic makeup can resist the needles for only so long. Still, I could hardly believe that the reason Jane had stopped by the yarn store was to buy her first skein of yarn and her first set of needles--on her own, without somebody like me dragging her. What is the likelihood that I would be there to witness this moment? We sat down and in under 20 seconds she had mastered the knit stitch. Her tension was even, her repetitive motions were repetitive, she required no rhymes. Knowing a Gifted Pupil when I see one, I tried to get her to learn to purl ('just get it over with!' the crowd chanted), but she wants to save that bit of excitement for later.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:32 AM | Comments (29)

May 18, 2006

Totally Unrelated Sons of One Mother

sockpair.jpg

Dear Kay,

Sock on the left: "What's your problem?"

Sock on the right: "What's YOUR problem?"

Left: "You're boring."

Right: "You're loud."

Left: "I hate you."

Right: "I hate you more."

Left: "You suck."

Right: "Mommmmm he said suck."

I can't believe these two socks came from a single ball of yarn. One's loud, one's quiet--it seems so obvious now, but as I nursed these socks along, I thought they would be more alike.

sockpairflat.jpg

See? In their, um, deflated state you can see the randomness that is Trekking XXL sock yarn. How many miles of yarn would I need to go through to find a repeat?

I would like to point out the single most spectacular fact about these socks: they are LONG! So LONG! Incredibly LONG! Can ya see how long they are? Anybody out there who has lived with a size 10 foot (which is, like, a 41 in Europe, or a 1,000 in Esperanto) knows the disappointment of the average sock department, the heartbreak of heel creep--O! what does it take to get a fitting sock that doesn't look like a Man Sock?

It takes making them yourself.

Which brings me to

Technical Observations I Have Made While Making This First Pair of Socks

1. If you are on the cusp of manufacturing your own socks, my only advice is to do what I did and purchase a copy of Cat Bordhi's book Socks Soar on Two Circulars. She has been sitting beside me the whole way through this process--I can hear her voice in the advice she dishes out so cheerfully. I think these socks turned out because she told me how to do it, in the clearest possible way. There was no way to screw up if I did what she said to do. The screw ups came when I was sleepy or distracted or trying to knit during "Casino Night," the epic final episode of The Office. Would the secretary and the sales rep finally get together? Who wouldn't drop a stitch and knit backward?

2. Circulars v. double-pointed needles. Two needles v. five. I was warned that the dangliness of the circulars could prove troublesome. This was not a problem. And I was relieved that I wasn't losing double-pointed needles in my car. And because there are only two joins instead of four, I didn't lose stitches over the ends of the DPNs--at the end of each circular needle's work, I'd zip the needle halfway through. Which was a tidy little security feature. And--I didn't do that thing I do sometimes with DPNs, which is to inadvertently yank one totally out of the thing I'm working on. Which would have been disastrous with these size 1 stitches.

sockpairtoes.jpg

3. Merciful yarn. A crazy yarn hides a world of sin: warbly ribbing, the occasional yanked stitch, the entire toe portion of the program. I'm thinking I grafted down there, but who the hell knows or cares? It covers up the end of my foot, and I'm grateful.

sockpairribbing.jpg

4. If you can read, you can do anything. My experience with socks proves this. But I will say that I couldn't have done it so easily had I not spent time at the yarn shop studying socks with patient Charisse. Once she showed me where the gusset starts and stops, what parts should not be considered gusset, and where exactly the heel turns, Cat's directions were ace. But it made a big difference to see a basic heel flap sock in the flesh before I had to attempt a gusset.

Off to go find another pattern. This is the BEST.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:33 PM | Comments (87)

May 16, 2006

FO Pas

seedivybuttonshoe.jpg

Dear Ann,

I don't know what's wrong with me. It's been a real FO Show around here lately. Finishing things up, which doesn't stop me from starting things up.

Today's FO is a top-down baby raglan cardi. I was knitting it in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Hold On: Moment of Zen

As you will recall, I was knitting this cardi on the road between KC and Omaha, when I was riding with brother Van in his car, and you were following in the rent-a-wreck du jour. You were savoring the sound of Me Not Talking, while you wigged out to one of the many obscure and depressing items loaded on the AnnPod. (Refresh me on this: was it Collapse, or an old Fresh Air interview with Drew Carey, or was that another road trip or maybe a bad dream?) Anyhoo, do you remember when our car sped up real fast and then slowed down? I made Van do that so I could catch up to this guy. (Click on it again if you missed the license plate. Which would be understandable. There is a lot of First Amendment exercise in that picture.)

But Back To The Cardi

The pattern is 'Seeds and Vines' from Elanor Lynn's new book of baby things, Cozy Knits for Cuddly Babies. I sort of know Elanor! She works at Downtown Yarns! I even have a picture of her! I fell in love with this sweet old-timey cardi, I am something like 8 babies behind on my baby-knitting list, and I was OVER the mitered squares thing (for a minute)--so it was perfect travel knitting.

I changed the pattern a little. Instead of wool, I used Rowan Denim 100% cotton, in the lightest shade, Tennessee. I did not do the waist shaping, because I wanted it to look kind of jackety and because the baby in question probably doesn't have a nipped waist right now. I made the seed stitch edgings deeper than called for, because I heart seed stitch and I had plenty of time on my hands, and I left the edgings open instead of seaming them, for a kind of 1950s car coat look. Like something Laura Petrie would have worn on the Dick Van Dyke Show, if she had been a baby.

seedivycardigan.jpg
I love the tight vine cable set off by yarnovers, instead of the usual reverse stockinette. Sa-weet!

seedivycabledetail.jpg
Okay, now you're probably wondering whether the Tennessee shade of denim is really that pale. It's not. On Sunday, when I was sewing up, I treated myself to a little Mothers Day fun with the Clorox Bleach Pen. It felt so...risky....dabbing bleach all over a finished garment. But the mom of the baby girl in question is an adventurous and understanding knitter, who has been known to wear her own jeans down to the molecules. So I went for it. I learned a lot. Mainly I learned that a little goes a long way. The pointy end of the bleach pen is generally your best bet.

seedivyhat.jpg
Once baby gets the hat on, the mom won't even notice a few ultra-bright speckles here and there. (Another of my handknit gifting guidelines: always accessorize with a non-handknit. Just in case, you know, they don't like the handknit.)

More O's have been F'd. I'm photoshopping as fast as I can.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 10:47 PM | Comments (41)

May 14, 2006

Over the Cliff We Go! Wheeeeeee!

clifbutton.jpg

Dear Kay,

And a very happy Mother's Day to you and to everybody who has a mother, is a mother, or knows a mother.

Hey look! Here, in all its imperfect glory, is my new sock puppet:

sockpuppet.jpg

I have discovered another use for it when it's not talking to me:

sockthefirst.jpg

Things I Have Learned Along the Way While Knitting Sock the First:

1. Using two circular needles is a very fine way to make a sock. It's like my friend who had twins and said it seemed perfectly normal to nurse two babies at the same time--who knew there was any other way? I didn't lose or drop a needle; I didn't stick myself in the hienie when sitting down. But knitting with those sheenyshiny Addis during a sunny afternoon requires sunglasses. Once again, the case for never, ever going outside.

2. Number of stitches dropped during manufacturing of this sock: Three. Time spent fishing three size 1 stitches back onto the needle: Fourteen thousand bazillion hours. This Trekking XXL yarn is great, but Jehovah help you if you drop a stitch and lack a tiny crochet hook for stitch retrieval. The plies are confounding once they tangle up and you end up putting a stitch and a half back on the needle, or a half a stitch, or jeeeez just don't ever drop a stitch OK? Or get yourself a decent hook OK?

3. I seem not to be the only person who is knitting socks. Thanks for the welcome to the coven, all you wack sockists out there.

Something Else I've Lemminged Onto

Another item in the category Stuff I Am Destined To Try Whether I Mean To Or Not . . .

Don't get me wrong, I love a happy, colorful blanket. But I'm here to stand up for the happy, gloomy blanket. As a longtime collector of tweedy yarns, I have been waiting and waiting for the project that would best give me the chance to use as many of my little gloomy pets as possible. As I watched you endlessly mitering away, I had the thought, over and over, that once I got home, I'd dive into my warehouse of grays and browns and murkies and explore the quiet (not to say utterly depressed and won't-get-out-of-bed) side of the mitered square.

Here's where we stand:

tweedmiter.jpg

Rowan Yorkshire Tweed, Rowanspun, Rowan Felted Tweed, Kathmandu DK, Rowan Harris Tweed (now Scottish Tweed). The rule is that it must be a DK yarn, it must have flecks not just heathering, and it can't be too cheerful.

I'm knitting them according to the Gospel of Fours As Prescribed by Kay, and I stitched a couple of extras on the edges to see how the pattern is shaping up.

tweedmitercloseup.jpg

A DK is not always a DK. You've got your skinny DKs and fat DKs, and it means you can end up with this situation:

tweedmiter3.jpg

Failure to Align.

But I'm looking at this whole project as a giant swatch, and it may take a while to find the right matches of shades and values and weights and tweediness and . . . [trails off into stupor; decides to return to Sock Number Two]

tweedmitercloseup2.jpg

I'm guessing that each miter will have three stripes of varying widths. Kind of a boxy deal. But as this thing progresses, who knows where it'll end up?

I may make a sock puppet out of it.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 07:06 PM | Comments (51)

May 12, 2006

Into the Rabbit Hole

sockhole.jpg

Dear Kay,

Heaven help me, I'm making a sock.

As you might know (seeing as how you were sitting beside me most of the time, knitting mitered squares), I've been on a little odyssey this spring, spending a fair amount of time in beautiful yarn shops filled with beautiful yarn. While you were focused on your project with that freaky, laserlike focus, I had nothing. A scarf, another scarf, part of a scarf. A piece of knitting with no destiny. It made me really susceptible, really vulnerable to the knitting that was going on around me.

I kept running into people who were knitting socks. Everywhere I looked, I saw socks, and sock yarns, and happy sock knitters, all of whom exuded this nutty socky vibe. Socksocksocksocksock. Those tiny needles looked so inviting, so very much my cup of tea. Cabled socks, socks with beads, big socks, little socks, every where a sock sock.

But in my years of knitting, I have always resisted knitting socks. It seemed just TOO humble a use for something you make yourself. A dishcloth? I can get behind that. But a sock, with thousands of tiny stitches? That you walk on?

Stephanie enabled the situation when she climbed into my car in Nashville, lobbed a skein of Fleece Artist merino sock yarn at me and yelled "THINKFAST!" I was like a seal going for the fish. I carried that thing around the house the way Linus drags his blanket. Once I had officially sanctioned sock yarn from Canada in my possession, I knew it was only a matter of time.

stephaniesyarn.jpg

I bought sock yarn in Philadelphia at Loop. But I didn't buy needles. Circular or double points? I knew I had to decide, but I didn't really know which way to go. People have strong opinions about this issue. By the time I got to Kansas City, Leslie was handing me a copy of Cat Bordhi's slim and elegant book. And some Size 1 Addi Turbo 24" circular needles. And pointing me toward the sock yarn department.

I could barely wait to get back to the hotel room to start a sock.

You learn things when you knit a sock. Like, why is it that people on knitting blogs are all the time taking pictures of their feet with half-finished socks on them? Why is this? Now that I am knitting a sock, I know why. It's because of this:

sockone.jpg

This is a sock not on somebody's foot. It is the most deflated, uninspiring thing I've ever seen. OK I'll say it: it's flaccid. It IS.

(By the way, I just remembered where I learned about THAT word. Remember The Thorn Birds? Remember THAT book? That mini-series? That whole Australian outback/sheep station/Catholic priest/forbidden love deal? Flaccid's in there. It has to do with Our Tortured Hero Father Ralph de Bricassert, but that's all I'm going to say. You can buy the book on Amazon for one penny, and if you're in the eighth grade the way I was when I read that book, you are going to learn a LOT.)

So far I've discovered the joy of turning the heel, of picking up gusset stitches, gusseting, and screwing up. I've learned that sock knitting at night--the heel bit, I mean--is like doing Sudoku at bedtime. After about two minutes, you go aw hell I'll just wing it, but then you discover that winging it is not so great, so you chuck it across the room and konk out. The good news is that your sock is waiting for you the next morning, when you're fresh as a daisy and ready to tink out your boo boo.

sockcloseup.jpg

Another thing I learned: some sock yarns don't repeat; they rhyme. This Trekking XXL yarn is kind of nutty, but as you reminded me when I was casting on, "You don't want to knit a sock that looks like a store-bought sock." Small chance of that.

Anyway, I'll finish up the toe part soon and let you know how it goes. I'm game for double points, for toe up, for the whole shmagilla. I've got it bad, and that ain't good . . .
Love,
Ann

PS Can you tell it's our 16th wedding anniversary? I think we're up to, like, the polyester anniversary. Happy anniversary to everybody else who is celebrating today. Yay mahwidge!

Posted by Ann at 12:27 PM | Comments (84)

May 10, 2006

No-Sew Mitered Square Blanket: An Epic Tutorial

stack.jpg

Dear Ann,

This is the story of a hardheaded woman and her dream of making a mitered-square blanket without sewing a stitch.

It is not a short story.

But it has plenty of pictures. Feel free to take a break any time you need to.

Old-School Mitered Square Blanket

Let's review: A regular mitered square blanket is composed of blocks of 4 miters that are sewn together like this:

psychohammock.jpg

It's not that hard to sew up 4 miters into a block, but each block is 3 straight seams (2 short and 1 long). Multiply that by 20 blocks, and you've got 60 seams, or 120 ends to weave in. You've already got a lot of ends from the stripes and the whole Joy and Spontaneity of Changing Colors Whenever You Feel Like It.

So, the first strategy in achieving the No-Sew Blanket is to eliminate the sewing of the blocks together. This turns out to be EASY. You just pick up and knit 4 miters onto each other to form each block of 4 miters.

Clip n' Save: How To Knit 4 Miters Together

Step 1: Knit Miter 1

blockmiter1.jpg

You knit the first miter the regular way, with one exception: Use the backward loop method of casting on. (Note to fretful ones: I know this cast-on looks loopy and sloppy, and that we don't ordinarily use it, for that reason. But in this case, it's an absolute necessity that the cast-on be loose. Trust me--it will not look sloppy in the end. All will come right! Believe!) Purl the first row (WS), and then knit the miter in the usual way.

When you're finished, orient the miter as you see in the photo above, with the cast-on edge along the top and left side, like a backwards number 7.

Step 2: Knit Miter 2 Onto Miter 1

blockmiter1pickup.jpg

With RS facing, pick up 36 stitches (or half the number of stitches that were cast on for Miter 1) along the top cast-on edge of Miter 1.

blockmiter2caston.jpg

Using the backward-loop method, cast on another 36 stitches.

Purl the next row (WS).

Now you are on the RS, and you will knit Miter 2 exactly the same way that you knit Miter 1. Have at it!

Step 3: Knit Miter 3 onto Miter 2

blockmiter3.jpg

Turn your block (now it has 2 miters!) so that the cast-on edge of Miter 2 is at the top. With RS facing, pick up 36 stitches along this edge, and use the backward-loop method to cast on another 36 stitches. Purl the WS row, and then knit Miter 3. Knock yourself out!

Step 4: Knit Miter 4 onto Miter 3 and Miter 1

miter4howto.jpg

This is the part where you get to feel like hot stuff. Orient your 3-miter block as shown in the photo. Pick up 36 stitches along the top edge of Miter 3, and pick up 36 stitches along the remaining cast-on edge of Block 1--no need to cast on any stitches for Miter 4. Purl the WS row, and knit Miter 4 exactly as you have knit the previous miters.

Wa-la! You have a block of 4 miters that are joined together with NO SEWING. Because you were so smart and used a loose backward-loop cast-on, there is no tight ridge showing where you picked up stitches. The thing is SEAMLESS. It's wonderful. You're happy.

But .... do you notice something? If you can bear it, read on.

Laying Out The No-Sew Blocks To Form Squares

insideoutblock.jpg
The block you've just knitted has the miters facing outward, as shown.

squareblock.jpg
The old-school mitered square was a regular square, as shown.

If you want a 'square' motif for your blocks of miters--meaning you want complete, enclosed squares--you will have to plan and lay out your blanket in a different way. It took me a while to get my head around this, but here's how I did it.

mainblocks8.jpg
I knitted 8 'main blocks' composed of 4 miters knitted together.....

sideblocks12.jpg
....12 'side blocks' composed of 2 miters knitted together (following Steps 1 and 2 above)....

cornerblocks4.jpg
...and, finally, 4 'corner blocks', which are single miters. (Yes, one could knit them into the corners later, but they wouldn't face in the direction I wanted them to.)

Hello. Are you still with me? A couple of you? Good. I love you guys.

Joining the Blocks

We come now to the Heart of the Matter, where the rubber meets the road. Remember, I started out trying to knit a NO-sew mitered square blanket. I have a deep need to show my work here, to prove to you how hard I tried, and to show you the alternatives as they played out, so that you will not judge me too harshly, gentle readers.

My plan was to KNIT the blocks together, by picking up stitches along the adjoining edges of blocks, and then doing a 3-needle bind-off of those stitches. I had done this previously with great success, when I joined the blocks for the Jamie Blankie. But here's the thing: the blocks for the Jamie Blankie were already sewn into squares. Why is that significant?

3nbo.jpg
Because this is what happens when you do a 3-needle bind-off. In effect, you are knitting one row on each side of the bind-off. This creates a small band of visible knitting (on the right side) and a cast-off edge (on the wrong side). It's attractive, and if the squares were already sewn together, it would form a lovely windowpane border between the squares (as it did on the Jamie Blankie). But in this case, I really wanted those striped miters to be joined so that they form squares. I wasn't happy with this method. It looked fine, but it didn't look like I wanted it to look.

What was the alternative? I considered admitting defeat and getting out the Chibi. Mattress stitch looks impeccable on the right side. It's gorgeous. I'm good at it (I've had practice). But the wrong side of mattress stitch --- not so much. And I still clung desperately to the wreckage of the NO-sew dream. (Thank goodness I'm not prone to melodrama.)

There was only one remaining no-sew solution. A solution I did not want to face.

Yes. We're talking the Anti-Knit. The Big C.

(Crochet.)

In her seminal work, 'On Crochet and Crocheting', Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined the now-familiar Five Stages of Crochet. This model has been widely adopted and applied to many other situations where someone suffers a loss or change in social identity, such as when a knitter is confronted with the soul-killing possibility of having to crochet.

The five stages go in progression:

Stage One: Denial ("The Kay does NOT do The Crochet.")
Stage Two: Anger ("I hate crochet! Crochet must die!")
Stage Three: Bargaining ("If we can put a man on the moon, and if Lion Brand has a knitting pattern for the Martha poncho, surely there is a way to knit this. Work with me.")
Stage Four: Depression ("20-20-20-4 hours crochet-ay-ay....I wanna be sedated.")
Stage Five: Acceptance ("Give me the hook: I'm going in.").

OK, crochet people, calm down. Retract the hooks. I'm just kidding! The Kay loves the crochet! I don't indulge, personally, but I respect it, I admire it, I would never talk trash about it or even mention its long association with petroleum-based fibers and beer-can hats.

I put my head down, picked up the hook, put right sides together, and set to work. Here's what I got: up close,
right side, wrong side, and...

crochetlongshot.jpg
...long shot.

It's not bad. It's one heckuvalot less fiddly than the 3-needle bindoff, and it looks really neat on both sides. But it's still not as clean and crisp, on the right side, as mattress stitch.

So I threw in the blankie. I shut up and sewed. Here's the result:

baseblanket.jpg

I'm sorry it's not the NO-sew mitered square blanket. But it is an alternative that gives the same effect with much less sewing and lots fewer ends than the old-school way. Both of the no-sew methods--3NBO and crochet--would work really well to join knitted squares, especially in situations where a small visible strip of stitching will melt into the background.

Now, I embark on the border of this thing. In the round, mitered at the corners. Not a single stitch of sewing, I promise you.

prebordercushion.jpg
(The cushion is the handiwork of the multitalented Lisa of Bird in the Hand. When I was taking photos I was shocked at the similarity in the colorways of cushion and blanket. Without even knowing it, I return to my favorites again and again.)

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:49 AM | Comments (72)

MDK Clipping Service

newspaper.jpg


(Seriously, people, I'm BACK, and as obsessed with Squareish Knitting as ever. Brace yourselves for a righteous clip n' save post. With thanks to Jan for the link to the cool new toy here.)

Posted by Kay at 01:28 AM | Comments (19)

May 09, 2006

Dateline: Four Various States in the Midwest

kcskyscape.jpg

Dear Kay,

I hope to heck you make it back from Omaha in one piece. I feel like I've left a trail of wreckage. I just located my camera's USB cable--finally!--which had wormed itself into a shoe which was hidden under a bag of yarn which was crammed in the bottom of my suitcase. Which was full of clothes. Which are grubby. Plus one leftover sweet roll from your mom, which I will treasure like it's the Nun Bun.

I sure do miss being on TV. The glamour! Trying to figure out whether the Frisbee-catching dog is going to get top billing, hoping against hope that there's a chef in the next segment, learning about traffic patterns in major metropolitan areas. Hearing the sentence, "Knitting's not just for grandmas anymore." Hearing the question, "So why do you think knitting is so HOT right now?"

KSHB Action News Channel 13 Or 41 If You Have Cable was great for hanging out with our peeps, Wheel of Fortune stars Pat Sajak and Vanna White and our really great new friend that guy wearing brown clothes. I was grateful that this station had the appropriate shrine so that I could make my daily devotional.

kcmeredith.jpg

I keep thinking about Meredith. Meredith, the heart and soul of "Kansas City Live." Do you think Meredith really liked learning how to knit on the air? She seemed like she wanted to learn, but frankly, I think she was a little more excited about the Frisbee-catching dog.

Talk about lucky--KSHB Action News Kansas City Live Channel 13 Or 41 had TWO chefs! It being Cinco de Mayo, we participated in a Salsa Showdown. Here's Chef One. Here's Chef Two. Guess who won!

It was great to drive from Kansas City to Omaha, which meant in one day I was in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska--a four-state day. While you and Brother Van were in Van's car ahead of me, I was driving poorly and singing the lyrics to every single Dixie Chicks song. I still miss that Schlotzky's Deli with the computers. All that face-to-face interaction with you was starting to get to me. Thank heavens for email, you know?

The Plot Thickens: Omaha

omcookie.jpg

This cookie was less distressed when it was sitting on the cute table at String of Purls with its other Nebraska-shaped cookie pals. String of Purls is a beautiful shop, and we were warmly greeted by

omfeltedboxes.jpg

felted boxes (note the contrasting edges!) and

omwashcloth.jpg

a deeluxe washcloth, not to mention the supergracious Anne and Robyn and Louise and Becky One and Becky Two, and a bunch of fantastic knitters who had come many miles to sit, knit, share, show, shop, and spin.

omsalem.jpg

Salem just knocked me out--her first project, this buttonhole bag, won First Place in the Iowa State Fair. A BLUE RIBBON, people. Let me tell you, a blue ribbon is NOT SO EASY TO GET (she said bitterly).

omkiri.jpg

Her mom likewise knocked me out with her Kiri shawl. Gargeous.

omkayandlady.jpg

This wonderful woman gently suggested we get ourselves a copy of Color Works: The Crafter's Guide to Color in order to help us avoid a future of knitting hideous-looking Moderne baby blankets. Man, can I take a hint.

omcalamari.jpg

That's Calamari Knitting, y'all. This is the first example of this book project I've seen--this enterprising knitter chopped up eight T shirts and is making herself a rug that is almost an inch thick. The colors are great together.

omscribbe.jpg

And here's some juicy-looking Scribble Lace. From a very new knitter, no less. Love it.

The Plot Gets Really Thick

People kept coming up to me at String of Purls who were your family. Brother Guy. Sister Amy. Your friends from days gone by. And, finally, after four years of blabbing away the days with you, after this, that, and the other, finally, I finally met Most Moisturized Mom. The Mother of all Moms. She's just amazing, Kay. Lucky you. Lucky me!

Love,
Ann

PS I can't get over all the projects you guys are showing us at the Mason-Dixon Knitalong. So much fun!

Posted by Ann at 01:25 PM | Comments (17)

May 06, 2006

Yarn Shop and Oh, Sooooooooo Much More

Dear everybody,

First of all, great news! Really great news. Intrepid blogger Cristina has created a rumpus room online for everybody working on projects from the book. Her Mason-Dixon Knitalong has appeared like MAGIC, and it's going to be a ton of fun for everybody who'd like to share tips, UFOs, FOs, suggestions, mint julep recipes, and deep philosophical musings about life.

You can post your own entries, photos, mint julep recipes (sorry I already mentioned that) once you've emailed Cristina here to let her know you'd like to join in. Or you can email her directly from the knitalong site.

I've already seen two ideas I'm going to mooch shamelessly. A thousand Valomilks to Cristina for setting up this knitalong.

Question: What Is a Valomilk?

That is only one of many, many questions we have asked since arriving in Kansas City/Overland Park Missouri/Kansas. (This is a Valomilk, shared by the brilliant librarian Barbara. Its "Flowing Center" will strike fear into the heart of any yarn shop owner.)

Who named this place Kansas City? It's CRAZY TOWN.

I don't know how people can be so calm around here, in a place where you've got state lines running down the middle of the street, tax rates that change by city block, and peculiar happenings in suburban yarn shops.

SO MANY QUESTIONS. We hardly know where to begin.

Question: What Is A Burnt End? Does It Require Ointment?

We arrived in Kansas City on Quatros de Mayo, ready to celebrate Mexico's independence or whatever. Start early! Kay's remarkably patient brother Van met us at the airport--and I have to say, it is a relief finally to meet some of Kay's kin. I was beginning to think she'd made them all up. (She'd tell me, "Yep! We each have three-letter names. Rilly!" And I'd believe this?) By the end of our visit to her home town of Omaha, I hope to collect the whole set of Gardiner fambly trading cards.

Kansas City is famous for its barbecue. Writers have built careers on Kansas City barbecue. Van immediately led us here. We had this. And, of course, these. What digital photography cannot capture is the perfection that is the burnt end (that pile of stuff on the plate). It's pork, beef, whatever, slow cooked over hickory flame, then, as if that wasn't enough cooking, they cook it again. Slap some sauce on it, and those savory tidbits stay with you well into the night. The three of us were struck dumb by this experience.

Until we got to Yarn Shop and More.

Question: What is the "More" at Yarn Shop and More?

Denise Kelley is the owner of Yarn Shop and More. She's a pistol--a fireball of energy and good humor, and she made us feel welcome from the git-go.

We noticed things. Like:

kccarol.jpg

Baby kimonos and pinwheel rugs on the walls. Staff member Carol here reveals a pile of baby bibs and burpies that she cranked for a new baby coming into her life. Love 'em!

We noticed tender old friend reunions:

kcdistanceaward.jpg

College friends who hadn't seen each other in six years. Beth on the left lives in KC. Kirsten on the right drove all the way from Texas and won the distance award from the yarn shop! I loved seeing them.

kctracykimono.jpg

Tracy made her baby kimono from yarn she spun herself. Next time she'll probably go shear her own sheep. Intrepid, she is. She is the sort of person who spends time in the Himalayas on a regular basis. She has a very cool project we're going to tell you about this week.

At one point I lost Kay completely when she discovered

kcdenim.jpg

someone knitting denim. Check it out! I don't know a single detail about this except it derailed Kay for at least ten minutes.

There were

kcbuttonholeduo.jpg

spontaneous displays of buttonhole bags.

There was

kcjosephblankie.jpg

proof of log cabin activity.

There was

kcdishcloth-rug.jpg

a dishcloth rug almost finished.

There were

kcmomanddaughter.jpg

Elizabeth and her mom Christine. Mother/daughter knitting duos are just the best. Mwahs to you guys!

And finally--after the Valomilks and the laughs and the second trip in one day to Jack Stack Barbecue with Denise and Carol and Julie, where (we are appalled to admit) we put the hurt on these--we continue to be haunted by an encounter late in our event at Yarn Shop and More.

As the shop cleared out, a man zoomed into the shop to buy a book for a woman who asked him to pick one up for her. We dutifully documented the presence of A Dude Buying a Book for a Woman, and Kay began to sign the book. At that point, The Dude stood behind Kay and started doing this. Then this. We were totally cracking up at this spontaneous application of back-rubbing and figured this guy had to be, like, the owner's nutty brother-in-law, or SOMEbody known as a spontaneous rubber of backs.

But no. Mr. Relaxation was a new face at Yarn Shop and More. No one knows who he was . . . or where he came from . . . or if he'll return . . .

So we ask: Who is this man?

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 12:47 PM | Comments (47)

May 04, 2006

One More Thing

Dear Ann,

joseph.jpg
This is the scene this morning as I pack up my bits and bobs and head for Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.

For all you Omahans, and those near enough to Omaha to get there, it is dang hard to find Shamrock Road. But it is dang easy to find String of Purls. It is in the cute little mini-mall across Pacific Street (non-Omahans: Pacific Street is a very major street) from Westside High School, cross street 87th Street. The mini-mall is called Countryside Village (aw!). String of Purls is in the further back of the two buildings of shops.

I am uploading pics like mad so that I can blog about the No-Sew, erm, Low-Sew Mitered Square Blanket, which is whole and ready for its luxurious border. How did it get that way? All will be revealed.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 06:55 AM | Comments (27)

May 03, 2006

Run for Cover, Y'all

tevascarf.jpg

Dear Kay,

Meant to give the red alert that we're going to be out and about! Please come hang out if you're in the neighborhood (the neighborhood being the entire Midwest). Bring your knitting! If you fail to bring knitting, I may ask you to help with my scarf, which Caren was so helpful with at Stitch DC.

Thursday, May 4
Yarn Shop and More
6:00-8:00pm
7309 West 80th St.
Overland Park, KS 66204 (that's Kansas City, for the geographically impaired, which includes me, especially because there's such a thing as Kansas City, Kansas, AND Kansas City, Missouri. I'll be lucky to make it out of the airport at all.)

Saturday, May 6
String of Purls
1:00-2:30pm
8721 Shamrock Road
Omaha, 68114

Back to figuring out what a root canal is.

Love,
Ann

PS For anybody wondering about the particulars of the scarf above, here ye go (and thank Teva Durham for the idea, not me!)

I love the Slinky Tree Bark Rib Tunic which appears on the cover of Loop-d-Loop, Teva Durham's wildly original book from last year. It features wandering 2 x 2 ribs which really do look like ribbing gone nutty. The thing is, this is a sweater that I'm not inclined to wear, given the word slinky--it really does need to fit on the snug side so that the ribbing opens up and you can see the wanderings. Soooo, I used her 16-stitch/16-row chart as the basis for this scarf; I started the chart whenever it felt right, and it was going SO WELL until I lost the chart somewhere between New York and Washington, at which point I just started plain old 2 x 2 ribbing. So the wandering ribs peter out about halfway. I wish they wandered all the way around, but ah well.

One increase and one decrease per row is all it takes to start the madness. So cool! Highly recommended.

Yarn: Schaefer Helene (50% wool/50% silk), size 8 (5 mm) needles.

Posted by Ann at 12:04 PM | Comments (24)

Home Dentistry

Dear Kay,

How funny that you're ditching the knitting for quilting! I'm done with the knitting thing, too! I found these awesome tools on eBay for MY new hobby.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:15 AM | Comments (25)

May 02, 2006

Be Very Afraid

O Ann, Dear Ann, Help Me Ann,

janome.jpg

This just came in the mail.

I blame it on the Japanese craft books. Damn them and their mercilessly cute zakka, their log cabins with crazy words, their spare spaces saturated with wabisabitude!

I don't even know what a zakka is. Never mind! Must. Make. The Zakka.

I also blame Joelle, who showed me this machine and told me it was plenty good for a humble log cabinner such as moi. (Follow the link, in her 'Links', if you dare, to the purveyor of the Janome Jem. Turn back Dorothy!)

And if you thought the dashboard buttons were cryptic, get a load of

janomestitches.jpg
...the Janome Jem dashboard.

I guess I'll see you. Sometime. Take care. Good luck with the knitting and everything.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 05:49 PM | Comments (36)

There's No Place Like Home

Dear Ann,

Last Thursday evening, I must have dozed off for a minute or something. I blame it on low blood sugar and the balmy air of late April. When I came to, this is what I saw:

knittycityknitlitnite.jpg
Well, that doesn't narrow it down much, does it? What are we talking--Huntsville? Nashville? Some other Ville? Where was I?

Cool as a cucumber, I called upon my inner Double Agent to assess the situation. I looked around for clues as to my coordinates.

As a public service, and in the spirit of "You May Be a Redneck If....", I offer the following guide for anyone who finds herself in an Unidentified Yarn Store Location.

You May Be On The Upper West Side If....

christinelavin.jpg
There is a lefty folk singer standing to your ... well, left actually....and she sings a hilarious song ("What Was I Thinking?") with brand new verses about the Prez (Iraq) and the Vice-Prez (recent incident involving friend who was not, as it turns out, a quail or even a bird ("My Bad!").

In this case, the folk singer in question is the inimitable, the adorable....Christine Lavin. Yes, the Christine Lavin who wrote that song "Attainable Love" that I used to croon to Hubby (before he was Hubby, when we were just Best Friends Forever...and Ever)! The Christine Lavin who wrote a piece in Knit Lit 2! Who invites knitters to come early to her concerts to sit and knit with her!

You May Be On the Upper West Side if....

naomivest.jpg

The next person who gets up to speak is a Political Activist Knitter (wearing a FANTASTIC Rowan Denim vest and beanie). This is Naomi, who wrote a piece in Knit Lit the First about a knitting project that she did to raise awareness of how to compost in your apartment using red wiggler worms. (People knit and crocheted hundreds of worms for her, and the Queens Botanical Garden hosted a three-week installation called The Dirt Museum. Knitted worms. Think about THAT.)

naomiamulet.jpg
Naomi has moved on from the red worms. Her latest activist knitting project involves amulets like the one she is wearing around her neck. (Um, the one with the Trojan in it.) Naomi is raising awareness of AIDS prevention, especially as it affects the female population over age 50. If you are chatting with Naomi and you don't get your consciousness raised, you need to get your consciousness checked out.

OK, so I didn't need more than those 2 clues to tell me that I was home on my sweet Upper West Side. I was at Knitty City, New York's new yarn store on West 79th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway, at a special evening of knitting and readings from the Knit Lit series. Shameless sponger that I am, I got to read at this event even though I have not contributed a single word to the Knit Lit series. I got to read your piece from Knit Lit the Third, "In Which It Is Discovered That I Am Not Ann Patchett." Sa-weet!

Other scenes:

knittycitylinda.jpg
Linda Roghaar, literary agent to the stars, creator and editor of the Knit Lit series. As always, impeccably turned out in a handknit and charming the pants off of everybody.

knittycitycathy.jpg
Cathy Cooper, author of the piece with the best title EVER: "Pound of Love". Other readers were Nilda Mesa (if I needed a third clue that I was on the Upper West Side, Nilda is an artist who writes about and designs for knitting and crochet in English and Spanish), and Jenny Feldon.

Knitty City is fast becoming a local institution; it seems like it has always been here. The hello is always friendly, the yarn is bursting off of the shelves, and the events are frequent, fantastic and open to all knitters. Thanks to Pearl for hosting and Nilda for organizing!

Love,
Kay, pseudo author and Ann Shayne Impersonator (Hey I Totally Gave You The Idea For That Story)


Posted by Kay at 09:47 AM | Comments (21)
Copyright masondixonknitting.com. Page design by fluffa! Hosted at Pretty Posies. Powered by Movable Type 3.2