Nana's Knitting Shop

Knitting tales of a lifelong knitter
and yarn shop owner.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday!

As you may recall, my Prince's 50th birthday is today. I debated about throwing the BIG party, but unless it was held in Massachusetts, the only non-family guest would be our neighbor Chuck. Chuck's fun and all, but they're happy sitting in Chuck's garage smoking cigars so a party wouldn't really be necessary.

Before the big month of May started, my dear husband said,

"You know my birthday's the big one this year."

"Yes, I do," I told him.

"I kind of think that since it is the big one, it should be all me all May."

"And, that's different how?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "I think I should be the absolute center of attention all month."

"Not to sound redundant, dear, but that's different how?"

Now, as many of you know, I've been knitting him a sweater; and, knitting it right in front of him from the get go. When I was sitting in my little room putting on the collar last week, he came in and asked me what I was knitting.

I was so floored by the question, I looked up at him dumbly and said, "Uh, nothing."

Wow, impressive answer wasn't it?

So the sweater was completed with time to spare. All sewn together, blocked, and ready to go days before the BIG DAY! I made it with Classic Elite's Princess which, by the way, is an incredible yarn. It doesn't, in this case, hurt that it's named Princess either.

Being the incredibly impatient type, I simply couldn't wait to give it to him on his birthday so I gave it to him Friday night. This way, I thought, he can wear it out to his birthday dinner on Saturday night.

"Oh, dear, it's a beautiful sweater! So soft! Great color! I love it! When in heaven's name did you knit it?"

"I've been knitting it right in front of you for the last 6 weeks. I can't believe you didn't know. I was sure you knew when you came in and asked me what I was knitting!"

"Well, after the Cubs' game incident, you told me you were never knitting me anything ever again and I believed you."

"See there! It is all you all the time! Try it on; let's see how it fits."

It fits pretty darn well, don't you think?

Happy 50th Birthday, my darling husband! You look damn good in that Princess sweater!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who's on First?

Now that baseball season has officially started, I'm reminded of a time when our number two grandchild was 6. He was the Prince's baseball prodigy. He was on the Dodgers here in Oak Lawn, and took this baseball stuff very seriously. The Prince signed him up, was at every practice, every game, practiced with him, and snuck in as coach when he could.

On the day of the big game, Miss Cory called me:

"Mom, he's driving me crazy, he keeps telling me he's got to bring his cup to the game tonight. Do you have it?"

"I don't remember seeing it on the counter when I left this morning," I said.

"Are you sure you don't have it?"

"I'm pretty sure it wasn't in the dishwasher. I have no idea where it is, you better ask Papa."

"God, he's driving me crazy! 'Can't go to the game without my cup; call Papa' over and over again."

Dumb and happy, I go on with my day. Later I asked the Prince:

"Do you know where the boy's cup is?"

"Not really. It could be in the toy box in their room at our house."

"Why would it be in there?"

"Not sure, but I can't think of where else it might be."

"Why does he keep bugging Cory about it?"

"Well, I told him he couldn't pitch or catch without it."

"What? They don't let them drink on the field!"

"You're kidding me, right? Drink on the field? Did you really think it was a drinking cup? He's talking about an athletic supporter for God's sake!"

"Oh! Well, did you buy him one?"

"I can't remember, I know I bought his older brother one last year so there's one around."


"Ah geez, here we go."

"We're stopping on the way home to get one."

The family came over for a barbeque a few days later. Young Mr. Baseball came running into the house; no hello, no hug,


"Yes sir I do and here it is."

"I'm going RIGHT NOW to try it on."

Papa said, "Come on, I'll help you and show you how it works."

They came out of the bathroom and our adorable baseball player posed for the crowd to see.

I whispered to his mother, "Who turned the boy's body around? It looks like he's wearing his butt in the front."

And in Shop news...we're having a sale this weekend! Take 25% off all yarn and don't forget that select books are 40% off all month and needles (except Signature) are 15% off.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Busy, Busy!

I've been remiss in posting to my blog of late. Sister Kay has been in town for two weeks and as always, it's been one party after another and I'm constantly distracted! She leaves tomorrow morning so my focus will be much better.

I thought this would be a good time to give you an update on one of the major projects we've got going on around here - the Great North American Afghan.

There are 24 squares in all and we are now on square number 9! It's been a great exercise in technique. There are a total of 7 colors and the color techniques include intarsia, slip stitch color and Fair Isle. It's been great fun to see everyone's squares since all chose different colors. They look totally different from each other.

I chose earthy tones to match my new couch. Eileen and Barbara chose colors for their bedrooms; Marge, bless her heart, is giving hers to her kids - she's making each of them an afghan - and her colors are close to the colors in the book. Kris and Carol chose shades of blue; Joann and Pam chose shades of pink and green; and Adriana, Eva and Sheila's afghans have no particular color theme, but are beautiful nonetheless.

Here's what we've accomplished so far. I've finished this month's square by the eccentric Rick Mondragon of Knitter's magazine fame, but I haven't blocked it yet.

Great North American Afghan

Lynn Youll Square

Great North American Afghan

Great North American Afghan Square

Gloria Tracy Square

Pam Allen Square

Lois Young Square

Elise Duvekot

And in other Shop news...someone stole Mr. Ben's baby and took him to Colorado. As you might expect, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Mr. Ben was hysterical at the loss for a while, but as you also might expect, he got over it. By the time the baby came home, Mr. Ben had forgotten all about him. I'm still trying to get them to bond again. Mr. Ben does continue to get a daily break from the damn baby when he goes to his AA meeting. Many thanks to the kidnapper who turned our boy into a raging alcoholic.

Friday, April 02, 2010

An Unabashed Endorsement

for Mike the Painter Extraordinaire. Mike's been at my house all week, sprucing things up. My good friend Paula is married to Mike, the Painter Extraordinaire, which is how he ended up painting at my house in the first place.

Paula, in addition to being a great little knitter, comes from my home state of Massachusetts so we have lots in common. We discuss our homesickness and all of the things we miss about the great little Bay State, especially the food. Oyster stew, fish chowder, Friendly Ice Cream Fribbles and Big Beefs, fried whole belly clams, and many other uniquely East Coast delicacies. Paula was one of the few who understood my delight at having this grotesquely large crustacean on my plate last Summer:

I live in Beverly in one of those old houses (circa 1927) that has plaster walls, decorative plaster crown moldings, and lots of other eccentric features that would cause just about any painter to head for the hills. Any painter except Mike, who used to restore old churches back in the Bay State.

We had 2 particularly dicey situations, one in the living room where there are plaster beams that had been painted to look like wood, grain and all, with stenciling on the beam faces; and, in the dining room where the crown molding is painted some weird metallic gold. Both rooms needed touching up and the Master of Plaster replastered the molding where it was crumbling, color matched the wood grain beams, the stencils, and the weird gold in the dining room perfectly. I must say it was very impressive work, very impressive indeed.

This time around, he painted one of our bathrooms and he's so neat, I didn't even have to clean it when he was done. So if you want a really good, I mean, really good painter, one who can match any color, tackle weird plaster patching, wallpaper, clean up after so it looks like he wasn't even there, let me know and I'll give you his number.

Naturally, I couldn't end this post without a story and this one is oh so true.

The first time Mike came to paint for us, he was setting up all his stuff as I left for work.

"Have fun," I told him as I walked out of the house.

About noon, the phone rang.

"Hi, it's Mike."
"How are you Mike?"
"I wish you had told me that you have a cat."

He sounded slightly annoyed. There were 3 or 4 people in the Shop at the time and they all heard me reply,

"I don't have a cat."

Both the Shop and the other end of phone went completely silent. Everyone in the Shop, I'm sure thought, "Geez, where is this going?"

"Mike? You there?"

He then started talking really fast.

"I went out to get some supplies out of the car; when I came back inside and started working, this red cat came up to me, brushed up against my legs; flopped down on the drop cloth and made himself right at home.

I went out again and the cat ran out before I could stop him. I spent a long while trying to catch him thinking you'd kill me if he got away or God forbid if he got hit by a car. I ran through the front bushes after him, into your neighbor's yard and I finally got him.

I brought him back in the house and damn it, didn't he tear out ahead of me the next time I went outside. I chased him again and then he ran under my car. I went back in the house and poked around the kitchen for cat treats, but you didn't have any. I'm now back outside, and the cat is still under my car."

Even though I was feeling rather speechless, I managed to say again, "I don't have a cat."

"He must of snuck in when I left the door open."
By now, I'm laughing so hard all I can say is yup.
"Okay then, so I guess he's okay outside?"
"I'm going back to work," he said sheepishly.

Several months later when the furnace guy came, the first thing he asked me as he looked furtively over my shoulder was, "Do you have any pets?"

"We used to have a lovely red cat," I said as forlornly as I could muster, "but our Painter let him run away."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Time to Party!

Join us for a Spring Yarn Tasting Party on Wednesday, March 31. The festivities begin at 6:00 p.m.

Bring your needles and try all of the beautiful Spring yarns that have arrived. The new pattern books this season are really gorgeous.

Take 10% off all the new Spring yarns and other select yarns will be on sale for 15%-25% off.

We'll also be serving yummy desserts created by Miss Cory. The last time she made all the desserts, the crowd went wild! If you've never tasted her cheesecake, you haven't really lived - honest, it's that delicious.

And don't you love my little Yarn Tasting Menu? That little beauty was created just for this party by my wonderful friend Knifty Red. It's your guide to all of the yarns you'll be dying to try. I'm so lucky to know so many talented people.

Be sure to come and bring your needles with you!

And in knitting news...drum roll please. My lovely daughter knit me a beautiful shawl called Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante. It's a free pattern on Ravelry. Isn't it lovely?

Now this is an important gift. Cory has never knit for me before even though I've asked plenty of times. She's always said, "I can't knit for you; you knit for yourself and I really can't impress you."

Well, impress me she has, particularly since this was her first lace project. Cory baby, it's beautiful and I love it!

I just received a shipment of Smooshy sock yarn in great Spring colors which would be perfect for the Traveling Woman pattern.

Don't forget to come to our party on Wednesday, March 31!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

'Tis a new season!

I'm happy to report that Spring has finally sprung. And naturally, with a new season comes new yarn!

Spring yarn is arriving and there are some beauties this season. Be sure to stop by and see all of the new yarns and patterns. Check out some project ideas here. And here are pictures of some other project ideas from our friends at Classic Elite. All are from the new book, Farmer's Market.

Yarn: Soft Linen, DK weight, Linen/wool, alpaca blend

Yarn: Soft Linen

Yarn: Allegoro - Sport weight, cotton/linen blend

And speaking of new seasons...the final (boo hoo) season of The Tudors starts on March 21 on Showtime. If you haven't seen this series, run right out and rent the previous seasons so you'll be up to date by March 21. It's the best show - gorgeous costumes, lush scenery and the best looking men on television. You can see a video of my boyfriend, the Duke of Suffolk, Henry Cavill on my dear friend Theresa's blog.

Oh, Theresa, I asked my husband whose boyfriend Henry is and he said,

"Well, of course, he's your boyfriend, dear. No one dare question that."

So even though you saw him first, he's mine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes I scare myself...

2010 not only marks the first decade of the new millennium, but it is also a milestone year for my Prince. He will turn 50 in May.

Now, just a few short years ago, when I turned 50, he had a fabulous surprise party for me. Total surprise. When I walked in the restaurant, I saw lots of totally unconnected people that I actually knew! Since the date wasn't very close to my actual birthday, it took a while for me to realize that all of those people were there for me and my birthday. (The thought that I was attending my own funeral actually crossed my mind.)

How could I follow up on that? I could have a surprise party for his 50th, but the only people that would be there would be my friends and the Prince's friend, our dear neighbor, Chuck. What kind of party would that be if only one of the guests was actually a friend of my Prince?

I could have a surprise party back in Massachusetts where all of his friends live and since most of his relatives live in New York, it would be a hop, skip and a jump for them to come to the party as well.

Oh, but the logistics of such a party would be a nightmare. Not having lived there for 15 years, I wouldn't have a clue what venue to choose. Handling all of those details long distance would be no easy task either. And then there's the problem of getting all of those addresses and how would I know if I left anyone out? How would I get him to Massachusetts without tipping my hand anyway? Sure, we go to visit my family fairly regularly, but what would I use as a lure? May in Massachusetts isn't exactly good for golfing and who knows what fish are running at that time of year.

Cory, her husband, and the kids couldn't be there because it would be too expensive to fly them all out there. And no party is complete without Cory. If Cory were able to come, it wouldn't be a secret, she can't keep a secret. She didn't speak more than a few words to me for months before my party because she was afraid she'd blow it and it drove us both crazy.)

I'll just be a killjoy and ask the Prince what he wants for his birthday. Wow! He doesn't really want a party in Massachusetts and he agrees that a party with Chuck is always fun, but we can do that any old time.

Hmm, off the hook for all that party planning, the never-ending logistics, the hurt feelings as a result of someone being left out, the expense, the secrecy, keeping Cory on the straight and narrow so she wouldn't tell. I am off the hook for all of it.

Surely, there is something I can do to make myself crazy between now and the BIG DAY. This idea is sheer genius. It's an idea that is certain to make me crazy, frustrated, pressured, and oh so much more!

I can knit the Prince another sweater!

He was awfully jealous when I knit Dad that lovely vest for Christmas. He did look a little crest fallen when I just used him as a mannequin instead of actually giving him the fruit of my labor. He was green around the edges when everyone oohed and aahed over Dad's vest when Dad modeled it in front of the Christmas tree.

Despite everything, he's been really, really nice to the sweater I knit for him. He wears it on special occasions and when he needs a little luck. He folds it ever so carefully when he puts it away and if we're out to dinner, he's especially careful not to dribble on it. It really does look great on him, fits him like a dream and the color is oh so beautiful.

What harm would it be just to take a little look see at some patterns? I'll just pull out some magazines and books and spend a little time just looking. Decent mens' sweater patterns are hard to come by so it shouldn't take too long and the chances of finding something are pretty slim anyway.

(Aren't you forgetting about the ugly sock incident?)

Oh my! I forgot I even have this lovely book by Alice Starmore - Fishermen's Sweaters.

(Do not look in that book. Don't you have a Starmore still on the needles for yourself? Does the name Catherine Parr ring any bells? Did you also forget that Starmore, not unlike your lovely friend Theresa, knits everything at a gauge so tight, it can stand up on its own?)

Oh be quiet. I'll get back to it someday. Besides, the gauge is so tight, it'll be too hot to wear and God knows, too hot is not something I can't bear these days. Okay, no Starmore.

Well, take a little lookey loo at the sweater in the Spring Knitter's!

I can even show him a picture of the sweater if the urge to be a spoilsport overwhelms me.

(You surely couldn't show him a picture of the last sweater. The model was wearing a kilt, some weird headdress and a necklace for goodness sake.)

Hmm, no cables, no colorwork. It has sleeves, however, and the sleeves always get me down.

Wow, 5 1/2 stitches to the inch on a size 6. Not bad, not bad at all. I knit Dad's vest on a size 3 needle and it was fine!

(Dad's vest didn't have sleeves!)

But, there's no colorwork or even any cables so it will go much faster than Dad's vest.

Oh! I could use Princess! There's a lovely blue over there. It would take 12 skeins to make; I'll just check the inventory and see how many I have. Well, whaddya know. I have exactly 12 skeins. Sounds like fate, bashert, kismet, karma, destiny.

(Not so fast, Sister. What happened to your 10 shawls in 2010? You're on the last lace repeat of Haruni. What about Kingscot? Last week when Traci came in wearing hers, you wanted it so bad, you were ready to cast on. You even checked your gauge, for God's sake.)

There you go. I'll check my gauge and see what's what. Size 6 needle, 5 1/2 stitches to the inch - perfect. A sweater for the Prince. Here's my progress:

I've gotten pretty far on the back; I've been knitting it right in front of him and he doesn't even have a clue!

It's done, it's in progress, that's it. Phew, that's a load off my poor brain.