Friday, January 30, 2009

The rest of the Chicago update

Yes, yes, I am terribly behind, but here is the story of the rest of my weekend in Chicago...

We woke up bright and early on Saturday to a shockingly warm day (it was at least ten degrees above zero). After a delightful breakfast, we jumped on the El (where we spotted some cool knitwear)

and found ourselves at the Art Institute.

Now I hear tell there's some big painting by a French fellow who was enamored of polka dots,

but I was transfixed by the exhibit of miniature rooms (the Thorne miniatures) which so cleverly and so minutely display the history of interior design from the 17th century through the twentieth:

All at the scale of one foot = one inch. (I had to include the above room, even though the photo isn't the greatest, because it included a spinning wheel, complete with fluff.)

Then we drank deeply of the paintings (yeah, yeah, I love the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, so sue me for being conventional):

There was plenty more eye-candy at the Institute and Franklin makes a marvelous tour guide.

Then we were off to Loopy Yarns, for a party in honor of President Obama, during which we sorted and counted chemo caps that Knitters for Obama knit and crocheted in honor of the President's late grandmother.

The caps were given to the University of Chicago cancer unit for their patients.

We continued on through Chicago, seeing sights like the water tower,

and finished with a visit to the American Girl flagship store, so I could take some photos and pick up a little something for Miss Thang.

I was shocked to see that there was a beauty parlor for the dolls

and a cafe and doll hospital and all sorts of things designed to charm the heart of an American Girl doll owner, (including this weirdo guy who made funny faces at the dolls).

Somewhere along the way we went by Wrigley

(I expected there to be free Doublemint in baskets by the gate or something, but no, this is just a myth) and we had a lovely dinner with Minjo and VeryBadDogs (from Ravelry) at an Asian restaurant that was way too cool for school (it was so cool we weren't sure they'd seat us since they made clear to us that we just weren't achieving their level of coolness). Then Franklin and I knat, and he even finished his gorgeous twisted-stitch hat

and we went to sleep and had brunch in the morning with more Rav-friends, and then I was off to the airport and back to Philadelphia. Phew. I was left with so many wonderful images in my head:

Now, of course I know some of you (Anne Marie from Philly) will want to know what, er, transpired between Dolores and me. I shall tell you only this; when I arrived, this:

was waiting for me on my bed. As for the rest? Well, gentle readers, Chicago is like Las Vegas in one important respect: What happens there, stays there.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Football widow? Come meet me in Mt. Holly, NJ

I am excited to announce my next booksigning will be this coming Sunday, Feb. 1st (yes, Superbowl Sunday, the Eagles aren't in it, so get over it) beginning around noon, at Woolbearers, in Mount Holly, NJ. I've never been there, but I've wanted to go ever since Myra and Suzie participated in our Knit So Fine blog tour last year. (Check out the yarns list on their website: Kauni, Manos, Malabrigo, Frog Tree, Rowan, Nashua and more...) To celebrate Super Bowl Sunday, Woolbearers is having a big sale from 11 to 4 so now you have another reason to come see me! I will be bringing a trunk show of sample socks from the book so you can see what they look like in real life.

I know that I'm behind on almost everything: organizing new yarn and fiber clubs, blogposts, and so many more things so be patient if you are waiting to hear from me... Today is a snow day (actually more of an "ice day") so I've got the troops to entertain.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A great time was had by all

I had a wonderful afternoon yesterday at Loop. Tom and the kids dropped me off, and then went off

photo by Elvis

for lunch and haircuts (for N. and Elvis).

photo by Elvis

In the meantime, I was left to peruse the yarn

photo by Elvis

photo by Elvis -- Noro -- see? I trained him well

photo by Elvis

I brought some BBF yarn with me, and it was artfully arranged:

photo by Elvis

Then the fun started.

So many great pals showed up! Like Anne Marie from Philly, the leader of Norristown's most kick-ass S-n-B group:

She wore her Dolores shirt in honor of my recent trip to Chicago...

And Linda, who was working on a terrific sock from the book:

and lervely Bridget and Laura:

and Ed, and Jim, and my other Laura (and her beautiful M-I-L) and Aileen and Eileen and Bridget's former boss (God bless Beth, she put up with Bridget for 5 years and lived to tell the tale) and Madame X. (just in case you are on the down low) and JoAnn and Sherry and I'm forgetting the rest! And I made new friends, too. Update: like Elinor! who is a blog-reader and now I got to meet her in person!

The socks from the book arrived and were available for perusal (it was the first time I saw them all together in real life in one spot!)

and then Tom and the kids returned:

N. guarded the lollipops so that nothing untoward happened to them:

and Little Miss was, as always, adorable:

and Craig was charming and a perfect host, too!

Thank you to everyone who came by to say hello and a huge thank-you to Craig and his staff for offering to host me and asking me to bring BBF yarn!

I was feeling the love, just like old times....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meet me on Sunday in Philly at Loop!!

Don't forget: I will be doing a booksigning at Loop in Philadelphia, this Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m. Come and say hi! I'm especially looking forward to seeing some of my knitting friends that I don't get to see nearly often enough. In addition to the booksigning, and the gorgeous inventory Loop has, I will be bringing Superwash Merino Classic and Wool/Nylon Tight Twist sock yarns, so you can snag a skein or two to knit up some of the book patterns with. I'll also be bringing some laceweight merino, too.

You can also take a peek at the newest edition of KnitScene, in which two patterns of mine appear. This is the Stacked Rib Cardi:

and this is the Rainbow Yoke Sweater (great way to use up oddballs of Kureyon):

Both are fairly easy and quick knits but still a lot of fun!

(Also a shout-out to Courtney and Kate for appearing in a great article about their new venture, Kelbourne Woolens!)

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chicago recap, part I

Well, I survived my airplane flight to Chicago and arrived at O'Hare to find this welcoming committee:

Ha ha, just kidding, the lovely Kristen Rengren met me at baggage claim (the brass band didn't make it through the security checkpoint):

and was kind enough to drive me chez Franklin. (Don't forget: Kristen's beautiful book, Vintage Baby Knits: More Than 40 Heirloom Patterns from the 1920s to the 1950s is available for pre-order, and having seen some of the garments and photos, I can assure you it's a beaut!).

Of Franklin's lovely home I shall say only that I have never before stayed with someone who owned a bust of Queen Victoria:

His hospitality, warmth and companionability are truly unequalled.

Our next stop was equally thrilling for me: a visit to the studio of Lorna's Laces. The folks at Lorna's could not have been nicer or more friendly, and being surrounded by skein after skein of their gorgeous yarn was an unbelievable experience.

Then it was off to Loopy Yarns.

Now, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Loopy Yarns is really rather an amazing yarn store. First of all, they have EVERY COLOR of Cascade 220 in stock. Don't believe me? Look:

They also have just about every color of Lorna's Laces imaginable, in every weight. The only reason I didn't buy $500 worth of Lorna's was because there were too many great colorways to choose from, though I did get 2 skeins of Shepherd Sock in Amy's Vintage Office. And a skein of worsted in one of the new colorways. I also snagged a skein of Malabrigo sock yarn (perfect for the Goldengrove socks from KSWHY) and a skein of Misti Alpaca sock yarn. And if that weren't enough, Loopy has a huge wall of Koigu, lots of Berroco, Artyarns, Hand Maiden/Fleece Artist, and tons of other great stuff. Loopy is so awesome that they even have their own library of books, which is truly wonderful, since many shops just don't have the space to stock books.

Plus, Loopy has a second floor. It is rare that you actually come across a yarn shop (especially in an urban area, where rent is so high) that has TWO FLOORS.

They very kindly wrote my name on the big blackboard:

and the booksigning went extremely well. Meg, and Heather, and Stephen (don't tell Tom, but I think I have a tiny crush on Stephen, you know, in a knitterly, cougarly but entirely platonic kind of way)

made me feel welcome and were just plain phenomenal. Thank you to Loopy and everyone who braved the subzero windchill to say hi!

Today I have a kid with strep at home, so I'll sign off here, but I will continue the Chicago recap tomorrow...

P.S. In order to conserve space, I borrowed the teeny tiny digital camera that Elvis got from Santa this year. I don't know how to use it as well as my own, but hey, it still takes pretty decent photos for something the size of a business card!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Sometimes someone else says something so eloquently, so perfectly, that you just have to quote them. This is from Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop who gave this invocation at an Inauguration event over the weekend:

Before this celebration begins, please join me in pausing for a moment to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

Oh God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears, tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die a day from malnutrition, malaria and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants; women, people of color; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy simplistic answers we prefer to hear from our politicians instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed any time soon and the understanding that our next president is a human being, not a messiah. Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the ways we care for the most vulnerable. And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office fo the president of the United States. Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady calm captain. Give him stirring words, we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color blind reminding him of his own words that under his leadership there will be neither red nor blue states but a United States. Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods. And please God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents and we’re asking far too much of this one, we implore you, oh good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand that he might do the work that we have called him to do. That he might find joy in this impossible calling and that, in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Monday, January 19, 2009


I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.

--- Harriet Tubman

The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

--- Rosa Parks

...[H]e would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to othes, deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

--- Abraham Lincoln

I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.

-- Jackie Robinson

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

--- Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

--- Barack Obama

Friday, January 16, 2009

We interrupt this anxiety attack...

(I'm afraid to fly. Really afraid to fly.) to show you this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Meet me in Chicago...

Don't forget, I'll be signing my books at Loopy Yarns in Chicago this weekend (Friday beginning at 6 pm and Saturday beginning at 1 pm). I am ecstatic to say that I will be spending time with my dear friend, world-famous author, cartoonist, and general bon vivant Franklin Habit. Yay! And I am looking forward to meeting some of the folks from the Knitters for Obama group on Ravelry, too. (Speaking of K for O, our latest philanthropic knitting project even got a mention in USA Today.)

Now I'm off to find the absolute warmest clothing I own...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it too late for this?

You know how I love my grand retrospectives of The Year That Was: Knitting Edition. Okay, it's technically January 12, and we're supposed to be all about looking forward and suchlike, but perhaps you can indulge me as I begin my look forward by looking backward.

2008 was a wild and tumultuous year in many respects. As the year wore on, the economy -- specifically, its worsening state -- seemed to be on everyone's mind. I don't have access to any industry statistics, but from where I sit, the staggering economy did have a noticeable effect on the knitting world. It seemed to me that knitters cut back on their spending, looking to use the stash of unknit yarns they already had. Even at fiber festivals, it seemed to me that knitters were buying more selectively than in years past, while paying closer attention to budgets and price point. By the end of the year, it was easier to find sales and discounts (a free shipping offer from WEBS in December?!) and even vendors who traditionally sell out quickly seemed to have more inventory on hand for longer time periods.

It was a transitional year for many of the big magazines, too. Eunny Jang -- named editor of Interweave Knits in mid-2007 -- began producing issues that were hers from beginning to end, with some alterations in IK's style. Even the models changed; no more Pam Allen's daughter or the Little Redheaded Girl. In December, Kim Werker -- who had such a positive impact on Interweave Crochet -- left her job as IC editor and sold her website, Crochet Me, to the Interweave family of companies. Marcy Smith, a lifelong crocheter and newspaper editor, will succeed Werker. (I don't know Marcy but I look forward to meeting her. And Marcy, give us lots of Kathy Merrick patterns, 'kay?) I found myself increasingly enamored of VogueKnitting (more lace! some ethnic-influenced patterns! more wearable stuff!), perhaps due to the continued influence of Vegamite-lover and knit-goddess Tricia Malcolm. Knit.1 got a retooling, with Tanis Gray and Faith Hale replacing Adina Kline, and looking less trendy and "out there" than in years past. In the meantime, KnitScene, in the capable hands of Lisa Shroyer, quietly added depth to its array of easy-yet-stylish patterns for less experienced knitters. Finally, the inimitable Shannon Okey was named editor of UK magazine Yarn Forward; it will be fascinating to see Shannon's influence develop on that publication.

Print magazines faced even more competition from a batch of new online knitting magazines and pattern delivery options. The two nearest and dearest to my heart (in alphabetical order) are Knotions and TwistCollective. Knotions has the slogan "Knit smarter," and Jody Pirrello (I'll 'fess up -- she's a friend) helps you do that with cool free patterns (from designers you know, like Grumperina & Phoenix Bess, as well as some new and talented folks), technical content (like tutorials on short-row bust shaping) and book and product reviews (some book reviews are written by me). TwistCollective adopts a completely different business model: patterns are sold individually via download. TwistCollective splits the proceeds with designers in exchange for providing space on its gorgeously styled & photographed site. With Kate Gilbert as Creative Director, and designers like Gilbert, Norah Gaughan, Veronik Avery, Fiona Ellis, Pam Allen, Cookie A and so many more, you'll find plenty of goodies to choose from -- and Gilbert's emphasis on treating designers fairly is a joy to behold.

But wait: there are even more choices for the discerning knitter. Metapostmodernknitting is aimed at "fashion-forward and avant-garde knitting"; Popknits takes a new look at vintage knitting; Crochet Uncut is the "official unofficial magazine of the Crochet Liberation Front"; The Inside Loop bills itself as "Dedicated to Fibre Arts in the United Kingdom"; K1C2 presented us with WhoKnits, to present articles about "people who share a common love: knitting"; and I bet you've heard of more that I am not familiar with. All of these offer free patterns and generate operating income from advertising sales.

Competition for on-line pattern sales also increased via Ravelry's on-line PDF service, which was up and running (at quite a clip, it appears) in 2008. We also greeted Patternfish, an on-line compendium of patterns available for paid download; Patternfish was designed to provide a platform for designers to sell PDFs of their patterns with no editorial content or standardizing, just a way to browse through patterns and download whichever ones you want. Participating designers include Cabin Fever, Lucy Neatby, Classic Elite, Nashua Handknits, Heartstrings Fiber Arts, Reynolds and many others (over 2000 patterns were available at the time of this writing).

Stitch Cooperative, run by Shannon Okey, is yet another business model: it allows bricks-and-mortar shops to order a selection of patterns from indie designers in one fell swoop, without individual orders, invoicing and shipping. Designers like Jillian Moreno, Stefanie Japel, Robyn Chachula and Kristi Porter are on-board for Stitch Cooperative, making it an interesting way for the local yarn shop to compete with the ubiquitous Internet.

As always, I'm curious to hear what you think about the above developments of '08.

Next stop on my retrospective of the Knitting Year That Was will be ones, discontinued ones, and all those changes at your favorite yarn companies.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hear me, see me, meet me

I've been slacking off lately, eh?

Well, since last I blogged, I had the pleasure of podcasting with Kathy Elkins, the WEBS lady, who I dearly, dearly love (as well as her foxy husband Steve) and the show will go out Saturday morning; you can download it for free from I-Tunes, too.

I am pleased to report that I will be in Chicago next weekend (yes, I know it's TNNA in San Diego, but I'm skipping this TNNA so I can afford to go to the June one) celebrating the Inauguration a bit prematurely with my darling Franklin and also the Knitters for Obama group from Ravelry. If you live in the Chicago area, please come and meet me and get your books signed at Loopy Yarns:

  • Friday, January 16th, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 7th, from 1 to 3 p.m.
And the week after that, I'll be signing books at Loop in Philadelphia, on Sunday, January 25th, from 1 to 4 p.m. I'm hoping Jody Pirrello will be there, too, since she designed the kick-ass Chevvy socks that are on the cover of KSWHY.

I promise I'll post some real posts soon...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy birthday, Elvis!

The big 1-1 -- and may you have many, many more!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Charcoal sez:

"I can't wait 'til those kids go back to school. It's impossible for a bunneh to get his rest with them running all over the place. I disapprove."