Eighties Sweaters: I'll show you mine, if you show me yours!

A few months back, Kelly at Wild Yarns was sharing vintage copies of VK she had received from a customer. Flipping through one issue, I was horrified to find a sweater that I knit prominently featured in an ad. I was a mere slip of a girl, newly graduated from college...and if that sweater could talk. (Well, it would probably whisper to my husband that I was duller back then.)

We yucked it up at the yarn shop, tee heeing over the flashy, discordant garments. Ah, the Eighties. Oversized sweaters. Shoulder pads (admit it, you still have some lurking in drawers). Mini skirts.

My salad days...at the disco. Cringe.

Yesterday, I was rooting around in my handknits when I stumbled on THAT sweater. And another I knit during the same period. (Intarsia, baby!) Made me think, wouldn't it be fun if we shared our shame? If we blogged about what we remembered about those pullovers and cardis and the yarns and clothes we loved?

So next week, post your favorite handknits from The Decade of Greed. We'll have a good chuckle and share a few memories. I'll even show a few Mom made!

Who's in?


You see that brown mass in the tree that looks like a saggy market bag? Bees. A whole mess of teeming, ready-for-new-lodgings bees.

We should have been working, but when the Bee Guru called saying he had a swarm removal in the neighborhood, we "absconded" for a lesson in swarm removal.

Bees swarm because they've outgrown their current hive. The swarm ball is a half-way point, giving the bees a chance to decide where to move. They aren't particularly dangerous and move on in matter of hours. Stumbling on a ball of bees is likely to give anyone pause. But the bees are more interested in finding new digs than deploying their stingers. So rather than spraying them yourself, which is likely to result in this (queue video), or call an exterminator, the best solution is calling a professional beekeeper, who will relocate the bees to a rescue hive.

In this case, the neighbor with the swarm is another beekeeper. She was ready with a fully prepared hive, happy to be the beneficiary of these rogue pollinators.

Conditions, though, weren't ideal. The swarm had collected in the upper branches of a pine tree about 25 feet off the ground. The only way to access the bees was from the roof.

The process is extremely low tech but treacherous at such a height. Clipping away a few branches to get at the swarm, the Bee Guru shook the bees into the plastic bin and immediately covered it.

While the bees are relatively docile all balled up in their swarm, they don't take kindly to being shaken into a plastic tub. Nor do they like being unceremoniously dumped into a new home.

Bees were everywhere. And mad as hornets.

But soon were ensconced in their new home, if not happily, at least satisfied that they were in a nice, sticky place full of sugar water.

The bees--and the people who care about them--continue to amaze.

Nake-id obsessions: A list

Yes, it's been a while. No excuses. Ennui mostly. Never a good sign at Nake-id Knits where squeals and enthusiasm reign. Here are some things that have curled a toe or two, malaise aside:

1. New glasses. Euphoniously named #484935. If you were a single-vision, non-high-index lens person, you could have them for 24 bucks. And, yes, they're fine.

2. This magazine. Have gone completely round the bend over it. To the point that I want to crawl between the covers and take residence.

3. And this magazine.

4. This shawl. Named Daisy, no doubt after the new Gatsby flick, which being a jazz fan seems so wrong.

5. Ted Talks. The new default when there's nothing on the tube.

6. This sweater. Yes, I ordered yarn for it. Thirteen Mile Chunky in Oatmeal.

7. Cooked by Michael Pollan. Will make you yearn to make your own catsup.

What are you excited about this spring?

The bees' knees and other parts, too

These are our bees safely ensconced in their hive (with a big "whew" from the new beekeepers).

The process is actually quite easy once you get past the fact that you're dealing with 22,000 airborne stingers. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Yesterday was bee day for us. Tim Brod of Highland Honey Bees had spent the better part of a week in California, packaging honey bees in high winds. See Tim? He's been traveling cross country with about 5 million women.

The central pick up point was the parking lot at To Bee or Not To Bee, the beekeeping supply shop on West 39th Avenue. Check out the tear-drop PR trailer. The whole shop is cool like that.

There was definitely a festival atmosphere to bee day.

You'd think people were picking up new puppies, not insects.

You are now in the presence of royalty. This is a queen bank (below). In some cases, Their Royal Highnesses don't arrive intact. These are spares.

Ah, the Bee Guru. Gregg McMahan taught our Beginning Beekeeping class and he's a wealth of information about all things bees. Got a hive in your eaves...this guy's the bee buster...in a nice, environmentally friendly way.

By noon, we were in possession of two bee packages.

As you can see, Nake-id IT hived, while I documented at a safe distance.

Baby, shake them bees!

We have two hives. Getting the queen into the first hive was a bit of a do, requiring finishing nails and a drill. The queen arrives in a tiny cage that hangs from the top of the bee package (see below).

The queen is removed from the package and the little metal tab on the top of the queen cage is used to hang her from a center frame in the hive. This metal tab breaks easily.

The second queen was much easier.

This morning when we checked out bees, they were trundling out of the hive like they needed a jolt of coffee. But, now, in the late morning air, they are all a buzz.

It's almost bee day!

Mr. Nake-id has been preparing for the arrival of the bees. Here he is building a hive stand. Hive stands keep the hives off the moist earth and allow for ventillation and air flow. Bees like mold about as much as we do.

This design is simple and clever with extra supports to bear the weight of a honey-filled hive.


He has since painted the stands--Iconic Green--like our powder room, and today he is off to buy screened bottom boards, devices which help with mite detection and ventillation. We also need to get busy making bee food, sugar water and pollen patties, given our late-breaking spring. Bees come on Sunday!

Burning question of our time: What to wear under your knit skirt?

Unless you want to line your handknit skirt, you will wear a slip.

You will wear a slip because like me you have a mother voice inside your head that says, "I can see right through to your legs!" everytime you step out of the house without one. That and there's the matter of the unslightly butt-shaped pouch you'll have to block out after every wearing if you don't. See above.

Personally, I wear a dreadful nylon thing purchased so many decades ago the label reads: Made in the USA. Not ideal, it peeks from underneath hems and requires regular adjusting during the day. I also bought this shaping garment, thinking it was a slip, only to find these hideous "boy shorts" contained inside. The thing is hot and becomes a complete puzzle whenever it needs to be lifted. I loathe it.

I had one of these I rather liked, but it disappeared during an intense spate of business travel, during which I left clothing all over the country, like breadcrumbs or something. What must the housekeeping staff at those hotels think?

Right now I'm liking this. Not too slippery, plenty short and reasonably priced. And with just enough lycra for support.

A good slip, well, it just makes a girl feel fully dressed.



Le Hobble Skirt--Premiere

Yes, it's been a while since anything has come out of the atelier.

Publishing this pattern reminds me to thank every knitwear designer everywhere. For the labor and care and attention you put into your patterns. Boy, do y'all work hard!

Let me introduce you to Le Hobble Skirt, a handknit pencil skirt with sexy striations of twisted rib.

Many thanks to the lovely Christine for modeling; doesn't she look fab?

And to Cheryl Oberle, whose Organic Merino yarn makes this piece.

Dying to knit one yourself. The pattern is available on Ravelry. Happy hobbling!

Bee Brain-Crochet your own

I swear, this won't become a bee blog. But as we anticipate the arrival of "our girls," we've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the critters. As I crocheted my way through bee club last night (yes, the Nake-ids are full-on bee geeks--at least this season), I wondered about bee-related stitching possibilities. Looks like I'll be stashing more yellow yarn.

Scroll down. Some of these are just killer Wink

Jonathan the Bumble Bee by Stacey Trock

Burnie the Bee by Stacey Trock

Boo the Bee by Shannen C

Bumblebee by Grace Meador

Bee by Fiber Doodles

Bee Gurumi by LuvlyGurumi

The content thing

A friend of ours has become similarly bee obsessed and loaned me the volumes pictured above.

The authors of these books receive no royalties when I curl up on the couch to read. Nor do publishers earn any profits.

Am I a pirate?

What about if I borrow a jazz CD from a friend and rip it to my hard drive? Is that copyright infringement?

The difference in the two scenarios is possession. In a few weeks I'll return the bee books. If I want copies, I'll need to buy them. But if I rip a CD, I possess it, not the physical object but the data that gives it meaning.

I've been having a running argument with a member of the younger set, who views access to content as his First Amendment right. Information should be available to all.

For someone who writes content for a living, this goes down like cod liver oil. So I make noises about how not paying your freight hurts writers such as myself or the code-wielding Nake-id IT.

But who among us hasn't mixed tapes or "borrowed" software or accepted a thumb drive filled with the last season of "Weeds"?

Um, OK, moving right along...

it's easy to view CONTENT PROVIDERS like running dog Goliaths, exploiting us little guys. What's the harm in watching rogue copies of "Homeland" or sourcing critical software as a poor student?

For starters, it puts us on the wrong side of the law. And sometimes THEY do prosecute.

And, like Scott Turow said in his excellent piece:

Authors practice one of the few professions directly protected in the Constitution, which instructs Congress “to promote the progress of Science and     the useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The idea is that a diverse literary culture, created by authors whose livelihoods, and thus independence, can’t be threatened, is essential to democracy.

It's good for the culture to have all us wackadoos out there writing knitting patterns, making independent films and whaling on  guitars. To eliminate the profit motive--modest as it is--puts art and innovation in the hobby category, ghettoizing it to our free time. If we don't support creative people, whether they're engineers, writers, artists or actors, it stands to reason that only the most popular, the most market-worthy will penetrate the culture. There will be less art and fewer ideas, if the D-listers among us can't work.

Isn't it more democratic to vote with our dollars, to align our financial resources with our passions? If we want our artistic and intellectual lives to look like Applebees, then we can cede responsibility for the evolution of the culture to the common denominator. But if we like our Vivaldi or Vanity Fair or The Borgias, we should pay.

As much as I hate to admit it.

Shabby chic without the chic

We live in one of thes, next to one that looks exactly like it, except that our intrepid young neighbors are more than doubling the current size, dwarfing our version of the same 100-year-old house.

This was our starter home. Years ago we talked of moving and expanding and adding and breaking through, but 20 years in, we've learned what space buys you rooms to care for and fill with yarn, and we already feel rich in rooms to care for...and yarn. So we yearn for space much less often than we did in our younger days.

Still there comes a time, when the house that you painted, tiled and purchased furniture for starts to look, um, well loved, in our case by two humans, one well-mannered 20-year-old tabby and a corpulent orange thing who has made the destruction of our Ethan Allen sofa his personal project.

Though Mr. and Mrs. Nake-id have strong esthetic opinions (happily, they typically align), neither of us likes making the decisions that move projects forward.

Take choosing paint colors. I'd rather weed the garden with a shrimp fork than pick colors to paint the kitchen.

So I start collecting chips. And more chips. And asking friends. I pour over magazines and roll websites and blogs.

"Haven't you been trying to pick colors for about two years?" a designer friend asked recently.

Hell, for me that's fast!

I recently stumbled on this collection by California Paints.

Can you imagine the consequences if I painted the house "Rosy Opal"? Or "Craftsman Gold"? I'd be living in the identical-but-more-commodious bungalow next door.

Anyway, how do you choose paint colors? Assistance welcomed.