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

July 26, 2009

World Premiere! The Latest from Merle Hazard

Dear Kay,

My CB radio has been sounding choice with the news that financial crooner Merle Hazard is back. This one is for everybody who ever lived the rebellious trucker's dream of the 1975 song "Convoy."

Looks like Merle is about to open up a can of whup*** on the American economy.

Fresh from Guitar Town, here's the world premiere of Merle Hazard's "Bailout":

Keep your noise between the ditches and smokey out of your britches . . .



Posted by Ann at 11:48 PM | Comments (30)

July 24, 2009

Hide in Plain Sight


Dear Ann,

Perhaps I've been logging a few too many Rural Maine Miles, in too few days. But I hereby announce, joyfully and sheepishly, that THE KAYCAM HAS BEEN RECOVERED.


It was not at the bottom of the sea, or even Lake Manawa. It was not on the floor of the wedding reception hall or in the Ladies Room or in the glove compartment of the Dodge Dakota belonging to a family member (the one that has the vanity plates that say "TAX2HI").


As a last desperate bid before heading to Best Buy, I heeded the advice of a friend and recited the following, out loud:

Little flower of the hour, show thy power.

Supposedly, upon hearing this incantation, lost items will reveal themselves. (Perhaps because the Universe feels sorry for you because you are standing there asking a little flower to help you.) I think the key to the miraculousness is the word "thy". If you said "show your power", the little flower would sit there filing her nails, watching you buy a new camera.

In my case, the little flower transported herself to Omaha, where she whispered in Most Moisturized Mom's ear, "It's on the DRESSER, stupid!" For indeed, it was on the dresser. Behind a picture frame, but still, on the dang dresser. Where I had looked 500 times.

Now it's on its way home, no doubt under the protection of postal elves. Thank you, everyone, for your camera recommendations, which will probably come in handy soon, given the busted-out condition of the KayCam. For my part, I am rethinking my previous refusal to address plants, animals and spirits when I am in need of assistance. The Enchantment lifestyle awaits me. Soon I'll be doing Bollywood dances in Central Park, and mice will be cleaning my bathroom.


For now, enjoy archival images of stuff that I found interesting at the time.

Happy weekend to all!



Posted by Kay at 12:24 PM | Comments (54)

July 22, 2009

Crystal Light Cocktails, and So Much More

Dear Ann,

Breaking news: the whereabouts of the KayCam are unknown. Repeat: the KayCam is missing.

Lately the KayCam has been a hard traveling piece of equipment. It made it safely from New York to all-over-England and back, on various local jaunts to day camp visiting night and Southampton, and then from New York to hippie-sleepaway-camp-in-Maine, thence to Omaha-for-a-wedding, and then...poof. No KayCam. Glove compartments and handbags have been duly searched. I'm sure it will turn up somewhere. But I kinda miss it. The habit of taking pictures of random daily stuff is strongly ingrained.

Luckily I have plenty of pictures on the computer. I could blab for months from my archives.

Here is something I'm knitting. Yes, it's another Noro Silk Garden log cabin, and it's a lot bigger now. The rescue blanket for LB did not come close to slaking my mighty thirst for the garter stitch. It's gotten to the point that I've had to put down 2 huge blanket projects when they got too big to stuff into a tote bag. Now that I'm home, I'll finish them. This one is going to have a twist. Something shocking and scandalous, consistent with my (imaginary) reputation as a badass basher of convention. I cannot give further details at this time. (My fantasy is that you will be saying, in slack-jawed amazement: "How does she do it? We thought we understood the garter stitch blanket, but no! Kay keeps making it fresh and exciting! Is there no limit to her simple-mindedness?")

Twist, and Shout

I'm also knitting this, in this, in shade 171, which is a dark charcoal. Unfortunately those pictures are trapped in the KayCam. People of Omaha, Nebraska: if you should come across a small Canon digital camera that looks like it's been in a street fight, all scratched up and horrible-looking, but containing wondrous images of a beautiful bride and some awesome knitting closeups, please contact me. KayCam, phone home!

Travels With KayCam

Some recent (but not that recent) images of Summer 2009.

French American girl marries English boy in the Kent countryside. This one went down in my record books as the most relaxed and warm-hearted wedding, ever, period. Not one fraught or tense moment. It almost didn't seem like a wedding.

Whitstable, England. Why do you suppose they call it Squeeze Gut Alley, hmmm?

Because even a very compact person such as Belinda can barely get through the narrow bit at the end.

Day Camp Gazette

We have an archer in the family.

When you get a bullseye, your name goes on the arrow. If you come across the arrow next year, this is Very Thrilling. It is your Lucky Arrow.

Huts R Us

Ann: Would it kill you to build a Fairy Hut? Woodland sprites need shelter! (This one, in the woods of Southampton, was designed and built by our friend Eli. Note the excellent leaf thatch.)

The tinier species of fairy also have hut needs. This one designed and built by our friend Jules, age 5.

Department of Helpful Household Hints

I have been experimenting with Angry Chicken's genius tip about brewing up highly concentrated tea in jars so you don't have to devote precious fridge space to big pitchers. Talk about your Hints From Heloise! My variation, of which I am simultaneously proud and deeply ashamed: concentrated Crystal Light. Before Angry's tea tip, it never would have occurred to me to mix up Crystal Light double (or even triple) strength, in a small jar, and just add more water in the glass. Life changing! Acres of fridge frontier have opened up! (In my defense, at least I've shaken the Demon Diet Coke off my back, and my Crystal Light habit is much less grave than previously, thanks to the discovery that it tastes almost not very artificial if you dilute it with home-brewed tea, creating the Crystal Light Cocktail.)

OK, that's all I've got until KayCam service resumes. Any camera recommendations for me in case the news is bad?


Posted by Kay at 08:34 PM | Comments (63)

July 14, 2009

Stuff I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Dear Ann,

There's just loads of stuff going on here. For example, Cin won the Wacky Baby Knits contest. Come on down, Cin! Send me your snail mail, and before long, the cute-o-meter of your life is going to be off the charts.

In other news, I went to England. Now I'm back. It was kind of a last-minute mission. Of course there was knitting tourism along the way, and even some destination-worthy needlepoint cushions. But more about that, another time.

Knitamatography Master Class


There is great news for all of you knitters out in Minnesota who are tired of burning your fingers on the flash cubes that pop offa your Kodak Instamatic whenever you try to snap a shot of your beautiful knitting. Help. Is on. The way. Gale is going to be spilling all her secrets of photographing knitting and maybe even some of her secrets of photographing other (obviously less interesting) visual aspects of life. Gale will be making her debut on July 23 and 24, in two upcoming workshops at The Yarnery, in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is one of our favorite yarn shops in the whole world, where they sing crazy made-up songs about visiting knitting book authors. Details can be found on Gale's blog. Time's a-wastin'!

No Knitting Content, But DANG


Here's where I spent a recent afternoon. Photography was not allowed, but that's OK because these treasures are so astonishing that I wouldn't want to spoil the gasp of surprise for anyone who sees them for the first time. Mind you, I am not a big fan of jewelry, old or new. I would rather look at a textile, or a painting, than something bedazzly, you know? But these pieces--particularly the first-century gold found in the graves of nomads-- knocked me for a loop. Handcrafted, ancient yet inexplicably modern, and somehow, emotionally moving. Hundreds of delicate amulets that were once sewn onto clothing that disintegrated into the earth. The story of their discovery, and the fact that they survived the chaos that gripped Afghanistan in the years since, is nothing short of miraculous. Ann, you gotta get up here and see this. Bring your knitting.


Posted by Kay at 09:32 PM | Comments (37)

July 08, 2009

Queen of the Baby Shower, 2009 Edition


Dear Ann,

Look at the two of us. We are, technically, what both my Grandma Pearl and my Grandma Mabel called "shiftless". We got no shift, at least not when it comes to summertime blogging. Thank goodness for kind publishers who want us to give away books.

Such as this fine, crazy, silly, fun book, "Wacky Baby Knits." You gotta wonder how we got to the point, in the evolution of our ancient craft, that a knitter who wants to knit an infant-sized Elvis wig does not have to sit down with the graph paper and worry her pore haid about it. The dark days of amateur-designed baby wigs are gone! The instructions are all here, for Elvis wigs -- and more! Tutus! Worrisomely realistic cow costumes! Biker jackets avec wings on back! If you knit these things, put them on a human child, and take photographs, you will have hell to pay one day, when the kid grows up, but think of the fun NOW!

I have a brand-new copy to give away. You need not be a wacky baby, or have a wacky baby, to apply. Just leave a comment to this post by noon, New York Time, on Friday, July 10. A winner will be chosen using a random picker thingie.


Posted by Kay at 03:35 PM | Comments (655)

July 03, 2009

This, That, and the Other


Dear Kay,

And a happy Fourth of July to you. In anticipation of this year's picnic up here, I have been researching deviled eggs again, and I hope to achieve some kind of eggy bliss this time. Sweet relish is definitely out of the picture. One friend up here whispered to me that she has a friend who puts finely ground . . . BACON . . . in the filling. And I have one recipe that really mucks about with tradition and replaces half the mayonnaise with BUTTA, a half a stick of butta, can you imagine?

What's everybody making for their celebrations? I have been ordered to produce potato salad for our group, and I think I'm going with some kind of vinaigrette, green-beany type deal.

Blanketing the World Around Me


I am still motoring away on my log cabin blanket for Clif. It hasn't gotten boring yet, not even for a minute. The secret, in this case, is having a lot of colors in my basket. I walk around the Assembly with my big bucket of yarn, looking like a crazy woman with a big bucket of yarn. But it means that at any moment, I can dive in and make some new combination of stuff.

Someone asked for the recipe for these squares. Here you go. (It's supersimple, as these things tend to be.)

Clif's Squares Blanket
Size 6 (4mm) needles
DK or the occasional aran weight yarns, the more shades the better. Inifinite is a good quantity.
Gauge: I didn't check it. I just wantonly and brazenly STARTED.

Using a color, cast on 30 stitches. Knit 27 garter ridges (54 rows). Break yarn.
Using another color, knit 2 rows.
Using yet another color, knit 8 garter ridges (16 rows).
Cast off purlwise. Break yarn.
Turn the square you just finished clockwise.

*Using still another color, pick up stitches along the edge, one stitch for every garter ridge and one for every stitch when you get to the part where it's the cast on edge for the first square.
Knit 1 row. Break yarn.
Using another color, knit 8 garter ridges (16 rows). Break yarn.**

Repeat from * to ** until your square is, um, square.
Weave in all those ends now, unless your plan is to break a world record in end-weaving down the road.

As for the ends, I experimented with spit-felting them; I tried weaving them in as I went. But it was too fiddly for me. I like to weave ends which I realize is a mark of perversity. Besides, it was really slowing me down to do all that fiddly end stuff when the fun for me is the simple act of cranking these squares.


The color plan here, such as it is, is to have squares with gray borders and squares with green borders. This scheme is not going to hold up very well once I run dry on green yarn. Let's just say there's a lot of purple in the bucket of yarn. I really do want to try to make this a 100% pure stashbuster. But I don't know whether I will be able to stand it when the green runs out, because green is IT for me, just the best.

While cranking on this project, I have heard many interesting lectures up here at the Assembly, and I'll share with you highlights:

1. Check your ductwork for air leaks. This is a house's leading source of wasted energy.

2. One kilowatt hour of energy requires about a pound of coal.

3. The finest cut glass does not get dusty. Cheaper cut glass becomes foggy because the surface is not as smooth as the good stuff, and it catches dust.

4. Turn long-cooking oats into quick oats by chopping them in the food processor. That's how the big oat companies do it.

5. Katherine Anne Porter spent 20 years writing Ship of Fools.

Thrilling News


We hear that our audiobook is coming out soon, so if you're wishing for some company on your next four-hour car ride, and your children don't talk enough about knitting, well, you can bring us along with you. It's called Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines and Stories from America's Leading Bi-regional Knitting Blog, and you can find a copy here.

Have a wonderful Fourth! Go watch John Adams and think about what it would be like to START A DANG COUNTRY. And how lucky we are that the guys who did this weren't TOTAL AND COMPLETE NUTCASES. We could have ended up with a Kim Jong-Il situation, you know?


PS: That's Tinkerbell the dog, up top, who received a supercomfy knitted dog collar from her human companion, Stokes. Stokes is a brilliant young knitter, veering from crochet to knitting without a blink, and she can lay down the least buckety log cabin you ever saw.

Posted by Ann at 06:07 PM | Comments (69)
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