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

March 31, 2007

Dateline: Somewhere on the Oregon Coast

Dear everybody,

So we're on Day Three of Cat Bordhi's Magical Moebius Festival, just us and the hard-corest sock and moebius makers of the universe. This pretty much sums up how things are going this weekend. This, plus sock knitting:

Full NewsChannel 5 Storm Tracker team coverage to come. Our heads are about to blow up with the awesomely cool wonderfulness of it all.

Love,

Ann and Kay

Posted by Ann at 11:41 AM | Comments (24)

March 28, 2007

Dateline: Portland

Dear Kay,

So I'm sitting here in the Portland, Oregon, airport, waiting for you to show up. All around me I can listen to people talking on their cell phones, and I continue to be amazed at how people will carry on--at a level that we can all hear--about stuff I guarantee you nobody wants to be hearing. It's not eavesdropping that I'm doing; it's the unavoidable sound of talking that I'm absorbing. Hey everybody! You don't turn invisible when you use your phone! Lady! I know your daughter screwed up her flight from spring break in Panama City, but you don't need to have your family therapy session directly behind me--I'm not even a licensed therapist. But come on--she didn't miss her flight because she is getting back at you; she missed it because, OBVIOUSLY, if she's in college and she's in Panama City, she is "hung over." She "blew it." She was chasing the Naked Cowboy down the beach; she was not printing out her boarding passes ahead of time.

The one thing I'm sure about is that the cell phoners are all bored out of their minds--just deliriously bored, because they complain about it in baroque language and with conviction. I think we all know what the antidote for that is. I finished a good foot or so of knitting yesterday, and it was 100% soul-savin' good times all the way. I've never knit so fast in all my days.

I sat next to a pilot on the way out, a chatty guy who was going home after flying ten flights in two days. A cross-country flight to him is like me taking a forgotten backpack to school. Just a little adjustment. He could show me on his cocktail napkin map where we were, based on the landscape out the window. He was happy to tell me all the gruesome hydraulic problems that can happen to planes which are not Southwest Boeing airplanes. I hated to tell him that the fact is that sometimes I fly on those other, "Nintendo" airplanes.

On a Southwest flight, the rule of "open seating" is the law, and none of the seats are assigned, which adds a little drama and potential for disappointment if you're in Boarding Group B. Group A is all smug and "oh I printed out my boarding passes last night"; back in the day, they were all student council presidents and extra-credit suckups. Group C is the Land of the Lost--a more fatalistic and resigned group you'll never see. They're all going into the middle seats. One guy said to me, "I just want a seat inside the plane." But Group B, my group, are the Strivers, the ones looking at Group A and kicking themselves for not printing out their boarding passes twelve minutes earlier yesterday. The Strivers hope against hope that they don't get stuck in the middle. The Strivers want only to be Not in the Middle. They want to be Group A, yet they are not.

So my suggestion for fellow Group B Strivers: sit down in that aisle seat, that coveted aisle seat which you miraculously scored, and start winding yarn. That middle seat beside you will be taken only when the other 174 seats are filled, after the Crying Baby seat is taken, after the Guy With Many Tattoos seat is taken. It is apparently deeply alarming to think that the woman next to you is going to be swinging yarn around for four hours.

More later. I'm already loving Portland: they pour coffee in the ventilation systems. Everything smells like coffee! You can drink coffee by breathing!

Love,
Ann

PS We had a hard landing in Portland, and my ball of yarn launched like a cannonball, shooting under the seats ahead of me. Four rows up, a burly guy holds up the ball and says, "Yarn?" which launched an admirable effort to return the ball to me. It was like lassoing a renegade guinea pig.

Posted by Ann at 11:01 AM | Comments (66)

March 26, 2007

It's Hard Being Orna

Dear Ann,

So, I'm totally hung over. No, not from my birthday. I know this is a shocker, but a 49th birthday is something one really has to work at getting excited about. I always enjoy my birthday, mostly because of the wine. But still. 49. Woop-de-freakin'-do, if you get my drift. Don't get me wrong--I'm happy to be here! Loving every minute! Cherish is the word I use to describe!

What I am hung over from is the Cake That Nearly Killed Me.

Last Thursday, I left the knitopian scene at Strawberry Fields and headed to my pal Orna's house to make The. Cake. This was the cake for the Cast Party of the 4th Grade Play. The Cast Party Committee assigned Orna, a celebrated baker, to make the cake. I assigned myself to assist Orna in this endeavor. By which I mean, to keep Orna on Planet Earth. This is not easy.

Here is a typical conversation.

The Scene: Orna's Kitchen, past bedtime for all children except mine and Orna's.

Orna (speaking in charming accent of her native Tel Aviv): KAY! I don't know what we are going to do about the LOGISTICS of the REFRIGERATION! Please tell me: How are we going to transport this cake! My GOD KAY IT'S A HUGE CAKE! We'll never do it! How can we do it? Can you tell me, HOW?

Kay (totally charmless accent): Erm, Orna, as I was saying, could we not solve the whole problem of refrigeration by eliminating the creme patissiere and its 18 eggs, and the 9 pounds of buttercream frosting? How about if we just made, like....[steps back to shield herself from the blast of Orna's anticipated reaction].... a regular cake? We could just make a chocolate cake--a really GOOD chocolate cake, Orna, an UNFORGETTABLE chocolate cake--and decorate the living HECK out of it, just using a type of frosting that could--you know--sit out overnight without breeding lethal bacteria? That would make life a whole lot easier than your plan to divide the cake into regions, and have each of us take our region of the cake home to our refrigerator (which we have emptied of other food), and then transport our region to school tomorrow, to refrigerate it in the school cafeteria's walk-in unit (which has been emptied of other food), and then to reassemble the decorated cake in time for the party? I mean, don't you think?

Orna: No, no, no, no, no! Without the buttercream and the creme patissiere ----oh KAY! I forgot to tell you that what we are going to do is, we are going to mix the creme patissiere with whipped cream, to LIGHTEN IT, so it's not so HEAVY--without all of these dairy products, Kay, the cake will be NO. GOOD. We cannot serve such a cake on such an occasion. No, no, no.

Kay: [Sighs]. But Orna. The dairy is what is making all these logistical problems. The dairy, and the fact that we don't want to kill everybody after the play.

Orna: You know what? I know you're right. But I cannot do it that way.

Kay: Why not?

Orna: [sighs] It's hard being Orna.

We had this conversation about 20 times. Sometimes I would send somebody else to have this conversation with Orna. (One person, who obviously didn't know who he was dealing with, uttered the unfortunate phrase, 'Duncan Hines'.) We kept having this conversation. Orna kept making batches of buttercream. Eventually I gave up. After hours of collaboratively decorating the cake to recreate the setting of Charlotte's Web, in the middle of the night, I drove 2 regions of the cake to our as-yet-uninhabited apartment, where I placed each region on a shelf of our as-yet-unused fridge. The next morning I picked up my regions and, cursing at Hubby in a most shameful way---for it was not Hubby's fault that I was smeared with buttercream and stressed out of my ever-lovin' TREE, but somehow it seemed that way at the time--got my regions to the school cafeteria. Thence to the party. Thence to the Glory Of It All.

Here's the cake. Here's Orna.

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All was forgiven when the kids stampeded over to see the cake. They marvelled at its size and at the parental labor that obviously went into its rustic decoration. This was no store-bought cake, for sure. Since they had so recently completed their own labors over the sets and learning their lines and singing their songs, they really appreciated it. Pictures do not do it justice. It was a radiant cake.

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I would be remiss if I did not share a picture of Fern Number 2 of 6. My Carrie was born to play Fern Number 2 of 6. She ROCKED Fern Number 2 of 6. I was proud to see my adamantly unadorned child wearing a bandana. That's Method Acting. That's commitment. That's craft.

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Here, Fern Number 2 of 6 leads Wilbur Number 1 of 8 into the Zuckerman Barn. Attentive readers will note that Wilbur's costume appears to be vintage Balenciaga. The capelike design was to ensure that Wilburs 1 Through 8 could all wear the costume and easily get it on and off. Ensuring that there was a costume ready for each player at the appropriate time was a logistical challenge to rival the Invasion of Normandy.

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In 1945 they didn't have XXL ZipLoc bags.

Back to The Cake for a second: I would like to thank Amber for her suggestion about crushed Oreos looking eggzackly like potting soil. That tip was crucial to the success of our manure pile. Crucial, I tell you.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:00 PM | Comments (65)

March 24, 2007

Hope You Have a Good One!

Dear Kay,

They say it's your birthday!

Love love love,

John Lennon

Posted by Ann at 08:46 AM | Comments (93)

March 23, 2007

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

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Imagine no dropped stitches
It's easy if you try
No twisted cast-ons
Alpaca: all Blue Sky
Imagine all the people
Knitting socks today...

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Imagine there's no muggles
They all learned to knit
Once we got them started
They found it hard to quit
Imagine all the people
Knitting socks in peace...

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You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will knit as one


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Imagine you saw Harlot
Wearing pants today

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Her hair sans body lotion
And that was kinda disappointing (in a way)

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Imagine all the people
Wearing colorful and very elaborate knitwear

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You-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo, you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will knit as one


Posted by Kay at 12:35 AM | Comments (145)

March 22, 2007

Portland Abundance Ahead

Dear Kay,

As much as I am enduring enjoying spring break, I am just a teeny bit excited that we're heading out next week to Portland, Oregon. (Yes, I have been singing that Loretta Lynn/Jack White song. Endlessly. Must locate a sloe gin fizz before it's all over.)

Her Abundantness, Pat, of Abundant Yarn, writes: "Hey y'all, we are getting tons of phone calls about your upcoming visit to Abundant Yarn. The parking lot has 11 spaces but there is plenty of on-street parking and we are also on bus line #70. Call ahead to reserve a book." 503-258-9276.

We're be there with the Tote Bag of Love next Wednesday, March 28, 5 pm. Hoping very much to see Ms. Stitch Marker and the Angry Chicken and the Super Eggplant and . . . and . . .

If you're a Portland knitting blogger, it would be so great if you would tell us your URL so we can pre-visit with you.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 01:15 PM | Comments (41)

March 20, 2007

On the Road. Literally.

Dear Kay,

I have a correction to make to our book.

On page 90, under "Places We Have Tried to Knit and Failed," I wrote: "Even the stretch of I-24 between Murfreesboro and Winchester is not straight enough to allow for driving with the knees."

I am here to tell you that as of Sunday afternoon, that stretch of I-24 can now officially be put in the category of "Places We Have Tried to Knit and Succeeded."

As you may have heard on CNN (Mom Held Hostage Day 4 Continuing Coverage), our family is in the midst of spring break. In a desperate gambit, I took wee David up to our mountain hideout for an overnight jaunt filled with DVDs, knitting, and wanton Pop-Tarts.

(With my Vermeer fever stewing, I re-watched Girl with a Pearl Earring--oh, I've read the book, seen the movie--and while it's not a great movie, it's a Colin Firth movie, and that's plenty when you're in Grundy County, Tennessee, on a Saturday night.)

On the way home, about fifteen miles south of Murfreesboro, I crested a hill and just about slammed into this:

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This hot-air balloon trailer had stopped because, in front of it, another 2,000 vehicles had stopped, too.

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Like, stopped.

As in, I'm-ditching-this-mess-and-going-back-to-Pulaski stopped:

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This became a popular thing to do, but we didn't really have anyplace we wanted to go except west on I-24. So David and I started to look around at the people who were suddenly our neighbors.

Not going 70 miles an hour gives you time to notice things. When a guy six cars up got out of his pickup to root around in back for something, I wondered if we were heading into one of those situations where the National Guard has to bring in water trucks and diapers.

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When I saw this well-provisioned fella, I knew where to go when times got rough. "He's got Cheetos, Mom," David pointed out.

David then noticed this:

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pretty much at the same moment I looked over in the passenger seat and saw this:

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After a peek through the camera obscura at what a traffic jam might look like to Vermeer, it took about a second to start this:

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After a good hour and the finest knitting of my life, we made it to an exit to nowhere and wandered around long enough that we saw some awesome yard art. And we thought hard about calling up this one:

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But the fact was, we had such a fine time stuck in traffic that we didn't really want to be sprung.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:37 AM | Comments (41)

Meow Meow Mr. Rogers for President Meow

Dear Kay,

Remember that tender moment at the Smithsonian last year, when we gazed upon the cardigan of Mr. Rogers?

A few months ago, I was knocked out by the following clip--it's 1969, and Mr. Rogers is in the lion's den, testifying before the Senate in an attempt to preserve funding for PBS. I filed it away to show you on Mr. Rogers' birthday. He would have been 79 today; he moved on to the Neighborhood of Make Believe four years ago.

Boohooing my way through a YouTube clip! As my favorite Mr. Rogers puppet, Henrietta Pussycat, would say: Meow meow happy birthday, Mr. Rogers meow! Meow meow what a guy meow.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:15 AM | Comments (51)

March 19, 2007

The Shut Up And Rowalong

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Dear Ann,

You know that I support you in all that you do. You are my co-blogette. There is nothing stronger than the bond between co-blogettes. When you call out my name, you know wherever I am, I'll come running, like a bridge over troubled water.

But ooo-wee, T'Shayne! I just do not get the concept of your Slogalong. Me, I got no problems with the endless stockinette. I love to knit. Knit knit knit, that's me. Never happier than when knitting. Sure, now and then the rows get a little long, and I wish I could turn around in the middle and go back the other way, but then I remember: it's knitting! It's all good. It's the not-knitting parts of life that give me trouble.

A case in point is the Argosy Wrap. With the added boost of 4 airplane flights and a couple of days sitting around a hospital, I turboed through this 9-skein whopper in 7 days. Even for me, that was a lot of knitting. But I have to say that I enjoyed it, even the stockinette, and especially the tasty bits of yarnover-K2tog-k3-SSK-yarnover-k1. It was a just-right knit.

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Here it is blocking.

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I recognize that my blocking methods are, by some standards, subpar. No grid. No pins. Seat-of-the-pants. But that's me in a nutshell. I laugh at grids and pins. The poor recipient of this wrap will never know how much pointier those points could be.

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And here it is, finished and stretched out as best as I could to display it.

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This wrap is more beautiful when it is wrapped around the shoulders. I'll get the recipient to model it for me. This may take some begging. Please stay tuned while I beg.

Sail on, silver girl.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 01:24 PM | Comments (44)

March 17, 2007

Shadowy Thinking, Plus Yarn

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Dear Kay,

Ohhhhh . . . it's . . . spring break . . . and I do not have a Plan.

I now question my decision to let this spring break be a loosey goosey aw-let's-just-chill kind of spring break with my two boys.

I've already overseen the construction of a cement volcano, a trip to Michael's, and four hours of card-throwing practice. There are playing cards all over the house. There are nine days to go.

Upside Down

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We also visited with Leonardo da Vinci yesterday. As Belinda is my witness, I bought the makings of a genuine reproduction Leonardo da Vinci camera obscura back in December, in London. Now THOSE were the days, back when Mother knew how to fill up a week.

I've kept the camera obscura makings (or makin's as we say down here) by my sink, where I've eyed them often, wondering when the perfect moment would arrive for putting it together. I knew the camera obscura was some sort of precursor to the camera. But I'd never seen one in action.

Friday was the day. Mostly, cameras obscura get glue all over your floor, and fingers, and your son's fingers. But the glue disappears after you let it dry for "a few hours." (By the way, what kind of direction is THAT? I'm sitting here writing knitting directions all day long, and it is just not cool to say "knit a few hours." Where is the precision, people? Would LEONARDO say to let his camera obscura dry for "a few hours"?)

ANYway, it dried, and despite the fact that Leonardo da Vinci probably didn't have laser-cut camera obscura makin's, I felt a moment of great communion with the guy when I got my first peek into the window.

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It's just a box with a lens in one end, and a translucent screen on the other. I flipped this image, because the image in a camera obscura appears upside down. Ghostly. Dreamlike. Very beautiful. Everything you see in a camera obscura looks like a Vermeer painting.

Which may be no coincidence. However vague the directions were, they included a tantalizing comment. Apparently, everybody's favorite artist, Vermeer, may have used a camera obscura in composing his paintings. Here's a fascinating piece about a scholar who really wanted to figure out whether this was true.

Scholars are great, aren't they? Always worryin' about something. Always thinkin'.

I wish I could see all of life through my camera obscura.

Is Yarn Going Out of Style?

I have been buying yarn like it's going out of style. I keep seeing new yarns that are truly, truly irresistible. I cain't hep myself. Right now it's yarn with a handwritten tag that really makes me nutty. If somebody's taking out a ballpoint pen and scrawling on a tag--in this day and age where my seven year old can print out NFL team rosters on the computer--it's special stuff. Etsy.com, as you might imagine, is big trouble for this sort of thing.

For instance, this:

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All Spun Up yarn.

Hand dyed, handspun by Kristin of All Spun Up. Made of Bluefaced Leicester wool. "The Bluefaced Leicester should have a broad muzzle, good mouth, a roman nose, bright alert eyes, and long erect ears. The color of the head skin should be dark blue showing through white hair, with no wool on the head or neck." Just the way I like my men . . .

Consider this pair of guinea pigs:

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Sophie's Toes sock yarn, hand dyed by Emily Parson. Emily is a quilter of some renown--you can see her love of color here. I got to meet Emily at the great Chicago Knit-in of '05; who knew I would come across her hand-dyed sock yarn purely by chance on Etsy?

And look at these:

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Malabrigo Lace 100% Baby Merino Wool. Shades 99 Stone Blue, 102 Sealing Wax, 69 Pearl Ten.

I had never heard of Malabrigo until we had the Future Search for the Perfect Yarn, and people kept talking about Malabrigo. I finally saw some a while back, and I was knocked out by the shifting solid shades. Clearly something good is happening when you dye yarn in a kettle.

And now I discover a laceweight version? 470 yards in a 50 gram hank? For ten bucks? The Uruguayan goodness is too much! I must go lie down now.

By the way, the Malabrigo yarn portraits over at Brooklyn Tweed are practically lewd. Go there to see the worsted weight of this glorious yarn.

Get Your Groan On

And finally, the Slogalong is almost ready to go. If your favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character is Eeyore, this is the knitalong for you. Email me if you're working on a project that will not end, and you need a little company. A bunch of us are making the Blue Sky Alpaca Silk Shrug, but we welcome anybody trying to finish something that simply will not end.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:54 AM | Comments (26)

March 16, 2007

Snowy

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Dear Ann,

My first day home, and it's a snow day. I really would have preferred a school day. But it's a snow day.

Despite the circumstances, or maybe because of them, I had a good time in Omaha. In Omaha, my childhood is always just around the corner. Sometimes I seek it out, driving slowly past old houses, but sometimes it jumps out at me. For example, as I was pulling on to Highway 75 on my way to pick up mom at the hospital yesterday, I slowed down to get around a road crew that was clearing brush from the shoulder. A bear of a man in a neon yellow vest-- tossing a tree limb into the back of the truck like it was a rolled-up newspaper--waved at me. It was Uncle Pauly! Uncle Pauly is only a year older than me. We went to the same high school. I would pass him in the halls and say, 'Hi Uncle Pauly.' (Are you amazed that I survived high school? Could I have been a bigger geek?) Uncle Pauly was on the football team (in Nebraska this is not mere royalty, but immortality). I needed all the help I could get, popularity-wise. I heart Uncle Pauly.

I had seen a lot of Uncle Pauly these past few days, as Mom's branch of the family is quite orthodox in their observance of Old-School Hospital Visitation. This goes back generations--my great-aunt Bet could settle into a relative's hospital room for weeks. If the patient did not want her there, that was just proof of the gravity of their condition. Some of our best Family Togetherness Times have been at the bedside of a beloved relation who is just trying to get some sleep. In a year of good health, we might only see each other on Christmas and Thanksgiving (and Highway 75). Bad health years, we get a chance to catch up with each other. So I'm up to date on Uncle Pauly, Aunt Liz (Mrs. Uncle Pauly, also my age), Uncle Terry (an age appropriate handsome dawg of an uncle) and Aunt Sue (Mrs. Uncle Terry), their kids and their kids' kids. Good times!

Another blast from the past occurred as I was driving alongside a McDonald's (don't judge me--I was caffeine- deprived) to the drive-thru order box. Through the window I spied Leroy and Annie! The parents of my BFF Since Second Grade, Laurie Ann. So naturally I parked the car and went in to say hi. Leroy is the man who taught me, at a tender and timid age, that just because a man has red hair sticking straight up and a voice like Popeye, and he is growl-shouting, 'HOW ARRRRRRR YA KID????!' while placing you in a head lock-- doesn't mean he is not a big ol' sweetie pie. Forty years on, and he still greets with me 'HOW ARRRRRR YA KID?" Annie is a saint on earth (obviously). She made all of Laurie's and my Home Ec sewing projects, sunbonnets for us and clothes for our cornhusk dolls for the Nebraska Centennial Year (1968), and hula skirts for our 'study' of Hawaii. When I was in college, Annie let me stay over with Laurie and come home later than my mom let me. (Still mad at Mom about that. I was in COLLEGE. O the humiliation of a curfew.) It was so reassuring to see that they are still the same. A little white hair, is all.

That's all I've got today--a mini-memoir. I'm on the last skein of Argosy the Wrap, but nobody would want to see a picture--it looks the same as it did on Wednesday, only longer.

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We had fun in the snow, with gorgeous Fort Tryon Park pretty much all to ourselves. Virgin powder! Ice in our faces!

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Happy weekend,

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 03:02 PM | Comments (24)

March 14, 2007

Itinerant Knitter

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Dear Ann,

I'm in Omaha, soaking up the weak black coffee of my youth and enjoying some primo bedside knitting. Most Moisturized Mom was having some problems with her heart, so I was summoned to knit at her bedside and otherwise make myself useful while she had some work done.

I believe I let you know of this unplanned trip by emailing you that 'my ma is ailing'. Regrettably, in times of crisis, I do lapse into cheesy hickish dialect. Thank you for understanding.

When in Omaha, I also listen to the country station on the car radio. We have country radio in New York, of course, so I don't know why this is an Omaha thing for me, but it is. Today I became the last person in America to hear Shania Twain's "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?". I can't believe it took me 12 years to experience this admirable song.

Isn't that the most cheerful cheatin' song ever?


MMM sailed through her ticker fixer-upper and is now much more rhythmic, cardiac-wise. If the Homeland Security Administration had a threat level advisory system for my mom, 'not wearing lipstick' would be Code Red--Head For the Hills With Your Shotgun. So I knew she was all fixed up when I arrived this morning and found her sitting there with her makeup on. If you forget what room she's in, just follow the scent of Germaine Monteil Royal Secret eau de parfum. You can't miss it.

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When you combine Airplane Knitting with Bedside Knitting, you can really make progress. Here is my Argosy Wrap in Noro Silk Garden #88, midway through skein #6. The pattern calls for 8 skeins of Noro Kureyon, which has comparable yardage to the Silk Garden, but I have 10 skeins in my stash. The recipient of this wrap is a tall, long-armed beauty -- yes it's my Freshly 50 Friend -- so I am thinking of going to at least 9 skeins.

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My flights home tomorrow will take 6 hours. I'm getting kind of cocky that I'll be able to finish this very long piece of knitting this week.

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 01:51 PM | Comments (52)

March 13, 2007

Road Trip, Slogging, Cheerfulness, and Bumper Stickers for Sale

Dear Kay,

We have a gathering, a hoedown, a knitting party in the works, and I am beyond excited.

Everybody in Portland, Oregon: Abundant Yarns will be hosting us on Wednesday, March 28, 5 pm. We'll visit, yak, sign your book (any book, really!), and marvel at the heated footbath that seems to be a fixture at this wonderful yarn shop.

This will be our only shop visit in the Northwest. Can't wait! Do come!

We're in the area for Cat Bordhi's 3rd Annual Magical Moebius Festival and debut of her new book New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I have heard that this new book will blow our minds. Which I don't doubt, considering that I'm still working on the old pathways.

Knitting, Aye, the Knitting

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The Silk Shrug is coming along in its gloomy, steady way. I have reached the section of the shrug called the Bermuda Rectangle. It's 28 inches long, 18 inches wide, and I may never emerge from it.

I am so glum, in fact, that I am going to start a knitalong--nay, a SLOGalog--in order to bring together the stalwart knitters of this lovely, long, lonesome project. If you're interested in slogging along with me, please email me and we'll set up a little global village of like-minded masochists.

In Cheerier Mailbag News

Joanne of Minnesota, yet born in NORTH YORKSHIRE ENGLAND, sends along her latest concoction, a gargeous denim mitered baby blanket. I think it's the cheerfullest thing I've seen all month.

Family Business

My family has started a bumper sticker business.

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You can buy David's right here.

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Get Hubbo's here.

And finally, Clif predicts his future:

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"When I'm 100 years old. . . I will watch TV on a plasma screen TV. I will go to Miami. I will play poker with my friends."

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 12:58 PM | Comments (44)

March 12, 2007

Where The Girls Are

Dear Ann,

So. Here was the situation this past weekend: seven females, ranging in age from 5 to (ahem) 50. (A real RECENT 50, a very FRESH and SPRITELY 50.) We ventured, in a mutually supportive and empathetic way, with plenty of "please"s, "thank you"s, and "don't do that, sweetheart"s, to a house in sunny, springlike UnHampton. UnHampton is a mythical place that is surrounded on all sides by Hamptons; it is in the Hamptons, yet verily it is not of the Hamptons.

We arrived Saturday before sundown, and took up our peaceful feminine occupations. Some of us drew pictures with sparkle pens. Many, many sparkle-pen pictures. Some of us jumped on the neighbor's trampoline, sending a winter's worth of pine cones flying. Others of us opened up a bottle of wine. And then another one. One of us knitted. It was only a matter of time before the whole thing degenerated into:

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A very pink tea party.

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I assure you this was a totally unscripted, impromptu event. I had been saving the silver-plated mini tea set, which was a baby gift for Carrie, for 10 long, pink-free years. Finally, the big payoff. I'm glad I lived to see it.

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Here we have the chief instigator. Baby Rose, who is five and no longer called Baby Rose, wears so much of her signature color that she is virtually invisible in her natural habitat, the Pink Tea Party. Rose's current ambition is to set the domestic and international record for Longest Duration of a Disney World Hair Wrap. I am sorry that I did not get a picture of this most tenacious adornment.

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If you have ever wondered how much sugar could be dissolved in three cups of cool, milky tea, the answer is: a lot. A toy sugar bowl simply cannot get the job done.

Argosy Wrap Up

I wasn't kidding about my almost physical need to cast on the Argosy Wrap. As a sign of my commitment to the Argosy Series, I broke out my treasured hoard of Noro Silk Garden in discontinued (O.The.Horror.) color 88. (Why take 88 away from us, why oh why?)

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Here is my Argosy Wrap, two skeins in. The Argosy Wrap has a long stretch of plain stockinette in each row. This is what I love about it, but in the knitting of it, it has caused me some confusion. Because of the bias, I think, I can't seem to memorize the stop-and-start points of the edging pattern, even in the 'straightaway' section. It's character-building. I'm loving it.

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Photography's poor powers cannot capture the wonder that is Discontinued Color 88. Why must we endure this cruel parting?

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Gather ye Discontinued Color 88 while ye may.

Happy Monday!

Love, Kay


Posted by Kay at 12:45 AM | Comments (35)

March 08, 2007

Blanket

Dear Kay,

Your Argosy blanket is one of your finest moments. I never would have thought to turn that scarf pattern into a blanket. But then, that's why we love you: you never fail to ask the question, "Could this be a blanket?" And the answer is always "Yes. Yes it could."

I was thinking about your fresh 'n' shiny new blanket last night, when I was in David's room hanging out while he was getting ready for bed. Bedtime at our house has a long-standing set of rituals.

I still have a patented series of four songs which, when sung in the correct order, will without fail make Clif fall asleep: "America the Beautiful," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (which isn't really my kind of song, but I started singing it after watching an episode of the Ken Burns Civil War series), "Blue-Tailed Fly," and the killer, "Mr. Tambourine Man." The trick with hypnotizing your children is to start by singing at a chipper pace, then slowing down to the point that "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me" takes about 30 seconds.

I'm kind of droopy right this minute just thinking about it.

But the blanket--David had a handknit blanket given to him by one of his grandmother May's dear friends. From Day 6, I'm guessing, this blanket was with him every night for almost a decade.

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Last night I found the blanket under his bed. It had long ago ceased looking like a blanket, but he always refused to let me untangle it. Well, last night, my 11 year old said I could take it apart.

This is what I found:

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Where did it go? The blanket has vanished! The only parts left are the strips of cables. Did he eat it during the night?

A blanket is a form of immortality, true. Except when it is loved to pieces.

Love,
Ann

P.S. The other day, a 1930 Ford Model A showed up in the driveway, containing Neighbor Judy and her husband Kelly. Their son Andrew provided emergency backup. This was the maiden voyage of the car Kelly took custody of from his uncle. This was its first trip, exactly one and a half blocks, in 30 years.

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I'm guessing it really does take a transplant surgeon to make a car like this run again. So odd to see this thing coming up the driveway!

P.S.S. Knitting continues to inspire filmmakers. A new competition features a film with some fine knitting in it. Go here, then navigate through until you see the film titled "Yarn . . . Good Light Is Essential" by Reka Gacs of the Royal College of Art.

Posted by Ann at 12:04 PM | Comments (42)

March 07, 2007

Sending Up the Bat Signal

Dear Ann,

I knew it had been a while since my last post when a loyal NKR (non-knitting reader) who checks this site just to confirm that I'm (a) alive and well and (b) still twittering about knitting, asked me if we were going to rent out the blog since obviously we are not occupying it ourselves this month.

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The fact that I am overcommitted and undercaffeinated does not mean that I cannot take the time to google for a For Rent sign image.

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When the sad day comes that I am no longer able to waste large chunks of time googling for nothing in particular, it's time to cut off life support.

The Knitting and the Twittering

FO! FO!

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This is the baby blanket that was inspired by the fantastic Argosy scarf pattern. I made it using a stashlet of Rowan Denim's ecru shade that had lain fallow for years, its only crime being that it was not blue and therefore would not fade in a cool way when I washed it. It is very satisfying to use up yarn that you've had for 5 years or more. So satisfying that it should be a sub-hobby. I've been pawing through the stash looking for the next likely stashlet to be consumed. Found yarn! What's not to like?

When I posted WIP pictures of this blanket a while back, a commenter said that she hated to mention it but had noticed that my squares were rectangles. Not to worry! I knew that the denim would shrink lengthwise but not widthwise, so I made my squares 9 stitches wide (exclusive of yarnover borders) but 16 rows long. This was extra knitting, I know. But denim is worth it, and knitting, for me, is a fun thing. Post-shrinkage, I find the squares to be satisfyingly squarish, if not square in a strictly geometric sense.

I was worried a bit about the edges of the blanket curling. (Curling is not a problem with the Argosy scarf, I hasten to add. I think this is because the stockinette squares in the Argosy scarf are small and therefore in closer proportion to the amount of curl-defying garter stitch.) Curling is a bit of an issue when you blow up those stockinette squares and knit a blanket-sized quantity of them. Unfortunately, the possibility of Excessive Curl occurred to me only after I had knit so far into the blanket that I could not bear the thought of ripping it back and adding a bit more garter stitch to counteract the stockinette. Instead I put my faith in the healing power of Cro-Kay.

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Qu'est-ce que c'est, le Cro-Kay? Let's review: After I bound off the blanket, I added an edging that mimics single crochet, but uses knitting needles instead of a hook. (Here's how it's done: Choose a stitch on the edge of the blanket. Any stitch. Pick up a stitch in that stitch, *pick up a stitch in the next stitch, bind off one stitch. Repeat from * ALL THE WAY AROUND THE BLANKET.)

I love the old-fashioned yet clean-lined look of this blanket. I love knitting the rhythmic Argosy stitch pattern. If anyone else wants to make a blanket like this, I have good news! A little bird told me that Vyvyan, the designer of Argosy, is going to write a pattern for a baby blanket. (The little bird in question was Vyvyan.) So be patient, my fellow baby blanketeers, and soon there will be a fab free pattern over at Vyvyan's.

I hope all the Argosy-heads out there have seen this. I can't resist it. It's jumping the line to be my next project. It is all I can do to keep myself typing and not CAST IT ON RIGHT THIS MINNIT. Thanks, Vyvyan!

And now it's back to the Bat Cave for me.

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(The Bat Cave has a plywood floor, but this is Progress. Happiness in this photo is larger than it appears. Any day now, I will have a Cubicle Of My Own. With WiFi and everything. I'll probably leave the plastic on the chair, though. Wouldn't want to get too puffed up with Cubicle Pride.)

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:42 PM | Comments (43)
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