Revolution in Handspinning

I’m not a spinner, but this is a wonderful video from Hansencrafts.  Animated needle felting?  You may have seen this already, but if not, enjoy!


Sheep Con aka Rhinebeck NYSW

My niece, gamer girl and very funny person, told me “Have fun at Sheep Con!” when I was leaving for Rhinebeck, and it stuck.  Totally Sheep Con.  A little over the top, but in good way. People displaying cosplay -like knitwear. People wearing sheep headbands. People pretending to be sheep. (Go look at the pictures on Gale’s post.  She actually took some!)


Sorry to report that this Rhinebeck report isn’t much of one, as I saw very little of the actually NYSWF. I’ll link to some more useful pages.  Here’s mostly what I saw:


Fortunately, that view shifted regularly, and I got to meet some people in real life that I’ve only encountered on-line.  Sadly, no photos. The super-talented and funny Natalie Servant.A fellow friend of Jean’s Knitting, Hi Carol!!

My fellow Drop Dead Easy Knits authors Gale and Kirsten and I had the good fortune to share a table with the Mason Dixon Knitting emporium. I never got to do more that say hello and smile occasionally, as Ann and Kay were swamped from the word go, as they deserved to be.

I made kiss noises at Carol Sucolski and her new book across the aisle, and discovered later that there were others there I would have loved to meet and go all fan girl for, but I couldn’t see them. I did get to meet Norah Gaughan, but by then her book was sold out. I felt honored to be in the same place as those knitters. The line to pay for books went right by our table, so we got to see lots of wonderful knitwear, and chat with people from all over. I talked to at least six people from Atlanta, for real. I guess there is no Sheep Con down south.


By the time I got out of the book barn on Saturday, I had missed both the Knitty meet-up and the Ravelry meet up. Instead, I flopped down on the grass in the sun, with my head on someone’s bag of fleece, and watched the world go by for a while. The food lines were nuts. I just walked till I saw a booth with a small line and bought what they had. Recommendation for future visits if you lack stand on line stamina – bring food and fill in with the good stuff, like apple crisp and cider donuts.

One highlight was meeting the other half of the TwinSet – TwinSet Jan.  TwinSet Ellen is the technical editor of Drop Dead Easy Knits.  (The most fun I have ever had with a tech editor!)  They were kind enough to interview us for an upcoming podcast.


Not complaining, it was great, but really crowded. Veterans said it was not as crowded as last year. Very glad I wasn’t there last year, then. T

The view crossing the Hudson as I drove back (empty-handed) to my sister’s in New Jersey for family action.  Stay tuned!


Rhinebeck and beyond

I am so excited about going to Rhinebeck for the first time!  The book signing schedule is below, but if anyone wants to get together post in the comments and I’ll email you back.  Followers of Jean?    Anyone?  I am packing and frantically trying to finish the Parley Cardigan from Drop Dead Easy Knits in Neighborhood Fiber Company Studio DK.

Parley cardigan

Parley cardigan

Such beautiful yarn!  So little time!  Where are the buttons? I’ve joined the body and sleeves and am starting the yoke.  Will I make it?  I have other sweaters, so I may be knitting this all weekend.  Working in a fairly tightly plied yarn is really different than the Briggs and Little Sport singles that I designed in.  Glad there will be all sorts of spinners to help me out.

If you want to check it out or even better, come get a copy of DROP DEAD EASY KNITS  signed by me and my co-authors, and touch all the samples from the book, we will be on a teeny tiny tour.

Saturday & Sunday OCT 15 & 16th in Rhinebeck NY at the  NY Sheep & Wool
Saturday 10-11:30 am and 4-5pm
Sunday  10am-1 pm
booksigning and trunk show in the barn where all the author events take place

Tuesday October 18th at Knit New Haven in New Haven CT 4-6 pm (or so)
trunk show & booksigning

Thursday October 20 at Knitty City in NYC, Upper West Side, 6-8 pm
we’ll present a fun slide talk about making the book and all that is in it, along with signing books and trunk show

And while reading the article about Leonard Cohen in the current New Yorker I heard that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature.  How cool is that!



Drop Dead Easy Knits is Alive

And so am I!!!  So many days I write blog posts in my head, I even have photos to put up but I don’t want to do just do a drive-by post. As a result nothing gets put down here.  But I am so thrilled that the book project has finally come to fruition, that I’m driving by on my way to work.  Drop Dead Easy Knits is available at yarn stores, bookstores, from the publisher and on Amazon in the US, UK and Canada.  Also as an e-book for those who prefer it.  Yippeee!!!


And here is a silly video the three of us made about the book, with some Drop Dead Easy Tips.


More about all of this, and my attempt to finish my first Rhinebeck Sweater coming soon. Meanwhile, here’s a review from the wonderful Mason Dixon Knitting folks (Who have a gorgeous blanket in the book!) that captures our intention perfectly.

You and I often talk about the joys of knitting below one’s skill level. So much of the pleasure of knitting is in doing it while watching the world go by, talking with friends, enduring otherwise unendurable people/places/experiences, waiting for the hold music to stop…. The list of things we can knit along to goes on and on, but the knitting has to be a certain kind of knitting.

While you are at it, go look at the rest of the new MDK site.  And hang onto your wallets.  Or not.

Second of May, Shoelace Day.

I’m reposting an older blog post from 2008 that gets me a lot of email this time of year.  Mostly from people who grew up in New Jersey and are trying to find the origins of this First of May Petticoat Day custom.  Maybe when I retire, I’ll apply for a research grant.

First of May Petticoat Day

Was this a strange New Jersey custom? Or an old-country custom that founds its way to the East Coast? When I was a kid in the 60’s (just before love peace and brown rice) there were several customs tied to May Day. The boys mostly, but also girls would shout “First of May, Petticoat Day” and flip up the edge of a girl’s uniform skirt to show her slip. Some years I would wear shorts under my uniform so that I didn’t have on a petticoat. (a doofus even then) Then there was crowning Mary (as in the Blessed Virgin Mary) Queen of the May. I imagine this came from some attempt to christianize a pagan ritual. I was always jealous of the girl that was chosen to crown Mary. She got to wear a pretty dress and a wreath of flowers. I was never chosen for such things, because I was not small and cute, but tall and awkward. The term my grandmother would use was ‘hoyden’ — not who you want traipsing down the aisle with wreaths and flowers

Second of May was Shoelace Day, you shouted that and grabbed someone’s shoelace to untie it. These days the little un’s all seem to have velcro. (Third of May, Velcro Day?)

And since we all love pictures, here’s a first of May flower shot of my trillium.Trillium are open

Stopover Leftover Popover

Sitting in a work meeting on performance measures (don’t be jealous) a woman at another table was wearing a shortish stockinette poncho in a light, fuzzy, machine knit – I’ve always scoffed at these, but for whatever reason, this struck me as attractive, and possible useful. Not in my office, which at the moment is quite overheated, but at home, watching the tube, sitting at the desk, even outside on a spring morning.  Plus short enough not to fall into the sink or my supper. I had a hideous hot pink woven poncho from Guatemala when I was about 10 – I think it put me off anything related for many years.  Like this, but very, very pink.


No matter, the siren song of the Stopover Leftovers was calling, and this wrap/poncho seemed like a good way to experiment. I have worn the Stopover nearly daily since finishing it. I was skeptical about it being itchy, and over warm, but it isn’t. I wouldn’t wear it over a camisole, but over a t-shirt it is light, and warm, but not too warm. Thank you MJM!

Quite coincidentally, the Yarnery is poncho mad at the moment, so I looked at those on display. I didn’t want anything too big and sixties looking, (see above) I just had an idea of something light and shortish, like the woman I was staring at was wearing. I think she thought I was stalking her or something. “Hey, you call those outcomes…”

I initially considered a whole rectangle of random stripes, but aside from all those ends to weave in, it wouldn’t have the quieter quality I admired in the performance measures poncho.   I’m not sure what I ended up with is quiet, or even a successful combination of stripes, but it does function as intended.

full length rectangle

(Right after removing the blocking wires.)

This wrap was pretty much unplanned – shocking, I know .  I guessed at a happy medium width, somewhere from 19 to 22 inches after blocking, and using the gauge and needles I used for the Stopover (See, no gauge swatch required!) I cast on 60 stitches. The main color  had been rejected as my main Stopover color,  glacier blue, so I had the most of that.  I kept up the stockinette slog until about 30”, then started the stripes. Happy mindless knitting, how I love you!

I had 6 nearly full skeins of different colors from fooling about with Stopover, plus a bunch of “color pops” courtesy of  Jen‘s generous organizational skills –   enough for random striping.

I planned for about 45” of finished product.  Final result after blocking: 21” wide and 48” long.  I folded it in half and seamed it for about 12”.

2016-03-27 14.23.00

And here we have it!

front shot poncho


back poncho


If anyone wants particulars on colors, I’m happy to share.



Stopover the Madness

Or as someone on Ravelry called it, the Stop and Start Over Stopover.  Color changes, yarn shortages, gauge issues, not paying attention and having to rip back –the Stopover is a gorgeous simple-to-knit sweater that I managed to mess up a few times.

I have never participated in a Knit-A-Long. I never even had the urge to participate in one.  But Kay and Ann at Mason Dixon Knitting caught me at a weak moment. After tossing a couple of old, ratty pullovers in my fall declutter-a-thon, I wanted a new one to wear around the house, which we keep pretty chilly as a rule.  I was browsing my stash and pondering possibilities when Kirsten at Through the Loops posted a picture of hers and then the BangOutASweater movement got started.  Why not?

I have to say, it was really fun.  I am a fast knitter, and could have done this in less than a week if I had not had quite so much on my plate.  Part of the fun was handling a project just for fun, not work.  There was no secret stash of the Lett Lopi, the Yarnery (where I teach) doesn’t carry it, so I had to track it down, choose from the colors available and get started.

2016-02-06 09.07.34

And, like all other knitters, I had the fun of following Mary Jane Mucklestone’s excellent Stopover pattern.  There was no calculation, writing down, trying to figure out how to explain what I just did, just reading the instructions and following them.

Well, sort of.  All along I did dumb things.  First of all, I didn’t get a safety skein.  I always get a safety skein, but I just didn’t.  Then I went on my merry way, adding length to the body and the arms with never a thought for tomorrow.  Or tomorrow’s yarn.  (I’m tall and long waisted, so I added 3 inches to the body and almost 2 inches to the sleeves.) I found a place online that had my main color, Lapis Blue, and ordered a couple to reduce the feeling of panic.  On the day the yarn was due to arrive, an email arrived instead, saying the yarn was back ordered.  Grrrrrr.  On a whim, I called Lila and Claudine’s, a yarn shop that is sort of on the way to the barn.  They weren’t listed on Istex as a stockist, but you never know. This shop is Tardis yarn shop – much bigger on the inside.

my heroes

Eureka!  Safety skein found.  Now I could throw caution to the winds, adding  a few short rows, leaving long ends, just going crazy!  That was Saturday and after ripping out the initial color rounds several times (I blame bad lighting) I got things going and finished it Sunday morning.


stopover dull

My ‘pop’ color, however, wasn’t popping.  The talented colorist Jani at Starcroft said the pop should be an unexpected color. The rust was unexpected. Unexpectedly dull.  More digging and I tried out a double strand of Nash Island Fog in Lobster Bake. Perfect!  I duplicate stitched it right over the rust, which helped it pop even more.  Lobstah pop!

lobstah pop

Ta dah!  I have no idea how it will wear, if it will be too warm, too itchy, too blue, but I think I like it.

This was a very quick selfie at 7 degrees F.

shoulder view