Piecework, Part 3

In which Laurie presents the finale of her guest blogs (with my greatest possible thanks) and I continue to de-compensate over here in the worst way. Tonight I finish, and tomorrow I’m back. Can’t wait.

Having determined that I am indeed a knitter who enjoys section-by-section knitting, I embraced the muse. I got deeply involved in fantasizing about an Arches sweater – one that would use very much elongated hexagons or at least long sections with points /\ — something like that, maybe, at the top. All would fit together into a harmonious mosaic.

Yeah, sure.

Naturally I would use my own dyed and spun yarns, but I started experimented with “enriched” solid colors. Those Harlot readers who endured the Woolhouse Presents series a while back can probably imagine what I came up with – what if I took those roving sausages and dyed them in a single color using a crock pot? What if I balanced the inevitable shading variations by spinning thinner singles than usual and doing three-ply? The answers to these questions turned out to be a) I got lovely semi-variegated single-color roving (sometimes with a few of the color breaks I mentioned in the Woolhouse tutorial) and b) the resulting three-ply yarn was pretty evenly colored but richly heathered. Really delicious jewel tones because of the underlying gray wool.

I lived with several yummy three-ply skeins for months while I worried with the design.

I will spare you the early planning stages in which my efforts to knit such hexagons so that they would fit together. I did not have the Pat Ashworth/Steve Plummer book that plumbs these shapes and somehow Vivian Hoxbro’s book did diamonds more than hexagons, or so it seemed to me.

Of course, hexagons of my own devising were wretched. However, thanks to Patricia Werner’s Dazzling Knits, I found a relatively easy way to make the pieces with points. The sweater on the front of this book offers roughly the shape that I wanted, though I did not want a cardigan. I toyed with the idea of going back to shaded multi-color yarns to follow her design, but the many colored sections seemed busy to me. So I set about doing my own version.

First, I revised the instructions for the pointed panels in Werner’s book so that I could make interlocking arches. Basically, I eliminated the color changes and shifts in stitch. And reworked the assembly, but you will see what I mean. Stripped of the stitch and color ornamentation, her design involves first establishing the garter edge and then knitting inward, while reducing regularly one stitch at each triangle side and two stitches at the top (slip 1, knit 2together, pass slipped stitch over). Once the triangle at the top is mostly eliminated (14 rows in my case), you turn to the wrong side and do a three-needle bind-off. I had decided on four downward facing, 4” wide panels at the top of front and back with five interlocking and much longer panels pointing UP. I also contemplated two SUPER long panels that would work as a saddle shoulders. Maybe.

I chose the dark blue as my garter edge, fiddled with different colors for my first swatch, and then settled on solids and an educated guess to knit my first TOP panel. That panel helped me get determine my gauge and confirmed that the three-needle bind off would stabilize the shape. Then I just linked each section to next by picking up stitches long the edge and casting on when I reached a part that did not as yet exist. The garter edge really helped a lot (and I used a cable cast on).

Early piecing together at work:


Things seem to be going well, don’t they? All you really have to do is count consistently, and you are fine. For my version, the upper sections all had 30 stitches before the triangle piece, and the lower section had 60 stitches. The triangular, arch bit is about two and a half inches long and follows the stitch count offered in Werner’s book. I was pleased enough with the body to risk the saddle sleeves (and I needed the saddle for the sweater to be long enough!):


Personally I think that arms are a really serious design problem. The shapes I was working with were NOT going to work, and I did not know what to do about the colors either. Much fretting later I came to the conclusion that each arm needed to be three pieces, seamed together. And the “side panels” would have to be knit DOWN from the saddles, short-rowed to fit the armscye angles and to create the angle of the undersleeve. And end with a garter edge of dark blue for seaming.

Behold an arm:


The arms ended up a LITTLE long with their arch edges. I even contemplated crocheting a small ring at the tip of each sleeve so I could be stylish and loop them to my fingers. You can see the look here:


And here I am in a more normal pose (with a more normal expression!).


This little odyssey proves a few things beyond my obsession with variations on a theme. First, knitting in pieces can grow on a person. Second, when you are dyeing relatively small lots of yarn, there ARE ways to work your yarns together. And finally sleeves are the really hard part when you strike out on your own!

Many little pieces

That Laurie’s guest series continues today…

Me? I’m writing and knitting. Hard to tell where I am with the book (somewhere near the end) and I’m on row 6 of the border on the shawl. There are 5 and today is Wednesday. Perhaps I have an issue. I am comforting myself with this
video, which has been sent to me by about a million knitters. It’s very good. Over to That Laurie.

Stained Glass Sweater – in which still more experimentation with knitting strips occurs

My next foray into strip knitting originated in the sock yarn dyeing I was doing. To see how those sock yarns in graduated colors were dyeing and spun, see The Wool House Presents series. I was piling up these yarns and decided I should take a stab at making a sweater using them, so I turned to strip knitting again, this time to take advantage of the color changes. (I am not alone in being drawn to this kind of knitting which is also advocated by Anna Zilborg in Knitting for Anarchists, I believe).

However, I still wanted SOME texture, and I saw something like what I was thinking of in a Noro sweater that was hanging up as a demo at Halcyon Yarns. I could not find the pattern (store personnel seemed to think it was in Noro 15, but I did not see it there). Also, to be honest, the cables on that sweater were way too bulky for my taste. Back to the stitch dictionaries! I ultimately chose a version of a shores shoe cable. The panels were 22 stitches wide, with the first and stitches slipped to make seaming easy. All the cables were four-stitch crosses, made so that they made a line toward the center of the panel. This stitch pattern is one of my favorites, the Staghorn Cable (Walker Treasury 1; 251):


Basically I cabled my way to the middle while purling every wrong side row and then started one stitch from the edge once the two “streams” met in the middle. The seaming was more extensive this time, but the cables actually helped me line everything up effectively. Again the underarm section took some finagling (I started in the cable pattern and abandoned it as the sleeve narrowed). As you can tell from the picture below, this version used saddle sections – in the same horseshoe pattern. Perhaps the toughest part was lining the saddles to the main sections, because there were no easy cabled guides and the row and stitch gauges were different. I also worked out a cabley edging for the neck, sleeves and bottom so that it looks like a 2 x 2 cable around the bottom as well. Below you can see the blocked sweater before its final seaming.


Because the sweater has a less tightly entangled cable pattern (so the panels are NOT dense) and the sock yarn weight is closer to sportweight than bulky, this sweater is MUCH lighter. It also allows me to display the yarns I dye rather than walk on them until they develop holes! Here is the final product:


Because of the colors and the panels, I call this one my Stained Glass sweater! And next up – the Arches sweater.

She’s gone to pieces

In which That Laurie is graciously welcomed to the blog host seat (If it is even possible for me to possess grace at this point. ) and begins to tell of her recent flirtation with modular knitting, what she did with it, and the sorts of sweaters that she got at the end. (There are some very, very good sweaters in this. The last one (Thursday) is my favourite.) That Laurie will be comment lurking, so ask questions if you got em…

The First Patchwork Sweater

Either you are the kind of knitter who LIKES to knit piece by piece, or you are the kind of knitter who finds all those little bits too fiddly. Although I embrace the whole circular-knitting-with-no-seams project, I do find some piece by piece knitting very satisfying. I have flirted with Domino Knitting and even with a pattern from Just One More Row. My favorite from the latter is the San Francisco Shirttail , although I MUCH prefer it with the alternate sleeve. You see the version which led me to prefer that other sleeve here. The second version I made worked much better and looked a lot less boxy! This pattern does VERY nice things with handpainted yarns, by the way.

However, what got me truly involved with knitting piece-by-piece was a sweater I saw a woman wearing in Barnes and Noble as I sat on the floor perusing the new knitting books. (Stephanie is not the only one who tends to follow around knitted garments to try to figure out how they are made!) This lady’s sweater included several strips, each displaying individual cables and a different colors of yarn. Clearly constructed from machine spun yarns, the sweater was still very cool and distinctive – and definitely my kind of thing! And wouldn’t it be even nicer in handspun?

Mine is a bit chunkier than hers, but it embraces the same principle–four-inch wide cable strips knit from different yarns, all spun from Romney cross sheep at worsted-to-bulky weight. The cable panels are 4 inches wide and allowed me to play with all kinds of different cabling:


Two sections on the body were eight-inch wide textured pattern to break up the strips, one at the bottom edge of two in the front and one at the top edge of two in the back. I started each “patch” with a provisional cast-on (knitting into a crochet chain) and slipped a stitch at the row ends on each side so that I could seam it easily. I blocked all the strips to size before crochet-seaming them together with the darkest yarn and knitting the cuffs and bottom in garter stitch. The seaming was not as tiresome as it looks since I just picked up stitches on each edge and did a three-needle bind off to link them together.

Basically all the strips were supposed to be the same width and length, but I decided along the way to use short rows at the upper edges for the neckline so that the neck need not be square:


I had one shorter panel for the underarm body section. The sleeves included a single 4 inch panel like the ones in the body and underarm panels that started slightly wider and then narrowed slightly toward the cuff. Several of these panels came from a three-color fleece by a sheep named Moxie–thanks to Swiftwater Farm! And here is the completed sweater:


The nice things about knitting this sweater were a) being able to try out different cables (I used Leslie Stanfield’s The New Knitting Stitch Library) being able to work on individual strips “on the road” because each individual strip was quite portable, and c) having fun in arranging the strips in various ways to see how they would look together before seaming them together.

I will admit that my husband thought the whole project looked quite awful in progress (however, even he liked the final version). Also it is a VERY bulky sweater but not too hot because it is so loose. As a heavy duty sweater for cold Maine days, it works quite well. And it COULD have a more shaped silhouette if I had used cables that “gathered” more at the waist of the sweater.

Next up – in which patchwork evolves and includes handdyed yarns.

Counting (or not)

Still writing a book, still knitting a shawl although the former seems to be messing with my ability to count on the latter. I cannot count to 42. Simply cannot. I’ve discovered that my simple plan is wickedly complex due to a changing number of stitches per row in the lace pattern. (I have no idea at all how I could have knit this much of it and never noticed.) The row I want to stop on, the row where the pointiness of the lace will best marry the bridge leading to the border has only 26 stitches. (???!!!) Trying to figure out which (if any) of the lace rows has the promised 40 stitches per repeat has rendered me some sort of bizarre knitting recluse, sitting in a corner for the few minutes of knitting time allotted to me per day while I mumble and fume with graph paper, a calculator, seven thousand stitch markers and a round of foul language that would render even the expletive queen herself senseless with stunned apprciation. I need a new plan. This counting thing is not going to work out.


Dollface wrote with a question about my theory:

Disclaimer: I have never knit lace, nor have I ever designed a pattern.

Is it necessary for there to be the same number of repeats of border as there are repeats in the shawl? I ask because it seems to me that maybe, just maybe, you could divide your total number of stitches by 42, work out how many repeats that is, and how many stitches are leftover. Then, instead of increasing 2 for every repeat, you would just increase a total of…10, or whatever.

You don’t need a disclaimer, it’s a really good question. No. It is not necessary for there to be the same number, unless you are an obsessive compulsive sort of a knitter, which I happen to be. I have this idea in my head that there will be a “swoop” in the border for each diamond of the lace. This means that it’s important, should you be interested in in being all matchy matchy with the lace, that there (eventually) are the same number of border stitches to lace stitches per repeat. If, however, that doesn’t matter to you (because you care NOTHING for the natural order of things and mathematical symmetry) then you just need the total number per side to work.

Back to the salt mines for me. The end draws near for the book (You have no idea what a relief it will be) and as is traditional, That Laurie is stepping in with some guest blogs while I lay on the cool kitchen floor thinking of amusing knitting things. She’s explaining some of her modular knit design stuff (using some of the yarns she explained how to dye on a previous guest session) and it’s all totally interesting. I’ll be here too. Though as I finish this book, mostly I look like this.


(Leaning back in my chair like that really does help. As does chocolate.) Soon. It will be over soon.

Real time

I’m not so sure I like this “real time” idea. Copping to today actually being Friday means that several deadlines are bearing down on me with far more hot-breathed speed than they were when I was writing about last weekend in NYC. (Breathe. I just need to remember to breathe.) Let’s pretend then, for just a minute that I am not a writer with her soul being sucked out of her (breathe and drink coffee) and that I am actually just a knitter looking to finish a shawl. The shawl (in my special world of time-lapse and denial) has the same deadline as the book. The 30th, since there’s a family thing I’d like to wear it to. This may prove to be impossible, and since I am not under contract to produce a shawl, but am under contract to produce a book, push may come to shove, but until the exact horrible moment of defeat, I’m trying to finish both.

Here’s where I’m at.


I’ve done seven repeats of the bud/flower thingie…and I think that’s enough. (I feel, for inexplicable reasons, that the option is not to add one more, but two, since things are more beautiful in odd numbers.) In six more heartbreakingly long rows I will be finished the main part, and be ready to knit some sort of as yet undetermined part of the shawl that will bridge together the border and the body.

This “bridge” needs to do two things. The border I have chosen requires 42 stitches per repeat, and my current pattern uses only 40 stitches per repeat. (The Oracle warned me about this in an email where he spoke of what would be the “rather intimate” relationship between the two pieces of lace. At the time I brushed it off. I knew that there would be a time when I would have to think my way through that, but I thought I would cross that bridge when I came to it. That would be now, and in this moment I am actually grateful that having checked the two pieces only just now, that there are only two stitches difference between them. I think that large vein on my forehead would explode if I had 14 stitches difference or something. ) The “bridge” piece needs to finish off the motifs that I’m doing now, provide a plain but fitting break between the two (one that hopefully stays in pattern) AND…and this is the big one…adds two stitches, ever so subtly, in each and every repeat. There are 14 repeats, which means adding a grand total of 28 stitches. I believe (breathe, drink coffee) that this is – considering the fluid and forgiving nature of blocked lace, a number that I can add without disrupting anything much. Feel free to quote that back at me when the whole thing ruffles along the border. I shall deserve it.

In any case, the current plan (if you can call the vague inkling that I have “a plan”) to do more of this sort of stuff…


adding in the stitches immediately before beginning the border by making two of the double decreases singles. (Or maybe by increasing into the tops of the double decreases on the next row. That way those little guys would still be pointy. I do love the pointiness.) The only other consideration for this “bridge” is that it needs to not be too big. I have six rows of the body left to go, 50 rows of the border to do, and only a few days (while I write a book – breathe, drink coffee) to do it. Any “bridge” requiring more than 4-10 rows will be summarily rejected in a nod to the limits of human endurance. I’m optimistic…not stupid. (Most days.)


What say you all? Other options? Opinions? Ways out? Perhaps some gently stated concerns? (This would be exactly the moment to say “It will never work because…..” )

A swift and sudden understanding

I admit, right now this second that in all of the years that I have possessed a drivers license, from the time that I was 16 until now, I have never once honked the horn while driving. (I admit to honking that quick beep-beep with a wave that is the way everyone says goodbye to relatives) but never, ever have I found a need to honk the horn for anything else. Torontonians do not honk much either. This is not a very honky city. People yell, people flip each other the bird, people do that “I’m crushing your head” thing from the Kids in the Hall, but they do not, as a general rule, honk unless there is a pretty large problem. (Child in the road, failed brakes…someone who is trying to turn left where there is no left allowed, your purse hanging out the door, your coffee on the roof…You know. Big stuff.) We don’t honk much in traffic. It’s pointless. If you’re stuck you’re stuck, and there’s squat all that honking does to clear the DVP.

Even if you are a Canadian who honks, or if you think Canadians honk a lot, you will have this attitude smacked off of you when you get to New York City. These people honk. This baffled me. Why honk in traffic? Buddy would move if he could – the intersection is not full of cars that are only waiting for instructions. They are stuck! Honking changes nothing! New Yorkers honk in traffic. They honk when they turn corners. They use the horn not just as it is intended to be used, as a warning system attached to their cars, but also as an expressive form of uni-tone vehicular communication.

I didn’t get it. At all. I admit actually, that I thought all the honking was slightly rude.

Then I went to NYC for this trip. I spent the day with Ms. Too Much Wool herself (she took me to The Point, and to Purl both very, very nice.)and we went all over the place and we even took the subway.

Here’s another thing I learned. Americans come to Toronto all the time and are suprised how clean our Subway is. (We have sort of a thing about it.) I thought they were just playing to the mythology of a good, clean, polite Toronto. I couldn’t imagine it was that different.

Torontonians ! Behold the NYC subway and know why they are impressed!


It really is very dirty. You know how (if you live in Toronto) when you wait for the subway if you are very tired and all of the benches are taken that most days, if you had to and you were wearing jeans, that you would totally sit on the floor? You would not even consider that in the station I saw.

After our afternoon of coffee and walking adventure Cass looked at my itinerary and saw that there was 40 minutes allotted to go from midtown to Brooklyn, and she laughed. We spoke to the powers that be and changed it to an hour, and both of us felt better. We got in a cab exactly on time. We headed for Brooklyn, and then we hit Canal St. Traffic stopped. We moved by centimetres. Cars blocked up intersections, cars nudged each others bumpers, cars, cars, cars everywhere. All of them honking. At first it was amusing, this taste of real New York traffic, it was amusing until I noticed Cass’ furrowed brow, and I realized that we were going to be late to the event.

At this point, I believe that if one were to search for the exact term that applied to what happened to me then, I think what you would find would be the term “went buggy”. I flipped out. I started, when the taxi would inch hopefully forward 10cm to be gleeful. I would turn to Cass and say “WE’RE MOVING!” only to be crushed entirely seconds later when I realized that we were at a standstill again. I yelled “OH COME ON!”. I made fists. I bounced in the seat. I glared at other human beings and I taunted them from the rear of the cab. I made mental lists of people driving in stupid ways and I thought about writing down all of the license plate numbers of any idiot who was “Blocking the box”. (I don’t even live in this city and I know not to Block the box. Do these people not watch Law and Order?) I was frustrated. I was late, I was angry and knitters?

I wanted to honk.

I wanted to climb through that little barrier window of the cab and lay on it. I wanted to express my rage and frustration through the glory of the car horn. I wanted to yell “WHY ARE YOU NOT HONKING” at the cab driver. As 10 minutes turned into 35 on Canal street and Cass called and recalled the bookstore to tell them where I was, I vented my wrath. “HONK! HONK AT THESE PEOPLE!” New York Traffic reduced this non-honking pacifist driver into a raging twit who not only wanted to honk her self stupid, but possibly to drive over other cars. I get it now. I understand. I did not truly feel the pain, but now I do. I’m sorry New York. Really sorry. Honk until you feel better.

When I finally arrived. (Vaguely breathless from holding back all that honking) There were Brooklyn knitters, all waiting nicely. (I actually think that if you absolutely have to keep people waiting, that knitters probably take it better than, say…potters.)



First up? The very, very juicy and delicious Thumper, who graced me with a cuddle and few devastating smiles before beginning to de-compensate a little. (Way past his bedtime, poor wee lovie. Besides, he had a very big day.) He is the picture of heath and good nature and should be the poster child for vegetarian nursing mums everywhere.


Kate and I had a bonding moment showing of Icaruses (Icari?) She’s got a great picture. Aileen brought me Connecticut


Alison had a Mets sock…(I think she said Dave dyed it for her)


I saw Jenny (Goddess of the now defunct Copper Moth) and she is as wonderful as I remembered.

Karen and Valerie should have done a wardrobe check before they came. (They are both wearing the same tank top from Fiona Ellis



Then, oh then, we have proof that my children are wrong, and that there do exist in the world teenagers who think that knitting (and by extension, me) are cool. This is Ashley, just a little younger than my own Samantha….


And Casseen and Nina, just a little younger than Amanda and Meg.


(See that girls? See that? THEY wanted to talk to me. THEY were knitting. THEY wanted to hold the sock. I bet the also do all of their homework without anyone reminding them and never, ever leave clothes on the floor. )

Next up, the delightful Bakerina.


She was just as nice as you would hope, maybe nicer. Funny too.

When it was all over, Cass and I found a glass of wine, then a cab (much less traffic) and I fell over onto my hotel bed.

The next day was the Knit out. The Knit Out my friends, is huge. massive. Many, many knitters and wanna-be knitters and muggles drawn inexplicably to yarn. (Pre-aware knitters.) Hundreds. The sun shone, the knitters wandered and it was lovely. I met Jove


Fellow Canadian, in NYC for another reason, but still drawn to the wool. The lovely and charming Em


Clearly gearing up early for Knit like a Pirate. (Succeeding too. Her shirt was a huge hit.) Here’s podcast host Guido,


He’s a high enthusiasm sort of guy.

Yo! Cara and Kay!


Kay knows how I love her, but I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to tell Cara that sometimes, on bad days when I need a pick me up…I reload her blog page over and over, just to watch the header change. Try it. It’s uplifting.

Just to trip me out…It’s Amy!


I see Amy Wednesday nights at Lettuce Knit here at home, so having a visit with her in another country. Trippy.

There were more. So many. I’ll never get them all. There was ccavicch (wearing the same cool tee-shirt as Em), Julie (who I had the privilege of meeting twice in two days) Jenn, Liz (was it Liz?)

It was a blast. From there I hopped in a car and went up to Knitty City, a charming shop uptown. (Was it uptown?)

I took this picture early on before a lot of the knitters were there (I was starting to be off my game)


Then I took another one, because you can’t see Nancy in the one above. (WHOOPS – See what all these knitters do to me? It’s Caron in the green. Yarn fumes. I blame Yarn fumes.)


There she is! Right in the middle. (Nancy was the one reminding me to take pictures at all. Girl kept me on my game. )


A high point of my evening was meeting Naomi Dagen Bloom. She used to be the worm lady (I guess she still is.) and another author who appears in the first Knitlit book, but now she’s into HIV prevention for women over 50. It’s a good point, since many women rejoining the dating pool when they are widowed or divorced often have no sex-ed whatsoever. Clever lady. Lovely to talk to.

We had a lovely evening, all sunburned and wiped out from the Knit Out, and it was a terrific way to end a trip to NYC. Tomorrow (hallelujah!) the blog goes back to realtime. Whew.

One for the open road

I have a new approach to the crushing amount of overwork that’s in my life until the 30th of this month. Compartmentalization. Instead of doing what I usually do, which is essentially melt down all over the house, and tell Joe that I’ll have chips for breakfast if I want (I’m writing a book!” is the rational for all manner of bad behaviour during this last phase) I’m going to try allotting a certain amount of time for all of the things I have to do. When the time is up, the time is up, no excuses, no procrastination, no moving time around, no running away from home with only my visa, a fake name and the wide open road before me.

So far, so good, I have writing times, parenting times (although that is really hard to schedule) blogging times, complaining times and yes, a little knitting time, though it’s sort of sparse. (This is the worst part. Knitting relieves a lot of stress for me and gives me thinking time that I find really helps me make sense the rest of the time. Without as much knitting time as I’m used to, I find myself really wrung out, absent and, well. Crabby. This crabbiness is compounded by knowing that I’ve done this to myself, and that’s something I’m trying to gloss over in case it starts the inefficient self-beration again.) Mostly I’m able to stay on the schedule, although I did accidentally cry during some of my writing time and so I had to stay up later. (I worry that that one is a cycle.) This block is blog time and when it’s done it’s done. So let’s boogie.


Imagine a photo of a slightly larger shropshire shawl here. I can’t find the stinking camera.

Bigger. Maybe even big enough, I’m still not sure. I’m starting to think about taking it off the needles so I can get a better idea. Each repeat is 24 rows but the border I’ve chosen is 50 rows so….I’m not sure where I’m going with that. Something mathematical that I just can’t consider right now. Some. The border will add some. You know what I mean.

Gansey? Er, right. Can we pretend there is no Gansey for 12 hours? (Gansey? What gansey?)

Trip? Right. Eau Claire.

This was a day. A real day. I got in from the big fun Los Altos event at about 11:30, looked at my itinerary for the next day, took a deep breath, installed my patented triple alarm system, (Set alarm on clock radio, set alarm on cell phone, call downstairs for wake-up call.) and lay down on the bed in my clothes to avoid losing time to undressing. Said system worked and at FOUR AM (there are not words.) I got up and called room service to get coffee so that I would have the strength to leave. There then followed the shocking news that room service did not begin until 5:30am (I hates them.) and I recall little after that. I know I arrived at the airport. I know I checked in. I know I bought a coffee that they took away two seconds later in the security line, and I know I bought a coffee after security that they took away from me two seconds after that because the plane was boarding. I may or may not have cried on the plane when they decided not to serve drinks for the first half of the flight because the seat belt sign was on. (I may or may not have written a blog post about Jayme the-new-wonder-publicist in which I wondered at some length if she liked me.) I arrived, (delayed) I got in another car (which drove forever. It was a long way and the driver was lost.), and exactly 10 hours and 30 minutes after I got up in the morning, (plus a two hour time change) I arrived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, just in time to go right back out the door to the event. I admit that I may have been just a little, well…worn, when I got there, but my wonderful hosts at Yellow Dog Knitting (terrific spinning fibre selection at this store.) gave me coffee (right away. Brilliant.) and they brought the knitters.

Hold up your socks Eau Claire!




I had a helper too. As I stood on the stage, a wee somebody ran down the aisle and popped up next to me and helped me take sock pictures. (Kathryn has a great picture of this.) She was a charming wee soul. Charming, and the daughter of Jess. (I have an especially soft spot for toddlers that aren’t mine.)


There was Cori and her muggle husband. (Muggle not shown. He dodged the camera.)


There was Chris and Jeanne and Deb


and Meleah and Vicki were there too. (So many knitters I’ve always wanted to meet. I know these pictures are probably boring for you guys, but I have to tell you that it’s really exciting for me to meet so many knitters I read.)

Look! It’s Shelly! Remember how we all sent her all that sock yarn for her blankie? (She’s got a great post about this stop) She’s making good progress.


There was Tipper (Go look at the great sock circle the knitters had), Stephania, Roxanne, Sarah who had the sweetest overall socks…wait, here’s a picture.


Knittymama (and knittybaby, cute as a button.) Cursingmama, and the lovely and charming Cindy, bearer of a Wisconsin washcloth.


Noted for coolest giftie? Beadslut. She turned up looking like a million bucks and presented me with a poster of every knitting Olympics button she could find. Super, super, super cool.

God look at her site to see a photo. I’ll wait.


Barb. Our lovely model Barb is wearing a beautiful sweater handspun and hand knit from her very own sheep (The dearly departed Tim the sheep included.) She is accessorized with stashweasel and sock.


Dale-Harriet and her badger stuff. (It’s a Wisconsin thing. I thought Wisconsin was about cheese, but it’s badgers, or maybe badgers and cheese. Unclear.)


Joyce Williams. Yes. That Joyce Williams. People kept talking to her and using her name just like she was a real person and not a goddess. Very unusual. See the sweater she’s wearing? Take me now, it’s one of the mind boggling chart ones from her book. I am really not worthy, but there she stood.


It was the best time. Really grand, and Dixie and her team of knitters pulled it together like a dream. I’d go back in a heartbeat.


Today be Talk like a pirate day, and as we knitters steal booty from muggles whenever we can, today be ripped off for knittin like pirates. After all. A knittin needle be not so very different from a sword, and a stitch or two may be dispatched as swiftly as scurvy dogs on the poop deck.

I give ye the followin list.

De Knit like a pirate webpage. It’s got a free pattern for a fancy hat. You should make a whack of them for all yer pirate friends. (Don’t forget to hold the knife in yer teeth. It’s all about yer look and enemy pirate preparedness.)

Arrrgyle2 1

Arrgggyles. (You know I can’t resist it. If the book backs it’s filthy words of doom of of me desktop for even a moment today, then these be on my needles.) I stole the button from Julia’s Blog and you can steal if from mine. Providing you save it to yer own server. I hates bandwidth thieves. Cuts into the yarn money and makes me want to keel-haul the perpetrators.

Pirate Julia’s got a wee felted hat for pirates in trainin. (She’s a fine pirate lass.)

Avast ye! Pirates are no woosies, but dey loose body heat out of the tops of they heads in any case. Make one a We Call Them Pirates hat.

The Yarn Pirate Etsy shop. Very piratey. Got a flag an everything.

A crochet pirate. We don’t care for crochet so much. (Those hooks be useless as weapons) but I’m amused by the dollie of Jack the pirate anyhows. Arrrrr.

Yarn Pirate book. We loves it and we don’t care who knows we can read and write. Make X’s in it if you never got learnin. I be writing down the names of all the yarns that betrayed me, if I gets a book. Those ones be sorry when I write their names, the grog-snarfing privateers.

Go knit like pirates and don’t be botherin me for nothing else today. I’m writing a book.

(PS. NYC was great. )

Chop chop.

My grandparents used to say that to hurry us. “Chop, chop darling”. It means “hurry up” or “move along”. I heard it a lot. I never really wondered about the origin of the phrase until today, but was suddenly possessed of a desperate need to know after I typed it. (That’s the book deadline talking. I’m actually sort of proud of my brains ability to protect me from the truth with this remarkable denial. No matter how much book remains to be dealt with, my brain is shielding me from the horrible details by making me look stuff up. Very nice.)

I’m going to whip through this today, get all caught up and go pack for NYC this weekend. Chop chop.

1. I am an idiot.

Yesterday, I was clearly off my game. A list of errors?

Bobbie, who I said was from Wyoming, but then realized my error and changed it to Montana? She’s from Wyoming.

(The other knitters that I said were from Wyoming and then Montana? Really Montana (Although they gave me a gift that was Yellowstone stuff, so I thought it must be where Yellowstone Park is. Turns out there’s a river. (Note to self: take better notes on tour in case your laptop blows up and you have to wait so long to post that your memory fails you.) I linked the lovely Marlene to Kate’s blog. (I also linked Kate to Kate…so I guess I got one of them right.) Marlene’s correct link is here. Other than trashing the pictures and mangling the second half, did I screw anything else up? (Perennial grammatical errors excused?) Right. Moving along.

2. I still knit.

Shropshire shawl among the morning glories, which I’m loving madly, all the more for knowing that the frost will take them any day.


I’m geared to do seven repeats of the leaves on this shawl, then evaluate. If it measures my wingspan along the top edge, I’ll stop and add my lace bit along the bottom. (Still haven’t worked out how that’s going to work, but I’ll worry about that later. Maybe it will be easy.) I’m on the seventh repeat now and it’s pretty clear that seven isn’t big enough, but denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, so I’m still thinking it could work out.

The gansey? Just a taste.


I finished knitting the body up to the ends of the gussets, and now I’ve divided the work into front and back and I’m knitting flat. I’ll go into more detail later, but essentially it’s big, brown/grey and slow moving.

3. The MacBook can stay. Photoshop has to start running right though. I’m going to re-install it, and if it still doesn’t work I’m going to break the software CDs into a thousand little pieces with my teeth. I shall use pliers if I can’t get them small enough to mask my pain.

4. Los Altos was a fantastic event.


The sock and a lime. A lime growing on a tree. Outside. California is so surprising.

I admit that when I heard how many knitters Hollis at Full Thread Ahead was expecting…I got worried. More than 300 knitters? That can’t go well. I sweated all the way there. I shouldn’t have. Hollis and her team (including a concierge) had the most startlingly well put together event of all time. From Hollis running contests for the knitters who were waiting, to the kids running gopher for her, to the “Zones” for signing, (just like seating on an airplane) they seriously had it going on. To round out the whole thing, the knitters in California, together with Full Thread Ahead even raised $850 for Knitters Without Borders. Good times, good times.

The knitters?



Let’s see if I can get it right today. (Much of my handwriting from towards the end of that day is unintelligible to me. This could be tricky. Also, some of the photos are…well. Bad. I’m not posting them. If I took your picture and it’s not here? Thank me later.)

First there was Makaela.


Makaela was the first of the California knitters to give me a California washcloth. (My United States washcloth collection is really coming along.)


This is Cookie and her buddy Kristi. Together they write This Blog. Cookie is the knitter who designed the brilliant Poto-mato-whatsis socks. (She also pointed out that I didn’t finish mine. I would have felt bad, but it turns out she didn’t finish hers either! Burn.


It’s Nathania! There are two things you need to know about her. 1. It is impossible to take a bad picture of her. 2. She’s opening her own yarn shop. (That’s it baby. Live the dream.)


Louise from Minnesota who was there with Margaret.


Dee from Berkeley (Professional commenter.)


The lovely and charming Alison Hyde.


Jeni, and look Julia…she’s got ARRRGGYLES.


Emy came to show me the way of the dress Birkenstock. (Be still my beating heart. A birkie for high class events. My mother will be thrilled.) She brought her S&B, Abigail, Seltsame, more, more more.)

Esmerel and her amazing Peacock shawl…


(That one is SO on the to do list.)


This is Kathleen. See what she’s wearing? It’s her Knitting Olympics project. A beaded jacket (lined beautifully) knit out of the finest wool, the most stunning beads and wee butterflies.


To answer the inevitable question, No. She did not knit it in sixteen days. Breathe. Kathleen now admits that thinking it could be done in that amount of time was sheer folly.


Moshknits! Hostess of the podcast by the same name. A treat to meet her.

There were more. So many. Beadlizard. Jennie, Aija, Amelia

Jenipurr (travelling with a pack) Abigail, Cindy….The knitters just kept coming. (It actually seemed endless at one point.)

The Minions of The Pointy Sticks.


(Wish I’d thought of that name.)

There was Kristin (Who brought me a fabulous knitting languages book. I will be unstoppable now.) Molly, The AmpuT, There were Canadians. (The passed the test. If you are a Canadian living in the States and we meet? Ask me about the test. Americans can’t do it. It’s weird.) It wend on and on, and I have doubtless missed many knitters, but I can link no longer. I do think though, that it’s worth noting that this whole thing moves me completely.

It’s not that this many people would turn up (although that’s pretty moving) it’s that this…insanity, the sheer numbers of knitters welling up in spots like this speaks to something way cooler than a knitting book. It represents a community, and to see such a diverse crowd of people hanging out together happily, when all they have in common is knitting…It’s moving. I bet a whole bunch of these people have disparate political and religious views, different cultures, different languages, and the whole thing just works out. Nobody has ever sucker punched somebody at one of these things. We have yarn in common and I’ll be darned, it’s enough.

I’m off now, I was going to do Eau Claire before I left for NYC for tomorrows event in Brooklyn (details here) and Saturday at the Knit Out and Knitty City (That’s a stitch n’ bitch, not a talk) but I’ve run out of time. (The linking really takes it out of a knitter.) If you see me on the weekend, be gentle with me. I’m a little dodgy around the edges.

Back on the horse that threw me

My fickle heart. No more than 48 hours after the untimely death of the ibook (from which much information was retrieved, many thanks for all of the useful help yesterday) I am bonding with a brand spanking new MacBook. We are getting along ok. (That said, I am using new software to edit pictures for the blog. If anything looks funny, let me know. I have no idea if it’s working, but It looks ok to me.) I am a creature of habit, and new things frequently cause me to throw fits. I do not like being upgraded, and even if the new laptop does things faster (which it does) better (which it does) and more easily (which it does), I end up angry that it does not do things the same. I sit here, incensed with fury that the delete key is now three millimetres to the left of where it was before, ready to completely loose it all over the technology, and then notice a cool feature of the computer, forget I was angry and play with the new toy. Best feature so far? An isight is built into the frame above the lid. This mini camera lets me take pictures of anything in front of my computer, lets me video chat and has a cool little thingie called “Photobooth” where you push a button and the computer goes 3, 2, 1….and then snaps a pic. Tons of fun. and a great way to avoid writing a book that’s due in two weeks. (Ack.)

Here’s me.. with my usual post-tour exhaustion and coffee at my desk.


Here’s the shropshire shawl (bigger, isn’t it?)


Here’s a pop-art option of the shawl (the photobooth options are really endless)…


Here’s Joe kissing me goodbye….


(I am really in love with him this week. While I was gone he repainted the living room, then he put everything back in an organized fashion, and then he stepped in while I was coming completely unglued over all of the computer crap and he just made it all go. He’s the only reason I can post right now (If indeed I am posting) and it’s a wonder, considering how badly I’ve taken this whole thing, that he loves me at all.)

I may have to disable the isight, or cover it with gum or something. (Besides the continuous intrigue, the isight also gives you the disconcerting impression that your computer is watching you all the time. It probably is.)

All said, I think I’m back on track. I have my inbox mostly restored, many of my applications are back up and running, I have a stable connection to the internet, and…where was I? Right.


I flew from Oregon to Salt Lake City, where I was met by the local knit-blogger welcoming delgate, Susan. Susan whisked me briefly around the downtown where I saw The Temple


(added later: WHOO freaking HOO! Is this one working?)

And the Brides. See the Brides?


How about in this picture?


(They may be sort of implied in that one) They are everywhere. Apparently so many people come to be married at the Temple that you can see a plethora of weddings any day of the week. The place is like a bride factory. Every so often the doors open and another on spits out. It’s incredible. The grounds of Temple Square are really something too. The gardens and fountains are breathtaking. (Or that could have been the altitude. Salt Lake City is a beautiful city…but there’s just NO AIR.)

After our quick tour, Susan and I headed out and picked up Miram and Margene and we headed to one of Margene’s loveliest picture spots way up in the mountains. (Sincerely. LESS AIR.) The ladies trouped around, hiking all over the place and I gasped along behind them, mumbling things about dizziness and mountains and how there was only one thing that could possibly make this place any better than it was. Oxygen.

We found the perfect spot to photograph my Icarus Shawl with it’s designer, Miriam.


The shawl reclined on the rocks,


and a pack of wild roaming knit-bloggers were caught in the act. (Any of you non-bloggers ever wonder how we look in public? Here you go.)


A detail of the shawl.


It’s so beautiful that I can’t stop taking pictures of it and admiring it. The specs: Icarus, designed by the very talented Miram Felton, pattern found in Interweave Knits: Summer 2006. Yarn Alchemy Haiku, colourway: Chickasaw Ground, used: very nearly three skeins.


The sock did a little rock climbing, (There’s a really attractive picture of my arse that Margene took while I snapped this one.)


and as we descended from 10 000 to 4 000 feet (and I learned to appreciate what little air there was in Salt Lake City) I took photos out the windshield like any enthusiastic tourist.


(Maybe more so. I get excited.) It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I couldn’t have asked for more charming escorts. A wonderful afternoon. (I am particularly beholden to Susan, who was gracious enough to tuck a Utah peach into her bag for me in case I was starving. I was. It’s the little things that reallly make a difference when you travel this fast.)

Back down in the city I gathered myself and headed over to the spot for the event, and lo an behold. Utah knitters.




A wild bunch they are too. I’d show you more of them, but things are falling apart in MacBook land. (How do you save as a jpeg? Is this even working? What is Image Ready and why does it keep calling things funny names?) There was Marlene,


and Kate, and Judy.


(Have you seen Judy’s yarn?) and Bobbie from Wyoming Montana (I have no idea. Sorry Bobbie), and a beautiful baby. (Where the H. E. Double Hockeysticks are these images going?) and Teri and Spinderella and Suzette and Alison (who just wrote a knitting book,) and Jacquie and Gwen and Laura and Judy and Shelly and Jan who came all the way from Wyoming MONTANA (holy cow. Get it together Steph) ….


Did that one work? ( For the love of Crap. What’s a psd file? Post Screwed-up Disorder? That can’t bode well. ) I’ve had enough. It was lovely. It was wonderful, Salt Lake City is beautiful, and I owe a debt to Vonnie at The Black Sheep Wool Co. for doing such a wonderful job and I’ve got to go bash my head off a keyboard now. Hard enough to leave imprints of the letters on my forehead. (Wait. Maybe my desk. I wouldn’t want to hurt the computer.) I’ll add pictures later when the new MacBook transition isn’t quite as painful. I’ve got to figure out what my output options are. First I have to figure out what my output is. Then input it. Did I mention that I hate change?

(Added later: I think I got the pictures up. Big thanks to Su for converting the files for me. I think I’ve got it figured now.)