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Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Favorite books I read: 2014 edition

It’s the time of year when people start creating “Best of” lists. I read a lot and used to talk more about non-knitting books on my blog, until I started using Goodreads to keep track of my reading and do quick reviews. But since I love getting recommendations for good books to read, I’ll join the many other writers and bloggers who are creating end-of-the-year lists. Since my reading doesn’t always keep up with the newest releases, I won’t call my list “Best of 2014″ but rather my favorite reads of 2014. Some of these books have been out for a little while and I just got around to discovering them.

I read a lot of YA books and generally enjoy them a great deal. Sometimes I think writing for the YA audience frees authors to be a bit more direct and less flowery in their writing, and certainly the number of high-quality YA books that have been coming out in the recent decade makes the genre wonderful even for older-than-teen readers like myself. Of the YA books I’ve read this year, and there were many, Code Name Verity, and its sequel, Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein, were two of the most affecting and gripping, books that kept me enthralled and made me cry. I had to brace myself to read these books, since you sort of know going into a World War II book that you’re going to end up reading things that break your heart and make you despair for the human race, but like the best fiction, these two books both left me amazed at the cruelty of humans but also inspired by the resilience and courage that our species has.

Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer, dealt with modern times and modern issues — depression and trauma experienced by teenagers. The protagonist is sent to a boarding school in Vermont to deal with her depression after losing her boyfriend. Part of the story revolves around what is not said: Jam (short for Jamaica, the place where she was conceived on her parents’ honeymoon) spends most of the novel skirting around the issue of what happened to her beloved boyfriend Reeve. Jem is signed up for a seminar English class and forges bonds with the group of students in her class. This is an angsty-y but enjoyable and very empathetic treatment of the ways emotional trauma can hurt the teenaged soul.

I really was knocked out by E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, which also tells the story of a teenager dealing with issues with a capital I: Cadence, daughter of a wealthy family, spends each summer at her family’s beach house on a private island near Cape Cod. She hangs out with her teenage cousins, spends time with her grandparents and generally enjoys life as the privileged daughter of a very upscale family. But as the novel starts, Cadence is recovering from an unnamed but clearly very serious trauma. She has amnesia and migraines, and can’t quite remember how her rather dysfunctional family got the way it is when she arrives. I won’t say more, since part of the pleasure of this novel is watching Cadence’s story unspool as she pieces together what happens and comes to grips with it.

I read The Here and Now without realizing that the author, Ann Brashares, also wrote The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (which I haven’t read). Not that it matters, as this book is more of a fantasy/time travel featuring a girl from the future named Prenna. Prenna “immigrated” from the future, trying to avoid a future plague that decimates the world’s population. She meets a boy (of course) and they hit it off — but Prenna is supposed to stay away from non-travelers (for lack of a better word) so their relationship is forbidden, dangerous. This book plays around with the theme of changing the future that often forms a large part of time travel stories, and it does so in a way that feels satisfying and right.

Last YA book is one that I might not have read if it hadn’t gotten excellent reviews and a “Best of the Year” nomination from Goodreads. Red Rising felt a bit too sci/fi for me, and I wasn’t intuitively drawn to the notion of a guy who lives on Mars and drills for ore underground. But I’m glad I gave it a chance, because it was an exciting and suspenseful book. Yes, there is a dystopian future thing happening, and yes, it’s part of a goddamned trilogy (WHY MUST EVERYTHING BE SPLIT INTO THREE PARTS???) but it’s well-done and intriguing.

Non-YA books?  Let’s start with the intense: Elizabeth Is Missing, by Emma Healey. I read several good reviews of this book, and even though I was a little unsure whether I would find it too depressing, I scored a free review copy. “Elizabeth is Missing” is told from the perspective of Maud, an eighty-something woman in the UK who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. When the book begins, she’s still living at home by herself, with some help from paid companions and her daughter Helen. And when the book begins, Maud is growing increasingly concerned about her friend, Elizabeth. She can’t seem to find Elizabeth anywhere or get in touch with her, and she’s afraid something bad has happened to her. Maud’s attempts to find out what happened to her missing friend are at times hilarious and heartbreaking. But it quickly becomes apparent that Elizabeth is also a stand-in for Maud’s sister, who went missing years ago, just after WW2. As you get to know Maud and Helen, and understand more about Maud’s past and present, it’s easier to see what is real and what’s not, but it’s also easy to see how hard Maud tries to fight against the disease that’s ravaging her brain. One of the most fascinating aspects of the novel is how it tries to get inside the mind of someone with dementia and let the reader experience some of the fear, frustration and anger — all of it justified — that Maud feels. In some respects, we all know how this story will end (there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s) but in other ways the reader doesn’t quite know how everything will play out. So I highly recommend Elizabeth is Missing for the incredible empathy it shows for Maud, and for managing to take an unlikely character who clearly irritates the people around her at times and turning her into a heroine. And for reminding us all that no matter how deeply a person’s brain has been affected by a shitful disease like Alzheimer’s, we shouldn’t forget that somewhere down under there is a real person, struggling to get out.

Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill, is another book I wasn’t sure about but took a chance on when I was offered a free ARC.  It’s a very slim book, written more as a series of vignettes. It’s sparse writing but is remarkably evocative. The characters don’t even get names; for example, we know the narrator only as “the wife.” Even though the vignettes (almost like journal entries) aren’t long, they draw you in and create a very real picture of a marriage, how it starts, changes, is altered by a baby’s arrival, and also the day-to-day that “the wife” experiences. This is not the usual kind of book I’d read, but you can read it quickly and it’s amazingly powerful.

I have a love-hate relationship with Stephen King. I read a bunch of his horror books when I was in high school (I remember how terrified I was by The Shining) and I think his vernacular writing style is deceptively hard to pull off, but I also sometimes end up being irritated because he often strikes me as too “boys club”-ish (if that’s the right phrase).  Some of his recent writing is, I think, his best ever as he transcends the horror genre of oldies like Christine and Firestarter.  Joyland was published last year and unlike many of his previous super-thick books, doesn’t even crack 300 pages. I expected it to be a noir-ish crime book, a la Maltese Falcon, but it was really more of a coming-of-age and ghost story — in a good way. It takes place in a family-owned amusement park, which is a fun setting and offers the chance for King to create some oddball characters in the mix. Even if you’re not usually a King fan, this might be worth checking out, and it’s a fast read, so it’s not a huge investment of time.

Another book I got to a little late is 2012′s Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt. This book sounds a bit cliched — coming-of-age story, 80s nostalgia, AIDS patient before the discovery of retrovirals, sibling rivaly — and yet it works beautifully. The story is told from the perspective of June, and is set in the early 80s, before people knew as much about AIDS as they know know, when fear and prejudice were much more near the surface. June is especially close to her uncle Finn, who has just died from AIDS-related complications when the story starts. So this is a bittersweet story, about grief, about love (of many different kinds), and about not shutting away your heart even after you’ve suffered loss.

And my last favorite book I read this year:  Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter.  I was, again, late to the party on this one (I picked up a paperback copy at an airport) but I am so glad I ended up giving this a go.  Beautiful Ruins was a delightful read. It takes place (mostly) in an obscure village on the Italian coast but also travels to Hollywood and other places in the world. It skips back and forth from the sixties to present-day, but it does so skillfully, and with a fascinating cast of characters that felt real (and some characters that are in fact real, although their participation in the book is obviously fictionalized). Imagine the charm of your favorite old movie, with Rock Hudson or Cary Grant, in book form.  Loved it.

So there you have it:  eleven of the books that I enjoyed the most, that transported me outside my daily life, that made me feel or made me think (or both). I love that no matter how many books I read, there are still plenty of good ones out there to explore.  And please feel free to share some of your favorite 2014 reads in the comments!

 

 

 

 


Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Oldies but goodies: It’s that time again….

Since it was recently my blogiversary, I have thought about some of my favorite posts from the past nine (!) years of blogging. And this post is one of my all-time faves. It’s short but says it all and was written in early December 2006, when I heard the song “The Christmas Shoes” for the first time. Here you go:

It’s that time again…

You know, the time when radio stations everywhere start playing holiday music. Including the most horrifying Yuletide song ever recorded.

No, not Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey.

I’m talking about “The Christmas Shoes.”

I can just picture the jaded songwriters, holed up in a smoky conference room, wracking their brains to compose the most calculatingly-hearttugging, staggeringly vile song ever imagined. (It is so vile that they even made a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie about it.)

“Yeah, well, it’s gotta be Christmas time,” one songwriter murmurs.

“If it’s Christmas, there’s got to be a kid,” the second songwriter says.

“Shit, dude, if it’s Christmas, the kid’s gotta be poor,” the next guy adds.

“And of course, if he’s poor, he’s gotta be looking at something through a store window that he can’t afford,” the first guy finishes.

“No, no, that’s no good,” says the token woman songwriter, trying her darndest to out-cynicize the cynics while stubbing out her Salem Menthol in an empty pizza box. “He can’t be looking for himself. He’s looking to buy a present for…”

“HIS MOTHER!” they all chime in.

“What if his mother is, like, dying of cancer?” the new guy wonders, “and she, like, doesn’t have, oh, I don’t know, shoes?”

He’s met with a chorus of boos. “Yeah, right,” the first guy says, “that’s too sappy and pathetic even for those chicks who watch The Bachelor.”

Oh, no, it’s not.

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin’ to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing ’round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes
His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say
Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.

P.S. Since that time, I have been introduced to Patton Oswald’s take on it, too. I’m glad I’m not alone.


Friday, December 5th, 2014

On the fifth day of Christmas….

When it comes to handdyeing, I am fully aware that I’m idiosyncratic. I don’t usually do set colorways but when the lovely folks at Jimmy Beans Wool asked me if I would be interested in creating a special limited-edition batch of yarn for their holiday-season promotion, I could not say no. (Laura Zander is always so much fun to hang with at fiber shows so how could I turn her down? I think Kate Mara will play her in the movie of my life.)

So I am very pleased to announce that I am the Fifth Day of Yarnmas: Five Gold Rings.

5 gold rings 2

This yarn is superfun because it has a hint of gold metallic sparkle in it, so how could I resist using it for Five Gold Rings?

5 gold rings small

The colorway features lots of golden tones, obvy, but also some hints of platinum, silver and copper. It’s 75% superwash merino, with 20% nylon and 5% stellina (the metallic fiber).

You can only buy Five Gold Rings while it lasts at Jimmy Beans Wool. Go here.


Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

No-Bull Book Review: Sock Architecture, by Lara Neel

Today’s book review is the intriguingly-titled Sock Architecture, written by Lara Neel and published by Cooperative Press.

neel cover

Sock Architecture is, as you might infer from the title, a sock knitting book that is very much concerned with sock structure. [Sometimes when I write a sentence like that, I have to step back and chuckle. A huge percentage of the sock-wearing population is unaware that people still knit socks by hand, and if they are aware of handknit socks, they often say things like "Why spend all that time knitting them when you can buy them so cheaply?" So it amuses me that I know quite a lot of people out there who not only have the patience and skill to knit socks, but also think about the best way to create a sock heel, or wonder if cuff-down is superior to toe-up, or look for new or innovative approaches to something that's been around for hundreds of years.]

But I digress. For those of us who care about handknit socks, Sock Architecture is a treasure. Because obviously Lara Neel has given a lot of thought to the process of sock knitting, and compiled a lot of helpful technical information in one book. So let’s take a closer look.

There is some very useful information in the beginning section of the book, beginning with an overview of sock knitting in recent history, discussing some of the differences between Western-style socks — traditionally made from cuff down, with an emphasis on horizontal design — and Eastern-style socks — traditionally made from the toe-up and using an afterthought heel, with a more vertically-oriented approach to design. Neel next traces the rise of the so-called French or round heel, then spends some valuable time discussing fit. All of that is good and helpful stuff. But the heart of the book is devoted to a thorough discussion of the structure of a sock, with emphasis on heel and toe styles, organized via the direction of the knitting — and this is where the book really shines.

Neel begins with top-down socks, which for a long time were the traditional and most frequently-used approach to handknit socks. Neel also begins with the flap heel plus gusset method of knitting socks (also the way a great many socks have been made over the years), addressing issues like the height of the flap, different stitch patterns for the heel, and types of heel turns. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between, say the Half-handkerchief Heel, the Square Heel and the Round Heel, Neel lays out each type along with pros and cons; she also covers less commonly-encountered heel styles, like the Balbriggan and variants on the Common Heel. Neel shows how to work an Afterthought (or Peasant) Heel, and includes general tips like how to avoid gaps near the heel. The same thorough treatment is given to sock toes; Neel discusses wedge toes (including long, medium and shorter versions to fit different-shaped toes), round toes and swirl toes, to name a few, and there are many clear photographs to walk you through each style. Very valuable info!

Mouchoir sock, knit toe-up, heel view

Mouchoir sock, knit toe-up, heel view

If you’re a toe-up sock knitter, do not despair. There’s just as much information devoted to working socks from toe up. Multiple methods of working toes, tips about cast-ons, gussets, heel styles, tips for stretchy cast-offs, even some links and suggestions for specific designers who have experimented with different styles, it’s all here. It’s great to see a book cover both cuff-down and toe-up approaches in some detail, for those of us who like to experiment with different techniques, and compare different ways of shaping a sock.

And last but not least, you’ll find a pattern section to allow you to try out some of the techniques you just read about. There are 17 patterns, and all are shown in clear photographs with solid-colored yarns, so it’s easy to discern stitch patterns and styles of heels/toes. Seven of the designs are provided in both cuff-down and toe-up form (comprising fourteen of the total 17 patterns in the book), such as the Checked & Square Socks:

Toe up version

Toe up version

Cuff down version

Cuff down version

and the Procrastinatrix Socks:

Cuff down version

Cuff down version

Toe up version

Toe up version

 

The remaining three designs feature less conventional structure.  The Uncommon Dragon socks feature a textured stitch pattern, side ribbing and a shaped common heel that’s grafted at the back.

neel dragan
 

The Bootstrap socks feature a row of garter stitch down the side, a Balbriggan heel (also requiring a bit of grafting) and a wide toe box:

neel bootstrap

 

The Adjoin socks are knitted from the toe up, with a novel heel structure: the heel is a flap that extends across the back of the foot, then is bound off, and stitches are picked up around the edge to knit up for the leg.

neel adjoin

Several things I really like about the patterns:  they include a wide range of sizes (Women’s XS through Men’s Large); they include the ability to make a custom size to fit a specific foot, including worksheets that help with the math; there are a lot of close-up photos of specific sections of the socks, like the heels, which clearly show the details of the finished project; some patterns contain multiple options within the pattern (for example, one pattern gives three different toe box options, with full directions for each, allowing very easy customization and experimentation).

I hope that people will not take a quick glance at this book and skip over it, dismissing it as too basic. While the socks are all knit in solid yarn rather than self-patterning or brightly handdyed yarns, and they are photographed very straightforwardly — no fancy locations or whimsical styling — there is a goldmine of technical information in this book. The patterns are fully customizable and give the reader a chance to experiment with a whole host of techniques and styles of sock knitting, plugging in different variables — various toe styles, cuff-down vs. toe-up construction, heel and gusset variations. By providing all these options, as well as help in customizing patterns, a sock knitter can find a perfect and individualized fit. This would be a great resource for someone who has recently learned the basics of how to knit a sock and wants to explore different methods to decide which styles fit her foot better or to add some variety to her sock repertoire. But even sock knitters who have been knitting socks for a while will learn from Neel’s excellent resource.

Details:
136 pages; softcover; printed copy MSRP $26, 95 but available for $23.99 via the link above; PDF version only for $16.95/both versions for $26.95 via the Cooperative Press website.

Photographs copyright 2014 Lara Neel, used with permission for review purposes.


Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

FOs and un-FOs

It’s been a busy fall, and I have been remiss in my blogging duties. Here is a list of the things I SHOULD have blogged about this fall:

1. Charcoal’s birthday — he turned 9 years old!

charcoal

2. Boris’s birthday — he turned two!

Boris oct 14

3. Stitches East — I had a fabulous time!

4. Rhinebeck — ditto!

5. the first day of school — it went well!

6. my next book — it’s now listed for preorders on Amazon and BN.com!

cover LYS

I’m sure there are a bunch of other things, but I am running out of exclamation points, so today I am going to show you a few photos of a sewing project that I finished this past weekend. After the Bridget-Quiltapalooza, I had so many deadlines and trips that I didn’t have a chance to do much quilting, and I’ve really missed it.

This weekend, after several big deadlines were over, I decided to do some improvisational quilting and make some throw pillow covers for the family room. I picked a selection of fabrics that picked up the colors in the rug, and just played around. I ended up with one Log Cabin-ish pillow

log cabin pillow

a simple arrangement of squares, alternating prints with solids,

patchwork pillow

and a little one in which I alternated stripes with rows of a solid.

stripe pillow

I was happy with the way they came out, and it’s whetted my appetite for more quilting…. What have you been working on?


Monday, November 10th, 2014

Book look: A Head For Trouble, by Julie Turjoman

I mentioned that Julie Turjoman was in our booth in Chicago signing books,and during the show, she was kind enough to give me a copy of her latest, called A Head For Trouble: What To Knit While Catching Crooks, Chasing Clues, and Solving Murders (20 Hats and Adornments Inspired by Lady Detectives of the Roaring Twenties).  Yep, that’s an awfully long title, but it does tell you a couple of important things about the book. First of all, the feel comes from the roaring twenties, time of flappers, suffragettes, swinging ropes of pearls and cute cloche hats, a stylish and evocative time period.  Second, it tells you that the patterns inside are inspired by literary lady detectives — a book genre I personally adore. It also tells you that the patterns are for accessories — lots of hats, but also things like fingerless mitts and scarves.

So let’s dive right in and explore the beautiful patterns and detectives of A Head for Trouble.

turj cover 2

 

Julie Turjoman was entranced by the cool, sophisticated heroines of roaring twenties detective fiction. So being the self-starter that she is, she assembled a list of her favorite literary detectives from that time period, contacted the authors who created them, and asked for permission to use the characters as inspiration for a book of knitted patterns. Turjoman explains the fascination that this time period has for her:

The period between the World Wars was a watershed moment for women, not least because the suffrage movement galvanized many to engage in politics with a sense of personal urgency. Others sought meaningful employment or were admitted to universities. Many were matured by their wartime experiences as front-line nurses or ambulance drivers in WWI. An unprecedented number of women owned cars and had no intention of giving up the freedom they allowed. After the war, as a result, one thing was certain:  having sampled a heady mix of independence and self-sufficiency, there was no going back to corsets and bustles, fussy coiffures or finishing school.  Fiction’s lady detectives are the embodiment of the early 20th century’s advances in women’s rights and fashion.

By the number of roaring twenties lady detectives out there, it seems that many of us share Turjoman’s fascination with this historical era.

So who are the fictional women and the patterns they inspired?

Two of my literary favorites are included:  Maisie Dobbs is the WWI battlefield nurse turned detective — after the war is over, Maisie Dobbs becomes a private investigator aided by her association with a London psychology expert.  Jacqueline Winspear’s series includes ten books as of this writing. Turjoman was inspired to create the Maisie cloche,

jt maisie

using a colorwork brim and ruching. (There are matching mitts, too!)

Another favorite detective is Georgianna Rannock, star of Rhys Bowen’s “Royal Spyness” series of mysteries. Georgiana is minor royalty but penniless, and gads about to estates all over the US and Europe, solving murders and struggling to keep her finances afloat during the depression. Check out the charming Georgiana scarf

jt georgiana scarf

(there’s a matching cloche). Delightful!

In addition to the lovely patterns (many of which would make perfect holiday gifts), I am delighted to have a chance to learn about some new fictional detectives I haven’t discovered yet. The Daisy Cloche pays homage to the Hon. Daisy Dalrymple, who struck out on her in London, writing magazine articles and sharing a flat in a bohemian neighborhood with a friend.

jt daisy cloche

The Jade fingerless mitts were inspired by character Jade del Cameron, a photojournalist who travels through Africa, seeking adventure and to escape her awful memories of WWI.

jt jade mitts

And I was delighted to see the Verity hat and scarf combo, knit up in Black Bunny Fibers blue-faced leicester dk-weight yarn:

jt jade

Verity Browne is the invention of author David Roberts, and is a radical journalist with a British lord boyfriend and a taste for the finer things in life.

jt verity

Love this combo!

In total, you’ll find ten caps:

jt jasmine

Jasmine Pillbox & Scarf

four scarves/neckwear;

jt scarf

Daisy Collar

two charming bags:

jt bino bag

Dandy Binoculars Bag

and four sets of mitts.

jt mercy cuffs

Mercy Cuffs

The book begins with some helpful tips to speed your knitting along, such as a look at hat architecture and how to get proper fit, then jumps right into the patterns. Each set of patterns is prefaced by a charming description of the detective; patterns are grouped by twos, with each detective inspiring a hat plus one accessory. Patterns are written in easy-to-read type, with charts as necessary, and the photography is wonderful — clear but evocative shots of the designs, with several photos for each pattern, from different angles so you can appreciate the design details. The book is paperback and on high-quality paper; about 122 pages; beautifully laid out with styling that perfectly evokes the feel of the roaring twenties.

You can pick up a copy of the book via Amazon ($19.86 as of the link above) or via Julie’s website, where you can get your copy autographed! You’ll have a hard time deciding whether to knit one of the wonderful patterns first, or explore one of the terrific detective novels first….

Photographs copyright 2014 by Zoe Lonergan; used for review purposes with permission.


Friday, November 7th, 2014

Summer Search raffle winners!

Drumroll please!

1. A $100 gift certificate to Black Bunny Fibers — Barbara H.

2. A copy of my new book,Lace Yarn Studio, as soon as I have a copy in my hot little hands to give you. (The expected publication date is April 2015, so this particular prize won’t ship until sometime in late April.) — Carrie P.

cover LYS

3. A box of knitting and crochet books, including a copy of Sock Yarn Studio signed by me, that will give you plenty of wonderful patterns, information and inspiration– Janet L.

4. A free subscription to the next round of the Black Bunny Fibers/Brooke Nico yarn club. (We expect the next round of the club to begin in February 2015, and you will be treated exactly as one of the paying members.) This is a $160 value! — Jennifer D.

Chianti: month 3 of the first round

Chianti: month 3 of the first round

5. A free Craftsy class taught by most excellent teacher and designer Patty Lyons — and Patty was generous enough to offer TWO of these, so two different people will win — Rebecca & Julie

6. From fabulous designer and yarn maven Kristin Omdahl, a skein of her new Bamboo So Fine yarn!–Melanie

bamboo so fine

7. Author and designer Stephannie Tallent will send you your choice of one of her Wild West e-books, full of terrific patterns inspired by the west — Ulrika

8. Designer extraordinaire Barb Brown has offered up PDF downloads from her Ravelry store: five (YES — FIVE!!!!) winners will get their choice of three of her patterns– Melanie, Mary Kay, Marianne, Carrie & Sharon

9. The bodacious Andi Smith is giving one lucky winner a PDF copy via Ravelry download of her fantastic ebook Synchronicity (which contains a terrific pattern using BBF yarn)–Sharon

synchr

10. I am touched that Sharon F, a blog-reader and one of the winners in last year’s raffle, is so supportive of Summer Search that she is offering a skein of Bad Amy yarn from her personal stash–Marianne

11. Designer and author Mary Beth Temple has offered free copies of her Arm Knitting and Finger Knitting books– Liz

arm knitting

12. Designer, teacher and author Donna Druchunas will give one lucky winner a boxed set of her new journal, Stories in Stitches. This is a brand-new journal that goes beyond patterns (although it includes plenty of them) to give you the untold stories behind the stitches. Great for those interested in historical knitting, ethnic traditions and knitting from around the world– Sara

13. I am also touched that blog-reader & dyer extraordinaire Betty Murphy will provide a winner with a skein of Moose Manor Handpaints yarn — lovely stuff! — Dianne

14. Ditto for being touched and so appreciative that Heather H S is offering Tsarina Tsock yarn as a prize– Mary Kay

tsarina

15. The wonderful Ancient Arts Fibre Craft will provide a prize of a skein of yarn and pattern to go with! Caroline’s a great dyer so you’ll really love this one! – Faith

ancient arts logo

16. Hunter Hammersen, author of so many wonderful books, including the new volume of her Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet, which I will review on my blog soon, is offering winner’s choice of any of her e-books, to THREE different winners. I just reviewed Hunter’s latest book, and it’s gorgeous– Carolyn, Cynthia, Julie

hunter cover 3

17. And just added to the list, the generous Jo Ann, owner of Stash, a great yarn store in Havertown, PA, has offered the winner’s choice of a free knitting or crochet class at her shop. What a great prize!! — Ellen

I will be sending out emails within the next day or so to everyone to arrange prize delivery, so check your email — you should hear from me by Sunday evening.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for another successful Summer Search raffle! You are the best!


Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Summer Search raffle

Deepest apologies for taking so long to process the raffle! Before I draw the winners, I want to make sure that I have all the entrants on my spreadsheet. So far I have the following donors:

Faith L.
Dianne S.
Julie R.
Melanie T.
Barbara H.
Mary Kay C.
Cynthia M.
Rebecca
Carolyn K.
Ellen S.
Marianne R.
Ulrika R.
Liz S.
Jennifer D.
Janet L.
Sarah B.
Sharon F.
Carrie P.

If you are not on the list but made a donation, please message me or leave a comment so I can track you down. According to my tally, we raised over $650 for the wonderful nonprofit Summer Search. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Holy moly!

Whenever I get back from a show I feel like I will never not be tired again. And this was was no exception.

However, I simply could not love Chicago more. It is the home of dear friends, like Franklin and Kristen and Michelle (who brought her adorable daughter to see me!)

10593028_10152750306490469_2841873464864959144_n

It is a city full of excellent, enthusiastic knitters, many of whom were in my classes and lecture.

It is a beautiful city, with character and charm.

IMG_3177[1]

It is a city where you can choose to transact your business at the ATM in Polish if you wish. (My Bopchi would have loved that.)

My trip was extra-special because it started with my oldest kid accompanying me. He’s a high-school junior and starting to think about college. We added on an extra day to our trip and went to look at the University of Chicago.

IMG_3168[1]

The school was beautiful, the tour was informative and we had a blast! We also went to see the Art Institute; Millenium Park; ate donuts at the most amazing place

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and generally had a wonderful time.

He also helped haul boxes and set up our booth — and we were rather pleased with the results. We had Julie Turjoman and her brand-new book, A Head for Trouble (review coming soon!) in our booth,

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along with Brooke’s breathtaking Peacock Wrap pattern and yarn custom-dyed to match.

It’s always hard for me to explain the peculiar state of mind shows like this put me in. Excitement, the contagious inspiration of seeing so many beautiful things, the feeling I’ve come home and am surrounded by my tribe, anxiety at putting on good classes, concern that we will sell enough yarn to make the trip pay off financially, the exhilaration of an amazing city like Chicago….

Now I’m home, and mulling over all that I did and saw and making plans for the next show.

Thank you, Chicago, for a wonderful trip. I hope we meet again soon!