Friday, May 30, 2008

Laceweight update today!

I'm loading a laceweight update on Black Bunny Fibers and it should go live around noon EST. I've got several large batches of merino laceweight -- each batch has 2000 yds

which are perfect for making Laura's lovely lace stole from Knit So Fine:

I've also got some smaller batches of my regular merino laceweight (around 880 yds/100g)...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meet Laura!

A couple of you have asked me about Laura. "Who is this mysterious Laura?" you say. "I know Lisa from Rosie's and her previous books. But who is Laura?" So I bring you a special GKIYH interview with my co-author and friend, Laura Grutzeck.

CS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

LG: This question always makes me panic on job interviews. I never know what they want to hear…is it okay if I skip it?

CS: Okay. (This is going well....) Well, if you won't answer one trite interview question, then I shall ask you another. When did you learn to knit?

LG: I learned to knit when I was around 10 years old. My mother taught me. Even though she doesn’t enjoy knitting, she felt it was her duty as a mother to teach me. My grandmother loved to knit, so I guess it skipped a generation.

CS: What are your favorite yarns to knit with?

LG: Thin ones, naturally! :) I do use heavier yarns sometimes, but I seem to do a heck of a lot of knitting on size 2-4 needles. I love yarns that have some color variation, so I am a big fan of hand dyed yarns, tweedy and heathered yarns.

CS: What are your favorite needles?

LG: I like plastic needles a lot, so I use Denise and Bryspun needles when I can. I think my favorite set of needles is a set of Bryspun double pointeds in size 2. I use them all the time - I actually bought another set because I was worried I would lose a needle from the first set and never be able to replace it.

CS: What are your top 5 favorite knitting books (other than Knit So Fine!)?

LG: Barbara Walker’s Treasuries of Knitting Patterns (we will count this as one, ok?); Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book – my mother taught me to knit and purl, everything else I learned from this book. Knitting From the Top by Barbara Walker – learn to knit anything from the top down. Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop – learn to knit anything from the bottom up. A Stitch in Time: Knitting Patterns of the 20s, 30s,40s by Jane Waller – this book looks like a bunch of Xerox copies of old knitting patterns that have been bound together. There is no “reinterpretation,” just the actual patterns. It is awesome.

CS: What was your favorite part about working with me on this book?

LG: My favorite part about working with you? Hmm, that is hard to say, there are so many great things about working with you! I really enjoyed brainstorming with you and Lisa to come up with ideas for the book and the designs. It was really interesting to see the different ways we solved our “design challenges”. It was kind of like being on Project Runway, except none of us had to be eliminated, thank goodness. Also, when we were all frantically trying to finish two sweaters on size 3 needles in two weeks, it was great to be able to share the pain with you!

CS: Which of my designs from Knit So Fine are your favorites?

LG: I love the bohus sweater. I really want to knit that one.

CS: I can't decide which of your designs are my favorite. I love the lace stole, but I also love the asymmetric cardigan and the lattice cable sweater.

Who are your knitting heroes and why (present company excepted)?

LG: Aw, Carol, you know you will always be my knitting hero. I am inspired by knitters who come up with new ways of doing things, so I am in awe of Barbara Walker, Elizabeth Zimmerman, Norah Gaughan, and Debbie New.

CS: What is your favorite sock yarn?

LG: I don’t think I have a favorite, but I do seem to buy a lot of Trekking XXL and Black Bunny Fibers sock yarn.

CS: Other than GKIYH, what blogs do you enjoy reading?

LG: I usually read the blogs of people I know, so besidesGKIYH, I read the Rosie’s blog; Mindy’s ; Wendy’s; Veronik’s; and Courtney’s. I also like Kristin Nicholas’ blog a lot, because Ienvy her color skills and farm life, and you havev gotten me into Franklin .Oh, I also read Purl’s blog, the Purl Bee, because it is just so darned good-looking. If I were a blog, I would want to be the Purl Bee.

CS: Why don’t you have your own blog?

LG: I am pretty shy, and unfortunately this extends to blogging. I get anxious when I have to talk in front of a group of people, and blogging makes me feel the same way. Even answering these questions is making me kind of nervous! Also, most bloggers have all of these interesting things going on that they can photograph and write about; they raise goats, they bake, they travel, they talk to sheep, they have babies…I mainly just sit around and knit, so I don’t have much to blog about.

CS: If you could have any job in the knitting industry, what would it be and why?

LG: I think I would like to be the designer for a yarn company, although I also enjoy tech editing. I love designing, but I often do my best work when I have some limits or guidelines I have to follow, like yarn or color choices, type of garment, etc. When I am free to design whatever I want, I sometimes just doodle around and make endless swatches, or end up doing lots of theoretical knitting math. So working for a yarn company would make me more productive. Feel free to contact me, yarn companies! :)

CS: Thanks, Laura! And for my readers, in addition to KSF, Laura has designs featured in Stitch N Bitch Nation; Vogue's Ultimate Sock Book; and she has designed for Manos.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wherein I discover a new setting on my camera

The "Fireworks" one:

Happy Memorial Day to all from the photogenic Hopcyns:

On a more serious note, I send heartfelt thanks to all of the men and women who have sacrificed for our country through service in the armed forces -- and I thank their families too.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Podcast alert

A couple of days ago, I got to chat with Kathy and Steve Elkins, owner of (drumroll please) WEBS. Ah, WEBS. You can tell they are one of the all-time best places to feed your yarn addiction because their website's URL is www. YARN . com. I have always loved the way you get an automatic discount of 20 or 25% if you order over a certain amount (it's like working at a yarn shop without having to deal with pain-in-the-butt customers!). And they have the best sales. If you haven't checked out their Anniversary Sale, you still have a few days left. Amazing prices on the good stuff, like Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Cascade 220, Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (a really nice, supersoft merino) and RYC Wool/Silk (Steve put that one on sale just for me). I can safely say that Webs is one of those places that has my husband periodically saying to me "Do you think you could move some of this yarn into the garage?"

Kathy and Steve invited me to appear on the official WEBS podcast, called "Ready, Set, Knit" which you can find here. The episode I taped will be broadcast tomorrow morning (9 a.m. on station WHMP in western Massachusetts) and available for download on places like ITunes. I thank them for giving me a chance to babble on about KSF. And I hope I get to podcast with them again soon! (hint, hint)

For my Amurrican readers, have a terrific Memorial Day weekend. If you're near a computer, check back over the weekend: I'll be posting a No-Bull Book Review and also an interview with Laura Grutzeck, one of my co-authors.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Ah, the end of the school year, chock-full of end-of-the-school-year festivities. Sunday evening was Elvis' piano recital:

He played beautifully, and based on his unruffled demeanor, I think I was more nervous than he was.

The week before that was his presentation on being a veterinarian:

Meanwhile, his brother continues playing T-ball:

For those who you who got a kick out of N's teammate Daniel: This weekend, when told by the coaches that he couldn't say "Bad game, bad game, bad game" to the opposing team, he informed them solemnly that he was going to kiss each member of the opposing team instead of high-fiving them. You can imagine how well that went over.

(Fans of G., don't worry; Little Miss has her ballet recital next month, so you will get to see photos of that, no doubt.)

In other news, the lilacs bloomed

I knit a boatload of pre-emie caps:

Charcoal got glasses (no, not really; he just needs to wear them for reading):

a sweet friend knit me a beautiful pair of socks

and we got our first customer review on! And it wasn't even someone related to us!

Later this week: a No-Bull Book Review. . .

Monday, May 19, 2008

The KSF Blog Tour. . .

It amuses me to no end that I have a publicist, but nevertheless I do, and she has helped us set up a kick-ass Blog Tour to celebrate the release of Knit So Fine. Our blog tour is going to go one step beyond the usual and in addition to giving you background information about the book and designers, we're going to feature a Skinny Yarn Of The Day. Each blog post will feature one specific skinny yarn that we love and used in the book. We'll talk about the qualities of that yarn, and why we used it for the specific project we used it for, and each blogger who's hosting us will have been sent a sample skein of that yarn to play with. In other words, you'll get a mini-yarn review with each blog post.

Later this week, I'll add the blog schedule into the sidebar but I'll leave it in this post, too. You'll see some names you recognize but maybe also some you don't, so you can discover new blogs to add to your regulars. A special thanks to all of the bloggers who volunteered to host the tour, too!

Knit So Fine Blog Tour: June 2 through 15, 2008
June 2: Andrea Lyn of The Fiber Forum which covers all aspects of the fiber arts. Andrea Lyn is a crocheter, spinner and needlefelter, and some of her work is shown on her fiber arts site. She is one of the new faces that I met through the blog tour. Yay!

June 3: RosieBlogs (the blog of Rosie's Yarn Cellar), which always has something interesting to show us or entice us with. Courtney Kelley will be doing the honors for RYC in this one; Courtney is a talented designer whose patterns go by the name Smith Island Pattern Factory (gorgeous lace shawls!).

June 4: Faina of Faina’s Knitting Mode. Faina is another one of the new-to-me bloggers that I've been excited to meet through the blog tour. Faina and her co-author Dawn have a book coming out this summer called Casual Elegant Knits: Classy Designs for Men and Women so look for it in July!

June 5: Kat Coyle, fabulous designer whose work has been featured in Interweave Knits, KnitScene and more, and who recently released her kids' book Boho Baby Knits: Groovy Patterns for Cool Tots.

June 6: LynnH of ColorJoy, who is a knitter, designer, artist, singer, dancer and teacher! (Did I leave any out?) She is a prolific knitters of socks and has the distinction of having knitted her own self-portrait.

June 7: the inimitable Shannon Okey whom I met standing in a line at TNNA two years ago and who just released How To Knit In The Woods: 20 Projects for the Great Outdoors (the latest in a line of books! she must not sleep much) and who just opened a bricks-and-mortar shop called Stitch Cleveland devoted to all things crafty and cool.

June 8: DK, the Nautical Knitter, of Knit With Us, a place for knitters to find videos, podcasts, and blog posts and more... DK creates and runs the Secret of the Stole Knit-a-longs, while her husband makes it all run smoothly on the web.

June 9: the talented Connie Chang, who is on fire with all kinds of spectacular patterns in the last couple issues of Interweave Knits and other fine publications (I really like the Henley Perfected from this winter's IK).

June 10: Cristi of Turtlegirl’s Bloggy Thing -- Cristi is an amazing spinner and knitter of gorgeous things; she also has a very fun and cool blog with great photos and much merriment. I mean, where else are you going to learn all about Testicle Toss?

June 11: Rob of Threadbear Fiber Arts, who not only owns one of the coolest shops in the world that I have yet to visit (sigh) but also has designed some great patterns, like the Broadripple Socks.

June 12: Cindy, the FitterKnitter is a graphic designer and illustrator by day, and a knitter, designer, aerobics instructor and long-distance cyclist in her non-work time. (Another one who doesn't sleep much, eh?) Another new blogger I've met.

June 13: Véronik Avery -- oh yes, we all know about my long-time crush on Vévé, designer extraordinaire and all-around cool Canadienne. We all know by now how much I lerve her book,
Knitting Classic Style, her husband, her design sensibility, her latest Knitty pattern (Lace Ribbon Scarf), her adorable daughter, her kittehs, basically everything about her... and she has a gorgeous website and blog, too.

June 14: Franklin Habit -- Franklin who? Hah! Another object of my stalker-love, this tremendously talented and charming illustrator, raconteur and sheep-handler is releasing his fan-tabulous book of essays and cartoons this fall: It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons. Rumor has it that Dolores may poke her head into the interview so I can serve her with my small-claims court complaint to spice things up.

June 15: Myra & Suzie of Woolbearers, a knitting shop in Mt. Holly, NJ, which is on my list of places to visit this summer, since it's not that far away. . and it looks lovely from the website! In fact, I am going to be in Mt. Laurel this Saturday -- hmmmm.

So there you have it: 14 stops in 14 days, full of yarn reviews, inside stories, and more. . .

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Let's enjoy this moment of repulsiveness, shall we?

Today I read something so offensive, so repulsive that I cannot stop myself from posting about it. George W. Bush said in an interview this week that in honor of the over 4,000 American soldiers who have died in Iraq, he has given up golf. Sez Dubya: "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Here are some other things Bush could have done to honor the troops who have died in Iraq:

  • Made a large donation to the USO or another charity that directly benefits veterans;
  • Admitted that it was a mistake to go into Iraq;
  • Stopped lying about current conditions in Iraq and how well we are supposedly doing;
  • Appointed an independent counsel to probe the conduct of military contractors making lots of money off the Iraq war while soldiers went without body armor, armored vehicles and such;
  • Implemented a new policy of providing prompt and truthful data to families of solders who have died in Iraq, rather than lying about how they died if it's deemed "embarrassing" to the Bush administration (see, e.g., Pat Tillman);
  • Gone to every funeral of every soldier who died in Iraq. Too time-consuming? Okay, how about going to every other one? Every one in ten? More than one or two?
  • Met with every family of every soldier who died in Iraq, looked them in the eye and explained exactly why he sent their loved one to die;
  • Stopped censoring the flow of information, such as photographs of the coffins of Iraq war casualties as they arrive back in the United States;
  • Fixed whatever the hell is wrong with the Veteran's Administration, Walter Reed and so on, thus ensuring that our soldiers get the compassion and care they deserve after putting their lives on the line for us. This includes discontinuing the shady practice of dismissing Iraq vets based on "personality disorder discharges," which result in the vets losing benefits.
  • Done his best to ensure passage of the new GI Bill.
  • Ended this misbegotten war, ensuring that no more soldiers die or are injured in vain.

Me, I wish Dubya would go back to playing golf. It'd keep him out of the Oval Office and too busy to continue his wholesale destruction of the country and constitution that I love.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wander on over to Joe's

to read a quickie author interview that he did, wonderful pal that he is, with yours truly. The blog tour will burst into high gear in June; more details soon.

I am currently recovering from the Mother's Day festivities of a trip to see the play Go Dog, Go, which was at the Arden Theatre, followed by a visit to a Japanese restaurant. At the restaurant, I received an unexpected Mother's Day present: Elvis tried no less than 6 new foods (including green tea, fried dumplings, and teriyaki chicken) -- and wonder of wonders, there was no projectile vomiting.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mixed bag

Today is one of those posts where I try to mention all sorts of unrelated things, a kind of mental housekeeping. But I tried to put in some pretty fiber-y pictures (and a kute kid shot), so you won't get bored.


I just discovered that Franklin's book, It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Yay! My copy is pre-ordered, I assure you. Franklin's cartoons are wonderful and he is a superb writer. I feel very strongly that this book is going to be this fall's Next Big Thing. Someday, our house will have a plaque on it that says "Dolores slept here." (Although after her recent visit, there are quite a few houses on the Main Line that could display that plaque...)


Between yesterday and today, it's been wind, wind, wind. (Um, that would be wind with a long-i sound. Not windy at all here.) I just mailed the last shipment of my four-month BBF Sock Club and it's been amazingly fun. These are some of the skeins that were mailed:

I lucked out with an extremely great group, and I hope most or all of them will want to continue on with the Club. . .

Today there's a BBF update featuring some lighter yarns for spring. I've got merino/tencel sock yarn, some of which are here:

and three batches of 50% wool/50% silk, designed with the Clapotis in mind. (You can see Liz's gorgeous Clapotis here. Her photos rock, too.) This is the same yarn she used, in the same amount, but in different colorways.

There'll also be some Norwegian roving (a sturdier fleece, good for socks or outdoorwear). So stop by midday and see what Charcoal and I have cooked up for you.


Thank you for all of your kind words about Knit So Fine: Designs with Skinny Yarn! I was excited to see that we've cracked the Top Ten on Amazon's Knitting Books list. We are going to be doing a really cool blog tour in June. I'll post the schedule with links in a few days -- we're still ironing out a few details -- but my co-authors and I will be doing guest posts on other people's blogs to talk about the book. In particular, we're going to talk about specific skinny yarns we love -- the ones we chose to use in the book. So you'll get to hear about specific projects and read some mini-yarn reviews, as the bloggers hosting us will get sample skeins of the same yarns we used so they can swatch and give us their opinions.

We're also going to have a KSF Knitalong; the website is being set up even as we speak by our awesome publicist (I know, can you believe it? I have a publicist!) so I'll give you the link as soon as it's ready.

In the meantime, Joe is going to do a very special episode of Blossom his blog on Monday featuring an interview with yours truly. Rest assured, the questions will have a Steven Colbert-like flair to them...


April's book report: Let's see, Tudor-ama continued, as I read most of Mary Queen of Scotland & The Isles: A Novel by Margaret George. I got really interested in Mary, and although I knew what was going to happen to her at the end, I had to stop reading before I reached the end because I, um, got kind of attached to her. (Am I a complete whackjob or what?).

I opted out of the Tudor thing in order to read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which had a Gothic but timeless quality reminiscent of books like Rebecca and Jane Eyre. I enjoyed that one a lot. I also read The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters (my clever and talented friend Selma recommended Minette Walters to me) which was a mystery set in present-day London; it wasn't as good as the Setterfield one.

One Final Observation

If you've never heard an auditorium full of ten-year-old kids play "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" on kazoos (in harmony, no less), you just haven't lived.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another memorial

Imagine that you were a woman in Virginia in the 1950s and you were lucky enough to find the guy you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. And imagine he felt the same way, so you got married. And then a couple of weeks later, while you were home asleep, the local sheriff and some deputies pounded on your door and arrested both of you because you happened to be African-American and your husband happened to be white.

That's what happened to Mildred Loving in 1958. She and her then-fiance had gone to Washington, D.C. to get married, since Virginia law didn't permit it. But Virginia had what was called a Racial Integrity Act which prohibited marriages between members of different races and refused to recognize otherwise valid marriages between interracial couples even if they were performed in another state. The Lovings got suspended jail sentences and left Virginia; their plea agreements required them to leave the commonwealth of Virginia and not return for twenty-five years. Later on, the Lovings came to miss their home state and decided to return. Inspired by the hope of the civil rights movement, they decided to fight Virginia's statute. There were a number of legal issues (what you'd call "technicalities") and when their lawyers tried to explain some of the legal theories to the Lovings, Mr. Loving said, "[T]ell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

The Lovings prevailed; in 1967, the Supreme Court struck down the so-called "miscegenation" laws that prohibited interracial marriages. What was at stake wasn't just recognition by the government; it was also issues like inheritance, legitimacy, and death benefits. Laws like the Virginia one made interracial marriages void, meaning it was as if they never took place, and thus prevented children from inheriting by considering them illegitimate, and so on.

Mrs. Loving died this week. She was one of those ordinary Americans who rises to a challenge and perhaps unexpectedly finds that she's changed our country. A year ago, Mrs. Loving issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision urging states to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

In a brutal touch of irony, I read in the paper today that the Pennsylvania Senate may vote this week on an amendment to the state constitution outlawing gay marriage and civil unions. It's hard for me to understand why Mr. Loving's poignant question doesn't apply to gays and lesbians as well: if you love your spouse, isn't unfair for the state to stop you from living together as a married couple?

Rest in peace, Mrs. Loving. I hope your legacy lives on.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Maryland

Wow, there's still so much more to remember about yesterday's Md. Sheep & Wool trip.
First, look at this gorgeous photo of some of Anne Marie's SnB-ers:

Although this photo certainly does suggest that being gorgeous is a prerequisite to membership, I assure you that's not the case, or they'd never let me come! That's Aileen; Ann and Liz of Crossroads Knits ; and Sally of The Frog and the Daisy. I admired Liz's new skirt that she just finished in time for the show.

And I saw this wild skirt from across the midway:

along with Clapotises, lots of lovely lace, and a variety of great sweaters.

I got to meet Swatchy (hi, Knittah! we missed you!):

Swatchy is being held by excellent BBF customer Karen, who was the official Swatchy tour guide.
We briefly watched some of the sheepdog exhibitions:

Then we tried a find a bunny who was cuter than Charcoal; we failed, but these two guys gave it their best:

The prizewinners' exhibit had, in addition to the aforementioned Sweet-N-Low yarn, lots and lots of items that were felted and/or embellished with felted trim

There were several gorgeous pairs of mittens done with stranded work, like these:

and some lovely sweaters, too:

and lots of lace:

We saw the extremely cute Clyde, Courtney and Max's tyke (this baby has the most incredible knitted wardrobe - but what do you expect, with two parents who knit and one of whom runs a yarn shop).

Did I mention there were sheep?

( I tried to slip this guy Dolores' phone number but, alas, he'd been fixed.)

At the end of the afternoon, we stopped for a moment, while Jen tried to figure out what we were forgetting:

Ah yes, a trip to the Socks That Rock booth (after the line was gone).

and this sweet find:

My only regret is that I didn't spend more time with Mindy. (EDITED TO CLARIFY THAT MINDY IS NOT A SHEEP! Gah. Here is her blog. See? Sheep can't blog. Except Dolores, and she's the exception to every rule.)


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Maryland Report: quick & dirty

Quick and dirty is a good way to describe my trip to Maryland since I drove down with my co-author Laura and kick-ass lace knitter and tat diva Jen, and they have quick wits AND dirty mouths. In other words, it was hilarious.

The day started out overcast and kind of cool, but by the afternoon, the sun came out and it got warm. In the morning I bought my first fleece (and my second, too) and handed them over for processing into roving. If all goes well, I shall have some Rambouillet and some Romney rovings for sale at BBF later in the summer.

The festival seemed less crowded in the morning and late afternoon, but really crowded midday. The Socks That Rock line again was lo-o-o-ng, stretching out for quite a ways out the door of the building and into the midway. Although the Koigu ladies, alas, did not come, there was a mini-frenzy as Koigu millends were available at another booth.

I ran into many, many wonderful people, like Knitty D and her mom (Knitty D, I want your mom's address so I can send her something, 'kay?)

and Knitty D and Alison:

and once I got Knitty D to move out of the viewfinder of my camera, I met some blogreaders, like Anne from NJ and Alerievay, and BJ the M&M lady who ROCKS.

The Ravelry get-together was huge:

but I got to meet Noel and see Joann again:

and I also got to meet Turtlegirl and her amazing vest, but forgot to take a photo of her. (She's rather beautiful, so it's a shame I didn't get a picture.)

I saw unique objets d'art like this spinning wheel chair

and what appeared to be felted fetus, which I confess that I found rather disturbing even though it was masterfully done,

and I saw way more of this sheep's personal parts than I cared to,

and some inexplicably-clad guy dressed like, um, a guy in a sampan hat,

and some handspun that incorporated shredded Sweet-N-Low bags:

And now I am exhausted, and must go to sleep, and dream about my excellent day. More tomorrow. . .