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

January 28, 2010

Learning from Sheep, and Kristin Nicholas, Too

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Dear Kay,

Knitting designer Kristin Nicholas has a really beautiful blog post today about her sheep: Lessons from Sheep.

I've had a copy of her new book, Color by Kristin, on my kitchen table for a couple of weeks now, a total color explosion sort of book. Really fearless and bright. It is so cool, such a fantastic contrast, to consider Kristin's book when looking at the monochrome, snowy photographs coming from her farm today.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 12:47 PM | Comments (14)

January 27, 2010

Breakin' News: Merle Hazard Takes Over PBS Tonite!

Dear Kay,

Hubbo-I-mean-Merle Hazard is gonna be on the teevee tonight! Tune in to the PBS NewsHour (formerly McNeil/Lehrer). Here's a little preview.

A great warm-up to the State of the Union! Check your local PBS station listing for the time.

Merle on broadcast teevee! What next? Jersey Shore?

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 03:52 PM | Comments (16)

From Our Far-Flung Dishrag Correspondents

Dear Ann,

It sure is hard to keep up with all the news in these times. For example, the Ballband Dishcloth. There is just always something happening with the Ballband Dishcloth. People love it. It is the ur-dishrag, deeply embedded in the zeitgeist (and also the weltanschauung).

Ballband-reminiscent ski hats. As Craig Ferguson would say, "Take that, Billabong!"

And on the gossip beat, sources inform us that a certain Ballband Dishcloth and an unnamed Mitered Hanging Towel got together and had a baby:

The Mitered Hanging Ballband Towel. Kitchy kitchy koo! This is Suzanne's first pattern. It's free on Ravelry, so git busy. (I'd knit one myself but, you know, paper cranes.) Suzanne is one of our fabulous test knitters we've never met. Back in 2007, we sent her manuscript patterns and she cranked a couple of dozen Toto Potholders. (She told us not to worry, she had "some" Peaches and Creme in the house.) Suzanne also made matching Ballband Dishcloths and Mitered Hanging Towels for her Totos. Which we didn't ask her to do. Suzanne has the strong kitchen-knitting love. I am guessing that her shoes match her handbag, which matches her wallet.

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Meanwhile I have one more tiny sparkly sleeve to go on the cardi I'm knitting for Batgirl. This means I am going to have the thing done EARLY. So what, exactly, am I going to sit up knitting the night before? The term for this is poor planning.

Definitely have to cast on something else. Definitely.

Love,
Kay

P.S. The paper cranes are coming right along:

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Posted by Kay at 10:51 AM | Comments (41)

January 26, 2010

Mother of the Bat

Dear Ann,

Lest anyone think I'm hiding out in an AMC Pacer or something, a quick note to let you know what's going ON up here. It's HUGE.

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Here's a hint.

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Here's another.

Yes, it's Carrie's bat mitzvah, on the horizon. For those unfamiliar with Jewish-American life cycle rituals, this is when a girl turns 13 and gets up in front of several hundred members of her congregation and does a very difficult, very grown-up thing: she reads, musically, from various sacred texts including the Torah itself. The photos above were taken a few months ago when she was learning her "haftorah" portion. The haftorah is the starting line for today's smartypants banot mitzvah. Ready, set, read backwards! Girl power!

Learning the haftorah was much more difficult for the Ancient Hebrews, who had only one color of highlighter.

I have been shy about blogging about this, despite its majorness, and I'm sure you can guess why: because I know what people are going to ask. They are going to ask:

"So, are you knitting several dozen Kippot like you said you would in Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines? Hmmm, are ya? Are ya?"

Um, no. Back in December, I sat myself down. I said to myself: keeping a Kippah Count going for the next 6 weeks or so is going to do your head IN. You do not need a Completely Unrealistic Epic Craft Project in your life at the present time. I listened to myself and, quite sensibly, ordered up some Perfectly Fine preprinted kippot, like all the mentally stable people do. The headlines read: "Queen of the Repetitive Multiples Abdicates."

Then, about 2 weeks ago, in the whirl of something I'm terrible at (running a to-do list for a fambly celebration), I felt a gaping emptiness. What was it? What was bothering me?

The absence of a Completely Unrealistic Epic Craft Project in my life.

So, I'm folding a couple of hundred origami paper cranes. Give or take.

Paper cranes are the new knitting.

Also, just for funsies, on Saturday night, I cast on a little sparkly cardi for Carrie. I mean, how could this event go off without a handknit?

Suddenly life has meaning again.

Love,

Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:13 AM | Comments (52)

Estate Planning

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Dear Kay,

Deeply amused at the amount of Tabu Spray Cologne that is apparently still out there. Maybe it doesn't go bad? Maybe it's like single-malt whiskey? Maybe it IS single-malt whiskey? Kind of a hi-test breath spray?

I am also relieved to hear from The Crafty Cripple about a website that is really doing the heavy lifting of our craft. In my previous post, I expressed dismay at unearthing an unfinished sweater at the Nashville flea market. Well, somebody else is worried about this, too. at The Unfinished Object Project Administration Service, they find new homes for Unfinished Objects. It's an art project, of course.

There's a Ravelry group here for the UFO Project Adminstration Service, so I encourage you to take pity on your great-aunt's afghan and let it reach its ultimate destiny--even if it's not at your own hands.

Other Important Estate Planning

As long as we're thinking about ultimate destiny, I'm sure everybody out there has a tidy little will, right? But have you all considered the ultimate destiny of your most treasured possession--your stash?

Think about it: do you really want your beloved Koigu to end up under a table of Archie comics at the Nashville Flea Market? Do you want a guy selling your 16 skeins of handspun Corriedale to somebody for four bucks?

To avoid such an ignominious fate, go ahead and cook up a Yarn Disposition Codicil.

There's a little form right here.

Your heirs will be frankly relieved that you've figured out the solution to one of the most dismaying problems a house-cleaner-outer faces: what to do with all THAT.

While you're at it, a codicil is great for doing things like disinheriting people, and driving your executor crazy by saying that you'd like to give all your money away, in $3 increments, to charitable organizations that begin with the letter P.

Finally, in the last post, Gwyneth asked if I'd ever made out in an AMC Pacer. I WISH. IN MY DREAMS. I will confess to making out in a Dodge Dart Swinger, only because I ended up married to the guy who owned it.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:08 AM | Comments (31)

January 25, 2010

Nashville Flea Market 2010: It Can't Get Too Odd for Me

Dear Kay,

Ahhhhh, it's been a while since I had a good flea market crawl, so it was a quick yes when I got a call from my friend Elizabeth of Style Blueprint, a blog that is rapidly becoming Nashville's latest and most potent source of shopping crack.

She muttered that she needed some stuff (need being a broad term when it comes to Elizabeth and shopping), and I was all "Hell yeah. I've been low on 8-track tapes ever since my AMC Pacer got broken into."

Really, there's no better place on earth to warp time and space than the Nashville Flea Market. You can go as far back as you like, even to historical periods that aren't really all that historic.

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The chutzpah required to offer this partly used bottle of Tabu Spray Cologne is totally admirable. Anybody out there suddenly jonesing for a half-used bottle of your own, there's more where that came from.

In fact, you can stock up on bottles of all kinds of stuff at the flea market.

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Expiration dates are kind of a "guideline," really. No need to be so literal about stuff.

Elizabeth shops like a commando: she was making deals before the poor vendors even knew what had hit them.

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Here she is, on the right, relieving this nice vendor of two party purses. Surgical strike. These came from an estate that included a suitcase stuffed with perfectly ordered lingerie, and pasted to the inside of the suitcase was this:

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Morty's clothing list for Surprise Lake Camp, in Cold Spring, New York. 1950. Looks to me like not everything came back. Any Surprise Lake Camp alums know whether Morty brought home his housecoat?

There were things of great beauty to be found in the Creative Arts Building, where I had a Vietnam-style flashback to my knitting competition experience at the Tennessee State Fair a few years ago.

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Elizabeth's best silver dealer also deals in automotive tools.

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Something about this swan-necked gamine really spoke to me. Sort of Annie Lennox? Or maybe I was just buzzing off the peach potpourri fumes.

Of course, we all know that it is impossible to attend an event composed of a thousand attics put on display without encountering at least a few Dole banana boxes crammed with yarn.

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I was overwhelmed by these two sleeves and a back. Where is the front? Such incompleteness! With the interlocking zigzaggy color changes and everything! Think on all the misunderstood, half-finished knitting that ends up underneath folding tables of booths at flea markets across the land. We need to address this issue. Where is the love, y'all?

Beauty was everywhere, but you know me . . .

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It's always the $35 New TruByte tooth-color-matching wheel that really sets me on fire.

The Nashville Flea Market seems to be in jeopardy; the city owns the state fair property where this monthly miracle takes place, and apparently there may be a massive health care conglomerate that seems interested in turning the acreage into some kind of Development.

A crying shame, I tell you! What Nashville needs is more flea market, not less. As we scoured the jewelry tables, I had the great chance to hear the smooth keyboard stylings of Sonny Helmer, everybody's favorite used telephone vendor and author of Everything Happens to Me! The "Almost Famous" Sonny Helmer Story.

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I loved the guy, and the way he was selling Bakelite telephones, everybody else did, too.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:51 AM | Comments (31)

January 24, 2010

olive and kermit thank you all

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dear everybody

oliv and i thank u for yer contributionz to Haiti. oliv haz a big headache at the moment becuz the elastic on the fairy princess crown that the big lady put on her has cut into her neck circulation

but she sez it wuz wurth it

and shed do it agin, ackshully

my own personal feeling is that this terabul crisis in haiti is gong to go on fer a long time so dont make this a onetime deal

heres where to give money to

SQUIRRL got to run ITS A SQUIRRL OUT THE WINDOW

kermut

Posted by Ann at 02:58 PM | Comments (13)

January 22, 2010

Olive and Kermit's Give-Money-to-Haiti Blogathon

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Dear everybody,

Yes, there's a telethon tonight, Hope for Haiti, that will be broadcast on every channel in the known universe. No, George Clooney did NOT call to ask if we wanted to participate. He hasn't called in, like, OK ever. But that's OK.

We are proud to announce that the two biggest stars in our firmament, Kay's dog Olive and and Ann's cat Kermit, have joined forces to raise money for Haiti.

The fluffy cat, Eliot, is kind of grumpy, or seems to believe in anonymous giving. We think. We actually have no idea whatsoever what goes on in his small brain. So he's not really involved in all this.

We're not going to add up everybody's contributions or anything like that. The idea here is simply for everybody to take a minute and give something to this most serious of crises, to any of the organizations listed right here in the New York Times blog.

Here's the link right here.

It's a long list of organizations. They're all good.

If you have a blog, and your pet would like to be a part of this celebrity blogathon, please consider drafting Snowball or Rover or Inky the Gecko and blogging the link (here it is!) to the Times' list of charitable organizations this weekend.

The situation is dire, as you know. It doesn't appear that it's going to improve anytime soon, so please do what you can to help.

Kermit and Olive are donating their time to man the comments section throughout the weekend. Neither one of them can hold a telephone, but with a running start or from a high piece of furniture, they can hit the keyboard on a laptop with a great deal of emphasis.

Love,
Kay and Ann

9:30 PM NEW YORK OLIVE'S 9:30 CHALLENGE

"Yo peeps and homies! It's me, Olive! Yes me! Olive! Olive! I challenge teething juvenile animals everywhere to sign up humans to sponsor them for chewing up paper and tangling up yarn.

Personally, I'm prepared to chew and drag crap around all night, if that's what it takes!

Who's with me? Kermit? Can you emboss those little marks on some legal pads? Can we count on you my man?"

10 P.M. NEW YORK: SERIOUSLY Y'ALL, THEY WILL PAY BIG MONEY FOR THIS!

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My barky brothers and sisters! Listen up! She told me she would give $20 to George Clooney if I'd wear the coffee pot cozy! This was easy money! Go find something she wants you to wear, and wear it! Do it for me! Do it to help people! We love people! Where would we be without people?

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OK, so NOW do you believe me that it's an ACTUAL COFFEEPOT COZY? For reals! You cannot make this people stuff up! My Big Lady's friend Other Ann, No Not That Other Ann, The Other One made it for her as a tribute to the book No Roses For Harry (which is an awesome book by the way, a true-to-life tale of how knitting can go horribly wrong, from a terrier's perspective).

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C'mon. You know you have something ridiculous in your house. You know she wants you to wear it. I challenge you to get more than 20 bucks to Haiti for it.

11:30 PM NEW YORK:: DIG DEEP

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I'm not gonna lie to you. The Princess Dress? Are you serious? That thing really puts my ears back. It's an ear-flattener par excellence. What are they thinking? Why is this amusing? But hey--if there's money involved? For Haiti?

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Just keep repeating to yourself: It's for a good cause, it's for a good cause.

Olive signing off! Before she finds the Snuggie for Dogs! I am not kidding you! Big Lady is cuckoo!


Posted by Ann at 01:44 PM | Comments (25)

January 20, 2010

Midweek Miscellany

Dear Kay,

Let's just see here. I got nothing organized for you, but I do have tidbits and knicknacks.

1. Sleep Challenge 2010: Did you know that there is a Sleep Giant amongst us? Designer/author Kristi Porter shared her sleep philosophy with us, and it's downright enviable. If she weren't such an altogether decent person, I'd kind of hate her for being so well rested. Hey wait: maybe there's a connection between her good nature and sleep? I think I'm onto something. She writes:

I am totally committed to sleep... once I faced the sleep deprivation of having kids, I realized I needed it. I go to bed early, and wake without an alarm almost always. Sometimes I'll get up very early... and that's when I get my knitting in. And no one distracts you at 5AM!

Aside from being healthier (not getting sick often), I've seen some compelling studies on sleep and children. Like, for instance, one study said that, on average, A students got 30 mins more sleep than B students, B students got 30 mins more sleep than C students... Another study had kids sleeping just 30 minutes less than their average sleep for a week and then gave them a test. The kids deprived of sleep scored 2 grade levels worse than those with normal sleep.

I average about 8+ hours, my 12 year old sleeps 9 hours (and could use more), and my 9 year old sleeps almost 11 hours a night!

I'm having a moment of mourning for my poor, bleary-eyed GPA. No WONDER I never got a Rhodes!

1.5. For those keeping track of my efforts, and even if you're not, we're going there anyway: Night 14 has passed, and I'm still getting 7.5 hours, except for when I had to co-host a party Saturday night, at a friend's house. An entire party of Episcopalians. The scalloped potatoes flowed like a mighty river of protestantism. I was so wound up afterward that I woke up at 4:30 am like the house was on fire. Wide. Awake. Worried that I'd forgotten most of the Nicene Creed. Or is the Apostles' Creed? Is that Methodist? The lack of sleep sent me into an existential tailspin. The next day, starved for sleep, I zonked around the way, I realized, I have been zonking for many, many years.

2. Another sleep-related change: I continue to make junk food here at home. For the party I took:

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You see leeks, but I see a scalloped potato recipe that called for four cups of heavy cream and a pile of gruyere. With, like, leeks playing some kind of symbolic gesture toward vegetables in it.

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Domino's pizza.

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Pringles. These were so insanely delicious. Potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, 400-degree oven till they're as burnt as you want 'em.

3. Somehow, sleep has induced Enchanting Juno to make her bed. I'm telling you, this sleep stuff is flukey.

4. As a sure sign of the apocalypse, I started Twittering. The thingie for this is down at the very bottom of the right side of the blog, down in the moldy basement. Only the darkest, deepest secrets will be revealed there. I personally would rather read KayTweets, but I realize you might need to get something other than that kerosene-powered cell phone in order to do this. I may start Fake Kay Tweeting if you decide not to Tweet.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 12:38 PM | Comments (36)

January 13, 2010

Top o' the Day, and Bottom o' the Barrel

Dear Kay,

One casualty of this sleep mania I'm experiencing is that it seriously cuts into my most prime knitting time: late at night, parked in front of some movie featuring Julia Roberts. I'm not giving up, mind you, but I've GOT to figure out some system for getting enough knitting done.

My Fair Isle Starmore project is officially parked for the duration. In its place, I've just returned to the sort of soul-satisfying, open-ended (that is to say, interminably long), yet very portable project:

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This project, a blanket for Clif, has been in the works since last spring break, and I did righteous work on it this summer. But now, having to cram knitting into various daylight activities, I find that these log-cabin squares are really working for me.

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The recipe for these squares can be found in this entry from last summer, which will also get you jonesing for a deviled egg.

Sleep Challenge 2010 Update

I don't how whether to credit this to the Sleep Challenge 2010 or not. But this morning I did something I never seem able to do:

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The stupid KenKen puzzle in the Sunday Times. I try every week to do the Sunday crossword, to varying degrees of failure, and when I get really irritated I try the KenKen puzzle, which also rarely goes well. But today I sat down and filled in the squares, bingbangboom.

Another weird thing: in an effort to follow Michael Pollan's Rule #39 (Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself), I made my own Strawberry Pop-Tart:

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And I made some supernutritious bean soup from a present my sister Buffy sent me.

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Soaking a dried bean has to be one of the more satisfying things a person can do. (What a colorway for a blanket.) And talk about feel good: the beans and cornbread mix came from the Women's Bean Project, a nonprofit in Denver whose mission is "helping women break the cycle of poverty and unemployment. We are a nonprofit organization that teaches job readiness and life skills for entry-level jobs through employment in our gourmet food production business. Women come with the goal of transforming their lives and moving toward self sufficiency." They're having a bean soup mix sale right now! Give beans to your friends!

Of course, I spent a nice long time patting myself on the back for this sudden burst of wholesomeness.

I turned to organizing my yarn basket. As I reached the bottom, I found a little reminder that I have a long way to go in my quest for a smug 'n' sanctimonious life-style.

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What IS that thing?

Is it . . . a Frosted Brown Sugar Cinammon Pop-Tart?

Half eaten?

In the bottom of my knitting basket?

Why yes, I do believe it is! Perfectly preserved. Looks just like it did on the day I lovingly removed it from its mylar package, back in . . . July, when I took it to a lecture at the Assembly so I could sit in the back and eat it while knitting.

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:21 AM | Comments (65)

Another Singing Revolution

Dear Ann,

Sorry to everybody at the office for the YouTube-heavy post, but I'm besotted and bewitched by an Independent Lens film I saw last night about the Young at Heart Chorus. Man, oh man. Amateur choral singers everywhere are chartreuse with envy. We want to back up David Byrne! This is the Next Big Thing, I'm tellin' ya. I limited my picks to 3, but YouTube has enough of these gems to keep me safe from getting anything done this morning. Prenez vos mouchoirs, seriously, y'all.

Official Trailer

Backing Up David Byrne, In a Bar (Could You Just Die of Envy?)

And For Those Who Need Extra Assistance With Their Crying

Fred Knittle. Who's got better phrasing than Fred? Who?

Thank me later,
Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 09:13 AM | Comments (40)

January 12, 2010

Move Over, TMZ

Dear Ann,

I love the knitblog world. The collective "we" don't miss a trick.

Today's celebrity sighting is over at Snit & Knit.

It's like Britney, with a venti in one hand and a toddler in the other. Only it's a small terrier, snapped unawares. Thank GAWD I put the sweater on, is all I've got to say. Can you imagine if she'd been nekkid? On the street? In January? I'd never live it down.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 08:15 PM | Comments (18)

January 10, 2010

Sleep Update: Things Begin To Get Weird

Dear Kay,

Night 5: Eight solid hours of insane dreams. I don't really think this is such a good idea after all. I forgot that I used to dream a lot. I'm not even going to tell you what any of it was, because I know you're good at interpreting stuff like this, and I don't think I want to know what it means.

A commenter asks if I'm seeing any real changes. Well, I ended up cleaning up my 13 year old's room today--didn't even ask him to help or anything. Weirdly cheerful about something that has been a chronic sore point for about three years. When I excavated last year's Christmas stocking contents, including a perfectly petrified orange, alongside THIS year's Christmas stocking contents, I didn't even say "WTF--NO MORE STOCKING STUFFERS FOR YOU." I just peeled open a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, slurped it down and knew that all my newfound sleepy metabolism is going to take care of it tonight.

Or something.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 04:00 PM | Comments (27)

January 09, 2010

Who's That Girl?

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January 2010

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Dear Olive,

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Happy New Year!

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It is with my most sincere good wishes that I send you this humble gift. I do hope you like it and that it is of the right dimensions. (I have only your photos on which to judge your size.)

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I hope you will not think it too forward of me when I say that I believe the warm pink tones will enhance the radiance of your eyes and the golden tones of your hair.

Wear it in good health, happiness and warmth!

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Your humble servant,

Mr. Jefferies

Posted by Kay at 12:49 PM | Comments (60)

Saturday Morning Check-In

Dear Kay,

Night 3: midnight to 7:30ish. I feel like I'm training for some sleep marathon. Dropped another seven pounds last night. Hubbo says I look like Heidi Klum at this point. I solved Fermat's Theorem this morning.

Weight Watchers, actually, is what this feels like. The counting! The intentionality of it all!

Reading everybody's comments, it's a freakin miracle we get any sleep at all. The cats, hiccups, babies, snoring husbands, mid-sleep wakeups . . . ay yi yi. We're just not set up for this sleep thing.

I actually have some knitting going, nothing fancy but large in scale. But I have to find my camera--did you really LOSE YOURS?????

It's really helpful to hear everybody's experiences with their sleep experiments. TY for sharing, as they say.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:56 AM | Comments (21)

January 08, 2010

Lose Weight While You Sleep? Yes, Please!

Dear Kay,

OK, this sleep thing? Now I've got some SERIOUS motivation for all of us who seem to have retained every holiday nibble we snarfed in the past month. (O small red potatoes with sour cream nestled inside? I regret eating so many of you at that party!)

Brilliant reader Allison alerted me to an article in Glamour magazine, "Lose Weight While You Sleep."

The article says, "What exactly is the sleep-weight connection? Science shows that sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on hormones that control appetite, cravings and the metabolism of fat."

The sciencey part sounds plausible--but what got my attention is the little field test they did with some women who were ordered to change only one thing in their routines: the amount of sleep they got. After ten weeks, every participant lost weight: from 6 to 15 pounds.

EVERY participant, y'all! YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE!

Glamour even provides a guide, "You Can Do This! The Sleep Diet Is Here."

Here's Arianna Huffington's latest report on her Sleep Challenge 2010 efforts. And Glamour editor Cindi Leive is doing it too--a month of 7.5 hours sleep per night. Here's her early report.

As for me . . . Night 2: Not sure how to calculate this, but a snow day here saved my bacon on sleeping in--lights out at 11:30, up at 8. But I woke up at 3:30 for a half hour. INTERRUPTED SLEEP! Naughty! But 8 hours in all. All I know is that I feel fantastic, look like Jessica Alba, and I weigh thirty pounds less.

Once again, the case against exercise . . . Nitey nite sleep tite!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:47 AM | Comments (32)

January 07, 2010

Merle Hazard LIVE and IN PERSON!

Dear Kay,

If you somehow missed the American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta over New Year's weekend, then you missed out on a rare live appearance by everybody's favorite financial country crooner, Merle Hazard. It was a regular tent revival down there!

And a HUGE high-five to knitter/economic spouse Ellen who apparently witnessed this gig herself--the Venn diagram of economist spouses/Merle Hazard aficionadoes/MDK readers likely puts Ellen in a rare, rare spot.

Love,
Ann

PS I promise not to mention this every single day, but I got 7.5 hours of sleep last night. It took a Desert Storm level of logistical focus to get in bed in time. And Hubbo incredibly and easily managed to trick me into looking at his laptop IN BED, EVEN AFTER I SWORE NOT TO HAVE A COMPUTER IN THE BED. (I am fascinated by everybody's comments yesterday--sleep is such a TOPIC. I keep thinking about Arianna Huffington's suggestion that sleep can be some kind of feminist weapon of world domination. I AM WOMAN: HEAR ME SNOOZE!)

Posted by Ann at 10:33 AM | Comments (16)

January 06, 2010

A Month of Sleep, and the Drive-Thru Home Kitchen

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Dear Kay,

People sure are giving out a lot of free advice this January, have you noticed? If I read the word antioxidant one more time, I think I'll go have me a donut.

A couple of pieces of New Year's advice have jumped out at me, however. You know how it is when you have been mulling something for a while, then you read an article that seems to be speaking directly to YOU.

Here are a couple of those eerie articles that are TALKING TO ME. Maybe they'll grab you, too.

1. A Huffington Post article by Michael Pollan about his new book, Food Rules.

Michael Pollan is everybody's favorite kind-hearted rabble-rousing foodie revolutionary. The thing I like about him is that he's so reasonable, so unshrill. No preaching, no condescension. He doesn't make me feel bad about the incredibly poor choices I sometimes make when it comes to food; he simply makes the case for why a cow is an expensive and earth-busting way to get a protein. He's not mean about it, and I think that's why he has had such success in getting us to think about food in a better way.

His wee new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual is his latest unpolemical exhortation, this time giving us a short collection of rules for eating better. I like this one:

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we're eating them every day. The french fry did not become America's most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes -- and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they're so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them -- chances are good it won't be every day.

Once I figure out how to drive thru my own kitchen, this is going to be great.

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2. Arianna Huffington's "Sleep Challenge 2010: Women, It's Time to Sleep Our Way to the Top. Literally."

I love sleep. I love sleeping, all the time. I can drop off anywhere, anytime. My bed is my favorite place on earth. Narcolepsy is in my genes. But I'm not always getting the 7.5 hours straight sleep that is the holy grail of sleep--the five 90-minute sleep cycles that give your body a real rest. So I'm going to try to do what Arianna Huffington is suggesting: a month of full nights of sleep. Go read her piece--it's all so sensible.

It means I won't get to midnight-shop Bloomingdale's 70% Sale After the Sale, or watch the last part of another Jane Austen adaptation AGAIN. If I just keep the laptop out of my bedroom, and hide the TV remote, I think I can do this. It means an 11 pm bedtime, that's all. Anybody want to join me?

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 09:10 AM | Comments (66)

January 05, 2010

Madness from London

Dear Kay,

Ah, happy new year to ya! I feel like I've fallen off the blogwagon, but I'm determined to clamber back on. The holidays really sponged up, didn't they? We had a low-voltage family staycation, and I watched so many movies that I have completely lost touch with reality.* Having digested such a buffet of windswept moors, Victorian frolics in Florence, and Gwyneth Paltrowey fake accents, I quite fancy myself a Brit of some sort.

SPEAKING of Brits, I have to show you a headbustingly fantastic present that came over from London during the holidays. It was from Belinda, beloved Belinda, brilliant Belinda. I had to make a movie of it:

These are Striped Gloves from Knitting and Tea by Jane and Patrick Gottelier. A while back, Belinda and I were in Purl Soho, loitering, and she said she wanted to make some gloves for me. Wow, I thought, as we gazed upon the wall of alpaca and silk. Wouldn't a pair of gloves be deluxe? Belinda's so SWEET, as we say in the South.

stripedglovesbelinda.jpg

What I didn't realize then was that she was going to be making the craziest glove pattern ever. They look like pretty little stripes, right? VERTICAL stripes. Not HORIZONTAL stripes. She musta worked them side to side, I figured. I mean: nobody would ever work vertical stripes any other way, right?

RIGHT?

Well, I studied them and decided she had worked them from the cuff. But it seemed impossible that she would actually do the thing that appeared to have been done. No way! She wouldn't!

As I was poking around Ravelry, I found photographic evidence of what these gloves look like when they're on the needle.

PLEASE: THIS IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

The doors will be locked during the terrifying bobbin scene.

One intrepid knitter, Ravname lunavalse, posted these lurid photos of her Striped Gloves in process.

Intarsia. Belinda was working 16 strands of yarn on these gloves. I don't know whether to wear them or to send them to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Love,
Ann


*If you want to make yourself kind of crazy, watch all these movies in a two-week period. I can't guarantee you'll survive it:

The 2009 BBC Wuthering Heights (Tom Hardy!)
The International (Clive Owen!)
Closer (again with the Clive Owen!)
Twilight OMG OMG OMGGGGGG (Robert Pattinson!)
It's Complicated (Alec Baldwin!)
Up in the Air (Clooney!)
A Room with a View (Julian Sands!)
Shakespeare in Love (that guy in the background in the scene where they're in Queen Elizabeth's throne room!)
The King of Kong (the underdog video game genius!)
Becoming Queen (Freddie Mercury's catsuit!)
Helvetica (Max Meidinger!)
The 1975 documentary Grey Gardens (the Edies!).

Posted by Ann at 12:38 PM | Comments (46)
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