Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lub & Dub

Saw the pullmonologist again today - the Russian doctor who looks the tiniest bit like Gorbachev - and overall my breathing HAS improved since my last visit. He's not happy with the improvement, feels it should be better, but I think a lot of that is due to the cold weather we've had up here.

So I left with a new inhaler to add to my existing ones, permission to try the herbs (I gave him a list of what's on it's way) and an oddly light sensation because I was told I'd lost 10 pounds since my last visit. Who knew? I've been a LUMP, barely able to walk up the stairs, so it's not because of working out. However, the breathing DOES make eating not much fun, so perhaps that's the ticket? At any rate, it's a heck of a way to drop weight, one I wouldn't recommend.

I'm hopeful that as I travel down to Georgia the warmer weather will be an enhancement to my breathing life. It's in the upper 60's according to the online weather site, so I'll pack sandals and shorts, too!

So tomorrow I pull out of the driveway and head for points south. I'm not sure how far I'll make it, but I'll stay overnight then head on to Atlanta the following day (Thursday). At first I'd considered doing the whole trip in one fell swoop, but that's just dopey.

I'm going to go rest a bit - I have a lot of packing to do!
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Closing Ceremonies

Drinking last night with Apolo was a friggin' blast (dude!) - and who knew he was such an amazing cabler? But we had to take the long, pointy needles OUT of Chad's fist - not cool!

Here I sit, surrounded by my gold, silver and bronze knitting medals, enjoying the ceremonies. I've claimed this Tilli Tomas yarn as my prize (yeah, until I have to send it off to the knitter - but it's just so damned pretty!)

So I finished the bathing suit, a man's colorwork hat, numerous swatches and an I'm Gonna Git You Sucka hat in Touch Me & Merino Soft

Here's a a teddy bear sweater (for the kids school) that I worked up. If you'd like the PDF pattern, you can get it )here

I forced one of my students at The Point to wear my hat - thanks so much! and it looked relatively groovy on a human head. The class was wonderful - a terrific bunch of women who are very good knitters and EVERYONE cabled (and even moved on to a braided cable!) I was terribly winded, though - it was troubling how hard it was to walk and talk at the same time. Sitting is good. I need to figure a way to teach using the Think Method so I vocalize less. Most of my students would probably say that less talking wouldn't be a BAD thing.

I want a red nose, too...(photo AP)
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posted by Annie at 8 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Yellow Jackets

I fear stinging, flying insects. For me, they're the worst part of the summer. But I also have a fascination with them.

So when well-meaning students send me links to this blog, I try not to go - but I do. I'm human. I hate wasting time feeling bad over this crap. And the worst part is that on a bad day it can really color my desire to knit or create a design. That sucks, and I have to be strong enough NOT to let it get to me.

This time I stuck a stick in the yellow jacket's nest, and I'm sure I'm going to be stung. Multiple times. Maybe my planets aren't in alignment, maybe I'm sick of being sick, or maybe it's time someone just said, "ENOUGH!" - but this time I decided to try to defend myself a bit. Okay, a lot.

I agree that so many of their posts are funny - but they also seem to have a - dare I say it - vendetta against me. But maybe I'm just being 'Jersey.

At any rate, here's what I wrote. You can see the most recent page about my designs here (this time they had to troll one up from 3 years ago...) [post deleted]

We can also see if they actually let my comment go through. The cruelty and nastiness of folks really amazes me sometimes.

MORE: First of all - thank you to all who are sending so much love. The comments and especially the emails are very appreciated. I wasn't looking for the support (oh, maybe I was...) but I'll gladly accept it.

Most of the links below have been deleted by the YKW blog owners after I published this post Saturday evening. I understand that the blog owners are not responsible for the comments posted to their blog, but they set the tone and have the option to moderate hurtful or inflammatory comments. They bear ultimate responsibility for their blog.

One puzzling aspect is the buddy-buddy tone they take with name designers (read the post on Teva Durham). They seem to want to be associated with the designer - like a school kid who's always insulting you to get attention It's jarring that they claim a first-name-basis with "Teva", but won't tell us their names. Even Mr. Blackwell doesn't hide behind a pseudonym.

It's troubling how they consistently go after their models - especially kids. I think they must not have any of their own.

Anonymous said...
The designer was Annie Modesitt, queen of the fugly colors and combo knitting.

God help us all, she writes books too. And she's plotting dsmore Egyptian designs. Check out her blog.

Nice, Anonymous.

And she reads this. And she is a human being with feelings who tries to keep an open mind and soul so she can design, teach, be a mom, write and pay her mortgage.

Yes it's me.

This was originally a mid-calf white linen dress with a multi colored collar which was changed by the editor so that only the collar was used and many beads were added. It's quite lovely in person, but I agree that the bustier is a really bad styling choice.

There may be some designers who can burn money, but this one needs to pay the mortgage. Three years ago, when this was published, I was happy to be able to keep our heads above water for one more month - in part - with the fee for this. We knit designers do not earn huge money.

Unlike the authors of this blog and most of the posters, I don't hide my identity, I try to be approachable, and I will answer just about any email that anyone sends me.

Why is it such good fun to hurt people, though? In a way it's flattering to know that just about anything I will or have designed will show up here. Some folks will say they like it, most folks will slam it because - well - because I believe they're sycophants.

I know the (nameless) authoresses of this blog will rip me to shreds because I have the nerve to admit that the constant insults about my designs, my mental health, my right to design and especially the insults about my children[post deleted], hurt. Thank god the comments about my "devil children", by one of the blog authors, was deleted. My daughter is old enough to use Google and actually stumbled upon this post when she did a blogger search for my name.

Those of us who try to create are generally pretty sensitive to nasty comments. We try to develop thick skins, but that doesn't always go with a creative spirit.

Like Seinfeld, I'd love to show up at your job and heckle you.

Ironically, it seems the folks who run this blog are also very sensitive to comments toward them - that's a shame. I feel bad that anyone would write nasty things about someone else - it just isn't funny. It may get an immediate chuckle, but it's not the kind of humor that helps us all to grow, to enlarge our souls.

A joke at someone elses' expense is not truly funny, no matter how loud the comedian or their friends laugh.

The folks who write this blog should also know they're infringing on several copyright laws when they consistently publish photos with no credit or link to the original publication attached. I don't believe in censorship, but I do believe in trying to follow copyright laws.
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posted by Annie at 59 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I need a Road Manager

It occured to me that I need people. I need a girl to schedule appointments and a boy to arrange travel (in the biz these are always "girls" and "boys" - even if they're menopausal) And I need roadies - lots of them. And a traveling masuesse.

But I have me - I am my booking agent, travel agent, administrative assistant, driver, craft service and my own best groupie. Life is grand. Now you all know why I'm so damned appreciative when my teaching engagements are filled with nice people (which they usually are!)

I'm gearing up to leave next Thurs for Atlanta and points south. Today I trained by taking Atticus to the groomers WITH the kids, taking the kids to McDonalds, grocery shopping WITH the kids, packaging 30 books with HELP from the kids and dyeing my hair - also with help from Hannah. After I finished I was winded, exhausted, trembling with tiredness - but happy. Now I recuperate and try to get some knitting done, patterns written so I can assign some sweaters before I leave.

And it occured to me - along with my need for people - that my people have a need for tour shirts. So I designed a few and here they are.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lambing Season

My friend from the Great Lakes Fiber Show sent me this photo of some of her flock - it's lambing season! I'm a suburban girl, never owned livestock (although I would like to have goats some day...) but I just love the sheep. Aren't they beautiful - isn't this an astounding photo? The colors are so rich and deep, the expressions on the faces are so frank. Maybe I'll get to pet one or two of these wooly bundles in June when I'm out in Ohio?

The Suit Fits - all hail the suit - the suit fits!!

My most excellent friend Alicia stopped by (she works a block from my house and is a perfect fit model - how's THAT for service?), tried on the suit and it looked as though I'd made it for her. I'm too good of a friend to pop out with a camera, there will be photos enough of it on the model when it's photographed in CA. I can't tell you what it meant for me to have this fit so well!

First of all, it's a weight off my mind. Whenever we take a risk it's a breath-holding experience - not that I have a lot of breath to play around with these days.

Second, it was gratifying that the HOURS and HOURS of math, the pattern drafting, the ripping out and reknitting the seat of the damned suit 4 or 5 times really paid off!

Third, it really is quite a simple pattern, minimal shaping, and it's very flattering! I think I'm going to do a few more suits off of this basic pattern - maybe with lace panels, etc., fun stuff to knit up and a little more wearable than the basic knit bikini... I'm Queen of the World!

I had a brainstorm about my Egyptian dress. I want to work it in Classic Elite Provence - mostly because I love it, but also because it's Egyptian cotton (get it... with remarkable memory (for cotton) and the colors are bright and strong.

But collar portion of the dress needs some oomph, and didn't relish the thought of doing a whole stringing-beads-and-charting-it thing. I want it to be a pretty simple dress.

So as I was wandering through some yarn I'd received from a company, swatching up fun stuff, I remembered the amazing silks I'd received from Tilli Thomas.

I had seen images of this yarn, but it didn't strike a chord with me until I saw it in person at TNNA. Actually, this yarn is the reason I lost my cell phone - when I stopped to cut a few strands from the Wall of Yarn I set my phone down and then forgot it. Damn. Then I was absolutely in love. I'm not the biggest glitz yarn fan, but this is just remarkable.

Anyway, I'm going to get warm, rich tones to work well with the dress colors, make the dress a tank dress and the collar will be a separate piece - perhaps shawl-like - I'll fiddle with it. I need to do a few shawls and scarves for the book, so this will allow me to bring a few pieces together nicely. Now I need to find a use for the amazing chenille blend they do. Rich, rich, rich. I gained 10 pounds just fondling the yarn.
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Home... with kids

It's president's week, and the kids are home from school. Mostly this means unlimited Star Wars games and lots of time figuring out activities. It also means it's harder for me to get as much done as I'd like, but that's the breaks!

I've finished the man's colorwork hat (it's an extra piece for Men Who Knit) and I'm pretty happy with the odd colors. I wasn't sure they'd work, but I think they're groovy, dude.

Swatching continues for Romantic Knits - and in the course of some hard figuring I received an email from my editor with the FINAL cover of the wire book. Thanks to Kristen for her suggestion of Twist & Loop - I passed it along to the editor and it stuck! I'm also THRILLED that they're using my favorite piece in the book for the cover, it makes me giddy!

Yesterday I spent a good 4 hours working up the pattern for the knit dress. Upon further reflection, I don't think I will knit it up myself. I really need a 2nd pair of hands to go over this pattern (although, for the effect, it's relatively simple!) and my time is so short over the next few months that I need to be sensible and not try to do everything myself, which I sometimes do.

I'm also working up a pattern for an Egyptian inspired design - I'm trying to stick with terra cottas, sand & palm green colors. At first I had this as a type of rainbow dress - which would be fun - but would be difficult for most women to wear with confidence. Today I'll work up this pattern - it feels so good to get the math parts finished and set aside so I can figure my yarn amounts and start ordering!
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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Olympic Update

[announcer] "Are the dreams of a hand knit designer that a flattering and wearable hand knit bathing suit might be possible in this day and age to be realized? Let's visit the chaise & see how the story is developing"

[reporter]We're here at the sofa where Annie Modesitt has just completed knitting the body of her White Fixation bathing suit. Annie's had a rough week, ripping out and reknitting several parts of the suit to create the fit she wants, but she may have overplayed her hand at the top of the suit, because it's looking a little long to me. This could be especially dangerous as she's already taken the bold step of sewing down the facings and weaving in the ends before she's tried it on her fit model!

We'll have to wait until the finals tomorrow to see if this strategy has paid off for her, but at this moment she can't hide her trepidation as puts the bathings suit aside and moves on to the next two projects in her de-swatch-athon; a man's colorwork hat and a knit dress.

Yes, I'm going to swatch the dress, and may even knit it myself. I struggle with this - I worry that I'm being too hands on, can't give things away, but I also don't quite have certain details solidified in my head and I really need to be able to work this out - up close and in person - so my feeling is that of all the projects in the Romantic Knits book, the dress is probably a good one for me to work up.

The bathing suit is looking good - I'm happy with the shaping and the overall knitting, but I'm worried about the upper back and bust fit. A good (very good) friend is coming by tomorrow so I can slap this baby on a human form and get feedback on whether it's comfortable, whether it feels like it "should" and to see how much - if any - I need to rework the top of the suit. I've been working a faux i-cord edging along the back edges after the mid-back separation, and ended with an i-cord bindoff at the top of the suit in front. My plan is to use i-cord to create a X-back look - yeah, that's the plan...

I just swached the crochet jacket - I'm very happy with the yarn I'm using (Artyarns Ultramerino 4, I know that's a shock...) it just works up like buttah, I tells ya... I may use a crocheter to work this up, I've got the pattern just about written and it's always such a good test to have someone else run through the instructions. It involves some thinking - no very hard techniques, but breaking down what needs to be done to create the roses and working through the process step by step.

Still hard, still wheezing. Lung capacity is better, but still stinks. I absolutely DO intend to check out the herbs with my doc before I take them, but they all seem to be pretty OTC from what I can find in my research.

I took a walk on Friday to my friend's house to see the Valentine he put up for his wife's on their garage roof. Tomm creates the most AMAZING valentine's for her (last year it was a 1930's style fruit-box billboard for "Jersey Tomatoes" with her image, and some juicy red love apples, displayed prominently - and it's still standing in their backyard and looking great) He is blessed in his wife, Holly loves him and adores what he does for her - and I'm so lucky they live near me (and the neighborhood guys grit their collective teeth when they see how far Tomm outshines them - shades of Apu!)

The walk was good - it was in the 50's here on Friday - but when I got home I felt like Bode Miller at the bottom of the hill (totally winded and no medal to show for it...)

I don't get it. Why not just set up a yard chair by the NJ Turnpike?
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posted by Annie at 9 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, February 16, 2006


The meds I'm on ARE working, they really are - the difference in my breathing 2 weeks ago compared to today is striking. However, I'm still winded all the time. Or rather, I'm winded when I do anything more challenging than sitting perfectly still in my chaise, without sneezing, coughing or drinking any water. Yes, water - when I take a nice, big swallow I feel as though I've been held underwater for a few minutes. Yet, this is better.

But is it good enough? On the advice of a friend who I trust, I checked out some chinese herbal remedies for poor breathing. The list of herbs used to improve breathing read like a list from one of my favorite childhood books (but not a child's book), The Harvester, by Gene Stratton Porter, a story about a man who earns his living in the backwoods and swamps of Wisconsin finding and harvesting plants which are used to create remedies. I just LOVED this book - the characters, the fact that the guy BUILT a house for a woman he loved, but hadn't really spoken with - and the fact that the fellow was able to use his native skills to create a life for himself. Late 19th Century Romantic Nature Writing, ahhhh.

Apparently this affected my life view in large ways - my life goal has always been to be independent, to earn my living on my own, without the need for a boss or employer - and I've settled into something that, for the time being, allows this to happen. Odd how those books we read as kids carry such power throughout our lives.

So as I was looking over the herbs listed under the BRONCHITIS category I felt at a total loss: Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae, Armeniacae Amarum Seed, Flos Farfarae, Rhizoma Pinelliae, Herba Ephedrae, Radix Asteris, Folium Eriobotryae, Semen Sinapis Albae, Fructus Trichosanthis. The only one that's familiar to me (a non herbalist and so-so science student) was Herba Ephedrae - tiny bunches of which have been found with mummies in the Tarim basin in China - a broncho dialator.

I'm going to take the information to my doc and see if there's a reason why I shouldn't give these herbs a try. I'm curious as to the response I'll get.

I'm also looking into acupuncture - several folks have written or called me with amazing stories about how it's helped them or someone they know suffering from lung ailments. I have friends who are acupuncturists (not nearby, sadly) and I'm surprised I didn't consider this sooner.

On the knitting front - the bathing suit continues apace - it's looking good, I'm happy with the shape and I'm pondering what to do about the bust shaping. I'd like to include a sort of shelf bra, knitted into the piece, so I'm trying to figure that out.

I just finished some socks, a necklace and a doggie sweater in crochet for Sharon Silverman's second book on crochet, Beyond Basic Crochet Basic Crochet will be released later this year - and it's so much fun to be working up something for someone else's book!

I have another crochet item that I have to work up - or rather, hire someone else to as I'm getting to the deadline on a number of things. It's a kimono shaped jacket with rose embellishments, we're just finalizing the yarn (oh, and I have to write the pattern, yeah, that...)

I've added a few stops to my Southeast Trip in early March. Yep, I'm definitely going! Traveling by car is SO much easier for me than flying - no carrying of heavy bags through airports, no shipping of multiple boxes to and from my venue - and if I get tired in the car I just pull over and rest, have a cup of tea, etc. I love driving, I hate flying. There, I've said it.

Anyway, I've added the following stops to my trip - if you live near these areas and have a hankering to take a class with me,

The Whole Nine Yarns
105 E. Main - Suite 126 / Woodstock, GA 30188 / 678-494-5242
Combination Knitting
Tuesday, 3/7/2006, 7 o'clock (2 hour class)

Yarn Paradise
6 All Souls Crescent / Asheville, NC 28786 / (828) 274 - 4213
Potpourri of Combo Knitting Tricks & Tips
Tuesday, 3/14/2006 (contact shop for time)
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posted by Annie at 10 Comments Links to this post

Monday, February 13, 2006

Final Scores?

The Olympics are here - tada! I loved the opening ceremonies (okay, I missed most of them watching the 2 hours of Arrested Development) and feel the pain for Michelle and the joy for Emily. I'm knitting my own piece(s) for the Knitting Olympics (even if I didn't register in time)

I'm doing a decathalon of knitting and crochet pieces because I just have a buttload of knitting to get done. I need to create some swatches for some new designs, and then there's the bathing suit (which I ripped out and restarted the day of the opening ceremony, so that counts, right?) Mostly, though, I just need to finalize yarn choices and the only way to do that well is to swatch, swatch, swatch. The de-swatch-athon.

Every evening NBC, which is broadcasting the Olympics here in the States, gives the scores for the events which took place earlier that day in Torino. As these events are to be broadcast that night in the US, the announcer tells the audience that if they don't want to know who won they should turn their backs until the bright Olympiad music is over.

Does it seem to anyone else that this is a metaphor for other things in our lives right now? I was struck - no, dumbfounded by this article.

Are we all turning our backs until our freedom of speech rights have sailed away - when we hear the music stop, will we turn around again and wave goodbye?

And, because I can't resist...
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posted by Annie at 11 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Life In Blizzards

We like to compare major events, so it's natural that all over the news there are comparisons of this current blizzard to the storm of '96 and the storm of '78. I found this link from NOAA Satellite Information with a new way to measure the impact of storms in the Northeast.

I'm surprised that the storm in '78 is ranked so low, I remember it as being pretty intense. Then again, I was living in Toledo at the time, 16 years old, and my father had died a few weeks earlier. Since our entire family lived in West Virginia, my father's flying parner (he was half owner in a small plane) flew my dad's body down to WV and my mom, brother and I followed on a commercial flight. This took some time to coordinate, and unfortunately we were stranded in Pittsburg in a bad snowstorm for a few days at the airport. This was actually before the blizzard, which - by the time my dad's funeral was over and we made it back home - hit with full force. I think my mother - who was one of the most sane people I've ever known - came closer to madness in those two storms than I'd ever seen her.

My brother and I thought the blizzard was a rare treat - it was a blast, we were home from school for days, we had friends over and spent a lot of time outside climbing the huge piles of snow the plows had left in front of our apartment complex.

After my third date with Gerry, he came to watch my cats while I was traveling in North Carolina (working on a stadium show called, "Lucas Live" to tour through Japan. I built the Wookie...) My cat, Spunky, was pregnant and I didn't want to leave her alone. One night when I got back to my hotel there was a message, "It's a boy! It's a girl! It's a boy! It's a girl! It's a boy!" The clerk said she hoped that it was referring to a pet...

Upon my return home he picked me up at the airport and it was starting to snow as he drove me home. By the time we were in Brooklyn it was apparent that the storm was going to be bad, so he decided to stay over - me, Gerry, and seven cats, He never left.

A few weeks after I'd had a laparascopic procedure to aid in our quest for a baby, Gerry and I found ourselves at home surrounded by 24" of snow. We lived across from Prospect Park in Brookly, so we went for a long, romatic walk in a practically deserted landscape. We came home and watched cross-country skiers from the roof of our building, fixed ourself a nice dinner with a bottle of wine, and the rest is red-headed history.
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Friday, February 10, 2006

men who knit and the sheep who terrify them

Actually, in tonight's Arrested Development, it's Tobias who is knitting. Hmmmm. In case any of you aren't familiar with Arrested Development, Tobias is a therapist who calls himself an an-alrap-ist, not what it would seem, which is one of the jokes... never mind...


I'm so behind! Apparently my knitcast has been up for a few days, but I finally heard it today - wahoo! I'm stunned that Marie was able to make something coherent out of our hour long conversation. With all my wheezing and heavy breathing I thought I'd come across like a masher.

It's funny, though, I can really hear that I'm talking slower and taking longer breaks between words than I used to do. I don't sound like the me I'm used to hearing - but having said that I'm very happy with how I sound - and very happy with Marie's editing and her intelligent questions.
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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Email Tutorial

I get a lot of letters - not as many as Crazy Aunt Purl, (but then she's absolutely phenomenally hysterical!) Actually, reading some of her email at her blog made me think I should post the following exchange.

Backyard Leaves is my scarf design that was in Pam Allen's book, Scarf Style.

It's gratifying that folks are stretching their perception of their knitting skills when they attempt - and succeed - in following the chart for the pattern. Below is an exchange I recently had with a knitter who was trying BYL.

I thought it might be helpful for other folks attempting the pattern - and it also explains my philosophy of knitting and happy stitches pretty well. Enjoy!

On Jan 13, 2006, at 7:34 PM, Leslie A. G. wrote:

Hi Annie -- My name is Leslie and I'm an intermediate knitter in San Francisco.  I've been admiring the Backyard Leaves scarves I've seen on knitting blogs and I've decided to attempt it as my first charted project.  I got through two rows last night and I already have questions.  I hope you don't mind (and I hope you don't think I'm ridiculous).  First, when you slip a stitch with the yarn in the front, should I slip it knit-wise or purl-wise? 

Also, (here's the one where you might think I'm ridiculous), when the chart calls for a YO, does that mean simply bringing the yarn to the front of the work or does it also include knitting a stitch after bringing the yarn over?  THANK YOU for your help.  I apologize for bothering you but I'm eager to make this gorgeous scarf -- and do it right!  Leslie Gordon

Leslie A. G.

Hi Leslie,

When you slip a stitch, I don't really specify whether you should slip it knit or purl wise.  The truth is, it doesn't really matter as long as you work the stitch THE WAY IT WANTS TO BE KNIT in the following row.  If you slip the stitch purl wise, then the stitch will be set up for either a western knit or purl on the reverse side.  If you slip the stitch knit wise, then the stitch will be set up for a Combination knit on the reverse side.  Because different folks knit differently, I don't like to add 'standardized' instructions which can be very counter productive for the average knitter.

The most important thing is to be able to "read" your stitches - to tell by looking at the stitch whether it "wants" to be knit into the front or the back loop.  By this, I mean that when you knit a stitch the stitch should want to open up wide.  If the stitch crosses itself at the bottom, it will be a twisted stitch and won't be very "happy".  When you insert your needle into a stitch to make it "happy" - you are inserting  your needle into the LEADING edge of the stitch.  (When you purl, you would be inserting your needle into the TRAILING edge of the stitch.)  I hope you don't find this more confusing than helpful!  I am a strong proponent of understanding the way your stitches WANT to be knitted - if everyone can grasp this relatively simple concept, then knitting instructions can be written to accommodate ALL knitters (Combination, Eastern, Western, Left Handed) and no one has to be left out!

A YO means to wrap the yarn around the RH needle as if you were making a stitch.  The RH needle won't be IN a stitch at the time.  You will wrap the yarn around the needle in the same direction as you wrapped the yarn when you made the previous stitch.  This will create a "hole" - aka an "eyelet" which is what makes the lace look like lace!


Annie Modesitt
Knit Designer / Craft Writer PO Box 813, South Orange, NJ  07079

On Feb 9, 2006, at 12:54 AM, Leslie A. G wrote:

Hi Annie --

If you recall my e-mail below, I wrote to you recently about some basic Backyard Leaves questions.  I've spent the last couple of weeks alternating between chart phobia and a desire to buckle down and just do it.  Ultimately, I enlarged the chart (huge!), color-coded it, pre-counted big blocks of stitches and pre-calculated row-by-row stitch counts. 

Between your e-mail below, doing all that prep work and adding in contrasting-color "lifelines" every few rows (to reduce the fear and time of making a mistake), I have overcome my phobia of the BL chart and tonight I reached row 19!!!  I am thrilled and I now see the brillance of the pattern.  I cannot wait to start again tomorrow night.  THANKS for your e-mail below and the beautiful design.  :)  Leslie

Leslie A. G.

Hey Leslie,

I'm so PROUD of you!!  Doesn't it just make you feel like you can do ANYTHING when you finally figure out something that seemed incomprehensible a few weeks earlier?

Would you mind if I shared our email correspondence on my blog?   I won't list your name or email -

Annie Modesitt
Knit Designer / Craft Writer PO Box 813, South Orange, NJ  07079

On Feb 9, 2006, at 12:50 PM, Leslie A. G. wrote:

Annie -- Yes, you may included it in your blog and you could even keep my name in it.  (If anyone wanted to e-mail me about my color-coding scheme, I'd be happy to share what helped me.)  Although I've made sweaters before, I really believe that finishing this scarf will make me feel that I can conquer anything.  

Leslie A. G

...and because one can't mention Laurie enough...

Perhaps THIS is what the Prez was trying to warn us about?

photo from Laurie's window at work - see the original at crazy aunt purl
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Miss Communication

This morning I awoke to an email from the Atlanta Knitting Guild - apparently when I agreed to speak there I had somehow switched the dates in my mind and thought they wanted me on Tuesday, not the previous Thursday. I'll be somewhere in Virginia just about the time their meeting is starting, driving straight through so I can teach on Friday morning, so I'm thinking that I won't be able to make it to their guild meeting.

I feel just terrible about this - damn. I feel stupid, and I feel guilty. When I sent the letter of agreement I did have the Tuesday date on it, but that's the kind of thing folks don't always pick up on, so I'm not ready to slap the guilt on them. It's mine (mine, mine, all mine!)

Sister of Miss Communication
Then I received an email from an editor who's asked me to be in a book about fiber folks (that's who I'm doing the bathing suit for...) telling me the date's been set for them to come by my studio (dining room) and photograph me, interview me, and photograph the bathing suit. She asked me to have a model. WHA? This takes me totally by surprise. I'm ready to just slap the thing on the mannequin, or hand it over to a stylist so she can put it on a reasonably modesty-free model with good skin to be photographed in a studio setting, but I don't think having a friend wear it in my dining room will give the same lovely effect. I'm not even sure I KNOW someone who would A) Want to wear this. B) Want to be photographed in it FOR PUBLICATION. C) Do it for free, as a favor. Just so you know, this book is being published by a MAJOR publisher, and that was one of the selling points the editor used when she asked me to be part of it.

I know from working on a budget, believe me - and the editor's been very understanding and great to work with so far - but what's with a major publisher trying to do this on the cheap? I think it strikes me odd because it's a bathing suit - if it were a sweater I'd probably have no problem just slapping it on a friend and photographing them. I think the skin to knit fabric ratio is what gives me pause. Once again, I believe my mannequin will be a featured player in my knit design evolution.

Here's the bottom of the suit so far. I'd intended to hire someone to knit this, but as I worked up the math for the crotch and buttock increases (folks, there is just no other word for it without being precious...) I realized that due to the odd gauge (it changes appreciably when stretched, and that's how it will be worn) I really need to oversee this more personally. Annie Modesitt, not quite ready to give it up...

He's Growing Up
Last night we watched the beginning of the Grammy's and I was astounded that Max knows and seems to love The Gorillaz. He wrote about them in his journal last evening. (Obviously this is the influence of his good buddy next door, whose dad works in the music industry)

A few girls wearing bathing-suits-masquerading-as-evening-wear later, I switched off the TV and returned to my book on CD (Harry Potter V).

I did tune in later for Henry Louis Gate's African American Lives - it was just wonderful. What a magnificent journey he took Chris Tucker on, I got goosebumps watching it. If this is being rebroadcast in your area, watch it!
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posted by Annie at 7 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I've taken on a project which I've dreamed about for a while - a bathing suit.

This will NOT be a bikini. Bikinis are fine, but I wanted to design a bathing suit that I might actually want to wear myself. Who knows, if it goes well maybe I'll do a tankini pattern, too! I've always loved Esther Williams - loved her athleticism, her skill and beauty - and her bathing suits!

Now the hard part. The schematic. Harder than knitting is figuring out the pattern. I'm going to use a double strand of Cascade Fixation, knit very tight to create the heavy, girdle-like fabric of those fabulous, bad, 40's & 50's suits, and I'll rely heavily on ribbing in the back for shaping help. I think I'm going to twist the fabric between the cups, but I need to fiddle with that. There will, of course, be elastic around the legs and around the upper back.

This isn't knitting, it's engineering.

Wire By Any Other Name
I just this minute recieved the latest draft of the wire book - current working title, Loop & Twist and, my question is, do any of you have a really inventive, gripping title for this book which might include the words "Wire", "Jewelry" or "Knitting?" Even if it doesn't include those words, I'd love to hear your suggestions! I think Loop & Twist is fine, but I also think it's awfully close to Teva's book title, Loop-d-loop

The book is looking VERY good - the font is funky (very 70's) but easy to read, the images are unexpected but clear - in rushing through it quickly I see places where images are labeled incorrectly, stuff like that - but it's the first time I've seen it laid out, and it's very exciting. This is going to be a beautiful book!
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posted by Annie at 32 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I've spent this week pretty much on my butt. In my pj's, on my new chaise, knitting and working on my new laptop.

The excellent news is that I have noticed an improvement in my breathing this week - the drugs are working! I was able to teach in Cornwall yesterday and it was a lovely class! There weren't as many participants as I think both the shop owner and myself would have liked, but at the same time the small number of students allowed me to spend a lot of time sitting, not jumping around like I normally do, and being careful with my breathing. I've noticed this week that as long as I move slowly, I'm dandy. When I forget and start speeding along, I'm wheezing and dizzy. Even eating and drinking have to go slower - slowing down is not such a bad thing.

This forces me to refine my schedule, to remove things that might not be 100% great for me to do now, and to take more time for myself. I tried to gracefully back out of the crochet calendar, but was asked to please stay because - and it's true - leaving at this point would really put them in a terrible situation. So I'm asking for help from some other crochet editor friends, I'll be passing along some of the editing work, and concentrating on the photo stuff and the acutal Quark layouts myself. I'm hoping this division of labor will make more sense and allow me to continue my teaching and designing with few wrinkles.

Today is my hon's birthday - the kids jumped into bed with us and we all sang Happy Birthday - then they did the "Are you ONE? Are you TWO? Are you THREE? thing all the way up to 47. He's in the living room right now dancing around to "Graceland" and I'm watching the McLaughlin Report (just like the 80s) and later today he'll be visiting a friend to watch the game on a big screen TV. Live is good.
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posted by Annie at 11 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Only Thing We Have To Fear

It's a knitting blog, but I write about a whole lot more. As a matter of fact, there's been precious little knitting recently (although I'll be posting some cool sketches from the book I'm working on - why, here's one right now...)

At any rate, every now and then I have to speak out about the current political situation. I'm sickened daily by the way the mass media ignores what is up with our administration, and it's come to the place where even my Republican relatives are up to here [hand held over head] with the lies.

Slowly, slowly, I feel that our belief in ourselves as a free, open and rich society is dissolving, those who are thoughtful are quiet just when we need to be loud.

We've been lulled into a false sense of insecurity - by that I mean fear is used as a tactic to supress dissent. This is a time for us once again to hear and believe, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

I apologize in advance if some of you are bothered - I know you don't come here for political content - but it's reached the point that to not comment is a political statement in itself.

Here is something worth reading. It was sent to me in the Randi Rhodes newsletter this evening.

And here's another garment - a dress based on a 1930's silhouette. Isn't it Romantic?
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posted by Annie at 13 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Who knew?

I've never smoked. Never. Okay, there was ONE cigarette in Jr. High School (Hi Heidi!) and a bong hit or two in college (Hi - er, I forget your name) but I've never been a SMOKER. Never bought a pack of cigarettes (except for someone else), never smoked a cigar, pipe, hooka - any of that stuff. I shouldn't have this. Or should I?

But - as we all know - I have asthma. Or thought I did.

I finally visited the Pullmonary Specialist to whom I'd been referred. It was a good visit, and I spent an inordinate amount of time sucking on a tube hooked up to a computer, then blowing through the same tube. It was kind of cool how they were able to measure different elements of my breathing.

Apparently my breathing was bad, and after I was given a dose of asthma medication with a nebulizer, it was STILL just about as bad as when I walked in. This led my PS to talk seriously with me about COPD. In the mean time we're concentrating on just getting my breathing back to a servicable level with broncho-inhalers (some with steroids) and another round of antibiotics to knock out the infection that will not leave. I asked about a possible fungal infection, but he said that would have been apparent in the Xray and Catscan as a "fungus ball" - another beautiful image brought to you by Annie's blog.

There have been times when I've had a bad day or two of breathing, but this has gone on for quite a while - since my trip to Maryland in October - making it difficult for me to walk any distance, go up stairs, carry ANYTHING. While I was in SD that was the hardest part of the trip, walking to and from the convention center (thank heaven I had a rolling carrier for all my stuff, but even THAT was hard to pull) I think that whole experience scared me a lot more than I wanted to admit.

For now I'm limiting much of my physical exertion - not carrying anything heavy - just taking out the trash this morning made me dizzy and wheezy with quite a light show going on in front of my eyes. (Who needs stinkin' illicit drugs? I have GARBAGE to carry!)

I've been taken off of Advair - apparently there can be some bad side effects with overuse. I've been put on two other bizzarre inhalers (the calesthetics one has to go through to get these things OPEN!) one to help the asthma symptoms, and another for the COPD symptoms. (why do I have the feeling that the happy fat woman with the salad drives a PT cruiser?)

With a clear, sunny, cool day today I'm breathing better than I have for the past few wet days. Rain is my nemesis, yet I love it so (curse you, you beautiful, soft and insidious raindrops!) I do have to admit that my breathing was better in San Diego than it had been for quite a while.

So a new adventure! The way I feel right now, I couldn't teach a bird to whistle, but I also know how fast I tend to bounce back from what I thought were asthma attacks. But this time (actually, since about October) this has just felt so different, I guess it's good to have a name for it... My fear factor has been higher than I liked to admit.

The '78 Impala wagon that I slightly dented (okay, hit) was declared TOTALLED by my insurance company. Actually they said that the cost to fix the car ($800) was more than the car was worth. Oy. Gerry and just stared at each other. Earlier this year (yes, 2006) Gerry's car was hit by a ladder that fell off of a truck on Rt 280 as he drove home, so that's 2 claims in 1 month, and we're pretty certain that our insurance company is ready to drop us. So in case anyone is keeping score, it's official. I'm an idiot.

For Diana - see what happens when you ask?
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posted by Annie at 12 Comments Links to this post

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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