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Crazy for Ewe

Everything is hard before it's easy

Everything is hard before it's easy

Sometimes my worlds collide in the strangest ways.  At one of their last Sunday breakfasts together, my two boys sat drinking coffee, having laid waste to an enormous pile of pancakes and bacon.  They were both a little pensive.  Colton, about the four years ahead, and Johnny about the four years behind.

Rubbing the stubble of his unshaved chin Johnny said,  “Man, I wish I was in your place, Colton, just going off to college.  I wish I could do it all over again.  I would have done things so differently. 

“I’m not gonna lie,” Colton said, “I’m definitely worried about the work in college.  What if I can’t do it?  What if it’s too hard for me?”

“Just go to class, and do your homework, “ Johnny advised, getting up for another cup.  Yeah, I mean the start of anything is always going to be hard, and there is always going to be a learning curve.  If you recognize that, and change your

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My finished project

My finished project

There’s a feeling I always get when I finish a big knitting project. It’s a combination of feelings really. There’s satisfaction -- the satisfaction of this big accomplishment. There’s a certain amount of relief that it’s finally over and I’ve managed to get through it from beginning to end.  And at some level there is sadness. This project with all of its challenges and frustrations was a lovely journey—a worthy effort that is now over.  My project is a finished thing.  This project that consumed so much of my time and mental energy is no longer part of me. Blocked and seamed, it is not my project but its own entity. A garment in its own right, completely without need of my knitting skills.

That’s how kids are – they need you for every step, until they don’t.  Then, hopefully, they are Continue reading

Who isn't excited by a big new project

Who isn't excited by a big new project
Who hasn’t been excited by the prospect of a huge new knitting project?  For Christmas in 1985, about 2 years after I started knitting, my mother gave me a copy of Kaffe Fassett’s first book, Glorious Knits.  She happened upon the book when the Washington Post ran a tiny article about the book, and the Textile Museum exhibit featuring his garments.  I had knit plenty of sweaters at that point, but never done stranded knitting or worked from a chart.  Color had always been just too scary.  But Kaffe’s concept was so intriguing, and his manner so encouraging, that I decided to try combining colors and yarns.  I knit a few messy bits and then dove right into a big and Continue reading

The average size?

During the middle of the last century, the Air Force had a problem.  It’s planes were crashing.  A lot.  They looked first at mechanical issues and then at pilot behavior.  Then they looked at pilots themselves.  Turns out that pilots were significantly bigger and taller than pilots were in the early days.  But the cockpits had never been modified or redesigned.  The Air Force began a huge study of its pilots.  They measured the arms, legs, back, chest, etc, of every single pilot.  Crunching this data gave them what they determined were the average measurements for pilot – the measurements around which they would redesign all the cockpits.  One bright data analyst said, “Hold one,” and ran a check of this wonderful new average against individual pilots’ measurements.  And guess what he found. Continue reading

Don't go to Europe before you go to Boston

Don't go to Europe before you go to Boston
“They didn’t come, Mom,“ Elizabeth managed to choke out, “they never came,” barely contained tears in her voice.” Almost 500 miles away, she’s waiting for the car I had hired to take her from the Boston airport to her rented apartment outside the city.  A car that didn’t come.  Not only had I paid them weeks in advance, I had trusted them with my firstborn’s safe passage through a strange city.  They took my money and left my sweet child all alone with no car and no friends. While Elizabeth was very  mature, having found and secured a prestigious internship after just one year of college, she was barely 18, and very much a small-town Continue reading

Snopes for knitters

Snopes for knitters

Or the top ten lies knitters tell themselves

  1. I’ll just use the needle size the designer recommends – it’ll be fine. The truth is that the designer only tells you what size he or she, or other knitters used to get the gauge in that pattern with that yarn.  You may knit very differently than the designer or the test knitters, so you always have to swatch. 
  2. My swatch is too big -- I’ll just fix that when I block it. There are a lot of ways you can manipulate your fabric when you block it, but making it smaller is not one of them. Bigger, yes. Smaller? No.continue
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Big words and short rows

Big words and short rows

My father, God rest his soul, was not a fan of big words.  Although he was a linguist and had an expansive vocabulary, he believed that communication should be clear and direct.  My maternal grandmother, however, did not.  One fidgety afternoon as the chair seat itched my sweaty little legs, I reached for a fourth golden butterscotch. “No more candy, Ellen,” Daddy said, “Sugar rots your teeth.” Grandma’s face looked like she’d bitten a lemon. “Rot is such a vulgar word,” she announced.

Laughing, he quickly rephrased, “No more candy, Ellen. Sugar has a deleterious more

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Five unexpected reasons to swatch

Five unexpected reasons to swatch

At the shop, I say “You’ll have to swatch it and see,“ at least fifty times a day.  That guidance is always met with a groan or at least a heavy sigh.  Knitters hate to swatch.  I get it.  We want get started NOW, because the project is going to take a while, and swatching feels like a waste of precious knitting time. 

Casting on a big project without swatching is like marrying someone we met at the bar last night.  It might work out great, but maybe not, and it could be a while before we figure out that it was a horrible mistake.  By then, we’ve already invested so much time and energy that we’re tempted to just soldier on and hope it gets better and turns out okay. It doesn’t.  As painful as it is, just cut your losses and head to the frog pond – Rip it, rip it, rip it. 

Love it or hate it, swatching is important, and here are five things more

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Where you belong

Where you belong

Before Covid, I used to go to quite a few networking events – you know, graying men in blue suits drinking cheap red wine from plastic tumblers. They’re all in a group laughing about something.  All the big important businesses and all the big important people, with all the important titles.  Eventually one of them notice the blond woman in the sweater looking at her wine glass and wishing she hadn’t come.  It goes like this:

“So, what do you do, young lady?” he asks. 

“I own a yarn store, Crazy for Ewe, in downtown Leonardtown,” I tell him. 

If this were a cartoon strip, you would see the thought bubble above his head fill with

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The time to do it is before you're ready

The time to do it is before you're ready
Our son Colton is going off to college this fall, good Lord willing, but I worry that he isn’t ready. The piles of clothes he steps over on his way to his unmade bed each night, evidence of his lack of laundry skills, and a host of other things that make me think he should mature another year.  I was railing on about this the other morning to my husband, Bill, man of few words, who listened and calmly sipped his coffee “I don’t know if he can even get up on his own to make it to class!” I ranted.  When I finished presenting the evidence of Co Continue reading
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