Japanese knitting

I’m newly back after a long evening in the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, which incidentally is NOT the country’s most diverting travel center. So this morning I am confused and frazzled.

But I leave you with these, some photographs of Japanese knitting books purchased at Kinokunyia in San Francisco’s Japantown. Normally I don’t go for cat motif, cats yes, cat figurines no, but these patterns tickled me silly.




Leaving on a jet plane

One of the things I do is write marketing copy for colleges and universities. So when I fly, typically it’s to a remote intellectual outpost and involves propellers and barf bags. (The Nake-id stomach is not so strong.)

Today, however, I’m heading to Oakland where I’ll spend the weekend with my BIL’s family and SIL’s family before heading to work on Monday. Mitch’s siblings are kindly tolerating me for a couple of days, which is lovely, for I’m not the easiest guest. I scream in my sleep, a trait I’ve assured Mitch, is charmingly idiosyncratic. “Honey, it’s cute that I scream. Really it is.” Send good sleeping karma my way, so I don’t wake the relatives.

Obviously I’m grateful that no propellers are implicated in this journey. However, my big concern re: yesterday’s post is getting the skincare on the plane without checking the bag. Last time we flew, the nice TSA man confiscated my baggie and said, “Darlin’, we’re going to have to move you from a mansion into a condo” and handed me a ziplock the size of a postage stamp. Since cleanser, toner, moisturizer, serum, nightcreme, eye creme are must-haves, guess I’ll be skipping the deodorant.

My knitting mission in the Bay Area is to score copies of Keito Dama, the Japanese needlework magazine. Interesting. On the preview page, the models look, well, like corn-fed Midwestern girls. Huh.

Anyway, have a grand weekend. And check out the new Yarnival. I’m over there off-gassing about organic yarn.



Aging in place

Earlier this week, Wendy over at Knit and Tonic discussed aging and how some women are all philosophical about it, like it's a grand adventure watching one's face, nose, ass and boobies succumb to gravity. (For the latter, there's at least a non-surgical solution, Denver's Store of Lingerie is having its spring sale starting Saturday.) Most women are not all sanguine and loving about their crow's feet, otherwise why would skin care be this mutli-gagillion dollar industry?

I'll admit, I'm not the youngest girl at the party. I have a full head of grey hair. I railed against the dying of the light, until Mom bought me one of these. And let's just say, I don't weigh 102 lbs. anymore.

I also wouldn't go back to being 25 even if you paid me a million dollars and got me a date with George Clooney.

Your 20's suck, people. Admit it. You're trying to start your lives, begin careers, find mates, make money and discover, “Am I a cat person or a dog person“? “Do I want to live in Sundance or Schenectady“? “Do I believe in crystals or Jesus“? And you have to do it while being all clever on MySpace and typing on itty-bitty telephone key pads. Shitfire, man, that's a lot of work!

But you're all cute and perky and passionate and energetic and fresh. Lot to be said for that. 'Specially when something like this occurs:

A year or so ago, Mitch and I were in Westcliffe. I was puttering about the house and Mitch was talking to one of the town's famously inebriated citizens. She asked Mitch, “Where's your wife“? He pointed to the house. “Oh,“ she said. “I thought that was your grandpa.“

Ba da dum.

I recently picked up a brochure posing this question, “What can cosmetic acupuncture do for me?” I haven't thrown it away, if that tells you anything.

Wednesday Miscellany: Links

It turns out the great Babs isn’t wrong. Lissa graciously charted out the Cherry Tree pattern and it turns out the issue is one of knitting grammar (and the fact that I’m a little foggy on the meaning behind “multiple of 18 sts plus 1”). The answer for those of you who have been unable to sleep since reading yesterday’s post is this:

Row 5 - K3, (*p6, k1, p6*, k5); rep brackets to last repeat, continue to *, K3.

Row 6 - P3, (*FC, k3, p1, k3, BC*, p5); rep brackets to last repeat, continue to *, P3.

Row 7 - Row 7 - K5, (*p4, k1, p4*, k9);

rep brackets to last repeat, continue to *, K5.

Feel better? I certainly do. And so does my swatch.

Shall we proceed with the order of the day?

A number of cool resources and temptations have come to our attention this week. For instance:

1. Here’s the best excuse I’ve ever seen for buying the entire Ring Cycle of Walker treasuries: The Barbara Walker Treasury Project. The idea is to collect color, high-quality photos of each and every one of the stitch patterns as an Internet addendum to the black-and-white photos contained in the encylopediae themselves. Makes the stitches vibrate with life. (Coutesy of Margene.)

2. Ya’ll may know about this one: Vintage Knits. Historic patterns, knitting-themed notecards, discontinued yarn information—in other words a real time sucker. Definitely worth a leisurely tour. (Courtesy of Sahara.)

3. If you need something fun and “ironical” to pair with your handknits, check out this indie designer. I’m partial to the Bukarest Skirt (sp), but Toadstool has its appeal too, don’t you think?


Bukarest Skirt

4. Fans of Beqi Clothing will be delighted to see her spring line is up. Lots of great Asian-print skirts. For nature girls, be sure not to miss the Adirondak moose-in-the-forest number. Very tempting.

5. This just in: Cool felted bag site! (Courtesy of Mom.)





Could Barbara Walker be...wrong?

I’ve been trying to swatch a pattern from Barbara Walker’s A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, a pretty little background lace called Cherry Tree. I tried it once. Decided I counted wrong, then tried again. And again. I wasn’t knitting under the influence. Nor was I asleep at the needles. I added, subtracted, counted and recounted. How can you get from the 19 stitches in row 4 to the 22 stitches in row 5? (See below.)

Could it be that Babs is wrong? Could it be that we need to interpret the Bible rather than take it literally? People, I need an answer.


Oh, and for a quick yarn-related yuk, read Sunday's Doonesbury. (Courtesy of my BIL.)

Oh those Russians

Yesterday I was bouncing down the Information Superhighway when this crossed my path: Taiga Yarns, a North American distributor for Russian knitting products. One would assume that a busy professional such as myself would keep on trucking, but one would be wrong. My mouse left skid marks.

Inside you’ll find camel yarn for $4.95/218 yds! Camel! Alpaca for $3.35/208 yds. Laceweight, natural-colored goat down for $5.85/514 yds. Also, tons of blends, including linen and silk, some classic wools and a 50/50 angora/wool blend that looks slipper-worthy.

What really got me, though, were the magazines. Years ago when I was young and my brain wasn’t like hard cheese like it is now, I studied Russian language, minored in it in fact. Studied it for so long you’d think I’d be able to discuss the failure of Marxist philosophy in the former Soviet Union with Mikhail Gorbachev in his native tongue. But again, you would be wrong. Instead these are the extent of my Russian language skills: I can get myself to a ladies room. Order a glass of wine. And ask the question critical in all international travel, “How much”? 

(N.B. For the record, the Secretary of State and I, co-alumnae of the same fine institution of higher learning, had the same Russian professor. I wonder if she can get herself to a ladies room?)


While some of the covers didn’t appeal to my American sensibilities, this being one of them (see below), I thought I might be able to brush up by translating a few Russian patterns.

Russian knitting magazine

This model (below) looks as if she could eat an American man for breakfast as a side with her herring and eggs.

Russian 2

Snarkiness aside, Russia has an amazing knitting culture and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these mags. OK, so how much?

Too many things to knit

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the projects in your queue? Like you’re knitting needles are bigger than your stomach? Or something?

My project line up includes a bit of knitting-for-hire (which, let me tell you, unnerves me more than it would to interview Dick Cheney, and the Vice President unnerves me A LOT), a couple of design projects (the frogged beta version of one such ill-conceived garment pictured with Stanley below), the Endpaper mitts, a sweater from VK Fall 2006, some gift knitting (ee-gads that’s just around the corner) and Cheryl Oberle’s poor Little-languishing-Edo. Then I had to go and paw through Yarnplay, as if there weren’t more pressing things on tap, and spied Edie (top left).

And, it’s Mom’s birthday. She hasn't blogged since fall, 'cause she has even more in her queue than me!


There she is again, exploiting me for my looks.”

Wednesday Miscellany: Odd lot

Been thinking about:

1. Latvian mittens. A lot. (Who knew there was this fabulous blog with resources, angst and everything—Knit Like a Latvian? You probably did. I’m slow on the uptake.)

2. Orange-basil soap. Homemade.

3. Organic yarn and sheets. BBB has a queen set for $69.99. Imported though.

4. New week-night recipes. Am in a total cooking rut.

5. Wild Fibers Magazine. Don’t you love it?

6. Knit skirts.

7. Western interior design. God, we need help.

8. Yoga. Thinking about it. Not doing it.

9. Naps. Always.

10. Query letters. Again, thinking about ‘em. Not doing ‘em.

Let's get physical

(Gawd. Remember that song? I recall doing pounding aerobics in a thong leotard to that very piece of music, back in the day when I could pull off a thong leotard. Shows you how long ago that was.)


I spent the weekend peeling wallpaper at El Rancho. Not as glamorous as thong aerobics, but probably burned a few Cs. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Boyd, the fellow who was installing our wood stove, complimented my technique. He laughed, recalling two impatient fellows stripping a sportsman-themed room up in the hills. “Took divets out of the walls the size of your fist.”

“I’m a knitter,” I replied. “I relish boring, repetetive activities.” (I probably didn’t say, “relish,” but let’s pretend I did.) “Besides. It’s easier than writing.”

Isn’t that why we love knitting? Because it’s in our bodies? You have to think a bit here and there, especially when learning a new trick or working a tough pattern, but mostly we’re using our physical selves. Holding a growing sweater in our laps. Flicking our fingers. Tugging at a ball of yarn. I won’t argue that wallpaper abatement is as tactile and sensual as knitting, but it appeals to that elemental side of us that enjoys tasks with defined boundaries. To make visual progress on something you can see and touch, that’s enormously satifying. Afterward, I felt tired in that clean, muscular way, not mentally exhausted and confused like after a day of writing.

That said (Warning: Wallpaper lovers, cover your eyes.) there should be codes prohibiting wallpaper use. Even nice wallpapers like these. Wallpaper, borders, friezes, ceiling papers (oh, God, especially ceiling papers), anaglypta and otherwise, they are all bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Why? Because enivitably they have to come down. Paint? Cover it up. But wallpaper? Whether it’s five, 10 or 40 years later, the stuff inevitably is landfill bound. Had there been no wallpaper to remove, I would have enjoyed the aches and pains and rewards of a fresh paint job. But as it stands, we have retexturing, priming and painting to look forward to. Yes, and all those things are easier than writing, too, but must be shoe-horned into precious knitting hours.

So paint an idiosyncratic mural. Hang stunning works of art. But leave the wallpaper at the paint store. ‘Kay?


Signs of spring

Those of you in warmer climes are already seeing flowers and tentatively stripping off sweaters on warmer days. Even here in Colorado where snow threatens weekly, the trees are budding and my bulbs are pushing green shoots into the sun. Given our agricultural success rate, this truly is a miracle.

Lots to gawk at in the knit world, too. The big stories—tunics, jackets and deep-V or scoop-neck pullies. Lots of contrast, black and white, navy and white, nautical looks. And for risque summer tops, look to bare backs.

It's always interesting to see how summer is interpreted editorially. Gardening is presented as a dainty, pristine activity performed in pretty cardies. You won't find a single bead of sweat marring the beautiful brows of these models. Apparently women spend a lot of time at the beach, too. In Colorado this involves trips to the noisy neighborhood pool and earplugs so as to block the ballistic sounds of “keep away“ and “Marco Polo.“ Decades-old beach towels are de riguer attire.

And if we aren't at the beach or in the garden, we're looking jaunty in top-siders and navy-blue stripes on the bow of a yacht.

This describes my upcoming summer perfectly. Does it yours?

1. View Phildar’s new collections. Catalogue un e du

2. The Vogue Knitting spring preview is up. Look for cool cabana looks and seet wear-to-work numbers such as this:


3. Rebecca Magazine serves up pages of lacey garden-party knits and you’re-in-the-navy sweaters.

4. Kim Hargreaves beautifully understated Shades of Pale collection debuted. Check out the details in her reversible tunic. She’s just so good.


5. Tahki Stacy Charles offers a dizzying array of spring designs. From the Tahki collection to the S. Charles Collezione patterns and the Filatura Di Crosa pieces. This knocked my socks off, though I would eschew the stripes.


6. There’s a monk thing that seems to be happening:


7. And Rowan, beautifully but predictably, has everyone looking ready for tea in the garden.