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

November 29, 2012

Wreath Spotting, Cornerstone Blanket Update--and a Drawing


Dear Ann,

First, an update for our readers on the Cornerstone Blanket fundraising project. As of this morning, we have sent off 110 downloads of the pattern to knitters who donated at least 10 bucks to Citymeals-on-Wheels, a New York City charity that rose immediately to the aid of those in need after superstorm Sandy, and now needs extra funding to replenish its pantries and continue its work at a heightened level.

Even more exciting, the donations that readers have sent to Citymeals total nearly $3000. That's because some contributions exceeded the $10 minimum. We didn't see that coming--but maybe we should have. When I first noticed it, I went all melty in the cardiac area. So many big hearts out there. Every contribution is meaningful. It's like the magic of compound interest (back when there was such a thing); a little, and a little more, and pretty soon it's a lot.

We'd love to boost the contributions up a notch higher. And as it happens, I have knitted up a rather splendid item of Jolly Holiday Decor. It's my stateside version of the Hampstead Wreath, a pattern that, thanks to sweet friends in London, is itself a fundraiser for Citymeals. (Are you keeping up? Read about the Hampstead Wreath here. Look at these inspiring versions on London doors. And get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pom-pom placement here.)


I made the wreath just for fun. this past weekend. Personally, I have very little use for a wreath, for two reasons. One: I have a typical New York City apartment door that has 18 layers of paint on it and is seen by so few people that a festive flourish on it would generate very little cheer And Two: the Hanukkah wreath is a concept that has not gained much traction, as far as I know, and as a convert, I try not to rock the whale (OLD TESTAMENT JOKE ALERT). Low profile is my motto. I don't even do the sweet potato latkes; you can't be too careful.


Since a handknit wreath is a terrible thing to waste, I think a giveaway drawing is in order. Everybody who has purchased the Cornerstone Blanket already is in the drawing, and anybody who purchases it between now and Sunday, December 2, at noon (New York time), is in the drawing. The winner of the drawing gets the wreath. (Re-gifting is allowed, as is re-embellishing. No pride of authorship. Just recycle the pom-poms please.)

But wait! There's more! The winner will also receive 5! green! pom-poms! -- handcrafted by me, which can be swapped in for the blue ones, for a more traditional Christmas color scheme.

Balto says, well, ok, if you have to. Lay it on me.

I did have to. (This photo taken by a volunteer tourist from the Netherlands. That's me in the background. Just another day, hanging knitting on Balto.)


To review, if you'd like to enter the drawing for the wreath, and also get a download of the Cornerstone Blanket pattern, follow these 2 steps.

1. Make a contribution of $10 or more to Citymeals-on-Wheels. They will send you an email receipt.

2. Forward a copy of your email receipt to [email protected] Include your Ravelry name so that we can put a copy of the pattern in your Ravelry library (no muss, no fuss).

That's it. I'll do the drawing on Sunday night and report the winner on Monday. I promise to mail it on Monday, so that the wreath can get a full display season its first year.

Thank you, everyone, for all the support you've shown by buying both patterns, and by your many tweets, FaceBook posts, and pins. It's wonderful to be a part of this compassionate and social-media savvy community.



Posted by Kay at 12:23 PM | Comments (29)

November 20, 2012

Let's Do This Thing


Dear Everybody,

After a few weeks of frantic knitting by me; cool, calm, collected work on the Quark machine by Ann; and eagle-eyed spadework by our offshore Technical Editing Department, we are proud to announce that our Hurricane Sandy relief fundraiser pattern, the Cornerstone Blanket, is available for purchase.


We did things differently this time. Here's a brief explanation of what's different, and why.

When you go to the the pattern page on Ravelry, you will see that the price of the pattern in my Ravelry shop is $20.00. But you can get the pattern for a $10.00 contribution to Citymeals-on-Wheels. To do that, read and follow these instructions in the pattern description:


This blanket was designed as a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. The designer would like payments for downloads of this pattern to go directly to Citymeals On Wheels, www.citymeals.com, free of PayPal fees, to the greatest extent possible. Citymeals is one of many New York City organizations that mobilized immediately to assist New York’s homebound elderly population in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

To get a code that allows you to download the PDF of the pattern, follow these simple steps:

Make a contribution of $10.00 or more to https://www.citymeals.org/support-us. Citymeals will send you an email receipt.
Forward that receipt (you may delete your address information if you wish) to [email protected] INCLUDE YOUR RAVELRY NAME IN YOUR EMAIL.
Within 24 hours (usually much less time), you will receive a code that allows you download the pattern on Ravelry.

Please note: If you buy the pattern directly from this page, the designer will still donate all proceeds (less transaction fees) to Citymeals on Wheels.

**Fun fact: if you're not on Ravelry, make a contribution, forward me the receipt, and in your email tell me that you'd like an emailed PDF of the pattern, and I'll send it to you that way instead of via Ravelry download.**


So why did we do it this way? The main reason was to save PayPal transaction fees, which really add up. A secondary reason was that it just feels better--more transparent--for your contributions to go directly to the charity. It is an honor to have people's trust, but I would much rather not hold other people's money. A tertiary reason is that some people don't have a PayPal account; this way, you have more payment options. All I need is a receipt from Citymeals, and you get the pattern.

(By the way, we were NOT trying to avoid Ravelry's very reasonable fees for the use of the site to sell patterns. I will make a donation to Ravelry in an amount that otherwise would have been invoiced to me as the designer for these sales. It's only right. We're very grateful to have a place to do this, and all the other things knitters and crocheters get to do on Ravelry.)

As noted above, if you choose to buy the pattern directly from Ravelry for $20, I will still give your payment (less transaction fees) to Citymeals-on-Wheels.

Meanwhile, this week and next week I will check the [email protected] account very frequently, so as not to delay delivery of the pattern. At some future point, when sales decline, I will reroute the transactions through the Ravelry store--but I will always pay over any sales proceeds to Citymeals-on-Wheels.

There is a substantial amount of fundraising through pattern sales on Ravelry, every time there is a disaster like Sandy or the Japan tsunami disaster of 2011, and for a variety of other causes. I think it would be great if Ravelry would create a way of routing fundraising pattern sales proceeds directly to charities, but I'm sure it would involve some tricky code engineering. I plan to send a message to Ma & Pa Rav asking them to think about it, among all the other things they've got to think about. It would be a good thing.


Meanwhile, please gaze upon the lovely Cornerstone Blanket. It was a fun knit and I hope you all will give it your consideration. I've got at least a half dozen variations of this blanket in my head already. For one thing, the original is quite roomy! You could go a lot smaller. I also think it would look amazing in bright solids against a non-variegated cream background. And and and.....

Thanks for your patience. And as a New Yorker, thanks for your empathy and support for our city during this hard time.

Finally, can we have another moment for Balto? He's so awesome.



Posted by Kay at 11:04 AM | Comments (23)

November 18, 2012

Hampstead Wreath in the Wild

Dear Ann,

It's late Sunday night and after a busy weekend, I am spending it like anybody would, checking Ravelry to see if there are any finished Hampstead Wreaths posted there yet.

Here is the very first one:


Isn't it lovely? It's by our own, by which I mean Nashville's own, Mary Sue Taylor, mtaylormusic on Ravelry. A dear heart and a great knitter and also a person who, I was not the slightest bit surprised to learn, already had 2 blank wreath forms in the closet. You know, in case she needed to make a wreath.

It is educational to note that Mary Sue used 2 strands of worsted weight yarn held together, on US 13 needles. In lieu of pom poms, Mary Sue went ultra-classic with Nicky Epstein's knitted leaves and berries. The yarn was hand-dyed years ago by Mary Frances Davidson who, Mary Sue reports, "grew up in the Smokies and taught school in Oak Ridge. She and Jim Lyle wrote a book on natural dyeing that is a text book treatment on the subject."

Thank you thank you, Mary Sue. And thanks also to the lovely commenters on the Hampstead Wreath post, and to all who have purchased the pattern and sent much-appreciated contributions to Citymeals-on-Wheels.



Posted by Kay at 11:54 PM | Comments (25)

November 15, 2012

From London With Love


Dear Ann,

Here's a sweet bit of news. Our lovely pals Belinda and Wendy at True Brit Knits, knitwear fashion designers extraordinaire, have given a lovely gift to Sandy-ravaged residents of New York City. It's called the Hampstead Wreath, and it's a knitting pattern. Through the end of the year (i.e., the very peak of wreath-knitting FEVER), all sales of downloads of the Hampstead Wreath pattern will go to Citymeals-on-Wheels, a local New York City organization.


Citymeals' core function--going back decades-- is the personal delivery of hot meals to New York City's homebound elderly, but it immediately mobilized to aid other Sandy victims who were in danger of not having sufficient food. (Read about it here.) I saw Citymeals in action firsthand, two days after the storm, when I was overseeing teen volunteers at an elderly housing apartment building on the Lower East Side. While we were organizing donated food and sundries in the community room, a Citymeals van dropped off a tower of emergency boxes of non-perishable food. There was enough for Citymeals' regular clients, but also for the many others who needed food in that dark, cold building. The kids jumped on the boxes, and like Jewish Santas bearing flashlights (it was a synagogue group), went through the halls knocking on apartment doors, offering the boxes, chitchatting and taking orders for items from the supplies downstairs. That scene has been reenacted daily, throughout the city, thanks to Citymeals.

Needless to say. I'm farklempt at this sweet love note from London. Knitters, you know what to do. (While you're there, have a look at True Brit Knits' other designs. They're going to be huge. HUGE I TELL YOU.)

What About That Blanket?


That Sandy relief blanket? It is done. Every end is woven, every round of i-cord is attached, and it is awaiting its date with destiny (or with Balto and an iPhone camera). The pattern is in layout and editing as we speak, and we are working out the details of how the contributions and downloads will work. Thank you for your patience, and stay tuned. Sadly, the need will be here for a long time. Longer than it takes to knit a blanket, for sure.

What About That Other Blanket?


Lookie under the Sandy blanket: it's the Delia's Lair blanket inspired by your novel Bowling Avenue, in luscious Classic Elite Liberty Wool. It lacks just one square and a border. SO CLOSE. Again, thank you for your patience. I'm excited about an idea for the border, which I hope will be an idea that works. More later. Stay tuned. I'm saying that a lot today. STAY TUNED OK?

Meanwhile, you need to knit a wreath. You want to knit a wreath. You're going to knit a wreath.



Posted by Kay at 02:09 PM | Comments (24)

November 05, 2012

Postcard from the Upper West Side

Dear Ann,

So, remember when you were here in September and we needed to buy some stamp pads so that we could rubber stamp our woodcut heads onto stuff (like you do)--and we stopped in at Stationery & Toy World on West 72nd Street? And I said, "this is a neighborhood institution," and you said, "oh yes, I can see that."


The "World" in the store's name always tickles me. From the outside, it seems kind of grandiose for such a small shop. But inside, it is indeed a world: the world of 1970s-era merchandising. The shelves are stacked and crammed, like a library, with all the good stuff that every house--especially a house with school age kids--needs. I'm talking the state of the art of Lego Nano, and index cards in all weights, sizes and colors. And also, as you know, turquoise stamp pads.

It's a weekly stop for me because (a) I only write with one kind of pen and (b) my children steal these pens. I have a micro-chat with one of the owners--a father and daughter-- every time I'm in there; it's the kind of place where you're recognized by face, child or office supply predilection and you say hi and get called honey. I didn't know, until now, that Donna and Larry live on Staten Island.


Word of their situation has been going around the neighborhood, where, let's face it, the post-storm impact of Sandy has involved quite a bit of O MY GOD THE JUICE BAR IS CLOSED. Many people are joining in the effort to assist Staten Island, the Rockaways, Long Beach and other hard-hit areas, but in a generalized way, by making contributions to organizations that are helping, or signing up as a volunteer to sort and drive supplies to drop-off points. But personally knowing people who are so hard hit that their kids went back to school today in donated jackets--makes a difference. Upper West Siders have been helping Donna and Larry directly, thank God. And I don't think anybody within a 10 block radius is going to run out of envelopes, fine point roller ball pens, or Scotch tape for the foreseeable future. Lego is starting to look like an intriguing hobby. Maybe Pokemon. Is Pokemon still a thing? I'll ask Donna.


Anyway, I'm sharing this shop's story here because it's a snapshot. (And if you're in the neighborhood, surely you need some office supplies.) One family among thousands suffering loss or extreme damage to their homes, with litle to fall back on. (Donna has been back at the store since Wednesday.) There are, no doubt, readers of knitting blogs who are facing similar circumstances. This is going to be a recovery that takes time and resources, and requires people in the community to think about something for more than a couple of news cycles.


In a related but much less significant story, these events--and people tweeting us-- have motivated you and me to finish up a blanket design for a pattern that will be sold to benefit Sandy victims. Prior to the storm even being forecast, I had started a new blanket to have something exciting to knit on the subway (which is running again YAY), because the Bowling Avenue Tribute blanket (which, by the way is nearly done; I'm on square 15 of 16) got too big to lug around on public transportation.


Yes, it's Noro Silk Garden. Yes, shade 269 is prominent again. Yes, it's miter-based. But it's different from previous Silk Garden miter-based blankets, at least to those of us who play with miters in our heads. It's modular, yet no-sew. It's easily size-adjusted and also easily proportion-adjusted. I hope to have it ready soon, but since people will be paying for it, it has to be tech-edited (fancy!) and easy to download, which will take a bit more time. Meanwhile, go on Ravelry to see other great patterns available to benefit Sandy relief, or just donate what you can to one of the many organizations helping ease the strife and get people back on their feet.


P.S. U.S. readers: VOTE. VOTE VOTE VOTE. Please vote tomorrow if you didn't vote early. Votevotevote.

Posted by Kay at 04:09 PM | Comments (47)
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