I knit. And I cook, write, take pictures. All for one low price.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Yarn Harlot in Northampton, MA

See these streets of Northampton? Totally devoid of knitters.
But wait...why do I see lots and lots of women who are carrying a pocketbook AND another bag which looks suspiciously like a knitting bag?

Ahhh...here we go. 4:30 pm. We are beginning to convene in front of the Calvin theatre.
5 pm. We have a line. It went all the way in the (shady!! we had 91 degrees in the sun, people!) alleyway.

5: 30, crowd's filling in the theatre nicely. The biggest knit night I've ever been to. So cool. Everyone sittting, knitting, chatting. Hundreds (I heard the estimate was near 600) of knitters from everywhere, all generations, happily together.

Sorry for the darkness in this next shot. Steve Elkins of Webs is presenting Stephanie with glass of locally brewed beer. She restrained herself though and didn't touch it to the end.

"Picture your stash. Picture everyone else's stash. Picture all the stashes in the world, picture all the yarn shops in the world. That's a lot of wool.
And to this day, there's not a machine that can shear a sheep. It comes down to one sweaty shearer wrestling a sheep to the ground.
My imaginary sheep shearer looks like a shirtless muscle packed guy in Australia. What does your shearer look like?"

I have to tell you, if there had been room, I would have been ROFL. Nobody I know has ever talked about Stephanie's impeccable comedic timing. Not only is the woman brilliant, and caring, and a feminist, and a fabulous knitter, and a fabulous writer, she is a comedian. Canadian comedian. So funny I had to put my sock away because I kept doubling over into my dpns.
I wish there was a podcast available of this talk, for all of you to hear what she had to say about CHOKE (Cultural Humiliation Of Knitters Everywhere). You know, the one where knitters get discriminated against simply because they.....knit. By banks (if you want a loan to open a yarn shop. I know from my own experience. I had to pretend to the loan officer that I was a car salesman and had to translate yarn into cars for him. True story.). By bars who think knitters can't knit and drink at the same time. By book stores who think that knitters don't buy books that talk about knitting or that knitters don't come to readings by authors who write about knitting.
CHOKE operatives, according to Stephanie, underestimate knitters' intelligence, generosity (see "knitters without borders" on her blog, on the side bar), sheer number, and ability to translate dollars into yarn.

After the event, the streets of Northampton are packed with knitters. Yes those are all knitters waiting to cross the street. On their way back to Webs. Presumably to get an autograph. I think also to translate dollars into yarn. (I went ahead and did that before the event. "We will not talk about that.")

At the signing, after an hour of waiting, I get near the table. I have no idea what Linda Roghaar is looking for under the table. I hope she found it.

Last but not least, the Bohus. I think I should have gotten an autograph from that sweater, too.

Thank you, Stephanie, for an amazing evening. Going to see you is even much much better than reading your books.

PS: I know I promised you 20 hats. I made 12. I have pictures to prove it, since I was too shy to plop them all in front of you right then. But they went into the donation basket.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Loot

8 patterns for yarn I already have. You know, there's a yarn stash, and then there's a pattern stash. Don't want to neglect the latter.

Luscious sock yarn to make the cover socks from Favorite Socks. This is a dusty pink. I swear it feels like Koigu...
I got it at Sliver Moon Farm. They'll be at Rhinebeck in the fall, in case you're interested. I'll be in that booth, too!
They ended up giving me this for free because I helped out for a couple of hours. Thanks, guys!!!

Since I am in love with spinning, I got a pound of this.

Finn/Rambouillet/Corriedale cross breed. Somebody did a gorgeous job with the colors...
And for practice purposes, I got two soccer ball sized balls of Jacob wool named "Deidre". :) I love when you can tell exactly which sheep the wool came off of!

I already spun one of the soccer balls into that huge skein above. It's not washed /set yet.

And last but not least,

Laurie at Sliver Moon gave me this to play with. I am to come up with a sock pattern. Not an easy "feet", as there are a bazillion sock patterns out there! But you certainly don't have to twist my arm ....:)

Monday, May 28, 2007


This was Memorial Day weekend, I know. But also it was Pentecost where I grew up; the peony is called Pfingstrose in German, pentecost rose.
Because they bloom right around that time. How do they know to do that?
Here are some that from my yard that made just in time before yesterday's storms. Their petals are all gone today.

Today we were with friends and I managed to finish my merino wool sweater. It's not blocked yet, and I forgot to bring the buttons so it is buttonless so far. But guess what - I have been wearing it for hours and never want to take it off again.
The flower pictures are intended to tide you over.
I have a lot to do tomorrow; on Wednesday I am going to Northampton to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee speak; and on Thursday, tall son and I are going to see Itzak Perlman play.
So I am going to just ask you to talk amongst yourselves for a few days and go back to your regularly scheduled knitting. MAYBE I'll get to take pictures of The Loot from Saturday and finish posting about that.
We thank you for your patience in this matter.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cummington, MA

My friend Anna and I went to the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool fest today. It is late and I am too tired for a proper post+write, but I thought I'd leave you with a few pictures of the fabulous creatures that give us their fiber. Tomorrow, I will take pictures of The Loot...

Is he eyeing me sideways, or what?

Somebody is REALLY well taken care of.

Angora goat family.

Rasta sheep.

His Cuteness, Angora the Bunny!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

7 random things

Vivian has tagged me in this game that bloggers like to play, where one is encouraged to write down 7 random things about oneself. I'll be a good sport and play along, but I will respectfully not tag anyone from here. With my apologies.... Of course if you want to, feel free to tell us your 7 random things, in the comment section or on your own blog. :)

7 random things about me.

1) I do not forward chain mail letters.

2) When I first came to this country as an exchange student in college, I thought I'd never come back.

3) I have seen 37 out of 50 states.

4) I don't know how to read crochet charts.

5) I like hardware stores, paint stores, and garden stores.

6) I love my mother's homemade jam the best.

7) I write poetry. Not as much as I used to, but I still do.


As a kid, going along the country road, I knew every house,

town, and tree. In winter, my little sister and I would count

all the lighted Christmas trees on the way home from Oma's house.

26 on the right, 32 on the left.

Summers, the moon followed me through the car window.

During a recent visit, my parents take me back to my grandparents' grave.

On a misty November morning, the new autobahn cuts through fields

I've never seen before. 4 lane bridges cover quiet streams,

straightened now, flowing too fast.

My face streaming with tears, I do not get this progress.

At the exit we take, I recognize the old road.

Only 6 kilometers of familiar sights.

An orchard, though it lost its leaves,

is holding on to a treeful of golden apples,

glowing like small lamps through the mist.

Karin Maag-Tanchak 05/07

There you have it....the line breaks are not appearing like I want them to. I hope you get the idea though.

8th random thing: Karin has not figured this blogging thing out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

at least some socks!

Reason I've been quiet is that I have been knitting.

I am always starting things, always in the middle of several projects, and always finishing something. I have never been able to stick with just one project. I get really excited in the starting phase, and then when the project is well on its way, I put it down. There dear, you can stand on your own two feet now and finish yourself. I have a new little fledgling project to attend to, and you don't need me anymore. Of course when I go back to check on it, or I happen upon it, there it still is, unfinished...

However, this week and last I have been busy trying to make/finish a cardigan which I want to take to this weekend's Massachusetts Sheep and Woolfest in Cummington. I had bought that merino wool a couple years back at the NY sheep and wool and I want to show the lady who produces such gorgeous yarn what became of her product! The weather will be much too warm, I hope, to actually wear the sweater, but it's a good incentive nonetheless.

Also I am trying to finish another pair of socks, and a little girl's sweater for donation, and working on a design for submission.

So to tide you over, here are some socks I finished. They are Opal Petticoat.

I gave them to a good friend of mine for Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I just realized that I neglected to tell you about the spinning class I took a week ago Sunday, at the Spinning Room in the beautiful village of Altamont, NY, outside of Albany. The class ran from 10 am to 3 pm, we were 3 students, and had a wonderful teacher. Mary has been spinning for at least 25 years, and is very knowledgeable about everything spinning related. She used to raise her own sheep, but now runs the Spinning Room yarn shop full time.

At first, she had us treadling for while. We took turns on 3 different spinning wheels to get the feel for them. One was single treadle, one was double treadle, and one was "fake" double treadle, meaning you operate a single treadle with two feet.

After a while, we were knitting while treadling-- a great way to make us multitask and have the treadling become automatic. Just before lunch, we attached a length of single ply yarn to the flyer (gee I hope I am remembering all the parts of the wheel correctly...), and we pretend spun.
Then we attached some roving, which we had pre-drafted, and began to spin...well, or tried to.

At that point I was ready for a little break.

After lunch, we moved the wheels outside to the little porch and had a view of the village green (see below). While the other two students merrily spun away, I had a bit of difficulty with my really smooth red roving. It kept getting away from me and breaking. I must tell you I was ready to walk away and walk around that village green a few times, to regain my composure. But Mary of course kept her cool and stepped in and said that sometimes, the spinner and the roving don't agree...I was grateful for that excuse! She gave me something "stickier", and away I went. Much better. She put a felted basket of various rovings next to me and I just grabbed whatever was in there:

Hence the rather mixed appearance of my first skein! Very lumpy stuff indeed. But heck some would call this designer yarn and would actually pay good money for this!

At the end of the day, I couldn't get enough. I went home with a rented wheel, a Louet double treadle, ran to where the stash lives, and found a small ball of Jacob roving, turning it into this. I think it's starting to look like something!

(Village Green in Altamont, NY)

We go back in a couple of weeks for a follow-up class, and to learn how to ply. I can't wait. Meanwhile, I already ran back there for some more roving, so I can "practice". Nice word for getting your fiber fix.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


My email was having major hiccups again.

I have my email back, but my address book is lost. Gone.

If I owe you and email, I can hit reply; if I want to notify you about something, and we haven't written lately (as in the last 3-4 days or so), and I have no old emails in my inbox from you, then I have no way of contacting you.

So here's an announcement I have to make to local knitters, and my apologies to people who read my blog from across the country.

There will be NO Knit Night at Tea and Tattered Pages in June, because the owner is moving her shop. We will resume our knit night again on the first Thursday of every month beginning in July. The new shop is located very close, across the intersection near Glenmont beverage and Roberta's Gift Shop.

And will Allison S. and Melanie C. please contact me re: Northampton on May 30th. You know what I mean. :)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled knitting.

Monday, May 14, 2007

quick little update

We went to the annual Tulip Festival in Albany's Washington Park yesterday. Very often, the tulips are past their peak once the festival rolls around, or the weather is less than cooperative.
This weekend was perfect.
These are 3 out of a couple dozen pictures I took.
The last picture is the tulip bed you saw a couple of weeks ago, when it was still all green.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

blogger tells all

I had 2 nightmares this week. Well, 2 that were yarn related, anyway.
One: the one that knitters always ask about: the question, would rescue your stash from a burning building? I had a dream this week about that. I rescued a bin of yarn from a burning building. It was a bin of my sock yarn that I had carefully sorted and counted out for the 52 pair plunge KAL.
Somehow I was at a conference of some sort and we were in a big room up on the teenth floor and somebody yelled Fire! and there was smoke. I put the lid on my sock yarn container and hauled out of there.

Then this morning I woke up very early. Partly due to the cat who was trying to wake us all up so someone would feed her, and partly due to some dream I had. You know the feeling when you wake up and all you're left with is the emotions of that dream, but no images? It was like that. And the big question I was left with when I woke up was: What the hell are you doing anyway? Think you're a designer, are you? Who do you think you are, Annie Modesitt?? Veronik Avery?? Lily Chin? Well, don't get your hopes up, chick. You're just a little nobody who thinks she can knit.

I was so depressed. We have a saying in German that goes something like, "afraid of your own courage" in English. When you realize you have great courage to try something new but then you also realize what a great risk you're taking and how much you could lose.

The reason why I am telling you all this is that after the last post, and after my dreams, I realized (not for the first time, but again), that everything is a construct. I am constructing a blog and give you beautiful pictures and some good solid knitting and some decent writing. All in the hopes that you will keep reading, that we will stay in touch, that we may realize that there is a connection we share.

But there are pitfalls. The pitfall is that I can make this blog anything I want. I am influenced by people like this, and this. I can make it a construct that has very little to do with my life, and what my yard actually looks like and what I am actually knitting.
I can make it what I think people might want to see.

Now hold that thought and apply it to designing. What do I think Interweave or Knitty might want to see? What do I make so they will be interested in it and will accept it and publish it? It's enough to make your (my!) head spin. Keeping the latest yarns and fashions in mind, nay, predict what they will be one year from now...tricky business, I tell you.

Then it dawns on me that I am now talking about other people's constructs. How much do I want to buy into their constructs? How much do I want to lose myself in them just to get a pattern published?

Which gets me right back where I started: me. My roots. My handcrafting roots which run pretty deep.

By day's end, I am slowly getting back to my center, I know what I want, I know what I can make, I know how I will go on. And I decided to let you in on the process, keeping it real, and all that.

And Happy Mother's Day, to all who celebrate!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

kinda like that

I don't want to bore you with all the pictures of flowers from my yard.
But I am hoping that you will be inspired to look around you and notice colors. See them, and take them in....

I am not saying that I picked out the colors for the baby sweater because of the flowers in my yard. I actually picked the color because I knew I would be knitting for a little guy born in spring. After I finished the sweater the other day, I took pictures of it. When I went to blog about it, I found the flower pictures I took previously. You can't tell me there's not a connection here somewhere...

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Today, a bit of eye candy.
Some Marvelous Mohair by Steadfast Fibers, wound into cakes for a new design I'm cooking up.

Can't tell you what it is yet, but I'll tease you with the colors.

Alison ventured a guess as to what the stray plant under my star dogwood is. It's a peony, a little cousin that got away from the rest of the family on the other side. Can't wait for them to be all in bloom.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


This week, I made a Lucy Bag for Decadent Fibers. Behold three straight days of knitting. The long strap is 40 inches long, the bag itself 24 inches. It will be felted, but not by moi, so I won't able to show you what it looks like when it's done (yet).

name that plant

Spring has sprung.
I love seeing all that new green.
If the weather holds, we'll have azaleas and rhododendrons blooming withing a few days.