Nana's Knitting Shop

Knitting tales of a lifelong knitter
and yarn shop owner.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's a Family Affair!

My nephews, Devlin and Liam are raising Cheviot sheep on their farm in New York. The Cheviot originated in the Cheviot Hills, on the border of England and Scotland.

Both of these little guys are involved in 4-H and have won championships. Here's what the Greenwich Journal reported about Mr. Devlin when he won the Outstanding 4-H Award:

" The Outstanding 4-Her Award is presented to a youth who has done exemplary work in 4-H. This year's award was presented to Devlin Kennedy. At the ripe old age of 10, Devlin rivals the subject knowledge of his much older club colleagues. He has extensive knowledge of sheep biology and management and is able to retain information at an unusual rate for his age.

The members of his club recognized Devlin's ability, serious attitude, and willingness to share with other youth. Devlin was recently elected the president of the Sheep and Kids Club, a club that has many older youth participants."

How 'bout that! Here are the boys with their one of their sheep!

And, Devlin is beginning to spin yarn. He bought his wheel with the money he earned from selling his fleece, lambs, the eggs from his chickens and pumpkins.

Here's a skein that Devlin spun.

Stop by the Shop and buy one of the cute little sheep Devlin and Liam have made from their fleece. For just $3.00, you can have a little slice of farm life! They make great ornaments for the tree.

Who knows, maybe Ensign Brook Farm will be Nana's next yarn new supplier.

And for those of you in the mood for singing, here's a little holiday ditty composed at Open Knitting today:

"We are Santa's elves
Buying yarn off Nana's shelves
Knitting for others and not ourselves
We are Santa's elves."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Volvo!

Deloris and I want our urn back! And while we're at it...

Hey Mr. Condo Curmudgeon! Deloris and I want our balcony back! (This one is a sad story for another day, but I just had to say it.)

Back to (Old) Mr. Volvo...

For the smokers at the Shop, I used to have a coffee can by the back door. Oh yes, this was pretty disgusting and Deloris always commented that this was a pretty disgusting way to handle butts.

One day, Deloris said to me,

"I've got an urn, you know, an old planter that I've wanted to get rid of, and I'm going to bring it to the Shop. You fill it with sand and then you've got an ashtray that isn't quite so disgusting. I'll tell you right now, though, someone will steal it and it will be very interesting to see how long it takes."

"Oh, for heavens sake, Deloris, no one will steal it. It's a planter turned ashtray. What in heavens name would anyone want with it?"

"You mark my words, I was in retail for 33 years and someone will steal it. I'll just be waiting for the day."

Time passed, probably 6 weeks in fact. I greeted Deloris at the back door every Thursday and she'd glance at the urn and say,

"I can't believe anyone hasn't stolen it yet."

"Oh silly," I'd say, "No one's going to steal it."

"You mark my words."

Well, yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving of all days of the year, someone actually stole it! In broad daylight no less and while one of my friends watched!

Here's how it happened.

Abby and her dear mother Barbara came in to discuss a secret mission (more about this in future blogs). We chatted it up, talked about yarn, secret missions, etc. and when I walked them out, I glanced in the corner outside the Shop and said,

"Well, I'll be damned, someone did steal the urn."

Abby said, " Oh my God, I saw who it was! It was an old man in a white Volvo! He almost hit us as we pulled in. I thought he was taking it to empty it! He picked the darn thing up and put it in his car and his WIFE was in the car too! He wasn't taking it to empty it?"

I love this! I adore the fact that Abby thought I had a cigarette butt urn emptier and I suspect that Abby's interpretation of old is my age! When I told her they stole it, she and her Mom were appalled when they realized that his WIFE was in the car!

I called Deloris, but before I tell you about the conversation, I must tell you about Deloris.

As you know from this blog, Deloris is a lefty. She loves knitting in the round which means every single pattern is backwards. She is one of the best knitters I know, helps everyone with every pattern, teaches the class that she and her friends attend AND takes calls about knitting after 6:00 p.m.

In addition, she is an organizational dream. My sister, Kay, who visits far too infrequently from Massachusetts is Deloris' soul mate. Kay was here this summer and thought organizing my back room would be more fun than going downtown. Kay made curtains, she bought organizing containers, she did it all.

Deloris walked into the Shop several days after the whirlwind of my darling sister and said,

"Now, this is gorgeous! What happened? You didn't do this. Who did this? Who did this?

"My sister Kay."

"Now this is a woman I can love."

Sister Kay says every time we talk,

"Is your back room still neat?"


"Does Deloris think so?"

"I think so," I say trembling, "I think so..."

So, I called Deloris about the urn.

"Happy Thanksgiving! Someone stole the urn."

"I knew it, I knew it. I was in retail for 33 years and I know about people. I knew someone would steal it; it was just a matter of time. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. Good thing I really didn't want it anymore. Old Volvo must really have wanted it to risk the hernia. It's got a good home now so that's good. I'll bring over a rusty bucket for the butts. Even I don't think anyone will steal a rusty bucket."

"I can't believe it. Someone stole the urn in broad daylight. I can't believe it."

Well, Happy Thanksgiving Mr. and Mrs. Volvo. I wanted to ask Engineer Boy if he thought the urn filled with sand was heavy enough to give Mr. Volvo a hernia, but he's still a frog so he wouldn't know.

Mr. Volvo! Deloris and I are watching out for you; we'll know you if you ever show up around the Shop again and may the hernia we know you now have interrupt the digestion of the turkey Mrs. Volvo is probably cooking for you right now. Was she proud of your theft? Was she the one who asked you to do it? Shame on you, Mr. Volvo and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Wedding Shawl

This beautiful Cabin Fever, Evening in Eden shawl is back in the spotlight here at Nana's. There are several people making it and I've seen two in the last few weeks. Joan N. has finished hers and it is stunning. Kathy M. has been working on it for a while now and I saw hers last night. It's well on its way to completion and will be gorgeous. Kathy's had her frustrations knitting lace as so many do...

Jeanne, wonderful, thoughtful mother that she is, wanted to make this for her daughter's wedding which was to be in October and was to be held at Starved Rock. She came in with plenty of time to create this lovely keepsake and we set out to choose yarn.

"What color is her dress?"


"There's lots of variations of off-white. Do you want it to match or do you want it to be a different color?"

"It's got to match the dress."

"Well, I think you better go to the bridal shop and get a swatch. We won't be able to match it if you don't."

"You're kidding, right?"

"Nope. It's got to be perfect."

"Oh, Jeez. I'll be right back."

Jeanne came back with a tiny swatch which she had to brow beat out of the bridal shop. They apparently "don't do that anymore." We chose Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and we were off to the races.

We sat down to go over the secrets of lace knitting and with yarn, pattern, needles, and a handy Peg It! row counter, Jeanne was ready to devote herself to making her daughter the wedding shawl! The name, Evening in Eden, grabbed her just as much as the pattern of the shawl did.

"Are you sure I can do this?" she asked.

"The experience level is 'With gusto! Enthusiastic beginner.' You're enthusiastic, aren't you?"

"Oh yeah, I'm enthusiastic alright, but are you sure I can do this?"

"No problem and come back anytime you like if you run into issues. Whatever you do, try not to take it off the needles if you make a mistake."

Several weeks passed and I thought all must be well. No visit from Jeanne. And then it happened. Jeanne was standing at my door, bag in hand and her normally straight hair kind of standing on end. She had a deer in the headlights sort of look on her face and I knew I had done a bad, bad thing by convincing her to make this beautiful present.

"I've started so many times, I lost count. I lost count row after row and nothing came out right. I started so many times, I had to use a new skein of yarn. Take if off the needles? It's been off the needles more often than it's actually been on the needles. And what's up with this stupid Peg It! thing? It fell on the floor and the pegs fell out so I had no idea where I was. What's the point of counting rows if one spill ruins everything? I can't watch television and work on this and I'm stuck in the living room all by myself hour after hour and my family is as fed up as I am. There's got to be an easier way to do this. You've got to help me."

We sat again and I encouraged her, patted her back and told her with perserverence, patience and pride, her daughter would be walking down the aisle in a made with love shawl. Starved Rock can be cold, don't you know.

"You just wait," I told her, "you won't even need the pattern soon."

Encouraged, but skeptical, Jeanne went home to start again and a very long time passed. I think it was actually months that passed. I breathed a sigh of relief and fully expected Jeanne to burst through the door one day very soon with the completed masterpiece.

And burst through the door one day she did. I grinned at her with anticipation. She scowled at me and said,

"I'm not too proud to quit. I surrender. It's never going to happen and I'm here to have you take back the few skeins I have left. I don't even care if you give me my money back, take this @#*! yarn away from me. My dear daughter will have to freeze at Starved Rock because of you and there isn't enough time or gusto left in my life to ever make this work."

"Alrighty then," I said. Thank goodness I was smart enough to quit while I was behind.

The wedding went off without a hitch. The day was warm enough so Jeanne didn't curse me through the nuptials. I'm hoping she didn't give me a thought, really. No sense having bad juju at your only daughter's wedding. She must have forgiven me, thank the warm weather gods, because she brought me this picture.

Alison didn't need a stinkin' shawl anyway and she certainly doesn't look cold to me.

In the inimitable words of Joanne R., "Life's too short for knitting lace," and I know Jeanne for one agrees.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Grimm Tale

Once upon a time on the Southwest side of that toddlin' town, Chicago, lived an Engineer/Prince. He had a cozy castle, a profession he loved and an adoring, competent, hard-working, and talented Princess Bride/Scullery Maid/Knitter.

His four darling grandchildren adored him and even his in-law family worshipped him. Yes, this Engineer/Prince had everything; he had it all. He had everything, everything that is, but a hand knit sweater.

He moped around the castle feeling that his charmed life was incomplete. Though his Princess Bride/Knitter had let down her golden hair once before and had been burned, she was unable to deny him anything and so she cast on.

In an effort to stay focused, she hired that nasty little taskmaster Rumpelstiltskin to sit by her side and ensure that she turned Cascade 220 into gold. Knitting and purling far into the night and on all her days off, she toiled. Measuring, knitting, purling, increasing, decreasing, sewing and blocking, the work continued at a furious pace until at last the Prince's new sweater was done.

The unveiling occurred on a cool, autumn night in the shadows of the dimly lit castle kitchen. Prince Wonderful slipped the magic sweater over his head and fondled the soft, finely woven fabric. He preened in front of the mirror marveling at the absolutely perfect fit and the wonderful way the burgundy color accentuated his silvery locks.

Satisfied and happy, he took the sweater off and gently laid it on the counter. A nanosecond later, he said, "Oh my, look at that, there's about an inch here on the back where the pattern is off. These zigs are shorter than all the rest."

The earth suddenly stood still. Dogs were silenced mid-bark, peasants froze in their tracks, and all clocks stopped ticking. Just as suddenly, the ground began to rumble, the heavens opened up and the most horrible, deafening, heart-pounding noises began. It sounded like Armegeddon.

"I'm an Engineer," Prince Smarty Pants shouted over the din, "I'm trained to find design flaws!"

Rumpelstiltskin stomped his foot so hard that it smashed through the kitchen floor and stuck in the cellar ceiling beam. "Foul!" he screamed, "I've scrutinized every stitch of this project with the zeal of a perfectionist and neither of us ever saw a mistake. I swear!"

POOF! The Engineer/Prince turned into a sniveling, slimy, wart-covered frog right before the angelic, long-suffering Princess Bride's obviously blind eyes.

"Rip it," croaked Prince Hot Stuff.

"Not on your life, Prince Eagle Eye. Frogs only wear sweaters in fairy tales and since your redemption is far, far away, you'll be a frog for a very long time. Sweater worthy, my foot."

The Princess Bride/Knitter Extraordinaire renewed her vow to only knit for herself, pinned up her golden hair and floated off to bed leaving Rumpelstiltskin stuck in the floor with Prince Know It All licking his face with his long, forked tongue.