Nana's Knitting Shop

Knitting tales of a lifelong knitter
and yarn shop owner.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Let the Knit Along Begin!

I've had my eye on the Nantucket Jacket from the Winter edition of Interweave Knits from the very moment I saw it. I've lusted for this gem by Norah Gaughan like I've almost never lusted for a sweater before. The gussets at the waist, the three-quarter-length sleeves, the scalloped edges, seed stitch - it's my idea of a perfect sweater.

But let's see...what did I already have in progress? The Dale, of course, and steeking has to happen next week. The socks for the elders are almost done as are the socks I'm designing. The Fetching mitts are long complete and the beautiful Forbes Forest scarf is well underway. The Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere hat is already on display.

All in very good shape, I'd say. But then there's the Dale and here's where the excuses, the aforementioned avoidance knitting and the irrational rationalizations begin....

The entire body is done, except for the shoulders. I've bound off for the front neck and am now working back and forth in Fair Isle. I don't like to carry colors when I'm purling. It's not hard, it's not even any slower; it's not bad at all, really. I just don't like it. The front neck is bound off, I rationalize. I can steek it with my comrades-in-arms. I've completed my steek reinforcement so I am ready to cut. It doesn't matter then really, if the shoulders and the back neck are still on the needle. I can add the button bands - I'll be way ahead of the game in finishing, I tell myself. Then I can take my time. I can do a couple of rows a week on the shoulders - all at my leisure. And as if I needed more reasons, the Dale is definitely a winter sweater and winter is almost over.

Besides, I've organized a Knit Along on the Nantucket Jacket that starts next week! Eight great knitters who agree that this sweater just HAS to be made will knit along with me. All yarn has been selected and gauges have been checked and we are ready to go! I've got just 7 days to wait to cast on this little beauty. I don't feel guilty about my Dale. It's too beautiful not to be finished; it just won't be finished yet.

Oh and yes, my little spinning nephew Devlin, the mittens and hat that I'm knitting from your wool will be on their way to you next week.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Muse Strikes Another!

Despite the winter doldrums, Nana's Poet Laureate was struck by her Muse this week. As I've mentioned before, she's painfully shy and I've been sworn not to reveal her identity. Here's her latest verse:

"As I sit in the house surrounded by a blanket of February snow
Knitting and purling I endure this familiar winter woe

Longing to wear lace, a shawl or something flimsy like that
It's too soon. So again I cast on yet another winter hat

Today the temps will be single digit or below,
And I think to myself, not again, oh no
Seeking laughter and sunshine, behold and lo
I bundle up and off to open knitting I shall go"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Waiting for My Muse

I'm very late posting my blog this week because I wasn't feeling inspired. I think it was just too cold.

And then on Saturday, in walked my Muse...

Ann has been knitting for as long as I have and has seen the fashions come and go. One day when she was in the Shop, she told me she found a striped mini dress she had knit when she was 16. Twiggy wore it on the cover of Seventeen magazine and Ann made it when the pattern became available. She told me she'd bring it in to show me and I suggested that she wear it in!

And so on Saturday, she did. Unbelievably amazing. The dress was like a T shirt with multi-colored stripes of pink, turquoise and orange. It had short raglan sleeves and it was knit, as Ann always does, perfectly. Being some kind of orlon blend, it was also in perfect condition (not that age 16 was that long ago).

Now, this bears repeating - Ann WORE the dress into the Shop! She had on the dress with a black leather belt, black hose, and black boots. The dress fit her like a glove and she looked absolutely amazing - what a figure! The things you see when you don't have a camera. Oh, how I wish I had a camera!

I asked her what she was going to do for the rest of the afternoon and she told me she was going home to clean house.

"Clean house?" I asked incredulously. "You have to go somewhere! Take your husband out to lunch or something - this dress must be seen. Twiggy's got nothing on you!"

Ann, I hope you went somewhere fun in your spectacular dress. After you left, my pants felt way too tight and I swear I could feel my thighs rubbing together.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Collectors

Some people collect figurines, some collect antiques, some collect stamps. Knitters collect yarn and I collect knitters.

My sweet Mother collected shoes; and, she collected fabric swatches. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw and my dear friend Eileen, my Mother collected shoes because she could never find any pretty shoes that fit her poor tired feet. When she first began working, she collected I. Miller shoes which cost her most of her paycheck.

Later on, she ordered shoes by mail order in the never-ending quest to find shoes that fit that were somewhat fashionable. And she ordered lots and lots of mail order shoes. My Father often joked that it was a good thing he saved well for retirement because lots and lots of his retirement fund went to returning lots and lots of mail order shoes. He was well known at the Post Office and my Mother watched the credit card bills like a hawk to make sure all of the returned, unfashionable, ill-fitting shoes were credited upon return.

And my Mother collected fabric swatches. Growing up, one room of our house was always undergoing redecoration. My Mother spent much of her time on the hunt for wallpaper and upholstery fabric. I knit and my Mother redecorated. It was more than hobby really, it was a sport.

There was always lots of negotiation, many trips to many places and the room to be redecorated was always full of fabric swatches - big fabric swatches. There was a time when fabric swatches were free and there was a time when the free fabric swatches were big enough to be actually useful.

That all changed however, and in order to get a useful fabric swatch, one had to buy a half a yard or so. And so my Mother did; and she bought lots of half yards. Collecting half yards of fabric swatches was also a family affair. When my Mother could no longer drive, everyone in the family took turns taking my Mother to find fabric swatches because finding just the right fabric took lots of trips and lots of ultimately useless swatches of fabric.

My wonderful Mother passed away last year and recently, my sister Kay, whose talents are boundless, presented my sisters, Cory, and me with a beautiful knitting bag - mine is pictured here. Each one was carefully matched for color and pattern and each one was painstakingly pieced together from of all funny things - my Mother's leftover, tossed aside, never to be used for anything upholstery fabric swatches. They are a wonderful, sentimental reminder of our Mother and of our then tedious, now sorely missed trips to find just the right fabric. Mom hated the fact that all of these fabric swatches were of no use and she is very pleased that they've now been made into beautiful keepsakes. Thank you Sister Kay!