Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hither and Yarn


Specifically, my own first handspun, which has now joined with Noro Silk Garden Lite to become a hat. It's far from perfect, but knitted up it looks like yarn to me. Soft, strong, tolerably consistent. I call it not bad for a first go, though I wouldn't show it off at a spinning guild.

Square Hat 2

Jared's Turn A Square pattern is, as his patterns tend to be, charming and clever and interesting without getting fussy. Because of the unusual fashion in which the decreases are worked, the stripes that go 'round and 'round the band turn into squares as they reach the crown. Cool, no?


I will never learn, however, that knitting's quieter thrills, like square rounds, are well-nigh impossible to convey to outsiders.

"Lo!" you cry. "Squares! Squares at the top of my hat!"

If you are speaking to a properly trained outsider, such as a long-suffering Significant Other, you can perhaps expect an expression of polite interest. Such persons understand the potential danger of falling asleep at night next to an unappreciated knitter.

Anybody else will at best give you a puzzled look. Or, if you're really charged up, they might back away as though you'd offered to introduce them to the cool new messiah you're following to a fortified compound in the Nevada desert.

Hither (and Thither)

Folks have been asking about appearances in conjunction with the publication of the little book, which is gratifying and scary. Gratifying because one hates to go through the gyrations, mortifications, and humiliations of writing a book only to find nobody else cares. Scary because I've never put a book tour together before, and so far I suck at it.

In spite of this, thanks to a lot of incredibly patient and helpful souls, a calendar is being put together. Here's what I have so far. (And there are a bunch of shops who have asked about appearances and who are about to get an e-mail from me with more information.)

September 12. Common Cod Fiber Guild in Cambridge, MA. This isn't really a book appearance, as I'll be talking mostly about the 1,000 Knitters Project (though I won't be photographing during the visit). But you never know, I might be able to work in a sneak preview–and it will be fun to be back in Boston for a little while and meet knitters in the city where for years I was the only knitter I knew. (MIT Stata Center, Seminar Room 32-G449, 7–9 pm. Free to members, $5 for non-members.)

October 4. Yarn Con in Chicago, IL. Last year's debut event was so incredible I was thrilled to say yes when they asked me to come back. Exact details are still in the works, but I hope at minimum to have a display of original drawings from the book. This is pre-launch, so I won't have copies to sign, but I'm hoping to have some other nifty goodies for anybody who stops by to say hello. You don't want to miss Yarn Con, in any case. This year it's going to be even bigger and better. (Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk St., 10 am to 4 pm. Admission TBA.)

October 18. New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. The "official" launch of the book, and the very first signing. I'll be at the Carolina Homespun booth, waiting nervously with pen in hand. (Hours TBA.)

October 26. Arcadia Knitting in Chicago, IL. The hometown launch party! Whoopee! Books and food and yarn! (Noon to 2:30 pm, with a brief reading of excerpts from about 1-1:30.)

November 13. I Knit in London, England. In preparation for this trip, Harry has learned all seven verses of "Rule, Britannia!". I'll be signing books, chatting with knitters, reading a bit, maybe even sketching a little. Hell, I'm a sucker for English accents, so I expect I'll be putty in the hands of the guys who own the place. (106 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, 7–9 pm.)

Again, more to come. There are about a dozen shops that have asked, and who are waiting for me to get my act together and tell them what I need to get there and when I might be able to show up. It's all rather daunting for a guy who has trouble making it three blocks to the grocery store once a week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

'Tis the Season

The Democrats in Denver. The Republicans in Minneapolis-St. Paul. And the Fibertarians in the smaller of the two party rooms on the second floor, near the fitness center.

I came home from the gym this morning to find a Fibertarian Party round table in progress. The convention’s right around the corner, you know. Next weekend. If you can’t be here, I think they’re broadcasting it on Chicago Public Access. Or maybe Animal Planet. I can’t remember.

Dolores was there, of course, along with Mrs Teitelbaum, Harry, Victorine, and a sheep I’d never seen before.

Dolores had the floor, by which I mean she and Victorine were exchanging simultaneous streams of bilingual invective while Harry blew on his rape whistle and called for order. Mrs Teitelbaum jumped up and hustled me back into the foyer.

“This is a closed meeting,” she said. “Unless you have one of the little access passes you better scoot. I don’t know how you got past the security guy anyhow.”

“Mrs Teitelbaum, it’s me, Franklin. I live here.”

“They said no exceptions. You better scoot, I know how to use this!” She rummaged in her wicker purse and whipped out a tazer.

“Harry!” I shouted, flattening myself against the wall, “Please tell the delegate from apartment 1507 to stand down and let me in!”

Harry hustled over. “It’s okay,” he said. “He’s with me.”

Mrs Teitelbaum looked disappointed. “I thought we were having a security breach,” she said glumly.

“No,” said Harry soothingly. “Maybe next time.”

“You said that when they delivered the sandwiches,” she pouted.

In living room, glass shattered.

“Uh oh,” said Harry. “They must have moved onto the next agenda item without me.”

They had.

Fibertarian Planning Meeting

“You’re just in time, cupcake,” said Dolores. “We’re almost out of beverages. Take a coupla fifties out of my lingerie drawer and go get us something with backbone.”

“Not for me,” said the Unknown Sheep. “Four bottles of spring water, Icelandic. Thinly sliced lime, organic. Why are you not writing this down?”

“Meet my new image consultant,” said Dolores. “My cousin, Lana.”

“Hi,” I said. “I’m Franklin.”

“Should I care? Wait. No. Don’t care. Lime. Organic. Now.”

“Gimme the latest from the key demographics,” said Dolores. “How am I playing with the elderly?”

“Well,” said Mrs Teitelbaum, “Yesterday after Senior Yoga I asked around and most everybody thinks you’re just a slut.”

“I’ll write ‘no change,’” said Harry, scribbling on his note pad.


“Way up,” said Harry, “Because you accidentally slipped Julio a fistful of twenties during Mucho Guapo night at the Lucky Horseshoe.”

“Super,” said Dolores. “Now, wardrobe. We were in the middle of discussing that when Mademoiselle Chanel here got uppity.”

“Eef you lahk,” said Victorine pertly, “Ah go back to Québec zeese eenstahnt.”

“Stop being a primadonna and show me the sketch for my acceptance speech.”

Victorine pushed a half-eaten pizza out of the way and propped up a large drawing of Dolores in a navy blue suit.

“Is she supposed to run for president in that?” snorted Lana. “Or host a Methodist bean supper?”

“Eet ees classique,” sniffed Victorine. “Eet weel flatter zee feegure.”

“Don’t talk to me about her figure,” said Lana. “The last time I saw that much real estate in ruins I was inspecting the Lower Ninth Ward after Katrina.”

“Should I write that in the notes?” said Harry.

“No,” said Dolores. “Let the record show that the candidate feels very confident about her level of badonkadonk and that the image consultant is not exactly an oil painting, herself.”

“Au contraire,” said Victorine. “She look to me lahk a Monet. Eef you get too close you see she ees beeg mess.”

As Lana reached for Victorine’s left ear with her teeth, I decided to go spend the rest of the day at the coffee shop. But when I opened the front door, there was a loud WOOF and suddenly I was on the floor underneath seventy pounds of dog–Tom’s Boxer/cannonball mix, Augie.

“Security breach!” screamed Mrs Teitelbaum.

“Hi, Augie,” said Harry. “Augie’s our new chief of security.”

“You’re kidding me,” I sputtered, trying in vain to push the security chief’s slobbery tongue away from my glasses.

“Nope! He volunteered! He’s even working for free.”

Augie woofed proudly.

“I think,” whispered Harry, “that he has a crush on Dolores.”

“Great,” I said. “A little romance. That’s all we’ve been missing around here.”

“Hotcha!” said Harry.

“Woof!” said Augie.

To be continued.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Rip-Out Artist

I laughed out loud when I read this comment on the Hat City post from charlene: " did make me feel a bit better to know that even you have to try, try again."

Oh, honey. Are you new here? Or am I guilty of giving a false impression of my knitting ability? Because I'd say I average two false starts on any given project, and rip back at least three times. If you have imagined me to be the sort of knitter who begins in confidence, proceeds with agility and ends with grace, kindly adjust your imagination. You're thinking Bullet Train when the reality is closer to mule train.

I'm a Zen Buddhist, and many studies have indicated that Zen meditation improves the clarity of one's mind. And I'm sure that's true, if you're good at it. However, I am not. My ass may be on that cushion, but my mind is dancing a jig in a field somewhere in the Alps with the Von Trapp Family Singers.

So I begin in haste, rush forward, and more often than not find I've made a hideous mistake and what was intended to be the sleeve of a sweater is too wide or too long or I switched from ribbing to stockinette and back again and or I meant to put in a little Aran braid and I didn't and...


This used to bother me. And it still does, in the moment, when I catch the error and wish I'd kept my mind on the knitting instead of daydreaming about a yarn crawl through Italy with Viggo Mortensen. (Hey, I need somebody to carry the bags.)

But it seems to me that half of becoming an expert knitter (a status to which I aspire, distant though it is) is knowing what to do when good knitting goes bad. I'm tolerably proud of some of my stuff, but no memory stands out more boldly the day I ripped back this sock. I'd finished the heel and was moving down the foot when I realized that around the ankle I'd neglected entirely to twist one of the cables.

I contemplated tinking back twenty rounds, plus the heel turn, plus the heel flap, and I felt sick. I contemplated leaving the whacking great mistake and hoping it would be covered by a shoe, and felt sicker. So I pulled out the needles–I was knitting on double-points–and ripped. An hour later, I had all the stitches back on the needle in the proper order, and I felt like Elizabeth Zimmermann had kissed me on the forehead. For the first time, I was the boss of my knitting.

I'm proud of that sock, and will be even prouder once I finish the mate, which has been sitting in my basket for two years.

Handspun-and-Noro Hat

Reader Mollie (no blog) ought to get a prize of some kind for guessing correctly, from nothing other than a shot of the yarn, what hat I planned to make from the merino handspun and the leftover Noro: Jared Flood's Turn A Square. It's a nifty variation on the typical striped beanie, and I must say I'm pleased with it so far.

Square Hat Progress

The colors in this shot are much truer. Several folks commented that the yarns seemed identical to those of the heathery Dubbelmossa, but that was a trick of the light (and poor exposure choices on my part). The merino is a very earthy, rich natural brown and the Noro is primarily shades of jade green and lapis lazuli.

The funny thing about knitting with the handspun is that the parts I spun last are at the center of the ball, and I'm knitting from the outside–so the further I go the better the yarn gets. The best spinning will be at the top of the hat. I wish I could say I'd planned that, but see "jumbled brain," above.

Thanks from Mary Ann

You can always count on knitters to help in a crisis, or at least offer a shoulder to cry on, and y'all stepped right up after the report of stolen and yarn and laces at Knitter's Niche. Mary Ann expressed her thanks via the comments–have a look (near the end, under the screen name "niche") in case you missed it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Thief In Our Midst?

This is a breaking news post, folks.

I've just had a conversation with Mary Ann, the owner of Knitter's Niche at 3026 N. Southport. Knitter's Niche isn't a big place, but it's one of Chicago's oldest yarn shops and Mary Ann is known far and wide for her deep knowledge (particularly of lace knitting), her enthusiasm, and her loveably gruff persona.

On Monday night, somebody broke into the shop and made off with $5,000 worth of yarn and, perhaps worse, eight lace stoles representing years of Mary Ann's work.

Whoever the thief or thieves are, they know the craft. With the exception of an entire shelf of inexpensive cotton, all the yarns taken were the cream of the crop, including chunky and worsted weight hand-dyed Misti Alpaca.

The finished works taken included:
  • a white lace stole with clematis edging
  • a capelet of mossy green, hand-dyed kidsilk with ribbon trim
  • a stole in grey-beige hand-dyed alpaca
  • a shoulder scarf in sage green cashmere
  • a stole in rose hand-dyed cashmere/silk
  • a stole in pink hand-dyed kidsilk
  • a large feather-and-fan stole in variegated red, turquoise and copper bamboo/silk
The person(s) responsible took all this–but didn't touch the cash box.

If you have any information, please get in touch with Mary Ann at (773) 472-9276.

And if you're the person who did this, I hope:
  • every skein of yarn you own or touch gets moths,
  • every finished object you've ever made gets torn to pieces, and
  • your fingers twist into knots so painful you can never knit, crochet or otherwise create anything ever again.
Stealing somebody's merchandise is wrong. Stealing years of someone's creativity is disgusting.

And karma, may I remind you, is a bitch.

ADDENDA: Well, you can always count on knitters for lightning-fast reaction in a crisis, eh?

Some updates and answers to FAQs. Please read them, I beg you, before you write to me. Please.
  • Knitter's Niche doesn't have a Web site, or I'd have linked to it.

  • As far as I know, there are no clear photographs of the finished pieces that were stolen. As for patterns, I think several were her own designs or heavily modified versions of other designs.

  • When I spoke with her, Mary Ann didn't have handy a full inventory of the stolen yarn, so I can't post one.

  • Mary Ann's contact number for anyone who has information is above. I don't have an e-mail for her or a Ravelry name. Honestly, I don't know that she uses either.

  • As I'm not the victim or the Chicago police, I really can't do more than offer the above alert in the hope that it might help. If you have information, the best thing to do is contact Mary Ann. If you don't have info, please think twice before calling unless you're looking to place and order or some such–she is still open for business and trying to wait on customers.

  • I know what I posted is not a detailed police report, but I'm not a cop. I did my best. Lengthy e-mails taking me to task for not meeting modern law enforcement standards in my note-taking are a waste of your time, and mine. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hat City

It's still August and I refuse, simply refuse, to join the chorus of "Where did the summer go?" Summer's still here, and I intend to cling to it until I'm ankle-deep in snow. Here in Chicago, that won't be for at least another two weeks.

Making the most of summer does not, however, mean greeting winter unprepared. I'm tired of such hats as I've got, so I'm preparing three new ones. (Yes, three. Chalk it up to the typical male fear of commitment.)

Hat the First: Dubbelmossa

Last time I blogged about the Dubbelmossa Hat from Handknitting with Meg SwansenI was afraid the blue and oatmeal yarns were too similar to show off the pattern properly. Several inches later, I take it back.

Dubbelmossa Progress

The pattern doesn't jump out, no; but in this case I like that. There's a patina of age about it–as though it had been worn out in the sun and snow. It reminds me of a much-loved pair of jeans, or a fisherman's gansey that has actually been out to sea on the back of a fisherman.

That sounds like gushy yarn catalogue copy, doesn't it? I'll stop now, before I accidentally write something about the gentle, salty kiss of the Atlantic mist at dawn.


Hat the Second: Bavarian Twisted Stitch

We have a history, this hat and I. The pattern is another gem by Meg Swansen, distributed on a handout at Knitting Camp.

I fell in love with Bavarian twisted stitch two years ago on my first day of camp. As the name suggests, it has no plain knit stitches. The clever little designs are drawn by lines of twisted knitting (worked through the back loop) traveling across a purl ground. At times the stitches leap over and under one another like tiny cables. At a firm gauge in a tightly spun yarn, they stand out as through they'd been carved. Yum.

Bavarian Twisted Stitch

I decided I had to learn how to do it or I'd stop breathing. I cast on the hat five times and ripped back five times. The idiosyncratic charts and the fiddly little right and left twists were more than I could handle, surrounded as I was by a passel of rowdy knitters and a carnival of yarn.

Flash forward to this year. There was camp, there was the handout, and there was Tricky Tricot. The sonofabitch blithely cast on and worked the whole thing in a day, and that got my dander up. I decided that as soon as space opened up in my queue, this hat and I were going to have a re-match.

This time around, probably because I've got more experience and improved powers of concentration, Bavarian twisted stitch and I are playing a nice duet with only occasional discordant notes.

Bavarian Twisted Stitch Hat

This yarn, Shepherd Classic Wool, isn't absolutely ideal for the technique–it has a bit more halo and a smidge less twist than I would like–but it'll be warm and it's working well enough to suit me.

Hat the Third: Handspun Plus Noro

I was rooting around in the stash cupboard and found something I'd forgotten: a small ball of handspun merino–the biggest batch of finished yarn I've produced to date. Rabbitch sent me the fiber a long time ago, and I've decided I am an ungrateful wretch for not at least attempting to turn her gift into something handsome. Or at least something other than a ball.

Yarn for Striped Beanie

So I'm pairing it with the Noro Silk Garden, to make what I dearly hope will be a successful striped beanie. My homemade yarn looks like yarn. We'll see if it acts like yarn.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hello, Kitty

Betty Pausing for BreathI truly did not intend to be silent for a week. Life conspired against intention, as life often does. Only now am I back at the keyboard and up to writing. It wasn't a dreadful week, just an ill mix of urgent deadlines and petty inconveniences with a large dash of under-the-weather.

My companion in misery is pictured at right. Say hello to Betty.

No, I have not gone and bought a cat, so please don't send notes of congratulation or condolence. Betty lives in the rambling Victorian pile where I've been house-sitting for friends while they and their dogs are away. My duties as temporary house elf include bringing in the paper, sorting the mail, picking ripe vegetables in the garden, and entertaining Betty.

Betty was raised by a dog and seems to think she is a dog. She acts more canine than feline: comes when called, greets visitors at the door, doesn't regard all humans with withering contempt, etcetera. She's also a chatterbox. Betty could out-talk an entire aviary of parrots. I've never known so vocal an animal.

I am long accustomed to silence and solitude when I work. The denizens of Chez Panopticon learned during the gestation of the little bookto clear out when I tell them to. Writing, drawing, and knitting with "assistance" all this week has been quite an adventure.

Here, translated from the Calico, is a snippet of Betty that I transcribed yesterday afternoon.
Hi! Whatcha doing? Are you drawing? Is that drawing? Let me see. Cool. Is that a sheep? Are you drawing sheep again? Move over so I can see. I like your pencil. You know what's fun? When we draw something together. Here, I'll help you. Hey! You know what else is fun? Drawing cats. You should draw cats. I'll be your model. Here. Draw this. Look. Look. Look at me. Look at me! Lookatme lookatme lookatme! Hey!
Where are you going? Are you going to the sofa? Cool. I like the sofa. Move over, I'm crowded. Whatcha doing? Is that knitting or crochet? Is that wool? Are you knitting with wool? It tastes like wool.

Here, I'll help you. No, seriously, I want to help you. Let me help you! Hey!
Are you going to write now? Why do you have to write again? You just wrote something this morning. Seriously, why are you writing again? Did you write enough? Or was it lousy? I bet that's it, isn't it? I bet what you wrote was lousy. You know what's fun? Writing together. I'll help. Move over so I can type. I said move. Move! Hey!
Why don't you draw instead? You can draw cats. I'll be your cat model. Move your glass of water so I can model. Here, draw this. Look. Draw it. See? That's my butt. You should draw my cat butt. I'll bring it real close so you can see the fine detail. Look at me! Lookatme lookatme lookatme! Hey!
When I go back home life with Dolores will seem positively placid by comparison. At least, I think it will. She's been on retreat in rural Wisconsin with campaign advisors for a couple weeks. I've had excited telephone calls from Harry that indicate the campaign is getting ready to move into high gear.

I wonder if anybody would notice if I moved out and ran away?

In the Works

I seem to be entering some kind of Hat Phase, and have three on the needles all at once. Pictures forthcoming.

And in spite of Betty's assistance, et al., I corrected the proofs of the little book (the design is sharp and witty–Interweave did very well by me) and also launch an experimental Etsy shop. So far, so good - have a look if you get a minute.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Never Say Never

Knitting has taken me many places I never expected to go, but none more unexpected than a baseball field. Yup, I went to Stitch 'n' Pitch Chicago last night. I said I wouldn't and I truly believed I wouldn't. But at the last minute there was ticket, and the weather was good, and there was the prospect of An Evening with Knitters. So I went.

You remember Eleanor Roosevelt's line about how you should do something every day that scares you? The game was my Scary Thing for yesterday.

I know. Especially if you're American, you're thinking, scary? What the hell could be scary about something as squeaky-clean, family-oriented and apple pie-esque as a night at the ballpark?

Well, I'm a little gay man who was once a little gay kid. Here's a partial list of things I associate with ballparks based on my personal experiences:
  • Being yelled at for not wanting to go to the ballpark.
  • Being yelled at for wanting to bring a book to the ballpark.
  • Being yelled at for not understanding the game. (I still don't.)
  • Being yelled at for not having a great time at the ballpark.
  • Being called a faggot.
  • Being called a wimp.
  • Being called a nerd.
  • Being called a pansy.
  • Having a beer thrown at me for inadvertently wearing the colors of the visiting team.
  • Watching drunken men in the Fenway Park bleachers simulate anal sex with an inflatable doll in a Yankees jersey.
Some fun.

So I was nervous. Yeah, there would be 300 knitters, but there'd be thousands of non-knitters. And I've seen people I love get weird at sporting events. Belligerent. Especially when they felt I was letting down the team but not knowing what was going on (see "faggot, wimp, nerd, pansy," above).

I am happy to report that last night, I emerged unscathed and unmolested. I even, dare I say it, had fun, although at no point did I actually watch the game–which is probably one of the reasons I had fun. And you know what? The White Sox fans were pretty nice people, and so was the stadium crew.

I had my camera, so here's a little souvenir scrapbook. It was awesome, as always, to see familiar faces and meet stitchers I haven't met before. I even got a chance to talk to Gianofer Fields of Chicago Public Radio, who was there interviewing folks–she's the one in the headset, learning to cast on from Kathy of Arcadia Knitting.

Many thanks to the Chicago committee who put all this together, even though they also all run knitting shops and have way too much to do as it is.

PS. If you go see the White Sox, spend the extra money on the kosher hot dogs, it's worth it.
PPS. The red Stitch 'n' Pitch baseball caps are wicked cute. I will be wearing mine a lot.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cold Oatmeal and Other Delights

I swear in a previous life I must have been a homing pigeon. It would help to explain why, although I flap frantically toward the far horizon, I so often end up nesting in the same dang tree.

Take my relationship with color. For years, my personal rainbow began with oatmeal and ended with taupe. In a wild moment, I might dally with forest green. I even whined, at length, in this very blog that there was too much fun sock yarn on store shelves and not enough navy blue.

Then came the lime green sock moment, and the one-two punch of Brandon Mably and Kaffe Fassett in a single day. I could almost feel the shackles falling from my wrists, or the scales dropping from my eyes, or the weight lifting off my shoulders, or the cows jumping out of my rucksack.

I was free, I thought. Free at last. Why, I even made a scarf out of Noro!

Then I went to Knitting Camp, where I sat for a week surrounded by museum-quality colorwork and piles of peerless yarn. And when I decided to choose a little Shetland jumper weight to make myself a hat, this is what I picked: heathery oatmeal and heathery blue.

Shetland Wool

I'm finding that as I knit them together, I can barely see the difference. Zing.

Dubbelmössa in Progress

Mind you, I'm in love with the pattern: Meg Swansen's Dubbelmössa Hat from Handknitting with Meg Swansen. And this is my first encounter with real Shetland yarn, and I wish I had a room full of it. I'm just not certain whether, in the finished piece, this combination is going to be charmingly subtle or dull as Wal-Mart's new line of naughty lingerie designed by Lynne Cheney.

I've decided to finish it and find out.

Meanwhile, I've been crawling up the center of the Wedding Ring Shawl. And I do mean crawling.

Wedding Ring Center

The needle's the problem. I started with an Addi size 0, and found the tips weren't sharp enough to handle decreases in cobweb weight. So I ordered a Knitpicks size 0, and find that while the tips are ideal, every single stitch snags on the join between cable and needle.* So I'm open to suggestions from those who work with cobweb weight. What the heck do you use?

Noted with Pleasure

Several times I've nearly thrown the shawl across the room in frustration, although lace doesn't weigh enough to hit the wall with a satisfying smack. But my nerves have been soothed to a degree by a review copy of Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting that was sent to me by Knitting Out Loud, a publisher of knitting-related audio books.

Richard Rutt on CD

I suspect that the publisher expected me to question the selection of a woman, Melissa Hughes, to read the only book in her catalogue written by a man. In the letter that accompanied my copy, she explained at length her reasons for the choice.

The fact is, Melissa Hughes needs no excuses. She's a marvel. Rutt's text is a bear to read aloud, but Hughes never falters. The multiple languages (including German, French, Italian, Arabic, Turkish, Norwegian, Swedish, et al.) roll trippingly off her tongue. She capably brings to life at least four historical/regional inflections of English. And she never goes flat, not even in the middle of long technical passages. It's a bravura performance; and for a history geek like me, this audio version of an old favorite is a welcome companion.

That said, I do hope Knitting Out Loud will consider adding a male reader or two to the stable as future projects are developed. What's written by the goose may still be read with excellent effect by the gander, eh?

Finally, in case you've been asleep this week, I'd like to draw your attention to the launch of, an online knitting magazine that launched with flags flying on August 1. I won't pretend to be unbiased about it because I'm not–they hired me to do an illustration for Ann and Kay's advice column.

Twist Collective departs from the all-for-free model of online knitting magazines to which we've become accustomed. The articles are free, but the patterns are available for purchase. Most of the money from pattern sales goes directly to the designers, who thereby stand to make a decent profit from their work.

There's been a lot of cheering for the gorgeous designs and the concept; and also some complaining about customers being bled dry while the designers grow fat and rich at $7 per pattern. That the cheers outnumber the complaints is, I think, a happy sign that most knitters recognize the right of artists to fair compensation–something the industry has often not recognized in the past.

Makes me proud to be knitter, yes it does, even if my colorwork looks like cold mush and my lace has developed a limp.

*In order to avoid starting one of those stupid Internet rumors, I want to clarify that the needles themselves are (so far as I can tell) free of defects and they'd be great with a thicker yarn–even, I think, a standard laceweight. They just don't suit cobweb weight, which is so wispy it'll snag on the patterns in busy Linoleum. I sure appreciate the advice, though - sounds like lace Addis will be the way to go.