Saturday, December 25, 2010

Simple Gifts

Give someone a pair of socks, and you warm her feet for a day.  Teach someone to knit socks, and you warm her feet for a lifetime.                                                                                         
The Langworthy Library Knitting Association began nearly two years ago when Denise wandered into the library and knowing Jane-the-librarian was a knitter, asked for lessons in socks.  The upshot was the birth of the Knitting Association, and a pattern, Denise's sock, that Jane has graciously agreed to share.

Denise's Sock is a good, basic sock that will warm the tootsies in a variety of yarns: plain, variegated, self-patterning.  You can add your own touches--I usually do a 2x2 rib at the top for at least an inch. I learned to make socks from this pattern, too, and I hope you will use it and wear it in good health. Thank you and brava to Jane! The ramifications of her gift are far-reaching, delightful, and warm. In her gesture is a lesson for us all.

Jane Green
knitting a sock

Alfie eyes one of "Denise's socks" suspiciously.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The more things change...

Have you ever noticed how the crazier the world gets, the more you want to knit? If the situations in the Mideast, Africa, South Asia, Haiti, and most of Latin America weren't desperate enough, there's so much local mayhem--governmental, economic, social, culinary--that an ostrich's view of the world starts to look pretty scenic.

But wait, there's more!  I'm married to someone who likes to burn up the yard at least once a year.

Sure, why not?  And, being a good scout, he used only one match. Silly me for thinking there might be safer ways to get rid of weeds than a good old controlled burn, right? QED: the house behind the fiery field in the photo is still standing.

Here's a close-up of my pendant et après feu self-patterning sock.  I found it comforting to knit intensely and stare deeply into the fibers while the front yard was under incineration.

On a more amiable note, Quentin's friend Orla arrived yesterday, length of visit unspecified, but based on Q's rather attentive behavior, I sense she may be here for a while.

Orla hails from China by way of Providence.  Like a 1940s movie talent scout, I discovered her, you might say, hanging out at the sign of Frog and Toad on Hope Street.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Local boy makes good

So there we were, last night, sitting and knitting, as per usual with one exception:  Gordon. Having read about us in the Wood River Press (edition of 11/25/10) he was eager to join up with kindred souls.

Of course we wanted a show-and-tell.  He'd fortunately brought a pair of mitts and a hat of his own design, from yarn spun by his mother from locally-raised fiber animals.

Yesterday he worked on a scarf of mixed-fiber, Kool-Aid dyed (by himself) yarn (spun by his mother).  He told us he learned to knit five years ago, while recovering from surgery.

When not knitting, he works at a convenience store in town and is in the National Guard. We hope he'll become a regular member of the Langworthy Library Knitting Association!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving leftovers

are the best part, as we all know. Herewith some additional knitting projects that were under construction on Knit Something Day:

Sheila D. of East Providence RI, a top-down sweater 

Joan W. of Weston, MA, the start of a Suri Alpaca throw 
The yarns in the first two photos are strong arguments for the chicken-or-egg world of knitting inspiration.  How can anyone look at these beauteous fibers and not want to knit something immediately?

Then there are perpetual motion knitters, like Denise of the Langworthy Library Knitting Association. She's actually been retained by a friend to knit twenty cotton dishcloths from a cone of color-slubbed natural cotton yarn, as presents for the friend's extended family!

In addition, Denise, currently recuperating from surgery, has been spending her non-dishcloth-knitting time with a variegated fuchsia scarf

and these wonderful socks, a present for her doctor.  (Seriously, this might be a great way to reduce the high cost of medical care in the U.S.--hand-knitted socks for all medical personnel!)

Artemis, one of Denise's two resident felines, is in awe of her grandmère's productivity.

Gentle readers, we hope you celebrated Knit Something and Buy Nothing Days, and the National Day of Listening, all of which occurred on November 26th, in a heartwarming way.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coma weekend

It's that time of year when my brain seems to go into hibernation, while I'm apparently living my life. Thanksgiving was a grande bouffe at the home of ever-generous neighbors who thoughtfully provided an artistically-personalized twenty-pound shopping bag of leftovers for every guest, lest they suffer from a dearth of nourishment after the main meal. Eyeing the bottom layer of this gift o' love-- a Tupperware container of English trifle, a bag of Italian cookies, a hefty slice of gingerbread buche, a slab of pumpkin pie, a nine-million calorie hunk of cheesecake with cherry topping--I knew I had to do something drastic. So I ate the cheesecake for breakfast on Knit Something Day, then trotted downstairs to the neighbors' apartment, to return the cookies, trifle, and buche--but not the pie, turkey, stuffing, and large container of side vegetables--thereby maintaining the fiction that I'm trying to follow a moderate diet. (Meanwhile I ate the pie in small increments over three days, further supporting the fiction of moderation.)

What did I do this weekend, besides eat and knit? That is the question. On Knit Something Day I zipped through Deborah Newton's Cornflower Mitts pattern, and when I thought I'd almost finished, discovered, to my chagrin, that I'd made two right-hand mitts and no left.

Well, everything happens for a reason, right? Obviously I love this pattern, which I'm giving to a friend--love it so much that I wanted my own pair. I'm about a third through the first left-hand mitt. (I keep wondering, though, that if I hadn't eaten that grotesque slice of cheesecake and my brain wasn't all befuddled by the sugar-fat-cream triumvirate, mightn't I have read the pattern correctly in the first place?)

This, my friends, is a great design! Knit on number nines, it's speedy, and the rich detailing of cables and three kinds of ribs provides texture, interest, and extra warmth. (I'm sure that the thickness of the cable on the back of the hand adds extra heat retention, and the ribs make the mitts grippy.)

But enough about me...I wanted to find out what my knitting friends were knitting on Knit Something Day. Below, a partial visual record:

Susie B, NYC, lace-edged woman's hat.

Caroline B, Connecticut, twisted cable scarf of handspun, hand-dyed wool.

Carol M. of Connecticut Yarn and Wool,  Haddam, Connecticut, Christmas stocking from  local merino sheep.

The Knitting Goddess, Providence RI, a big eyelet swatch.

And more to follow, after I catch up on my Zzzzzzzs. Please send me photos of what you were knitting on November 26th, 2010, and they shall appear on this blog in the immediate future.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Knit Something Day!

and Buy Nothing Day and The National Day of Listening.

Quentin bought nothing.  He wore his new garter-stitch scarf.  And he listened to the Wood River where there is now no bridge.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We interrupt this sweater...

to bring you a TURKEY!

Gentle readers, the eve of Knit Something Day approaches.  It's time to fire up! I've temporarily put the sweater aside to create Mr. T, who will grace the Thanksgiving table.

As you can see, Rufus approves. Quentin is somewhat less sure.

If you'd like to give a vegetarian friend this winsome hand-knitted bird, there's a free pattern download on the Spud & Chloe blog. You can make him really quickly, well before November 25th. Even an entire flock, if you're a fast knitter. What are you waiting for?

PS: Since my last post, many have inquired about Quentin the Owl. Also, I have been sternly chastised by a member of the Langworthy Library Knitting Association who has powerful connections to organized wildlife protection, for having captured Quentin and sequestered him in my home without obtaining a permit from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Apparently it is not, um, legal to simply scoop up a hapless owl whose path happens to cross yours, and bring it home to live with you. (Or with me, as the case actually is.) And it doesn't matter to The Authorities that Quentin is essentially unable to fly or live on his own in nature.

Please know that I have tried to liberate Quentin. I have taken him around my yard and allowed him to go wherever and do whatever he wants. He enjoys the fresh air, but is unable to fly any distance. He's smart, too, and recognizes a sweet deal.

So, when I open the door to let Rufus inside, Quentin voluntarily hops in after him. We supplement his diet with mice and voles caught by Kramer and Rufus.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Loss and gain

Stonington, CT

Those who grew up before the Age of SPF and PABA often, as mature individuals, endure dermatological procedures that remove sun-damaged skin lest it morph into full-blown cancer. Such was H's lot this morning.  While he was being scraped, peeled, and stitched on the tenth floor of Rhode Island Hospital, the Knitting Goddess and I walked along the mighty Seekonk with our loyal companions, Brownie and Lola, discussing the merits of wool versus acrylic, a conversation prompted by my wearing of a pair of thirty-year-old acrylic mittens (knitted in an overall seed stitch by mother, who is late--to borrow a term from Mma Ramotswe), and KG's wearing of a pair of equally ancient acrylic gloves in a nordic pattern, inherited from an elderly relative.

KG maintains that acrylic garments can be as warmth-providing as wool. I disagree. To test our hypotheses, we have decided to knit two pairs of comparable mittens, hers in acrylic, mine in wool. We will engage an impartial scientist to measure the heat retention of said mittens as they are worn on a suitably cold winter day. I am sure you, gentle readers, will be as curious about the results as KG and I are. Stay tuned.

Shortly after our return from this bracing expedition, I was summonsed by H to bail him out of hospital hell. Then we were on our way to the River House, where four angry cats awaited, screaming for breakfast. H had come through his surgery stoically and with only one large bandage on his face. We decided to reward his fortitude with lunch in Stonington, Connecticut, a twenty-minute drive from our rural hideaway. Afterwards, we strolled to the water's edge. It was there that we encountered Owl.

He's about a foot high, five or six inches wide, and rather compact. Readers, you know my proclivity for homeless animals. There was no way I could leave him on the wharf, feathers ruffling in the wind. We scooped up the little beast and brought him home.

It turns out that he loves to watch me knit. This I discovered as we drove back and I, riding shotgun with Owl on my lap, picked up a rather lurid sock currently under construction and began to work. Owl nudged it with his beak and rubbed his head on the ball of yarn. When we arrived home, I put him in a basket with the almost-completed pair, and it was clear that he was in a state of avian bliss.

I promised to knit him a scarf from the leftovers.

Lola isn't certain how she feels about him.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knit Something Day approaches

Gentle readers,

No one needs to be reminded that we live in a society of wretched excess and gross disparities. As you may have noticed from the trend of my evolving "Blogs I Follow" list, I--despite the embarrassing size of my yarn stash--am partial to writers who chronicle the simple life. The low-tech appeal of knitting is part of my enjoyment of essential, meditative pursuits. I am also someone who really, really, really hates shopping--except, I admit, for yarn and knitting-related paraphernalia. There's a lot I will do to avoid stores, and an even worse nightmare, malls.

And now it is early November and in only a few weeks the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, arrives. Over the years social activists have campaigned to make this day after Thanksgiving "Buy Nothing Day." The idea is to reject the consumerist ethic that compels folks to shop until they drop in preparation for the holidays, and spend quality time on beneficial projects, whether they be some kind of volunteer work, communing with one's family and friends, or participating in an enjoyable non-consumerist activity. I am especially partial to the Annual Winter Coat Exchange on the lawn of the Rhode Island State House in downtown Providence (with ancillary sites around the state). Donate a gently-used coat (any size, from children to adult) on November 26th from 10 to 2, so that someone who needs a coat may be warmer in the winter months.

And once more I'll suggest another way to think of the Day After Thanksgiving:  Knit Something Day! Send me a photo of what you're knitting on November 26th, and I'll publish it in this blog so the world can see.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mice in the library

Jane Green, librarian and sock knitter par excellence (check out her Spirit Sisters website), brought these little guys to the library last week:

They are a wonderful Ysolda Teague pattern, "Mousie,"available through Ysolda's website or Ravelry.

And above are two of Jane's latest sock creations--an olive green tweed hiking sock, and elegant blue cabled socks with Jane's signature "fizz" at top.  The mice are about to leave for Louisville, KY, where Jane's heading for a week's visit with her daughter and grand-cat.  (Guess who's getting the mice?)

Why Socks?  An Existential Disquisition, Part 1

Recently I've come across more than a few manifestos, online and in knitting magazines, arguing in favor of knitted socks. The Langworthy Library Knitting Association, perhaps as a reflection of Jane's proclivities, cleaves to socks more than to anything else.  Denise tells me, "They're instant gratification." She favors them over more time-consuming projects, as do many other proponents, both in-library and outside.

I'm in the early stages of my sock-knitting career, and consider myself a convert to the beauty and general superiority of hand-knitted socks. They are warmer, lighter, and softer than any machine-made sock I've ever worn, including machine-made cashmere and angora. Plus, they're mine--original, unique, and custom-fitted!

Below a small gallery of hand-knitted socks made by the Langworthians:

Judy's socks

Denise's socks

Anne's socks

Socks I made for HC's birthday in November!
Here's a question:  Why do you or don't you knit socks?  (Responses will appear in a future post.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The historic Octagon house of Carolina Village, Richmond, Rhode Island, now shelters the Carolina Fiber and Fiction Center.

Inside,  Jan Doyle and  Richard Muto teach spinning, weaving, and knitting!

Jan Doyle and Master Weaver Certificate Candidate Anna Hallstrom.

Richard Muto's most entertaining yarn-spinning class meets on Saturday mornings.
Jan's amazing woven robes adorn the walls of Octagon House.

Jan and student working from the bottom up.
For more info see the CFFC's Facebook page, or contact Jan at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A little bit of Persia in Woodville, Lower Falls

Imagine that you're surrendered to the Cranston Animal Shelter because someone didn't have the time or desire to care for you. You live there for what seems like forever, in a barred steel cage surrounded by other kitties in barred steel cages.  This is "The Cat Room." Everyone yowls. Or, everyone tries to sleep as much as possible so as to forget what's happening. People come in and out, and sometimes someone takes you from the cage and holds you. And then puts you back. Until Tuesday, October 5th. 

She came in and held you close to her. You rubbed your head against her face and against her hand. "I want this little one!" she said. (Because you are little, weighing less than five pounds!) She left the room but returned a short while later with a carrier, and before you knew it, you were outside the animal shelter, then in a car. The motor purred, just like you. You settled down and made yourself as small as possible. In your short life you've been taken many places, and this was just another place to go.

Then the car stopped and she took you into the house. She opened the carrier and picked you up, and ascended several flights of stairs. You could tell immediately there were other cats and something else--a very large cat that they call a Lola Dog--and then you were in a quiet room. There was delicious food and a bowl of water. There was a tidy litterbox. There was a very soft place to sit.

She told you your name is Molly, and you are in your forever home. She said, "I want to take your photo for the knitting blog, but we have to link this to knitting, even though it's really about how anyone who loves animals can ADOPT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND LOVING PET FROM AN ANIMAL SHELTER. You were already sitting on a hand-knitted blanket, but she surrounded you with several skeins of the softest cashmere yarn, which is very warm and made you feel even happier than you already were.

This lady who loves to knit wants her readers to know that all her adult life she has adopted beautiful, wonderful cats and the world's cutest and smartest and best Portuguese Water Dog from animal shelters and foster homes, never from breeders or pet stores. There are too many helpless creatures out there who need the love and attention that they deserve, but have never received. The animal shelters are full of them, sad to say.

Molly, the silver-cream Persian with aqua eyes, now lives with four other kitties--a Himalayan named Kramer, a really big Persian named Alfie, a tiny elderly Persian named Fiordiligi (she's 20 years old!), a tuxedo kitty named Rufus--and Lola the Wonder Dog. They are all very happy, and Molly is pretty sure she's going to be happy, too, though it might take a little while before she feels really safe and secure. Her new person wants every reader of this blog to know: If you have the ways and the means, please check out Molly and her new family and all her furry friends at animal shelters everywhere will thank you dearly.

"I am trying to make sense of it all."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What it felt like doing...

My friend asked me to make her a little knitted felted box. She sent me a pattern she'd found online.  I tried the pattern and it was a dud. After some frustrating attempts, and after consulting with my knitting support group at the library, I gave it up. But I didn't want to disappoint. I decided to knit her a felted tote bag. Here's the free pattern I found online:

It was supposed to look like this:

Here's the unfelted bag I made:

And here's what it looks like after two go-rounds in the washing machine:

It has become a yoga-mat bag. That's what its intention was, all along, apparently. I showed it to the Knitting Goddess, who said, "Here's the thing about felting. It's an inexact process." Please note that this is a Lion Brand pattern and I used Lion Brand 100% worsted, the label of which claims "Perfect for Felting."

My friend now has another good reason for going to yoga class.  Happy birthday, my dear!