Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Bun-Day!

My husband, with his Rain-man like capacity to remember dates, reminded me that today is Charcoal's birthday.

Here is Charcoal's cake (being that he is a vegetarian/vegan, we picked out one that the other members of the family will enjoy):

He sat in Tom's arms while we sang to him,

then adjourned to his pen for some edible flowers, organic Belgian endive and a scoop of fragrant botanical grass hay.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's official

My oldest kid is a knitter.

I had tried to teach him a few times in the past, but this summer, one of his day camps featured classes in Fiber Arts. He learned how to knit and purl, and used some of my leftover yarn to practice. I was shocked by how quickly he became comfortable with the motion and by how even his stitches are. He whizzed through a washcloth (see how diabolical I am? extra incentive to actually use the washcloth while bathing), not even batting an eyelash at the garter stitch edging, and started a hat:

This is some yarn I dyed and he asked if he could use it. The hat is nearly ready for the decreases and I have no doubt he'll manage those easily. I'm trying to convince him to go halvies with me on a sweater for him: I'll do the front and back if he does the sleeves...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Overheard in my car this morning

My mom: Did you hear about that teacher?

Me: What teacher?

My mom: The one who they found in the river.

Me: Where? in Wilkes-Barre?

My mom: No, in New York.

Me: Oh. No, I try not to read too much about local crime that they put on the national news. I think it creates a climate of fear that isn't good for people.

My mom: You're right. It's terrible to hear about. It's because those news channels have all that time to fill up. So this teacher disappeared in August and they kept seeing her different places, then they saw her floating in the river so they sent a tugboat out to rescue her. She's still alive.

Me: Sad. She is probably mentally ill and needed care. Like I said, I try not to read too much about crime stories like that. It's not really related to anything around here, and I don't like wallowing in the creepy stuff.

My mom: Yes, you're right. Oh, my heart goes out to that baby.

Me: (smacking self on head) What baby?

My mom: That Anthony baby.

Me: Huh?

My mom: You know, they think the mother did something to the 3 yr old daughter ---

Me: I don't think I want to hear any more about that.

My mom: It's somewhere in the south. North Carolina maybe?

Me: (SIGH.)

I love her dearly, but she's driving me crazy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Knice Knitters

Watching what's going on in Texas and other hurricane-ravaged parts is very upsetting. Chrissy Gardiner, of Gardiner Yarn Works, has created this lovely sock pattern, called Hurricane Socks:

with the proceeds being donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund (through Oct. 15th). You can buy the pattern here. It's a very generous gesture for a very good cause!

Another knice knitter is Dr. Mel, who is coordinating donations via his Raffle for the Critters. Make a donation to the Center for Wildlife, a Maine shelter that helps sick and injured wildlife, caring for them until they are able to be released back into the wild -- and in addition to knowing you did a good thing, you'll be able to enter a raffle for some goodies from Mel's stash (and a skein of BBF sock yarn....). Another generous knitter lending a hand.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kitteh-topia (or Bridget C. is a big, fat liar)

I've been feeling my lack of kittehs deeply lately. It might have something to do with Mindy's little CJ or the Amputeehee's Ganja or whatever the hell her kid named it, and I'm sure it has something to do with stress.

Luckily, Bridget had invited me over for lunch today. She had been threatening me via email bugging me sweetly inviting me for a while now, and we finally found a date that worked for both of us.

Bridget sets out a really nice lunch table: four (4!) kinds of cheese, homebaked bread (Tim rocks), and all sorts of other delicacies, including freshly-baked brownies. Also real ice tea with real lemon. And we laughed and had a great time, yada, yada, yada.

But I really went over for a dose of kitteh therapeh.

There's Tess, who's a little old lady (did you know that "senile felines" is a palindrome?):

and friendly and playful Jetsam:

and then there's the matter of Garden Kitty. Now I think that the poor cat should have a real name instead of an adjective and a noun, but whatever. According to Bridget, this cat is terrified of strangers, hides under furniture when guests come, quakes and will never let new people pet him.

I don't know what kind of airplane glue Bridget's been sniffing, because this kitteh was perfectly sweet and friendly, and as you can see, quite willing to let me pet him and take his picture.




Does that look like a scared kitteh to you??

Monday, September 08, 2008

Updates (or today, it's all about ME)

Listen to me

You can hear my mellifluous voice on the WEBS podcast from this past Saturday; it's downloadable from this link or via I-Tunes. Kathy and I have a great time doing these and we talked about some of the things we were looking forward to in the knitting world this fall.

Read me

I'm also pleased to announce that I have become a staff member of Knotions, the new on-line knitting magazine, and one of my first regular jobs will be to do monthly book reviews. If you haven't discovered Knotions yet, the link is here. I'm waiting for my first review book to arrive. . .

Knit with my yarn

Today is a long overdue update to Black Bunny Fibers, featuring some limited edition yarns (meaning I can't rely on being able to get the base yarn again). One is a sportweight 100% Blue Faced Leicester, each skein about 167 yds/50g:

and the other is a cashmerino blend (80% superwash merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon); each skein is 113 yds/50g, so we're talking worsted to DK weight. I'm told 2 skeins will make a decent-sized pair of socks given the gauge, but this would also be nice for fingerless gloves or mittens.

Stop by Black Bunny Fibers around 2 p.m. EST if you're interested. I'm trying diligently to get caught up with my BBF stuff -- I'm working on shipments for the various clubs and general restocking of the store.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Blog Tour: Casual Elegant Knits, by Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman

Today I'm pleased to be hosting a blog tour for the new book Casual Elegant Knits: Classy Designs for Men and Women by Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman (Martingale 2008; MSRP $29.95 but available for 19.77 by following that link).

A little background on the book: Casual Elegant Knits is a collection of 24 patterns for men and women. In their introduction, Dawn and Faina explain:
There is something for everyone in this book; the majority of patterns are written for several sizes and many of the designs are unisex. ... We have always admired fashionable knitwear for both genders, complemented by unique accessories.
The patterns are organized into three "stories" or collections:
  • City Life shows pieces knit in red, gray and black, giving the knitter a feel for how to combine some of the projects either with existing items from one's wardrobe (the gray and black pieces are neutral enough to go with lots of different styles, and the red items provide of a shot of color for the neutrals you may already own). The patterns include a tunic with elongated cowl-type neckline; a funnel neck sleeveless shell; a skirt with pleats at the hem; three bags; two berets; two scarves; and a men's/unisex sweater.
  • Elegant Afternoon contains pieces knit in sage green, purple, and brown, including a silk tank, a more tailored skirt, a scalloped-edge purse, a shawl, a bag, a driver's cap, and a textured polo. These designs have a more relaxed feel than the City Life designs; think Saturday afternoon rather than on the train to work.
  • Gotta Have It is all accessories: a flapper-inspired hat, a beanie with button-up brim, a lacy scarf, a cabled scarf, sheer gauntlets and fingerless gloves.
CEK is a paperback book, approximately 96 pages, all in color, and one thing I noticed was that the book has a lot of big photographs of each item, from different angles, which is always helpful in a knitting pattern book. Another interesting aspect about the photography/styling was that instead of showing each piece by itself, with clothing or accessories that a stylist has selected, the photos throughout the book show different combinations of the patterns in the book. For example, in the Elegant Afternoon section, we see the tank top featured by itself; it is being worn with the skirt; it's worn again with the shawl over it; and with the scalloped bag. If you'd like to combine pieces, this gives you a better feel for what they'll look like together.

The size ranges vary but are extensive. For example, the tunic top goes from a finished bust of 34.5 to 49.75 inches; the Tweed Polo from 37 to 52 inches finished bust (it's shown on a male model but I think knit in a smaller size with less ease, it would look cute on a woman, too); the Tailored Skirt goes from finished hip measurement of 35.5 to 55 inches. The accessories tend to be one size fits all.

So with that background in mind, let's chat with the authors.

FG: Carol, thank you very much for having us here today. We appreciate the chance to share with people about our new book. As you know, we have included 24 projects in this book. Each of our three collections includes designs for both men and women.

CS: Since I am always interested in the creative process, tell me what inspired you to design these projects.

FG: Well, the main inspiration for us was coming from knowing what it feels like to live in a big city, work, and still want to catch a movie or meet a friend at a nice restaurant. There is no time to go home and change. Your clothes must be suitable for all the activities. That was our driving force. I strongly believe that we have achieved our goal. The “City Life” collection, for example, consists of stylish, classic-line garments that could be dressed up with the necklace or silk scarf, or dressed down as it is featured on the book cover. For our “Elegant Afternoon” collection we envisioned a restful and pleasant time off work. You can think of going to a museum or a theater, strolling along the river embankment or in the park. The garments for this collection are lighter and more colorful, ready for your mood. The “Gotta Have It” section is exactly that. We offer six fun-to-make accessories that are small gratifying projects for any knitter and are great for gifts.

We did have an incredibly good time designing for this book.

CS: Can we talk about a particular design? Let’s take for example, Watercolor Shawl. I understand that, Dawn, you designed it.

DL: You're right, Carol. This is one of my designs. I designed this shawl before our book project. I find myself drawn to hand-painted yarns, especially rayon and silks. They show the color beautifully and it is fun to work with such yarns. When I came across this particular yarn (Gelato from Fiesta Yarns) I just had to come up with the design from it. After I played a little bit with different stitch patterns, I decided on an open-lace stitch pattern, which complemented the yarn very well. To add to the design, I wanted to create more texture, but stay with the chosen colors, so the Rayon BouclĂ© from Fiesta was the natural choice since the colors were the same. Alternating these two yarns every two rows gave the shawl a look of a watercolor painting. The finishing treatment of the project is necessary to achieve the beautiful drape that you see on the photo. I am very pleases with the way it turned out. Faina liked it also, so when we started to work on the book and we included the shawl as an accessory for the “Elegant Afternoon” collection. I made a few shawls using different colors and they are all gorgeous.

CS: I was curious about the Lacy Scarf. Who designed it and what was the inspiration behind this design?

FG: The Lacy Scarf is my design. It has a little story behind it. I was born and raised in the large Russian city called Samara. Let’s just say I was wearing a lot of hats and scarves in my life! When I was a university student, I knitted a long black scarf using that same dropped-stitch lacy pattern that you see in the book. I loved that scarf. It was soft and warm, but also very long. Some days I was fine wearing it as all normal people do. Some days the length was driving me crazy. So, what did I do? I found hundreds of ways to wear it. Sometimes it became a hat with the rose on the side and the scarf coming out of it. The more I played with it, the more compliments I got. People who know me are not surprised when they see my scarves being twisted and swirled in all directions.

Many years later, before the work on this book, I recreated that scarf. It became one of the accessories in “Gotta Have It” section. Actually, the Vintage Hat was inspired by that same scarf.

CS: I like the fact that your menswear designs strike a balance between being classic enough for a real guy to want to wear without being plain stockinette stitch (and thus boring to knit). What inspires you to create patterns for men? Do you run things by a husband/son/father/male friend?

FG: Both my husband and my son love classic and clean lines in their garments and accessories. When I designed the scarves and the hats for this book, I was keeping them in mind. In fact, my husband was such a sport all throughout our work on the book that he was our initial model for the photo shoot I had to do for the publisher. We will be talking about men’s wear when we will be visiting other blogs.

CS: Great! I think the unisex idea, making garments that can be worn by men and women, is a fascinating one! Make that cabled scarf in a different color, maybe with a finer gauge yarn, and it'll be lovely for a woman, too!

FG: Carol, what is new with you? I know that your book Knit So Fine is a big success. I actually got to know you when I was interviewing you for that book. Is there another book coming?

CS: Yes, I have a book called Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn that will be out in December. Thanks for asking!

FG: Carol, thank you very much for this interview. It was great talking to you again. Tomorrow we will be visiting with Cindy Moore.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Blog tour coming up: Casual Elegant Knits

I am pleased to announce that I will be participating in a blog tour for a new knitting book, called Casual Elegant Knits: Classy Designs for Men and Women by Dawn Leeseman and Faina Goberstein. (You may recall that Faina was kind enough to host us for the Knit So Fine
blog tour.) My day is Friday, Sept. 5th and here is the full schedule so that you can follow along:

Sept 4 ColorJoy
Sept 5 Go Knit In Your Hat
Sept 6 FitterKnitter
Sept 7 Amy Polcyn
Sept 8 Connie Chang
Sept 9 Marie Grace
Sept 10 Susan Lawrence/KnittingasfastasIcan
Sept 11 Marnie McLean
Sept 12 Tikru
Sept 13 Terry Ross
Sept 14 Liz Moreno
Sept 15 Donna Druchunas
Sept 16 Jennifer of Pieknits
Sept 17 Kristi Porter
Seept 18 Joanne Seiff
Sept 19 Simona Merchant-Dest

Now having just waved off all three children for a full day of school via the friendly neighborhood schoolbus, you'll have to excuse me as I try to catch up on the last ten years of my life...

By the way, my comments function has been wonky lately. I'm getting comments that disappear, comments that appear multiple times, and comments that are approved that don't show up. This leads me to believe that I'm also getting comments I don't know about. So if you are having trouble leaving a comment, or if it takes longer than you think it should to appear, it's not you. Or me.

Monday, September 01, 2008


I first met M. when I was in junior high school. We began by studying geometry together and ended up best friends. That was thirty years ago, and although there have been times when we’ve been closer and times when we’ve been farther apart, we’ve pretty much stayed best friends. And from the time I first met M., I’ve known her parents.

One of the things that so closely bonded M. and I from day one was our parallel family dysfunction. My father is an alcoholic; her mother is an alcoholic. My mother served as an oasis of sanity and unconditional love in the chaos that swirled throughout our house; M.’s father was her oasis. Very quickly I came to love her father dearly. For the person that he was, and for the person he was that my father wasn’t.

M.’s dad was quiet, a private person. But there’s a reason the saying “still waters run deep” has become a clichĂ© – it’s so often true. M.’s dad was like that. He might not say much, but he didn’t miss a trick. If you didn’t pay attention, you might miss one of his dry remarks – and that would be a shame because he was clever and funny. After a while I noticed that when M.’s dad spoke, the savvy people in the room would immediately shut up and listen to what he had to say. If you could get him to tell a story, you’d probably end up wiping tears of laughter from your face.

M.’s dad didn’t have a fancy childhood. He worked hard all his life, but in a matter of fact way, asking for no pity and expecting no accolades. He gave his kids a better life than he had and was proud of that. He saw his son and daughter go to college, not just go to college but excel there, and go on to have satisfying careers and comfortable lives. That meant a lot to him. He saw his two children get married to loving spouses, and welcomed three grandchildren and three granddogs into his life. I’m sure they were the light of his life. I’m sure it made it easier for him to leave this life knowing that his children grew up to be such impressive people: hardworking, responsible, family-focused, able to appreciate the small joys of life as well as the large, full of humor and irony – all the traits that I saw in him.

You may recall a few months ago, when I made a pair of Notre Dame-themed bed socks for Molly’s dad. He was a passionate Notre Dame supporter and felt a great attachment to his Irish roots. (I’ll never forget the time, about 15 years ago, when I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV, and the phone rang, and I picked it up, and it was M’s dad, singing the Notre Dame fight song because Notre Dame had just beaten Michigan – my alma mater – in football.) M’s dad was a Fighting Irishman to the end: roots firmly planted in the soil, hardworking, spiritual, equally appreciative of the joy and the pain in life, stubbornly refusing to die except on his own terms.

I loved him and I mourn him.