January One -- Bohemia

June 27, 2005

Cheeseheads and Sharpies

I’ve been avoiding blogging about the last few days, not because it was awful or disappointing – but because it was so good, so lovely, so RIGHT, I’m at a loss for words.

Admittedly, Thursday was a bit stressful. I had been designated cruise director, a job I’m not often given, and since I’ve got that debilitating perfectionism problem, well, you guessed it. I wanted everything to be perfect. Doesn’t really leave you a lot of time to enjoy yourself. But I managed. ;-)

Jen and I headed into the big city around 9:30 and met up with Vicki at her hotel. Lauren met us there and when we could pry Vicki off her bed with seventeen thousand pillows, we headed up to Tender Buttons. I think Vicki got a good picture of the place. It’s basically nirvana for buttons. Button Heaven if you will. VERY overwhelming. But somehow Vicki, Jen and I all managed to find the PERFECT buttons for our projects. (Lauren didn’t need any – but she was essential in the choosing.) Here’s what I found for Bohemia:

Lest the picture isn’t revealing enough – these babies are LEATHER. Aren’t they super perfect for the aran delight this sweater will (hopefully) one day become? As perfect as my buttons are, Vicki’s are better. I hope she shows a picture.

After TB, I took Vicki on her first ever subway ride to meet up with the rest of the gals at School Products. Ann, Nancy (go wish her a happy birthday today!), and Cassie joined the rest of us – I didn’t get anything, but a few of us walked away with goodies. Sadly, Jen had to leave us after School Products (hope you’re having a good time basking in the Caribbean Sun Jen!) but the rest of the troops made our way to Habu. Again, I’ll let others tell you about this place, since I’ve already given you my first impression.

With the tantalizing deliciacies of Habu under our belt, (that’s two yarn stores down, no yarn for Cara) we headed off to the Shake Shack for lunch. Vicki’s husband met us there and we stood in line for supposedly THE BEST BURGER in New York. (I’m sticking with the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien, but it was very good.) Some guy asked me if they were like In-N-Out. No. They aren’t like In-N-Out. Nothing’s like In-N-Out – but that’s a whole other post.

We ate, we knit, we relaxed on what had to be one of the top ten weather days OF ALL TIME. Seriously. Vicki got really lucky considering the gross, disgusting weather we’ve been having. I’m sure she had a taste of it on Saturday, which I think was one of the hottest days in the city. But on Thursday it was clear, no humidity, blue sky beautiful.

Satiated by our burgers, we took the subway down to Seaport, leaving Nancy to go back to work at my old stomping grounds. I knew I recognized her from somewhere! Great to meet you Nancy. Seaport Yarns is crazy. It used to be a consulting firm, but post-9/11, the proprietress decided to follow her heart and open a yarn store – right in the middle of the consulting firm – at least that’s the story I’ve been told. I welcome a correction. (One thing to note is that of the four yarn stores we went to that day, NONE of them were storefronts. Meaning, three were in office buildings and one was in a residential building on the second floor. Gotta love NYC!) Seaport pretty much has everything and anything and I did come away with a purchase, even though I was made fun of mercilessly. (So what if I’ve only finished ONE pair of socks?!? Can you EVER have enough sock yarn?)

While Seaport has A LOT of yarn, I’d have to say their book/pattern selection is second to none. They have everything.

Cassie had to go after Seaport, so Lauren, Ann, Vicki and I headed uptown to the Yarn Connection to meet up with Kathleen, who was joining us for dinner. By that time, we were pretty much spent. The day started at 10:30 (9:30 for me) and I think we were yarn crawled out. The Yarn Connection provided a lovely table, some punchy conversation and a couple balls of yarn for me.

I’m thinking this will be trim for a long sleeve v-neck sweater (Nothin’ But a T-Shirt? The Vogue Tennis Sweater?) I have a bunch of chocolate brown Calmer, so these two balls will be the accent. What do you think?

After YC, we walked around aimlessly because by that time all my planning skills had pooled in my feet with about ten pounds of water weight (can you say swollen tootsies?) We ended up at some tables off to the side of THE New York Public Library building. Yes, the one with Patience and Fortitude. (How apt!?! We knitters should adopt them as our mascots. Anyone ever try to knit lion mane?)

Soon after, Lauren had to catch a train and the remaining four needed something for dinner. I seriously couldn’t think at that point. What should we feed Vicki? Something New York. Something she can’t really get in Wisconsin. Of course! Pizza! And not just any pizza, but John’s Pizza. My fave. (Okay, they have cheese in Wisconsin, but mozzarella? Please!) So Ann, Kathleen, Vicki and I had pizza. And beer. And laughed and teased and laughed. I had a great time all day, but this was the highlight for me. These girls are irreverent and bitchy (in the BEST sense of the word) and funny and loving and just a BLAST! I’m so glad I got to meet ALL of you. Thanks for giving as good as you got.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get home until after midnight. Apparently Kathleen and Ann got home much later – but hey – that’s what happens when you live on LonGUYland! ;-)

Want to hear about Friday? Read on…

Friday I gave Vicki (and myself) some time to recover. I felt bad that we didn’t get a chance to see any of the prettier yarn stores in the city, so I went in around 2:30 and we headed down to Purl. (I knew Friday was going to be a great day because I immediately found street parking everywhere we went. I parked a total of FOUR times on Friday and never needed a parking lot. I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in New York City? That’s a parking day from the gods. And Vicki even got to witness an awesome parallel park job by moi.)

I really only had a couple of things on my shopping list – and number one was sock yarn and a pattern for my Socka-Pal-2-Za. I hit paydirt at Purl: some beautiful tomato red Koigu and a lovely lace pattern from Evelyn Clark. That woman can do no wrong in my book. I also picked up the Koigu colorway I liked and didn’t get the last time I was at Purl.

What’s even better is these new socks will fit in the Knit Red AND Summer of Lace AND Socka-pal-2-za KALS. I’m such a sheep.

While at Purl, we ran into a bunch of the Drafty Ladies and another out of town blogger. It was nice to meet you Alison! Hope you had a great visit! Cassie so kindly pointed Vicki and I in the direction of The Point, where we were supposed to meet Colleen for some knitting time. Colleen was lovely, as always and I’m so glad we got the chance to meet up with her. Cassie and Anne were fabulous knitting companions as well and I even got to see my potty partner Joy again! Best of all, Vicki found the super special yarn she had been wanting – but I’ll let her tell you about it.

After The Point, I got to take Vicki to an exhibit – and not just any exhibit, but the reason Vicki got to come to New York! Seems she really is Royalty! Her husband has developed his own country – with gorgeous maps and money and a compelling history and brilliant paintings. The exhibit was intensely fascinating, as the idea of micro-nations is something I never knew existed. The amount of detail invested in these “nations” is just amazing. Really, truly amazing. I was honored to be their guest. (And the ULTRA UBER COOLNESS that was there was crazy. I mean, all of nerdy super cool NYC seemed to come out for this exhibit. I was impressed!)

Anyway, it was time to say goodbye to my friends. Vicki – I can’t tell you how happy I was to meet you! Completely genuine in all respects, I’m proud to call you my friend. I’m glad I could make your visit a little easier.

Sappy moment over. I’ve got lots of work to do this week. Two jobs in the hopper, the kids are coming for July 4th weekend, I’m still exorcising demons and Georgie needs a ride to the train. Have a great Monday!

Posted by Cara at 08:41 AM | Comments (16)

May 23, 2005

Charting A Course

And yes, I know I'm missing a WS knit stitch. Already fixed!

It's amazing how much fun you can have with some knitting software and excel. I basically ended up making up the symbols for the twists and cables (I copied the ones from the Harmony book - it's what I'm used to) and I'm pretty proud of my chart. Georgie thinks I'm crazy. (But hey, he was playing TENNIS all weekend, so what does he care what I do with my time? ;-) )

Even more fun than charting? Knitting up the swatch!

I changed some things from the last swatch, namely, made the small cable (the one in the middle that breaks up the two larger cables) a CB4 instead of a CB6 and there are now only two purl stitches between the big cable and the little cable. (Isn't it so convenient that the cables are small, medium and large!?!) I'm VERY happy with the third cable - the new one that everyone was SO HELPFUL with Friday night! I couldn't have done this without you!

And in true geek fashion, I've cut out a bunch of component pieces, if you will, so I can map out my plan for the back, fronts, sleeves. It's like a big puzzle!

In other knitting news, I worked on Clap-o-TEE through the weekend, with some extra special love time on Friday (that was my friend's birthday.) She hates to be reminded of it, so instead of calling her, I knit for her. Works out well, I think. I've now dropped 10 stitches, including the really long one that goes to the other corner (you all know what I mean, right?)

It's amazing how different this yarn looks in sunlight. Trust me - it positively glows.

What else, what else? We did a little more taking back the house, as G likes to call it, by cleaning out our little front closet with 451 gym bags. Now we only have 401 bags. Sentimental value and all. And while we were moving all the TVs around (because the big one in the living room is still broken and probably will be forever, unless the kind Sony people come on Wednesday and tell us that it really will be broken forever and then, I guarantee you, by midnight Wednesday night we'll have a brand new big TV) we watched this incredible storm roll through. We have windows in every room, big windows, all facing west. We also live in the middle of a swamp, so we get to see these great sunsets, and clouds, and storms. Well the storm came in about 7PM on Saturday and the clouds were amazing - you know how the air smells wet, before it even rains, and the gray light makes everything look clearer? The amazing thing - the sun was still out - far off on the horizon. The rains brought lighting and thunder and wind and all the while the sun was boldly setting. I didn't get the camera out because I don't think I would've captured it really and besides, I didn't want to leave the window where Georgie was hugging me and we were watching nature be poetic.

I also read a bunch of The Time Traveler's Wife. From a craft standpoint, this book has some serious flaws (what's the conflict, really?) and the author made one of my DREADED description mistakes on p. 175 - a mistake I love berating my students about. Want me to tell you what it is? The author uses a brand name as an adjective - for instance, a character is describing a room and says "It looks like an ad from Pottery Barn." There's only one way to describe this people - LAZY! The author is using "pottery barn" as an easy way out of describing the room, because she assumes that her readers will know what this means. Not only is she being lazy, but she's also damning her book to lose relevance within time. 100 years from now, no one will give a shit about Pottery Barn and an instant room will not pop into their minds so what are they to make of this? USE YOUR IMAGINATION writers! I understand how hard writing is, truly I do, but that's no excuse. If you're going to put your blood sweat and tears into this - don't take short cuts.

Okay. Rant over. Truly, I am enjoying the book. I easily read over a hundred pages in one sitting yesterday - something I haven't done in a long time. So it's all good.

Enough already. Back to your day. Thanks for stopping.

Posted by Cara at 10:35 AM | Comments (9)

May 19, 2005

HELP! I need somebody! Got it!

I found the cable I want to add to my pattern - it's perfect and the EXACT number of stitches I'll need for the saddle sleeve. What's the problem you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

I found it in the Barbara Walker Treasury #3 - the one with no patterns just charts - and I can't for the life of me figure out the pattern! I've read the chapters on reading charts a million times, looked at all the little stitch icons and all I see now are squiggly lines in front of my face. I'm desperate.

So here's the deal. I will give yarn and sheep cards (or flower cards, your choice) to the FIRST person who successfully translates this cable pattern for me. I can give you a picture of the cable, and a picture of the chart, but I can't give you all of the stitch icons. What I'm looking for is the pattern written out.

It's the cable on the right - called the Long Swinging Cable.
(Long Swinging Cable my ass!)

Don't you think it will be perfect with the other cables (see entry below)? Oh - it's on p.90 - Third Treasury.

Oh and all you Aran experts out there: it's normal that my dk weight yarn - which should give me about 5 stitches to the inch is giving me about 7.5 over the cable pattern, right? I think this is good - it should take more stitches - especially because of the twists.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Sarah from One Stitch Short got it to me first! Yeah Sarah! Thanks everybody for your help! I love knitbloggers!

Posted by Cara at 08:44 PM | Comments (7)


I don't know if you've ever had this experience, but it's quite wonderful: Your mind is overflowing with ideas, they're rushing at you, unrelenting, confused, yet they all make sense, and you can see the end goal so clearly, as if it already exists in the world instead of your mind. I used to have this experience with my writing - I could see the words printed on the page before they ever left my head. I haven't had that in a long time. Apparently now I'm getting it with knitting. (Not sure I've ever had it with photography - wait - that's not true. It happens in the moment when I'm outside among the flowers. I see what I want. Sometimes I come back home and I didn't get it - and I will go back outside to reshoot. But it's never the same urgency as with the writing. Never the same, if I don't get this down RIGHT.THIS.SECOND. I will regret it for the rest of my life. How's that for pressure?)

Enter Bohemia - a name so lacking in originality it might just be original:

What's that you say? It looks like a swatch? Yes, just a swatch, but within this swatch holds the DNA if you will, the cosmic design, of an entire cardigan sweater. With saddle sleeves. And gorgeous wood buttons from Tender Buttons in NYC that haven't been purchased yet and will probably cost more than the yarn but are stunning. Stunning I tell you. And exotic. Made from something like coconuts or the backs of beetles. (Okay, yeah, I know. Neither coconuts or beetles are wood - but coconuts grow on trees and beetles eat trees - don't they eat trees? Indulge me people. I'm excited here!)

It may seem like a simple cable design (again, I'm stuck on this - can I call it design when really I'm just combining cables from the Harmony Guide to Aran Knitting?) but really it's everything I've been looking for. I've been wanting to do cables, because, you know, short rows haven't been challenging enough. No really, I've been wanting to do cables what with all the Alice Starmore floating around in the ether. But I don't want to do an AS design (BLASPHEMER!! tut, tut, tut!) because I know I'd never wear it. I bought some JS DK Silkroad Tweed in the Boheme color (because the two colors I have sitting at home just weren't right for this project) and immediately was inspired when it arrived. I thought maybe I'd use it for the Seed Stitch Cable Cardigan, but I started swatching it and didn't like it. So I started looking through my cable books. This one's too much. This one's not enough. And then I found it.

See it? The crisscross in the middle grows out of three C6Bs. So what better way to surround it but with C6Bs? So nice, right?

I really want saddle sleeves on this sweater. I just love the way the cable can travel over the shoulder - ever since I bought Ann Budd's book, I've known I was going to do a saddle sleeve cable sweater. So last night, while my swatch was nice and damp and sitting waiting to dry and be measured, I'm looking through the book and the measurements for the sleeve. My beautiful, lovely C6B into a twist is too big for the sleeve. Now, before you all come out of the wood work and tell me that I can change the pattern?!? please, let me live within my boundaries. I'm not changing the template pattern. It's hard enough I'm trying to make my idea into an actual THING. But it's all okay because I also realized that I'm probably going to need something else in the pattern anyway. Some kind of 10-12 stitch cable that will be perfect up the middle back and on either side of the front button holes. I won't have enough room to do two large cables (surrounded by two C6Bs), but I'll need to fill the space. Enter the new cable. I don't know what it is. But rest assured, I'll be pouring over the books today. Maybe I'll throw an AS cable in there anyway. It's possible. And for sure this new, yet to be discovered, beyond fantastic cable, will be traveling up my saddle sleeve!

Can anyone tell me - how do you chart on the computer? Is there software with all the little do hickies to make cables and twists, or do you make them up yourself?

God I hope this works out. I will be really, really disappointed if it doesn't.

In other knitting news, I'm completely bored by the Clap (hence the foray into Bohemia) and I am beyond missing short rows. My self-imposed exile (I WILL NOT START THE FRONT UNTIL THE ENDS ARE IN ON THE BACK!) is killing me - but I will not cave. I promise to weave in some ends today. And maybe start on the sleeve again. Oh yeah. I've got to do that Clap too. It's a gift. Birthday's Friday. It'll be late, but do I want it to be THAT late?

Speaking of late, I owe people. People, I know! Please forgive me! The gifts/contest winnings will be coming. They will! I swear. I'm trying to give you the bestest gift I can so I'm waiting a little while longer. Just know I haven't forgotten.

Wherever you are, whomever you're with, have a beautiful day!

Posted by Cara at 09:32 AM | Comments (10)