Sunday, September 23, 2018


Someone asked me the advantages and disadvantages of knitting. This is all I could think of.

  • The equipment needed to get started is extremely minimal and easily available (2 pointed sticks and some yarn.)
  • There’s virtually no mess and no set up and take down time required.
  • You can do it almost anywhere. It’s quiet and you can do other things (like listen to the radio, podcasts, tv, or movies at the same time. Some people can walk or read at the same time that they knit!)
  • It can be done in a relaxing position, sitting back in a chair or even lying in bed (unlike say machine sewing, which requires hunching over a machine.
  • Unlike say crossword puzzles or Sudoku, you have a useful product when you’re done.
  • It can be quite simple (a garter stitch scarf) or extremely complex (a lace shawl or complex cabled sweater).
  • If it’s simple, it’s very meditative.
  • It’s it’s more complex, it challenges your mind and keeps you sharp and focused.
  • If you make a mistake, you can rip it out and re-use the same materials over again (unlike cutting into apiece of wood or fabric.)
  • If you have enough knitted things, you can knit for charity.
  • You can do it with knitting friends in a social setting or you can do it alone. No specific number of people is needed.
  • You can do it rain or shine. Some people can knit in the dark, so even if the power goes out, you can keep yourself occupied. (I use a headlamp in that case.)
  • Children can learn, and people into their 90s can still do it.
  • You can make clothing or other items to fit your exact size and shape.
  • Even when you’re using a pattern, you add your own creativity in choosing the color and the exact yarn.
  • You don’t get bored in places where you have to wait—the doctor’s office, an airport, an airplane even, are great for knitting.
  • Even if you don’t feel at your best, you can probably still enjoy knitting.
  • It doesn’t burn very many calories.

Friday, January 12, 2018


Donald Trump wants to know why we have to take immigrants from “shithole" countries, and why we can’t have more immigrants from places like Norway. I can’t imagine that he doesn’t understand this, but he’s kind of slow, so I will try to explain it to him.

Why do people pack up a small portion of their belongings, leaving everything else behind—the bed that was grandma’s, the house the family has lived in for generations, all their high school friends and all their cousins and aunts and uncles, their job, their certifications, their favorite foods and special holidays—and strike out for a new life in a new country?

Well, the question more or less answers itself. No one really wants to tear up roots like that (and be aware that people in most countries have far deeper roots than we Americans do, roots that go back not just decades or generations but millennia). People only do this because, in some sense or another, they have to.

It is only people with little to lose and much to gain who would be willing to spin that roulette wheel with their own lives and the lives of their family.

But people do want to take that chance—because they see something here that they can’t achieve within their own country and culture and language.

Try to imagine that. Try to imagine yourself or your father and mother, facing a choice so stark: give up everything we know and love, or stay here and give up on our children’s future? Try to imagine that the world is ordered differently, and people born in America can’t fulfill their potential here and have to find a way, somehow, to get into a place like China. And when they get there, people look down on them for their yellow hair and their pale pasty skin, and they make fun of the way they talk, and they think the food they eat smells bad and tastes worse.

But there you are, one of the lucky ones who got in. Your Chinese is so bad that people laugh in your face and make fun of how you talk. Huh? What? You no speak? Hahah They expect you to do the jobs that no Chinese will do, and the fact that you were a teacher in the US means nothing to them. But no matter how much you struggle, you have the hope that at least your kids will grow up and speak decent Chinese, and they will have a chance at a better life.

Absurd? Unimaginable? That is the reality of millions of people who come here. They didn’t come here for fun. They came because as hard as it is, as depressing as it is, as heart-breaking and degrading as it is, it’s better than the alternative, for one reason or another—maybe because of religious persecution, or because of war or gangs, or simply because of economics.

Imagine if you worked in Michigan for $10 an hour, and you knew that if you simply walked through the woods into Canada, you could earn $100 an hour. You could send money home to you elderly parents. You could get medical care for your son with a birth defect. And suppose the Canadian government said, “No, sorry, we don’t need you”—but you knew that an employer in Canada would be willing to hire you and pay you 10 times what you were making. Would you obey the law, or would you obey a deeper law, the one that says you do whatever it takes to provide for your family.

Would any person leave home and culture unless something very strong were driving that choice? Sell all their possessions and pack what they can into 2 suitcases? Spend several years trying just to learn enough of the language to be able to answer the doctor, the police officer, the boss on the worksite? Ache with loneliness at every holiday and every special occasion, missing those left behind? Missing the weather, the land, the deep knowledge of their own traditions and language?

Would a Norwegian, or a Dane, or a Swiss person undertake such a thing? For what?

Would you willingly start a new life in even so similar a culture as Spain or Italy, never mind Vietnam or Algeria? Could you accommodate yourself to living in Japan for the rest of your life, having your children speak Japanese and your grandchildren not even understand English?

Do you have any idea how much people sacrifice of their self-image, their dignity, their self-confidence, going through culture shock, sitting in a classroom at night, after working all day, trying to learn the verb tenses and the idioms or another language?

Why do we take people from shit-hole countries? Because they’re the ones who are willing to face all this. They have so few choices that even this tough one is better than what they have. We used to understand this. We even wrote poems about it and carved it on the base of the statue that represents our country—a country of liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Give me these people from these shit-hole countries, and watch what they can do once they can breathe free! I lift my lamp not out of pity, but out of the knowledge that these people will bring strength and vitality and creativity and gratitude to this country, and they will show those shit-hole countries what its own people are actually capable of, given a chance.

Look at pictures of the immigrants of old, landing at Ellis Island. They were not “the best,” the cream of Russia and Poland and Italy’s crop. They were not highly educated. But they had the gumption to come, and they are Americans, 100% now. The countries sending them were dirt poor. Norwegians were dirt poor once too. The Irish were so poor that they subsisted on a single crop, potatoes, and when the crop failed, they starved literally to death. Koreans were the poorest people in the world in 1954! And believe me, when the pilgrims got on that pitiful little ship, England was glad to see their backs. And when they got lost on the way to Virginia and ended up in Massachusetts in December without adequate supplies or skills, the Patuxet Indians didn’t think they looked too promising. They were no one’s idea of the best and brightest!

Anyone who doesn’t know all this and who doesn’t take pride in it is not a real American. Anyone who thinks that it’s time to pull up the drawbridge and make America great by making it less true to its own ideal and history is not worthy of the name American. They are, if I may use the vernacular, full of shit.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Finally! A new design

 This design has been in my head for years, and last summer I decided to work it up. I had it test-knit and people said it seemed too small, maybe preemie size. Back to the drawing board, and I made a larger size, intending to offer it with 2 sizes. But this time testers thought the armhole was too tight (and I hate that feeling in my own clothes and certainly don't want babies to feel it!)

Finally, with this winter break, I had time to knit it up for a third time, along with a hat (not pictured), and it has been thoroughly tested and revised.

 I love the combination of garter and the corrugated stitch pattern, and I love the fact that it is unisex and seamless! The Twist Cotton yarn is delicious and I actually enjoyed knitting it all three times! :-)

And here's the live link: Greenfields Baby Cardigan and Hat.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Greenleaf Baby Hat hits the big time!

My pattern for Greenleaf Baby Hat has been published in 101 One-Skein Wonders for Babies, and it was such a thrill to see the book on the shelf at my local Barnes & Noble, knowing that my work is in it!

The book has so many cute patterns for baby things--everything from booties and bibs to blankets. And of course, many cute hats, But may I say that I am pretty proud of my little hat. :-)

I still remember the moment the design for this hat came to me: I had the basic roll-brim hat mostly done, and I was driving home from the Farmer's Market on Carson Street, talking to my daughter about how I was going to end it off, and the idea for a little leaf just popped into my head! I went home and finished it off, and I loved how it turned out. And I guess other people like it too, because over 900 finished ones have been posted on Ravelry!

Now it lives on in book form, and I hope many more knitters enjoy making it and many more babies enjoy wearing it!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Vested Interest

This was one of the worst, and best, knitting experiences ever.

It was the worst most of the way through. It was tedious, stopping after every 8 rows to change colors, many many ends to weave in, and no easy rhythm to it. Also, all the black sections required short rows and for the first half of it, I was definitely doing the short rows wrong. Then I started doing them right, I'm pretty sure, but they still looked awkward, at best. I used the Japanese method, attaching a pin and then pulling a stitch up into place. At first I was knitting the two together before the gap instead of after. I hoped that because it was all black, the bad short rows wouldn't show.

Also, all during the knitting, the whole thing looked short and wide, not a look I need to add to my body! The pattern assured me that they had taken this into account and that blocking would cure all. But I had doubts.

I started this in May 2014, set it aside more than once, and finally forced myself to finish it in April 2015. I just wanted it off my conscience. The yarn had been cut into short segments, so frogging it was not a possibility, and I wanted it out of my bag and if it was a failure, I could give it to Goodwill and move on.

So I finished it by sheer willpower. I crocheted the shoulders together and across the back neck.

And I soaked it in warm water and held it up and allowed the weight of the water to pull it down, just the way you're warned *not* to do, and suddenly--oh, the length looks right! The width is less!

I hung it to dry in the hot car, again letting gravity have its way.

And it is wonderful! One of the nicest things I have ever knit!  It is alpaca and silk, so warm and light. I got it finished in time to wear it in the cool spring weather we have been having. And to wear to Vogue Live, where I also saw the original version of it, and I like mine better (as a couple of other people also mentioned.) A woman stopped me at the mall to comment on it, and she wasn't even a knitter!

So the moral of this story is, what? Trust the pattern? Finish what you start? Sometimes, the goddess of knitting smiles on you? Yeah, all of that.
(PS: I was right--the blackness hides all the mistakes in the short rows. And the colors catch the eye, so that no one, not even me, notices the imperfections.)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Slippery Slope

Ok, I guess it's time to get back in the saddle here--it's been almost a year since I last posted. So let's jump in to what's new, and let bygones be bygones.

I created a new pattern and posted it on Ravelry today. I named it Slippery Elm Cowl and Cap, for a couple of reasons. I am crazy about how much bang for the buck you can get out of the simplest slipped-stitch pattern. It is ridiculously easy to do, faster than knitting or purling, and it gives a really nice textured look. I based it on a pattern called G'day, but I didn't like having to do knit 1, purl 1, so I changed it up and it looks just as good as if I had bothered with all that k1 p1 business.

I used Malabrigo Sock yarn. 

After I made the cowl, I had a sizeable chunk of yarn left and I wondered if I could get a hat out of it. I pulled the cowl onto my head to see if the size would work, and it was pretty much right on. So I tried that, and it worked: a cute little light-weight cap for spring and fall in cold climates.

But then I wondered, what if you live in a truly cold place (Chicago, Hartland, I mean you!) and you wanted a hat that would actually keep your ears warm. So I changed needle size, dug some Aran to chunky weight yarn out of my stash, and tried at that scale, and I came up with a workable hat on size 9s.

I decided that I would break with my tradition of $1 patterns, and charge $3 for this one, since it's 3 patterns in one.

I loved knitting this cowl so much I did it three times--once for Kristen, once for me, and once in a cashmere mix for my sister Karen in Maine. (the cashmere mix did not have enough yardage to get a cap out of it.) Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture of Karen's cowl before I gave it to her and left.

Sam gave me a gift certificate for Christmas to Twist, Yarns of Intrigue, and I used it to buy a complete set (US 5, 6, 7, and 8) of 16" needles in the Addi Sock Rocket format, and those needles do indeed rock! I enjoyed the combination of nice yarn, an easy stitch pattern, and great needles!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Shawls Continue

So in addition to making silly little animals, I have also made several more shawls over the past few months.

The best shawl ever, of all time, is the Marjamets shawl which came out better than I could have hoped. The yarn is from Twist, a lovely grey with a hint of purple, with beads--just perfect!

Pictures do not do it justice--the shape, the size, the drape, all perfect.

And then I improvised another shawl, with the thought that I might publish it, but I probably will not. Too similar both to a previous design and to the pattern which inspired it. I call it Winter Sky:

Link to my page here.  And here.