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

April 30, 2008

St. Somebody

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Dear Ann,

This just in: the eBay auction for Oliver's Recycled De-Raffled Blanket has ended. The winning bid of $960.00 took my breath away, but it was just not good enough for the anonymous buyer, who rounded up her payment to a nice $1000--tossing in a lagniappe in honor of the knitters who contributed squares for Oliver. I hope it goes with her sofa! I know I will miss seeing it on my dotty chair. I'm renewing my resolve to finish sewing up American Blanket #2 so that the raffles can be closed out.

Wall of Linen: Square 3

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The flow of squares for my personal Wall of Linen blanket continues. I am not tiring of stripes, but I think Square 4 will be the last navy-and-cream square for a while.

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(I intended to crop this photo, but I think the "stripes" of the heat register are cool.)

Square 3 was just what I needed to see me through a sick-boy-at-home day, from the visit to the doctor (ear infection) to the extra-innings game of Yankee Monopoly. (My opponent was wearing his Joba Rules shirt from last fall's hopeful time--aw!) It's an easy square, an unassuming square, it's unapologetic about looking more "Ralph Lauren" than "Loretta Pettway". There's room for everybody on the Wall of Linen.

The instrux: Cast on 60 stitches. Starting with cream, knit alternating 12-ridge stripes of cream and navy. You will knit 3 cream stripes and 2 navy stripes, for a total of 60 ridges. Bind off and do the cro-Kay edging if you are so inclined. (Not sure I'm so inclined these days, but I'm still doing it. It's going to be GREAT.)

I'm floating along on the good-auction vibes. Thanks again to everyone who knit squares and helped lay out and sew up, and especially to Michaela for getting this wonderful thing started in the first place.

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Bye-bye blankie!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 05:25 PM | Comments (27)

April 28, 2008

Square Two (Is A Rectangle)

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Dear Ann,

Square Two of the Wall of Linen blanket is a walk in the park. Cast on 30 in cream. Make 4 navy blue stripes of either 3 or 4 ridges (go crazy with the possibilities). Start these stripes on the wrong side, to achieve an appearance of WS on the RS. (This Knitting Special Effect looks like ticking. I find it Visually Interesting.) Knit a total of 60 garter ridges, then bind off, then work cro-Kay all the way around the square. (Cro-Kay is: Pick up 2 stitches on the edge. *Bind off 1 stitch, pick up 1 stitch; repeat from * all the way around the edge.) (Cro-Kaying all the way around is optional and perhaps even controversial. But I like the idea of a uniform edge all the way around. Slipping the first stitch of every row would achieve a similar effect, but when I do this I get a looser edge than I want here.)

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BREAKING NEWS: I have changed my mind about carrying the color-not-in-use up the side of the work as I a knit stripes. I did this for the first 2 squares, but I'm not liking the way the edge looks on the WS with that thread of contrasting color poking through. I've decided to make the supreme sacrifice of cutting the yarn between stripes and weaving in the (many) extra ends that this will create. You may think me a fool. You may think me a prodigal waster of precious yarn and a weakener of Blanket Integrity. But dang it, that's what I'm doing.

We Pause for a Profound Observation on the Nature of Motherhood or Perhaps Womanhood Itself

I blame it on reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse for the Lit Hum class I've been auditing. I've been doing lots of thinking on Who Am I and What Am I Here For and What Is Significant About This Particular Moment When We Are Eating Cream Cheese on Bagels And Looking Meaningfully Across the Table, Seething With Unspoken Thoughts of How Very Precious We Are To Each Other But Wait, You've Got a Schmear On Your Chin.

This weekend I noticed myself going from room to room, picking up Other People's Stuff and taking it back to its home location. The Mets Foam Finger, the detritus of homework, the many, many newspapers concerning Sports and Finance, the paperbacks of Horrible Histories, the whimsical erasers. I realized that I do this on auto-pilot: roam, stop, pick up object, return object to home location (or secretly put object in recycling bin), roam, repeat. I do this so constantly that nobody sees me do it. They think their stuff moves when they are not looking.

It dawned on me that I am a human Roomba.

I am Momba.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:23 AM | Comments (38)

April 27, 2008

Square One In Greater Detail Than One Would Wish

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Dear Ann,

I'm trying to write this down as I go, so humor me.

On Friday I made a beeline to Annie & Company for Euroflax colors I didn't have, including Navy Blue and Cream.

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In my yarn-scavenging frenzy, this nearly-done sweater nearly was sacrificed. I hesitated when I realized that I'll still have a bunch left if I just finish the sleeves and cast the thing off.

For Those Who Are Playing At Home

I'm using Size 3 needles. I'll tell you my gauge later (quel suspense), but I'm thinking I'm getting 21 stitches over 4 inches/10cm.

For the moment at least, I am using "base 15" as a way to keep my squares modular, meaning that all of my squares will be a multiple of 15 stitches by a multiple of 15 garter ridges (remember that 1 garter ridge equals 2 rows; I count ridges because they're easier to count). Square 1 is 60 stitches by 60 ridges.

Here's how to work Square 1:

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FYI: the square is oriented with the cast-on edge at the bottom.


Cast on 60 stitches in Navy Blue (A). Knit 12 garter ridges. Do not cut yarn.

Using Cream (B) and carrying Navy Blue up the side of the work as described below, knit 5 garter ridges.

Continuing to work garter stitch stripes as set, work stripes of the following widths:

A--5 ridges
B--4 ridges
A--6 ridges
B--8 ridges
A--3 ridges
B--5 ridges
A--5 ridges
B--3 ridges
A--5 ridges

Using A, bind off all stitches on the RS, but do not cut yarn. Turn the work one quarter-turn to the right.

Pick up 60 stitches in the row ends along this edge, and knit 10 ridges.

Bind off all stitches on the RS, but do not cut the yarn. Turn the work one quarter-turn to the right.

Now you are on the cast-on edge of the piece. Work cro-Kay across this edge (pick up 2 stitches, *bind off one stitch, pick up one stitch; repeat from * to the end of the edge). Turn the work one quarter-turn to the right.

Pick up 60 stitches int the row ends along this edge, and knit 5 ridges.

bind off all stitches on the RS, but do not cut the yarn. Turn the work one quarter-turn to the right. Work cro-Kay all across this edge and fasten off the last stitch to complete the square.

What am I doing with all that cro-Kay? I'm basically working a chain of crochet stitches (using knitting needles instead of a hook), so that the entire square is edged with bound-off stitches. I am doing this because I think these evenly bound-off stitches will be easier to join neatly when I put the squares together, no matter what method I use.

In the Department of Gratuitous Tips Telling You How To Do Something You Already Know (In Case You Don't), here is how I carry the yarn not-in-use up the side of the work.

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At the beginning of every RS row, I simply cross the yarn not-in-use (here it's the Navy Blue) in front of the working yarn (here it's the Cream) before I knit the first stitch of the row. Important for tidiness: before I start using the carried yarn again, I snug it up so that the edge doesn't look sloppy. I pull it pretty straight but without gathering or squishing the edge stitches.

OK. Just trying to matter, you know?

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 01:36 PM | Comments (10)

April 25, 2008

Wall of Linen

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Dear Ann,

I rarely suffer from any serious malaise in my knitting. There is always something to knit that is much better than what I am knitting now, and I am generally racing as fast as I can, jettisoning UFOs to the left of me, WIPs to my right--to get to the promised land of the next cast-on. Except for lately. Last night I was invited to a cozy Knit Nite at a friend's and I didn't have a project to take with me. Not so much as a scruffy dishrag in my knitting bag. Plenty of UFOs not suitable for public viewing, but not a thing to just sit and knit away on whilst sipping prosecco and inhaling green tea ice cream. A sorry state of affairs.

But you know I wouldn't be making such a sordid confession if things had not righted themselves, and they have righted themselves in a big way. I'm on fire. Here's how the soul salvation occurred.

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Revelation Step 1: Belinda brought me this cushion cover. Like the alleged roller towel, it spoke to her. She knew I would like it, given that Gee's Bend is busting out all over it. I've been staring at it for days. Not consciously thinking it had anything to do with knitting, but everything has something to do with knitting.

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Revelation Step 2: This book made me remember how much I love Sean Scully's paintings. I saw them almost accidentally at the Metropolitan Museum last year. The large oils have layers and layers of paint, an effect which does not come through in photographs. They glow like laquer, but with more texture. It is kind of scary to be alone in a gallery with one of these paintings--there is a feeling of awe. Some of the large canvases have separate small canvases set into them, which is terribly exciting to me all by itself. There is an obvious connection to knitting and quilting, no? Sean Scully started painting stripes when he saw striped fabrics in Morocco in the 70s. Been painting stripes ever since.

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I do not aspire to do them justice.

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But I'm going to try real hard not to do them injustice.

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I have to knit something based on this cushion and these paintings. I think it needs to be a blanket. I have some plane and train travel ahead of me in early May, so I want to construct it in portable pieces. I want it to be reversible in that there will not be a clear wrong or right side. I want it to be linen because I like the luxury--the hedonism really--of linen in a dense garter stitch that really drapes. (I know the distressed blues are screaming "DENIM!" but I can't stop thinking linen.) I'm in the early cook-up phases of thinking how to do the seams so they don't look too wrong-sidey. Right now I'm hot on i-cord, but this decision is a long way down the path from where I am today.

Does anybody know of a good how-to on doing short-row stripes whilst keeping the edges parallel? I don't want the stripes to be perfectly straight.

I'll keep you posted of course.

Love,
Kay

PS It goes without saying that I've been checking the Oliver's Fund blanket auction listing every 5 minutes or so. So exciting! I think Oprah will be bidding by the end of the weekend. (Yes She Can!) Many thanks to all the lovely anonymous bidders with weird eBay names! Love you guys!


Posted by Kay at 01:14 PM | Comments (36)

April 23, 2008

There's a Story Here

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Dear Ann,

Knowing your eBay habits as intimately as I unfortunately do, I probably don't need to tell you to check out this auction. But I bet you're wondering: WHA? Didn't somebody already win that afghan?

Well, yes, somebody did. Back in February, the name that came out of the hat to win the raffle to benefit Oliver's Fund was a Ms. Joan Hamer, who had sent in many squares. After I posted her name, I started to get emails asking me whether the winner was that Joan Hamer, but I didn't know. When Joan Hamer got in touch with me, I asked her, "Are you that Joan Hamer, the one people keep telling me about, who is a pillar of the KnitList, who has taught scores of knitters how to make socks, who has dedicated more than a little of her own knitting time and her stash to good causes?" Well, yes, she said, I think I am that Joan Hamer.

Needless to say I was thrilled at the karma of that Joan Hamer winning our labor of love, our very large, very woolly, greatly bestitched-upon blanket-of-many-hands.

Joan had a question, though. She really loved the afghan. She could not wait to receive the afghan and show it to her knitting pals. But then, she said, she wondered if it would be OK to send it back so that it could perhaps be auctioned off to raise more cash for Oliver's Fund.

So, I guess it really was that Joan. Who was I to say no?

To everybody who said they wanted to win the afghan, here's your chance. You've got seven days to wrassle your fellow eBayers for it. May the most tenacious win. I will smile all the way to the Post Office.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 10:40 AM | Comments (36)

April 19, 2008

Brother Moses Smote the Water (and the Children Passed Over)

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Dear Ann,

I am bursting with co-bloggette pride that (a) you finished your first Starmore --at such a precocious age-- and (b) you ROCKED the Blundstones so righteously at the photoshoot. (Although I agree with commenters who took a half-point off your score for failing to wear a headdress of some kind. We have high expectations from one as steeped in Rowan Law and Rowan Lore as you.)

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What's going on here is my annual Passover cook-a-thon. Having married into a historically non-Kosher-keeping, German-Jewish-American family, I have tried to continue their (our) tradition of keeping Kosher-for-Passover style for two nights a year. It is great fun, from shopping to matzah-mushing to folding-chair wrangling, and then the rollicking (for the most part) seder dinners themselves.

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The Many Moods of Matzo. It has taken me years to figure this stuff out.

For recipes, I rely on my schmaltz-spattered copies of Gourmet Magazine April 1992, Gourmet Magazine April 1998, and Judith Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook, with a late addition of Nigella Lawson's AWESOME recipe (in Feast) for fried gefilte fish (yes, I said FRIED gefilte fish). Apart from the fun factor, and the exhilaration of all the crazy logistics, it's also become a meaningful thing for me. When I ask the Italian butcher for a shankbone for my seder plate, and he's already got a pile of them all wrapped up to hand out, my heart swells with love of my adopted city.

The Giant Miter, Dayenu

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I think that when I was finishing that second giant miter back in March, I might have sprained something. It's been very hard, lately, to settle down and, you know? Knit something? Even my old friend, startitis, didn't come through for me. Finally, Baby Meli saved me, when I realized that in all the handknits showered on her tiny unsuspecting person, there was not a single cotton cardi. This cannot stand, I said to myself.

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The most excellent Knitter's Book of Yarn to the rescue: I made a Baby Soft Cardi in Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton. I started it on Monday night, finished the knitting on Tuesday night, and sewed it up on Wednesday. (I promise not to actually sew on the buttons until 5 minutes before handing it over.)

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Pattern note: I made the 12-month size, which calls for 3 skeins, but I barely needed the second skein. Given the amount I had left over, I do not think any size in the pattern would require more than 2 skeins, and the 3-month and 6-month sizes could be done with one skein.

Chag Sameach to all who are celebrating this weekend!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 02:12 PM | Comments (27)

April 17, 2008

The Big Reveal

Dear Kay,

OK, y'all, if you want a fashion show of the sweater I just finished, well, you got it:

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Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:37 AM | Comments (174)

April 15, 2008

The Cure for Finishitis: Actually Finishing

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Dear Kay,

Well, I know you'll be relieved to hear that last night, at 9:48 pm CDT, in my favorite knitting chair, I finally arrived at the mountaintop. There it is: the last stitch of Alice Starmore's Keava.

For the record, I started this sweater in March 2004, back when George W. Bush was our president, back when our trade deficit was huge, back when we were in a two-front war in the Middle East--O how times have changed!

When I started this sweater, I gave myself the outlandish deadline of 2008 to finish it. As I read through the moldy archives of the blog to see what my frame of mind was when I began this project, I'm surprised at how chipper I was, how ready for adventure--how foolhardy and YOUNG. Who was that starry-eyed knitter? What was she thinking?

Things I Have Learned While Making This Sweater

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1. The Pleasure of Finishing Something. It is an excellent feeling to finish a Fair Isle sweater, even if it's one that I will be wearing only under extreme weather conditions. It's funny: this morning we have freezing temperatures, which are unusual this time of year, so Mother Nature provided me with an unexpected chance to give Keava a test-run. With unwoven strands trailing from the cuffs, I took the fellas to school. I am telling you, those Shetland islanders have it figured out: this yarn is remarkably lightweight, spongy almost, and insulates better than any other sweater I own. Despite the stranded knitting, it's not heavy. I felt like a toasty, loud-colored sheep this morning.

2. Getting Better at Something. This is a big if obvious one: by the final sleeve of this Keava, I was clicking along much faster than I did at the beginning. I worked half of that last sleeve in one day, as we watched the final nine holes of the Masters which I usually watch and wished for Tiger Woods to win, even when it was clear that he wouldn't. At this point, I'm pretty sure he is a cyborg.

By the way, golf may be the perfect sport for a knitter. You watch, you knit, you accidentally fall asleep or otherwise enter a fugue state, yet you never really miss much. All those whispering commentators. I'm zoning out right now, just thinking about them.

3. Patience. I think this is the single biggest lesson of this project for me. There are a number of irritants about Fair Isle. At first, things like switching out yarn colors, knitting with two hands, and following a chart gave me moments of high annoyance. But something very interesting has happened in the past FOUR YEARS of intermittent knitting on this project: I stopped worrying about the irritants and realized that this is just a different sort of knitting. There's speed knitting, and there's this. It doesn't appear that I'm going to stop knitting anytime soon, so what's the problem?

4. I Think I Want to Make Another One. This may be akin to the sort of conversation I had after walking a half-marathon with my friend Frannie. "There's one in Phoenix! We can do that one next!"

Haven't been walking in Phoenix much.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:27 AM | Comments (64)

April 11, 2008

My Rodent Dines Finer Than Your Rodent

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Dear Ann,

It seems a person can't mention her hamster's refinements without somebody starting up about the gracious manners of their own guinea pig. Soon we will see a gerbil enjoying an amusing Sancerre and an omelette aux fines herbes (extra herbes). (We owe the photo above to Ruth at Woolyheaded, where they also plate the pets' entrees.)

The story behind yesterday's photos is that, in her years-long quest to get our Teddy Bear hamster, Buster, on Cute Overload, Carrie mezzaluna'd up a mirepoix of parsley and carrots garnished with a cherry tomato. She swears Buster did not eat off the plate, "he only sniffed it." Well then. Moving on.

Mason-Dixon Shopping

In lieu of knitting or sewing, I've been collecting supplies (a hobby unto itself).

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This bag is going to be turned into....a bag. A much better bag. (I love a Barnes & Noble tote bag, don't get me wrong, but they just don't make 'em Japanese enough for me. Where is the wabi and the sabi?) I'm calling 1-800-Cristina in to consult on this one. If I get on a roll, I do not rule out using Stephen Colbert's head for kitchen items and perhaps coasters. O the possibilities.

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Small cuts of Liberty Tana Lawns from London, in imitation of Moonstitches still-emerging leaf quilt. The collection phase is just starting. Don't expect to see this anytime soon. By the time I get enough fabric, I might be imitating something else on Moonstitches.

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A moment of indiscretion at Purl Patchwork last Saturday.

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Followed by another lapse. The themes here are startitis and stashitis, and a wicked bad case of Japanese craftomania. In other words, Spring.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:25 PM | Comments (11)

April 10, 2008

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Roller Towels

Dear Ann,

The Commenter Consensus on Belinda's Large Linen Loop is that it's a roller towel. Not the kind that one used to find in gas station restrooms, because that kind of towel was not seamed into a loop; it was a very long length of toweling with each end wrapped around a separate roller, inside a metal box. As the towel was used, it was taken up by one roller, and a fresh section was meted out (very economically, as I recall) by the other roller. Given this basic understanding of gas-station roller towels, most people seemed to think the mystery textile was a classic home-style roller towel: a loop of fabric that hangs over a dowel or towel bar.

But here's the thing. Not that I am some kind of roller towel authority figure or anything, but I've never seen one this big.

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It's 18 3/4 inches wide and more than 8 feet in total length. For comparison, Carrie recently was certified to be 4 feet 9 1/2" tall (without her hat) (which yes, she wears indoors; it's a means of self-expression, and you don't leave your self-expression at the door).

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Here we see Carrie, or her hat, and an actual door. See how high it would have to be hung for it not to touch the ground, thus defeating the hygienic purpose that is the essence of towelishness?

So, I don't know what it is, but I think it might not be a roller towel. Sling chair seat? Some kind of industrial conveyor belt thingie (a la Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory)? A mangle-related item? (Go ahead and Google-image search "sling chair" and "mangle" if you don't know what I'm talking about).

This afternoon, I could take the suspense no longer. I sent Belinda back to London with a mission to go to Labour and Wait and ask them what it is. She wanted to stay a little longer, and maybe see the New York Botanical Garden, but I said, no, you must go investigate right now, ta-ta, buh-bye and safe trip. So stay tuned.

I Have Not Been Knitting A Lot

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Since completion of Giant Miter Number 2 almost a week ago, my sole knitting output has been half a dishrag. I think I might be coming down with something. I blame Belinda, with her ceaseless shopping and sightseeing and fun-having.

Department of Pictures Found On My Camera That Were Not Taken By Me

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Yeah, the plate is from the People Dishes. Kinda wish I didn't know about this.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 05:08 PM | Comments (47)

April 08, 2008

Parallel Lives

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Dear Kay,

OK, I had to crack up when I saw your photo of that giant loop of linen, because the fact is that I myself recently bought a loop of linen in February at the Tailgate antiques show where I bought that red-and-white wheel quilt.

I'm planning to use it up at the shack this summer as a roller towel, which is what the thing is, I think we can all agree. I mean, what else would you use a loop of linen for? NO I AM NOT WEARING IT AS A TUBE TOP. That's just creepy.

Parallel Lives, Part 2

The other thing I had to crack up about was the fact that we each took our famblies to Williamsburg, unbeknownst to the other, exactly one week apart. I can tell by your chronicle that you didn't spend enough time in the Prentis Store--too busy making eyes at the cobbler's apprentice, I'm guessing--because if you had, you'd have ended up with these:

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This is a flint and steel, used in colonial times for fire-starting. Of course my fellas instantly had to get in on the colonial fire-starting which, in this day and age, is mostly a comically terrible way to start fires. You hold the steel across your knuckles, then strike the sharp edge of the flint with the steel as hard as you can. Really, it was like the Three Stooges. The glee/misery cycle was about three seconds long.

"I did it!"

"OW!"

"I did it!"

"OW!"

I'd be happy to send these small instruments of torture to you if your fella isn't having enough colonial fun yet.

The other item that came home from the Prentis Store was some yarn made out of the grubby sheep that we spotted grazing in a picturesque way behind the blacksmith's cottage.

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Mr. Prentis confessed that while the fleece is a genuwine product of Williamsburg, the spinning actually takes place in a distant land known as West of the Mississippi Which We Haven't Really Explored All That Much Yet But There Are Spinners Among The Native Tribes, We Think.

A quick detour down Pochahontas Trail took us to Knitting Sisters, a seriously fine shop stocked with a boatload of yarn and a really great staff. Snagged a skein of Colinette Jitterbug yarn in that shade I love so, Lobster:

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A product of the Mother Country, likely to be blockaded at any moment.

I really, really loved Williamsburg. Next time I want to stay in one of those little colonial houses. It really is possible to do that, you know. I'm renting a costume. I'm going to shepherd some sheep. Put my boys to work with the brickmaker.

One Mystery Solved

You speak of the mighty power of blogging. Lemme tell you, I'm feeling it right now. My lack of a skein of Alice Starmore Campion in Old Gold is completely and thoroughly resolved. My profound and deep thanks to Kabira, who posted my dilemma to the members of the Knitting Beyond the Hebrides listserv. (You can subscribe here. There is infinite wisdom in there about all things Hebridean.) The heroic Margaret of the Upper West Side not only had some Alice Starmore Campion Old Gold but sent me her entire stash of gold-colored yarns so that I could be sure I had the right shade.

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I'm back at my Keava sleeve, relieved at the whole thing and still marveling at the coolness of the Internet.

Finally

If you did not guess what the trick in our post from the first day of the month was, it is this: all the words have one part. None of those words with two parts, or three, or four. It is sort of hard to use words with but one part. One tends to sound sort of like the ape man who swings on a vine and has a gal pal named Jane.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:59 AM | Comments (27)

April 04, 2008

Labour and Wait

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Dear Ann,

The comments to my Virginia Vacation post are a testimonial to the Power of Blogging. We heard from people who live in Charlottesville, drive by Mount Vernon every day, garden at Monticello, work in the Needle Lady Yarn shop, work across the street from the Needle Lady yarn shop, somebody who was leading a group of 50 third-graders through Williamsburg the day I was there, and somebody who went to high school with the portrait artist who painted Carrie. There was a real live Williamsburg historical reenactor, and a person whose job is figuring out what color the original paint was in Houses of Historical Importance. We also heard from somebody who proposed to her husband at Manassas National Battlefield. ("There is Jackson standing like a stone wall---and a couple of crazy kids smooching.") The comments gave me such a sense that wherever we go, we are walking through all these unseen connections with each other. The knitters are thick on the ground. We really do need a secret handshake, or a scarlet K or something.

Weirdness and the Eye of the Beholder

I don't have much to contribute today, because, like you, I have been wrassling with this behemoth:

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The Last Pass of our beloved second book. Usually when I get to the last of anything, I am a bit nostalgic and sad. This is not like that. This is like GET OUT OF MY HOUSE YOU ARE THE SCOURGE OF MY EXISTENCE AND COME BACK WHEN YOU ARE A REAL BOOK OK? So glad to have you to tag-team this thing with me.

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This was my favorite query. Is it a compliment? Is the implication that we should make it less weird? Can we get more specificity on the nature of the weird-seemingness? Can we get a do-over?

The Puzzler

I can never, ever in a million years solve the Weekly Puzzler on Car Talk. If there were a Puzzler for knitting, I might have a chance. This is a Textile Puzzler.

Belinda is visiting. She brought me this item from an East London shop called Labour and Wait:

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Clues: I am heavyweight linen, pressed and quite possibly starched.

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I am about 8 feet long and about 2 feet wide with a single seam, creating a very large loop of very wide fabric. I have selvedges on both edges.

What am I?
(Note: Labour and Wait sells some vintage items. I don't know if this is one of them.)

(Belinda reports that her shopping companion wondered why she was buying such a thing. Belinda responded, "Kay will LOVE this!" Which was correct. I love it. Whatever it is.)

I'm sure I'll have some knitting to show soon. I feel it coming on.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 08:02 AM | Comments (99)

April 02, 2008

Lifestyles of the Upscale Colonials

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Dear Ann,

I couldn't post this on April Fools Day because you would have been all, "Surely she's not going to blather on about her American History Fambly Vacation--that's got to be a joke!!"

But surely I am too going to do just that. What else is this thing good for, if not freeflowing blather?


After a day at the Manassas battlefield, which I somehow managed to not photograph, we left the 19th century, and headed on back to the 18th. First stop: Mount Vernon. (Because kids just love looking at old houses where you can't touch anything.)

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Just like I pictured it. Magnificent. Dignified. Plumbing-free. It's a calm house.

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Until you get inside. Few people know that our First President was a huge fan of Yarnstorm. Huge.

(Seriously: those are the real colors George and Martha played whist in. The restorers dug through 17 layers of paint, and this is what they found, the height of imported fashion at the time.)

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The children still reasonably cheerful, we drove 65 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway, headed for Jefferson's Monticello.

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Which strikes one as totally modern by comparison to Mount Vernon. A 21st century visitor could unpack his Design Within Reach reproductions of Eames and Barcelona chairs, and feel right at home. (Well, maybe he'd want to upgrade the Privy Situation.) (Go here for a fantastic virtual tour of Monticello. My only quibble is that the scale of the house is more human than appears in photographs.)

I highly recommend seeing Mount Vernon and Monticello on consecutive days, with a nailbiting drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains (don't look down!) in between.

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Browsing through Charlottesville's main street mall, I almost knocked over this sign. Not only did The Needle Lady have the exciting and mysterious Bamboo? --she had the 2 shades of Tahki Cotton Classic I was short for my take-along project.

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We were so taken with painter Eliza Evans that the kids sat for their portraits, right in the middle of the pedestrian street.

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Edith Piaf, as I live and breathe. Non, rien de rien....

Our final destination (stop rolling your eyes): Colonial Williamsburg. I was expecting a pseudo-Disney, quasi-educational experience. I halfway thought we might see Snow White strolling down Duke of Gloucester Street. But these jaded expectations were banished immediately. This is a wonderful place.

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The restored 18th century town reminded me of your Monteagle, Tennessee--but more recently painted.

You had been in Williamsburg just the week before, Ann, and I could feel your presence.

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Especially in the ornamental fowl. The Teeny Project Runway aura was very much with this chicken.

Carrie, who was too cool to don a mob cap, let alone allow me to rent her a colonial get-up, pronounced the historical reenactments "cheesy." But cheesy is in the eye of the beholder, and it was certainly not in the the eyes of all the beholders.

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Here's Benedict Arnold, big (and bad) as life.

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He really riled up the militia.

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Patriots were not amused. This one and his comrades took off running, gifte shoppe tags fluttering from their haversacks, to defend the capital.

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Joseph got a tip on carrying a rifle (which had not been invented yet, but never mind) on his left shoulder instead of his right.

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And that was the last I saw of him until General Washington rode off in glory for Yorktown. God Bless America!

What was I knitting?

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The whole way, I was knitting a second huge (288 stitches to begin with) miter onto something that will eventually be a blanket if I go on enough road trips with nothing else to knit. Each stripe represents one skein of yarn. I wish I had done the first miter with these fat stripes, but there will definitely be no ripsies on this project.

You know how I am always going on about how addictive miters are? How kicky? How fun?

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When they start with 288 stitches, miters are not addictive. You simply want to die.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:03 AM | Comments (69)

April 01, 2008

No Joke

Dear Kay,

At times I think our blog is just too much. A weight, a load, a big ol' tub of lard. I mean, it seems like there are days when we go on and on, with not a fresh thought in the whole thing. We knit, we purl, we make stuff, we have a grand old time as we blab and make our bibs and rugs and show pix of the kids, our shoes, weird eggs.

Have you felt this way? That sad, dull sense that there may not be a new trick for the old dog?

Not that you are a dog, mind you. Or me, too, though I have been called a hound more than once. Or a girl dog, you know.

I guess you get what you pay for, right? Or, as a guy once said to me when I told him his new book was hard to read: "Well, if you don't like it, you will have a nice long time to get used to it."

So, when I get to the point that I have these sags, these limps, these days when a new blog post seems just too hard to cook up, I just try some sort of trick that keeps me at the keys.

Take this post. Can you guess what the deal is here? Can you guess why this post keeps me on my toes?

Love,

Ann

A LATE CHANGE: Dears, I had to change four words in the text up there to make my game work right. Go take a peek and see if you can guess what's up.

Posted by Ann at 12:51 AM | Comments (58)
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