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

July 28, 2010

First Annual Olive Bergmann Festival of Songs About Dogs


Dear Ann,

You may have wondered, with a sinking, sure knowledge, "Is Kay going to be one of those people who celebrates her dog's birthday?"

Why yes. Yes I am one of those people. (I know! It's awful!)

Olive is one year old today. She loves the popular music of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s (chewable formats only, vinyl preferred). To mark the occasion, a few classics, certified Helen Reddy-free.

I heard this one in a store the other day --the new Petco Unleashed store, if you must know, not that I am stopping in pet stores every day, I assure you--and I just busted out laffing. What does it possibly MEAN?

This one is a lot weirder than I remembered. I had no idea it was a love song. Really?

June Lockhart! Did you ever think you'd end up as utterly momlike as June Lockhart? I think we're getting close. All we need is the shirtwaist dress. "Olive! What's wrong girl? Does Timmy need help?" So far Olive hasn't saved any little boys or solved any crimes, but it's early days. She wants to. I know she does.

Oh, hi! This is your pillow? Really? 'Cause I totally didn't know that!


Department of Painting Things Aubergine


Last September, I was so proud of myself for having the gumption to paint two rotting Adirondack chairs red. I was so sure of that red. Until you came along. You with your deep mulberry house paint and your picturesquely rotting shed, and your commenters just crazy for deep mulberry shedpainting. Now I feel like Poor Relative With Red Chairs. I am so very, very Not Ready for Monteagle.

There's more rotting lawn furniture where those came from, lemme tellya. And also, I have 3 teenyboppers to entertain for the next 2 days. I am just saying.

In other news, I have been knitting my head off with nothing to show for it. Same old projects, getting slightly bigger every day. I love knitting.


Posted by Kay at 04:48 PM | Comments (53)

July 27, 2010

Cool Heads on a Hot Day

Dear Kay,

The Cottage Tour and Bazaar! Sometimes a day is a little too big. But it was all a good kind of big.

At one point, as I was wheeling visitors around on a borrowed golf cart, a fellow golf cart driver told me he'd just toted a batch of knitters who'd come all the way from Evansville, Indiana, after reading about the cottage tour on the blog. I tried valiantly to track them down, but they were too fast for me. It's possible that that I hallucinated the whole thing.

At any rate, hello knitters from Evansville! We ought to have a knitting workshop up here when it's not so insanely hot.

Let's go to the videotape.

Bazaar Madness

At the last minute, Ginny had the idea to have a white elephant sale. With 160 cottages up here filled with 125 years of stuff, it seemed an obvious way to make five million dollars.


I was kind of astonished at how much stuff turned up that morning, given the time frame.

annis and jane.jpg

This is Annis, the bazaar chair, with Jane, who decided to bring up five truckloads of stuff from Nashville. The net result of this sale was, I'm guessing, a wholesale shifting of stuff from one cottage to another. We made good money, if not five million dollars, thanks to Ginny's entire family's fierce management. And I scored yet another addition to my collection, Tea Towels Of England Bought In Grundy County, Tennessee.


Luncheon on the Lawn, Or, Chicken Salad Hall of Fame

The boxed lunches went fast, thanks to the epic effort of the Lucinda and Candice Army. It was a shady scene over at the Woman's Association grounds.


Cottage Tour

We had a record turnout despite the wicked heat. I worried about some of the ladies.


Such a cheerful group, though, these women. A lot of galpals running away from home for the day, church groups, garden clubs, mother-daughter combos. And in the mix were patient menfolk, putting up with it all.

At the Foot of the Master

The thing that made things kind of nuts this year was the Woman's Association fundraiser we held the night before the cottage tour. The goal was to turn the swimming pool into a party site in less than three hours, and I have to say, I wondered how this was going to happen.

The party chair, Anne, had it all figured out.



Basically, a vase of flowers can accomplish pretty much anything.

She and many, many Woman's Association members turned a sow's ear


into a silk purse


even arranging for a downpour a few hours before the party to cool things off.


I watched in wonderment as these ladies transformed buckets of roadside Queen Anne's Lace, hydrangeas, and kiss-me-at-the-gate into airy, graceful arrangements. Really lovely.

The food was mostly made by Woman's Association members, which meant it was 100% gone by the end.


To be clear, this is not Deanie Dalrymple's Shrimp Mold from Porch Party Recipes--it's a salmon mold. But it was tasty, just the same.


By the end of the party, with the moon high, we all stood around, tuckered out, and watched the votives as they floated around the baby pool.


PS Dad's been up all week (our family reunion that took place simultaneously with all the events above is a whole NOTHER story). Here's a picture of Dad and me so you can see a) how cute pappy's looking these days and b) what 99% humidity will do to a girl's hair blessherheart:

me n daddy.jpg

Posted by Ann at 01:03 PM | Comments (35)

July 17, 2010

Extreme Makeover, Carriage House Edition

Dear Kay,

One bad piece of planning for the Cottage Tour was when I asked two of my neighbors if they would be willing to put their adorably and recently renovated cottages on the tour. Frannie and Amanda said yes in a cheerful way, which was great.

The bad-planning part is that my shed is directly across the street from their cottages. Which means that hundreds of people are going to be coming down Maple Avenue next Friday and having to pass by a structure that isn't really shabby chic, isn't quaint, isn't cute. It's just . . . shiftless.

I knew when the season started that I was going to have to do something about the shed. Actually, as it is with so many problems, I've known that for about five years now.

The previous owner called this collection of tar paper and boards a "carriage house," which is just hilarious given that it was built in the 1940s and housed, for decades, a World War II-vintage Jeep. (The Jeep now lives down the street at another cottage. The shed now houses bicycles, a clawfoot bathtub, a really old propane tank, and probably six thousand brown recluses.) I saw a photo of our cottage in the Assembly archives last week that showed that the shed used to be white, as did our cottage. So I guess it hasn't been painted in at least a couple of decades.

I guess you can tell that by looking at it.


At any rate, I've had in my head an inky color. Our babysitter Hannah painted the barn on her farm a superdeep eggplant color a while ago, so I have coveted that for a while. But it took my friend Annis's exhortation and nudging to get me to buy the three gallons of Deep Mulberry that would take this shed to a new destiny.

Five years of dread and four hours of painting later, with the able hands of Annis and sister Buffy . . .


Painting the side required moving a half-composted pile of old wood away from the side of the shed. I think it was this woodpile that had kept me from dealing with this shed all these years. It was the snakiest, creepiest pile of wood I'd ever seen.


But once I had my pitchfork and the Gloves of Invincibility, I chucked the slugs and the crawlies and the boards into a pile, with Annis yelling "snake" to her great amusement, and I finally hit grade level.

Painting the side, down low, reminded me of trying to finish knitting something when you think you're running out of yarn. If you knit faster, the yarn lasts longer.


Here, the faster I painted, the less likely the totally rotted wood would disintegrate. It was a race against decay. And I kept in mind the wisdom of Buddy the paint guy at Greeter's Hardware: "Yeah, paint's kind of like glue sometimes."

Sister Buffy was stalwart. Annis just covered herself up in paint. We agreed on a fairly relaxed level of prep. The rule was that if something had been painted before, it needed to be Deep Mulberried. Any board that was so warped that it poked out should be painted on all visible sides. If anything was loose, don't yank on it.


I found it really satisfying to paint something where any effort was going to make an improvement. And overcoming dread? InTOXicating!



It's fun to watch the color shift from black to purple, depending on the light.



So if you come to the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly Woman's Association Cottage Tour and Bazaar next Friday (details here), you can see the shed in its newfound glory. Unless, of course, the weight of all this new paint is the final straw, and the whole thing falls down.


Posted by Ann at 10:54 AM | Comments (62)

July 16, 2010

Look Who's.....Blocking


Dear Ann,

Here is Dawn, pre-block. I did the i-cord last weekend. Note for aficionadas: I didn't do it in the contrast color, but instead matched the stripes, changing colors as I i-corded. I like the way it looks edgeless, yet has a nice edge.

It would still be sitting there for another couple of months while I awaited the fortitude to Kitchener 4 stitches of i-cord together, if not for a Kitchener pro kindly showing up at my house and doing it for me the other night. (Thanks Lauren!)


So now Dawn is stretching herself on the blocking wires, and a very unfortunate 70s song is in my head.

Way to rock the white elephant bells, Helen!

May the Big-Boned Bike Butterfly bless your weekend.


Posted by Kay at 04:48 PM | Comments (26)

July 14, 2010

Cottage Tour and Bazaar Red Alert


Dear Kay,

Oh, my, gravy. I have never in the past SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING gone this long without an entry. I feel like I've died or something.

(You do realize, of course, that today marks the seventh anniversary of our bi-regional co-blogging venture. Happy blogiversary! For anybody just catching up, there are only 1,277 entries to slog through; it's no worse than watching all the back seasons of Mad Men, only with a lot more knitting and a lot less Jon Hamm.)

Where to begin? I think I may have mentioned that I am in my third year as president of the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly Woman's Association. This summer, up here in Monteagle, has gone a little wonky for me.

I spend a lot of time here:


Winfield is the home of the Woman's Association.


Beautiful things happen at Winfield all summer long. Flower arrangements appear on the refreshment table. The tea punch flows like a mighty river, thanks to our incredible hostess, Cindy, who lives upstairs at Winfield during the summer. She just inherited a collection of aprons that means she will be wearing a different apron pretty much every day.

porch party recipes.jpg

We are on the verge of selling out of Porch Party Recipes, our cookbook published in 1982. It has taken only 28 years to run through the printing. $4 each, 3 for $10.

This is the year of our big party, in which we are raising money to restore Winfield and and the Assembly's library that lives inside it. This is also the year of the 47th Annual Cottage Tour and Bazaar. This is the year that may be the end of me.

I have had many, many discussions about many, many things, including boxed lunch options, golf cart routes, the abundance of or lack of reservations for the party, and the question of whether apple green is in the chartreuse family or not. (I still haven't resolved that one.) I have made flyers, banners, posters, invitations, and more flyers. I've emailed every newspaper within 200 miles, and rejoiced when the Grundy County Herald made the Cottage Tour bigger news than New Penguin at the Chattanooga Zoo. (But smaller news than Summer Reading Program.)

The upshot of all this is that I have an invitation.

On Friday, July 23, I really, really encourage everyone within a reasonable driving or flying range of Monteagle, Tennessee, to come to the Cottage Tour and Bazaar.

The success of this event hinges totally on whether we sell enough tickets to get rid of the mauve swags that persist in hanging over the windows in the Winfield library. That is my one goal, even though I hope we raise enough to replace the bookcases, fix all the crumbly masonry, and put in a water catchment tank. But the swags. I cannot express to you how dire these swags are. They make you feel like you're in a long-term care facility. I realize that in their day, these were cutting-edge swags. But that was 1982, when the Jackie Collins novels in the library were new, back when Robert Ludlum roamed the land. The swags gotta go.

For fifteen measly bucks, you get a tour through six supercharming, swag-free cottages, an afternoon at one of the few remaining chautauquas in the country, and shopping at a bazaar that offers everything from make-your-own tie-dye to a white elephant sale.

See you on the 23rd! And if you're quick about it, you can score a copy of Porch Party Recipes. We're down to the last 52 copies.


PS Thank you to all who have offered to adopt copies of Porch Party Recipes. I have to add that I am very disappointed that the current Woman's Association warehouse and shipping facility (aka the front porch) is sadly unable to do mail order. (We seem to have trouble doing much of anything.) What I meant to suggest is that you can easily score a copy on the day of the cottage tour. Which requires a trip up I-24. Which I realize is kind of tricky for some of you. Maybe I can rig up a lulu.com edition of Porch Party Recipes? The recipe for Mexican Soup (what we call gazpacho) really needs to live on.

Posted by Ann at 12:11 AM | Comments (47)

July 10, 2010

The Ears Don't Lie


Dear Olive,

Don't get me wrong. I love it when you help me make up the bed. I know it's a lot more fun for you than the knitting. And better exercise! All that huffing and puffing and stretching. There's nothing like bed linens that are fresh and clean clean clean, right down to the mattress cover. And it's so helpful to have a companion for this job. You're here for me, babe, every step of the way, and I really appreciate that.


But here's a thought: next time, when you're jumping up on the bed? Maybe try not to land a hind leg in my coffee mug?


I know you know I'm right about this. I can tell by your ears.


In other laundry news, the laundress is not optimistic about #5's socks. We don't care what they say on the commercials. These socks are dead.


And in other laundry news, the colorful Courthouse Steps blanket for baby Louie is finished, and it's going into the denim shrink-&-fade cycle today. I'm extremely excited.



Posted by Kay at 11:53 AM | Comments (37)

July 09, 2010

How To Bore Your Dog

Dear Ann,

Don'tcha hate it when a blogger says they're working on secret knitting, and they get all CIA about it?


Olive finds this very boring. But what can I do? I'm working on Secret Knitting. It's for a pal. Let's just say that it has taken on A Life of Its Own.


There is no aspect of this project that Olive doesn't think is boring. Sure, it cushions the stones on the patio, and it's mildly amusing to see Big Lady Who Yells with a couple of kilos of a wool/mohair blend on her lap when it's 98 in the shade, but it's still a snooze.

I'm tellin' ya: bo. ring.

The chart also: boring. (FYI: I did not pose this shot. She got under the chart, and it was so boring that she fell asleep in 2 seconds.)

Take a picture! It's really boring!

Have a boring weekend,

Posted by Kay at 11:08 PM | Comments (33)

July 06, 2010

"Our Destiny Is Written in the Hand"

Dear Ann,

I saw this gem amongst the exquisite roses over at Emma's, and the plainspoken truth of it smacked me in the head:

All of a sudden this endless i-cord I'm working seems downright noble.

Enjoy and share!


Posted by Kay at 09:37 PM | Comments (54)
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