Sunday, January 31, 2010

January thaw

It's been just too cold in Rhode Island and so I betook myself to Boca, to visit a dear friend who winters there. I'm the only person I know who'd never been to Florida and I thought it was time to lose my virginity.

When I left T.F. Green airport in Warwick it was 17 degrees F. When I arrived in Fort Lauderdale it was 70, overcast, and very humid. I didn't mind at all. By the time I left Boca Raton, three days later, it was sunny, dry, crystal clear, and drop-dead gorgeous.

This mini-vacation was deeply salubrious. To prolong the ecstasy, I brought back two small bags of Key Limes to make H a Key Lime pie. Before spending an inordinate amount of time juicing the bitty things (with an electric citrus juicer, mind you), I posed them in the alien snowscape just outside my kitchen door. The temperature was, at the time of the photo shoot, about 20 degrees. The pie did not turn out all that well, I am sorry to report, but we ate most of it anyway.

I brought my knitting to Florida, of course, and finished yet another pair of fingerless gloves, this for my friend D who lives in Portland, Maine, and needs all the cold protection she can get. In the photo, they're posed next to a pair I made for Cy's mother, whose birthday arrives in about three weeks. Her mitts, plum colored, are from Debbie Bliss Chunky Merino, and D's are from Queensland Kathmandu DK (a merino, silk, cashmere blend), which I double-stranded. They look white in the photo, but are really a tweedy light brown. Here's the free pattern, on the Vogue Knitting website (you have to register to download it):

It's on #9 double points and knits up really fast.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesdays at six

is when the Langworthy Library Knitting Association of Hope Valley, Rhode Island, meets.

The group admires a delicate cape that Anne knit for her mother forty years ago. It's still in pristine condition.

Ming Lee models her beautiful hat.

Kim's already started her charity knitting for next Christmas. She makes hats and scarves for the collection at the Wood River Health Center.

Judy's knitting herself a pair of socks.

Socks are extremely popular amongst the knitters. The pink and red ones, made by Jane, from the Greater Boston Yarn Hoard (see post of November 7th, 2009) will be donated to Afghans for Afghans.

Those below, made by Denise, are from an amazing yarn that looks tie-dyed.

And Anne made the aqua socks, also from the Greater Boston Yarn Hoard, for her granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pretty in purple

Yesterday the knitters of Langworthy Library were favored by a surprise visit from Tanvi, who modeled a beautiful cap and scarf knitted by her mom, Madhu, one of the Children's Room librarians.

Tanvi is three years old.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap...

had just settled down to a long winter's nap. Friends, there was a damned good reason why people wore hats to bed before the invention of central heating.

Truly, this has been the coldest winter ever, and decidedly the least sexy. Long underwear is the de rigueur silver lining of daytime indoor clothing (think: down vests over heavy sweaters, polarfleece shirts, flannel-insulated jeans, thickest-wale corduroy slacks, you get the picture), and nighttime brings extra challenges in the sleepwear department. I am not a pj kinda gal; my all-time happy-making sleep garment is the classic heavy-duty flannel nightie, aka the male libido vanquisher. (I did say "sleep garment," didn't I? Fair reader, I do not live in a Victoria's Secret Catalog, but in an overtly Victorian state of mind.) True confessions: I totally do not care about the lack of allure, because there is almost nothing more hateful than freezing in bed.

Let us begin with the bed fittings. An underlayment of quilted mattress protector, on top of which, the sherpa mattress cover. Extra-thick flannel sheets, two down comforters, a quilted coverlet, and on the female side of the bed, an overlayment of down comforter (twin size) in a flannel duvet bag. In addition to two people, the bed is frequently occupied by anywhere between one and four cats, one of whom usually buries himself under the blankets.

I should mention that the house is centrally heated by a geothermal system (the brainchild of H, Master Environmentalist), and there is a woodburning stove in the downstairs livingroom that runs 24/7. Windows, locked tight, are large but supposedly have high E ratings.

Nonetheless the bedroom (upstairs) is screaming cold. Also, as a womyn, I am not possessed of the y-genre chromosome that disposes one to a) fall asleep instantly, upon climbing into bed, if there is no human sexual outlet available, and b) generate an oven's worth of heat as soon as I fall asleep. No indeed--popsicle toes and fingers, frostbite face, have long been the bane of my existence. They are also what let me read into the wee hours, since I cannot fall asleep while cold. On the bright side, my Frigidaire extremities allow me to churn my way through the Harvard Classics, stacks of New Yorkers, random novels, the New York Times crossword, 'n' more, every night.

Fortunately I am a knitter. And this winter, my sleep quotient has been aided by wearing some of my more recent creations to bed.

You will notice that the lovely model in this photo is wearing several garments knitted by moi-meme: to wit, the slouchy sweater sans hood (pattern in Greetings from Knit Café; for more on this see my post of 11/29 /09); the Toshiko scarf knit in Noro (free pattern from Berroco,, and the Crude Mitts of my own design knitted in a combo of generic cashmere and Julia yarns (pattern gratis on request, after signing a medical release form). The socks are polar fleece, but I have promised myself that once my remaining two WIPs are completed, I shall knit a pair of burly hiking socks especially suited to the rigors of New England winter indoor sleeping.

Finally, finally, finally, after hours and hours, I'm warm as toast, sleep comes and it knits up the ravel'd sleave of care, as the Bard famously said. And, my friends, 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

PS: I almost forgot to mention that I heat large ocean-smoothed stones, collected on rambles along the beauteous Rhode Island coast, on the top of the wood stove all day. Then at night, before plunging into bed, I put several of these stones in a small cotton sack and run them upstairs. They are deposited between the sheets and do a decent job of warming up my small area for a while. Littler stones can also be inserted into my Crude Mitts and used as hand warmers, both on top and bottom. (Though the mitts sag a bit from the additional weight, the heat is a boon while reading.) A future project will be to knit a special sleeping bag for the hot stones.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Here's where things stand now: the mitts of my own crude design are about 90% finished. The mitts of another's crude design are about 75% finished. Cy's sweater is about a quarter finished. (Photo above.) It's the "Dangerous Dinosaur" pattern from Lucinda Guy's Handknits for Kids.

What a super book! Lucinda Guy, a Briton, is one of the most talented children's knitwear designers ever. Her partner/illustrator, François Hall, exactly captures the spirit of Lucinda's designs in his whimsical sketches of the sweaters, blankets, toys, and her other wonderful creations. For more on this great team, see the article about them in Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine (Spring/Summer 2006).

The sweater, size 4, is a delight to knit. I'm making it in a variety of stash yarns, including an Artyarn ombre that's decidedly Crayola-like, and finding it much more compelling than my other projects. Cy's birthday (his second) is February 26th, so I know what my deadline is. Progress reports forthcoming.

And, while I'm on the topic of whimsical knitting, have a look at this article in the latest Resurgence Magazine, on "Extreme Knitting":

I've always been interested in knitting as a purely visual art form. Last September in Vancouver I saw a fence surrounding a community garden that had been covered in hand-knitted fabric of various colors. It was, unlike the Extreme Knitting profiled above, non-representational. If you're aware of any non-clothing knitted art examples in the New England area, please let me know for a future post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Forward, march...

Ever curious, I asked my friends about their knitting resolutions for 2010. Mine is simple and practical: I must finish my works in progress (WIPs) before beginning anything else. That would be three at the moment--a dinosaur-themed sweater birthday present for Cy, who turns two in February; a pair of striped fingerless mitts from a crude pattern of my own devising; and a pair of pop-top mitts from a crude pattern of someone else's devising (on this, see my post of December 17th, 2009).

Deborah Newton says she's going to "try to be more original and not repeat myself....That is harder than you think, when you've been designing for as many years as I have!"

Anne and Denise, members of the Langworthy Library Knitting Association, offered the following resolutions:

Denise: I think I will resolve to work on only one project at a time...not to begin another until I've completed the one I'm working on. I'm a great starter, but a poor finisher!!! learn a new technique--like knitting in the continental style.

Anne: I'm resolving not to buy yarn I'm not ready to use. [She told me this shortly after having purchased some new yarn at Country Corner Yarns.]

This evening I sashayed over to Country Corners in Charlestown, Rhode Island (, for a noteworthy knitting event (and Anne and Denise were there, among the assembled), and I managed within a few minutes of my arrival to grill everyone on their new year's knitting resolutions:

  • to learn new knitting patterns and increase my skill-level. Mirja gave me the 365 Knitting Stitches a Year Perpetual Calendar, which we sell in the shop, and I can learn a new pattern every day!
  • Another resolution that I have is to try to persuade some of my close friends and family members to learn how to knit. I have managed to pique their interest so far by letting them borrow some of the many knitting novels that I've recently collected.
  • To have a knitting novel library available in the shop by the summer for our seasonal customers to checkout, or encourage their non-knitting friends to think about knitting
Mirja: to finish everything I've started before I start a new project.

Barbara: to take out eight rows and re-do them before I finish the shrug I'm making.

Kathy: I plan to knit more [this year] than I have been.

Sue: To perfect at least one pattern, like mittens. And by next year to have knitted one item for each of my family members.

Nancy: to learn to knit...after I refinish six chairs.


Those who shared their new year's resolutions were gathered at Country Corner Yarns for an interesting reason--we were about to teleconference with Kate Jacobs, author of Knit the Season and several other knitterly novels. I was impressed by the genuine, thoughtful quality of the Ms. Jacobs's ruminations about writing fiction, how she tries to reach her audience, and what it's like to write books that carry characters from one volume to the next. She struck me as a writer who's as sensitive to her characters' situations and issues as she is to the concerns and interests of her readership. In the photos you can see her novel on the table in the foreground, and the telephone in the center.

(Note, please, the deep concentration as everyone listens to Kate Jacobs.)