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

May 29, 2008

Dateline: Witch City

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Dear Kay,

Ahhhh, greetings from Massachusetts, hon! The plague known as Our Family on the Move is laying waste to lower New England, having landed in Providence, spent a few days in Boston, and now hunkered down in Salem, Mass. We've hit the Freedom Trail, the Heritage Trail, and at this point will follow any painted red line on a sidewalk wherever it goes.

The Knitting Situation: Up front, I have to tell you that the knitting this week has been absolutely righteous and insane. I decided at the very last minute to bring the Donegal Fair Isle sweater, figuring maybe I could do a row or two of the thing at some idle moment in an emergency room or Led Zeppelin laser show. Well, whatever doubts about the portability of Fair Isle need to be quashed and quashed anon. The little balls of yarn, the little chart, the little needles--I have been working this thing like a Wampanoag woman cranking baskets. I am full-out OCD at this point.

Hi-Lites (Assume That I Was Working on the Fair Isle Sweater During All of the Following, No Matter How Cumbersome or Inappropriate)

Providence: Begged our way into Al Forno at 10:01 pm, straight from the airport, by claiming that our 12-year-old was graduating from Brown and was leaving to begin his career as a Dominican friar the next day. Felt bad to have lied so shamelessly, but not that bad.

Plymouth Rock: Almost saw Plymouth Rock. We were within ten feet of Plymouth Rock, separated by only a chain-link fence, plywood boards, a scaffold, and a cement mixer. They were renovating Plymouth Rock.

Plimoth Plantation: After spring break's triumphant visit to Williamsburg and Jamestown, it seemed only fitting that we relive the 1620s, Massachusetts style.

Now, you know how much I love a historical interpreter. If somebody is willing to wear dusty and sagging period-correct clothes, and talk in a peculiar and and semi-British-sounding way, I am absolutely going to buy into his fantasy. I am IN. If a guy is going to stand there with a large black ox in an expectant sort of way, I am going to rack my brain to think of a question to ask him about how that ox made it across on the damn Mayflower.

For those shopping around for the right historical village, Plimoth Plantation really kicks Jamestown Settlement's butt when it came to livestock. When a non-animatronic chicken came out from under a lumpy-bemattressed hand-hewn bed, I was impressed. Strong work, that chicken.

Swan Boats: Saw a batch of ducklings at the Boston Public Garden that may or may not have been animatronic. I mean: people are expecting to see ducklings, right? These ducklings were stuck off in the bushes on the island, kind of shadylike. Not totally persuaded we saw actual living ducks.

Freedom Trail: Kept singing that George Michael song which wasn't really such a colonial type song, now that I'm listening to it. But if anybody's about freedom, it's that George Michael guy. We'd covered maybe a quarter mile of Freedom Trail, then veered off to lunch in the North End, before we made it to the USS Constitution.

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Trying to explain to an eight-year-old about why some places are unskateable is like trying to explain to Paul Revere that you don't really need sixteen children.

Paul Revere House: Speaking of silversmith/war heroes . . . Filling a never-ending need to see putty-colored houses. Sixteen children, he had. Personally responsible for filling the revolutionary army with his own offspring.

Led Zeppelin Laser Show: The fellas are all into Led Zeppelin these days, thanks to Guitar Hero. (Thanks a lot, Guitar Hero.) I got so bored that I started taking pictures of the laser show.

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Seriously.

MIT Museum: Ah, you've never been? Well, I'll give you a free visit right this minute, to the single coolest thing we have seen on this trip: Arthur Ganson's brilliantly witty and ingenious sculptures. Every single one of those little movies is worth seeing. I have never laughed at a sculpture before.

North Shore Medical Center Emergency Room: No, it wasn't broken, but yes, the fella's right thumb will be out of commission for a while. Car door: 1. Thumb: not a great day for the thumb.

So much more: Duck boat tour, a visit to Woolcott & Co., a tasty yarn shop in Harvard Square. Wandered around Cambridge, concerned about the extreme youth of everyone. I seem to recall standing on the shore of Walden Pond, seeing Gropius House, the Harvard Lampoon, a guy juggling knives in Harvard Square, or was I hallucinating?

We're not done yet, missy. More putty-colored houses to come. And, if we can stop slamming our thumbs in car doors, I'm hoping for a visit with Moth Heaven Julia. Wish you were here?

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 06:45 AM | Comments (47)

May 23, 2008

Cream Tea

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Dear Ann,

In the precious sitting time allowed on my recent trip, I worked on the Lace Ribbon Scarf, and finished it. Coming in at just under 2 skeins of Claudia Handpainted Linen (the base yarn is Euroflax Originals Sportweight), Lace Ribbon Scarf is done.

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Let us pause for a moment to note that I not only choose the same colors over and over, but the same combinations. I don't do this consciously, and certainly not out of a desire to live matchily. I just find myself drawn to the same colors again and again. After a while a new color pokes its way into the rotation. I'm never bored.

The scarf is approximately 52 inches long. I worked 20 1/2 repeats of the 24-row lacy ribbon pattern.

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It's long enough to knot in the French manner. But I think that obscures the ribbon pattern too much. (The lady bust belonged to my late mother-in-law. I think this is the first time it's modelled knitting. It's as close as I've got to a Madonna, and I'm missing the Madonnas.)

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As I worked on the scarf, I started to think, in a caffeinated way, about what a nice stole it would make if it were wider, and how it would be fun, yet still beautiful, to tweak the pattern to make the ribbons wave a bit more fluidly. I have 3 skeins of Handmaiden Sea Silk that were meant for a birthday stole for a friend and never quite made it to cast-on. (It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I noticed that there were 999 Lacy Ribbon projects on Ravelry, and that if I hurried, I could be number 1000.)

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Unlike most of the Sea Silk colors, which are rich and saturated, this one is almost pure cream. It looks like it was splashed with weak tea. I can't wait to see it undulating in the ribbon lace pattern.

To those in the U.S., have a wonderful long weekend. Get your summer knitting organized!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 06:42 PM | Comments (25)

May 21, 2008

SPQ Orna, or, The Million Madonna March

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Ciao Ann,

I've been away. In a merely physical sense, I was off on a Jubilee Year Junket to Rome and Florence. But actually I was a stranger in a land much stranger than Italy could ever be. I was in Orna Land. (Longtime readers may recall my friend Orna, who was depicted in scrupulously fair and accurate fashion in this report.

In Orna Land, the following are not allowed, and may be considered danger signs of decaffeination:

Sitting (except in the pew of a church that has a Caravaggio).
Refusing to enter any church, palace, museum or coffee bar.
Pretending not to understand Italian (everyone understands Italian).
Not saying, "Yes! That is amazing!" when asked, "Isn't that AMAZING?!!"
Asking for a break.
Taking a break without authorization.
Asking to go home. (There's no crying in Orna Land!)
Going to bed before 2 a.m. local time.

In Orna Land, the following are mandatory:

Drinking coffee.
Talking to strangers.
Speaking Italian. ("Doo-ay caffay macchiati con doo-ay beeky-airy de aqua, per favoray!") (Other useful phrases: "What? No raw sugar? We're leaving!")
Stopping in every profumeria and erboristeria, smelling at least 10 concoctions, and making a good-faith effort to decide which one smells best on Orna.
Daily gelato therapy.

In other words, I had a fabulous time. Orna has been to Rome and Florence many times, and has lived in both cities, which is why I begged to tag along with her on this trip. She was, to use an Orna-ism, an AMAZING guide. The girl can hone in on the fried artichoke di tutti fried artichokes in the Jewish ghetto with laser-like accuracy. With Orna, you get only the most tipico, classico of all delicacies. The greatest of which, in Orna Land, is coffee.

Although I just returned, it's all a blur. To identify my photos I have had to get out all my admission stubs, my picture postcards, and my Lonely Planet Rome City Guide, to try to remember where the heck I was. So please indulge me in a random photo show, and if I misidentify some masterpiece or piazza, chime right in with your corrections. I feel a little like Odysseus. He was probably glad to sit down and get back on his laptop, too.

Rise and Shine and Andiamo, Already

In Rome, we were staying near the Campo de' Fiori. Our top priority each "morning" (in Orna Land, the period between 11:45 a.m. and noon) was to go to the coffee bar that was a 1-minute walk away, so that we would have the strength to make it to the coffee bar that was a 2-minute walk.

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The 1-minute coffee bar was Sant' Eustachio.

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In Rome, one must get used to walking on old works of art, such as this mosaic on the floor of Sant' Eustachio. There are just too dang many works of art; some of them have to get walked on.

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The 2-minute coffee bar was Tazza d'Oro. My all-time fave.

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Tazza d'Oro's speciality is its coffee granita with obligatory whipped cream. The granita is so sweet that it curls your teeth, and the coffee is strong enough to knock you down. The whipped cream is not sweetened, which is the secret of the whole recipe, I think. In the dozen or more times that we stopped in Tazza d'Oro, I saw everybody from Japanese tourists to elderly locals sighing in bliss upon receiving their granita di caffe.

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The best part of waking up. (Note: In Orna Land, there is no sitting involved in drinking coffee.)

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We spent a lot of time in Trastevere. (Mainly in churches, of course.)

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We had the Corsini palace and its masterpieces to ourselves. No guards, no nothing. Just a guy to sell you a ticket at the door. Of course, they have a Caravaggio. Doesn't everybody?

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Here and there, we saw doors hung with these little pink rosettes. We speculated that the family inside had a new baby girl, but we never saw any blue ones so we weren't sure. Romans, please advise.

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Neither of us was brave enough to snap a photo of the napping driver of this parked flower truck.

The Museum of Awesome Ideas for Knitting and Quilting

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We spent two afternoons in the Villa Borghese gardens (so many benches, so little sitting), including the Villa Giulia's Etruscan antiquities museum and Rome's museum of modern art. (The painting in the photo is Poetry Reading Tour by Gastone Novelli, 1961).

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A highlight was passing by Fellini's house with its affectionate plaque.

Call Me Miss Honeychurch

I knew that Orna knew Florence well, but I was not prepared for people running up to her, shouting, hugging her, and standing in the middle of the street catching up with her for half an hour. Quite startling at first, but I got used to it, especially when approaching the coffee establishments.

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Firenze is known for its bluegrass music in the streets. (Not really.) You will be proud of me, Ann. I did not sing along, or even call out a request for "I'll Fly Away".

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Every palazzo should have a Buddha (he's so lucky to be sitting) and a chandelier made out of a couple thousand compact fluorescent bulbs. I think this is at the Palazzo Strozzi. The palazzi fairly whizz by in Orna Land.

Eatin' Buon in the Neighborhood

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Da Mario is a local lunch spot. You are seated at large tables with other customers (many of whom know Orna, needless to say). You are told what they have to eat that day, and you pick something, and it is very good.

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Il Latini. Do not under any circumstances miss this restaurant if you are in Florence. To be avoided by persons sensitive to the sight of many, many prosciutti hanging from the ceiling. Every bite is the best you've ever eaten of whatever it is.

Look Ann! Scribble Lace!

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Just something decorating a shop window, but every time I passed it I wanted to log cabin the thing.

I Saw Something Nasty in the Arno

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While taking our obligatory Ponte Vecchio pix, we were mesmerized by the giant fish and baby ducks we could see in the shallows. Until we saw a rat the size of a pig try to eat one. It had a long hairy tail and icky gray and black fur floating in the current. It was a rat I tell you! A giant rat! It about put me off my daily gelato! We kept asking people about the giant Arno rats and finally somebody suggested it was a nutria. Ick. Ick. Ick. Moving ON.

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We had some lovely hanging-out moments with Orna's pals. (Note standing position.)

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Despite the rigors of Orna Land and the Giant Arno Rat, I would do it again very happily, and hope I get the chance to.

Love,
Kay

PS The Madonnas! I almost forgot the Madonnas! Here's a sampling of the streetcorner Madonnas I managed to snap along the way. I grew to love seeing one as I passed, and I'm sure that for the locals they are beloved landmarks.

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(This one was not on a streetcorner, but in the master bedroom of the Palazzo Davanzati, right where a TV might be today. It's my favorite.)

Posted by Kay at 11:35 AM | Comments (71)

May 14, 2008

Breaking News: Passing It Forward

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Dear Kay,

I don't know why it never occurred to me that I wasn't the only person in the world who was squirreling away Rowan Donegal Lambswool. It just seemed like a weird thing to be doing. I was all settled into a nice, long process of collecting yarn for my Donegal sweater.

So when I got an email yesterday from Mary o' Texas, announcing that she had almost all the yarn I was missing for the Donegal sweater project--and she was willing to part with it--I just sat there for a while, contemplating the whole situation. I mean, really. How kind is that? Do other communities of obsessive hobbyists behave this way? Do people who go bass fishing send each other lures? What about the Civil War re-enactors? Do they swap rifle cartridges in a pinch? My guess is that they are trading gear just like we are--but they could not be MORE generous than knitters.

I have been amazed at the kindness of knitters. We've seen it in many places, in many ways. When someone like Mary ups and offers to part with yarn in such an effortless and generous way, I am reminded that our obsession-inducing hobby has another, very pleasantly human side: it's more fun to do it in the company other like-minded people. Even if the hanging out tends to take place in a virtual way.

I can't wait to return to this sweater, which at this point will include yarns from Susette of Ithaca, Mary of Vancouver, Cecelia of New York, Belinda of London, and now Mary o' Texas. How cool is that?

Love,
Ann

P.S. Tracy in Qatar (one of the MOST generous of generous knitters ever in the universe, knitting for children in very faraway places) raised the question of the guinea pig and beta fish which I offered to trade for yarn. I want to make it clear that no rodents nor sea creatures will be shipped to Texas in return for this yarn. No matter how I begged, she wouldn't take 'em.

Posted by Ann at 11:05 AM | Comments (25)

May 13, 2008

A Grinding Halt

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Dear Kay,

I don't think I can properly capture exactly what has been going on in terms of my knitting recently. Actually, I have been reluctant to go into it, because it really does feel like I've been in a dark place. A little compulsive. A little too far gone. Even for us, and that is saying something.

Here's the thing: I finished that Keava Fair Isle sweater; I wallowed around in the landscaping for a while; I folded and refolded the thing in various places around the house--you know how it is when you finish something and you want to see how it looks draped across every piece of furniture that you own. I thought that would be enough Fair Isle for a while. I thought I'd gotten it out of my system.

But finishing that one sleeve had been akin to taking a single bite of cheesecake. What delicious cheesecake. Need more cheesecake. Cheeeeeeesecaaaaaaaaaaake.

In the back of my mind I'm always carrying around Fair Isle patterns that I admire. Among the ones that floated out once I realized that I needed to find another project:

1. Meg Swansen's Schoolhouse Shetland Pullover from Knitting in America. A simple stitch pattern and an ingenious shoulder construction. Straight-ahead knitting, with some wacky I-cord action in there somewhere. It uses only two shades of yarn, which will be just the thing at some point. But I was jonesing for a lot of color at the moment, so I decided to wait on this one.

2. Sarah Swett's Kestrals Alight Cropped Kimono from the same book--the indigo and madder version. The hand-dyed handspun yarn in this project is what makes me go wobbly. So color shifty and subtle, I was forced to contact a woman with an indigo dyepot. This project will take ten years to get going, but it will, someday, be incredible.

3. Alice Starmore's Donegal. Great, puzzley swirls. Just my thing. This pattern appears in three different places: The Celtic Collection (1992), In the Hebrides (1996), and finally on her website, Virtual Yarns. Each version specifies a different brand of yarn. You got your Rowan Donegal Lambswool (discontinued), your Alice Starmore Scottish Campion (discontinued), and your Alice Starmore Hebridean 2-ply (not discontinued).

Not So Easy Peasy

This is where things get dark. I could have simply ordered up a Donegal kit from Virtual Yarns and been at least ten inches into the thing by now. But I happen to know that the loveliest yarn ever made was Rowan Donegal Lambswool. (Go ahead, you can argue this with me but I will not back down.)

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Circa 1990s, I'm guessing it went out production about five seconds before I first laid eyes on The Celtic Collection. I've been collecting the stuff for many moons, and every time I take it out and consider it in the bright light of day, it really is marvelous, ever-changing yarn.

Each shade has at least five other shades in it. Juniper turns blue or green depending on what's next to it; ALL the shades change, wildly, depending on what's next to them. It is the damnedest thing.

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Which is why the Donegal colorway in The Celtic Collection is so very sublime. I decided, about ten seconds after emerging from the vinca in my back yard, that I would rig up a colorway using whatever Donegal Lambswool I had, and get as close as possible to the original colorway.

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These yarns look close, but o! each had its fatal flaw: too dark, too light, too heathered, too solid. The more I looked at them, the worse they got. What was I thinking?

I spent a lot of time considering skeins of yarn, trying to decide if Elderberry could actually be substituted with Scottish Campion in Grape. I studied my shade cards, held up balls of yarn to the light, just about drove myself insane. Because I knew, even as I stared endlessly at all this yarn, that nothing I cooked up was going to work as well as the original colorway from The Celtic Collection.

After my best efforts, I concluded I was about five shades shy of the eleven required by the pattern. I almost gave up and ordered a kit. Then I discovered Susette.

Enter Susette

Susette's blog, Knitting Letters: A to Z is absolutely magnificent, and I don't think I've said that about a blog before. She's unionpearl on Ravelry. She is up to some very, very cool stuff, and she provides these black-hole lists of links that will send you off into William Morris, typography, and the Book of Durrow. This sort of blogging is a gift to us all. Really generous.

ANYway, it turns out that after ten years, Susette had recently FINISHED a Donegal using all the original shades. (Don't you love how a project can take ten years? Isn't that epic? Doesn't that indicate a basic optimism about the universe, to keep a project in the wings for ten years?) Here's her big reveal. It occurred to me that she might have leftovers, and if she would do some sort of trade with me, maybe I could have, for a brief and shining moment, a bit of all the original shades for Rowan Donegal Lambswool.

I think she understood my desperation. Her box of knitterly generosity arrived, and it really was a Rosetta Stone of yarn:

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Rainforest? Rainforest is so dark that it's almost black. But not quite. Elderberry? Much less eggplanty than I thought it would be. I have found no Jameison's, Jamieson and Smith, Campion, Hebridean, nor anything that would substitute for these murky, unique shades.

(You see how far gone I was.)

So I cast on using Susette's precious partial balls of yarn, immediately and without a blink, in order to see how the shades played out in the knitting. The true colors lie somewhere between these non-flash and flash photos:

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To give you an idea of how nuts I was, I completed all this in two days. I don't think I left the house. My children foraged like Civil War deserters. Hubbo would walk by, shaking his head sadly.

I knew, even as I worked that Tarragon into its destiny, that this wouldn't last long. But I kept going anyway, wanting to see how much of the pattern I could squeeze out before the yarn disappeared.

At this point, I've scored some awesome Roseberry from Mary aka Divette on Ravelry, some Rainforest and Pickle on eBay, but it's going to be a while. If anybody wants to deal with a desperate knitter, I'm willing to trade the guinea pig and/or beta fish for:

2 skeins #477 Tarragon
2 skeins #490 Elderberry
2 skeins #484 Bramble
2 skeins #482 Juniper
2 skeins #485 Bay

So here I sit, ground to a halt but itching to knit. Yarn, yarn everywhere, but not a foot to knit.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:27 AM | Comments (29)

May 12, 2008

I Wore Pajamas, All Right

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Dear Kay,

My skateboarding second grader knitted a pair of washcloths for me, accompanied by a very fine and lovely soap. I really can't quite look at them enough. It's one of those moments, you know?

I hope everyone had a happy Mother's Day. I sure did: I got the full treatment, including a napkin with a Mother's Day rap on it:

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Yo Mother's day
is like a day
4 your mama
so let her wear
pajamas.

I would like to extend an especially happy Mother's Day to every single teacher, across the land, who helps our children figure out that their moms are insanely delighted to receive such tender gifts. People, there's a yarnover edging on those washcloths!

Love,
Ann

PS Today is our wedding anniversary, so I am blissed out over here, pondering eighteen years of marriage how that can lead a person to end up with a pair of handknitted dishcloths. A pretty good deal.

Posted by Ann at 08:28 AM | Comments (42)

May 07, 2008

Shearly Wonderful

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Dear Kay,

Thank you for sending down the St. Bernard with the little casket cask (whoopsy! thanks, Michelle!) around its neck with the brandy in it and everything. I really am fine, I promise, under this avalanche of school-end foolishness and miscellaneous hooha. If I had any more room on my back bumper, I'd add a new bumper sticker: "I'd rather be knitblogging." Or "My other car is a basket of yarn." Or "My sweater is an honor student at Grassland Elementary." Or "If you don't like my knitting, call [email protected]$$." Anywaaaaaay . . .

Now. Can we talk about Gale, now? I've been dying to talk about Gale.

One of the year's biggest new knitting books is Gale Zucker's Shear Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn.

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How big is this book? People, it is currently the Number One Best-selling Animal Husbandry Book on Amazon! It is kicking The Chicken Health Handbook's feathered behind!

But more important, it's deluxe, and lush, and very beautiful. It doesn't look very much like The Chicken Health Handbook. And it's because Gale's photographs are so special.

Gale and her co-author, Joan Tapper, traveled across the country to visit fiber farms where people are living out their dreams of working close to the land. At one point, I do believe Gale spent the night underneath a Navajo rug loom.

I had the chance to see early proofs of this book, and since then, I have kept in the back of my head Gale's images of beautiful places, memorable people, and sheep who look a lot like people. A lot of big sky.

You don't have to be a spinner or dyer (or animal husbander, for that matter) to love this book. In fact, the less you know about this world, the more fascinating it becomes. "I trade time for temperature," says Nanney Kennedy, a Maine fiber farmer who does her dyeing in big tubs in her yard. She lets the sun heat the vats--a slower process, but no carbon footprint for her! She hauls saltwater from the Damariscotta River, uses it as as a natural mordant for her dyes.

The Shear Spirit blog has a lot of juicy tidbits about the book.

And there are a bunch of patterns, too. (What's a fiber book without patterns?) This book is my favorite sort of mash-up: stories, patterns, superlush photographs. If you put it on your bedside table, it will leave you with a lot of nutty yarn-related dreams.

The Brush with Fame Part

I first discovered Gale Zucker while trolling knitting blogs, several years ago. Her blog, She Shoots Sheep Shots, struck me immediately. Gale was always knitting something interesting, but it was her photographs that really knocked me out. The photographs were really beautiful, like magazine photographs. They were composed. They tended to be rich in color and humanity. It didn't really matter that there were often no people in them--they were intensely human.

On the front page of her blog is a photograph that I have gazed upon many, many times. See those sheep? That's a portrait.

It took me a while to figure out that Gale was not simply an unusually fine knitting blog photographer. She's a serious, professional photographer, which was instantly clear to me once I discovered her portfolio.

Back when we were trying to figure out the look we wanted for our second knitting book, I kept thinking about those sheep, and the people that she photographed so well, and the funny sensibility that came through her pictures.

So, in the fine tradition of discovering great friends via the Internet, we emailed Gale and asked if she had any interest in taking the photographs for our new book. We finally met in person, for lunch in New York, on a sunny, chilly day more than a year ago. By the end of lunch, which of course involved viewing sheep shots on her laptop in the middle of the restaurant, which seemed like a perfectly sensible thing to do, we hoped against hope that she'd risk her sanity to help us out.

I think it was the double-teaming that did it. We wore her down, and she realized it would be easier to say yes than to listen to us anymore. I can hardly describe how delighted we were.

And are, especially now that the photographs are done and off in China being printed.

So there you go: the co-author of the Number One Best-selling Animal Husbandry Book on Amazon, the fabulous Gale Zucker, is the photographer for Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.

We couldn't be prouder that we had the chance to work with Gale.

We have a lot of tales from the travels she took with us last summer, which I'll share in the days to come.

Love,

Ann

PS We just got the bound galleys--very exciting to see it looking more like a book and less like a pile of Post Its:

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Posted by Ann at 11:57 AM | Comments (46)

May 05, 2008

Still At It

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Dear Ann,

I am in a flow state about knitting Sean Scully paintings. My condition can only be described as Cara-esque. Over the weekend, reader pal Kelly fed the flames by sending me a booklet from a recent Scully show at Dartmouth in which the painter comments on a series of paintings going back to the beginning of his 30-year plus focus on stripes. I like to think that as a knitter with a strong (ahem) "focus" on garter stitch, stripes and blocks, I can appreciate an in-depth, 30-year plus devotion to "the stripe". I hear you Mr. Scully! The tenderness of the edges! The surface? --Don't get me started on the surface! I could go on for days about the surface. Let's do lunch!

Although I do not deny thinking about sending Sean Scully a tribute blanket, I have read just enough of his commentary on his own work to know that he probably wouldn't approve of what I'm doing--which is essentially looking at his paintings as graphic design--as pattern. (Similarly, I'm not sure Klimt is thrilled about those needlepoint cushions.) I can't help it, though. One thing you don't find a lot of, in knitting, is paint. I've seen some of the paintings in the museum, and can appreciate that the colors are not ordinary colors, but layers and layers of pigment applied laboriously by hand. You can't do that with knitting. (No, Ann, not even with shetland wool.) (No, Belinda, not even with denim.) But here I am. A knitter in love with paintings. I can't think of anything else to do but knit them. (Well, I have thought of quilting them. I just don't have the stash of hand-dyed solids.) (Yet.) (Kidding!) (Not dyeing fabrics in the kitchen sink!) (Yet.)

And now, some instructions for my imaginary friends who are knitting the Wall of Linen blanket. (I love you guys!) Everybody else (i.e., actual people), skip the next few paragraphs.

Wall of Linen Square 4

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Instrux: Cast on 48 in navy. Work 10 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row.

On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 4 rows, ending with a RS row.

On the next row (WS), change to navy and work one row. Work 9 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row in navy.

On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 6 rows, ending with a RS row. On the next row (WS), change to navy and work 1 row. Work 7 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row.

On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 4 rows, ending with a RS row. On the next row (WS), change to navy and work 1 row. Work 5 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row.

On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 8 rows, ending with a RS row. On the next row (WS), change to navy and work 1 row. Work 15 garter ridges. Bind off on the RS but do not cut the navy yarn.

Turn the work one quarter-turn to the right. Pick up 60 stitches, one in each of the garter ridges on this edge. Work 12 garter ridges and bind off on the RS. Finish the square by cro-Kaying all the way around the edge (if desired).

Wall of Linen Square 5

WOLsquare5.jpg

Let us join hands together and rejoice that we are done with navy, for the time being. We like navy, but we are glad to say hello to Euroflax's Aqua shade, which to my eye is less of an aqua and more of a robin's egg blue.

Instrux: Using cream, cast on 25. (Yes it's shocking! Not a multiple of 15! I'm messing with you!) Work garter-stitch stripes as follows:

12 ridges cream
12 ridges aqua
6 ridges cream
6 ridges aqua
6 ridges cream
12 ridges aqua
6 ridges cream

Bind off on the RS. Finish the square(tangle) by cro-Kaying all the way around the edge (if desired).

Nose Under (Striped) Tent

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When I was picking up yarn for the Wall of Linen, 2 skeins of Claudia's Handpainted Euroflax, in blues and browns, gave me the ol' "hey, wanna party?" This has happened to me before. Claudia is like that with the handpainting. But as in the past, I had no idea what to do with it when I got it home.

ribbonlace.jpg

Luckily Veronik Avery was driving by in her bandwagon, pulled into the driveway and honked the horn (infuriating my dad). I jumped on, and cast on this addictive little pattern. (Can 779 Ravelers be wrong? Can I get a "moo"?) I think this scarf is for me, but if, as has happened before, a variegated yarn breaks my heart by being less compelling knitted up than it was in the skein, I know someone who will love it. As much as I like the yarn, I've already had a few sneaky thoughts about how I would love to have several scarves, in each of these saturated, eat-em-up colors, instead of one scarf in all of them together. I never learn this about myself. But I need this project right now, to spell me from the Wall of Linen garter stitch.

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Our young friend Ben had a solo in his very first opera Saturday night. It was the first performance ever of a new opera, Korczak's Orphans, about a doctor who took care of 200 orphans in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. After creating the role of Marek, a boy who forgives his teacher for boxing his ears, Ben was greeted backstage by many tulips and Carrie (whose talents lie more in the area of wearing hats all the time.) It's a hard-knock life.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:37 AM | Comments (29)
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