Saturday, May 31, 2008


I'm Wickedsplitty on Ravelry. Who are you?

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Things I Forgot To Tell You

I can't believe I forgot to tell you that the contest winner will be announced Sunday morning, June 1st.

Or that a new contest will begin Sunday afternoon!

And I also can't believe I forgot to tell you that the very plain, very simple Fiesta La Boheme "Famous" shawl that I knitted for my friend Kali at Christmas went on a little trip to Cleveland last month. Kali and I were both a little miffed that the shawl racked up more frequent flyer miles this year than we have.

Here's the back story: I hadn't been checking into Ravelry very often at all (not much point when you're not knitting and you're not typing) but something drew me in one day in early April and I found a message from a lovely woman named Jaime from KNITTING DAILY TV. She wanted to know if the Famous Shawl would like to make a guest appearance on their new PBS knitting show!

Yes, the shawl. Not the knitter! Not the recipient! We were insanely jealous but that didn't stop The Shawl from jumping on the nearest Fed Ex plane and jetting off to Ohio for a little bright lights, big city action.
If you scan these photos, you'll see the shawl draped over a table in the middle of a whole lot of other shawls.

PBS will begin running KNITTING DAILY TV sometime in July. I don't know when this episode will appear but Kali and I are both very happy for The Shawl. Who knows? Maybe The Shawl will become a star and we can say we knew her when.

I can see the headlines in PEOPLE Magazine now: Garter Stitch Shawl Makes Good.

I just hope Kali and I get 10% of the gross . . .

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

OT: Images of Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, my town seems like the Sugar Maple of New Jersey. Sugar Maple is the picture perfect New England town in Barbara's fabulous new book CASTING SPELLS; it's so perfect it's not quite real (and you find out why in the book).

Here in Glen Ridge, we have the quintessential small town Memorial Day. First, there's the parade which consists of:

Old cars, police motorcycles and ambulances:

A color guard:

The Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, town council, Kiwanis, and Rotary, all strolling along waving, handing out miniature flags and candy. The spectators know all the people marching so there are many friendly greetings called out and answered. The Daisy Scouts get a big round of applause because they're so little and cute and excited to be part of the occasion.

Then there's the centerpiece of the parade (in my eyes and ears anyway): the Glen Ridge High School Marching Band:

Next we have a moving ceremony of remembrance where the Scouts place wreaths in front of our memorials as they read the names of those who died in the wars from World War I on.

Finally, my daughter (no, I'm not a proud mom at all) plays "Taps", possibly the most haunting piece of music ever written. I cry every year but I cried especially hard yesterday because she's a senior and will never do it again. (Okay, so my eyes are even a little wet as I write this.)

Then the whole town is invited to a picnic at our football field where we band parents serve food while the kids run three-legged races or bounce in a moonwalk.

So you see, Barbara, trumpets did blare and marching bands did parade up and down the street when you started knitting again. They just did it a few towns over.

How did everyone else spend their Memorial Day?

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Monday, May 26, 2008

EZ Garter Stitch Blanket - Day #1

1. The pattern is in Elizabeth Zimmermann's THE OPINIONATED KNITTER, a book I love with a passion usually reserved for Szechuan food and creme brulee.

2. Knit Picks Options, size 9.

3. Single strand of CASCADE Ecological Wool. (It's supposed to be double-stranded but that would mean a significant jump in needle size and my hands balked.)

4. I picked two very pale oatmeal/cafe au lait shades but zipped back to WEBS to order two of the darker shades as well. I'm thinking I'll want a little more contrast. Or maybe to knit more blankets.

5. EZ doesn't specify wrapping stitches in the pattern but I wrapped anyway. I just didn't pick up the wraps. Why, you ask? Well, mainly because I hate picking up wraps but also I just liked the way it looked this way. (The holes are part of EZ's pattern design.)

6. I take crappy photos of my knitting. The blanket in progress looks much niftier in person -- edges are crisper, fabric not at all lumpy.

Wait! I forgot to tell you: I'm knitting again!

I'm surprised trumpets didn't blare and marching bands start parading up and down the street. I cast on yesterday afternoon for the first time since January and it felt great! Okay, so maybe I over did it (I'm the original all-or-nothing kid) but what a joy, what a thrill it was to feel needles in my hands again, fondle yarn with an actual purpose, watch as those beautiful utilitarian spare and lovely garter stitch ridges began to stack up one on top of the other.

How did I live so long without this?

I can hear you laughing. You'd think I'd actually embarked on an Orenburg or a Wedding Shawl or something equally mind-blowing and not a simple garter stitch blanket. But I am a knitter who is easily pleased by the Simple and the Easy. (Although I could probably screw up Simple and Easy if I put my mind to it.)

Definitely doing the Happy Dance here in central NJ.

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Knit N Style April 2007

Anyone happen to have a copy of the April 2007 issue of Knit N Style. There is a pattern in there I want. Or, does anyone know where I can buy a copy?



Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy to be here!

Barbara, thanks so much for the wonderful welcome. I'm so excited to be here with you all! Janet...I think we knew each other way back when, perhaps from the RW-L list?

I do live in New Hampshire, for the past three years, and I absolutely love it. I was born in Massachusetts, so I'm a New England girl. But life, and my husband's career, sent us from one end of the country to another. I'm delighted to be back here and just soaking up the lovely mountains, beautiful homes and churches, stone walls, and gorgeous foliage.

I live here with my husband, one dog and one cat. My two adult daughters live nearby, with my two grandchildren. My son and his wife live in Kansas, so we don't see them much but we stay in touch.

As Barbara said, I have two blogs. I had one, a knitting one, but found more often than not I was posting about knitting instead of writing. Bad Liz! So I started a knitting blog, and now I can keep the two parts of my personality separate.

Well, almost! Because now I'm writing a novel called KNIT A SPELL, which is a paranormal romance set guessed it...a yarn store! Woo hoo! Finally I found a way to combine my two loves.

So, I'll pop in here now and then, to see what's happening and to give you info on my latest books and knitting adventures. I'm thrilled to be here!


Saturday, May 24, 2008


Remember when I said I know terrific writing knitters/knitting writers when I see them? Boy, was I right!
Welcome multi-published Elizabeth Delisi to Romancing the Yarn!
Those of you on the knitting lists are probably familiar with Liz's posts. I've always enjoyed her comments and can't quite figure out why it took me so long to connect Liz the Knitter with Elizabeth the Writer but I'm glad I did. (And I know you will be too.)
Liz lives in one of my favorite states in the Union--New Hampshire--and maintains a website and two blogs that I highly recommend you visit. (One is a knitting blog and the other is a writing blog. )
Liz has an extensive list of credits which include teaching for Writers Digest School--a credit I share with her. (I often think I learned more from my students than they learned from me.)
Okay, Liz. Now it's your turn!
RTYers, has this been a great week or what?

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Friday, May 23, 2008

My Memorial Day Halloween Yarn Contest

This is what happens when your next book has a decidedly paranormal feel to the cover: you end up thinking about Halloween on Memorial Day weekend.

Why fight the feeling? Send me an email right here with the words CASTING SPELLS in the subject header and you might win a CASTING SPELLS (see how I'm working the title in every other phrase?) totebag, a signed copy of JUST DESSERTS, and a yummy skein of 375 yards of Halloween Fest from Karen's Heavenly Creations.

And you don't even have to celebrate Memorial Day to be eligible. If you currently live on this planet, send me an email.

Good luck! (And have I mentioned lately how glad I am to be back?)

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Heeeeere's Janet!

Barbara's done a terrific job of introducing me, and I'm excited to be here, among people with exactly the same interests as me. I've been looking at the knitting projects you've shared, and I'm humbled beyond belief--and inspired to work beyond my usual scarves, hats, mittens, and bags.

There's no yarn store where I live, so I live for out-of-town shopping extravaganzas to yarn shops. And I do have a full-blown Malabrigo thing going, which creates a supply-demand problem. No supply, but I demand. So I travel. For yarn. Ah. I knew you'd understand.

I was checking the Malabrigo site last night and found the totally coolest thing ever. First some background: I go by the name Jaen on some writing sites, mainly because I'm a klutzoid typist and I tend to type my name as either Jaent or Jaen, so I just went with Jaen.

Then I saw a copy of my geneology and found out I have an ancestor named Jaen!

That's cool, but not nearly as cool as this: Malabrigo Yarn

I can't get the picture to paste in here, but if you scroll down to the "Variegated" section.... YES! YES! They named a yarn after me! YES!

Okay, maybe it's not named after me, but it could be. My living room is decorated in baskets filled with Malabrigo, some on needles, some just waiting.

I hope to meet many of you in San Francisco this year at RWA!

Thank you so much for letting me part of this group!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Please welcome JANET SPAETH

Let's just say I know a good writing knitter/knitting writer when I meet one.
I am delighted that Janet Spaeth has agreed to join us here at Romancing the Yarn. She'll be along soon to introduce herself but let me give you a preview.

Janet is a three-time GH finalist who found success at Barbour. She's published three novels with Heartsong Presents (a division of Barbour) with three more in the pipeline, and seven novellas for Barbour Publishing. She's also written for Woman's World (me too, Janet) and a scholarly study of Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing. (I'm copying and pasting so I hope I have it right.)

Nancy, you'll appreciate this: Janet is also battling a serious Malabrigo addiction, an addiction that threatens her daughter! Oh no!!!

Here's is how Janet put it, "I love the feeling of the yarn in my hand, and watching it come together into something. I just taught my daughter to knit, and she's also got the Malabrigo sickness. Apparently it's wildly contagious."

Janet maintains a personal blog -- definitely worth a visit.

Welcome, Janet, and get ready to have some fun!

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Circular Socks

Some of you may recall that one of my New Year's resolutions (in addition to knitting a top-down sweater, which I've done) was to learn to knit socks on circular needles. Ta-Dah! I did it.

This is actually the second pair I made. Here is the finished product: (One of these days I'm going to get some nifty sock forms like Barbara to show off my socks.)

I took a class at my LYS to learn to do this. Five women, all of us incredibly frustrated for the first two classes until suddenly we 'got it.' Here are my thoughts on the process: Pros: It seems faster than knitting one sock at a time on double points. It's great for self-striping yarns like this or simple patterns.
Cons: The yarn is constantly getting tangled. You must have two balls of yarn instead of one big ball. I can't imagine doing it with a lace pattern.

I think I will knit simpler socks on circulars and stick to my trusty double points for lace, cables, and other fancy patterns.

Have any of you knit socks this way? What do you think of the process?

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Janet Spaeth

Hi, Janet! I can't find an email address for you on line so if you see this, please drop me a note at this email address ASAP!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Full disclosure: I didn't knit any of that gorgeous lace. Dallas did. I did, however, take the very bad pictures.
I'm right on the verge of giving lace knitting another try but 1) I'm not sure my hands are up to it and 2) I'm not sure my skill level is up to it. There's something deeply disconcerting to me about skinny yarn and big fat needles. I find myself getting extremely tense as the lumpy formless fabric forms on the needles and I realize the only thing that will ultimately save it is my blocking skill. (I'll pause while you laugh. I'm not such a hot blocker.)
Okay, I'll admit it. I've been out of the knitting loop for four months and I'm struggling to get back in. The heart is willing; the hands, not so much.
You knew there was more to the story, didn't you? here it is. My hand took a beating this year. In a dazzling display of Freudian whatever, I cut, burned, bumped, carpal tunneled, and RSD'd my left hand into oblivion and it's just now rejoining the world. I have beautiful patterns (Have you visited Anne Hanson's KNITSPOT site? Gorgeous stuff!) and a boatload of yarn and now I even have hands that do my bidding.
But I seem to have lost my knitterly guts. I can't bring myself to cast on for anything. I choose the needles, the pattern, the yarn, the little tchotchkes that mark stitches, etc., and then I freeze. It's almost as if the planning is enough and execution is irrelevant.
I'm thinking something non-taxing to the brain and on the hands: maybe a blanket like the EZ one Brooklyn Tweed is working on or the Log Cabin I've been dreaming about since forever. Or how about turning out some spiral socks to tuck away for gifts? Or maybe take the lace plunge again and try a scarf? Something! I need to feel yarn beneath my fingers again.
Now here's a writerly question for all of you lace knitters. I'm working on the sequel to CASTING SPELLS (I promise an excerpt or something tomorrow) and I need a nice difficult lace pattern to plug into this sentence:
(Background: the character is a knitter/yarn shop owner who can kick butt with the best of them.)
Besides I was the woman who knit a XX without using lifelines. That had to count for something.
XX = a wedding ring shawl?
XX = an Orenburg shawl?
XX = ??
All suggestions gratefully received!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mary: reader, knitter, and friend

My wonderful friend Mary Preisinger died a few weeks ago, just a month short of her ninety-first birthday and my world is definitely poorer for it.

Mary was my very first not-related-to-me reader. She sent me my very first fan letter back in March 1983. (You'll have to excuse the number of times I use the word "first" in this post but there's no way around it. It was a time of firsts for me.)

Let me set the stage. LOVE CHANGES was one of the launch books for Harlequin American and had come out in Reader Service but was still a few weeks from hitting the book stores. I was published . . . but not really. Somewhere out there I hoped people were reading me but if they were they were being very quiet about it.

We were living in North Babylon on Long Island at the time and every morning I would drop my husband off at the LIRR station in Babylon then stop by the post office at Sunset City (a strip mall on Deer Park Avenue with, among other delights, a video store and the wonderful Italian Food World) and check my PO box for mail. I don't really know what I was expecting but I was a brand new author and hope truly springs eternal. So can you imagine my absolute shock when I unlocked the box that morning in late March of '83 and found one small letter waiting for me!

It was from Mary Preisinger who was living in West Islip at the time, written in bright green ink, and her words made me cry. "I loved your book," she wrote. "Reading it took me back to the time when my husband was still alive and we would drive out to Montauk and walk the beach. Thank you for giving me back those memories."

I'm telling you winning the Pulitzer Prize (For romance? Not likely!) or hitting the New York Times could not have made me happier than that one small letter did. My words had touched a stranger's heart! It was the most amazing, wonderful, powerful, exhilarating experience of my life.

Now here's where it gets a wee bit weird. I turned into a stalker. Not in a bad way (don't all stalkers say that?) but West Islip was just one town over and I was really, really thrilled about my fan letter so I ran home, looked Mary's phone number up in the directory and called her. I know I should be embarrassed but I'm not. I didn't know a thing about author etiquette back then. I definitely didn't have a clue about how to be cool. I just did what my heart told me to do and thank God! That impulsive phone call resulted in a twenty-five year friendship that enriched my life in ways I can't begin to count. She knitted some gorgeous afghans for me. I fumbled my way through shawls and lap robes for her.

Mary and I talked like old friends. She invited me to visit her one day for lunch and I did. Over the years we shared books and laughter, secrets and tears. I moved to central NJ. She moved to Salem, Massachusetts, then back to Long Island and then finally to Ohio. But we never lost touch. Not for a minute.

I'm sitting here by the front window, watching the rain. I have a cup of tea on the table next to me and Mary's pale celery green, soft yellow, and ivory afghan draped across my shoulders like a hug. She's there in every stitch and always will be.

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The Prodigal Knitter

The thing about prolonged silences is that they usually seem much more mysterious than they really are.

I was going to tell you that I had been plucked off the streets of central NJ by the captain of an alien spaceship and whisked off to the rings of Saturn where I participated in a marketing research survey for an advertising company interested in tapping into the earthling consumer base but I figured you probably wouldn't buy it.

See that book cover? That's what I've been up to. It took longer than I expected and took me to places I never thought I'd go but I finally reached the end a few weeks ago and am now feeling my way through chapter one of the sequel. The unnamed sequel. Right now I'm calling it CASTING SPELLS 2 which, all things considered, is a pretty crappy title. Let's hope I come up with something better soon!

CASTING SPELLS will be on the stands around Halloween and I'll be posting an excerpt on my website in June so please stick around.

More tomorrow.


Why are you looking at me like that? Don't you trust me? Just wait. I promise I'll make it up to you.

And while I have your attention, did I mention how much I missed you guys? I've been reading you faithfully but extracurricular typing was more than my hands could manage.

It's so good to be back.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Trouble with the end

O ye goddesses of knitting, I need your advice!
I went by your excellent suggestions and made my sister-in-law's scarf match her height. Of course, I did this partly to avoid starting a third skein of cashmere so I really wanted to end it quickly.
The only problem is: I didn't have quite enough yarn to do the entire border on the end. I had to shorten it by two rows. Here's the photo showing the two ends together. The top one is the "short" end. The bottom is the beginning. I honestly don't think anyone but me would notice the difference.
However, if I decide I want to make them match, is it possible to open up the cast-on end, rip out two rows, and then bind it off somehow? If so, can you point me to some directions? Or is this risky and foolhardy?

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How long should a scarf be?

Ginny and I are crying in our cheer towels: the Devils got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The good news: I got a lot of scarf knitting done as I watched my team go down in defeat.

In fact, I got so much knitting done (I needed to soothe my nerves as the Rangers harried Brodeur) that I'm pretty close to finished with my commissioned scarf. However, here's my question--and I always have this issue with scarves: how long should a scarf be?

Currently, this one is 63 inches long (unblocked). If I make it any longer, I will have to start a new skein of very expensive Mongolian cashmere (which I have in my possession but it's returnable). So what do the pros on RTY think?

How long do you make your scarves?

(Ginny, there's always next season, right?)

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