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

September 29, 2008

Sleeves Sleeves SLEEVES

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Dear Kay,

I haven't felt this behind since that walking half marathon when I ended up so far in the back that the heart attack ambulance and the cone-picking-up truck chased me all the way up Demonbreun Street.

I have finished the Afghans for Afghans sweater that I signed up to do for the Ravelympics. Which ended in August. In a fit of self-loathing, I finished the last three inches of the second sleeve, which had languished on my desk like an unpaid bill. I grabbed my tomato pincushion and sewed that sucker in place faster than you could say "You such a disorganized and flaky knitter."

Done done and DONE! There it is, up top. Doesn't it look just GREAT? Isn't it just the most complete thing you ever saw?

Look closer, my friends.

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I sewed the sleeve on, sure: INSIDE OUT. The whole sleeve, stitched for the ages, wrong.

I can totally believe that I would do something like this. But STILL. I can't believe I did this!!!!

The Seamy Underside of Seaming Undersides

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Before I sewed the SLEEVE IN WRONG, I took a couple of photos to show the difference between knitting a sleeve flat and knitting it in the round. I worked Sleeve 1 back and forth, flat, because I couldn't find two circular needles of the same size. Sleeve 1 was sort of tedious on the wrong-side rows, because the fun of these rambling cables is scheming out how they're going to wander around. It was somehow tedious to be flipping back and forth, right side, wrong side, positive, negative. Ech!

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Sleeve 2 indeed cranked a lot more pleasantly than Sleeve 1. I worked the increases on the underside of the sleeve, where they appear in a flat-worked sleeve, and it turned out just dandy. I shifted the cabling away from the underside of the seam, to minimize bulk and also to minimize the eventuality of a bunch of creepy semi-felted cables under there once an Afghan child wears this thing.

The additional bonus of working Sleeve 2 in the round was that there's no seam along the underside. I don't mind sewing up knitting (when I DO IT CORRECTLY, I mean), but there is a pleasantness to this particular sleeve when it's not interrupted by the seam.

Blocking

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Just wanted to show how extreme a difference blocking can make. Pre-blocking, Sleeve 2 was very, very skinny. I blocked it by soaking the sleeve a while, then running two blocking wires inside and pinning them as far apart as was sensible.

Conclusions

Whining aside, I actually loved making this sweater.

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I wondered how the set-in sleeve would look with a bunch of random cables, and I was relieved that it seemed to work OK. When the CORRECT SIDE SHOWS, I mean.

Happy new year to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Kay, Bread & Company has a big pile of challah, you'd be happy to see.

Love,
Ann

PS In case anybody is wondering if I actually redid the sleeve, I promise I did:

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No sense driving some kid crazy with this thing.

Posted by Ann at 10:31 AM | Comments (42)

September 26, 2008

BAILOUT

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Dear Kay,

QUICK! It's become clear that we have to help with a bailout!

A bloggist whom we admire, Brainy Lady Alison, is trying to offload her copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. She's got to get rid of the thing because it's TOO BIG to read in the bathtub.

Brainy Lady, we hear ya! It weighs two pounds! It's a brick! We're sick of stepping around it all the time! How are we supposed to HOLD it? It's put us off knitting entirely. Makes us realize how much ROOM knitting takes up. We're moving on to some tinier craft. Toothpick log cabins. Polymer Barbie buttons. Tatting.

She's running a giveaway over at her place, so if you'd like to help out with this situation and take on the burden of housing Brainy Lady's cast-off book at your house, she's taking entries all weekend.

Love,
Ann

PS Brainy Lady's 2004 account of bra shopping in Taipei, here and here, remains one of my favorite stories ever.

Posted by Ann at 12:19 PM | Comments (23)

September 25, 2008

The City Beautiful

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Hey everybody,

Just a note to let people of the Midwest know that Ann and I, with the help of our co-conspirator Bonne Marie, have cooked up a late-breaking plan to go to Chicago the first weekend in October.

On Friday, October 3, we will be helping Loopy Yarns celebrate the grand opening of its grand new location. They'll have our new book in plentiful supply, and we will sign them and hang out and provide whatever entertainment we can. We'll be there from 6-9 p.m. or until asked to leave.

Then, on Saturday, October 4, we will spend pretty much the whole day at Yarncon! We'll do signings from 10:30 to noon and then from 1:30 to 4 p.m. After which we hightail it to the airport.

For those knitting Tiny Hats for charity, we will be happy to receive them at any of these events, and promise to mail them to the UK by the deadline for the campaign.

Tonight I'm going to be at Shea Stadium for Stitch & Pitch, unless it gets rained out. I always feel like a dork there, being a Yankee fan. I have no idea who's on first, you know? Really subpar knowledge of a local team, but what can I say? Only so much baseball will fit into my brain, and the Yankees got there first.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:11 AM | Comments (28)

September 23, 2008

The Margaret Sweater: A Common Reader

Dear Ann,

I want to talk about the Margaret Sweater, but first I have to raise my hand in the back of the Monteagle Bag class and say "Ooh ooh ooh Miss Shayne! I know a seamless way to do the bottom, too!"

My way is not as elegant as Judy's Magic Cast-On. Frankly, it involves garter stitch, so it might not make the most refined sock toe. But it's really intuitive and requires no new learning.

Here we go, Monteagle Bag Start Up, My Way:

Cast on 34 stitches. Knit every row until you have 2 garter ridges showing at the start of a RS row. Knit across the 34 stitches. NOW, pick up 2 new stitches along the left edge of the little strip you've just knit. Using a second circular needle, pick up 34 stitches along the cast-on edge of the strip, and then pick up 2 more stitches. You are now back at the start of the piece, and have a total of 72 stitches. Work according to the pattern. I used 2 circular needles until after the increase row in the pattern, and then put all the stitches on a single circular needle. You may want to work on 2 circs for longer, or you may work on a single circ from the very beginning.

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Isn't it pretty? The yarn is Katia Jamaica. I couldn't resist the crazy self-striping color, but didn't know what to do with a single skein of Brady Kitchen 1971 (not its real name). Until now.

In other Monteagle Bag news, the green lifestyle magazine Plenty blogged about the Monteagle Bag here. Wouldn't it be cool to see them in the checkout line on the shoulders of strangers? This one is going in my purse. Although I have a bunch of self-congratulatory reusable bags by the front door, I am not that good at forecasting my food shopping opportunities. I frequently find myself at the store (or worse, in the Greenmarket, with all the green people) without a bag and have to hang my head in shame as they pack my stuff into disposable bags. NO MORE.

Margaret Sweater

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(Photo copyright Gale Zucker. Thanks, Gale!).

I have one little difficulty with the Margaret Sweater (by Mary Neal Meador, in our new book). It's the same problem I have about tattoos. I would dearly love to embellish myself with a timeless piece of body art. (Apart from fainting at the thought of anything even slightly hurty happening to my body, I mean.) But how does one choose something so personal, so hard to erase? It amazes me that many people are able to do this.

Here's the thing. What if I change my mind? If I had gotten a tattoo when I was 16, it very likely would have been a tribute to the band Bread. [Pause to click the link and mock me. Hey! They were well-crafted soft-rock singles. I had my standards.] If I had gotten a tattoo when I was 26, it would have been a portrait of Dave Winfield. A person evolves, is what I'm saying. One's left calf should not be a reminder of past enthusiasms. (Or should it? Maybe that's the point I'm missing.)

Like one's own flesh, a handknit sweater in beautiful wool is more or less a relationship for life. That's my problem with knitting the Margaret Sweater for myself: the text. I'm either drawing a blank or coming up with stuff that's too long for chain-stitching. (Wouldn't want an abridged Margaret Sweater.) Now, I think this garment would be fine in its natural, blank-page state. But the idea of words-on-sweater really appeals to me. I want words, but what words?

It occurred to me that this might be a sticking point for others, and that it could be helpful to collect suggested quotations for various interests and fan clubs. So here's a sampling. A mere Googlesworth of ideas. Please feel free to add other options in the comments.

Jane Austen

I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?

Winston Churchill:

Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.

I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.

Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization.

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Mick Jagger (shown here in pilled sweater):

My mother has always been unhappy with what I do. She would rather I do something nicer, like be a bricklayer.

Yogi Berra:

Slump? I ain't in no slump... I just ain't hitting.

Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.

Neil Diamond

"I am," I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair.

Will Rogers:

I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.

Leonard Cohen:

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

George Carlin:

Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

David Byrne:

I couldn't talk to people face to face, so I got on stage and started screaming and squealing and twitching.

I find rebellion packaged by a major corporation a little hard to take seriously.

I've been in beautiful landscapes where one is tempted to whip out a camera and take a picture. I've learned to resist that.

Bruce Springsteen:

The release date is just one day, but the record is forever.

Pee Wee Herman (Paul Rubens)

For the rest of the day, whenever anybody says the secret word, scream real loud. Ready? Let's try it.
----
For the rest of the day, whenever anybody says the secret word, chain-stitch it. Ready?

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 01:48 PM | Comments (111)

September 22, 2008

Silver Lining

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Dear Kay,

I got gas this morning. Just wanted to pass that along. I had a tip from beloved knitter Judy about a short line not far from home, and sooner than I could finish spitting out the words "I'M ON IT," I had the car keys in my hand.

The only shiny side of the gas shortage here is that waiting in line for gas gave me time to finish the piece of car knitting that has lurked in my vehicle since, I'm thinking, March. I've worked on this while waiting for all sorts of things: basketball practice, children at school, you at the airport. Fallback knitting.

Here's a free pattern for ya:

1. Get an exquisite skein of 346 yards of fingering weight handspun from SewKnitNBeads2 over there at Etsy.

2. Using a size 3 needle, cast on 29 stitches. Work in moss stitch until you almost run out of yarn. Cast off.

Result: a scarf that is 4.5" wide and 86" long.

I really can't imagine anything to do with this beautiful yarn that would be more mesmerizing to look at. It doesn't repeat, anywhere. But it rhymes like crazy.

Sad that it's done. Isn't that the best kind of knitting?

Love,
Ann

PS Killin' us in Nashville: Nashville's Gas Crisis: Inside the Metro Bunker. (Warning: growned-up language alert . . .) (Hat tip: gasoline knitter Judy.)

Posted by Ann at 03:15 PM | Comments (29)

September 21, 2008

Pinched. Plus a New Little Movie

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Dear Kay,

Dude, I'm getting shaky. You may have heard that WE KIND OF RAN OUT OF GAS HERE IN NASHVILLE. It's come to the point that the Tennessean has started posting maps showing which gas stations have gas. At one point they had a Gas Cam running a live feed of the Exxon station at 12th and Broadway.

Apparently this is some fluke of the space/time continuum. Memphis has gas; Knoxville has gas. Nashville falls between pipelines, apparently, or maybe it's just JUSTICE being dispensed on our sorry little sidewalk-free, guzzlicious lifestyle. I'm down to a quarter of a tank, and I may not make it out tomorrow. How can I go cash in my Costco coupons for my pallet of printer paper if I can't drive the eight miles to the nearest Costco? It's giving me a colossal existential reckoning to imagine a carless life in this carcentric metropolitan area.

This temporary situation down here gives us all the opportunity to imagine, for a moment, what it would be like if THE GAS RAN OUT. Go ahead: think about it. Would you be able to live your normal life if you didn't have rivers of fresh, delicious gasoline available? I certainly wouldn't. We could walk the two miles to school every day, if we got all Abraham Lincoln about it. (Riding a bike here is totally life threatening unless all the cars vanish.) Hubbo's office is about a mile from our house. The Harris Teeter grocery store is a rugged schlep through a mile and a half of sidewalkless neighborhood. And we're considered "in-town" dwellers in Nashville. If you live in Franklin, or Brentwood, you're miles from the things you need. It's not what you'd call "sustainable." It's kind of a mess, you know?

Mason-Dixon Veil Stitch: A Documentary

I finished another of Ann Hahn Buechner's Monteagle Bags and may make a third one. Now that I'm home all the time with these bales of yarn lying around, I may knit up a regional light rail system.

Observations:

1. I did make two bags out of one skein of Euroflax yarn. This still does not make Euroflax the MOST economical choice for this bag. (In today's ever-diminishing dollar, a skein runs at around $24 which shows how old I am because I bought this stuff at $16 a skein and thought THAT was pricey.) It is, however, cheaper than cashmere. Or qiviut. Or handspun qiviut. Or, like, yarn made from spinning $10 bills which may be an idea in our future at the rate things are going.

2. There are some Ravelers messing around with the bag now, to excellent and innovative effect. In particular, knitinsage is thinking about eliminating the need to sew up the bottom of the bag by using Judy's Magic Cast On. (Judy Becker's masterful method is found here--one of Knitty's all-time great how-to pieces).

3. Now. Response has been so adequate to our first documentary, Twisted Cross Stitch, that we are following it up with a thrilling sequel, Mason-Dixon Veil Stitch.

Veil Stitch appears in Rounds 17 and 21 of the Monteagle Bag pattern. It's kind of unintuitive, but as fun as a rodeo once you see it in action. Here you go:

This is the worrisome appearance of Veil Stitch soon after working it:

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When you stretch out the clumps of wraps--after you finish the bag, please!--they look like this:

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Please note that on this bag, I did not knit the three rows of knit stitches between the Veil Stitch rows; this one has only one row, which saved me a little yarn.

After you finish two Monteagle bags, you end up with this:

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If the gas continues to fail to show up, there will be more of this sort of thing.

Love,
Ann

PS Speaking of eco-friendly, don't miss your chance for a free one-year subscription to eco-friendly Plenty magazine. Click here and click on the long-armed green monster.

PSS The photo at the top is what happens to an Addi Turbo when you slam it in the door by accident. I managed to finish my Monteagle Bag with it, which proves my true pioneer spirit at work right now. SO LAME DOWN HERE!

Posted by Ann at 08:32 AM | Comments (39)

September 20, 2008

Quilt Show Saturday

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Dear Ann,

Yesterday I sent my latest quilt off to meet its destiny. I handquilted it, so it had become a good friend. When I finish knitting a sweater, I cannot stand to look at it for a while. I'm over that sweater. Quilts are not like that. The more time I spend with a quilt, the more I like it, warts and all.

I would like to thank Janet Bolton for the powerful inspiration, and apologize to her if I've gotten her all wrong or copied her style too directly. Thanks to Janet Bolton, I have crossed "applique" off the list of Quilting Things I'm Not Interested In. Ditto for "handquilting". The magic of handquilting is how the surface of the quilt is transformed before your eyes. It makes the colors change too. I can't explain this. It seems to change the play of light, sort of a dapple effect.

(I still love sending a quilt out for machine-quilting. When you get it back, it's like, "Hey! Somebody made me a QUILT! How come they didn't bind it?")

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The quilt is for a baby, represented by a small bird in a wood-grain nest. (AW!)

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Baby seems fine with his depiction.

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Baby's initial and the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel Tower was cut from a souvenir dishtowel. It symbolizes the hope that Baby will go on many trips and wait in long lines for famous tourist attractions, at least the ones that are worth waiting in long lines for (and the quilter believes that the Tour Eiffel qualifies).

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Dad bird got his initial. (Quilter is sentimental. Quilters have that prerogative. If you want to see corny, Mom bird fabric is a Liberty print with knitting needles on it. Double AW!)

This little quilt really helped me with my skills. I feel like I could teach a class in the double-fold binding now. (Signups will be posted!) I love doing that part. My free-hand quilting has also gotten about as far as it's likely to get, given my love of the random and the imperfect. I don't think I'll ever cross "marking a complicated quilting pattern" off my list of quilting things I'll never do. I'm too seat-of-the-pants for that. If I want a perfect quilting job, I'll get it machine-quilted. There are many things I'd have done differently, design-wise, but I have so little time for quilting that I've made an executive decision not to indulge in do-overs. I do my best and move on.

Another quilting thing I said I'd never do was "buy an old quilt top on Etsy".

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Oh well.

The rest of this weekend is all about the knitting. Monteagle Bag and picking the yarn for my Belinda Wrap, which is going to be hard--probably the hardest thing about that project.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:29 AM | Comments (43)

September 18, 2008

Mr. De Mille, I'm Ready for My Closeup

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Dear Kay,

Well, I am relieved finally to have a place to store my denim rag balls.

This Monteagle Bag (free pattern here) was diverting. This one is Euroflax Sport Weight in Terra Cotta. I immediately cast on for a second bag, in that OCD way that hits sometimes. I may get two bags out of this skein. It's going to be close.

As I knitted these very, very strange stitches, I had forgotten how they worked, so it was a new experience all over again.

A reader asked what a "double wrap" is. You do double wraps in a couple of places in this pattern. Instead of wording you to death, I realized I could make a little movie of this admittedly peculiar little maneuver, which is part of the Twisted Cross Stitch. I just posted a blurry, murky YouTube of it. It's no Charlie Bit My Finger, but I hope this helps.

Here ya go:

Next time maybe the needles will stay in the frame better. FIRE THAT DIRECTOR!

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I like the way the Horizontal Stitch looks. HEY! You're knitting sideways! WATCHOUT!

Thanks, everybody, for all the good wishes about the book. Please let us know how it's going . . .

Love,
Ann

P.S. Vegetarian Knitter Kate (who knits with carrots, to judge by her blog banner) just finished hers here. Fab!

Posted by Ann at 12:44 PM | Comments (54)

September 17, 2008

Giddy (My Favorite Emotion)

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Dear Ann,

Have you noticed how, when you reach A Certain Age, it's harder to feel giddy? Christmas morning doesn't quite do it (a nightgown! yay! can I go back to bed?), a birthday absolutely doesn't do it, but I've found that Pub Date can still evoke the old lightheaded joy and jangling-nerve combo that is so exhilarating. The book is out there, all by itself. Nobody holding its hand. Nobody reminding it to say please and thank you and sorry for that mistake on page 43. (If you are knitting the Daily Sweater in size Large, the chart is on Ravelry, the chart is going on the errata in our sidebar, the chart is in my apartment, and please, please email me for the chart. If, on the other hand, you are making size XL, congratulations! You get two charts! Knit it twice!)

One great cause for giddiness, on a strictly selfish level, is being able to publicly knit stuff from the book, and mess with it.

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Here is a messed-with version of the Mitered Hanging Towel by Cristina Shiffman. I made it my own with some stripes, a "spoke" down the center, wider garter borders, flirtation with proportions of stockinette to garter--but ultimately I like the Revised Standard Version (the ones in the book) better, I think. Still it was fun to get those ideas out of my system, and they work great as, you know, towels. They remind me of my Grandma Mabel, which is funny because Grandma Mabel was a woman so free of sentimentality that she would think it downright silly of me to be reminded of her by a towel. Grandma Mabel was one of those tough women who came up in the 20s and 30s, looking the world straight in the eye and getting on with it. As a granddaughter, you had to watch closely to detect any sign of her bottomless affection for you, which came chiefly in the form of waiting up 'til all hours (looking dolefully out from her screen porch as you skulked in next door) and warnings about Bad Men and having marketable skills to fall back on. Grandma never spoke ill of anyone--her "tsks" were so eloquent that verbal elaboration was unnecessary. There was the "tsk" of "your mother is too strict with you" and the "tsk" of "that skirt is too short" and the "tsk" of "why are you laying out in the sun with baby oil on your translucent flesh?" Oh well, Grandma, not the first time you've thought me silly. Tsk all you want up there in the Great Lounge of Maternal Disapproval in the Sky.

In other news I am going crazy with color and fabric right now. A deep flow state involving online shopping carts and pretexts to go down to Purl Soho. (Fun fact: there is no white thread available between my house and Purl Soho, in all of Manhattan. That sewing place on West 72nd? "These are not the threads you are looking for.") Right now my preoccupation is "gray with other colors".

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Rose petals on asphalt. That's a quilt, right there in the park next to the Imagine mosaic.

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Which was decorated extra nicely the day I passed. Heavily influenced by Denyse Schmidt, I thought.

When I got home, this fabric (by Naomi Ito/Nani Iro) had arrived:

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Coincidence? Screenprint linen from Modern Craft.

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Another "gray with" quilt, this time disguised as a fence on Fifth Avenue. I don't normally like fleur de lis motifs, but this one is so stylized, and attractively rusted, too. On Fifth Avenue, they have standards even for rust.

There is more "gray with", to die for, chez Soule Mama who has made an exquisite version of the Jane Austen dress, with a gray linen skirt and thrifted aqua yarn. It is luminous. Thank you Amanda!

Thank you, everyone, for your encouraging words. Let us know what you knit, and how you mess with it.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 12:49 PM | Comments (43)

September 16, 2008

A Party Favor for You

Dear everybody,

We have to say, we are feeling a little twingly today. It's the publication day for our new book.

To celebrate, we're passing out a party favor.

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Monteagle Bag pattern! Free!

It's one of our favorite patterns in the book. OK, we would say that about every pattern.

You may have heard about the trouble with plastic shopping bags. (If you haven't, here's a little background on the problem. Not a pretty sight.)

Well, once again, knitting makes it possible for us to turn something mundane into something F.U.N. Ann Hahn Buechner, one of our favorite people and most inventive knitters, concocted a shopping bag that is a quick knit, sturdy as the day is long, and happens to be a lot of fun to make. It's not so much knitting as it is macrame with knitting needles. (In a good way!)

We encourage you to make a batch of these, which will accomplish several things at once:

1. You will learn some totally insane new stitch patterns. (By "totally insane" we mean that one of them was invented by Mary Walker Phillips, and one of them was invented by Debbie New. Mary and Debbie in the same pattern--can you DIG IT? We knew that you could.)

2. You will use up some linen or cotton yarn that has been lingering in your stash, enabling you to justify buying more yarn.

3. You will wave goodbye to that drawerful of plastic grocery bags you didn't much know what to do with anyway.

4. You will get to talk to people at the grocery store who envy your bag and want to know where you "bought" it.

In a world gone mad, we hope you guys enjoy the book. That's why we wrote the thing! It's a love letter to knitting, and knitters. (A rilly long letter. With pictures.)

Remember Mason-Dixon Rule Number One: Knitting is spoze to be fun.

Lots of love,

Kay and Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:38 AM | Comments (103)

September 10, 2008

Tiny Hats

Dear Ann,

Check my latest design:

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It's the Yodeling Heidi Hat, one size fits all. (All Innocent drink bottles.)

We don't have Innocent drinks here in the US, but nevertheless we are knitting hats for them. Why? Because the fine and freaky people at Innocent are running their Big Knit campaign again this year to help raise money for Age Concern, a UK organization that works to keep older people warm over the winter. The campaign is looking for knitters to knit lots of little hats for their smoothie bottles. For each be-hatted bottle sold, Innocent and Sainsbury's (Sainsbury's being the Safeway or Shopright of the British Isles) will give 50p to Age Concern. Last year over 400,000 hats were knitted, raising £200,000 for Age Concern.

This year they're aiming for half a million hats, which obviously they'll get because this is just the sort of thing knitters like to do.

Such is our excitement over the idea of hats on bottles, that you and I are going to collect hats in the US and send them over to England, thus sparing our compatriots the agony of going to the post office, and the embarrassment of going to the post office with tiny hats.

So, knitters of North America, your mission:

Step One. Knit tiny hats.
Patterns for tiny hats can be found here. (You have to love a knitting pattern that starts out, "pop your feet up with a cup of tea.") In addition, the upcoming (October) issue of Knitting (UK) magazine, will showcase hat patterns by a bunch of designers, including me. (You cannot find a design with the quality and taste of the Yodeling Heidi Hat just anywhere, you know.)

Step Two. Deliver tiny hats to me and Ann, by any means necessary.
You can hand them to us on the street, at Stitch & Pitch night in Shea Stadium (September 25), in the subway, at the yarn store, at Fairway or at Harris-Teeter. No questions asked! It's the secret Tiny Hat Handshake!

If you don't think you'll be running into us, feel free to email us for a US mailing address. The hats need to be in England by October 17, so please get them to us by October 10.

Git on it! Keep your eye on the Hatometer!


thebigknit2008

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:07 AM | Comments (81)

September 09, 2008

Coming Unstuck

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Dear Kay,

I have been absolutely confounded as to why my Ravelympics project has been such a slow slogger. I tend to function only on deadline, and having that excellent 17-day window of opportunity seemed like a great way for me to crank a sweater to send along to the sweater drive currently under way for Afghans for Afghans.

I was having a fine old time cranking these wandering, random cables. I was knitting in the round, and it was actually almost mindless to shift the cables a stitch to the left, a stitch to the right, occasionally twisting the cables when they ran into each other. Tra freakin la!

The trouble came when I stopped knitting in the round, after I divided for the front and back at the armholes. Doing these random cables in flat knitting is, like, 42% less fun than doing them in the round. You have to pay a lot more attention when you're on the wrong side of this thing. You're knitting the purls, purling the knits, and it's not hard, but somehow less fun.

I started the sleeve late at night, and because I didn't have size 6 dpns or circs, I dove in, knitting the sleeve flat. That's where I really hit the Wall of Sloggery.

I don't mean to be whiny about this, because I'm glad to be making a fashion-forward pullover for some unwitting Afghan boy. But I do think I'll scrounge up a pair of circs for Sleeve 2. And I bet it will go, like, 42% more happily.

Fit

Up top you can see how this UNBLOCKED sweater fits a very, very skinny 12-year-old boy. It does fit, and not in a painfully tight way, but not in a way that a 12-year-old boy is all that happy about. The boy, who shall remain nameless because he'll KILL ME I mention it, has a 26" waist, for those of you keeping track of the ease/negative ease/uneasiness of this project.

The sleeve doesn't have the sleeve cap on it, in case you're wondering why it's so short.

I have been relishing the blocking of this, knowing that the cables would open up considerably. It blocked tidily to 18" across, so I will try to get the 12-year-old boy to model it again to see how it fits now.

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At the top, I seem to have gotten Cable Twist Panic and threw in a bunch of last-minute twists.

I wonder when the back of this sweater will dry. In 2024, probably.

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The sleeve was actually fun, now that I think of it, because I started to let the cables go all radical. One doesn't ever cross anything until the very top. There are wide stretches of reverse stockinette. One cable follows the curve of the sleeve cap.

I had to add a few rows to the sleeve cap shaping so that it will fit the armhole properly. We'll see how she goes.

I'm Just a Bill. Or Maybe a Knitted Bag.

Yesterday, the world's greatest knitting circle (sorry, but it's true) met, it being the second Monday of the month and all, at the downtown Nashville Public Library. (Next month: Monday, October 13, noon to 2 pm.)

Despite the fact that we were in our conference room, as always, I heard a gentle rustling sound, sort of like birch leaves in a late summer breeze. Or maybe the quite tulle skirt of a ballerina.

Or maybe Susan knitting a bag out of half-inch VCR tape.

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This colorway, you ask? It's America Rock.

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Love,
Ann

PS Quick recap: The sweater above uses Rowan DK Tweed in Wine. Pattern is the Perfect Sweater (link in the right sidebar), size small. Size 6 needles. Cable pattern from a sock pattern in our new book.

Posted by Ann at 09:45 AM | Comments (26)

September 07, 2008

The Age of Linoleum

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Dear Ann,

The new Dishcloth Calendar is here! The new Dishcloth Calendar is here!

For inspiration for my contribution to this year's edition, I searched far and wide, racing through stitch dictionaries like a mad woman--nothing doing. I looked down at my feet, and there it was: kitchen floor. Marmoleum. Linoleum! Who doesn't love linoleum? Who doesn't miss it every day? Who doesn't want to knit a dishrag that reminds them of linoleum?

OK, so maybe it's just me. Moving on.

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Linoleum is one of 35 patterns in the 2009 Dishcloth Calendar, which is now available for sale. Once again, Janet Nogle, one of the mothers of the Dishcloth Knitalong site on Yahoo (6000 members! that's a lot of dishcloths!), has done an insane amount of work to produce this collection of patterns for kitchen and home. If you are a dishcloth person (you probably already know this about yourself), your heart is beating very fast right now.

I leave you with a little post-collegiate poem, which I think was written by a friend of mine circa 1980. It was stuck to her wall in a tenement apartment on Avenue B, the first roof over my head in New York, where I learned about rent strikes, bathtubs in the kitchen, and other things I hadn't encountered in Omaha. For some reason I never forgot it. (I will not identify the poet, since who wants the poetry of their early 20s exposed? But if you're reading this, my lovely Formerly-of-Avenue B friend, and you want proper credit--do let me know.)

I sit tapping my feet on the linoleum
A heretic
In the age of petroleum.

Love,

P.S. If you love old linoleum, check out these Flickr pics. One of them should be called Drunk Love on the Kitchen Floor.

Posted by Kay at 05:03 PM | Comments (30)

September 05, 2008

Where Is Virgil When You Need Him?

Dear Ann,

With apologies to Dante Alighieri, who deserves much better:

CANTO III
The inscription above the Gate of Hell Abercrombie & Fitch. The Ante-Inferno, where the shades of those who lived without eating carbs and without blame now intermingle with the neutral angels. The River Acheron. Charon. A middle-aged woman's loss of her senses as the earth trembles.

THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE CITY WITHOUT FACIAL EXPRESSIONS,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL SOUTH BEACH DIET,
THROUGH ME THE WAY THAT RUNS AMONG THE LOST AND THOSE WHO WATCH "LOST".
JUSTICE URGED ON MY HIGH ARTIFICER,
MY MAKER WAS A FACTORY IN CHINA,
THE SHORTEST RISE, AND THE PRIMAL RINSE.
BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT IZOD WERE MADE,
AND I ENDURE UNTIL THE GAP FREEZES OVER.

ABANDON EVERY HOPE, WHO ENTER HERE (IF OVER 40).

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Greeting us at the door (by greeting I mean staring into space) a shirtless young man in jeans (see photo--it's the eggzact same guy). Leaving the sunlight of Fifth Avenue, the floor fell away. All was blackness and throbbing remixes of songs from the Eighties (which were much better in the Eighties, just saying), with glowing stacks of identical shirts and jeans.

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The darkness and the din, and the anesthetic fog of Eau de Fitch, caused me to remark (shouting), "It's like going to the Palladium and your date has on too much after-shave."

Tween: (Shouting, but also rolling eyes) And you know this from.... experience?

Me: (Shouting). Uh....YEAH as a matter of fact.

We got the Sacred Overpriced T-Shirt. We made it out alive. The hearing loss and respiratory distress were only temporary. One of us thought she had seen Paradise.

I thought I wasn't "that old".

I thought I wasn't "dead yet."

How could I have been such a fool?

Don't make me go back there.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 10:49 AM | Comments (81)

September 03, 2008

America's Next Top Rowan Model

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Dear Ann,

Look what was waiting for me upon re-entry to non-summer life: Rowan's 30th anniversary edition. I haven't even started to take it all in, but I rejoice that there are 65 patterns. I rejoice that the pictures are as over the top, dreamy and crazy as ever, and that the models are as translucently pale and waifish as we have come to expect. I'm sad that there is no new design from Kim Hargreaves, but I'm delirious that Marion Foale is in there. I'm going to savor every page, keeping a sharp eye out for items that you need to add to your prop collection for future photo shoots.

Rowannostalgia.jpg
I think you have everything you need for this one already.

Dietrich and DiMaggio

Perfect timing: one of my last acts of summer was to lure a bunch of cousins into modeling the Pieman pullover. They were kind of dutiful about it until Paul spontaneously busted a move, and then everybody else had to vogue.

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Calvin Klein......Obsession.........

I'm mailing it to Afghans for Afghans this week (promise!), secure in the knowledge that it will fit a variety of 7-14 year old body types. And also Aunt Kathy.

I Have a Dream

Like everybody I guess, I love it when I have a good dream and remember it the next day. Like that time before we met in person, when I dreamt I ran into you at Target, and your red cart was piled high with unnecessary plastic objects--that was a very reassuring dream. I awoke with the firm conviction: "Ann is all right."

The other night I was having another one of these pleasant dreams. Starring George Clooney. In the dream, he and I were old buddies. He was working in a restaurant, tending bar. (In a revealing dream insight, the chef of the restaurant was my obstetrician, Steve--because hey, George is fine but he did not hold my hand during my times of need.) So, I'm chatting with my pal George, who says, "Kay, doll, you've put on some weight." Damn! It turns out it was an anxiety dream! Like I need George Clooney telling me the All-Acronym Diet Plan (G & Ts & BLTs) of the past couple of weeks did not do me any favors? A waste of a good George Clooney dream appearance if you ask me.

Moving on.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:47 AM | Comments (34)
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