Sunday, March 16, 2014

Little grey rabbit, loose ends

In my freelance life I've been given the enjoyable assignment of knitting up toys for a venerable yarn company. The latest completed project has been a shy little grey rabbit. She refused to smile for this photograph.

Yesterday was the Ides of March, and as promised, a winner of the Knit Nordic pattern book giveaway was selected. That person is TracyK, and to her I say "congratulations, and please email me via the button on my blogger profile (the "About Me" section of the blog on the right side of the page) with your mailing address so I can send that to the publisher, who will then dispatch the book to you. If I don't hear from you by the 29th, the book will go to the contest runner-up." 

For those of you among the gentle knitters who like receiving free pattern books, a new giveaway will be posted shortly, so be on the lookout. Very few people tend to enter these giveaways, and you therefore have a much greater chance of being awarded a knitting book than you do of, say, winning Powerball.

Thanks to the awesome designer Kristin Nicholas who mentioned it on her blog, my free pattern for the Earbud Sleeve went viral. That was quite pleasing to me, because I like it when I'm able to improve the lives of so many knitting friends. One of them, Margaret in Grafton, Massachusetts, sent this photo of her completed earbud sleeve, which turned out beautifully. 

I welcome photos of any others people care to send me, and I'll publish them to inspire future generations of knitters who wish to solve the problem of tangled earbuds.


Purim and spring both arrive this week. At the moment there's very little snow left on the ground in southern Rhode Island, but it's bitterly cold and windy, so difficult to imagine there will be a warming trend. To offset this depressing thought, I baked a lot of Ultimate Hamentaschen today.

They're filled with a delectable mixture of oranges, pecans, dried figs, etc., and I highly recommend the recipe, from the venerable Joan Nathan, which was published in Tablet Magazine last week. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring alert!

Claude takes time to smell the crocuses.

Claude the Caterpillar is the latest member of my knitted toys family. He's a free pattern from Lion Brand yarn, created from Lion Brand's "Vanna's Choice" acrylic worsted, which is durable enough to withstand most children. I let Claude explore the garden yesterday, and he drew my attention to the first crocuses. That was certainly uplifting! (Especially since the forecast for tomorrow is freezing rain mixed with snow. We New Englanders cling to every ray of hope....)
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And, another wonderful spring event:  my feature article, "Treasure Hunt:  The Hidden Yarn Shops of Manhattan," is in the latest issue of Interweave Knits (Spring 2014). Doing the research for this piece last summer was amazing fun, and I was accompanied on these day-trips to the Big Apple by my trusty pal Neuroknitter, who was, as always, great company.

You'll find the article on pages 12-15.

Coming up soon: the winner of the Knit Nordic book giveaway (there's still time to enter: contest closes on 3/15 at midnight), another knitting book review and giveaway, and....?)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Something like endless shrimp...

Some years ago we dined in Wethersfield, Connecticut, because H had been seduced by incessant t.v. ads for a restaurant promising a meal called "endless shrimp." We drove 71 miles--that was the closest franchise (go figure), and as you, gentle knitters, may already suspect, the trip was a waste.

Was it terrible food? No, it was actually much worse than that--gritty, dessicated little pieces of crustacean crud, coated with fried gunk or drenched in congealed butter. Endless shrimp seemed a very bad idea from the minute we were served. Yet many of the morbidly obese diners near us were happily shoveling in the unlimited fare. Some people really want the most bang for their buck, even if it's a heart attack on a plate.

Similarly, there are people in this area of New England who profess to enjoy the endless snow that Mother N has been sending our way. The latest "event" was today, a threatened one-to-three inches. Fortunately this did not come to pass, and we received only a dusting.

Lest you think this is some kind of rant, I'll share a Shelleyan vision:

 Yes, snowdrops have emerged, promising that spring isn't far behind.

Despite spring's inevitability, it doesn't feel that way, and I've been knitting accordingly. The latest project is a medium-sized afghan, intended for the my grandson and granddog, both of whom spend a lot of time on the floor.

Dexter and Max

Here it is:

It's a log-cabin pattern writ large--chunky yarn on size 13 needles. All it takes is four squares. (So very unlike endless shrimp. And endless winter. And all that endless nasty stuff.)

If you've got cabin fever and are looking for diversion and even a bit of knitting education, I'd draw your attention to Knit Nordic by Eline Oftedal (Collins and Brown, 2014), a book that crossed my desk recently. Ignore the unfortunate designs for knitted hotpants and racerback tank top; enjoy and consider making the more attractive patterns for cowls, mitts, hats, pillow covers, and the like. This nicely-written book eases you into the classic elements of Norwegian knitting design, and teaches you to create beautiful, strong (because of floats) fabric, and useful items. The yarn colors are uplifting, and will brighten up your life. It's clear from Knit Nordic that Norwegians understand how to rout the winter blahs.

The publisher has kindly offered one copy to my readers--so post a comment on this blog if you want the book, and let me know why. Giveaway closes at midnight on the Ides of March.