Nana's Knitting Shop

Knitting tales of a lifelong knitter
and yarn shop owner.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The year in review

As my anniversary month comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to look back at the year:
  • My very first customer was the famous Quilter, Mickey Depre.
  • I taught 65 determined women how to knit.
  • We made socks.
  • At least one pair of lovely socks visited Niagra Falls.

  • We made felted purses.
  • At least 50 knitters should now always have garments that fit because they learned all about it in Gauge class.
  • We made mittens, tams, and gloves, and we made lace.
  • We did intarsia, we did Fair Isle and we created beautiful entrelac.
  • We made one of a kind mitered square Kimono jackets.
  • We met the Mayor of Oak Lawn. And thanks to Linda's contribution of the giant rubber band, the skirt I wore that day will never fall down again!
  • We made prosthetic breasts for Y-Me.
  • We entered the National Excellence in Needle Arts Competition.
  • In the heat of the moment, two of us took on a project so unbelievably tedious (and yet so beautiful), we can only hope we have the will and the fortitude to finish. We keep telling ourselves "it's a Spring sweater anyway." In the meantime, we'll just steek.
  • We had wonderful parties.
  • Customers bought 153,520 yards of Cascade 220. That's enough yarn to wrap the Sears Tower, Chicago's tallest building of 1,450 feet, 318 times!
And best of all, we met the nicest people in the world. I think everyone that has spent any time at all in the Shop has made a friend; I know I've made lots and lots of friends, many of whom will be friends for life.

Thank you each and every one for making this a great, talent filled, laugh filled year. I for one have had a ball.

Here's to another great year!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Did you know you've been knitting longer than...

I've been alive?" so said the sassy Abby on Saturday. My jaw dropped, but only a little because of course I know I've been knitting longer than she's been alive. At 26, Abby is just a baby. I glanced at Barbara, her mother.

It's funny how mothers can communicate with each other without saying a word. My look said, "Doesn't this girl need a spanking?" Barbara's look back at me said, "Oh no, it won't do any good; she's been this fresh her whole life."

Abby went on to say, "You've got your notions in a plastic baggie. You own a knit shop and you've got your notions in a plastic baggie!"

I said, "I'm like the shoemaker whose children have no shoes. I've had my knitting case, which doesn't hold notions since..."

Oh boy, here we go again. My knitting case is at least 10 years older than Abby. While Abby was still toddling around, I was knitting those hideous 80s sweaters previously mentioned on this blog.

Then the backpedaling started. Abby said, "What I meant is that since you've been knitting longer than I've been alive, you know much more than I do and you can teach me things."

If that's true, it won't be true for very long. Abby is a terrific knitter and when she's taken a class with me, she's the star pupil. She gets it immediately and she's off and running. A certain someone, who's taken a class with Abby, was very impressed with Abby's ability to pick up new things. She was jealous of Abby, of course, but tried to be a good sport after I had a good talking with her. Karen, I mean this certain someone, got it after a time too and she hasn't been knitting as long as Abby.

Abby is in the top five of the best English knitters I've ever known. She's far more skilled than I was at her age and will outdo me. Next up for Abby is Fair Isle and steeking and she's making this Dale of Norway.

So for now, I'll revel in my knowledge short lived as I know it is. One thing's for sure, however, I will always knit faster than Abby.

Abby rocks!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Open Knitting Unplugged

Thursdays from 1:00-3:00 is Open Knitting here at Nana's and yesterday was official Poncho day. Therese and Mae finished their ponchos and we all convinced them that they had to wear them to Open Knitting yesterday. And wear them they did! Don't they look terrific?

Chris and Tammi came in wearing their newly completed shawls so the furniture got pushed out of the way for this great group shot. Chris was the only one with earrings on for this picture so Tammi, Mae and Therese were mad. I, for one, can't see Chris' earrings so in the end, I don't think it mattered. After all it was shawl and poncho show-off time, not earring show-off time.

And so Open Knitting began. Eleanor, Eileen, Deloris, and Beth came in to join the fun and I decided to take notes of all of the funny conversations that ensued. Not much knitting got done, I can tell you that. I'm going to keep these snippets anonymous to protect the guilty...

On seeing a sweater in a magazine, "Oh, that's a beautiful sweater, I would make that. I hate the hood, don't you? Hoods make me look like one of the seven dwarves - hi ho, hi ho."

On a hat in the same magazine, "Oh, this hat looks just like you; you should make it."

"Look at my needles, I am making that hat."

"Wow, that's cosmic, isn't it?"

The first verse of "The Age of Aquarius" rang out. It's amazing how many people remember all of the words.

"I made a mistake, can you please fix it?"

"Absolutely, I'll show you how. You know, if you teach someone to fish..."

"I don't have time to learn to fish. Can't you just feed me today?"

"I hate the way the ribbing on my mitten looks."

"Oh, just add some beads."

"I think your mitten looks great."

"Ha, she's smitten with your mitten."

"You're poking yourself with your double points; that's gonna leave a mark."

"I'm so sick of sewing sleeves, I could scream. Monkey arms, monkey arms."

"Just set them in, don't sew them. They'd be arm chaps."

"When you're weaving in ends, do you mock the stitches or just whip-stitch them?"

"I mock the stitches - 'you stupid, stupid stitches, if you were live, I'd...'"

"What class do you have tonight?"

"Cocoon lace scarf."

"I liked that class, but I hate knitting lace. Lace is not for sissies."

"Did you like the history of lace I began the class with?"

"Yeah, it was okay; you only gave us lip service for a few minutes."

"I need a giant pom pom, but I have to go home and make soup."

"What kind of soup?"


"That comes in a can now, you know."

"I need a giant pom pom."

"Therese and Mae's ponchos were great, weren't they?"

"Voulez-vous boucle?"

"Asking for a grande coffee at Starbuck's really ticks me off so I always ask for a medium."

"Vente means twenty for twenty ounces. Why is the small called a tall and the medium a grande? If vente means twenty, why don't they use the ounces of the others as their names?"

"Yeah, that tall should be called a small."

"Gee, I'd like to be called tall."

"Okay, we'll call you tall from now on."

"I need a giant pom pom."

"Oh, just add some beads."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tammy, Tammy,Tammy's in love!

She spells it Tammi, but she was named for Tammy of movie and song fame. Debbie Reynolds or Sandra Dee, I'm not sure, but I like to think it was for Debbie Reynolds because the sequels with Sandra Dee pretty much killed Sandra's career. Apparently, Debbie was too tough an act to follow and I'll bet Elizabeth Taylor would agree! Ugh! Eddie Fisher was icky, wasn't he?

I taught Tammi to knit some time ago and she's taken to it like Debbie Reynolds to singing in the rain. Even her mother is impressed, who told me, "Tammi never sticks with anything."

Tammi has stuck with it and is becoming a very good knitter and Tammi's in love! I met the apple of Tammi's eye Friday at last - the darling Emma, the daughter of Tammi's friend. Tammi brought Emma in to try on the adorable Sprinkles cape seen here. Emma is eight months old so the Shop sample of the cape didn't fit her and frankly, she didn't care! Just as soon as Tammi sat down with Emma, she fell fast asleep. Emma had had a very busy day and Sprinkles capes were simply not on her agenda.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The lament of the sleeves or how to avoid infidelity

As I've discussed here before, I have a cardinal rule about knitting sweaters - make the sleeves first and make them both at the same time! Well, in my reckless abandon to prove my husband sweater worthy, I totally ignored that rule and now that the front and the back of the manly St. Mawes are done, I'm stuck with the arduous, long term commitment of the stinking sleeves. Manly sleeves are so long! You know we've descended from monkeys when you knit a sweater for a man.

As I knit and knit, and increase and increase at this late stage of the game, I'm reminded of the simple reasons why knitting the sleeves first is so gratifying. Ah, hindsight is indeed 20/20.

When you knit the sleeves first, you start out with very few stitches. You whip right through the ribbing and then for the very first time, you get to try the pattern. The excitement builds as the pattern unfolds over VERY FEW STITCHES. It's usually short rows of furious knitting before the full pattern emerges and voila, your sleeves are happening. If your pattern goes cattywompous (it is your first time after all), you have very few stitches and potentially very few rows to rip.

Since it's a NEW PROJECT and your enthusiasum is at an all time high, the sleeves are done in no time. Who doesn't go on from there, I ask you, to knit at least the back? No one stops at the sleeves and says, "I'm done with you and I'm on to the next project."

Conversely, however, how many of us, even those of us who have dedicated our knitting lives to sweaters, have said, "I'm done with the front and the back and I'm so bored, I'm putting this sucker away."

Okay, so the front and the back of the St. Mawes are done. They've been done, in fact, for some weeks. I lay them out and admire them, I put them up against my husband repeatedly to gloat about the fit. I've even contemplated blocking them. I've memorized the shaping for the sleeves. I've measured my husband's ape-like arms over and over again, hoping that they will shrink before I knit one more sleeve row. Twenty-six inches, sixty-six centimeters, when will it end?

And then in a blink of an eye, with just the slightest provocation, and with only a moment's pang of guilt, there's something else on the very needles on which you were knitting the sleeves. Isn't that how infidelity starts? Isn't it always a caught up in the passion, a damn the consequences moment when infidelity results? I'd like to say that I'm stronger, that I can resist the intoxicating lure of another, but I can't...and I didn't.

Here's my weak attempt at justification. Last month, we had the National Needle Arts Competition voting party here at the Shop and a very fun party it was. My darling daughter, Cory made all of the delicious desserts for this event. She spent days baking and thwarting off the four sugar-hungry munchkins who are her children. The thwarting was far more exhausting than the baking, but she perservered and breathlessly rushed in with beautiful desserts as the party started.

After helping me clean up, she fell back into the chair with the most pitiful look on her face. Hating that look and wanting to wipe it off her face as soon as possible, I blurted out, "You've been so incredible, the desserts were so delicious, I'll make you the Black Purl Sandstorm sweater you've been coveting." Her eyes lit up, that look instantly gone as she ran to the bin and started shoving Noro Silk Garden into my knitting bag.

"Thanks Mom," she said as she skipped out of the Shop leaving me to wallow in the remorse of an unthinking, passionate moment. And here it is. Lovely, isn't it?

Oh, and that's right, it DOESN'T HAVE SLEEVES!

Friday, October 06, 2006

"She doesn't think she's such a much...yet"

Renee, who I see far too infrequently, came to the Shop this week for a skein of yarn. Just one skein of yarn, to make of all funny things, a tea cozy. Renee usually has much grander things on her needles, but on this occasion, she wanted just one skein of yarn and her restraint was commendable.

As it turns out, Renee's daughter started college this year at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and according to both lay people and professionals, she is very talented indeed.

As Renee and I discussed her daughter's talent and the huge financial burden of college, Renee said, "She's extremely bright, talented; and, she doesn't think she's such a much."

Such a much! I just adore quirky little expressions and "such a much" is no exception.

"You such a much, I bet you think this song is about you, don't you?"
"Don't be such a much with me, Missy."
"You're such a much; you fix it!"

My mother had a loads of these little pearls.
If the butter was going rancid, "the butter has a tack."
If there was a difference of opinion, "you to your fancy, me to my Nancy."
If we were peevish and whiney, "oh, scratch your mad place and get over it."
If we were talking badly about someone, "tell it to your pillow."

So while this talented little girl is not such a much, her mother is knitting tea cozies. When she IS such a much, however, I expect that Renee will be knitting cashmere coats. Be such a much and please, be such a much as soon as possible!