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

August 31, 2010

The Search Narrows, and a Cool Calendar

Dear Ann,

It is amazing how many truly stunning wraps/shawls/scarves there are out there, that for some reason I do not want to knit with my Hand Maiden Sea Silk. (Sometimes the reason is: I've already knit that one.) However, I am getting pretty close to deciding, which is good since I have to get it together by tomorrow morning's flight to Californee. A top contender is one of Stephen West's boyish neckerchiefs, which are called shawls when worn by the non-boyish. I like the way he wears them, just hanging about the neck. Raffish. I'm feeling raffish.

Wanted to share this cool calendar:

If you click on it, it takes you to its maker's website, where you can see the whole month. Look at it for a minute to take in the coolness. Today they're all looking down; tomorrow they'll all be looking up! I love stuff like that; it bespeaks great ability to stay on task, a quality I admire all the more for lacking it myself much of the time.

Many thanks to helpful readers for alerting me to their fave travel projects; you've kept me busy all day checking them out.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 06:13 PM | Comments (14)

S.O.S. Need Travel Knitting Projeck

Dear Ann and Everybody,

I don't know how this happened, but not only have I not blogged the rest of our Midwestern Odyssey--I didn't even make it to Night 2: Chicago--but now we are heading out of town again, this time for a Wedding Out West. (The bride is 50 and it's her first wedding--isn't that a most hopeful thing? Of course, she doesn't look 50, and maybe I shouldn't have just blurted that out like that. Sorreee!)

Here's the situation: I don't have anything to knit on the 2 long flights and during all the expected sitting around in cars and stuff. (I'm planning to do zero driving on this trip. Zero point zero.) What I do have is a whole lotta Hand Maiden Sea Silk that I've always wondered what to do with. Don't get me wrong, it's been fabulous having it sitting on my bedside table for the last 4 or 5 years, but it's getting kind of dusty, and I believe she makes this stuff for the purpose of people knitting it.

Would greatly appreciate some Reader Suggestions. The project has to be:

1. Appropriate for this exquisite but flat n' floppy, plant-based yarn. I have 3 skeins in each of 2 colors, so quantity is not going to be an obstacle.

2. Easy enough to do on the go. By "easy enough" I mean that if there are yarnovers and SSKs involved, they better be in a very repetitious and predictable order. (As a guide: I'm not taking my Bottom-Up Birch, because between the self-adhesive qualities of Kid Silk Haze and the oh-so-simple but still, different every row, lace pattern, it's not easy enough to qualify as a ShlepKnit.)

3. Even better if it's a pattern I can download, um, TODAY. Even better if you can give me the link to it.

Many thanks, helpful and highly opinionated people out there.

Love,
Kay
P.S. Gosh! I almost forgot to include a Topically Appropriate Song Video from YouTube:


On our road trip, we listened to the Broadway cast recording of Mamma Mia at least daily. (Family fun!) Only when viewing this video (with AMAZING CHINESE CAT-THEMED MAXI DRESSES--not to be missed!) did I realize that the Broadway cast members were doing a Swedish accent on words like "understood" and "good". So true: it used to be so nice, it used to be so good--back when a girl could wear a full length dress with a giant cat on it, and belt the thing!

Posted by Kay at 10:08 AM | Comments (72)

August 30, 2010

Make Your Own Kind of Music

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Dear Kay,

Continuing in my frugal and stashbusting ways (ha), I dove back into my tar pit of yarn to find another unfinished object I could rescue from the slough of despond.

I'll say it again: this unfinished object concept is VERY STRONG, y'all. You may think that your castaway, deeply unfinished sweater totally and completely sucks, but remember: at some point, you were all excited to be starting it. It was COOL. There was some mojo dragging you toward that project. The reason you stopped working on it likely had more to do with the allure of Project B than with an intrinsic problem with Project A. If you ditched Project A because of some crippling technical breakdown, it's likely that at this point, you have forgotten how your soul was broken by it. Seriously! In these challenging times (and by the way, when were times NOT challenging? Have we ever had a non-challenging time? EVER?), an unfinished object provides you a jumpstart, a free pass, a drive from the ladies' tees.

I unearthed the start of a project that I never even got around to blogging, moldering away behind a sizeable collection of rag balls. It was two rectangles knitted onto one needle, with some kind of shaping joined below. Huh? What was this thing? No wonder I ditched it!

Deeper in my closet, behind cowboy boots (the red ones) and a dress for a baby girl that I never sent to my niece (crap!), I found the rest of the yarn and pattern for this weird piece of knitting.

My old friend Rowan Felted Tweed! [Pauses to admire the current set of colorways I mean colourways. Look at 152 Watery. Sigh! Doesn't that just say it all?]

The shade I'm using is a really great crunchy color. I can't remember Rowan's name for it, but we'll call it Chaff. Or Hayseed. Or Dull. It has blue flecks and dark brown flecks. I really, really love this yarn. If you've never messed around with this stuff, you really need to. Merino/alpaca/viscose. Sort of felty.

The pattern is the Back Home in Vermont pullover, a pattern by Marjorie Moureau that appears in that most sheepy book, The Natural Knitter by the late Barbara Albright.

I think it's the stitch pattern that got me het up about this one. It's such a cool texture, the right twist stitch combined with ribs. It's constructed in a clever way:

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1 and 2. You knit the saddles as separate little rectangles.

3. Pick up stitches on one side of each saddle and knit the front yoke.

4. Pick up stitches on the other side of each saddle and knit the back yoke.

5. Pick up a sleeve, which is going to end up being a set-in sleeve at some distant point in its future.

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And down it will go. Any knitter would love the way the cables on the saddles continue smoothly down the arm. And I'm glad I'll be able to check the fit as I go, because I'm concerned that the sleeves are going to be kind of full.

This is proving to be the PERFECT knitting to accompany my obsession with Lost. Like the series, this knitting is surprisingly slow, what with all the back n forthing from knit to purl, and all the drama from good to evil. At this point David is much farther along in the series than I am, and I can't even be in the same part of the house when he's watching--every single scene is so spoilerish, if I hear a character's voice, I know that he's still alive! I'm not going to admit how much I've watched so far, but let's just say that the Mama Cass Elliott's "Make Your Own Kind of Music" is now the creepiest song I've ever heard.

Aw here you go, Lost fans--go freak yourselves out:

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:26 AM | Comments (23)

August 24, 2010

Brisket, Teevee, and the Ever-Roaming DVD

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Dear Kay,

First of all, I am going to flat-out brag about the fact that I have a brisket in the oven, at 9:30 in the morning. I can't really remember the last time I did something like this. "Cooking" "supper." I have been melting, and reconstituting, and microwaving all summer. At some point, slicing a tomato ceases to count as cooking when there's no entree to go with it.

The love of a new cookbook can really help. I am 100% inspired by Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook, the cookbook I picked up this summer when its author, Martha Hall Foose, gave a talk--the mother of all talks, really--on pie crust. Her brisket is called "Midnight Brisket," and she says you have to plan for it: count back 36 hours from the time you want to serve your brisket. I'll let you know how it goes, twelve hours from now when it has finally completed six hours in the oven at 200 degrees, five hours in the fridge, then reheating and saucymaking.

What if it really sucks?

Fall Begins in August

I know that most of you are still out there with your pool floaties and your SPF 100 and your summertime reveries, but for me, summer ENDS on August 17, when school starts. I'm done with summer; I'm moving on. Labor Day is just some blip on the calendar.

With the arrival of fall, knitting starts to look like a great idea. As does watching a TV series from Episode 1 through the end of Season 6. My son David discovered that Lost is available on Netflix, instant viewing if you watch it via the Internet. I never got into Lost, but when David started chain-smoking it this summer, he dogged me until I caved and watched the first episode. Hooked!

We replaced our old TV (so ancient that it might as well have been housed in a Mediterranean-style cabinet). (OK, not THAT old, but it could not handle the tidal wave of cable that was pouring out of our wall.) It turns out that you can instant-watch Netflix things via our new TV. I don't know. It takes a 14 year old to explain it all to me, and I hate that! The confluence of it all is starting to get to me. I think I paid a gas bill on my TV. WhatEVER.

So I start lining up episodes of Lost, and I start chain-knitting.

After finishing the Medano Beach Bag, I had leftover Hemp for Knitting, so I thriftily (ha) started one of my favorite patterns from our second book, Ann Hahn Buechner's Monteagle Bag.

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Four cones of Peaches n Creme is the apparent capacity of one Monteagle Bag.

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I forgot how trippy these stitches are.

I ended up using some Euroflax for the top of this one, and I like the thinness of it. Hemp for Knitting is just a little chunkier.

It's only a night or two of knitting to finish one, at which point you get this delicious moment where you stretch out all the wrapped stitches and see how it looks. After making two of these bags, I have the pattern in my head, and that is really surprising, considering how kooky the stitches appear to be. Again, nothing's too hard once you dive in.

Postcard from a Revolution

OK, this is really funny. I get back to town, and there's a postcard.

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Liza of Cambridge, MA (hi Liza, you obviously responsible citizen!) wanted to let me know that she was soon going to send the Singing Revolution DVD along to the next recipient. It sounds like Liza is having a great summer at Watch Hill and such, and I'm glad to hear that the DVD has successfully reached its 22nd stop on its journey to 104 different knitters.

A few stats for you: the Singing Revolution DVD left Nashville September 19 last year, so it's making a stop every two weeks or so, which means that it's going to take a total of about four years for the DVD to make its rounds. 2013! I encourage you all to stop, drop, and watch ASAP when the DVD arrives at your house--because it's not at all clear to me that people's addresses are going to stay the same for that long! Or that DVD players are even going to exist by then! Hurry, y'all! We're being chased by technology!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 11:44 AM | Comments (36)

August 19, 2010

What Are The Chances

Dear Ann,

Yesterday I was foraging for bandwidth and found myself in the Whole Foods in Omaha. Not only does this excellent Whole Foods have WiFi, it has WiByGla (wine by the glass), which I think is just about the greatest concept in grocery shopping since the paper bag. The kids got a snack and settled in while I did my computer business. When I was done, I got up to get an iced coffee, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw this on the table behind us:

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At first I thought it was one of those optical illusions I am always having, like when I see someone on a subway platform fiddling with a strand of white yarn, and get a little excited before I realize it's iPod earphones (again). But no, this was definitely yarn. Definitely something garter stitchy in there, too. Investigating further, I looked up and saw this:

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The room had filled with knitters. I began to suspect that I was dreaming. Things like this happen in my dreams. (In a recent dream, I was at a party at Craig Ferguson's house and tried to impress him by telling him I am a knitting book author. I know! What is wrong with me?)

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Adding to the dreamlike ambiance: a beckoning log cabin blanket.

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They had a SWIFT. Seriously, now, can you imagine that I sit down in an empty room, and 20 minutes later I look up and find 40 knitters, a log cabin blanket, a BABY SURPRISE JACKET, and a swift?

So naturally I introduced myself. I believe I said something like, "I am a knitting book author." I know! You'd think I'd learn that this is not a great conversational opening. But it worked better on this crowd than on Craig-Ferguson-in-dream. It turns out that my WiFi search had led me to Whole Foods on a Wednesday evening, when a group from the Nebraska Knit and Crochet Guild gathers there for hours of knitting, chatting and WiByGla. They told me the Whole Foods people have made them very welcome, and even let them use the fancy kitchen classroom sometimes for knitting classes. They generally stay until they get shooed out at closing time.

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Here's Karen, the guild's knitting doctor.

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The kids were....well, you can guess how they felt about it. Just lucky, I guess!

Based on the comments to my last post, we are staying a couple of extra days so that we can partake of the Omaha Royals' last home stand in Rosenblatt Stadium, aka the Blatt. Thanks, kind baseball lovin' readers! That was a very good idea.

Love,
Kay

P.S. Olive has been to a bar with my dad. We have to leave town before she picks up any bad habits, cravings for smoked almonds, or anything.



Posted by Kay at 04:58 PM | Comments (65)

Supermassive Black Hole of Nostalgia, and a Finished Object

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Dear Kay,

The fellas started at a new school this week, and I am sentimental to the point of WEEPY every time I drop them off. Somehow dropping them off is more sentimental than picking them up, so I have to watch it in the early morning, when I haven't had any coffee. I'm a WRECK.

See, this school is my alma mater, and Hubbo's as well. In fact, we met there over 30 years ago. Just thinking about this leaves me awash in another wave of crushing nostalgia. It's a total minefield to walk through the building. This banister! I grabbed this banister in fifth grade, just the way my fifth grader Clif is going to grab this banister. The auditorium! Scene of so much crushing on Hubbo. That curb! That's where my mom's Chevrolet Kingswood Estate station wagon was parked when she would wait to pick us up. I'm haunted even by the ghost of the Gray Building, the derelict house on the corner where I had at least ten classes, from the basement for French to the attic for mechanical drawing. (Mechanical drawing? Why did they teach this, and why did I take it?) The Gray Building gave way to a new middle school wing a while back, but I wish it were still there, so I could show the fellas.

I want them to like this school as much as I did, and they seem to be settling in. But I am trying hard to resist loading them up with every single memory I have of the place, where I spent eight very loaded years, mostly trying to avoid math. Only now do I realize how obvious it was that I was trying to avoid math, how clueless I was, and how many people at this school were helping me get through it all.

Finishing the Unfinishable

Before I forget, and I keep forgetting, I have to mention the new issue of Twist Collective. Yes, our Problem Ladies column is in there, which includes a shocking and appalling confession from one of us. But mostly, I think this issue really shows the way Twist has made a distinctive mark on the knitting world. It's not that this issue is any more beautiful than its predecessors. It looks great, that's all--patterns, photos, writing. Maybe it's just that I am having fun knitting as a HOBBY right now, just making stuff as it occurs to me, with no deadlines or need to write down every stitch I make. Twist really gives a knitter a lot to chew on. Very proud to be a part of it.

Speaking of Chewing

I just finished something, the Cascata shawlette thingie, designed by Susanna IC from Twist. I'm calling it a scarf, because I can't imagine the moment when I'm going to be going capelet with this.

I have to admit, at one point this summer, I absolutely was not going to finish this thing. One day, I almost yanked the needles out because I needed them for something else--I had so mucked up the lacework that I really didn't ever want to deal with it again. And I was bummed that I'd gone with a stash laceweight that was a lot heavier than the spidery yarn that I ought to have used.

See? This is what I was looking at:

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A lumpy, heavy mess. Not the pattern's fault at all. But last week, after unpacking this almost-finished project, I sat down, ripped out four rows of messy messiness, and discovered that nothing was unfixable.

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A sturdy blocking can transform pretty much anything. And the yarn, Blue Heron's Egyptian Mercerized Cotton, became an OK yarn for this. It's not as airy as it could be, but it is shiny, and it has a nice drape to it.

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Watery.

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It looks really great as a chair capelet. And at the moment, it's really dressing up my T shirt. Moral of the story: go dig up some unfinished object, and finish it. VERY satisfying!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:42 AM | Comments (32)

August 17, 2010

Tramps Like Us

Dear Ann,

Well, now I've really gone and done it. The kids, the dog and I drove from New York to Omaha. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, actually, so far it's still a pretty good idea. First stop was Cleveland. It was touch and go, because we were trying to (a) drive from New York to Cleveland, (b) drop off Olive at the Inn To Pets (get it? Inn To Pets?), and (c) find Progressive Field in time for a 7:05 game between the mighty Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners. This is all part of Joseph's lifetime plan to visit every major league baseball field in North America. He's starting with the American League. Carrie and I are keeping him company and hoping for good local food to break up all that baseball.

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Look at Progressive Field! Isn't it pretty? We partook of the many delights of small-market baseball. I am not being sarcastic--it was delightful. I never got why the sportscasters made such a big deal out of other teams playing in Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, and talking about how impressive and intimidating the experience could be for rookies; it always seemed more than a little patronizing to me. The big leagues are the big leagues, right? Well, I get it now. Watching the Indians play the Mariners was a lot mellower, and not nearly so noisy, as a typical evening in Yankee Stadium.

I know you are dying to know who threw out the first pitch?

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(Captain Morgan. Assisted by two hootchy mamas. Fun for the whole family!)

The Indians' mascots include 3 hot dogs, Ketchup, Mustard, and Onion. FYI.

The evening was capped with a rock and roll sing along with fireworks. We almost didn't stay, due to the understandable fear of some in our party that Mommy would probably not be able to refrain from singing along. But hey--fireworks. We were figuring on some cute little small-market fireworks.

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But it was AWESOME. We have never inhaled so much sulphurous smoke--- fantastic!

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I really enjoyed the graphics, different for each of 40 or so songs, and perfectly synchronized with the audio. Clearly somebody had a lot of fun on the computer.

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And the music was so loud that any embarrassing parental full-voice singing was completely obliterated.

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So far there have not been nearly enough knitting opportunities, Frankly I'm feeling deprived. Today I stopped by ever-welcoming String of Purls, ostensibly to pick up some pointier needles for the Bottom-Up Birch I just started, but really just to see some knitting, knitters and yarn before we have to hit the road again for the return trip.

Next up: the city of broad shoulders, and Olive Haz Cousins.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 07:07 PM | Comments (51)

August 15, 2010

World Premiere: Merle Hazard Goes Double Dippin'

Dear Kay,

Beloved Hubbo--I mean, financial country crooner Merle Hazard--is back, with a timely new tune for these topsy-turvy times:

Plenty more to hear over at Merle's world!

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 08:35 PM | Comments (15)

August 11, 2010

Say It with Yarn

Dear Kay,

Here's a scarf I just sent off to my dear college friend, whose mom died last week. Her mom was the BEST.

I got the news and immediately went home to start a scarf for her, because I was so upset that I wasn't going to be able to attend the funeral.

The only yarn I had that would work as a scarf was this pile of leftover nubbins.

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Noro Silk Garden.

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Feather and fan.

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Seems so inadequate. But I loved thinking about this family while making this. So warm hearted, the whole lot of them.

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Love,
Ann

PS Edited to add: Many thanks for your concern about my extreme lack of stash--I should have made it clear that at the time of this scarf, I was out in the deepest reaches of Grundy County, with only a skein of sock yarn, a seriously screwed-up and therefore abandoned lace shawl, and the nubbins on hand. I was ROUGHING it, y'all. I was down to the NUB. Unlike here in Nashville, where the yarn continues to burble up in my closet like cougar skulls at the La Brea Tar Pits.


Posted by Ann at 03:46 PM | Comments (42)

Lining Up

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Dear Kay,

I finished my Medano Beach Bag several weeks ago and immediately started using the thing.

It was such a relief to have something light, and stripey, and FINISHED in a summer where the knitting was tragically rare. I dispensed with my idea to line the bag, in the interest of getting ON with it, and this bag became my constant companion on my rounds to lectures about my Myers-Briggs profile, pie-crust seminars with Martha Hall Foose*, and Day 15 of tomato pie at the dining hall.

Love this bag! The Hemp for Knitting (As Opposed to Hemp For Earnest-looking Shoes) is a great, sturdy yarn. But the bag began to stretch under the mighty weight of its burthens, and I realized I really did want to line the bag after all.

A tea towel seemed like the perfect lining, considering that I have a bunch of them. In particular, Kay, you may recall the parcel you sent me a while back, when you were cornering the market on Vera.

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Included in that shipment was a rare find, a Vera jelly jar calendar towel from 1963, the year of my birth.

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I treasure this thing! So much so, in fact, that I was talked out of using it for this bag, this mere bag, when it deserved a place of honor in the kitchen.

I turned instead to the tea towel that Belinda gave me. Sturdy, gray, LONDON.

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The magic closet coughed up some thread and a needle, and I stitched it all together while watching Bright Star for the third time. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MOVIE? All-time greatest movie featuring handsewing and Keats. I am STILL SIGHING.

My backstitching looks like it had a little too much white wine.

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The net of all this is that the lining absolutely keeps small-gauge knitting needles from poking through. And the sag rate has been cut in half. (You can see from the length of the tails how much stretch we're talking about.)

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Best of all, I have a little thought about Belinda, every day.

Love,
Ann

*Martha's book may not be Porch Party Recipes. (No rings for a binding, for one thing.)

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But it was greeted with complete approval by the cooks of the Assembly, who are nothing if not discerning when sussing out Southern cook fakers. The cover replicates the hands-cupping-yarn meme that we see so often in knitting books, but here with a tomato. (Yes, it's a Clarkson Potter book.)

PS Before I forget, someone asked about what paste wax I used on my desk. It's Kiwi Bois, in a dark oak shade, that apparently no longer is made. (My can is at least nine years old!) Paste wax is apparently one of those forever topics amongst woodworkers. This forum sounds a lot like the Techniques board on Ravelry. Carnuba versus beeswax! Harsh!

Posted by Ann at 01:28 PM | Comments (33)

August 10, 2010

The New Simplicity?

Dear Kay,

Back home again, completely flattened at the prospect of gearing up the fellas for school. Can't they kind of figure it all out themselves? They car keys are on the kitchen counter--have at it!

I have been hearing of a similar malaise from other friends. Any ideas for overcoming that end-of-camp feeling? I did polish my desk yesterday, which had worn down pretty much to the wood. Nothing like the brain-eatin' scent of paste wax to wake you up.

Quick question: would somebody please knit up this $3,400 Missoni coat, please? Just to see how it would look? Aren't the colors dreamy?

I have knitting to report, as soon as I can find the camera cable in one of the seven Hefty bags of crap I brought back from the mountain. A smart person would just take those trash bags out to the trash can.

Love,
Ann

Posted by Ann at 10:15 AM | Comments (36)

August 06, 2010

Lifestyles of the Stitchin' Famous (and Free Pattern!)

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Dear Ann,

In case you haven't noticed, I've been vamping here, recycling pictures of my dog and such; I have mislaid the KayCam. But wanted to fill you in on Last Night At Martha's Party. Martha (yes, that Martha, do I have to post a link to cussin' Martha?) threw a party for bloggers in honor of a BlogHer hootenanny that was going on that I didn't know about, and she was kind enough to invite me, so I went.

It would be an understatement to say that there were not a lot of knitbloggers there. I was in a state of wonderment at how there could be so many bloggers who do not blog about knitting. How do they find enough to say about shallow topics such as parenthood and marriage? But everyone was terribly stylish and the food was terribly good, and it was a good sign that I ran into Caro of Split Yarn in the elevator to the 9th floor. The one who's selling the famous "handmade, not homemade" t-shirt. A good sign indeed.

Inside there were interactive displays of extreme craftiness not involving knitting. I did a little decorative painting with a Martha faux bois tool, which was very satisfying. There was great food and plenty of it, and most importantly, the best summer cocktail ever (and I'm including the mighty G & T, so listen up): the Basil Lillet Slush. It's basil, Lillet, and a slush. So refreshing, and only mildly alcoholic. (I don't think it had vodka in it, as prescribed in the recipe, but maybe that's the vodka talking.) How I have lived this long without pureeing herbs into beverages, I do not know. Full of antioxidants, and so tasty!

I was barely halfway into my second slider with pickled onions when I ran into Annie. Yes, Annie! Annie, whom I consider to be a cocktail party in her own right, was blowing through town on her way to teach knitting in Scotland. If you go look at Annie's reportage about the party, you will see pictures of the party, and also a picture of me from my best angle. (With enough altitude on the lens, who needs cosmetic surgery?)

Free Pattern!

In knitting news, I'm working hard to meet the gently extended deadline for my contribution to next year's Dishcloth Calendar. Which means I can give away my contribution to this year's Dishcloth Calendar.

I give you the unusual, and so far underknitted, Per Orla, a pear-shaped dishrag tribute to Orla Kiely, and my humble offering to Dishrag Nation.

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Per Orla Dishcloth
By Kay Gardiner of www.masondixonknitting.com

Inspiration always comes from what we love, but it can take a while for an inspiration to percolate into a knittable project. I am a superfan of Orla Kiely’s graphic designs for handbags, accessories, and housewares. To me she’s the perfect mix of retro and right now.

This dishcloth tribute to Orla Kiely may be a bit fancy to live in the kitchen sink (and I will confess that it bothers me a little if a dishcloth can’t be folded neatly), but it has enough style and substance to bring to the dining table as a hot pad or trivet. Most of all, it’s a fun little puzzle to take the familiar Ballband Dishcloth stitch pattern, shape it into a pear, and finish it off with applied i-cord. The leaf and stem are more than a whimsical detail; they are a sneaky way to avoid having to graft the 2 ends of i-cord together where they meet. (You start the i-cord with the stem, and end it with the leaf.)


Yarn: Peaches & Creme worsted weight, 100% cotton, 2½ oz (71.5g), 122 yds (112m), 1 ball each in solid colors A, B and C.

Size 7 (4.5mm) straight needles
Size 7 (4.5mm) double pointed needles (2) for i-cord trim (optional)

NOTE

The ballband stitch pattern is a 12-row repeat that creates alternating sections of reverse stockinette “bricks”, each brick separated from its neighbor by an elongated slipped stitch.

To shape the pear, the instructions require you to work increases and decreases on the edges of the work while keeping the stitch pattern consistent. There are 2 tricks to doing this. First, the first or last stitch of a row is never a slipped stitch. Knit that stitch even if that alters the stitch pattern on the edges. Second, to easily remember where you should slip the first stitch on a new section of “bricks”, look at the section of bricks below, and remember that the slipped stitch in a brick in the section below should be the 3rd stitch (the center stitch) of each brick in the new section. (When you are working the pattern, read this again, and it will make more sense; if you are a Ballband Dishcloth veteran, you already get it, so cast on, already.)

BALLBAND STITCH PATTERN

Row 1 (RS) Using A, knit.

Row 2 Purl.

Row 3 Using B, k4, slip 1 stitch purlwise, *k5, slip 1 purlwise; repeat from *to last 4 stitches, k4.

Row 4 Knit 4, yarn forward (yf), slip 1 purlwise, yarn back (yb), *k5, yf, slip 1 purlwise, yb; repeat from * to last 4 stitches, k4.

Row 5 Purl 4, yb, slip 1 purlwise, yf, *p5, yb, slip 1 purlwise, yf; repeat from * to last 4 stitches, p4.

Row 6 Repeat row 4.

(Rows 1-6 form the first section of bricks.)

Row 7 Using A, knit.

Row 8 Purl.

Row 9 Using B, k1, slip 1 purlwise, *k5, slip 1 purlwise; repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 10: Knit 1, yf, slip 1 purlwise, yb, *k5, yf, slip 1 purlwise, yb; repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 11: Purl 1, yb, slip 1 purlwise, yf, *p5, yb, slip 1 purlwise, yf; repeat from * to last stitch, p1.

Row 12: Repeat row 10.

(Rows 7-12 form the second section of bricks.)


INSTRUCTIONS FOR DISHCLOTH

Using A, cast on 27 stitches.

Work rows 1-4 of the ballband stitch pattern.

Row 5 Increase one stitch in the first and last stitch of the row. (29 sts)

Row 6 Work row 6 of the ballband stitch pattern as set, incorporating the increased stitches (in this case, knit 5 stitches at the beginning and end of the row instead of 4).

Row 7 Increase one stitch in the first and last stitch of the row. (31 sts)

Row 8 Work row 8 of the ballband stitch pattern as set, incorporating the increased stitches (in this case, knit 6 stitches at the beginning and end of the row instead of 4).

Row 9 Knit 3, slip 1 stitch purlwise, *K5, sl 1 stitch purlwise; repeat from * to last 3 stitches, k3.

Row 10 Work row 10 of the ballband stitch pattern as set.

Row 11 Increase one stitch in the first and last stitch of the row. (33 sts)

Row 12 Work row 8 of the ballband stitch pattern as set, incorporating the increased stitches (in this case, knit 3 stitches at the beginning and end of the row instead of 1).

Work the 12-row repeat once again, increasing 2 stitches on the 3rd, 7th and 11th rows as set. (39 sts)

Work the 12-row repeat once again, with no increases or decreases.

Work the 12-row repeat three more times, decreasing 1 stitch in the first and last stitch of the 3rd, 7th and 11th rows. (21 sts)

Work rows 1-6 of the repeat with no shaping.

Decrease 1 stitch in the first and last stitch of the next 3 rows. (15 sts)

Work 3 rows with no shaping, thus completing another 12-row repeat.

Next row (RS) Using A, knit, decreasing 1 stitch in the first and last stitch of the row. (13 sts)

Next row Purl, decreasing 1 stitch in the first and last stitch of the row. (11 sts)

Bind off all stitches.

APPLIED I-CORD TRIM WITH STEM AND LEAF DETAIL

STEM

Using double-pointed needles and C, cast on 4 stitches.

Knit 1 row. The 4 stitches are now on the right needle. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle, and place this needle in your left hand. Now knit another row. The working yarn will seem to be at the “wrong” end of the row when you start, but knit your row anyway. Repeat this process until you have a magical little tube of stitches, approximately 12 rows long.

APPLIED I-CORD TRIM

Now, with the needle containing a just-finished row of stitches, pick up a stitch in the middle of the bound off row of stitches at the top of the pear. Slide the stitches, including the picked up stitch, to the other end of the needle (more accurately, you are sliding the needle through the stitches). Now, knit 3, knit the last stitch of the i-cord together with the picked up stitch from the pear.

Repeat this process until you have applied i-cord edging all the way around the pear. If you are not experienced at working applied i-cord, play with it a little until it looks right, but work enough rows to see the i-cord edging emerging before you pull it out and start over. The key to a tidy finish on the RS is to work that knit-2-together with the picked-up stitch UNDER (or BEHIND), the i-cord stitch. The working needle goes first through the i-cord stitch, and then through the picked-up stitch. If the needle goes up through the picked-up stitch before the i-cord stitch, the contrasting color of the picked-up stitch will show through and it will look twisty and messy. (O, the horror.) It is worth a little fiddling, and then once you’ve got it worked out, all will be smooth as i-cord.

LEAF

When you have worked the i-cord edging all the way back to the stem (taking care to pick up that last stitch of the pear, work another row of i-cord (no longer attached to the pear), knitting the last 2 stitches together. Now you have a 3-stitch tube of i-cord started.

Work 4 rows of 3-stitch i-cord. From now on, work back and forth instead of i-cord (in the round).

Row 1 (RS) Knit 1, yarn over (yo), k1, yo, k1. (5 sts)

Row 2 (WS) Knit 2, p1, k2. (Notice that what you are doing is working the leaf in garter stitch, but with a center stitch in stockinette. The center stitch will always be purled on the WS.)

Row 3 Knit 2, yo, k1, yo, k2. (7 sts)

Row 4 Knit 3, p1, k3.

Row 5 Knit 3, yo, k1, yo, k3. (9 sts)

Row 6 Knit 4, p1, k4.

Row 7 Knit 4, yo, k1, yo, k4. (11 sts)

Row 8 Knit 5, p1, k5.

Row 9 Knit 2 together, knit to the last 2 stitches, k2tog. (9 sts)

Row 10 Knit 4, p1, k4.

Row 11 Knit 2 together, knit to the last 2 stitches, k2tog. (7 sts)

Row 12 Knit 3, p1, k3.

Row 13 Knit 2 together, knit to the last 2 stitches, k2tog. (5 sts)

Row 14 Knit 2, p1, k2.

Row 15 Knit 2 together, knit to the last 2 stitches, k2tog (3sts.)

Row 16 Knit 1, p1, k1,

Row 17 Slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over. Fasten off remaining stitch. You have a leaf.

Finishing: Weave in all ends. When you weave in the tail of the yarn through the stem, take a stitch or 2 at the base of the stem and leaf to keep them connected neatly at the top of the pear.

Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner

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Don't forget about Per Orla's little sis, Plum Orla. No pattern for her, but if you've made the pear, you'll suss it out pretty easily.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 10:39 AM | Comments (22)

August 05, 2010

Our Favorite Little Black Fruit

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Dear Ann,

Kind reader Elizabeth D. sends breaking news: August is Celebrate Olive month!

For reals! There's a whole website about it!

They have some interesting suggestions on how to observe Celebrate Olive Month. Number 8: "Sign up for school snack duty: Send the kids in with a few cans of California Ripe Olives (and a can opener)."

I'm not sure I want my kids known as Those Kids (Who Brought Canned Olives To School). There is enough bullying in middle school even if you don't bring canned goods. I also question the suggestion about "edible jewelry" made of olives, particularly when combined with the bowl of olives at every meal. (Plain on weeknights, marinated on weekends. Needless to say.) ("Kids! It's Friday night! The olives are SEASONED!" [thunder of footsteps into kitchen]) But if you'd like to co-organize some bi-regional olive marinating parties (suggestion #6: "Marinate With Friends"), let me know--those sound like fun! (Is "olive marinating" suburban mom-ese for "martini night"?)

I don't know about you, but my whole day got better when I realized that I don't have a job that requires me to think of ways to celebrate California olives. (Such as, write your kids' initials on individual pizzas, in olives, which "takes the guesswork out of the serving game." Finally, a solution to that problem!)

Love,
Kay

P.S. For obvious reasons, I cannot support the Ultimate Olive Cooking Contest. No new take on Brunswick Stew in this house.

Posted by Kay at 01:04 PM | Comments (26)

August 03, 2010

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Daze

Dear Ann,

We find ourselves in August again. For you, August is hurry-up time, school's about to start. Meanwhile, up here, nothing is about to start, and as it gets later in the month, it seems like nothing ever will. Apart from the mass shleppage of heavily-laden L.L. Bean Boat Totes into and out of the city, there ain't a lot going on. The local economy is being supported entirely by tour groups from France and Italy, to judge from the accents of people asking me directions. (I did guide an Australian couple to Yankee Stadium on the B train, but they were my only Australians so far.)

When I first moved here, the great slack-off of August was a wonderment to me. In the Omaha of my youth, unless you were a fisherman, August was just another month, but hotter. (Another thing that amazed me upon arrival in August 1981: seersucker suits! Hundreds of older guys walking around looking like Hal Holbrooke playing Mark Twain. Now you don't see them anymore; I feel privileged to have the memory.)

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I'm not exactly idle. It takes a lot of maternal labor for 2 girls (and one dog) to have a childhood memory of lazing in a hammock, reading adventure books and eating cherries. But by cracky, we are gettin' R done. Cherries--check. Hammock--check. Books--check. Faithful friend--check. Some days, I find myself with more children. I don't know how that happens. Eventually someone picks them up, and I try to sneak one of my own into their car, in the hope that someday I'll be able to baste up the quilt sandwich that I've had masking-taped to the basement floor for several days now. You really don't want to leave a quilt in suspense at that stage. Not recommended.

August is also Appointment Month for us. Here are some things I've seen on the way to Appointments.

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Passing the Louis Vuitton store en route to dentist. A high point in windowdressing. I just love the umbrella.

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The cardboard box version is the best, but if you've got a whole lot of LV luggage, it's nice to know that you can make an Eiffel Tower.

(Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, have you seen this shawl pattern by Natalie Servant? So very beautiful, and unusual. I'm trying very hard to not cast it on until I'm done with something (anything) already on the needles. I never wear shawls. I keep thinking that is relevant, but maybe it's not. We're talking about knitting, after all.)

This summer I keep running into groovy food and drink on wheels. Just like in Portland!

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Best slush I've ever had. And you know, I'm a slush person.

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Look at the menu! A ginger slush! I had ice tea with raspberry mix-in, and it was so good I levitated (just a little). Carrie had citrus with guava mix-in, also a very tasty way to freeze your brain. But next time I'm getting the ginger. If you get the basil or mint mix-in, they pulverize the leaves in a blender first. Also the servers are adorable. I hardly need to say that you can follow the slush truck on Twitter (kelvinslush), or if you're very old-school you can call the Slushphone. (I signed up for email alerts. I want to know where that truck is at all times.)

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Baby Louie's Courthouse Steps blanket has been washed and dried a bunch of times and has (almost) all the lint picked off of it.

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The thrill of the fade never fails me.

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The acorn doesn't fall far from the stripe-loving tree; Carrie made me this bowl at camp. Hand-built, and the dark blue glaze is matte. A great addition to the collection.

Sorry to be so light on the knitting content. But hey, it's August. When it's make a grilled-cheese sandwich or take a photo of my knitting, I am forced to go the grilled-cheese route.

Love,
Kay

Posted by Kay at 02:20 PM | Comments (32)
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