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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

thank you!

Thank you everyone for the compliments on the yarn colors. I am hopeful that very soon, my handdyed yarn will be available online for purchase. Melanie and Alison of Dye-namics and I are trying to figure out a way. They are an established dye company with a website. Please check them out! I have had socks from their yarn for years and they are holding up much better than some of the Very Famous Brands.

Some of you inquired about my new job. My new boss, Lori, and I actually were co-workers for a while at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, then she cut back on her hours because she also had two small businesses she was running. One of which is a personal chef business. She has a professional kitchen, her business is expanding, she needs help....one day we got to talking. I needed better hours to be able to write my book. She could use my help. The rest is history. I am still a member of the co-op, putting in 3-4 hours a week, thus getting my 26% discount on groceries I buy there.

What can I say. It was a little serendipitous. She's a knitter and a spinner and a weaver.

Speaking of work, today I am actually home, simply trying to breathe. This sudden and intense onset of spring - summer, really - has made my seasonal allergies so much worse. I got new drugs yesterday, and an inhaler. The new drugs are knocking me out just a little, this post took me a very long time to write....I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

where some of my sock yarn now lives

I'll do a proper post on Thursday, about the shop and what cool things I saw there. For now, this will have to do. I still have more of most of these colors - all in all I have around 30 colors now. (You'd think I'm getting ready for a Sock Summit or something).

still here

I didn't mean to not blog.

It's just that I've dyed 95 skeins of sock yarn during the last few days, added several paragraphs and revisions to the book manuscript, and generally kept things flowing smoothly around here.

Also, and I can't for the life of me remember if I've told you, but I started a new job a couple of weeks ago. Basically rearragend my life a little so I would have more time to dedicate to the knitting book I'm writing. So far it is working out beautifully, with the added bonus that my new boss is a knitter and a spinner and a weaver. We make healthy food from total scratch together AND I can talk knitting while we cook! How cool is that.

Tomorrow, I am headed up to Saratoga Springs to visit with a local yarn shop owner who is interested in looking at my sock yarn.

I'll talk to you when I get back. Meanwhile, check this out!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day!

I know.

Sounds like I'm a day late, right?

Earth Day is every day.

The end.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

blanket project

I am home dyeing sock yarn today but keep running over to ravelry. There is a lot of activity going on in the Fans of afghans for Afghans forum. I am volunteering to put two blankets together (12 squares each, 10x10 inches per square). If you are on ravelry and are checking that out, I am hosting US blankets number 2 and 4. (There are Canadian ones, too, if you read this and live in Canada.)

These blankets are being made in memory of Kay's husband Peter. Kay had requested that if knitters wanted to do something for her, to make a contribution to a4A.
I'll keep you posted as soon as those squares from all over the country arrive at my doorstep! The deadline is May 1st; then I have about 10 days to put them together.

I tell you, every time something like this happens, I am just glad I can pick up my needles and DO something.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I am puzzled.

Evidently I had the wrong commenter yesterday when I notified the winners.

Would the real emcknits please step forward? I owe you some yarn....which I already gave away! But if you're willing to accept a different shade, then I could sleep better again at night.


In other news, please stop by the Mason-Dixon blog if you would. I had no idea what was going on when I wrote my "end of life" post this morning.

ETA: thank you emcknits for writing to me. I am so sorry about the mix-up! (One little letter in an ID was different. My fault for having the wrong name recognition.) I will mail your yarn out tomorrow.

in my wake

Last week, an elderly member of our church passed away, and I went to her funeral service on Saturday.
It got me thinking, like those kind of events tend to get you thinking. And I realized what I want my wake to look like. You guys have to PROMISE me that this is what you will do for me:
Come together and bring your knitting. Bring your knitting and your spinning and have yourselves a knit & chat, a good old fashioned stitch & bitch. Sit around like we always have, and talk about the kids and what it's like to have to care for one's elderly parents. Talk about your jobs and the upcoming vacation, if you're lucky enough to be able to go on one. Best of all, talk about yarn and knitting, patterns and stitch patterns and books about knitting. Bring in some new knitters, and guide them when they need it.
I will have already asked my loved ones to take what yarn and books they want, and pile the rest up for you. Since I already know right now that I will have yarn left over at the end of my life, I would like you all to sit around my stash for an afternoon and check it out. When it's time to go, I want you all to divy it up and take it home with you.
I won't be able to tell you what to do with the yarn, but my wish would be that you make something for yourself, and make something for my favorite charitable organization, Afghans for Afghans.
To my knitting lawyer friends: I had better put all this in writing, right? I don't think a blog counts as a legal document...
Until the day of the wake, let's knit on together.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

we have a winner!

On this stunningly beautiful day in April 2009, we had a drawing in the backyard. Crafty Girl assisted.

The winner of Ethnic Knitting Exploration and four skeins of Nashua "Julia" is: Melanie! CONGRATULATIONS!!! THANK YOU FOR PLAYING!!

But wait.....what's this??

Could there be a second prize winner? A runner up?

OK so I was feeling generous, alright? These four skeins of purple "Julia" go to: emcknits. I think that's Elaine. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Please send your mailing addresses to karinmaagtanchakATnycapDOTrrDOTcom so I can get these out tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the posts, and to comment. I hope you will keep stopping by to say 'hi'.

Now back to our regularly scheduled knitting. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Interview with Donna Druchunas, part 2

Here is part 2 of the interview with Donna Druchunas. Thank you so much for reading!

DD: Although I love the freedom of being able to design my own projects, I also sometimes like to just follow a pattern instead of thinking about designing something. However, I find that I can never make a project exactly as written -- I always find something I want to change: the armhole shaping or depth, the sleeve cap height, the neckband, changing a pullover to a cardigan. So knowledge about garment construction and knitting design frees me to alter patterns when I do knit from them. Do you ever knit from patterns or do you always work up your own designs? Why?

KMT: I am LOUSY at following directions as written, I always want to change something!! And the few times where I swore to myself that this time I will follow the directions as written, there’d be something wrong with them. Funny enough, I do not always work up my own designs. I should! But when I do, I work things out as I go along, and do not bother to write anything down.

DD: Recently I've been buying crochet books and I'm even working on my first crochet design for publication right now. I don't see crochet ever replacing knitting as my first fiber-arts love, but I do think I'll be making more room for it in the future. Have you ever considered working in crochet?

KMT: I did learn how to crochet as a kid, and my hands know how to do the most basic crochet stitches. While I learned how to read and write English/American knitting patterns very well, the same did not happen for crochet patterns. And believe me, people have tried! I have a number of learn to crochet books, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of the pattern language.There. You found me out. I really only have one talent: knitting.
But you know what? I'll definitely run to the book store and buy your crochet book when it comes out.

DD: It's my obsessions that turn into large projects, like books. A topic grabs hold of me and I can't stop learning more about it. It's not so much inspiration as it is a compulsion to learn everything I can and share the information with other knitters. What drives your creativity?

KMT: Oh my goodness. Call me crazy, but I think in terms of knitting (and these days, dyeing yarn) pretty much everywhere I go. I see string at a hardware store, I wonder what I could make out of it. I see rolling fields, I wonder how I could express that in an afghan and dye the yarn for it just so. I see brick walls such as at MassMoCA, and I want to cover them in giant felted pieces.
Pretty much every skein of yarn I look at, I immediately wonder what it could become. Every stitch pattern I study, my mind goes to making a garment, or something for the home…

One of my dreams is to make more knitted art….either for the human body or environmental art…I have a movie called ‘Rivers and Tides’, about Andy Goldsworthy. I would love to have a whole series of knitted items and garments based on his artwork in that documentary.
But for now, I’ll stick with clothes and items that real people can actually use! There is so much possibility.

DD: Thanks for being part of my blog tour. I'm not sure which is harder in an interview: asking the questions or answering them!

KMT: Thank you ever so much for visiting with me. I do hope that some day soon we will meet in person! Since we didn’t talk about your book here, but rather got an insider’s view of your creative process, I would like to mention that this particular series of books is very user friendly for knitters who want to design their own sweaters. I like the different templates you offer, for different learning/reading styles. As soon as I have a minute, I'd like to sit down and design and make an Icelandic sweater....I've never made one of those.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Please welcome Donna Druchunas

Here, then, is the first part of an interview with Donna Druchunas.
Notice how Donna says the words "inspired by a pattern stitch"....and "pattern template".
There is a reason for that. YOU can do it too. YOU can design your own sweater! If you can make and measure a swatch, you can design and knit your own pullover or cardigan sweater. I promise.
Read more about the book on this blog tour.

Donna Druchunas: What got you interested in knitting and knitwear design? I learned to knit from my grandmother, but then didn't pick up my needles for years and years. It was a yarn shop full of new, gorgeous yarns -- wool, alpaca, novelty yarns -- that got me itching to knit again in my mid-30s.

Karin Maag-Tanchak: I learned to knit in grade school (growing up in Germany). I simply cannot remember a time when I wasn’t knitting. When I grew up, I knitted everything without a pattern, with lots of trial and error. I remember learning how to make socks without a pattern when I was a teenager. Every time I came to a spot where I didn’t know how to go on, I’d ask my mother, and she told me. I still have my first pair.

DD: I have a very seat-of-the-pants type of design process: I get inspired by a yarn or a pattern stitch or a garment shape, and I just start knitting and make things up as I go, taking a few notes along the way. Then I plug everything into a pattern template when I'm done. It's only when I have a tight deadline and need someone to help with the knitting that I write a pattern before I knit something. What is your process for designing a garment and writing the instructions?

KMT: I think I was still knitting a lot of things without a pattern pretty much until I opened my yarn shop, which I had from 2002 to 2006. Believe me, there were lots of disasters along the way! But when customers came in and asked me how I made a certain scarf or hat, I had to write it down for them. Naturally, I also sold a huge bunch of commercial knitting patterns and books, and help folks through their projects. I learned to speak knitting then, and soon after began to write patterns. I write them just like you. But when I have a certain assignment, I start with swatching and sketching, and then the knitting and writing happens almost simultaneously.

DD: I love exploring complex textures and intricate garment constructions, but sometimes there's nothing better than knitting a garter stitch scarf or shawl out of a luxury yarn on big, wooden needles for relaxation. What types of projects do you prefer to knit? Do you design the same things you personally enjoy knitting?

KMT: That’s a tough one to answer, because I seem to be all over the place with my knitting. Sometimes I wish I could just focus on one thing! But I love it all so much…I’ll start a garter stitch shawl or log cabin squares for an afghan, then I’ll get sidetracked by a gorgeous skein of yarn or a new pattern while surfing the web…or a new knitting magazine will arrive in the mail, and there’s something in there I want to make…I’m hopeless in the face of all that yarn and the books and patterns.
As far as designing, I am relatively new to it....I loved making the the two designs I have in your next book, and would definitely want to wear them, too. (more shameless plug coming up) In the book I am writing, I am including designs for everyone, and yes I am enjoying every single one of them.

Part two of the interview will follow tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ready, set,...

....tomorrow: go!

Friday, April 17th, will bring the first of a two-part interview with Donna Druchunas, author of Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland.

Technically, though, Donna is interviewing me! As we were discussing her new book in connection with the blog tour, we got to talking about designing and why we knit what we do. Donna then asked me some questions, her being the true pro at this.

You can see my answers here tomorrow and Saturday, April 17th and 18th.

Remember to leave a comment for us here. It will give you a chance to win a copy of the book, and enough Nashua "Julia" yarn to make a pair of fingerless mitts with traditional Lithuanian stitch patterns.

The drawing will be on Sunday, April 19th, sometime in the afternoon.

Stay tuned! Leave a comment! Win a book and yarn.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Margaret's Shawl

Last fall at Rhinebeck, Margaret Klein Wilson gave me four skeins of her sportweight Mostly Merino yummy delicious yarn. Just handed them to me, asking, could you make a shawl from those? I said, sure, I'd love to! She had seen some of my shawls on this blog. I felt honored.

Well I finally did it! This is what I did during most of the month of March. Another top-down shawl, this time with a small ruffle at the end. It was to be a very simple design, using the 4 colors. Final size after a gentle blocking was 72 inches across, and 34 inches down the center.

Let us know what you think! The yarn and pattern are be available at Margaret's booth at this year's East Coast sheep and wool festivals and Stitches conventions, and while you can order the yarn from her on her website (check it for her classes and show schedule), the pattern is not up there just yet.

While I was in the yard getting pictures of the shawl, these flowers were looking on. I finally believe that spring is indeed here!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter was:

So we're back home, I am at the computer, uploading all kinds of pictures from a project I finished, and the trip.

What do I find but pictures of all four (!) eggs we dyed for Easter. Hey there were only the three of us, Crafty Girl, Dear Husband, and I, that morning, and four eggs made a nice egg salad after church and before we hit the road.

Crafty Girl took my camera and took a few pictures of the eggs. The lovely background is our yellow formica countertop.

Remember, your comment will put you in the drawing for the book Ethnic Knitting Exploration, and enough yarn to make some 2-color Lithuanian fingerless mitts.

PS: to Melanie from the comments: yes all the yarn shops were closed. But I am NOT looking for more yarn. I'm not. Believe it.
PPS: to answer Pat's question from the comments: we started with brown eggs, and we always leave the eggs in the dye for a long time. Some of these are dyed twice, like the green/teal one, which Crafty Girl did, and used a rubber band to get the stripe.
These make me want to dye yarn really badly.....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday and Sunday. We are off to Western New York State for a couple of days to visit Tall Son and Dear Husband's family.

I'll be bringing this laptop, so keep the comments coming! (If you're dying to say something to me but do not want to be entered into the drawing, please let me know.)

Happy Knitting!

Friday, April 10, 2009

watch this space! leave a comment! win a book!

Donna Druchunas is one of today's most prolific knitting book authors. I don't know how she does it, but she simply cranks out one volume after another. I am sure you have heard of Arctic Lace? Or how about Kitty Knits, a fun book she said she had to write to take a break from all the research-heavy ethnic knitting books she was writing.

Out right now is the second in a series of three books on ethnic knitting. Exploration was preceded by Ethnic Knitting Discovery, which of course I also own. Each of these volumes covers three countries and their distinct sweater styles.

Donna has organized a blog tour of the book, and I want to strongly encourage you to check it out. All the links to the various blogs are on Donna's site, Sheep to Shawl.

Next Saturday, April 18th, the blog tour will stop by here! Donna and I will be talking about our design approaches, what things we like to design and knit for ourselves, and all kinds of other good stuff.

So watch this space! Leave a comment! And win a copy of this very book:

Here's how it works:

- Leave a comment here on this blog and give me your name, or at least some initials.
- You may leave one comment per day all the way until Sunday, April 19th, 12 noon EST.
- Since I get to moderate the comments first, I can also delete them. No spamming, no rudeness. Be nice, please, and leave a comment for Donna, will ya?
- I will enter your name into the lottery as many times as you leave a comment, which means more chances for you!

On Sunday, April 19th, after I have had a lie-down and a cup of tea, I will literally put all the entries into a hat and have Crafty Girl draw a winner.

The name/identifying initials of the winner will be announced right here on the blog, that same day, if the creek don't rise. At which time I will ask the winner to email me his/her address. I might also throw in a skein of yarn or two to sweeten the deal. Who knows!

Ready, set, comment! I don't care where you live. I'll send the book to Australia, if I have to!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

more NYC

I actuality, I found these images/impressions in the reverse order, but I am putting them up here like this because most everyone always thinks of New York in terms of Times Square,

famous skyscrapers,

and famous baseball fields (here, the former Shea Stadium):

But there is also a lot of quiet and introspection,

beauty in the parks,

and stately old buildings from 150 years ago.

( Quaker Meeting House on Stuyvesant Park)

The magnolia trees were already in bloom.

I walked for many hours, and found some small neighborhoods.

Keep walking with me on this blog, won't you? Soon, we will speak of yarn again, and the famous author who will be visiting here on April 18th. Stay tuned.....

Monday, April 6, 2009

New York City

I'll tell you the yarn store part of my visit. First up: purl SOHO. A tiny shop with the nicest sales people and floor to ceiling yarn. Nothing but color. It was crowded in there, so I got only a few shots.

(angora booties from "last minute knitted gifts")

Just a few doors down: purl patchwork. I wanted to move to Sullivan Street right then and there, by the way. Love that neighborhood.

The next day, I found a bedroom size habu textiles shop on the 8th floor of an office building:

(psst: that's pure silk, fine as hair)

(silk and merino)

(linen paper yarn)

School Products is a completely different experience: an old-time yarn shop, importer of fine Italian yarns. I selected a 2.2 lb cone of merino tweed and had it shipped home. It was a bargain at $30/lb. and 940 yards pp! I haven't photographed it yet.

Some more images and impressions tomorrow. Completely yarnless.