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

February 28, 2007

A Revelation

Dear Kay:

First, some quick video schnippets for ya.

Etsy. I always wondered where our favorite handcrafty online marketplace got its name. Etsy.com. I always thought it was sort of like itsy, as in "itsy bitsy." Which doesn't mean much, but it is cute. Turns out that Et sy is Latin for "and if." I learned that and a lot more from this TV profile, which captures all the promise and anticipation which comes with "and if." Such energy! And I loved seeing our pal Robin's daughter Julie, making her beautiful handmade books in the studio of Etsy--her books and cards and (dreamy) scarves are here. Remember: if you support an artist, you get two extra free days in Heaven. That's just a fact.

And here's a News Channel 5 report about a prayer shawl group in Nashville. This schnippet features Lindsey Hill, one of the cool midwives who knits at the library each month. Warning: heartstring-tugging ahead.

My Knitting, O My Knitting

On Saturday, my Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk yarn arrived from kpixie.com. I had expressed concern to Pixie Jessica that the shade I chose wouldn't be murky enough for my taste, and she wrote back, "If you like murky, verte is for you."

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Verte. Which means "green." But when I opened my little box, I was delighted to find that the Blue Sky people are nothing if not subtle thinkers when it comes to color, because this yarn is blacker than the cover of Smell the Glove. None more black.

Anyway. The yarn. I know you're probably sitting there thinking, Girl. Why would you go for such a grim shade when the Alpaca Silk shade card has the most luscious colors of any shade card in the history of yarn?

Well, it's because I've been doing some soul-searching. I wear my semi-felted-by-accident, non-handknit gray cardigan every day. It's because I like it. I just do. I really, truly like dark sweaters, but I've always avoided making them because it seemed like it wouldn't be any fun to knit a gray, black, or so-dark-it's-not-really-green yarn.

But this Verte. It seemed like the right time, the right yarn. I started work on the silk shrug, and I gotta say: I love knitting a long swath of stockinette using size 3 needles and gloomy yarn. I'm freeeeeeee!

I finally got this yarn to show its sheeny green soul when I placed it on my black coat and used a flash:

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Which goes to show you, after all, that there's a little green in all of us if we look hard enough.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:22 AM | Comments (38)

February 25, 2007

Reading Rainbow

Dear Ann,

Ah, Sunday afternoon. There's nothing like it for dozing off while reading the book reviews, waking up with newsprint ink on your face ... so very pleasant. You've got nothing better to do, right? So listen up and I'll tell you about a few new knitting books I've been peering into. They are in 3 categories, and I'm saving the weepy category for last. (The only emotion better than laughter through tears may be knitting through tears.)

Category One: I Didn't Expect To Like This, But I Did

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Twinkle's Big City Knits, by Wenlan Chia

This book is not my typical fare. (The understatement of the year, and it's only February.) Super-skinny high-fashion models wearing super-chunky high-fashion knits. Imagine using worsted weight yarn to knit a sweater for a Barbie--that's how many stitches are in these sweaters. The sizes run so small that even slim knitters will have to re-jigger some of the patterns to fit. But here's the thing: Wenlan Chia has figured out how to shape chunky knits so they don't look so...well, chunky. I saw some of the garments in person at TNNA last June, and was surprised at how well-shaped they were, given the huge stitches and fat yarns.

How do I define 'huge stitches'? Nine stitches over 6 inches: a gauge I generally avoid like string bikinis.

So imagine my surprise to find this little item. It's absotively FOB!

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(I just made up Fob. It means 'Flattering on Old Broads'.) I sincerely dig this tuxedo jacket, and not just because the model looks so eggzackly like me. (That's a JOKE people. I'm not COMPLETELY lacking in self awareness.) I love the cleverness of the construction, and it can't hurt that it's only 18 rows before you get to the armholes. It would take an afternoon to knit the thing, a weekend at most.

And look: it's a CHANEL JACKET!

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All cute and stuff. Finally, maybe, the pattern for my well-ripened stash of Rowan Cotton Braid. Remember that orange-sherbet Cotton Braid? The one I elbowed somebody out of the way to get at because I'd been told they were running out of it ANY MINUTE? Well, I got it, and then I couldn't figure out what to knit with it. I think this jacket might be just the ticket. The Fake-Chanel-over-jeans look is so 2004, I know. But that's about my speed. I'm not scheduled to wear anything from 2007 until at least 2010. Now, where did I put my size 19s?

Moving on To Category Two: Books That Were Written For My Personal Needs

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Amy Singer's latest: No Sheep For You: Knit Happy With Cotton, Silk, Linen, Hemp, Bamboo & Other Delights

Linen! Hemp! Bamboo! The True Story of Silk! I've been snuggled up with it all weekend. I love it. So much knowledge, delivered in Amy's patented smart-girl style. And the patterns are great. But I won't say anything more at this time, because I'm sposed to be reviewing it for an upcoming edition of Knitty.com. Must save my erudite analysis until then. (Just wanted to let you know, there is a linen top in there by Jillian Moreno that just about Did Me In. A must-to-knit, and there are many others, in all sorts of non-critter fibers. Let my sensitive-skinned people rejoice!)

The One That Made Me Cry

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The Natural Knitter.

I did not know Barbara Albright, but I wish I had. I didn't realize she had died until I read the jacket flap saying, 'Barbara Albright was a seasoned writer as well as a passionate knitting and craft designer.' Right under a beautiful picture of her in a sheep barn, so lively and pretty. This book is a wonderful tribute to her. Many designs are by Barbara, and many more were contributed by some of the great names of our craft. All of the contributors are pictured in the back, with descriptions that make you laugh with joy that such a diverse assemblage of minds and hearts can be in love with the simple, solitary act of knitting. There is Anna Zilboorg, an 'Anglican solitary in the Blue Ridge Mountains' who 'at present...comes out of the hermitage only to teach.' Anna's on the page after Debbie New, who designed her contribution one summer between working the locks on a narrow boat barge in England. So many others, too.

And the patterns are extraordinary.

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This one is by Norah Gaughan. So interesting and so flattering. At least I hope it's flattering. I've got one more center-cable in me, by cracky! But what project am I already swatching for?

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This one. The Cast-Off Sweater. On her narrow boat barge, Debbie New invented a stitch pattern involving a whole lotta casting off. Could anything be more appealing to a veteran log-cabinner such as moi? I love to cast off! It makes my whole day!

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It's an intriguing puzzle--you cast off every stitch in the row, but you don't have to pick up stitches or cast on new ones to maintain the same stitch count. How can that be? Debbie figured it out. I don't even want to think about how many months I could live on a narrow boat barge and not think of anything half this cool. Really, the UN should be giving Debbie problems to work on when she's on vacation.

Anyway, that's my sampling of pattern books that have come my way. There are more coming out every day. Which is a great, great thing for knitters.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:52 PM | Comments (35)

February 22, 2007

I'm Back, and I'm Organized

Dear Ann,

I see that while I was away, you had the FREAKIN' AWESOME IDEA to make a Jack White Shrine in the Form of a Sweater.*

I think that in some states this is called Stalking and is a Class B Felony. But perhaps in Nashville, chasing a public figure with bizarre knitting is considered Fan Mail.

As you know from working with me in the past, I am a detail-oriented person, an absolute fiend for organizing and prioritizing. (HA!) Therefore I have started a Project File for this sweater.

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How's the swatch coming along?

Love, Kay

*I like this idea almost as much as Emma's suggestion of handknit Daisy Dukes. In Rowan Denim, I hasten to add. We want our Daisy Dukes to have class.

P.S. Today's cool toy courtesy of Catalog Card Generator. I really miss card catalogs. What was your favorite section of the Dewey Decimal System? Mine was the 900s. Wish I had a set of those orange biographies from the school library.

Posted by Kay at 05:27 PM | Comments (35)

Wooly Bullies

Dear Kay,

It's no This Is Spinal Tap, mind you. But I think the mockumentary genre has found rich new turf to plow. The knitting world is every bit as nuts as rock 'n' roll. Keep it coming!

Shrug Begins

So yesterday, Pam left a comment in which she pointed out that the shrug I've been eyeing is on sale at kpixie.com. I can't believe how fast I could navigate my way to kpixie.com--it was sick. But also a bargain. So I now have eight skeins of that Alpaca Silk headed my way. You'd think I could wait until it got here to start swatching.

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But you know how it is. Project anticipation has got to be the most powerful emotion on earth. My lone bit of Alpaca Silk is making up the softest little swatch you ever saw. Size 4 needles. Instantly addicting.

Is there a knitalong for this thing? Surely to Pete there's a knitalong somewhere?

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:09 AM | Comments (27)

February 20, 2007

Scared Straight, Man: A Cautionary Tale

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Dear Kay,

Jeez, I'm still jumpy after yesterday's trip to the movie palace with four boys.

We're waiting to turn from Woodmont onto Valley Vista or Vista Ridge or Valley Forge--the road that is known mostly as The Way to the Mall. I've got my turn signal on, sitting at the bottom of a hill, waiting for the traffic to clear so I can turn left. Above the din of the fellas I hear a shriek of tires, behind me, rising fast, and I look in the rear view mirror to see a maroon Saturn (a car, though it might as well be a planet) heading for us. Not heading for us--it's righttherebehindus. In slow motion I think: I'll pull over (but my arms can't work), and I'll honk my horn (to alert somebody? who? the car behind me with the shrieking tires?) that I'm there with these four children in the car. It's too loud--the screeching tires can't possibly stop before hitting us--and I brace myself for the impact. Can'tbelieveit, I think.

It doesn't happen. I look into my mirror again (were my eyes closed?), and I see the sheet-white face of a girl, very young, with eyes wide open. She has what looks like a 1982-era frizzy perm. She is frozen. She can't believe she didn't hit us. I can't believe she didn't hit us. I look across the road at a car waiting on the side street, and the poor gray-haired woman in a Subaru can't believe she didn't hit us. She holds her cheeks like they'll warm her palms. I'm about to have a stroke, and my hands shake as I steer the car through the left turn we were waiting to take.

The boys didn't even hear the shriek of the tires; David thought it was Clif howling the way he often does. If I hadn't explained to them what had just happened, they wouldn't have even known.

I would bet a hundred bucks there was either an iPod or a cell phone not far from that girl's hand. I'm not saying this was some kind of omen (IT WAS AN OMEN, Y'ALL), but it was scary enough that I hereby swear that I'll keep my phone and my iPod in my purse whenever I'm driving. Because the fact is, the sheet-white face could have been mine, albeit with lank and ungroomed hair, and the carful of boys could have been somebody else's loud crowd going to the movies.

I don't mess with my gadgets when there are kids in the car. But by myself, I have been known to take a call on the fly. Or to dig around for a playlist. How horrifying to have to say to a police officer, "Uh, I was just skipping that Patty Loveless song I don't really like."

On a Lighter Note

Thanks, everybody, for such a choice smorgasbord of knitting ideas. And thanks especially for Smartypants Meg BRAGGING about knowing where the White Stripes are recording in Nashville yet somehow failing to say where. That's just great. As IF I would go ask for an autograph. Or a photo. Or a lock of hair, sheesh. It's not like I would knit a freaky tribute sweater or anything.

OK so maybe I would. But I'm going to let that little idea marinate for a bit while I work on that shrug. I've been patting a lone skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk like it was my long-lost cat. (That's it above, shade 130, Mandarin, for the curious.) Lush stuff. And the shades are gorgeous--there's not a color I wouldn't want to use for this. How often can you say that about a yarn?

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:30 PM | Comments (49)

February 19, 2007

Ball and Biscuit

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Dear Kay,

As I sat in the kitchen eating my biscuit this morning, I realized I have a problem. I need something to knit. It's just a fact. I find myself in the awful, awkward position of knitting all day, yet not really in a position to blawg it, because it's all stuff for our next tome, Mason-Dixon Knitting 2: The Shining. Believe me, it's going to be chockablock with earth-shattering innovation, this new book. I weep at my own brilliance. How could that index finger, I think as I gaze at my hand, be so loaded with talent? But if I show off my idea for a fun-fur-lined bustier with intarsia lips on the bosoms, well, there goes THAT surprise.

The trouble is, I like writing about what I'm knitting. This is a knitting blog, fer heaven's sake. So I need a project, a palate cleanser, something easy and compelling. One discovery made during the recent Months of Knitting Incessantly is that I really do like to knit. It's fun, you know? What a hobby! I like it so much that I don't much care what it is that I'm knitting. To that end, I could use advice on what I ought to knit next. Here are the options which come to mind.

1. A beautiful shrug I saw someplace which uses Blue Sky Alpaca Silk yarn. Oh--here it is. Is it a shrug or a sweater? It's BOTH! Isn't it pretty?

2. Something using a yarn I have never used before. In that category are bamboo, cashmere, silk, 100% polyamide, hemp, camel, rabbit, dog, cat (intentional cat, that is).

3. My Jack White Tribute Sweater. The White Stripes are coming to Bonnaroo in June, and I need to GIT READY FOR THAT. A portable shrine. What more could a person want?

4. Anything, anything at all. What are you guys knitting that's fun? I'm, like, totally in. Girl needs a project.

Love,

Ann

PS Yes, that's Koigu up there, waiting patiently for its destiny.

Posted by Ann at 09:24 AM | Comments (76)

February 14, 2007

I Am Still Chuckling about Monday

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Dear Kay,

Happy Valentine's everybody! Here are some tulips for ya! Sweet Hubbo and the fellas brought me a bookay.

Here was the scene on Monday at the downtown Nashville library:

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I love the fact that nobody could sit still. Lots of looking and comparing and advising.

Chattanooga Knitters On The Move

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Meet (clockwise from bottom) Beth, Sandra, Becky, Cynthia, Honorary Chattanoogan me, and Karen. Road trippers, the lot of them, three hours from home. There was a lot of yarn-crawling in the works for this group; if I'd planned better, I'd have ditched out and stowed away in the back. Come back soon, y'all! We agreed that Chattanooga and Nashville ought to be sister cities, knittingwise. Spreading understanding of foreign cultures and all that.

Speaking of foreign cultures, the MDK All-Time, Never-to-Be-Topped Distance Award goes to Becky (top left), who less than 48 hours earlier had been on EASTER ISLAND. Easter Island is as far away from Nashville as a human can get without launching herself into space. It is 2,000 miles from Easter Island to the next chunk of land. Becky seemed remarkably lifelike, considering she had been traveling 24 hours to get home--Easter Island/Santiago/Miami/Atlanta. She claimed that Easter Island and Chattanooga are by some fluke in the same time zone. I smiled politely and said, "Of course they are, honey."

I asked her about the Jared Diamond book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, which is a cheerful little tome I picked up last year when learning about another one of those great dead civilizations, the Maya. Here's Diamond's take on what happened on Easter Island. Becky and I stood for a minute as we contemplated the decline and fall of massive civilizations. Then we started knitting again.

Coleman Strikes Again!

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Last fall, Coleman completed a Koigu log cabin blanket that was swoon-worthy. Well, she's been dipping into the high-end yarns again. She started with Koigu and started a log cabin. Once she got a square, she started adding strip upon strip to the sides, resulting in a Wrap of Twelve Skeins. Gargeous!

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Girls and Boy

Right in the middle of the knitting circle, a pair of groovygals--newfound friends--cavorted solid, without stop, in a most extreme display of girl behavior:

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Their parting was like the last day of camp: "BYEEEEEEEEEE! SEEEEEEEE YAAAAAAA!" BFF. Totally BFF. The universal binding power of knitting (even when it's your mom who's doing the knitting).

Last, but definitely not least, I'd like you to meet Rick.

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Rick is seven. Rick was allowed to ditch school so he could come to knitting at the library. I had the great luck to sit next to Rick, who was not shy about correcting me when I got it wrong.

Example 1. Me: "Look, y'all! Rick is knitting a log cabin blanket!"

Rick: "It's not a log cabin; it's a courthouse steps blanket."

Example 2. Me: "Here, Rick, I'll pick up some stitches for you." [I start in with his Susan Bates needle.]

Rick: "You really ought to be using a crochet hook for that."

Example 3. Me [handing knitting back]: "There you go, Rick! A whole row picked up for ya."

Rick: "You missed the first stitch."

What a guy! A whale of a knitter and good conversationalist, too. We talked yarn, we discussed the merits of the Lunchable, we watched the My Little Pony action in the middle of the circle with some mystification.

Next gathering: Monday, March 12, Nashville Public Library. Precocious boy knitters, all girls, world travelers, Chattanoogans are welcome.

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 01:36 PM | Comments (36)

February 13, 2007

A Swatch a Day

Dear Ann,

Go over here and lose your mind. I have long admired what Nona does to a log cabin.

(When I say "admired", I mean "envied with a raging fervor that reflects quite badly on my character." But then, you knew that.)

I mean, look at this one. It had me weeping.

Now Nona is swatching a crazydivine swatch every day.

How will I get any work done?

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:16 AM | Comments (21)

February 12, 2007

Crafty Sunday

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Dear Ann,

Sunday morning, 10 a.m. Carnage on the living room floor.

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Our friend Julia (age 10 But MUCH Older Than Carrie) was with us. Julia is a Mad Hot Beader. Julia can wangle her parents and grandparents into purchasing some serious beads. They bought her beads in LONDON for Pete's sake.

The Manly Art of Beading

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Joseph's particular area of expertise is in Sales and Marketing. He made me a beautiful necklace of extreme symmetry. He tried to get Hubby to buy it for me for 8 dollars for Valentine's Day. Hubby saw him coming and said no dice.

I did not know this when I handed over my 8 dollars for the thing. Hey--we must nurture the crafting impulse.

We did get some more sewing in, including Julia's maiden voyage on the Janome. My conclusion from teaching two ten-year-old girls how to sew on the Janome Jem Gold is that despite its low price and light weight, it is a fine, fine machine. Those seams are going to be straight no matter what you do and the only trouble comes when somebody forgets to pull the thread back and the needle comes unthreaded. Next lesson is Threading the Needle.

Another thing I learned is that next time Julia and Carrie start freehanding dolls and doll clothes, there are going to be strict limits on their stash-grazing range. It's too painful to have one's precious yardage cut into. Scraps and uglies only!

We Pause To Honor the Handknits of the Past

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Julia's mom Jane wearing a cardi that her Aunt Ellen made 30 years ago (or more). Jane had the good sense to grab it when Aunt Ellen was retiring it from the active duty roster. (The women in Jane's family are all the same size--halfpint--which makes it handy to pass sweaters from generation to generation, forever and ever amen.)

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Let us reflect upon the grosgrain buttonhole reinforcement. Ellen used good wool and a classic pattern, and took great care with the finishing. These wood buttons will not be falling off in our lifetime. Expect to see Jane hauling ass down Broadway with her granny cart, wearing this sweater, in 2037.

It is so gratifying to see a well-crafted handknit going strong, pill-free and enjoying life. I resolve to sew my buttons on better. People: let's revive the grosgrain buttonhole reinforcement.

In honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, some trivia:

1. He hated the nickname Abe.
2. Lincoln's mother and sister made all the family's clothes from buckskins and from homespun fabric made from the cotton and flax that they grew, picked, carded, spun and wove. My takeaway: Dress your boy in natural fibers, and someday he may save the Union.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 08:29 AM | Comments (34)

February 11, 2007

Runaway Climate Control Technologist On The LOOSE

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Dear Kay,

Quick reminder: Knitting at the Nashville Downtown Public Library on tomorrow--Monday, Feb. 12, noon to 2 pm. Directions here. Come one, come all--it's going to be a superfabby gathering this month!

Tomorrow is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Have I mentioned the crush I have always had on Abraham Lincoln? Can you IMAGINE having a president like that in this day and age?

As for the photo above, whaddya make of "Quarantined (Not Released)"? What's in there? If it's not released, what's it doing driving down Granny White Pike?

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:41 AM | Comments (13)

February 09, 2007

700, or A Whole Lotta Gibble-Gabble

Dear Ann,

Let me be the first to nyah-nyah-nyah-NYAH-nyah atcha. I have carefully plotted and planned, blogged and refrained from blogging, in a strategy to maneuver myself into the position of posting our 700th entry. Yay us and our 10th-grade touch-typing! Let no one say that you and I cannot generate a mighty river of words. Since word-generation has been my goal since birth*, I am pleased and proud. (*A family story has it that when I was 2, my Great Aunt Carrie took me (her first niece ever--girls had skipped a generation in the Gardiner line) to her office at the Omaha Public Power District, where I was passed from lap to lap and commended for my great beauty, intelligence, and exceedingly prim behavior. (Did I mention that Aunt Carrie was a supervisor?) Listening to me hold forth, one of Aunt Carrie's colleagues famously remarked, "Who put a nickel in her?")

Obviously somebody did put a nickel in me. I think somebody, at some point, must have put a nickel in you, too, Missy.

Today's nickel brings us a rather mundane report from the Knitting Front.

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This is Ingrid. Remember Ingrid? Since our last correspondence about Ingrid, I have finished the knitting, blocked the pieces, set in the sleeves--SET IN THE SLEEVES, PEOPLE!--sewn the side seams, and woven in all the ends. Ingrid fits. (Let that one sink in.) All that remains is the simple matter of picking up stitches for the button, buttonhole, and neck bands, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit of knitting, and sewing on the buttons.

What does this mean? This means that Ingrid is in grave peril. Ingrid is at the most fragile point, for one of my projects, in the journey from yarn to FO. Please light a candle for Ingrid. In an effort to keep Ingrid on artificial life support, I have decided that I need to wear her to synagogue tonight. (Yes, I'm trying to get the Higher Power to take an interest in whether my knitting gets finished--is there anything wrong with that?) Stay tuned for news of Ingrid's fate.

Argosy 3: The Blankie

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If you ever stop and wonder, 'What is Kay doing right now?" it is safe to assume that I am knitting on this thing. Referring to my Argosy-inspired baby blanket as 'this thing' does not mean that I have tired of this endless parade of ecru squares. To the contrary! I love an endless parade of ecru squares. The Argosy Blankie has reached the halfway mark (a row of 17 squares). From here on out, the rows of squares get shorter.

The realization has dawned that I am going to need to put a border all around the sawtoothy edge of this blanket, to stop it from curling. This has not discouraged me. Anybody who has any good ideas for a picot edging that can be knitted stitch-by-stitch onto an edge (in the manner of crochet, or cro-Kay), please send them in. (There's no hurry!)

Quiltz for Kidz

I'm excited because this weekend Carrie and I are going to continue piecing the top of the quilt we are making for her room.

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Our quilt was inspired by this image in this Japanese patchwork book. ( I do apologize for that very addictive link.) We've been collecting fabric for the past six months, searching for all things calligraphic, Japanese, and rich in cute animals. Carrie regularly sidles up to me at the computer, drapes her arms around my neck, and purrs, "Let's see what's new at Cia's, hmmmm?"

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Here's our pieceworker-in-training. Her first time with her foot on the pedal of the Janome. I realized she was old enough to operate the machine on her own when Ann HB sent me this photo from Berkeley:

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...of her Emma, operating her own Hello Kitty model Janome.

Coast to coast, girls are quilting. We'd better enjoy it before they start agitating for better wages and working conditions. Ann reports that she got Emma to hem a shower curtain for her. It won't be long before she'll realize, "Hey! I could get PAID for this."

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:39 PM | Comments (48)

February 07, 2007

Astronaut Night and Other Great Ideas

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Dear Kay,

Too tuckered for much else except to say that tonight's Theme Night Dinner, All Liquids Night, went well enough. The menu: chicken soup (which I didn't have the heart to puree in order to be truly a liquid), apple sauce, a flight of creepy health smoothies that said alarming things like "42 GRAMS OF PROTEIN IN THIS BOTTLE." The green one was going to be a hit until it was discovered that it contained broccoli. Ovaltine milkshakes turned the tide of opinion on the meal.

Next up: American Night, which edged out Dutch Night and Western Night.

I can hardly tell you how Theme Night has transformed my feelings about fixing dinner. It was David who engineered this idea, which was born of justified boredom at what I made for dinner. ("Mom. I don't mean to be rude, but I really am not loving dinner these days.") We do it once a week or so: the fellas put themes into a pot, and at the conclusion of a Theme Dinner we pick a new theme. So far: Japanese Night, Astronaut Night (for which I served military MREs which were as close to NASA food as I could get, and about which Hubbo complained like a new recruit at boot camp), Vibrant Colored Food Night, German Night, Stadium Food Night, and All Liquids Night. Beige Night is still lurking in the pot.

I'm no Martha Stewart, people. It was pure, stinkin' boredom that led us to this. And it is, I have to say, really fun. As long as there's dessert, you can't lose.

Love,
Ann

PS Free bonus! Here's a time eater/procrastination aid for you!

Posted by Ann at 09:17 PM | Comments (48)

February 06, 2007

Weirdness, Plus Anna's Thumbholes: A Tutorial

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Dear Kay,

I keep thinking about weirdness--you know, the Six Weird Things that everybody is posting on their blogs. I was discussing this last week with the cab driver who was taking me from the airport to your apartment.

(By the way, I gotta say, your apartment is so far uptown that I felt like I was taking a cab back to Nashville. Honey, I know you have been stalwart over these past months, living in a whole nother neighborhood while they tidy up your digs, but great googlywoogly, I don't know how you've managed to keep it together, what with the uptowning and the downtowning and the go-gets and the princess-style telephone with a rotary dial. Bless. Your. Heart.)

The cab driver was a Nicholas Turturro kind of guy. Young, with a Bluetooth hooked over his ear. I gave him your address and asked him if he knew where that was, and he said, "Oh, sure," and I said, "I figured you knew. I mean, that's what you do" and he said, with a knowing smile, "No you didn't. You didn't think I knew where it was." Ouch!

But he was chatty, and he started telling me about his friend who was getting married after dating some woman for three weeks, and how the guy would have a nice long time to be miserable later. That's when I said, "How weird." He looked up into the rear-view mirror and said, "Actually, there's no such thing as weird," and that's when I told him about all the Six Weird Things that were going around on the knitting blogs. I told him my theory that everybody is weird, that everybody has a weird list ten pages long.

He just laughed. "My conclusion, after driving this cab, is that nobody is weird. You can't really judge anybody. You cannot believe the things that people do in the back of my cab." He said that he doesn't need to watch Taxicab Confessions, because he lives it every day. Live and let live.

It's Knitting, It's Art: A Field Trip

I was glad we got to see Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting at the Museum of Arts and Design, but honestly, it left me feeling extremely unradical. Either I totally lack the subversive impulse, or I am SO subversive that you can't even tell how subversive I am because it's so profoundly underground. I'll let you guess which is more likely.

I like that photo of you a lot. In case you've forgotten, you are participating in an art project: Sabrina Gschwandtner's installation about knitting during wartime. You are knitting a square for Blankets for Recovery, which will go to a soldier recovering in a military hospital. I fixed up some dropped stitches on a helmet liner destined for soldiers who need them. This was my favorite part of the exhibit, because it allows museumgoers to participate. I'm not all that interested in knitting as museum piece. I'm fascinated about knitting as a means to community. ACK! I'm starting to sound like a damn museum catalog. All's I'm saying is that knitting is a humble, simple act, best enjoyed in the company of other like-minded addicts. Lay your politics on top of it if you like--and it's legitimate to do so--but the fact is that somebody started knitting because they needed some CLOTHES.

I found it quite moving to be knitting that helmet liner, imagining all the women in years past who knitted in this way, with utility as the single goal.

There are some cool programs coming up associated with the exhibition. Very sorry we missed the Edible Lace High Tea.

Love,
Ann

PS Slowly but surely, here is Anna's Thumbholes: A Tutorial. I have been cooking it up as a PDF file, but sadly my PDF button is somehow busted, so here it is in a temporary blog form.

Anna writes:

Here is the amendment I made to the Perfect Sweater to include thumbholes.

1. Add 2 inches to the length of each sleeve after shaping (or whatever is needed for the sleeves to reach your knuckles).

2. When sewing sleeve seams, leave a TWO-inch gap unstitched near the bottom (immediately above the hemming on my hemmed version).

3. Blanket stitch around the thumbholes with blanket stitches one knitted stitch wide and one knitted stitch deep.

With your thumbs in the thumbholes the sweater keeps your hands warm. Without your thumbs in the thumbholes it looks pretty much like a normal sweater. My sister has already asked for me to make one for her . . .

Here's how to do the blanket stitch:

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Sew up the sleeve seam (swatch shown here) using mattress stitch, leaving a gap of about 2 inches (5 cm) close to the cuff.

thumbhole2.jpg

Midway along one edge of the open portion, bring the needle through the work from back to front through a knitted stitch “V” one stitch in from the edge on the far side. Pull the yarn through.

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Hold the yarn with your left thumb. Pass the needle through the work from front to back through the next knitted “V” stitch along. Pull the needle towards you, making sure that the needle passes over the yarn held with your left thumb.

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Repeat to form a series of right-angled stitches (blanket stitches).

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At each end of the gap, form a blanket stitch along the seam.

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When you have sewn around the gap, pass the needle through the first stitch from front to back to hold it in place. Knot or weave in ends.

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The end result.

We must get Anna a blog STAT.

Posted by Ann at 10:57 AM | Comments (27)

February 05, 2007

The Beverly Hillblankie

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Dear Ann,

OK. Let me just lay an image on you. I was going to show this to you when you were here in person last week, but to tell the truth I wasn't brave enough to risk your unrehearsed reaction. This thing requires a couple of seconds to take it in, compose oneself, and think of something superfakeynice to say. I give you, the Abe Blankie:

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Green Acres is the place to be
Farm Living! is the life for me
Land spreading out so far and wide
Take Manhattan, just give me that countryside!

Now. You know I love me some Rustic Mitery Goodness. Even to my rustic mitery eye, though, this one is not All That It Should Be. Even after a bracing blocking, I'm not sure I can lay this on a new baby and his beaming parents. I think maybe I'll go with more of a sure thing, giftwise.

Luckily, I have a new obsession in blanketeering. I'm having a rip-roaring time turning the Argosy scarf pattern into an elegant baby blanket.

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New York is where I'd rather stay
I get allergic smelling hay
I just adore a penthouse view
Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue!

(I realize the blankets are singing the theme from the wrong sitcom. The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction are all mixed up in my memory, in a very pleasant way.)

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This is Rowan Denim in ecru. To make a bias-square baby blanket, I made the following modifications to the Argosy scarf pattern: I added 6 stitches to the central stockinette portion of each square. This means my initial cast-on was 15, there are 9 stitches between the 2 RS decreases, and I am casting on 14 stitches each time I add a new square. There are 16 rows of stockinette to each square. The second of the 3 charts can be completely ignored, since there is no 'straightaway' section to the blanket, as there is to the scarf. (If you are knitting Argosy, all of the foregoing will make sense to you.)

There is something so satisfying about this pattern.

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I think it has to do with stringing those lines of paired yarnovers across such a distance, never missing a one. It gives one that 'damn I'm good' feeling.

Happy Monday! Are you done with the book yet?

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:33 AM | Comments (51)
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