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

March 28, 2010

Who Knitted ThisThing?

Dear Ann,

Happy Palm Sunday to ya! Here is an amazing video. If anybody knows more about how it was made, whether the knitting is real, etc., do write!

Edited to add:

Thanks, readers, for the link to the most excellent "making of" movie. "C'est tres simple....."

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 06:23 PM | Comments (56)

March 23, 2010

On The Fly

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Dear Ann,

It's Spring Break and we are heading South for a few days. Meanwhile, I'm wrecking my wrists cranking square after square for my Cabin Raising blanket in Sophie's Toes sock yarn.

I may have mentioned that this blanket is on Number 2 needles. THIS BLANKET IS ON NUMBER TWO NEEDLES. A personal first I gotta say. Only bothers me when I think about it.

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Still life with back cover of Amish Abstractions, a book of wonderfully knittable genuine Amish quilts of the Lancaster County, PA and also the Kansas variety.

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Photographic evidence: Olive is half terrier and half kittycat. Twelve hours in, and I miss her tragically. She is only going to survive this separation by eating a lot of Chirping Chicken. Nothing takes away the heartache like finding a smidgen of Chirpin' on your kibble.

Before I left, I pre-cooked a couple of briskets to stick in the freezer for Passover.
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Which reminded me of my best tip for harried would-be braisers. Instead of using cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni (who has cheesecloth?), stick all your herbes de Provence (or de Fairway) in a coffee filter, fold it up, and secure it with some Peaches & Creme cotton yarn. (Shade: Daisy Ombre. Because "ombre" means "flavor".)

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 07:52 PM | Comments (48)

March 18, 2010

Deja-vous? Don't Mind If I Do

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Dear Ann,

Where does the time go? It's hard to keep track, especially if you keep knitting the same thing over and over.

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This is the nice clean carpet in the airport in Madison, where I spent 5 hours of serenity on Sunday, waiting for LaGuardia to work through its storm delays. Just me, a Spotted Cow, a baggie of cheese curds (from the newstand; this was Madison), and a freshly-acquired hoard of Sophie's Toes famous hand-dyed sock yarn, which I had scored at the marketplace of the Madison Knitters Guild's fantastic Knit In 2010.

(One could ask the impertinent question: Kay! Honey! What about those 2 shawls you just cast on, one of them in freakin' CASHMERE?

Well. The circs I had were just not working out for me. Snaggy joins (need I say more). Also, counting those uneven repeats on the Volt? --Not something I am capable of while drinking a Spotted Cow, munching on cheese curds, or blabbing my head off with the Extreme Adventure Knitters of Mad City. I do not mean, by any means, to abandon my Volt. Volt is on the way!)

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But back to my new log cabin. It started many moons ago, when I saw photos of Emily's sock-yarn Barn Raising. I had always liked the Barn Raising. Now, with Emily's brilliant soft centers of color, I lurved the Barn Raising.


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Problem: I once made one of those miters-in-the-round. I did not enjoy the around-and-around on either 2 circs or 5 dpns. Just not my thing; hurty on the wrists of a sock weenie. So I thought I'd change my Barn Raising to a Cabin Raising.

It's totally different this way. The centers of the squares don't have the exquisite blur of Emily's version. But I like it anyway. I'm a garter stitch person and must accept the limitations of the form. It tickles me, perversely, to be knitting a BLANKET on Number 2 needles. Quel fabric. Quel drape. Quel long time this is going to take me. But to paraphrase Wisconsin's most famous knitter (and let's face it, its most famous citizen), "Elizabeth" as she is known in Madison, a garter stitch blanket on bitty widdle needles just means more of my favorite hobby! How could that be a bad thing?

Here's a secret about Emily's yarns: the neutrals are amazing. I know! She's known for the fabulous drenchy colour colour colour! But the Pewter and the Oatmeal and the Latte are plenty stimulating to the retinae.

The Piercing of the Dale (Sensitive Persons Strongly Cautioned)

When I arrived in Madison, Connie My Guide took me directly (with just a quick stop at Culver's for a restorative Butter Burger and frozen custard) to The Sow's Ear in Verona.

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The Sow's Ear is your destination for Nordic Beer Cozies (bottle or can), and a selection of North American and European yarns that we can only dream about in New York. Also serves delicious coffee.

This would have been great but for the traumatic event I witnessed there. I remember it all in slow motion.

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Meet Gail, or at least her t-shirt. (Sorry Gail! In real life, you have a head!)

I will put it to you straight: Gail was about to CUT INTO A DALE OF NORWAY SWEATER. (With embroidery on it for Pete's sake! I know!)

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Why was she doing this? It was an emergency: the appearance of a woman's bottom was at stake.

To wit, the hem of the pullover extended below her bottom in a way Gail deemed unflattering to the said region. (The cowards in attendance felt we could live with the length. We LOVED the length. Dale of NORWAY! Finished! Wear it with pride and move ON!)

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With the courage of the damned, Gail snipped a stitch, and without mercy or consideration for onlookers, stuck her finger through the hole. She proceeded to rip to a bottom-enhancing length.

There was much murmuring in the crowd about whether Gail should pick up and knit the ribbings down, or cut the ribbings, too, and Kitchener them on. (I know! Lord Kitchener intended that technique for 10 stitches at the toe of a sock! Let's not exaggerate!) Gail decided to knit down (phew).

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The patient survived. This was a bracing start to a delightful weekend. Thank you, knitters of Madison! Thank you, mighty Madison Knitters Guild! Thank you Kate and thank you Connie! Thank you Franklin for the nonstop giggles! And thank you vendors at the market!


Love,
Kay

P.S. of Pedantry: In the title, I misspelled deja vu on purpose. Translation of the fractured French is "do you deja?" For extra-credit sticklers and French majors out there, I also realize that deja is missing an accent. There is only so much time in the day.


Posted by Kay at 08:40 AM | Comments (61)

March 12, 2010

Up In the Frackin' Air, and It's No George Clooney Movie, Y'all

Dear Kay,

OK. OK. I'm all settled now. But if you'd seen me about twenty minutes ago, you would have mistaken me for one of those beleaguered airport residents who had LOST IT, one of the travel zombies, the undead, who left their homes at four dark o'clock, intent on reaching a destination and feeling sort of good about how the day was going to lay out. One of the pale, underfed, over-be-bagged wretches who disembarked from the first leg of the flight to discover that, woe betide them, the connecting flight left twenty minutes ago.

Oh, yeah, that's me in the Delta Sky Club over there, on a one-day Pity Pass, looking around the place and seeing some of my fellow wretches all trying to make sense of it all.

It's OK. It's going to be OK. The bummer part is that instead of arriving at lunchtime, I'm arriving at dinnertime, with a free bonus trip from Cincinnati to MInneapolis thrown in, on the way to Madison.

MADISON!!!!! O WISCONSIN!!!! The Madison Knitters Guild Knit-In!!! I MISS YOU ALREADY AND I HAVEN'T EVEN SEEN YOU!

I do have knitting, but it's not enough knitting for this situation, and I can't really believe I've miscalculated so badly. I'm usually overstuffed with travel knitting. No yarn shop in the Cincinnati airport.

Off to go re-wallow in your Liberty field trip. No Liberty of London in the Cincinnati airport.

I wonder where the Suitcase of MDK Handknits is right this minute. I'm SURE it wasn't on that huge uncovered trolley of bags I saw sitting parked in the rain on the tarmac. There was a guy out there wrapped up in a mitered square blanket. I KNOW that was a coincidence.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:18 AM | Comments (28)

Sweet Liberty

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Dear Ann.

Wednesday morning, 11 a.m. The line for the Liberty of London for Target pop-up store at Bryant Park was around the block. All female. All caffeinated. Visibly hyperventilating.

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I had the privilege of spending my 15 minutes of ladylike line-waiting behind this smashing ensemble of orange coat, white Kate Spade bag, skinny jeans and boots. O, to be young and bangin'.

I want you to know that I brought NO KNITTING. I needed to have all my wits about me. (Instead I whiled away the time talking to you on my cell phone.)

Once inside, the delirium overtook any thought I had had of taking photos. It's a very non-Targetty atmosphere in there. "Heady" is the word. I thought I was imagining the scent of hyacinths, but no. Real hyacinths. Boys and girls with headsets, smiling and restocking as fast as they can. Armloads of umbrellas did not make it across the floor to their destination---too many takers.

The stuff is great. I scored a not-to-be-disclosed number of the men's shirts. To those who, like me, worried that the fabric would not be up to snuff, quality-wise, be assured that it's lovely. One of the dashing floor managers (who did not blink when I asked him "what size is the shirt you're wearing?") told me, "This is the nicest shirt I've ever worn." I've laundered and pressed one (in the service of Scientific Research), and while the fabric may not technically be Tana Lawn, it's certainly inspired by the true story of Tana Lawn. Very fine and light, with a silky hand and a great willingness to submit to Rowenta. I'm not taking any of them back.

Ann! This weekend we are meeting up at the Madison Knitters' Guild's annual shindig! We are going to be blabbing our heads off, like never before! Can't wait!

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I leave you with a parting image of Heaven on Sixth Avenue. It would make a good quilt, no?

The Liberty for Target pop-up store at Bryant Park will be there for 2 more days--today and tomorrow. Git on it!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 08:37 AM | Comments (34)

March 08, 2010

This Too Shawl Pass

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Dear Ann,

Olive is harshing on me in this photo. She's judging me because although I only have 2 garter ridges left on the Flaggy Blankie, toward the end of last week I was laid low by a wicked case of the Starties. As always, it hit me from behind. I had been sitting on 6 skeins of Alchemy Haiku, in the lemony-lime shade of Citrine, for a full year without being seized with any particular impulse to knit it. I had bought it last year in Seattle when we were on book tour, and I was all hot to trot to knit something from Gina Wilde's intriguing book, Shibori Knits. That feeling somehow passed over. Until late last week, when I was leafing through Shibori Knits again, and came across:

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The Poet's Shawl. The stockinette bits are Alchemy Haiku, which felts, and the garter bits are Alchemy Pagoda, which doesn't. I just LURVE this thing. So I went off in search of a non-felting yarn in the eggzact same color as my Haiku--that seemed very very important, that it be the same color.

Success! I found 3 hanks of Alchemy Silk Purse in Citrine, at my lovely local, Knitty City.

Here's The Thing

So I cast on. Noticing, in passing, that the Haiku is sort of EAGER to felt. It will felt on itself if the strand gets even slightly bunched up, or twisted, or especially if it twists around another yarn, be it feltable or nonfeltable. I kept going. Undeterred and undaunted and undismayed.

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Until I got to the part where you do a vertical column of the Silk Purse, right in the middle of two sections of the Haiku. This means you have to have 3 balls of yarn, or bobbins of yarn or whatever, going at the same time. Which is a pain in the butt for several reasons. One being the self-felting qualities of the Haiku, and the fact that you have to be so very careful if you do not want the yarns to cross or twist, and even if you're very careful, they are going to cross and twist--it's just the way it goes.

And then, you see how in the picture of the shawl, there are lots of irregular gaps and holes on either side of the column of non-felting garter stitch? Even on the lovely sample? Well, that's because of the felting, I'm sure, but it's also because of the intarsia.

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See what I mean?

It's kind of driving me crazy. I was sitting up watching the Oscars last night (sans tweeting a peep of my innermost thoughts about any of it), and just kind of hating dealing with the 3 different sections and the self-felting and the gappy holes.

Does anybody think it would be wrong if I eliminated the vertical column of Silk Purse garter stitches running up the middle of the back? Because then, I would only be knitting with one of the yarns at a time, in an unbroken strand across the row. I could deal with that. Yes, that vertical column is cool, and might even be a big part of why I liked this shawl so much in the first place. But I just don't think I can remain undaunted and undismayed throughout this entire project, if I don't make it a little more.....do-able. Thawts?

Susan Has A Lot To Answer For

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I'm also in a pretty good frenzy about this project. Volt, from The Fine Line, by Grace Anna Farrow. Which I'd never heard of until reader Susan from Katonah went and emailed me a link and said something insidious like, "I think you'd like this designer's shawls, especially Volt."

Oh, I liked it, all right. I liked it 6 hanks of cashmere worth. When have you known me to buy 6 hanks of cashmere all at the same time? I saw this pattern, and my Innermost Being cried out, "I want it! And doggone it, I want it in cashmere!" What is UP with THAT?

More about that later. It's a wonderful book. I was never a shawl person until now. These could be My Shawls. Applied i-cord is involved. Enough said.

Love,
Kay

P.S. For fun, and wrap-knitting motivation, watch this video. C'mon! "Tie a scoff!" (Keep watching, at least until you get to the scoff-sporting dachshunds!)

Posted by Kay at 03:12 PM | Comments (90)

March 07, 2010

Oscaritis!

Dear Kay,

The Twitterverse is nuts tonight with all the Oscar crazy--come on over!

Love,

Ann

Posted by Ann at 06:49 PM | Comments (3)

March 05, 2010

Oscarrrrrr Feverrrrrr

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Dear Kay,

OK, I've got Oscar jitters already and it's only Friday. Here are some Oscar warm-up links to get you ready for the big day on Sunday.

1. Red Carpet Thunderdome: Carey Mulligan vs. Anna Kendrick.

2. Hollywood stylists are freaking out. Of course they are!

3. The annual predicting-the-winners roundup from the Times. I'm not sure I can live in a world where Sandra Bullock beats out Helen Mirren, but I have a feeling I'm going to have a long time to get used to it.

4. Burning speculation about what Tina Fey will wear, after that difficult Zac Posen Golden Globes moment.

5. I'm loving Carey Mulligan and her bony style, even though I fell asleep (fell ASLEEP!) halfway through An Education when we watched it in on our hotel TV in Chicago the other weekend when we were on our getaway. I think I had thread-count poisoning. Anyway--DO NOT TELL ME how the thing ends! When I drifted off, Peter Saarsgard was trending very low. But if anything in Hollywood is possible, it's the turnaround redemption. He could end up being a vampire! Or she could be a MAN! Here's Carey Mulligan in her first-ever talk show appearance, on David Letterman bless her heart. She's great.

6. Here's your online Oscar ballot (NYT registration required). This is the NCAA March Madness of fashion film, people. If you want to join in the Mason-Dixon Knitting Oscar Pool over there at the NY Times, email me and I'll send you an invite to join up, so that we can compare ballots. This is what I LIVE FOR, y'all. You won't see me arguing about Gonzaga versus U. Conn, but I will take it to the MAT about Vera Farmiga.

7. The 82nd Annual Academy Awards Oscar Bingo 2010 cards. Print 'n' play! "Bea Arthur appears in dead person montage": SCORE!

8. Official 2010 Academy Awards Drinking Game. This may be the best strategy for getting through this.

Although . . .

9. If Steve Martin AND Alec Baldwin are co-hosting, this rare humor bifecta may make the thing worth it. Here's a backstage tour of the set, which designer David Rockwell says is going to be a funnier set than last year's. GOD THAT MAN IS A GENIUS. I cannot wait to see the extra 16 inches of smoky Swarovski crystals added to the 100,000-crystal curtain.

10. Robert Pattinson at the Oscars LAST year, because apparently he won't be at the Oscars THIS year. Why are they even having the Oscars if he isn't going to be there? WHAT IS THE POINT? (Free bonus: Rob up in a tree with Jimmy Fallon.)

11. I may feel the need to live-blog or live Tweet this event. Nobody else in this house will watch the Oscars with me, and I need to yell at the TV with SOMEbody. Come on . . . yell with me. I'm annshayne on Twitter.

Love,
Ann

PS Hollywood knitter Ellen has a great photo retrospective of Oscar venues at her blog here. Good luck with the gridlock, Ellen!

Posted by Ann at 10:36 AM | Comments (31)

March 03, 2010

Brenda Kay and Sheri Lynn, We Luv U

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Dear Kay,

I have been colossally out of pocket this week due to the arrival of my sister Buffy plus fambly and her porta-pantry.

Buffy is on Spring Break. It's been like Fort Lauderdale around here. Or a Princess Cruise. Or a Bravo reality show where people have to shop every single day. I still haven't recovered from watching the finale of The Bachelor with Buffy. It was like touring Gettysburg with Ken Burns, listening to her parse the whole Vienna-versus-Tenley thing. The subtleties of it all! By the end of the show, I was Tweeting the thing like it was the end of the Super Bowl. She made me care so much.

On Monday we managed to score seats on the Jugg Sisters' world-famous Nash Trash tour of downtown Nashville. For 13 years I've been seeing the Big Pink Bus around town yet only now managed to go: it was Buffy, Dad, his bride Also Ann, and me.

Our guides, Brenda Kay and Sheri Lynn, greeted the four of us on the Big Pink Bus with a stream of abuse about the fact that we were almost as late as the Weinermobile people. It was like walking into a Level 2 hurricane. As they took my credit card, in about ten seconds they managed to suss out the intricacies of my relationship with my sister as well as my dad's entire marriage history.

The Big Pink Bus finally set off, with a lot of muttering from Brenda Kay and Sheri Lynn about the Weinermobile people not showing up. It was like some running gag, the Weinermobile thing, and Sheri Lynn swore she was boycotting Oscar Mayer baloney for at least two months.

It was pretty funny, until we looked out the back window and saw a Weinermobile hauling it around a corner, gaining fast on us.

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The Weinermobile was late! We hung with the Weinermobilers in the back of the Big Pink Bus, a wholesome pair who have been traveling the southeast for nine months and somehow had a need to hook up with another unlikely piece of transportation. Please notice a) the harmonic convergence of the Weinermobile and the Big Pink Bus, b) Buffy's cow shoes, c) my Citron neck napkin doing yeoman's labour keeping me cozy, and d) my silver-haired pappy.

SO funny. Those women are geniuses.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:06 PM | Comments (23)

March 02, 2010

Obsession Regression

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Dear Ann,

It started with the ordinary need, right this minute, for a project I could knit without looking, or thinking. (Couldn't manage Citron in the movies, due to the evenly-spaced increases every few rows.) (Obviously couldn't go to the movies without knitting. Hello? This is me?) OK, I'm way behind on my baby blankets; I thought, I'll start on a striped denim blanket like that one I made back in 2000 or 2001 and gave away to somebody I haven't seen since 2003 (not that I'm bitter--we moved--OK, a little bitter). Cast on 66 x 3, plus 20 for the edges, knit knit knit, 10 garter, 66 stockinette, 66 reverse stockinette, 66 stockinette, 10 more garter, switch up the stockinette and reverse stockinette after every 10-row stripe, for texture (and barely noticeable knitterly interest). After 7 stripes, the thought occurred: this would be more fun if it were log cabin, but why is that? Oh well, too late now. What would make it fun? Making it into a flag would make it fun. Red yarn! So fun!

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A folk-arty flag with the proportions most definitely wrong, like someone making an American flag without ever having seen one, but fun fun super fun. Almost done.

Knitting denim begets knitting more denim, and another baby boy is getting closer to walking every day, and I saw a photo of a Loretta Pettway flag quilt on a book cover, and it got me thinking about her Courthouse Steps/Bricklayer quilt that we homaged in Book 1 (now out in paperback! have you heard?):

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I love this thing. All aging guaranteed 100 percent not engineered with a nail file or bleach pen or anything else that you might suspect me of. This is just the way it aged, lying on Joseph's bed, getting more sun-bleached on the creases where it was folded, with a few mysterious light splotches. I've got to knit another one while I have this new Loretta Pettway quilt in my head. So that will be another baby boy well taken care of.

And something to knit in the movies.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 11:41 AM | Comments (22)

March 01, 2010

Citron Wrap Up

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Dear Ann,

Citron a la Moi, c'est fini. That extra repeat I added...took a while. The math of ever-increasing stitch counts always surprises me. I know that if the stitch count keeps growing, the yarn will not go as far, row-wise, but I'm always surprised at how dramatic it is. "One more repeat" doesn't sound like so much. But when you're increasing a bunch, and ruching a bunch, it takes a lot more yarn, and a lot more time, in the backstretch. Still, I had plenty left in my second skein of Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere (lace weight, Green Tea shade) to do an i-cord bind off. Which I only decided to do after binding off a couple hundred stitches purlwise, taking that out and then binding off a couple of hundred stitches knitwise, dropping a stitch (stitch approximately the 10th of 200 or so) on my first i-cord attempt--you get the picture. A couple of evenings of consternation, but finally, RESULT! I do love an i-cord bindoff. (How to do an i-cord bind-off. My only change was to do a k2tog through back loops instead of slip, slip, knit. Faster and tidier.)

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As you can see, my blocking regime is not rigorous. I threaded the garter stitch ridges onto blocking wires to make the top edge behave in a respectable manner, but left the ruffle to more or less ruffle hedonistically. A little finger-pressing of the damp cashmere was all it took. Like spit curls. I realize it might not meet some people's standards. I meant to shoot some steam at it, but I forgot.

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The extra repeat made a big difference to the fit. It's not a sumptuous shawl by any means, but it's beyond a Neck Napkin. So light!

Snow Day

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Friday's snow, which barely stayed frozen, was heavy and wet and perfect for sculpting. I heard tell of an anatomically correct snowman in Central Park, but in our neck of the woods we had just your traditional snow bourgeoisie.

Pussy Willows

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People asked me what I did with all those paper cranes we made back in January. I hung a bunch of them on pussy willows, with decorative intent. With local pussy willow season nearly upon us, I would like to make a public service announcement: DO NOT PUT CUT PUSSY WILLOWS IN WATER (as I've seen them in florist shops, including the one where I purchased mine). Left in water, they will root, and in the words of Cousin Ann, the Pussy Willow Lady of Louisville, "the pussies will fall off". If you put them in a dry vase, the pussies will stay on indefinitely. Allowing you to display your paper cranes indefinitely. But if, like Cousin Ann, your intent is to grow live pussy willows, then by all means put them in water, and let them root. (Cousin Ann, who really does raise masses of pussy willows every spring for a church fundraiser, was very excited to see pussy willows at Carrie's bat mitzvah, but concerned that I was unintentionally rooting them.)

Back to Cashmere

I love cashmere.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 06:43 PM | Comments (35)
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