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Right As Rainbow Cardigan, Part II: We’re Off!

14 August 2013

The Right As Rainbow Cardigan knit-along is humming along; Catherine and I have happily swatched and are casting on. You can read Catherine’s explanations of modifications she’s made in her second post about the knit-along.

First of all, I’d like to share with you one of Little Miss Feisty’s (and mine, and Mr. Trask’s) favorite songs. The band They Might Be Giants, a staple of my youth (who doesn’t remember She’s An Angel and Birdhouse in Your Soul?), have put out a few children’s albums. This song, “Nonagon,” is both silly and catchy. We have dance parties with LMF to this song; we all wave our arms and giggle. As designer Stephanie Lotven explains, the yoke of this cardigan is a nonagon. So this song will be the soundtrack to my knitting; what will yours be?

I finished my swatches yesterday and blocked them last night. I knit three swatches: on US 7s, US 6s, and US 5s (4.5, 4.0, and 3.75 mm). The winner is the swatch on US 5, I think. I measured the swatches before blocking, because I couldn’t wait, but blocked the swatches before making a final determination about the right needle size.

Swatches in Sweater

Two swatches. You can see the eyelets at the bottom of the lower swatch that identify the needle size.

I inserted eyelets (yo, k2tog) at the bottom of each swatch to identify the needle size I used – a trick I learned a few years ago from a blog reader. It does mean I have to measure far away from the bottom, because the eyelets will change the gauge of the material around them.

I measure 2-3 inches’ worth of stitches and rows when I check gauge, and I use a knitting needle to follow the “V” of each stitch as I count, because I sometimes get lost in the stitches if I don’t. I’m hoping to cast on for the sweater tomorrow; fingers crossed!

Edited to add one last resource: a pep talk on swatching, from Holly. Read it and swatch!

So. How far have you gotten in your Right As Rainbow cardigan? Let Catherine and me know in the comments, or post updates on the Knit Like You Mean It Facebook page, or tweet about them with the hashtag #RightAsRainbowKAL.

Time to Swatch: A Baby Cardigan Knitalong

12 August 2013

You all know that I had to take several months off of knitting because I had a nerve problem developing. That was annoying and led to my not blogging, entirely out of childish pique. Not particularly impressive behavior.

But now my right hand seems better and so I can knit a little bit. Not a lot, because I still have to be careful and because I still do have a one-year-old daughter, but enough that when I saw this cardigan, made in the glorious Spud & Chloe Sweater, I knew that Little Miss Feisty needed one:

Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan. Photo © Stephanie Lotven.

Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan. Photo © Stephanie Lotven.

I mean. Am I right? Of course I am. Plus, I am such a Spud & Chloe addict that I have enough Sweater in my stash to make this thing without any new outlay of cash (Mr. Trask will be pleased – nay – astonished).

Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan. Photo © Stephanie Lotven.

Right as Rainbow Baby Cardigan. Photo © Stephanie Lotven.

So I popped over to the Knit Like You Mean It Facebook page and posted a link, just thinking that one or two people might like to knit it with me. Catherine jumped in, because she’s a good sport, and a few others followed suit. Won’t you join us? C’mon now! Commit in haste and repent at leisure!

Here’s what to do: Grab your yarn, get the pattern, start swatching, and post about your progress. You can blog about it and link to your post on the KLYMI Facebook page, or just post your progress right there on the Facebook page.

As I said, I have a bunch of S&C Sweater, some left over from a blanket I made for Little Miss Feisty, and some that I bought when I just couldn’t resist. I love this yarn. It’s half wool, half cotton, and so nice to work with. You can’t buy it easily in the UK, so I kind of hoard every little bit that I have.

S&C Sweater: Teal, Blue, Cream, Yellow

Leftovers from LMF’s baby blanket: Spud & Chloe Sweater in cream, light blue, teal, yellow.

I think that yellow ball probably has all of four or five yards in it, but I am saving it. That’s how much I love knitting with this yarn. Although the pattern calls for seven different colors, I’ve decided to try to make the sweater with a green body and green, brown, and cream stripes in the yoke.

S&C Sweater: Green, Brown, Cream

I’m knitting the sweater in three colors rather than seven, since I don’t think the blues above go with the green and brown.

But, if this pattern pleases me, maybe I’ll make another using leftovers. We shall see.

Swatch Help For Sara

Now, Sara is considering joining in, and she says she’s never knit anything for which gauge matters before. So I thought perhaps we could help her out. I’ve enhanced an earlier explanation I did of gauge and swatching to tell her what she needs to know, and hope some of you folks will jump in with advice as well.

This pattern calls for US size 6 (4.0mm) needles, and a gauge of 20 stitches and 28 rows to every 4 inches. A good gauge swatch, then, will be about 30 stitches across and perhaps 40 rows in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row).

So if you are Sara you’ll want to start out with the sixes, cast on 30 stitches, work 40 rows, cast off, block the swatch, and then measure. Indeed, if you’re anyone else you’ll want to do that, too. I’ll post a photo of mine later this week. In the meantime, let’s all get cracking on our sweaters, and don’t forget to enter the latest yarn giveaway if you haven’t already.

What are your best practices for gauge swatches? Do you give them garter stitch borders, or no? Do you block them before measuring?

Who Is Yarn-Bombing Oxford? (and a giveaway)

7 August 2013

It’s been going on for a few months: little yarn bombs around the city of Oxford. [If you’re unfamiliar with yarn bombing, you can read a post I wrote about it for the fibre space blog a while back.]

It started small, back in April:

A little fibre decoration outide the Albion Beatnik Bookstore.

Subtle yarn bomb outside the venerable Albion Beatnik Bookstore.

The Albion Beatnik is one of my favorite places in Jericho – an independent bookstore that sponsors lots of poetry readings and other events. It even has a small cafe. The Guardian newspaper recognized its greatness a few months ago.

I didn’t think much of the fibre sighting at the time – undergraduate celebrating the Easter break? Subtle advertisement for one of our two new LYSs, Oxford Yarn Store and Fibreworks Oxford? [TWO, people! An embarrassment of riches!]

Soon, though, the installations were more ornate:

A decorated pole outside the Phoenix Picture House in Jericho.

A decorated pole across the street from the Phoenix Picturehouse in Jericho.

And they included bling:


Phoenix Picture House Bling

This little button on the Phoenix Picturehouse yarn bomb was publicizing a play in Spanish. Put there by the knitter, or a later addition?

The Phoenix Picturehouse is another Jericho institution. It’s celebrating its 100th anniversary this year (seriously!). It screens art films and offers several special screenings, including a seniors afternoon, an Autism-friendly screening, and my beloved Big Scream.

The bombings started to be decorated:

OUP Yarn Bomb

This one was across the street from Oxford University Press on Walton Street.

Oxford University Press is – well, it’s Oxford University Press. They publish a dictionary you might have heard about. They publish incredible academic work. And they were Mr. Trask’s publisher for his first two books.

Little Clarendon Street Yarn Bomb

Happy faces at Little Clarendon and Walton.

Little Clarendon Street is right on the edge of Jericho, a beautiful little street with fairy lights on at night, good restaurants, and two (TWO!) ice cream shops. It’s beautiful year round.

A recent yarn bomb even had a little tag:

Knitted with Love

This yarn bomb was knit with love.

It’s August, and they’re still popping up. So, who’s doing this? I can’t tell if they’re only yarn-bombing my favorite places in Jericho, or if I’m only noticing the yarn bombings in those places. Anyone in Oxford want to jump in and contribute their own sightings?


The winner of the last giveaway was Catherine – which I think highly appropriate as she organized the Basingstoke Big Knit as well as the charity knitting I blogged about a while ago. She’s just generally a Good Knitting Community Member. The next giveaway is inspired both by the yarn bombing and by my upcoming move (just a couple of miles up the road, this time).

I have these nifty mini-skeins from Dye Spin Knit UK, acquired way back when I thought I would be knitting one of those crazy hexipuff blankets. [Nary a puff did I knit. Sigh.] I think they’re 25g each, but they have no tags. I will send three mini skeins to anyone volunteering to 1. yarn bomb their neighborhood with them and 2. willing to send me a photo of said skeins once they’ve become yarn bombs. I’ll select coordinating skeins (or clashing ones, if you prefer) and mail them out to you, free of charge.

Mini Skeins I

Mini Skeins (with tape dispenser as size reference). They want to come live with you, and then conquer the world!

Mini Skeins

More Mini Skeins. Seriously, people. What was I thinking? Hexipuff Quilt? Seriously?!?

The mini-skein giveaway is first-come, first-served (use the comments field below) and will continue until I run out of skeins.

The other giveaway is of two skeins of Gricnasco Loden Soft. Super-soft and beautifully tweedy, this yarn would make a great striped hat or scarf to cheer you up all winter long. The usual Stash Giveaway rules apply to this one: Random Number Generator, comment below, etc. Comment by August 15 to be entered to win.

Lovely Green Italian Yarn

Make yourself a nice hat that will remind you of spring this winter.

So tell me: What would you make with the green yarn? Have you seen any yarn bombing in your area? And how the heck have you been in the last six months?

Oxford Knit Sighting: The Jam Factory (plus, giveaway)

22 February 2013

Edited to add deadline for comments! Comment by March 16 for a chance to win the yarn below.

Oh, hello, people. Obviously, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, partly because I am having some nerve problems in my right arm (the nerve! ha.). But if I can’t actually knit, I can dream about knitting…and keep an eye out for other people’s work. [Yes, I am an addict: all roads lead to knitting.] So perhaps that is where this blog is headed for a while: compendium of knitting observations, plus giveaways. [Scroll down, people.]

Yesterday, I came across these fabulous tea cozies in Oxford’s The Jam Factory:

Jam Factory Tea Cozies

Aren’t they great? According to the sign, they’re made by the owners’ mother:

Jam Factory Sign

I can see this being a nice mother’s day gift (UK Mother’s Day is March 10. US readers, you still have some time). They’re selling them with the teapot, even!

Jam Factory Heart Cozy

Or you can say it with flowers, as one of these two does:

Jam Factory Flowers

It has never occurred to me to make a tea cozy, but then I have never before lived in a place where one was necessary. In the winter, one really does want hot tea, and a pot really can cool down depressingly quickly.

Jam Factory Pom Poms

Mr. Trask got me this knit kit for Christmas, as a bit of a joke, but hey – maybe tea cozies are the new Clapotis. Who knows.

Knit Kit

Right! Giveaway time. In keeping with spring and a feeling of abundance, I am letting go of more yarn these days. First up is an old friend:

NFC Loft

Neighborhood Fiber Co. Loft in color “Victorian Village.” Make yourself a glorious light scarf. Photo is a little fuzzy, but then so is the yarn.

No one claimed our charity knitting prize (sigh), so it goes on the block for one of the commentors on this post. As always, you’ll be randomly chosen, per our Stash Giveaway rules.

So! How the heck have you been? Ever knit a tea cozy? If so, what are your favo(u)rite patterns?

A Digression: Jane Lawton, Tree Hugger

29 November 2012

Some of you may remember that my mother, Jane Lawton, passed away five years ago today.

[Newcomers, many apologies – a few times a year I subject you to an essay that includes a few memories of my mother. If you want to catch up, previous posts include The Lady Loved Pink, Begin Again, Live Like You Mean It, and Beautiful Things, Mothers. But do feel free to go somewhere else for your bloggy reading today. Catherine has an important style question for you, while Ann is giving away yarn. And Franklin always makes me glad to be a knitter.]

I missed Mom a lot last night, as I sat in bed with the fabulous Alexandra Jane and wondered what Mom would have thought of her namesake. [Answer: she would have adored her, especially Alex’s first joke — the funny deep growl she makes because she knows we’ll laugh at it.]

Jane Colorado Tree

Here’s Mom in Colorado with a very old tree.

It’s hard to have this baby and know that she’ll never know my mother. I wish there were a way to capture Mom’s essence for Alex, but there isn’t. There are just stories. Last night, I worried that I couldn’t remember enough about Mom. With every day that goes by, a little more of a person who has died slips away. One just has to hope to hold on to enough of them to be able to honor their memory.

So the story I’m remembering today is about the tree in the front yard of the house in which I grew up. It was a nice tree, a cherry tree, that blossomed each spring the way the ones down on the mall do. And, when I was a kid, I liked to sit in the fork of the tree and read. It was outside, it offered a nice view, it was a sort of whimsical thing to do, and it gave me a little privacy.

Here’s a beauty shot of me with the tree. I’m probably 11 or 12. Just one in a long series of bad haircuts. But, hey, the tree looks great. And so does my Swatch!

Technically, the tree belonged to the Town of Chevy Chase, where we lived. And one day some guys from the town tried to cut it down.

I’m not blaming them, you understand; according to them, the tree was diseased and they had to get rid of it. They just had a job to do, etc. I’m sure they successfully cut down a few trees that day and saved the town from whatever blight those trees had. Unfortunately for them, they came across Jane Lawton next.

Here I am, again about 12, with my grandmother, Mom, and my sister, Stephanie. This is likely Easter, because I have been forced into a floral suit. As you can see, I’m still trying to figure out a good hair style.

She didn’t want the tree cut down, so she did what any rational woman would do: she brought her daughter, age 6 or 7, out to the tree and had her sit in it until the men went away.

“This is my daughter’s tree,” she explained (as I remember it). “She loves this tree. You aren’t cutting it down.”

There are a lot of photos of us in front of the tree, as if Mom is celebrating her victory over arbor-oppressors. Here are (L-R) Stephanie, Mom, and me. This time, Stephanie is 12, and I am 19 and love the band Pixies.

They left eventually. The tree lived through whatever was ailing it, and the last time I checked was still in the yard, although the house doesn’t belong to us any more. And, as those of you who have met my mother might have guessed, she ended up being friends with one of the men later on. Because she liked everyone, and Mark was a pretty nice guy. Heck, he didn’t cut down the tree.

Here’s the fun thing about this story: Alex absolutely loves trees right now. Especially while the leaves were changing, she would just stare and stare at them. The day I brought her a leaf was a high point in both of our lives. And, a couple of weeks ago, when Mr. Trask took her to Christ Church Meadow and let her touch some trees, he says she looked at him like he had introduced her to The Beatles, or Sting, or whoever it is the kids are listening to these days. I got to come along on the next tree-hugging excursion, when we let her sit in her first tree.

“The tree! It’s all around me!”

People, you would have thought she had died and gone to heaven. It was the exact opposite of the swimming lessons debacle. She didn’t even mind wearing the fuzzy suit, for a little while. And as I took this photo of her sitting in the tree, I suddenly remembered my reading tree, and the day Mom and I saved it.

So last night I told Alex the story of how Mom outwitted the tree surgeons. And maybe someday she’ll remember Mom, when she’s sitting in a tree with flowers all around her. For today, that’s more than enough.

Thanks again, Mom.

Vexed Knitting: Knit and Natter??

27 November 2012
tags: ,
  • Jack: So we’re looking for a homicidal Granny, right?
  • Georgie: Have you ever heard of Knit and Natter?
  • J: No. What the hell’s that?
  • G: People get together in groups and they chat and they knit.
  • J: That’s a thing?
  • G: Lots of celebrities do it, so apparently it’s a cool thing.
  • J: I thought it was just grannies wanting to get back at their relatives for not visiting more often.
  • G: Julia Roberts does it; Madonna does it.
  • J: Yeah. Like I said, we’re looking for a homicidal Granny.

BBC Series Vexed offers us a different take on our favorite craft: knitting needle as murder weapon. Now, we’ve seen this before — most notably in Ian Fleming’s novel From Russia With Love, in which (spoiler alert!) a Soviet agent attacks James Bond with a knitting needle, and in the Chevy Chase / Goldie Hawn movie Foul Play, which (again, spoilers!) gives us Hawn killing a man with her knitting needles. So it’s not original, and again mass media gives us the “hey, knitting is hip; who knew?” trope, but I enjoyed this episode nonetheless.

While Vexed Series 2 isn’t as consistently good as Series 1 was, it does hum along nicely. This episode sees Jack trying to infiltrate a mothers’ knitting group to solve the murder of the headmaster at their school. We get to hear Toby Stephens say that he’s knitting his mother an egg cozy, while getting tangled up in yarn and needles. I’d say the best moment of the show is when Naz, the crime scene tech, notices that the knitting needles with which the headmaster was killed are handmade and expensive. Is Naz a closet knitter? Only Series 3 will tell us.

Unfortunately, due to baby-related delays (how long until that excuse is worn out?), I am posting this too late for UK residents to watch the full episode on BBC iPlayer. If you’re in the United Kingdom, you can watch a clip from the episode on the BBC website, and people on both sides of the pond can get Series 1 on DVD. [You can also see Goldie Hawn kill her attacker using a knitting needle at the very end of this YouTube clip.]

While we’re waiting for this episode to rerun, why not tell us in the comments what mainstream media depiction of knitting you’ve enjoyed most?

Charity Knitting, Wherever You Are (and a giveaway!)

9 November 2012
Kathleen in Hat

To illustrate winter, here is a photo of me in a hat.

It’s getting cold here in Oxford, and back on the East Coast of the US where Mr. Trask and I are from. One’s thoughts naturally turn to knit hats, mittens, scarves, and sweaters – and, sometimes, to those who might not have anyone to knit for them.

In the past three weeks, I have received information on two different charity knitting projects, one here in England and one back in the U.S. It seems appropriate to post about both of them here, and suggest that you choose one of these worthy endeavors and add a hat or scarf for them to your winter knitting queue. Both are small, home-grown ideas, and I think that’s appropriate as well since this is a small blog and you can get information about the big movements like The Big Knit or The Big Knitathon elsewhere (man, do those two have a Google problem).

Top of Hat

Here’s the top of the hat. Don’t you love the tops of hand-knit hats?

As an added incentive (and because I have missed doing giveaways), I’m offering yarn to one lucky knitter of a hat for either of these groups. Just knit your hat and send me a photograph of the package you send, and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win the yarn pictured at the end of this post.

First up, Catherine is organizing the knitting of warm hats for Veterans Aid. This group looks after former members of the British armed forces (not just soldiers, but support workers including medical staff and administrators) who have fallen ill or had other difficulties and need help to avoid being homeless. Catherine and her compatriots have already made six; surely you and I, dear readers, can come up with six more.

The other group, Knits for New York and New Jersey, is making hats, scarves, and other warm bits for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy. I lived in New York City after college and while I was getting my master’s degree, more than 10 years ago. I loved the city, and some people I love still live both in and around the area. More importantly, there are people living there now who have had to leave their homes and who need a little warmth in their lives. This group is just getting started, but they’ve already linked up with some folks who are holding a Crafting for A Cause event in Brooklyn. If you’re nearby, go and report back to the rest of us! You can donate knitting supplies to the Brooklyn event, too.

Hat Alone

And here’s the hat on its own. If you people are nice and/or interested, maybe I’ll publish the pattern at some point.

Will a warm hat change someone’s life? It won’t find them a place to stay if they don’t have one; it won’t give them food if they don’t have it. But a handknit hat will let a person in trouble know that someone was thinking of them and wishing them well. That’s often why we knit, especially for the holidays; we want our relatives and friends to know that we love them and are thinking of them. As the days get shorter and the weather colder, I think it’s more than nice – more than important – I think it’s crucial to remember that we all are a part of the human family, that we have more in common than we think, and that a little love sent to a stranger can help, not just them, but us as well.

So that’s my pitch for a random act of kindness, either in the U.K. or the U.S. Would anyone like to join me?

  • If you’re interested, post your ideas for hat patterns below. I’ll start – how about A Hat Fit for a Boyfriend, or the Hurricane Hat? Both free, both quick, both fun. What do the rest of you think?
  • If you want to send your hat/woolly thing to me to send along to the charity with my hat(s), you can – just write me and let me know it’s coming. [The only situation in which I’d recommend you not do this is if you’re in the U.S. and making something for those affected by Sandy…in which case you’d be mailing it to the U.K. for me to send it back to the U.S.]
  • Plus, here’s some yarn you might enjoy. One lucky hat knitter (chosen, as always, by the Random Number Generator) will receive this yarn from me, free of charge or any other strings. As I said above, to enter just send me a photo of your package with the hat you’re sending to either organization. Deadline for the drawing is Dec. 15, but of course you can keep knitting hats long after that.
NFC Loft

Neighborhood Fiber Co. Loft in color “Victorian Village.” Make yourself a glorious light scarf like this one, or this one.

Limited Time for Knitting / Unlimited Inspiration

31 October 2012

So, people did tell me that it would be difficult to knit after I’d had a baby, and they were right. No, no, this isn’t some hidden physical consequence of labor; it’s just that I’ve got this baby on my hands and, often, in my arms. I do a lot of baby-wearing, and a lot of walking her around in our super-duper buggy, but still it’s a challenge to have two hands and my brain free, all at once.

Alex on Chest

A photo of the day I was able to knit with Alex asleep on my chest. [You can’t see me knitting, because I couldn’t knit AND photograph with her asleep there. There are limits.] See how pleased I am with myself? First knitting in two and a half months, people.

So I don’t quite know what I’ve been doing, planning all these new projects. I put it down partly to the inspiration of P3 2012, partly to the startitis many of us knitters get in the fall, and partly to wishful thinking. I’ll be lucky if I get half of what’s in my mind done. But a girl can dream, right?

First, I have a couple of design projects in mind. I won’t tell you much about them, but I’ll show you the yarn for one of them:

Countess Ablaze Yarn

Countess Ablaze makes some amazing colors. I want these to be something for me, but I’d look nuts in them. Instead, I’ll make something for Alex, and she’ll look cute.

It’s The Bluefaced Baron from Countess Ablaze, whom we met in Wales earlier this month. Look at those colors! Ooh, aah. DK Weight Superwash Bluefaced Leicester yarn. I’m thinking a cute little striped sweater for Alex.

I also want to knit Color Affection (also known as Color Addiction, or Affliction, or Infection, for its viral qualities), and to that end I bought some gorgeous Nimu Isel (Superwash BFL, Silk, and Cashmere) at P3. I even cast on for it there (as you saw in my last post):

Color Affection Yarn at Jericho Cafe

The very beginning of a Color Affection Shawl – with a cup of tea at the Jericho Cafe.

This is a good project in that it’s garter stitch and so can be done pretty brainlessly. But I did choose this dark navy blue yarn for the beginning, which means I can’t knit it in semi-lit rooms. [Right now I’m doing a certain amount of sitting in our semi-lit bedroom, next to Alex’s co-sleeper, hoping for her to fall asleep.] But, hey, I was able to do a little knitting on this today while Little Miss Feisty took her morning nap. This pattern is so fun, and a really good use for sock yarn. Since I seem to have a lot of sock yarn in my stash, I’m considering making more than one. Is that crazy?

Meanwhile, the fabulous Rachel of Porpoise Fur has released a pattern: the Leaf Peeper Cowl. This looks so fun. I can’t spin, and learning to do so would probably lead to more fiber in the house (untenable right now), but I have some bulky yarn in my stash that would look gorgeous in this…and, hey, a quick knit seems like it would be pleasing.

Anyway, I’ll let you all know how I get along. In the meantime, what’s on your needles? What would you love to knit, but you don’t have the time?

Renewal in Wales

23 October 2012

You folks may remember our trip to Wales last year – a little matriculation, a little dash to the train, a little knitting in Pembrokeshire with the amazing Amy Singer and the super-fantastic Brenda Dayne. Well, we did it again, crazy people that we are, and Alex came along:

Alex on the Train

It seems Alex enjoys trains – thank goodness.

Yes, there she is, in her little hand-knit hat, on her way to Plug & Play Pembrokeshire 2012.

The theme word for P3 this year was Cariad, a Welsh term of endearment, and I certainly felt loved in Wales. Way back when we signed up for this, I was happily pregnant, Mr. Trask’s book was due to the publisher just before my due date, and we thought we could easily go to Wales with a three-month-old baby.

I hear all you parents out there laughing. I do. And you are right. Because, when it came to it, not only did we have a three-month-old baby, and not only is it folly to think that travel with a three-month-old is easy, but but we had just returned from our Grand Tour of the United States, and Mr. Trask’s book deadline had been moved to just after the retreat.

There was no way it was going to work. I thought about going alone with Alex; I thought about going with a friend; I e-mailed Amy and Brenda and told them we just couldn’t do it. They were disappointed; I was disappointed; but it made sense.

And then…then Amy wrote and pointed out that there would be 30 other women there (and one man – hi, knitting Andy from The Netherlands!), and that several of them would probably be interested in holding a baby from time to time. They would take care of Alex and me, she said, and they would love to see me. Oh, it was so tempting.

I thought about it. I imagined going alone. I had almost convinced myself that I could do it…and then Mr. Trask stepped in and said he would go, too. He worked out a brief extension of his deadline, and we committed to sharing Alex, so he could edit his book a bit, and I could knit a bit.

Readers, we went.

Alex Watches Kathleen Knit

Alex watching me knit. This is only the second or third time she’d seen me with the sticks and string; she watches intently when I do it. Soon after this photo was taken (thanks, Shani!), she grabbed my swatch, threw up a little, and wiped her mouth with the knitted fabric. Impressive baby, right?

It is a testament to the generosity of all the knitters there that we – all three of us – had a wonderful time. Mr. Trask got time to write and edit, and time to nap with Alex, and I got time to sit with knitters (though I often had a baby on my lap), and Alex got to sleep and socialize and receive flattery from one and all. [I am still getting used to the idea that other people might actually want to hold the baby for a little while.] The other attendees were incredibly generous, offering to hold Alex so that Mr. Trask and I could eat at the same time for once, or so that we could chat with people, or so that I could knit. I didn’t get as much real class time as a “normal” attendee, but I got to see a lot of this:

Alex with Aunt Brenda

Alex snuggles with Brenda (who spent the weekend telling anyone who would listen that Alex was “MY Baby.”)

Last year, this retreat blew me away because everyone was so friendly and Brenda and Amy were so accessible and welcoming. It helped me to settle into life in England and it made me braver about travel. This year, the retreat reminded me how truly generous and enthusiastic knitters are. Not just with regard to Alex, of course – but with their time, their knowledge, and their yarn. We had the most amazing goodie bags with donations from Blue Moon, The Kangaroo Dyer, Dye for Yarn, and Nimu (who did two custom colorways just for P3). It’s a sign of the general ethos of the retreat that we easily traded with each other until everyone had yarn s/he wanted.

But wait! There’s more. Jennifer of The Purple Purl joined us for the weekend, helping Brenda and Amy teach and generally cheering us on. When I decided that I wanted to make a Color Affection shawl (check out Brenda’s), she and fellow Crazy Canadian Alli encouraged me, approved my colo(u)rs, and gave me advice gleaned from their own shawls. Then Jennifer taught me a new way to do M1R and M1L, and re-knit the beginning of the shawl when I was ready to throw in the towel:

Jennifer and Alli

Jennifer re-knits my shawl beginning while Alli shows off a just-finished hat. [Alli, tell us what the pattern was!]

You see what I mean? Generosity personified.

Like last year’s, this year’s workshops used Amy’s “Plug and Play” design method and Brenda’s unique way of approaching raglan sweaters to teach design work. Last year, we worked with lace patterns; this year, with texture. We also had a nifty class by Amy on improvising cables, a very cool presentation by Brenda on knitting and memory, and a surprise class the last day in which we drafted silk hankies and knit the resulting roving into woven cuffs. Alli’s post on the retreat has details of each day, and gorgeous photos to boot; Catherine’s has lovely prose on the weekend and a photo essay of our silk hankie adventure.

Amy with a Blue Moon Silk Hankie

Amy shows us how to draft a silk hankie. This was both exciting and scary (drafting, not Amy showing it to us).

Aside from class time, we had:

  • delightful meals (and great conversation at those meals)
  • madcap downtime in the various lounges, parlo(u)rs, and messuages of the Inn
  • a fabulous mini-market where I discovered the wonder that is Countess Ablaze
  • a pajama party with Minstrels (yum!) and Downton Abbey (dramatic!), and even
  • a little yarn-bombing.
Sally's Cat with Wine

Still Life: Knit Cat by SallyWool, with bottles of wine.

So – it wasn’t easy, and we’ll be taking a little break from travel for a while. But it sure was fun.

Alex with Swatch

Future Knitter? Could be. Future holder of wool items, obviously.

We Made Her Ourselves

8 July 2012

Alexandra Jane, born June 30.


Parents: Tired, Happy.


Knitting: unfinished.

Cat: unsure what hit her. (Also, laundry: folded but not put away.)