Friday, November 28, 2003


I never, not in a MILLION years, imagined that I'd be up at 6:00 going to Toys R Us to buy ANYTHING the day after Thanksgiving. It's against so much of what I believe in - yada yada yada - I've made it a point NEVER to shop the day after Christmas.


Max needs a bike. I mean, he needs a bike! He's outgrown his current one (a hand me down from some neighbors) and he LOVES bike riding. He's also getting no small amount of grief from the neighbor kids who all have mongoose bikes (whatever they might be) and that makes him sad. It makes me want to have a talking to with the kids, but - they're just being kids - and that's no reason to try to keep up with the Jones kids.

Anyway - just about everyone I know is getting a knit gift this year, but you can't knit a bike! Also, because mom knits ALL the time, I think some of the magic of getting a knit item is a bit diminished. So there I was, out at Toys R Us this morning at 7:00 am, buying a bike for 50% off. (It really was an amazing deal - it cost about what I was going to spend on a 2nd hand bike)

Now I have to figure out how to knit an "American Girl" doll. Hannah's pining for Kit Kittredge, but somehow I know it's not as vital as a new bike is to Max (plus it's twice as expensive, and I have a HUGE problem with a doll who is supposed to be a child of the depression that equals 4 weeks of my mother's factory worker salary in 1936)

My goal is to spend less than $100 this year for gifts.
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Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving Poem

I was inspired by Marcia's Blog to write a little poetic post for today!

Irving Avenue Thanksgiving
This year our celebration's low key
We're not travling on this day
potatos, stuffing, beans and turkey
(I can get more knit that way!)

Most food's been cooked the night before
Except the bird and dressing
The turkey went in around 4:00
(Pop up timers are a blessing.)

It's just DH, two kids and me
(We'll visit friends tonight for pie)
Two cats, a dog - small family.
Plus nine relieved guppies much too small to fry.

I cook, Hubbie cleans -
A match made in heaven.
Hannah helps, Max plays,
(She's a good cook for seven)

"I can help with the food!
- after the parade.."
Cuddled in bed with dad
the girl has it made!

The bird smells divine,
Covered in cheesecloth,
Basted in butter and wine
What magnificent broth!

One cat stole the gizzard
Frying up in the pan
Oh, well - it's Thanksgiving
Butkis gets what he can!

Gigi the kitten's
Watching "Kitty TV"
Birds flock to the seed bell
Hung outside on a tree.

Atticus, our large poodle
Grabs what he's able
Hoping our food'll
Drop free from the table.

Later we'll watch TV
The Westminster Dog Show
Atticus dreams
Of the day that he'll go!

I dare anyone to set THAT to music!
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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving-Eve!

My mom sent me this amazing e-card by Jacquie Lawson, an English graphic artist. I'm usually not the biggest fan of the e-card genre, but this one is exquisite!

Click on the turkey to see the animation

I love seeing cool stuff like that! The artist has a series of beautifully animated cards that you can view if you're a member of her site - it's a good idea, and I hope she's doing well! She deserves to!
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Monday, November 24, 2003

Bag Mania!

I just finished a cute little bag that will be in next Summer IK - adorable! Any of you who've seen me running from knitting event to knitting class have probably seen a hemp version of this bag that I drag everywhere I go. It's a simple, striped bag knit in the round with two pockets and a couple of childrens wooden toys thrown in for good measure. One of my students made an incredible purple and yellow version of this bag last summer - it's a blast to work up and a good learning experience for a knitter who needs a fun project to take them over the hump from beginner to advanced beginner!

I don't think I'm allowed to post a photo of the bag here, but I can post a piece of it:

I'm in the enviable position of having several interesting projects* to work up (a toy tea set, a cool surplice top, a tank top in Rowan cotton glace and a variety of sketches/swatches for Spirit Trail) I have a long week streching in front of me and a husband who's a bang-up cook and will cover most of the heavy lifting for T-day! The only fly in the ointment is the fact that Gerry's sad he'll only be cooking for our family of 4 - two of whom won't really eat turkey.

Invitation: Anyone in our area who's "orphaned" and is looking for a nice T-day feast, give us a shout, we most likely have room (and it will make Gerry very happy...)

I took a yoga class last week - it was terrific but in one of the balances I twisted my knee funny and it's really become a problem. I've had bad knees since I ripped ligaments in both legs in high school and repeated that feat in college, so it wasn't the yoga per se. I should know by now that walking and swimming are the safest exercises for me to indulge in. So I'm keeping the knee up and iced - and it gives me an excuse to stay on my bottom for an extended period of time while I finish some of the knitting projects!

*When I was a child I remember the highest praise my mom could award anything was her own seal of approval, "Lookit this, kids, it's innerstin!"

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Friday, November 21, 2003

Down a Size

Needles, that is...

I'm working on a surplice top for Cast-On and they've sent me a new yarn from Cascade to use for it. Originally I had swatched it in Karabella Aurora 8 in a solid color - this yarn is a slightly multi-strand cotton (?) in many, many colors (each strand is variegated - it's like a rainbow!)

It's a beautiful yarn, but this requires a re-think of the design. I've been writing to Nanci Wiseman about the differences and she's given her blessings to my changes.

Change #1 - The 2x2x2x4 ribbing I had used in the swatch (k2, p2, k2, p4) created an interesting yet simple fabric that had a nice amount of "give" which worked well with the Aurora 8.

The new yarn has no give, and it looks loose and unattractive in a rib pattern (this is not uncommon in a cotton or multi-strand yarn) so I've changed the rib pattern to p2, sl1 on the RS and k2, p1 on the WS.

Change #2 - The new yarn, although just a little thinner than the the Aurora 8, requires a much smaller needle. The cotton doesn't have the inherent ability to "fluff" and even itself out like the soft merino does, so it must be dealt with more severely. I stuck it in the corner for 2 hours, then used size 5 needles (instead of the size 7's I used on the merino) to work the rib.

Change #3 - The strongest design element of the sweater was a recognizable motif which repeated itself along the lace edge of the fronts and around the neck. Unfortunately, this motif involved a good amount of bias shaping, which doesn't show up at all in such a multi-colored yarn. I've re-designed the edging to be more geometric and straightforward. It's a diagonal trellis type lace, but when viewed at a 45 angle (as when it glides up the front edge of the surplice top) it looks like a square net (volleyball anyone?)

I thought my readers would enjoy seeing some of the give and take of working through an accepted design. It's actually pretty rare that I have something accepted and worked up in the same yarn in which I swatch! I don't resent this at all - it's good to see my designs inspiring editors to want to use a different yarn.

Hopefully knitters will begin feeling more and more courageous about making yarn substitutions when they realize that the original concept for a design is quite often worked up in a different yarn than the one they see in the pages of a magazine!
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Tuesday, November 18, 2003


I had to add this after reading JT's comments -

Here are some links about Pole Reversal. I'm totally stumped. Hopefully my current brain fog is not an indication of the future state of the world. Yikes.

Canadian take on the Magnetic Reversals

Nasa's "The Sun Does a Flip" (check out the cute sun "newsman")

Edgar Cayce chimes in

Want to Know what areas the Psychics say it will be safe?

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Yarn Heaven

I received a big, beautiful box of yarn from Spirit Trail Fiberworks They're amazing! Especially the silk & mohair boucle - just incredible! The colors are so rich and beautiful. I don't think my photo does them justice.

I'll be working with Jen to come up with some designs we can produce using her yarn and making them into kits. That's down the road. Right now I'm just rolling around in this gorgeous stuff!
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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Lost in the Supermarket

I just got home from a long ramble through the NJ countryside. Allow me to say that I have either lived or attended school in this state for over 10 years, and I have [had] a pretty good sense of direction, but today I was S T U M P E D.

Maybe it was the Yoga class I took this morning with one of my students from my Knitting as Meditation class? BTW, that class ROCKS - several of the students are astoundingly good, all are really nice folks. The second class is where the sh*t hits the fan, though! That's after they've been released to the wild for a week and I get to see how far into the knitting jungle they've ventured!

I was driving out to Clinton to return a book on CD to Cracker Barrel that I had rented during my trip to VA last weekend for the Knitters Review Retreat (great fun!) and somehow got VERY lost on the way home. Oddly, I ended up near Lambertville so I decided to stop into Simply Knit (bought some cotton chenille in off white - I'm going to dye it) and then stopped by The Spinnery on Rt 202 on the way home. If I would have gotten more lost I might have stopped into the yarn store in Morristown that I have YET to visit!

Yep, I was lost. I figure as long as I can find a yarn source I can't be THAT lost, but this loss of my inherent sense of diretion is confounding.

I used to joke that I had "a steel plate in my head" because - truly - I always seemed to know which way was North. Along with having a baby with no meds, my sense of direction was my main criteria for applying to Colonial House (the PBS reality series - I didn't get in ...)

Anyway, now I'm home and ready to settle in for an evening of knitting. I have three projects that are upcoming - a child's fiestaware tea set for IK, a "tinkertoy" tote bag, also for IK (for their online) and a surplice sweater for Cast On. The yarn for the Cast On sweater is from Cascade - I think it's something new because I haven't seen it before, but that doesn't mean much. Sometimes the amount I don't know is truly staggering! Anyway, the yarn is actually many smaller twisted cotton & rayon (?) threads in rainbow colors - it's really quite lovely.

I'm experimenting with gauge and needle size
as it arrived on the cone with no label, etc.
I love that - it makes me feel so FREE!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Hey, Ralphie boy...

What is it about this year?

I love Art Carney. I feel like he was such an unsung genius of comedy - an amazing actor and (from what I've heard) a great person to work with. I've never been a fan of the Honeymooners, but I loved Ed Norton!

He was also among the troops at Omaha Beach. Today is Veteran's Day.

Everyone should rent Harry & Tonto tonight.
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Monday, November 10, 2003

Amazing Retreat

Thank you Clara - what a great weekend it was!

Thanks also to the many, many great knitters who were so kind to listen to me blather on about knitting related topics (and occasionally even get to the point of how to knit a plaid!) What an extraordinary group we were!

I drove home on Sunday afternoon - but unfortunately I was so tired that when I got to the beltway around DC I missed the turnoff to 95 so went around the loop one more time. Nothing like killing an hour when you're exhausted and want to get home!

I ran into one of the students (and a very kind person - she let me stay with her last year at the retreat!) at a rest stop in Maryland. Small world! I don't want to name folks here because of privacy issues and also because I'd be sure to leave some folks out, but everyone who was so kind to compliment my teaching - THANK YOU - you were kind to LET me teach and to open your minds and hearts up to what I was teaching!

Right before I left on Thursday we acquired a small kitten from our babysitter down the street. Here the precious little thing is:

Working title: Krista
We're trying hard to convince Hannah that Gigi is a MUCH better name!
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Thursday, November 06, 2003

Packing the Car

I honestly feel that I've spent more time in my car this month than I have sitting on my sofa. That would be a record. I'm going to wait and pack the car in the morning because I'm just too pooped! I'm going to find a kinkos on the way and get my stuff copied - I don't feel like printing out 70 copies on my rinky dink (but wonderful) printer!

I'm hoping to leave relatively early, but I'll play it by ear. By noon-ish I tend to be so exhausted that I'd like to be on the road well before that. Once I'm driving I'm sort of in the zone.

I'm packing up stuff for the colorwork project portion of the class (booklets, samples, swatches) as well as a bunch of wire stuff that I'm making into kits to make my easy wire necklace or my wire cuff bracelet. I'll let you know how that goes, it's my first foray into the wire stuff as a PROJECT kit.

See yas on Monday! I'm off to VA (again) I wonder if this is enough time to reacitivate my membership in the Hillbilly Society of Appalachia?
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Wednesday, November 05, 2003

It's Coming...

When the sweater is finally up at Interweave's Subscription Only section of their website you'll be able to download this pattern (if you're a subscriber!)

Knit up on Muench Merino Soft
Gauge: 5-1/2 sts x 6 rows = 1 in st st using size 6 needles

Now, it's not just because it's my design (I think it will be up around 11/10) but this is a TREMENDOUS new area on the Interweave Knits website, and I know the editor is dedicated to making it a very special bonus for the many IK subscribers who are on the internet. The stitch glossary is worth the price of admission for me!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2003


After a delightful evening last night at the Dancing Goat knitting away with Jen, Alicia and Lisa (hey girls!) I'm back to the grind of pumping out class handouts for this weekend!

I'm really happy with the way putting my info into Quark is going. I'd laid off quark for a while (heaven knows why...) and had been doing all of my handouts in Clarisworks. CW is a GREAT program, and it's perfect for "layout" work, but I'm really blown away by how much better my stuff looks in Quark. The downside is I have to rework a lot of my images, create tiff files, etc. - but the illustrations were weak in many of my booklets anyway so it's good to have the incentive to remake them in a clearer format.

I'm really happy with how my knitting with wire booket came out after the change - and I'm working on all of the others so they can be looked over and proof-read/copy edited!

The best part of Quark, though, is I can have the info flow from page to page, no matter how I set up the pages to print. Therefore I can print out my little folding books and it's not a nightmare to proofread them in page order. I know, I'm a dweeb. Anyone wanna see my database...

Knittingwise I've come up with several interesting colorwork projects for this weekend at the Retreat. It seems that my portion of the "Colorwork Weekend" will be to present a project whereby the retreat participants can use their newly formed color knowledge. Of course, being me, I have divided it into several projects (an easy scarf with horizontal striping, an intermediate scarf with short row colorwork, an advanced tiny bag with slipped stitch plaid and mitred sides). Now I have to put them into booklet form.

Knitting wise I finished a scarf that's a surprise gift for a neighbor. When I was away in October I missed Hannah's birthday and this neighbor not only MADE the cake, but helped out at the party. She's an amazing friend (all of my friends are amazing!) but she keeps coming through with extra clothes for the kids (love Hand me downs) and support when I need it. So I knit her a scarf!

Knit in Cascade 128 Chunky Tweed
That's an icord cast on, icord bind off
and double knit slipped stitch edge on either side (looks like icord)
It gives the scarf a nice finished edge all around!

If you'd like to download a non tested pdf version
of the instructions for this scarf,
please Click Here!
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Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Weatherman Sez...

Here's the extended forcast for Syria, VA this weekend. Eat yer hearts out!

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Exceptional Students!

I taught a great knitting with wire class at MAKE Workshop yesterday - what a TREMENDOUS bunch of students!

There were 6 in the class and they ranged from experienced knitters to relative newbies - but not a dweeb in the house! Even the dogs seemed interested in the intricacies of knitting with wire! Honestly, the tiny dog with the teeny-tiny tennis ball was just about the cutest thing I've seen. And I don't use the "C" word often.

We got through two great projects (a wire necklace and a cuff bracelet) and covered a LOT of ground.

I've been working up little booklets for each of the classes I teach. It does mean a LOT of prep-time, but once I write the booklet it's done. Editing it (fixing gasp errors and adding more content) will be an ongoing process and each class will help me see more fixables. I think it give a class a good 'shape' to have a text, however small, as a reference.

Also, with my exceptionally bad memory these days, it's very helpful to have everything written down.

I came home after the 6 hour class to find a beautiful email from one of my students - who happened to be the president of the NYC Crochet Guild - and it just capped a wonderful evening! Thanks so much Barbara!

I'm gearing up for the Knitters Review Retreat and I'm getting ready for a variety of scenarious. Bess and I were going to sort of tag-team teach, but there is a major family illness in Beth's life right now that may preclude her from teaching as much as she'd like. Either way I'm up for filling in the holes where they need to be filled. And, sadly, if anyone understands a family emergency it's me.

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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf

Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho


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