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

February 22, 2010


Dear Ann,

This never happens to us. It strikes me as worrisome. We have not been this unified in shared obsession since what I will refer to as the Jackson Browne Era, when we didn't actually know each other, and moreover we were very young, and which in any event, we've promised never to speak of. (I had no particular "thing" for Jackson Browne, OK? You neither? Well, fine. Moving on.)

But take a look at what I've been knitting:

Bow scarf. 8-ply cashmere from Brooklyn General. Pattern from Ravelry. Knitting this, after seeing your version in Nashville, made me google Robert Pattinson to see if anything happened. (And feel relieved that he still gives me nothing but a case of the giggles. Not embarrassed-because-I-find-him-irresistible giggles. Just regular giggles.)

And that's not all:

But in this case, I totally cast on before you did! This is my Citron. I added an extra repeat, and another 6 rows to the ruffle, because I had enough yarn, and I thought this project would be nicer if there were more of it. (I disapprove, as a matter of principle, of patterns that try too hard to wedge themselves into one-skein territory. I think if you're a shawl, or even a shawlette, you should more than cover the tops of the shoulders. But that's just me and my cranky old-fashioned mindset. And big shoulders.)

The yarn here is Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere, which I'm going to go ahead ahead and designate as the Official Mongolian Cashmere of Mason-Dixon Knitting. I went through a lot of this last winter, in the Tea Leaves shade. This year I had it bad for the Green Tea color. I like that it's not exactly variegated but it's not exactly solid. Lovely little glints of grey and deeper greens. This is very good stuff. Light as a cloud. Fluffy as a baby cashmere goat.

Audiobook Contest Winners

Thank you, dear readers, for supplying so many wonderful questions for the Problem Ladies to puzzle over. You will keep us busy, and laffing, for a good long while or at least until the next column. The winners of the random drawing are:

Another Lynn (the Lynn whose email address has "bois" in it)
Barbooch (the only Barbooch)
LaNelle (the only LaNelle)
Zanette (the only Zanette)

Winners, look for an email so I can mail out your hours of listening (and knitting) entertainment.


Posted by Kay at 02:07 PM | Comments (22)

Lost Weekend


Dear Kay,

You may think you have been watching a lot of teevee, but I doubt it's anything like the astonishing amount I digested this weekend. Because of this crummy head cold, I weakly lifted the remote, bravely grasped with wavering hands the knitting needles, and watched just about every single Olympic moment of the past 72 hours.

Interspersed with the slower moments of the slalom qualifying runs, I managed to mash the channel button enough to lead me to two reality shows that are so alarming and addicting that I must share them with you.

1. Millionaire Matchmaker. This Bravo series is not new, but recent episodes, watched while under the haze of cold medicine, are almost psychedelic. Will Patty the Matchmaker get Jason Davis, the weird grandson of a media mogul, to clean his fingernails enough to make it through a date? Did Patty actually call one woman a "firecrotch"? Did I really hear that?

2. Kell on Earth. After Project Runway, After The Rachel Zoe Project, the next obvious fashionista reality show needed to be about somebody who runs fashion shows in New York. Kelly Cutrone is that woman. The amount of anxiety that she provokes in her staff is so extreme that I myself just about burst into fire-me tears when her assistant had to confess that the guest list for the Chado Ralph Rucci show was . . . messed up. If your job is too good, if your life is not filled with excruciating co-workers and incoherent bosses, well, this is the show for you. New episode tonight on Bravo! Two people are getting fired!

In the fog of it all, I finished Citron, a choice little project, and I even managed to block the thing. (Highest and best use of those thin curving blocking wires!) I got it to the 34-inch width called for in the pattern, but I do think my gauge was tight. The ruching is kind of blasted at the moment, but yarn being what it is, I hope it will rumple up soon enough. Malabrigo Lace is the savvy shopper's choice for a dreamy and cushy yarn at reasonable cost: mine was $10 for a 400-yard skein.

It's a little neck napkin.


Highly recommended.



PS Here are my controversial Olympic opinions. Feel free to debate these.

1. Bobsleigh is not a sport; it's transportation. Guy #2 rides with his head down, hidden completely behind Guy #1--he doesn't even see where he's going! It's like giving a gold medal to the backside of the donkey costume. Like giving a gold medal to the ballast on the Titanic. (Yes, I watched two hours of that on the History Channel, too.)

2. The Russian ice dancing team who competed while wearing Australian aboriginal costumes really needs to stop doing that. It's just terrible, for any number of reasons. There ought to be a limit on the square footage of fake skin allowed per skater.

3. In a related vein, any sport that requires makeup is not a sport.

4. Downhill Cross, where four skiers race each other simultaneously down the mountain, is a cross between roller derby and demolition derby. Feels irresponsible to watch it!

5. Bode Miller seemed so great when he finally won his gold medal, after so many missed opportunities. Older wiser, maybe.

6. Apollo Ohno: fabulous in every way. Give him a medal for his freakin name!

Posted by Ann at 01:46 PM | Comments (46)

February 19, 2010

Sick Knitting and a Hay Dude Update


Dear Kay,

When you said you were making Hilary Smith Callis's Citron for the Knitting Olympics, I had a massive FRISSON because a skein of the pattern's specified yarn, Malabrigo Lace, had just bubbled up from the tar pit of my stash. Shade 69, Pearl Zen. Right yarn, right place! GO!

I've just arrived at the bonus portion of this program, where each row gets 10% extra points from the judges. My knees aren't so supple anymore. I'm doubling my triple toe loops. It's just twenty more rows, but . . . my shoelace just broke . . .

It's the right knitting for a cold, frankly. I'm stuck in bed with cats, coffee, and Kleenex.

Hay Dude Update

Sandy commented about the Hay Dude I mentioned in my last post. Turns out that this stalky fella may well be Nick Cave, an artist who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. So cool: he's an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer who work combines dance and textiles. Here's a profile (link requires NYT registration). And here's a peek at what he's up to:

Then again, maybe Hay Dude was just somebody trying to keep warm?



Posted by Ann at 12:26 PM | Comments (21)

February 17, 2010

Small, Addicting Scarf

Dear Kay,

Making that Grey Garments video meant that my entire stash was scraped out of the recesses of my house and into that spare bedroom, which was a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing was that it was like stirring those ancient seed pods that can lay fallow for 6,000 years but still germinate when exposed to air anew. I now have a serious crop of suddenly sprouted yarn. I have so much knitting to do now. Maybe that's the good thing?

Speaking of Good Things, amid the wreckage, I found a nest of old Martha Stewart Living magazines. Flipping through an issue and regretting my inability to roast giant pieces of meat, I discovered a knitting pattern.


It may look familiar to you, but I'd never seen this before.

Here is the pattern, a little scarfie that makes quick use of a lush skein you bought in some weak moment. I seem to have a lot of lush skeins right now.


The yellow yarn is Lynne Vogel Ltd. handspun, and the purple is Hand Maiden Great Big Sea (50% Silk, 30% Wool, 20% Seacell) in Stardust, maybe my favorite colorway of all time. There: I said it! This yarn is super impractical, and that's why it makes such a great scarf.


The only excitement here is when you divide stitches onto two needles to make a little pocket of k1 p1 ribbing--work one side, then the other--then reunite the stitches and you've made a loop.

I love this thing. I can't recommend it highly enough. You finish one and want to make another one. Ay yi yi!


PS A big thank you to everyone who thought we looked worse in Grey Garments than we usually do. That means a lot to us.

PSS Hi to blogless Michelle, who said hello at the Art Institute of Chicago coat check line on Saturday!

PSS While in Chicago for an overnight visit with Hubbo's sibs, we saw this fella at the Cloud Gate.


Later, we saw him at the Art Institute.


Don't know if he made it past security. Probably wanted to see Monet's . . . HAYSTACKS or something.

Posted by Ann at 12:26 PM | Comments (40)

February 13, 2010

The Knitting Olympics--On Ice!

Dear Ann,


Still gaping in amazement at Rodarte's skating costumes for the Olympics. Can I brag, just a little, that as soon as I saw the photos of the red & black number, I said, "Rodarte"? 'Cause I'm so down with the kids and the fashion and stuff? And because it looks just like a dress from last year's collection that made me gasp, "Kid....Silk.....Haze...."? (Go to Aunt Purl's to see a photo of the dress, and here to see a very cool self-knitted version inspired by it. Love the self-knitting!)

I would like to officially start the chanting-in-unison for Rodarte to put out some patterns for handknitters. PLEASE! Please please please! This was what Rowan was trying to do a few years ago with that "young" "hip" magazine that died so quickly that I've forgotten the name of it. The thing that Rodarte has going for it is that they really are young! They really are hip! And that, apparently, makes all the difference.

Anyway, I've cast on my Knitting Olympics projeck. And I might even take a picture of it at some point. It's one of those viral knits that all the cool kids are knitting, Citron. Perfect for hours of Olympic TV with my boy, who is recording it all for posterity. (If you miss something, come on over.)

Despite the sadness and the malfunctioning cauldron last night, the opening ceremonies were fab. Especially all the crazy kids dancing with the flaming feet on the iFloor. Fun, fun, fun. Knit on everyone, and don't forget about the contest (scroll down to previous entry)! Or the video (scroll down to the entry before that)! Or the paperback that smells better than a baby!


PS Not to mention Greatest Living Chanteuse k.d. lang singing Leonard Cohen's "Halleluia"--Canadian genius, squared!

Posted by Kay at 03:10 PM | Comments (28)

February 12, 2010

Our Alter Egos Are Having a Contest

Dear Ann,

At this point I'm having difficulty keeping our alter egos straight. There's Big Edie and Little Edie, of course. (Which sounds so much nicer than Old Edie and Young Edie, doesn't it? It doesn't?) And there's those presumed-tranny country singers. (Gosh, I miss them! It's hard to believe they had the same makeup person as Big Edie and Little Edie.) But there's also the Problem Ladies! And the Problem Ladies have a deadline! Which means that Franklin has a deadline! It's a web of deadlines, all dependent on readers' questions. We'll take a stab at any knitting question, any query about Method Acting---just lay it on us, whatever you've got.

To encourage the questing and questioning spirit of our readers, all questioners will be entered in a contest to win one of the following audio books, all of which are perfect to knit by and would be a nice diversion if they don't get enough snow in Vancouver. The prizes are:

Twilight. Sexy vampires. If you like that sort of thing. And of course you do like that sort of thing. 12 hours, 51 minutes!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
8 hours, 17 minutes! Jim Dale doing all the voices! A tour de force of the audio book genre.

The Girl Who Played With Fire
18 and a half hours! Clearly enough time to knit all 3 socks on 2 circs!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
A mere 8 hours....sorry. A couple of dishrags, though.

419zuSvsRPL._SL500_AA240_.jpgThe Lost Symbol
Dan Brown is no slouch at the typing: 17 and a half hours!

Last Night in Twisted River.
John Irving is the champion: 24 and a half hours! Knit yourself unconscious!

The Rules: Leave a comment to this post, asking the Problem Ladies a question, by Sunday, February 14, at noon (New York time). Winners will be drawn at random. The first-drawn winner will have a choice among the audio books, the second-drawn winner will have a choice among the remaining audiobooks, and so forth until they're all distributed.

Good luck and happy questioning!


P.S. Thank you to our sweet publisher for the pile of audio love to share. Subscribe to Crafter News, everybody!

Posted by Kay at 10:47 AM | Comments (301)

February 09, 2010

Mason-Dixon Knitting Presents: A Premiere

Posted by Ann at 09:00 AM | Comments (242)

February 07, 2010

News from 2039


Stay tuned for a premiere on Tuesday, February 9.

Posted by Ann at 07:19 PM | Comments (68)

February 05, 2010

Busy Day Busy Day


Dear Kay,

I have to keep it brief because things are superbusy around here.

New York, New York! Carrie's bat mitzvah was amazing, as we all kind of suspected it might be. So proud to see her up there, calmly blasting through the Song of the Sea and some other really involved part that was frankly totally in Hebrew and therefore deeply mysterious. I am certain, however, that she nailed it. She just seemed to have it in hand.

Table 5 at the luncheon was a collection of Kay's Imaginary Knitting Friends--so funny to consider the fact that we all met via the ether. Were we actually there? I'm not so sure.


Superintrepid Gale Zucker photographed the whole weekend. Here she's with supermodel Rosie, who's appeared in both our books, and Rosie's remarkably unstage-mommish mom Diana.

A few photos for ya, then I gotta run.


Belinda, her mate Neil and I managed, on the strength of exactly one slice of pizza per person, to arrive at our mission destination, the eternally head-busting M & J Trimming. The quest for ribbon for Carrie's sparkly cardi devolved into a contemplation of things like this:


It's leather.

Stocked up for my next round of voodoo rituals:


At the Metropolitan, as ever, there was gorgeousness at every turn:


A French Art Deco vase.


Ancient Roman tiny vases.

And as happens at museums, sometimes you can't tell whether something is a sculpture or just an empty display case.


I took this photo as a joke, but when I got home, David looked at it and said, "Cool, mom! You're inside the case!" I hadn't even noticed. Nothinggggg's everrrrrr emptyyyyyyy . . .

Since getting back to Nashville, it's been really fun to work on our screenplay. I wish it could magically turn into a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, but it's clearly going to take a while. Anybody who's looking for a screenplay to produce, please contact us. Anything involving Vikings and the Civil War has to have an audience, right?


PS I have been forgetting to mention this, but it's right there in the right column: OUR NEW SHINY PAPERBACK IS COMING OUT NEXT WEEK! It smells SO DELICIOUS, I am telling you--your Kindle will never have the incredible, fresh-ink smell of this book. You flip the pages, admiring all the colorful and square knitting projects, and you are rewarded with a delicious poof of the printerly arts. NEVER has a knitting book had such a delightful, inky scent. Get 'em while they're still warm.

Posted by Ann at 10:47 AM | Comments (34)
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