Friday, June 30, 2006


Alert for those of you that live in or around Philly: on July 13th, Rosie's Yarn Cellar is doing a handpainted yarns promotion. We're having a get-together at the shop to showcase some of our existing handpainted lines (including Black Bunny yarns, in a superwash DK and nonsuperwash bulky weight, that you can only get at Rosie's -- not even in my Etsy shop) and to introduce some new patterns and samples, and to show off some of the cool new yarns we're bringing in. A special batch of Black Bunny wool-nylon sock yarn will be making an appearance, along with some yarns that Rosie's hasn't carried before. Rosie's blog is going to do some posts specifically addressing the issues that arise when working with handpainted yarns (pooling and splotching, anyone?) so I'll let you know when these posts are up.

Reader question

Anonymous (if that's her real name) asked the name of a Phildar yarn shown in one of my swag photos. It doesn't even have a regular label on it yet but appears to be called Auteil, 80% acrylic/20% wool, in a color called Persan.


How can someone with a knitting blog do so little knitting? I'm about to turn the heel on my pink Black Bunny sock, and I just mailed off some swatches to see if I can add to my extensive collection of rejection letters. I'm about to cast on for a sock pattern for Rosie's handpaint extravaganza, and then we'll see what's cooking next. I'd really like to play with my self-striping yarn that Amy sent me from the Dye-O-Rama, and Lars sent me a gorgeous skein, so who knows?

By the way, if there's any knitting-related topics you would like me to opine upon (and you know how much I love to opine), let me know.


I will repeat my offer of a free skein of sock yarn or 4 oz. of roving to the 200th customer of Black Bunny Fibers. Right now, we're in the 170s. I've been having some shipping delays in getting undyed wool; wool-nylon blend has been particularly hard to get but I should have at least a few skeins up in the Etsy shop soon. More spinning fiber, too.

Flood Watch

Thanks to everyone for their kind wishes. My parents (and about 200,000 other people) lucked out: the levees held and the Susquehanna River did not rise as high as was feared. So after an overnight evacuation (which they spent in relative comfort at my brother and sister-in-law's watching Aunt Mary hit on their elderly next-door-neighbor), they were back home today. I understand that many, many others were not so lucky, and I am truly sorry for them. In fact, I think I feel a Red Cross donation coming on.

Coming soon: Sneak Preview of Fall Stuff, and hey, didn't I go to New York a while back and forget to post about it?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Anybody got an ark?

My name is Carol, and I'm an ACND. Don't worry, Joe, and the other acronym-challenged among you, I don't think there's actually a support group called "ACND" -- I made it up. It stands for "Adult Child of a Natural Disaster," and it refers to the fact that when I was seven years old, my family lost our home and nearly everything in it to a flood caused by Hurricane Agnes. I had just finished first grade. My family lived about one block away from the Susquehanna River, on the other side of a large levee. The levee (okay, we always called it "the dike," but ever since I saw "Good Morning, Viet Nam," I just can't bring myself to call it that*) was around 36 feet high. Pretty big f*cking dike.

One morning, my mom took my brother and me for a walk on the top of the levee. It was a popular place to walk dogs, but I wasn't allowed to go anywhere near it alone so this outing seemed exotic to me. We walked along the top of the berm. Looking down on the other side, I was shocked to see the water, angry and brown and so close I felt I could reach down and touch it. (I probably could have.) I understood that this was weird, and that all the adults around me were worried, and that something bad might be about to happen, but I didn't really understand the significance or scope of what was about to happen. Which was probably a good thing.

The rain came down and the water came up and at about three a.m. the next morning, I woke to the sound of police cars driving through my neighborhood with their lights and sirens on, the cops yelling through bullhorns "Evacuate immediately!" I remember my mom telling me to get my little suitcase, the one my Grandma Jessie had given me, and pack some clothes to take with me to go to my other grandmother's. I also remember packing what was, in retrospect, the most absurd collection of clothing to take with me: five undershirts (no, I hadn't gotten my boobies yet), a couple of turtlenecks (real helpful in June), and some random other items. I vividly remember taking my beloved teddy bear, Teddy, that I'd had since I was an infant. [What happened to Teddy in later years is another story, and a hate crime.] In what was perhaps perfect poetic justice, my father was away at the time -- being physically and emotionally unavailable is his defining characteristic as a father -- and so my mom, my brother and I climbed into our little car and drove to my grandmother's house. She lived on the other side of town, still close to the Susquehanna River but on higher ground in no danger of flooding. The whole way there, I looked out the back window, expecting to see a tidal wave of river water rushing behind us.

I remember waking up the next morning to a surreal world. There was quiet all around, hardly any traffic on what was usually a pretty busy street, more rain, and a sense of waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. We heard on the news that men were filling sandbags at particularly vulnerable points of the levees; calls came for more men, more sand and more burlap bags. It was to no avail. At around two o'clock that afternoon, sirens blew throughout the city. The river had breached all efforts to hold it back and flooded the city.

They drove boats over our house and we were told the emergency workers could just reach out to touch the peak of the roof.

We stayed at my grandparents' house for about two or three months while my parents mucked out the house as best they could. I was allowed to go back to the house only once or twice, after all the wreckage of our furniture and clothing and other personal effects had been thrown to the curb for the National Guard to haul away. The entire world seemed covered with a haze of sickly olive-brown, like you were looking at it through a piece of tinted glass. (I wonder if this is why olive greens and browns don't appeal to me even today.) There was a musty smell and a powder we called "flood mud." I saw detritus -- warped records, waterlogged school papers, random things -- laying all around that people hadn't gotten around to cleaning up yet. The rats were the size of jackrabbits. In August, we scored a trailer from HUD that was set up in our backyard. By then, my parents had cleaned out the shell of our house and the neighborhood was starting to come back to life.

I often think about The Flood [growing up, we measured time by reference to The Flood, a kind of rough BC/AD thing: "Oh, that was a long time ago, before The Flood."] this time of year -- it happened almost exactly 34 years ago. But the memories have special resonance this year. I called my mom yesterday and I heard the local news blaring in the background. They're on a flood watch. Although the levees have been raised and reinforced more than once since 1972, occasionally a bout of heavy rain combined with runoff from the north causes the Susquehanna to rise to dangerous levels again. Global warming -- if the Republican party can be disbelieved -- seems certain to create more of these close scares. My mom and dad have packed a few things, gathered up their important documents and photographs, and now are waiting. The river is supposed to crest sometime Thursday, so I guess the next 24 hours are going to be rough ones.

Keep your fingers crossed the sirens don't blow.

*In which the Robin Williams character begins reading the news this way: "The Mississippi River broke through a protective dike today. What is a protective dike? Is it a large woman that says "Don't go near there! But Betty- Don't go near there! Don't go down by the river!"... No, we can't say "dyke" on the air, we can't even say "lesbian" anymore, it's "women in comfortable shoes."

UPDATE: Local authorities in my parents' town ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning Wednesday evening. However, revised estimates for the river suggest that it will crest earlier and lower than originally feared, so we hope this will end up being a close call.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I came, I kvelled, I conquered: Sunday

Two words for you: step dancing.

No, I haven't gone mad. It just so happened that an "Irish" step dancing competition was taking place in the Convention Center

at the same time as TNNA.

Prior to this point, I had no exposure to "Irish" step dancing. I am putting "Irish" in quotation marks, because after viewing the participants, I am confident that no one in Ireland looks anything like these little Jon-Benets. The girls ranged in age from about six to sixteen. What was particularly eerie was the way they all conformed to some kind of dress code: lots of makeup, extremely shiny dresses with poufy skirts in gaudy combinations of red and green, cheesy tiaras, and hairstyles that involved the placement of blonde (always blonde) Shirley-Temple-like ringlets on the top of the skull, just above the forehead, so the ringlets cascade onto the face. UK residents, back me up: have you ever seen anyone in Ireland dressed like this?

Photo from this purveyor of fine Irish step dancing wigs.

These girls were all over the hotel, the convention center and the adjoining mall. Some wore shower caps so as not to disturb their hairstyles. Some wore vinyl capes, the kind you wear at the beauty salon, so as not to mar their costumes. We were told that dresses for these events can cost as much as $1500 or more. We saw girls with customized zipper cases that provided extra room for the poufy skirts and zipped around them, suggesting that this is big business if custom-sized travel cases are being manufactured somewhere.

I don't mean to suggest that dance lessons, even some competitions, are a bad thing. I'm sure there are many girls who enjoy dance and who benefit greatly from the exercise, the grace, the discipline. What turned me off was a combination of the extremely bizarre, beauty-queen like stylizing of these girls, and what was obviously a pretty significant financial investment on the part of their parents -- the same kinds of things that bother me about pint-sized beauty pageants. I'm sure these talented girls would look just charming in their natural, youthful, unshellacked state doing these dances. But I digress. We were talking about the last day of TNNA.

By Sunday, my ass was dragging. The day broke bright and early -- well, rainy and early -- with an invitation-only fashion show sponsored by Westminster Fibers. You may recall that Westminster is the parent company of Rowan/RYC, Jaeger, Regia, Nashua Handknits, Schachenmayr, and Gedifra. We were given breakfast at a nearby hotel, then examined the most excellent goodie bags (much of which was in the swag photos from one of my previous posts). We then got to see a fashion show which showed, company by company, Westminster's designs for the fall.

Seeing this kind of fashion show -- which featured multiple garments from a single exhibitor (the TNNA fashion show limited entrants to 1 or 2 garments each) -- was much more instructive for me. I got a much clearer sense of what Westminster's vision of the fall was going to be, and since Rosie's stocks a lot of Westminster yarns, this is information which will be very helpful. (I'll do a separate post giving you some fall pictures and info about fall yarns.)

Then it was on to more exhibit-viewing, and some serious yarn-shopping. Desperation at the many things we hadn't covered but needed to energized us. We were reaching sensory overload, but still we pressed on. Random observations:

  • The name "Hooker's Nook" might not be my first choice for a shop, even if I specialized in crochet.

  • Regia is pronounced, let me put the issue to rest once and for all, "Ray-Gee-A" with a hard "G" as in "gallop."

  • Kristin Nicholas, who designs for Nashua Handknits, has an interesting blog which you might want to check out.

  • Lucy Neatby was carrying the most hilarious bag that looked like a chicken. She named it (Ernest maybe? but I could be wrong).

  • I saw a grown woman dressed like a watermelon. Yep, a watermelon-themed sweater, fuschia with black seeds on it, ribbing in a stripe of white then green. (She was not in the Rowan fashion show, needless to say.)

  • Overheard: "She was looking for 100 blue-and-white kazoos for a wedding reception."

  • Did I tell you how much I loved meeting VĂ©ronik Avery? So much so that I spelled her name wrong in my last post. (sheesh)

I, once again, was feeling that perhaps my mom was right and I had overextended myself a bit, so I excused myself for another quick lie-down.

Laura and I headed to the airport together (Lisa stayed on another night). We shared a cab with a lovely woman who -- despite her relative youth, and I mean no disrespect by that -- owned her own shop in Ontario. We compared notes on some things and then she dashed off to try to make her plane. Laura and I were left to watch the rainclouds approach. Our plane was overbooked and we considered for a brief moment taking the free ticket vouchers and staying over, but then we figured that would only require us to fly another time, so what kind of prize was that?

Our plane was some kind of balsa-wood child's toy called an Embrauer, with a mere three seats across, one on one side of the aisle, two on the other (gulp). Ironically, we were seated in the emergency exit aisle. The stewardess came to ask me if I was physically and mentally ready, willing and able to help evacuate the plane in the event of a euphemistically-described "emergency." She seemed somewhat taken aback at my "Hell, yeah!" while Laura delicately asked if this would require us to stay on board for any length of time after said emergency or if we could just hurl the door open and leap out (into the gaping maw of empty space).

Having notched back on the Atavan for fear of a DUI conviction, I found the ride home to be much more ... bumpy and anxiety-provoking. I was charmed, however, to see the skyline of my adopted city once we circled the airport. It was a great trip, but it was good to be home.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I came, I kvelled, I conquered: Saturday

Imagine a very large convention center. Imagine it filled with booths of yarn, every kind of yarn that is made and sold by every big yarn distributor -- and many small ones -- in America. Imagine artful displays of colors, baskets of new yarns to be released this fall, sample garments, sneak peeks of patterns and books, more gadgets than you ever could think of use for. Imagine walking all day and still not seeing all the booths. Imagine not being able to buy any of the tempting yarns you're seeing but having to wait until fall to get your hands on them. Now you're starting to get a feel for what TNNA was like.

TNNA is not only yarn, knitting and crochet. It also includes other kinds of fiber art, and needlepoint and stitchery supplies were everywhere. (Hoo-boy, one look at the canvases depicting sad-eyed Southwestern children and three-dimensional Thanksgiving tableaux and samplers reading "I don't have hot flashes, I have power surges" [I didn't make that slogan up, either] and you quickly realize there's a whole 'nother world of fiber out there.) Even accounting for the fact that many of the booths were exhibiting supplies we don't need to stock, there was still an unbelievable array of items to peruse and fondle.

For this reason, it's hard to generalize about what's coming down the pike: it really depends on what you end up ordering. There did seem to be particular interest in luxury fibers, like cashmere and alpaca and silk, especially in blends; and handdyed yarns were also well-represented; other than that, I suspect that what you see in the fall will vary tremendously depending where you look. The sense I got for fall colors? Muted, rich and tweedy tones. Plums, woodland greens, bronze and brown shades, some tweed and heathers, some rich reds, a little bit of silvery pastels. Ruffles, empire waists, bell sleeves, that whole dandy-fop kind of thing seemed popular, along with styling touches reminiscent (God help us) of the 80s (big collars, modified cowls). Thankfully both the poncho/ponchette/capelet/shrug trend and the excessive use of novelty yarn trends appear to have bitten the dust.

Another bonus for the knit-geek like me was the ubiquitous presence of what I think of as the "kniterati." Famous designers, magazine editors, authors were everywhere. Trisha Malcolm, Adina Kline, Pam Allen, Melanie Falick, Rick Mondragon were some of the publishing folks I saw. Designers? Holy moly. I had real conversations with Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Jo Sharp, Veronique Avery, Kristin Nicholas, Shannon Okey, Amy Singer and chatted with Norah Gaughan, Nicki Epstein, Linda Pratt, Edie Eckman, and probably more whom I'm forgetting. I fear that my gushing was excessive at times.

I gained new appreciation for how difficult it can be to stock one's yarn shop. When faced with the staggering array of temptations that TNNA offers, it's hard to stay focused on your particular shop and its needs. I daresay every shop owner has some sort of budget and figuring out how to avoid blowing it on a cool new, but not very sellable, yarn is really tough. Especially since the yarn-sellers are trying really hard to get you to place orders on the spot. Yarns I personally might find attractive may not be big sellers with a large cross-section of knitters; my willingness to work with, say, an organic yarn with real vegetable matter in it may be atypical, or my love of cool colors may not mesh with the customer base who loves warm tones. And there's always the practical issues. If you have fifteen yarns that knit at 5 stitches to the inch, do you really need the sixteenth? Maybe you really need to find a yarn that's aran weight and superwash, but you have to make sure the palette of colors offered is right (no good guy colors? no good gal colors? no good baby colors? no neutrals?). Maybe you just love that alpaca but your shop is located in Florida where really warm fibers like alpaca just don't do too well. And so on. The next time you're tempted to tell your LYS owner "You really should stock XYZ yarn," think about it a little bit. The decision how to parcel up a knitting shop's yarn-buying budget is not that different from your own personal decision what to spend your yarn budget on -- so many choices! so heartbreakingly impossible to bring them all home! so hard to know what yarns will perform well simply by looking at them in the ball! -- only the LYS owner has to please as many customers as possible, instead of only herself. Ouch.

This made for some serious yarn-shop business to attend to. In addition to fondling yarns and looking for new discoveries, and networking, and scaring all the nice designers, we had a list of things we needed to accomplish. There were certain yarns we wanted to see in person (in skein?), to feel them and see samples knit of them; there were certain palettes we wanted to see dyed up in whole skeins of yarns, instead of in one-inch cuttings on a color card; there were a few items we needed to find, comparison shopping and all. I had a few vendors that I wanted Lisa to see; she had more that she wanted Laura and I to see; and so on. And I keenly felt the pressure of trying to do right by Lisa: being supportive and helpful and worth taking along. I think we did okay, overall. We seemed to hit most of the items on our to-do list, and stumbled over a few pleasant surprises. And, although it is a bit of a cliche, we did have a great time doing it.

The icing on my Tastykake* was my encounter with a well-known designer, one whose designs I've always loved, who came up to me (!) and said that she reads this very blog. She proved it, too, by conversing knowledgeably about various details of my life. We had a wonderful conversation, and I walked away, certain that this was my warped version of Paradise and that seventy (or is it forty?) scantily clad men who were most definitely not virgins were about to escort me through the Pearly Gates and feed me Godiva hazlenut chocolates while I rolled around naked in a bed of Koigu.

*Note for non-Philadelphians: Tastykakes are locally-made cupcakes and snackcakes that are individually packaged. Kind of like Little Debbies, only good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I came, I kvelled, I conquered: Friday

Okay, here's the full scoop on my TNNA experience. Or at least the first part of it.

I began my journey at an ungodly hour on Friday morning. Hastened out the door by a mopey, self-pitying kid -- his mother had the temerity to leave town for a whole weekend! -- I arrived at the airport early. I hadn't been to the Philly airport in years and was pleasantly surprised by all the changes that have taken place. Not the least of which is increased security. I was a bit chagrined to realize that security was so improved that I couldn't even get a lousy cup of coffee without my boarding pass, which Lisa was bringing with her.

My traveling companions, Lisa (owner of Rosie's) and Laura (fellow staff member; her wonderful alligator mittens pattern appears in the first Stitch N Bitch book), arrived and we proceeded to our gate. Lisa, who has a much more professional and tailored style of dressing than me, busted on me a little for traveling in my mom clothes, but my fresh-out-of-the-minivan look certainly got me through security quickly. I was the most pleasant person passing through the metal detector. I would gladly have stripped nekkid if I thought it would increase my personal security on the airplane. (Thankfully for my fellow passengers, this was not part of the new Homeland Security protocol.)

The plane ride to Indiana was really not so bad. Don't get me wrong; I don't want to fly anywhere again any time soon, but mellowed by an Atavan and buoyed by excitement at getting out of Dodge, the ride went pretty fast and was quite pleasant. Laura and I were momentarily concerned when we noticed that the pilot appeared to be about twelve years old; however, we caucused and quickly came to grips with the situation. Laura noted that pre-teens tend to be athletic and spry, and isn't that a good quality in a pilot? I offered up my personal observation that no one can handle complex electronic equipment -- cell phones, DVD players -- like my eight-year-old, so the pilot's youth would serve him well with the controls. Thus comforted, we returned to our game of "Spot the Air Marshal."

Our hotel was perfectly nice and roomy. All of the rooms overlooked a center atrium

and although we saw this peculiarly-worded sign alerting us to construction,

we didn't hear any jackhammers. After a quickie lunch, I collapsed into the king-sized bed and snoozed while Lisa and Laura scoped out Mass Ave Knitting, a local yarn shop. They returned with high marks for the shop, which apparently had an unbelievably large selection of yarns.

One of the first fellow TNNA-ers I met just happened to be from a very small town -- we're talking pretty obscure -- just a stone's throw from where I grew up. (For the terminally curious. she's from Noxen, PA and I triumphed over, er, grew up in Wilkes-Barre.)

Friday night was the big TNNA Fashion Show. Or maybe I should say "Fashion" Show, as many of the items shown were neither fashionable nor garments, as far as I could tell. The Fashion Show consists of submissions from TNNA members, mainly from large yarn companies but also from some smaller producers and pattern designers. The entrants, and there were many of them, ran the gamut of handknitting. I saw novelty yarn extravaganzas, a set of traditional Norwegian ski sweaters, a gorgeous Koigu coat, a ball gown knitted in Kid Silk Haze, felted bags, sweaters galore, and even a skirt or two. It's really impossible to generalize about them, since they seemed to sample all sorts of styles and genres and certainly would appeal to vastly different knitting populations. On the one hand, you see a striking black and white car coat from Vogue; then you see a monstrosity that has pompoms clustered on the top of the sleeves and shoulders like ... well, I don't know what it was like, but it wasn't a very attractive look. There weren't many of them I could imagine making (I don't get invited to many balls, such that I need to knit full-length gowns that often) but it was interesting to see what's out there, and what some of the new yarns look like in a garment. Favorite quotes from the fashion show:

* "It will flatter all figure types" (hah! said variously about a tent-like garment with no shaping and the aforementioned Vogue car coat, which was styled with diamonds on the chest which would become parallellograms if anyone with a chest bigger than size 34 should wear it)

* "This turquoise and tangerine cocoon jacket...." [No good comes of a sentence that begins that way]

* "... can be worn as a scarf, a vest, a wrap or a toga..." [Airplane! anyone? I can make a hat, or a broach...)

We had dinner and returned to the hotel, plotting our strategy for the next day. I managed to knit some of this:

which is BBF's Grandma's Roses, the portion of the skein which got nasty and knotty and tangled when I tried to wind it, so I kept the shredded remnants for myself.

Although it had been a relatively light day TNNA-wise, I was already feeling the excitement of being in the company of numerous other knit-geeks who love yarn and knitting as much as I do.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Regressive Concept for a Book Award

goes to this charmer:

an ad for which I picked up at TNNA. Here's the publicity blurb:

Like the patriarchy hasn't done enough?! They have to find a way to make our knitting all about them? To insert angst into a craft that ought to make knitters proud, not insecure? KnitGrrls of the world, unite! Knit whatever you want for whomever you want. And buy yourself your own damn ring if you want one that bad.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Brief entry today, but I had to thank my Dye-O-Rama swap buddy (sounds a bit more kinky than it is) for this, which arrived yesterday:

It's self-striping: how cool is that? After an unfortunate experience with a very long skein, some chair legs and an overactive toddler, I have not played around with self-striping, so this will be a real treat for me. Amy blogs here so I will be sure to add that one to my Bloglines. (She's working on a gorgeous Mermaid sweater, by the way.) If you're interested in dyeing, you should browse through Amy's archives; she's done some excellent posts about the process of planning out her yarn, including experiments with miniskeins, getting a board to wind the yarn around, and so on. A zillion thank-yous to Amy.

And while we're on the subject of swag, allow me to show you a few photos. (Perhaps the reason why I'm so exhausted and feverish this week is because I had to carry about twenty extra pounds of swag home with me from TNNA. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.)

and this:

Would it be in poor taste to also show you these?

Please note, however, that Melissa Leapman's new book is NOT there, perhaps because even though we waited in line for quite some time (and did I mention I have Lyme Disease?), she ran out of books right before us. And -- get this -- her publicist refused to take my home address so she could mail a copy to me later. Hmph.

Melanie Falick, one of my longtime knitting idols, did not run out of books, however. She was signing copies of Handknit Holidays, and when it was my turn she peered at my nametag and said, "Your name sounds so familiar. Why?" Without thinking, I replied "Probably because you personally rejected an item I designed for this very book!" She tried to recover, saying, "Was my rejection letter nice? People say I write nice rejection letters." [Nice try, Mel. Isn't "nice rejection letter" a wee bit oxymoronic? "My fiancee sent me a 'Dear John' letter, but I really didn't mind that she shat on my heart and broke our engagement because it was so nice!"]

Why am I starting to feel like the Kathy Griffin of TNNA?

Oh Geez, did I leave you hanging all week:

Answer to Monday's Reader Challenge:

Friday night: black-and-white tweed jacket, pastel sweater, black shoes of undeterminate ilk, dark pants, watch with something on face

Saturday: Kureyon vest, brown collared shirt, beige clogs, white jeans, yellow/turquoise handbag

Sunday: grey clogs, black pants with applique, white collared shirt, yellow/turquoise handbag

Off to take a huge nap before Tom gets back with the kids.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Feast your eyes

This is some of the stuff I'm in the process of listing on Etsy. I must confess to feeling, well, pretty much like crap. So look at the pretty yarn and I'll post again as soon as I can.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


One of my long-time knitting icons has been Debbie Bliss. The very first knitting book I purchased when I returned to the craft years ago was one of her very first books, New Baby Knits. I remember paging through the book longingly, wondering if I'd ever be good enough to make the garments inside (and wondering if I'd someday have kids to wear them). I was struck by the classic lines and charm of her designs; they weren't the overwrought, excessively twee sweaters I'd had as my stereotype of handknit baby sweaters. As time has gone on, I've remained a Debbie Bliss fan. I love her sensibility, her palette, her clean lines, and, of course, her yarn line. Am I gushing?

Well, if I'm gushing to you guys, imagine how I gushed when I got to meet Debbie Bliss herself. She was unbelievably down-to-earth, charming and warm. I started subtly, by saying "I love you!" to her and she responded immediately by saying "And I know I could grow to love you, too!" Huge points for the quick rejoinder. We had a lovely chat and although I fear I may have kvelled a bit too much, I did remember to get in a plug for schematics and clear photographs of the designs in all future books. (Heh.) Best of all, I left with this:

It says, "Lovely to meet you, Carol. Without you, I am nothing. Best wishes, Debbie Bliss."

It was at that moment that I began to suspect that my plane had gone down and I was in heaven.

Coming soon: Another incident with a top designer (whose initials are V.A.) leaves me certain that I am in paradise; answers to yesterday's readers' challenge...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Reader Challenge

Okay, I'm back, and while I catch my breath and try to sort out the sensory overload I experienced in Indianapolis, I will leave you with this Reader Challenge, based on my own personal observations, as I recall them:

The following list of items were worn by Rick Mondragon this weekend at TNNA. Can you figure out what his three outfits looked like? Hint: one item was worn two days. Tomorrow I shall describe the actual outfits and you can compare your predictions with the reality. Extra points if you can guess which outfit was which day (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday).

  • 1 pr. tooled leather clogs with pointy toes, gray (imagine cowboy boots without the back or high leg)

  • 1 pr. tooled leather clogs with pointy toes, beige (ditto)

  • 1 pr black pointy-toed shoes of indeterminate style (what can I say? I was tired. I have Lyme disease, you know.)

  • white or cream-colored jeans

  • pastel sweater top (I think pink but I might be wrong on that; see Lyme disease comment above)

  • turquoise and raincoat-yellow square shoulder bag (some might say "purse," but not I, since Go Knit In Your Hat is wont to take the high road at all times. Besides, who says men can't carry purses?)

  • white collared shirt

  • black-and-white tweed jacket (if I were cruel, I'd add that it was ill-fitting. Good thing I'm not.)

  • black jeans with Asian-influenced dragon or snake style motif appliqued down one leg

  • brown collared shirt

  • Kureyon vest made with vertical stripes made using different balls intarsia-style

  • 1 pr dark slacks

  • watch with some kind of drawing or figure on the face (couldn't get close enough to see without violating the restraining order)

Have at it, dear ones! I missed you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pre-TNNA Update

Let's look at my list of things to do before leaving for TNNA on Friday:

Pack novelty yarn poncho and froufrou scarf - check
Wash track suit with appliqued top and matching pants - check
Find bathing costume from the 20s that covers as much of me as possible for use in hotel jacuzzi - check
Trip to bank to secure $50 in singles for stuffing in Rick Mondragon's G-string at wildass Knit-N-Strip bash to follow convention fashion show - check
Pharmacy run for Advil and Chaser to remedy hangover that is sure to follow even one minute sip of alcohol-based drink - check
Watch "Fargo" to practice midwestern accent - check
Ponder why only clothes shopping choices are too young (e.g. muffin top/coin slot slut capris with skimpy camisole top) or too old (dowdy seersucker skirt with prim lace blouse) - check
Beg, borrow or steal antianxiety medication to supplement Atavan for plane flights - check
Pack pair of Depends in case I wet myself during patch of turbulence - check
Post on Knitlist to ask whether there are any good yarn shops in Indianapolis - check
Post on Knitlist to ask if you're allowed to bring knitting needles on airplane* - check

I guess I'm ready to go then. I will give you a full report on my return. By the way, just so you know, I am terrified of flying. Have been for years. Really rather anxious about that. Please don't put in the comments that statistically, flying is safer than driving. Tell that to Mohammed Atta.

*For my sweet, earnest readers (all two of you), I do know the current FAA policy for knitting needles. It's a joke, dears.


In the meantime, please note that I have started restocking Black Bunny and there's a new crop of laceweights up. Apparently the new Interweave Knits has a pattern for an Icarus something or other that people are using 100g of laceweight for; I've got several 100g skeins listed and a couple more on the way. Meanwhile, I'm shipping lucky Courtney of Flagstaff, Arizona her free skein of sock yarn today. I really hope you like it, Courtney! I managed to do a few more batches of superwash sock yarn today, which should be up early next week. Don't give up on me: more yarn's a comin'.

Why I love my mailman even more than usual

He brought me two wonderful packages. Some mohair/wool to spin from Mindy's goat Morpheous (who's adorable) and a lovely skein of Fleece Artist sock yarn (which is one of the few kinds of sock yarn I did not have in my copious stash but have been coveting for a while) from Lars, who blogs here. I met Lars in New York a few weekends ago and as soon as I finish my blog post about the NY trip, you'll hear more about him. (He's a love.) And Mindy's my number-one Black Bunny supporter... when I get myself together I'll post some photos of her handspun made with Black Bunny roving. It's gorgeous and I'm highly envious of her spinning abilities. (Not to mention her goat.)

A big Philly "Yo!" to

reader Diane, who introduced herself to me at Rosie's last Saturday. We had a great chat and I enjoyed meeting you! Thanks for delurking. And Diane is your living proof that if you introduce yourself to me and say you read my blog, you'll make my day AND you'll find out that I'm really very, very nice in person.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No good deed goes unpunished

You have heard me before wax rhapsodic about the beauty of the Internet. Where else would you find such a treasure trove of free information on such a range of topics? And knitters, in particular, seem to be both plugged in to the 'net, and willing to share their hard-earned information with others. You can find all sorts of instructional sites, tips and tricks, and of course, a bonanza of free patterns.

Ah! The free patterns.

If you've been following any of my blog posts on copyright, you may recall reading that someone who creates a pattern owns the copyright on it, even if it's posted on the internet. You write it, you own it. A pattern may appear on Knitty or Magknits or Knancy Knitter's blog, just a few clicks away from your search engine, and you may print it out for free, and make your own version of the garment for free, but that doesn't mean that the creator of the pattern has given away her copyright rights or her copyright protection. And more to the point, it doesn't mean YOU can freely distribute or sell that pattern, in any form, without the permission of the copyright holder, i.e., the designer. It may be free for the taking (for your own personal knitting use), but it ain't free for the reselling.

Jenna, of the excellent Girl from Auntie website (it's more than just a blog), learned of a seller on Ebay who is selling -- for a pretty nominal sum -- "ebooks." Ebooks is a fancy name for PDF files. I've got nothing against PDF files; in fact, I think they are the wave of the future where knitting patterns are concerned. But I've got a lot against someone who sells ebooks full of stolen knitting patterns.

Yes, that's right, I used the word "stolen." defines "steal" as "to take (the property of another) without right or permission." That's exactly what happened to Jenna, and many other knitting and crochet designers. Patterns which they designed and posted on the internet were downloaded and turned into PDF files, with the copyright notices conveniently deleted, and in some cases, alterations made (a Crystal Palace pattern was changed to require a generic type of yarn rather than their specific yarn). The patterns are being bundled and sold as ebooks, so that the designers -- who did not authorize or license their patterns to be used in this way -- aren't receiving any of the money made from the sale of these ebooks. That is theft of intellectual property.

You can read on Jenna's website the correspondence between her and the ebay seller. He claimed to have some kind of "resell rights," meaning, I think, that he bought the ebook content from others and since he bought it, he owns it. What a load of crap. You can't sell something you don't own. Consider this: If I walk over to your house, stand in front of it and pretend it's mine, and then accept $100,000 from the next passer-by for your house, can the passer-by claim that he owns your house now? He paid money for it, didn't he?

Of course not. And this ebay seller shouldn't hide behind his stupidity or his (alleged) ignorance of copyright law or probably more to the point, his intentional disregard of copyright law.

The knitting community benefits tremendously from the wealth of free patterns and other information that knitters load onto the web, most often for free, out of the goodness of their hearts. Let's not abuse their kindness by failing to respect copyright law.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Thank you all for your kind words and wishes. I'm doing fine, mostly grappling with fatigue, so everything in our house is going quite a bit slower than usual. Including the laundry and the dishes. And, unfortunately, the dyeing. I'm also scheduled to go to TNNA, the big trade show for yarn shops and other needlearts professionals, next weekend, so I've got to rest up to be ready. (My mom asked me if maybe I oughtn't stay home from TNNA; my response was that I'll get more rest going away than I would staying at home.) I expect to give you a full report and lots of dish when I get back.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on a great photo of Nick, acting as spokesmodel for a quickie pattern that just went up in this month's MagKnits. Knit in Black Bunny worsted weight yarn, natch.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and if you're waiting for an answer to an email, or a skein of yarn, please be patient with me...