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

October 31, 2007

Misceloony

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Dear Kay,

I've been under the weather, hon, so apologies for the lack of blabbage. I don't really expect you to read all this, but I've got to get it out of my system before it starts to back up. You know that bloggy backed-up feeling?

So much to discuss.

Up First: Disappointing Knitting

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Just terrible, I tell you. There is something about this swatch that absolutely fatigues me. I can barely stand to look at this thing; it's like a boyfriend gone BAD. Just move on, fella. This is NOT WORKING FOR ME.

This may be the single most deflating swatch I've made since the Day-Glo Fair Isle Swatch of 2003. As bad as My First Log Cabin. It may be worse than my all-time worst idea (and I hesitate to mention it, but it's necessary to provide a sense of the scale here) The Fingering Weight Mercerized Cotton Debacle of 2005.

I think you recall the joie with which I bought this yarn at Rhinebeck. Heck, you're probably still living with that joie, seeing as how I could not resist winding this Mohair in Motion into a ball even as we wandered the back roads of Dutchess County. I felt a little bad once I noticed that the interior of your car was completely breaded in mohair. But not bad enough to stop. I was in a fever.

What does this remind me of? I finally figured it out. It's the HoJo connection. I look at this and think of Howard Johnson's. I see this and crave a Howard Johnson's clam roll. But where's the orange? The partial Hojoness of this is what bugs me: if you're going HoJo, go all the way.

There's also some institutional vibe coming off these colors. Plastic tubs from the hospital? A spit-up bucket? Can't put my finger on it, but I'm channeling some maternity-based plastic thing. I feel like I'm going into labor just thinking about it.

I haven't given up on my quest for the plaid mohair coat of my dreams. But I gotta keep hunting for the right colors.

Next Item: Slow Cooking

Now. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the slow cooker: the promise, the hazards.

I'm actually kind of torn about the slow cooker, because the fact is, I spend most days inside my own home, waiting until it's time to run my bus route, generally cultivating my agoraphobia. AW JUST KIDDING! I get out! I go to the mailbox! My home-bound lifestyle means that if I put together a batch of something in that cooker, I'm going to be living with its aroma for eight hours. It's like working at the fried artichoke stand, I tell you--by the time dinner time actually rolls around, I want to flee from the house. "The aroma! THE AROMA! HELP ME ESCAPE THE AROMA!" I have found that cooking stuff on High for a shorter time leaves me more likely to be able to eat the stuff.

But if you work outside the home, the Aroma is pretty much a gift from Santy Claus. You come home, wishing that supper would magically appear--and it does. The aroma! The blessed, DONE aroma! You run TOWARD the aroma, not away from it.

In my slow cooking experiments, I was intially bummed out by what happens to meat if you put it straight into the slow cooker. It cooks, fer sure, but it doesn't brown. It always tastes like it's missing something. Kind of boily, not roasty. And sometimes a recipe just ends up watery. I went on slow-cook hiatus for a while, bumming about this lack of flavor.

Until I found The Gourmet Slow Cooker. It's the slow cooker cookbook that has most captured my interest, and therefore is the BEST. The Gourmet Slow Cooker is the very same book that you just ordered because Mrs. Lear liked it. How's that for a coincidence? I've made several of the dishes in it--the Guinness Stew because I discovered, inexplicably, a bottle of Guinness in the vegetable bin. And the Italian stew, with CINAMMON in it, looked so beautiful that I didn't want to eat. Except that I did.

Most of the recipes call for browning the meat, which definitely flies in the face of slow cooker set-it-and-forget-it dogma. This book is not the greatest if you really want to dump and jump; there's a fair amount of futzing in order to add flavor. But I'm here in this house all day, so I don't mind a little futzing. The author does say that you can skip those steps if time is short. There's a lot of deliciosity in this book, great ingredients and flavors.

Passing On

Three losses in the past days have affected me in different ways.

1. Porter Wagoner. Thin tall man of country. I showed you that YouTube of Dolly Parton singing "I Will Always Love You" to him on his 50th anniversary with the Grand Ole Opry. Such a tender thing to revisit now.

2. Robert Goulet. Speaking of crushes, he was one of my big ones, when he would appear on Lucille Ball's TV show. The world's biggest voice. So dreamy. And I have to say, Will Ferrell's portrayal of him made me love the guy all the more:

on Conan O'Brien

3. Last and definitely not least: Hubbo's great-aunt Elizabeth the Magnificent. She died yesterday at the age of 101--completely and utterly sharp until the very end. She lived the sort of full, connected life that inspired everyone around her. Infectious joy, a million stories, and the MOST amazing, beautiful voice. I just loved the sound of her as she told one of her sparkling tales. She sounded like she was laughing, all the time.

Love,
Ann

PS For today, for every day, the once and forever

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Pumpkin Butt. Happy Halloween, all you pranksters.

Posted by Ann at 12:15 PM | Comments (38)

October 29, 2007

Kaffemania

Dear Ann,

Going through my Lifetime List of Crushes, certain names stand out. Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, Maybe Donny Osmond For 5 Minutes (Hey I Was 13), John Denver, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Clinton....(The path was not always upward, but it was always exciting.) Only rarely have I been granted the opportunity to approach The Adored One Du Jour, to say something stupid that I will forever regret at a moment I will always cherish. Quel thrill.

On Thursday, I am hoping to get the chance to meet one of my most enduring hot pashes. Kaffe Fassett. Yes. Oh yes!

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Here is my (understated and dignified) personal shrine to Kaffe. (Who can look at Sir Thomas More's crimson sleeves without thinking of Kaffe? I know I can't.) While I adore Kaffe, I realize that he is just a man. He puts on his 32-color cardigans one arm at a time. I know that.

Everyone is invited to New York to hear Kaffe speak this coming Thursday evening, November 1, at 6 p.m. at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Haft Auditorium at 7th Avenue and 27th Street. Admission is free, no reservations required (although you might want to come a little before 6 to get unobstructed views of Kaffe). You don't have to wear a Kaffe sweater, or even wave a Kaffe swatch. Just be there! If you see me, say hi. If I am unable to respond immediately due to my heightened emotional state, please understand.

Love,
Kay

P.S. Kaffe Sez:
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a. "Get your colour on!"
b. "Take me to your leader."
c. "Never have your picture taken unless you are standing in front of something as pretty as you are."
d. "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius."
e. "Oh behave!"


Posted by Kay at 03:08 PM | Comments (62)

October 26, 2007

The Runcible Crock Pot

Dear Ann,

This morning, I was marching double-quick to Zabar's to buy a slow cooker. Slow cooker is the new term for The Kitchen Appliance Formerly Known As Crock Pot. I guess the crock pot people are trying to distance themselves from the image damage that's been done by gunky nacho cheese dip and weenies in bbq sauce. Why was I hellbent for crock pot? Because Mrs. Lear has taken up slow cooking. And whatever Mrs. Lear is doing, I want to be doing. Mrs. Lear has got it goin' on.

Passing 79th Street, I saw something that I would like to share.

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(I love his shoes.)

I returned to my slow cooker quest, refreshed. In a mere 4 hours, I will have rice pudding to feed multitudes.

Love,
Mrs. Lear Wannabe in NYC

Posted by Kay at 01:30 PM | Comments (59)

October 25, 2007

What's New In Dishcloth Design

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Dear Ann,

Once again, I've been moonlighting from my full-time job as your part-time correspondent. Now, Miss Ann: I know you love dishcloths. I also know you don't love them as much as I do. You like dishcloths, but you never get a crazy jones to knit 2 dozen dishcloths, ever. So, occasionally, I stray. I hang out with my dishrag peeps, and we get to cooking up dishrags. Crazy stuff.

Over the summer, I heard from Janet Nogle, one of the moms of the Monthly Dishcloth Knitalong (the longest-running dishcloth knitalong in show business). Janet, aka Sistah Wafflestitch, aka Our Lady of Sparkling Formica, invited me to contribute to the second annual Dishcloth Calendar for 2008. HECKYEAH! You don't have to ask me twice! (Dishcloths fall off me when I'm walking.)

Here's my entry for 2008:

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The aptly-named Sunflower. I love it so much that I do not use it as a dishrag. I use it as an oversized coaster, and sometimes as a clock-radio cozy. I just like looking at it. For a dishcloth, it's a lot of trouble. But on those days when nothing but a high-maintenance dishcloth will do, this is the dishcloth to knit.

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This year, the Dishcloth Calendar is NEW and IMPROVED. You download it, for instant gratification. It's well stocked with cheerful knitty goodness for the kitchen, bath and babies. (I know, because I got to photograph some of the entries in person.) For more information or to order, go here. (As I did last year, I will donate any designer compensation that I receive to Oliver's Fund.)

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Speaking of Oliver's Fund, I have finally located some sock yarn to knit a few little squares for this fine project. Not being a sock knitter, I had thought my sock-yarn cupboard was bare. (Oh NO! Need to buy yarn!) Then I remembered that the sock knitters sometimes use the KOIGU, no? I had a bit of that, so I'm off to the races. I think it would be vastly more fun to use leftover sock yarn, but in my case that won't work. As they say in Posh Nosh: "Prepare your leftovers" (of sock yarn) and join in!

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:46 PM | Comments (21)

October 24, 2007

Hole in the Head

Dear Kay,

Clif came home last night, announcing he was DONE with his hat. Which I didn't even know he was making. He's off squirreled away at school, making hats. Apparently the second graders knit all day long. So relieved that they've done away with all those tedious math worksheets.

He showed me how done he was:

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Like, a half inch left. Knitting down to the last drop. He hadn't exactly decreased along the way, and I knew he didn't want to get a tube top out of this thing, so we rigged up a drawstring and ended up with

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70 stitches drawn up into some kind of an oculus or a smokehole or a peephole so I can see inside his head.

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David, resident style consultant, weighed in, said the hat needed another inch or two.

"Ah, I can pick up and add a brim," Clif said.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:50 AM | Comments (48)

October 23, 2007

Look, Look

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Dear Ann,

Anybody in need of a Rhinebeck palate cleanser: I'm here for you. (If you want to wallow in the Rhinebeck, or you don't want to read about quilting, scroll down.)

Here's a situation with which we are all familiar: a special baby is expected. You are going to make something Great for this baby. You spend a lot of time thinking about, and rejecting, many Great ideas. Meanwhile, the special baby is born. The special baby gets busy growing. Before you know it, the special baby is growing UP, without the something Great from your own two hands! Such is your shame at the lateness of your gift that you begin to slow down when you pass a BabyGap. You know it's time to make something, even if it is not particularly Great.

Faced with this situation, and a pile of leftover strips from piecing Carrie's quilt-in-progress, I started a crib sized quilt on Saturday afternoon the weekend before Rhinebeck. Pieced it. Sandwiched it. Machine-quilted it with a skill level that will not bear close scrutiny but might keep the layers together. Trimmed it. Attached a binding. Sewed it down by hand, a slow and satisfying process. On Sunday afternoon, I tossed it in the washing machine, well pleased with myself. Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I give you:

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The Bookish Baby Quilt.

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See all the letters? That's what makes it bookish. (It's for the Bookish Girl's girl.)

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I pray that I got it to her in time for it to be in the running for Favorite Daily Blanket. I would like to see this thing shredded up with use, possessed of a peculiar and beloved smell. (I promise to take it back for repairs, rebinding, cutting down, or adding on. There are plenty more strips where these came from.)

The Prouds and Sorries of this quilt are few. I'm sorry that I don't machine quilt better, but given the mignonne size of my sewing machine, I had less puckering than I expected. (What I learned: for me, the old-fashioned basting-of-the-layers works a lot better than pin-basting.)

The Prouds include the ever-improving straightness of my piecing seams, the beauty of my very first binding, and the success (in its maker's eyes) of the "housetop" log cabin design.

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The binding and backing.

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I was also Proud--and quite surprised--that the quilt is actually square when folded. Slowly, I am conquering the challenge of making parallel lines behave properly. The ruler, the mat, and the rotary cutter are working together as a team, as never before.

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A little bad French never hurt anybody. (You're never too young to enjoy Japanese fabric.)

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Girl of Bookish Girl graciously received her quilt at Rhinebeck. She liked it more than she could say (what with being a baby and all).

For the quilting-indifferent, I apologize (a little). No more quilting for a while, but I warn you that there are more special babies on the horizon. And like I said, I have plenty of strips. 24-hour baby quilts might be a new obsession, I mean, special interest.

Love, Kay

P.S. Edited to add:
Mary B of Richmond, who has been Tragically Blogless for so long that I am promoting her to Incorrigibly Blogless, shared with me the Quilt Warranty that she includes with all her quilts for babies. It was too good to keep for myself.


This quilt is covered by a full, lifetime repair or replacement guarantee, subject to the following conditions:

Damage caused by the following situations will not be covered:

Moth damage (from being put away for "safekeeping")
Crease damage (from being put away for "safekeeping")
Being lost (because somebody can't remember where they put it for "safekeeping!")

Damage caused by the following situations will be covered:

Being drug around
Being used as a tent
Being used to drag heavy objects
Being chewed on
Body fluids of all types
Being left out in the rain/snow/sleet/hail
Being slept under, on, around, over, and with
Being loved to death in any way
Being lost (because somebody couldn't go visiting without it, and it got left somewhere
on vacation!)

This quilt expects to be -- and has already been -- machine washed and dried. Do not be "careful" with this quilt, because if you do you will hurt its feelings. ☺

This quilt is intended to be USED and LOVED!!!!!!

Posted by Kay at 10:49 AM | Comments (76)

October 22, 2007

Oz

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Dear Kay,

At the airport last night, waiting to fly back to Nashville, I'm sitting, with that stunned and hollow-headed feeling you get when, in fact, your head is not hollow but filled to the point that there's no room left, and I see this:

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and think, Pretty roving!

The jaunt to Rhinebeck was that way, start to finish. The fiber, it was everywhere, starting at the Philadelphia airport where I come across this item being displayed in a superarchival, This-Be-Art way:

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So felted! So . . . vertical!

Having never been to the New York State Sheep and Fiber Festival, I was curious curious curious. We didn't actually have all that much time, so the whole thing was telescoped into 24 hours of constant talking and gawking and hawking.

I had read about how overwhelming this event can be, how there's just too much.

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About one minute after arriving, I kind of got a feeling for what people meant. Overheard cell phone conversation: "Uh, yeah, come meet us over by the fried pickle booth, you know, near the dude in tights riding the two Percherons."

About two minutes after arriving, we began seeing great people. After about four minutes, I realized that this Rhinebeck thing was going to be seriously fun.

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I can't believe we were interviewed by Curtis and Lisa Sliwa of the Guardian Angels! AW JUST KIDDING! That's Suzanne and the team of Knit a Yarn, a new video podcast. Looking forward to hearing Suzanne's talk with the dude in tights riding the two Percherons.

Dutchess County Wandering

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Kay, your KnittyNav2000 worked just fine--punch in "Morehouse Merino party" and off we went.

This shindig was great, in a kick-over-a-skein-of-wool-and-you'll-find-someone-cool kind of way. The hosts Margrit Lohrer and Albrecht Pichler seemed unfazed by hordes of knitters clogging up traffic at the Fork in the Road (there really is a literal 10-foot-tall fork outside their shop). Their woolly lifestyle is pretty much covetable. I got to say hello to designing hootyhoos Veronik Avery, Melanie Falick, and Kristin Nicholas--very cool. And at about this point it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to see six knitters around a table cranking socks. Everywhere I went, I saw people happily clicking away. Totally parallel universe.

Westward Ho!

We punched "Ravelry party" into the KnittyNav2000. It was as close to a rave as a pair of superfoxy matrons like us will ever see. The mix of locals and knitters was not unlike, you know, when the Amazon spills into the Atlantic Ocean and you can see this line of demarcation where salt water meets fresh? Well, I admired your ambassadorial tendencies in chatting up that FBI agent. I should have known that a former FED like you could sniff out the Law in a room. High FIVE!

I'm so glad you got photos on Sunday at the Authors Tent, and I'm especially glad you gave equal time to your sorry face under Lisa's giant hat. Thank you to everybody who came by to say hello. It totally made our day.

Survival Strategy

Now, contrary to your photo of me with the mohair yarn saying it was a random impulse purchase, I bought that stuff having arrived at Rhinebeck with a carefully constructed plan. I had decided that the only way to get through the many barns of yarn was to get a project in mind, and aim for the yarn to make it. A coat. That was it. One coaty batch of yarn.

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Ever since you blogged about the Coat of Mimi on August 30, I have toted around the idea of that plaid coat. Wishing for one, dreaming of one. A light, fluffy coat with a lining, perfect for these new days of global warming.

Narrowing my aim didn't really help all that much. Even the angoras were wearing mohair.

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I ended up with this beautiful, hand-dyed stuff from Mohair in Motion, located in (of course) White Cloud, Michigan. I really like the fact that if I run short of yarn, I won't be chasing a dye lot or calling a wholesaler; I'll be calling up this nice lady who will make some more for me.

Which brings me to my superearnest conclusion about Rhinebeck. There's a huge amount of humanity in a place like that. I got to see so many great people. I was fascinated by each booth of yarn and roving and scented candles (seriously, is it possible to have a festival of ANY KIND without the scented candles going into the mix?). The longer I wandered, the more I felt the focus of all these humans on this one little sliver of a pastime. The more I saw, the more I wanted to take home some yarn that had the mark of the person who made it. I ended up at Spinners Hill, where I bought this:

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Which had this tag on it:

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You know that you've got some handmade stuff when it has a handwritten tag. Lisa dyed the fibers, blended the fibers, and spun the fibers. I'm grateful that Lisa is letting go of this stuff so I can take a turn with it.

Love,
Ann

PS Still worrying about that hotel bedcover thingie.

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What's up with that? A bed napkin? Are they, like, acknowledging that hotel bedspreads are totally creepy, yet they don't want to let anybody think that they forgot about bedspreads altogether?

PSS Thanks, Kelly, fellow member of the Class of '85 Fightin' Wildcats, for hanging with us.

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Your expression captures exactly how I felt, all weekend long.

Posted by Ann at 12:56 PM | Comments (19)

The Shawled Shoulders of Friends

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Dear Ann,

I think my trip down the New York State Thruway last night probably took longer than your flights from Poughkeepsie to Nashville via Philadelphia. The long, dark drive gave me time to collect my thoughts after what was surely the fastest 24 hours ever. (I stayed awake by listening to this, but much louder. And here's Why I Love YouTube, Exhibit A. What that song needed was khakis and ties. Rock it!)

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If seeking employment at a certain publisher, cuteness is a must. Here we see Editorial versus Marketing in an epic cute-off. Much kelly green yarn was spilled.

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More unbearable cuteness of being, as embodied by Jess and Casey, bookended by Still Making An Effort. There was nothing beta about the Ravelry shindig Saturday night. Open bar, plus not-recently-updated jukebox, plus knitters. Need I say more?

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Cormo! Cormo! Cormo!

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Public Address Announcement: "A SKEIN OF RED HEART ACRYLIC HAS BEEN SPOTTED NEAR THE KETTLE CORN STAND. DO NOT PANIC. EVACUATE THE AREA IN AN ORDERLY FASHION."

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Does your alpaca get fidgety on rainy days? Does the llama constantly complain that there's nothing good on TV? This book has some answers.

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Ann buys some souvenir mohair. Not enough to really do anything with, of course, but a nice memory.

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If I had a skirt like this, I would wear it to Rhinebeck.

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Before we knew it, it was Sunday in the Meet the Authors Tent. We had no idea what to expect.

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We did expect to meet some authors. Here's Alison and her fab book.

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Stitchy McYarnpants, who would like to be remembered as a Six Pack Owl. In Stitchy's line of work, a major challenge is dealing sensitively with people like me, who truly appreciate the fusion of crochet and beer cans. We get the feeling that Stitchy might be making fun of beer can crochet, but her book is so funny that we forgive her.

We were hoping to get a glimpse of Clara in the tent, but she was too busy selling out all the copies of her book. Clara, we love you anyway.

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We did not expect Lisa's hat.

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Some were born to wear large hats. Your Civil War reenactor jacket had been bringing me down a little, but the hat cheered it right up.

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Hats are not for nervous people. I could swear something was nesting up there.

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Another natural-born Hat Head, showing off.

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This man knit this sweater. You assisted with picking up the neck stitches the night before, and it looks like it came out all right.

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Family knitting on our spiral afghan strips. (See the foot sticking out of the kidpack? He was knitting too.)

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Naomi, who is not really holding a tiny woman in her right hand, but who dispenses wisdom and other useful items free of charge.

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Naomi was really only there to keep her Ron from buying too much fiber. Ron spins. Ron weaves. We put him to work on our afghan. (Despite our best intentions, we can't say we made tremendous progress on the afghan. Too much stuff to do at the festival, and you can knit on the Thruway.)

Please add your pics! I'm off to see everybody else's Rhinebeck posts.

Love,
Kay


Posted by Kay at 10:31 AM | Comments (35)

October 18, 2007

My Head Is Spinning

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Dear Kay,

I hate to interrupt this graduate-level seminar in poetics (keep those indigoey limericks and haiku coming, you guys--see below!), but I need to make a brief announcement.

If you're going to Rhinebeck, we want to see you. We're cooking up a couple of blankets for Afghans for Afghans, so we would like to mooch some of your knitting skills. We'll be in the Author Tent on Sunday from 10 until we keel over, so please stop by to add a few rows to these projects:

Project Number One: A Dizzy Blanket, based on the MDK Dizzy Rug above. We have never attempted one of these before, though we have long fantasized about it. Will it work? Will it weigh eighty pounds? We're going to find out. We'll have Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn and largeish needles, so we're hoping for a very long strip of garter stitch that some lucky soul (KAY! YOU WIN!) will fashion into a spirally blanket. If you happen to bring your own needles, that would even better!

Project Number Two: A Blanket of Mini Mitered Squares. If you've got miter fever, come add one to this projeck. We'll have yarn and needles around for this as well.

O, the drama! I'm off to check the Rhinebeck weather forecast. Again.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:28 AM | Comments (22)

October 16, 2007

The Thrilla in Phila: A Contest

Dear Ann:

Update on Cristina's indigo afghan: for inquiring minds, Cristina has posted a picture of The Whole Megilla here. She also did a crazy fun contest, and I'm piling on with a copycat contest of my own.

The prize of one raffle ticket will go to 10 lucky poets who write a haiku, limerick or heroic couplet about the color blue, Cristina's afghan, or stinky indigo dye vats. (To be clear, the price is a chance to win the afghan--not the afghan!) The 10 winners will be chosen randomly from all of the poems submitted, because I'm sure it would be too hard to choose the best ones. Why am I so sure? Look at this limerick submitted for Cristina's contest by our excellent Mrs. Lear:

There was a young woman of Phila
Who knit things as big as Godzilla
She dyed them in vats
With bug shells and cats
And they all turned out marvilla!


The rules: To qualify, your poem must be submitted as a comment to this post. You may enter only once. The deadline is noon on Friday, New York time. I will notify the winners by email so they can give me the information I need to buy them a ticket. (Of course, you can also buy your own tickets, right here.)

Have a marvilla time!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 10:56 PM | Comments (65)

Feet Don't Fail Me Now

Dear Ann,

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As if my feet needed further adornment, Cristina made me a pair of slippers from the Step Lively pattern in Denyse Schmidt's book. She whipped these up right before my eyes. I have been scuffling around in them like crazy.

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They look extra swell with my Kaffe Fassett pjs. Make no mistake, I am A Sight To Behold in the early mornings. Cheerful!

I have mixed feelings in making the following Public Service Announcement.

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This is a handknit wool blanket in geometric lace patterns. Cristina not only designed and orchestrated the knitting of this blanket by a group of skilled needlewomen, she set up an indigo vat and dyed the finished pieces it in her own home. (An indigo vat is an aromatic thing; the children do complain after a few days.) Then she joined the strips with linen (on both sides, for reversibility), bound the edges in linen fabric, and made sashiko embroidery patches.

I've seen it in person. It is to covet, at a level that could get a person seriously on the wrong side of the Ten Commandments.

The blanket is being raffled to benefit the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. This is--are you sitting down--an online raffle. Go here. Do what you need to do. I'm in!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:48 AM | Comments (24)

October 15, 2007

Miters of the Corn

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Dear Ann,

When Amber comes over, here's the script:

"AMBER COMES OVER: A SCENE IN ONE SCENE"

[Amber and Kay embrace while jumping up and down and squealing, you-just-made-the-cheerleading-squad style.]

Amber: Miters!

Kay: Mitersmitersmiters!

[More jumping, now spinning.]

Kay: STRIPES!

Amber: Stripes YES!

[Yarn now tumbling out of plastic bags as jumping slows due to advancing age of one and advancing pregnancy of the other.]

Amber [gasping slightly]: Gees.....

Kay: BEND!!!!!

[Big hug. Fade to snacktime and knitting of loud stripey mitery things.]

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I happened to be in a cornfield yesterday with the latest collaborative blanket Amber and I made for afghans for Afghans. It was the perfect setting for a photo shoot.

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There was even a handsome, not-that-into-modeling model, just like in Martin Storey and Wendy Baker's new book, Knitting For Him (which has some really great, updated classic designs for men, and one long-haired model who out-Rowans all previous Rowan models in his ability to gaze into the middle distance while appearing unaware of his astonishing beauty). (Seriously, this book is a great find, despite dear Martin's introduction in which he suggests that most of the knitting for men is done by their "womenfolk". Which may be true. But still. Womenfolk? But I digress. Back to cornfield.)

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The blanket was ready for its closeup. Note the marling of the yarns. We knit with 2 strands of mostly-heathered Cascade 220 shades. It is against the Book of Amber & Kay for both strands to be the same shade. (No no NO! Can't have THAT.) Each miter started with 120 stitches. For this blanket Kay used Size 11s and Amber used Size 13s, but we can't really recommend that big of a gauge. Our first blanket was a bit nicer, gauge-wise, with Amber on the US 11s and Kay on the US 10s. (Proving that loose knitters and medium-tight knitters can live together in peace and harmony.) We joined our miters together, picked up and knit garter stitch borders (4 ridges), put teeny miters in the corners, and then finished it off with an applied i-cord edge.

Applied I-Cord is my new boyfriend; I do not know how I lived without Applied I-Cord.

Cornfield As Entertainment

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Joseph and I took the blanket on a tractor/wagon ride through a cornfield in Water Mill, New York.

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This was a multi-media extravaganza. Have you been on one of these? Have they come to Nashville yet?

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Snow White! (The seven dwarfs were there, but too short to be in the picture.)

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Candy corn! Get it?

Big fun.

Love, Kay

Posted by Kay at 10:16 AM | Comments (22)

October 12, 2007

Can You Repeat the Question

Dear Ann,

How are you? Who are you? Why do you keep calling me and saying things like "slip won kay too tawg pee ess ess OH"? Speak English, woman!

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This just came in the mail. Hallelujah! I've been waiting all my life for The Answers. I've been waiting so long I've forgotten some of The Questions.

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It turns out that these Answers are about the pedigrees of the mini-skeins Clara Parkes has been sending us. As I predicted, the answers are:
1. Fuzzy beast
2. Beast plus tree
3. Another beast
4. Beast again
5. Plant! Linen!
6. Plant! Hemp!
7. Rare beast
8. Smelly beast

So good to know!

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The best part of the test was the textbook. Not being a sheep-hugger like most of you guys, I was not prepared for the utter temptation that comes with opening Clara's beautiful book. Lovely things to knit with all kinds of crazy-delicious yarns. People: WHEN WAS SOMEBODY GOING TO TELL ME ABOUT THE LINEN BASKET LINERS? I thought I had friends. I thought people were looking out for me. Luckily I happen to have some Euroflax on hand.

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In other news, tomorrow this plate, which was a wedding present, will celebrate 16 years of sitting on my kitchen counter. (You might recall that in 1991, things were very Tuscan. You wanted people, upon entering your apartment, to leave the Upper West Side and be transported instantly to Firenze.) I have this to say about marriage: it has not been all peaches and cream (or even Peaches & Creme), but it has been just peachy. Hubby and I feel blessed that each of us is privileged to spend our days and share our lives with the nation's most disputatious person.

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Bye now. I've got to walk the sheep.

Love,
Kay

P.S.
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Yes, we're sad about the Yankees. If the old man fires Joe Torre, he's going to be hearing from an outraged Joseph Bergmann. We agree with the sportswriter who wrote that after all he's done, and been, in the past 12 years, Mr. T is entitled to manage until they have to prop him up in the dugout.

Posted by Kay at 11:26 AM | Comments (38)

October 04, 2007

Sheep, Potential Alien Encounters, and Woad

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Dear Kay,

Let's discuss this New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.

I've never been to Rhinebeck before, so I'm really excited.

Here is a list of who will be appearing at the Festival's Meet the Authors event, Sunday, Oct. 21, 11:30-2:30 pm in something called Tent City. It'll be like a Boy Scout Jamboree! I can't wait to meet all the authors who are going to be appearing. Kristin Nocholas will be there! Do you think she's related to Kristin Nicholas?

Apparently Tent City is located in Area 41, which if you ask me sounds a lot like Area 51, which as we all know is where the government tests new supersecret bombers and probably keeps aliens. Nobody much knows what goes on in there. But there could be aliens.

I looked up the Sheep Festival's Area 41 on Google Maps. See?

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Verrrrrry mysterious. See that whited-out part? That's Area 41. Nobody knows what goes on in Area 41. I think we have a lot to worry about.

Everybody, we hope you'll come by to say hello. We'll be signing books, rubberstamping books, you name it. We'll have the Suitcase of Luv with us if you'd like to see projects from our book in real actual life. And some surprises.

Woad Is Me

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Here's my car knitting of recent days--I have had a terrible time getting much recreational knitting done, seeing as how we've been futzing around with the new book manuscript to a headbanging degree. Ironique, eh?

I can hardly WAIT to show everybody this new book. I am ridiculously excited about it. I'm sorry it's taking so long.

Meanwhile, in quieter waters, this little scarf began when Cristina lobbed me a ball of sockweight wool she dyed herself with woad. All I knew about woad was that it turns this yarn a brilliant yellow. When I checked here, I learned more about woad than I'd known my whole life.

[ETA: Many thanks to you Mel Gibson fans out there who have pointed out that woad was used to paint warriors' faces BLUE not YELLOW. Woad is a blue dye. I just remembered that Cristina's tag said "Dyed with weld" not WOAD. And WELD is the ticket! Weld is the yellowiest yellow there is! Sorry for my limp memory.]

I mixed the woady wool with Koigu, in an also-brilliant shade of green. And I freehanded a pattern based on a sweater I saw one day this summer. It's a curly thing, but maybe it'll behave if I give it a stern blocking. Or not.

Finishing Up a Perfect Sweater

And I wanted to be done with this project two weeks ago. One sleeve shy of a Perfect Sweater.

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Cascade 220 is such a great workhorse yarn. It does what you ask it to do without complaining, whining, or misbehaving.

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It's tidy and responds well to discipline.

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If we have another kid, I'm naming him Cascade 220 Shayne. I think Cara should name her baby Cascade 220.

Love,
Ann

PS Those sheep are the noble residents of Martha's Vineyard. I met them this summer.

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

October 01, 2007

Barefoot (Spinning) in the Park

Dear Ann,

Saturday in the park with Cara was a sweet, sunny, mellow time. Great turnout. Delicious weather. Many wheels. Generous teachers. One stubborn student (me).

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Like I said, mellow.

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My daughter's hands at the wheel, for the first time. Making some twisty, chewy, awesome yarn out of Cara's BFL. (Start as you mean to continue, messing around with the best materials.)

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Carrie had stereo teachers. Cara on one side, and Ann on the other. The thought that Carrie might actually be a spinner, and that these two taught her, makes me ferklempt. The thought that I might have an in-house supplier of handspun? Makes me delirious. (Teenage Drama: "But Mommy, I don't WANT another wheel!" [Slams door.])

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I think Ann's instructional analogy-- that treadling is like operating a clutch--may have been lost on a 10 year old. But hey. She got it.

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Amy came all the way from Philly with her cutie wheel.

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The next generation of spinners is very enthusiastic. Strong for it!

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Spin guys, represent!

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Skirt guys, represent! (This was not a kilt. This was a skirt. In case you were wondering what comes after the manpri.)

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Spinning is a spectator sport.

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"You got your Strawberry Fields over there, and you got your People Spinning over here."

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OMG! They are making YARN over here!

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In other news, I finished the border for the Mixed Media Mystery Project (which is a quilted throw).

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It's really big.

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Carrie had a big weekend. Today we were walking through the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park and she got interviewed by Harry K. Smith for the CBS Early Show. I don't think she'll make it onto the screen, because they were trying to show that kids know more than grownups about things like how long Senators serve versus Representatives, and she needed off-camera hints from Harry. (Harry is about to make a "2" with his right hand. Thanks, Harry!)

One more thing about the Spin Out. The raffle to benefit Heifer International is staying open until October 15. The prizes are many, and awesome. Cara has mighty prize-gathering mojo. Two wheels! (TWO! WHEELS!) Gorgeous fiber and yarn, and the choicest of bags and tchotchkes. And it's for a great cause. So get in on it, early and often.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:38 PM | Comments (45)
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