Sunday, March 30, 2008

Plants and seeds available at White Flower Farm, Burpee, Vermont Beans and Logee's Greenhouse.

Basil sprouting, seed ordering, garden planning. Angelonia and whitevinca, rudbeckia and amaranth, new marigolds, cuphea and oriental lilies, swizzle zinnias. Seeds sources. Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Wolf, Katherine Mansfield, Bloomsbury.
Peter pepper, epazote, coriander and the soundtrack of Kinky Boots.

No thanks to Hewlett Packard, my Luddite adventure is over. After a week of struggle, the old laptop functions again. Did western civilisation crash during my cybersabbatical? Apparently not. I am late finishing a translation, drafting an interview and designing a new web site. In the grand scale of things, this is minor stuff. There are three laptops in my household. It should have been simple to borrow one from Junior or from Beanie and the Cats. Truth is, I like my own machine. It has all my templates, all my bookmarks, all my data arranged to suit me. I preferred to wait for it to be fixed. My week away from the cyberworld gave me the opportunity to examine my love-hate relationship with gadgets. I must confess that I depend on my laptop more than I like. There are attenuating circumstances--I live in a society that cherishes technology. Reverting to quill and carrier pigeons would marginalise me more than I care to imagine. No woman is an island and technology is the archipelago that, in great part, connects me to the outside world. In this, I fear, I am not alone. We are a nation of nerds--a world of nerds, actually. We communicate by e-mail and we connect through blogs.
Where are the corn huskings and quilting bees and barn raisings of yesteryear? Perhaps the knitting groups will replace them. Theoretically, I live in corn husking country. I like to think that in village folks still get together to share a meal, trade news, offer mutual support. Failing that, we have a respectable number of number of volunteer caregivers to help those in need. But as in many First World communities, we tend to sort ourselves into groups whose age, acquisitive power and marital status, sexual preference, education, are similar to ours. It is only natural that commonality influence one's choice of friends. My concern is that that we may end up by filtering out all but mirror images.
Knitting groups are a refreshing change from the way we First World folks usually socialise. They seem to transcend age, class and other artificial barriers we raise in our quest for sameness. Perhaps in time there will a return to barn raisings and corn huskings. Then I will dump my laptop and invest in carrier pigeons. For now, I will just enjoy being back online.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I detest most euphemisms. I detest, in particular, the well established trend to call a problem an issue, as in "Blogger has issues with uploading photos and with spell check." I do not know who first used this wimpy, silly word in this context--perhaps the same people who substituted neutralize for kill, escalate for bombing the hell out of, or perhaps the idiot who decided that pant is an adequate replacement for the garment previously know as pants. Trouble, problem, difficulty, major annoyances with my HP notebook and with Blogger prompted this grouchy entry. I expect it to solve nothing. I simply want to go on record as being against spin, against obfuscation. That said, I can talk about yarn. That is, I can continue the previous post about frugal knitting. It will have many typos and it may not show any graphics, but here it goes.

In the photo above--if you can see it-- Handpainted Yarn merino lace Cuartzo Verde is the one on left, followed by Noro Kureyon ( Crayon) 40 and Handpainted Yarn merino lace Shiny Lilac. After my relative succes with the mphair and merino Rosas y Palomas shawl, I plan to continue to combine lace yarn with other yarns bought on sale. Noro, Kureyon, for example, came from which sells it for less than U$ 7. Junior made a fabulous pair of cabled fingerless gloves with it. She is an experienced knitter who can perform magic with the simplest worsted. As a rank beginner, the beauty of my knitting depends as much on the quality of the yarn I use as it depends of the neatness of my stitches.
It may seem extravagant to choose the products shown above instead of the cheaper, discount store acrylic yarns, but I think a beginner who starts out with good quality yarn can produce good quality l knitted items that will last for many years and that will soften and look prettier as time goes on. My experience with acrylic is that is does not wear well. It remain coarse, it tends to pill, which is why I think that investing in better yarn makes more sense in the long run.


This morning, the mail brought me four skeins of Handpainted Yarn. My favorite is Peridoto, pictured above between Lace Wing Elfette and Laines du Nord Kiddy Print 582 mohair. As mentioned previously in this space, Handpainted Yarns, from is a more reasonably priced Uruguayan merino product that stacks up nicely against the pricier Malabrigo and Manos del Uruguay. Two-ply machine washable fingering Lace Wing seems like a splurge for the frugal knitter, but its colors are exquisite and sells 546 yards for U$ 18. I plan to mix the merino with mohair to make knucks, shawl and scarves which I will pass on to good friends.

Friday, March 21, 2008


He is working, as you can see. Even so, any day now, a guy in a white van will come to take him away. While he is gone I will claim be a Luddite. I will embroider, sew, knit, crochet and dream of perfect technology.


As a youth, Impressionist painter Renoir painted china dishes in Limoges, France. Later, he painted peasants and domestic workers. Set side by side with the rich folks he would eventually portray, these proletarians have the undeniable nobility conferred by honest work. That is not surprising. Writing about him, his son, filmmaker Jean Renoir, mentioned that his father railed against "stupid hands." He does not elaborate, but it is easy to assume that for him, stupid hands were those that would not plant a garden, sew a seam, bathe a child, cook a meal, set a table. France

Many of them women he painted had clever hands. He shows them shows them holding children, baking bread, harvesting vegetables. He revels in their solid earthiness, their nonsense approach to tasks his silk-gowned, carefully coiffed clients disdained. Gabrielle, the shown above is one of the women Renoir painted again and again. She had the down to earth approach to life, the luscious, abundant flesh, the luminous beauty he loved in his wife Aline. She joined his household to helped bring up his children and she became one of his favorite models. See her above, lovingly lit, extravagantly dressed. Note how unsuitable the extravagant collar she wears is to the homely chores she performed all her life. It is as if Renoir were saying that people with clever hands have the gift to tranform themselves. They can paint dishes, plant gardens, bathe children one day and they can dress up in some marvelous garment of their own making and go dancing at Bougival. Take a leaf from his book. Knit, crochet or embroider a Gabrielle collar. Put it on and go paint the town. It is Friday. Shabbat shalom!

Above, left, Junior wear a red crocheted cotton jabot.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I loved him from the moment he came into my life. He was so bright, full of potential. I hoped we would be a good team and even now I thought we were. We wrote a novel together, gathered distant friends around us, created a history of togetherness and trust. We gave each other two of the best years of our lives and then the worst happened--he betrayed me. He is going into rehab soon, my Zed Bestboy, aka HP Pavilion dv2120. He will have his perfidious heart torn out of him so that a new, presumably faithful one, can be installed.

Will I ever trust him again?As most women in love I closed my eyes to reality. I forgot that relationships such as ours cannot defy built-in obsolescence. Still, we should have had four good years, at least. WHY, why, why did he fail me? I will never know, but one thing is for sure, my next laptop will be an IBM. Meanwhile, there are pansies heleborus and daffodils blooming in my garden, there is Madama Butterfly on PBS, raspberry sorbet in the freezer and other loves, far more constant than Zed's, the pig.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Have you ever aske yourself whether there life without one' s laptop? The answer nswrr is,

Have you ever asked yourself whether there life without one' s laptop? The answer is,
"Yes, there is, but it is not much fun.'


Above, Malabrigo and Kid Silk Rosas y Palomas shawl.
Above, K's Cinnamon Toast shawl Plymouth mohair from www.

Update at 8:10 P. M.--No signs of discs. According to Fedex tracking number, they will be delivered tomorrow afternoon. That give new meaning to the word "overnight."
If you ever wanted to know whether there is life without one' s laptop, the answer is,
"Yes, but is is not much fun." I know. Upon reaching the advanced age of two, my HP Pavilion began to exhibit strange symptoms--it froze, it refuse to load programs I had been using for months, it presented a black screen to world and it refused to go through recovery. I would detail my conversations with HP tech support in India and a conference call with Microsoft, but it would be too painful. Suffice to say the Microsoft geek told me that e problem could not be solve quickly because the MS computer were "running slow." Yo, Bill Gates, call home!
To sum up, talks with HP tech support lasted long enough to drain the batteries in two phones. Microsoft denied any responsibility for the trouble. HP promised to overnight new recovery disks--the assumption is that the disks that came with the laptop are corrupted. It is now 4 P.M. Eastern time and there is no sign of the disks.
I borrowed Junior's HP Pavilion to write this. Alas, IT also has "issues." What to do? Life goes on. Work piles up, e-mail goes unanswered. A friend needs a translation of his professional bio and one has but a quill to write with. Technology is supposed to make one's life easier, right? Wrong. Luckily, there is always knitting--low tech, relaxing, satisfying, useful. The Palomas y Rosas shawl is done. It is a simple project any beginner can do,

Yarn--One skein Malabrigo Lace Geranio 470 yards
Four skeins Laines du Nord Kiddy Silk Print in pink, 230 yards each.

Size 15 needles.
Cast on 70 stitches, knit to your heart's content. Purl a goodly number of rows. Knit same number of rows as the number preceding the purled section. Cast off, add fringe, voila, a nifty textured shawl.
NOTE: has very reasonably priced Malabrigo and frequent sales of Laines du Nord and many other types of yarn.
Here's to better days and better technology.

Friday, March 14, 2008


This, from the Folkwear Newsletter,

"Accessories from the Bolivian Highlands. Includes belts, bags, and other items. Through September 18. Also, BLUE, an exploration of the creation and meaning of the color blue on textiles, with emphasis on indigo. Follows last year's exhibit on RED. At the Textile Museum in Washington , DC , April 4 to September 18. "


The princess and her friends are street walkers. Ye of evil mind may disabuse yourself of the notion that they are doing anything naughty. They are fitness walkers who choose the streets of our village over the treadmill, the Tow Path and local parks. Me, I have a "the world is too much with us" attitude that keeps me off the streets. I prefer quieter places where evidence of human presence is kept to a minimum. The princess is gregarious, ebullient and full of fun. She loves the hurly-burly of main street and its denizens--the latte sipping, Italian lingerie buying Dual Income No Kids, the well-heeled empty nesters, the local shakers and movers. She has a great imagination and she can spin a story from the most tenuous details. For example, she sees a hibachi, unopened bags of Easter grass, clean, brand new skeins of yarn and she constructs domestic drama--a girlfriend tossed out of the house, a jilted boyfriend too wounded to face the remains of shared happiness long gone. I get the yarn from the streets because the princess knows I can use it to knit and crochet caps for oncology patients and preemies. I also get a lesson on the many advantages of streetwalking--close yourself in and you gain in quiet; join the streewalkers and all manner of goods and stories fall at your feet.


I get a Kate Spade handbag, to be precise. I also get money to pad it it with, albeit briefly . Both gifts come come from my sister, who excels in giving. She also excels in mind reading. How else would she know that I think my old handbag is due for retirement? How else would she know that the check she sent me will go to much wanted craft related supplies--yarn, Piecework Magazine, Nicky Epstein books, yarn, yarn, yarn, I cannot decide just yet.
Getting gifts inspires me to make gifts--a cotton blanket for a little baby who lives in Jerusalem, a cotton pinafore for K's granddaughter, a blue shawl for an Ukrainian princess, caps for preemies and oncology patients. Passing on goodwill is a sensible tradition. It keeps us from being too grabby, too self-involved. I don't mean this in a preachy way. Sharing is practical. It Time is a valuable commodity these days and sharing it with my best friend enriches me. It is good to rake a walk by the river, listening to the geese squabble. It is heart warming to see the first daffodils blooming in cottage gardens by the Potomac. In my own weed choked garden brave little iris cristatas dazzle me with their blue blossoms. We drink this in, my love and I, along a a cup of chai, an almond croissant and the certainty that at least for today, something is right with the world.


K is one of my best beloved people. She is a no-nonsense lawyer turned editor whose intelligence and kindness make her a valued friend. Her generosity includes traveling miles to comfort my daughter and me during a crisis. She has hosted an open house twice, so that I could show and sell some of my crafts and Dame d'Escoffier that she is, she cooked mountains of delectable food for both occasions. Sharing is part of K's values and those lucky enough to be her friends rejoice in her presence in their lives. I think you will agree that someone that good deserves a knitted gift.

Being a novice knitter the gift I plan for K is a shawl in a lovely sienna mohair yarn from Turkey which I found at I might add some Malabrigo or Handpainted Yarn to it, for texture. The design will be a simple knit and purl which has a lovely lacy quality when knitted with size 15 needles. I think K will like and I hope to finish it before she leaves for Italy where she will spend not only Pessach, but most of April, lucky girl.


Junior, who is the real knitter in the family, deserves the prettiest yarn. Kauni seemed the prettiest I had ever seen until I happened on other equally attractive brands. Naturally, it was imperative that I order someas a gift for deserving Junior. My source was and to my surprise, the skeins I got were not the rainbow coloured EQ I expected. I got three skeins: two in burnt orange and one in a mix of blues. Rather than to deal with the hassle of returning my unsatisfactory order, I decided to hold on to it in hopes that Jr. would transform it into something lovely.

Tonight I got a call from Knit Purl. It turns out that they realised--by telepathy, I think-- that something was amiss and they offered to replace the skeins I received with the EQ I wanted. They also ordered to send a stamped, addressed envelope to make it easier for me to send back the misdirected skeins. Now, that is service I admire. Knit Purl has just added a for life fan to its list.


I am transfering my blog entries from wordpress. These are older posts from that site.

Purlyeverlasting’s Weblog
March 6, 2008 - No Responses
The first snowdrop of the season bloomed on my birthday, three days ago. Indoors, paperwhite narcissi given to me for Christmas, demurred until today. A pale peach rose, my favorite, graces my dinner table, courtesy of my beloved. Valentine flowers keep it company. Although the weather turned cold after last night’s downpour, winter is pretty much over. To celebrate spring, I crochet a possible bag in yellow cotton and embroidered it with red ribbons. What kind of delights will it hold in days to come–a handful of sunshine, a perfectly preserved paperwhite blossom, a rose, pages from my finished novel? Remember, everything is possible when one has a place to keep the unexpected.
Categorised in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,
Yarn and the global economy
March 5, 2008 - No Responses
Presumably, to become an artisan is to take a step towards self-reliance. One imagines that those who can make their own clothing, their own their own linens, their own shoes are immune to the shop-till-you-drop virus. As the dollar plunges, as the price of gas edges close to $4 per gallon, as consumer goods become more and more expensive–for example, the cost of a 20 lb. bag of dog food at the local Wal Mart went up by two dollars in a month–one assumes that artisans will think hard before they go on shopping sprees. One assumes incorrectly. Ill paid as they are, most artisans are essentially shopaholics. As jewelry maker, I remember rushing to stock up on malachite in response to rumors that political turmoil in Africa would make it scarce. Long before the price of metal went up, silversmiths I know quickly called their suppliers, just in case it was true that the American government would indeed start buying sterling them in the open market. As a polymer clay artist, I look at rising oil prices and reflect I had better go shopping before fossil fuel byproducts become luxury items. I know knitters who follow the dollar’s downward spiral and think, as I do,
a) European yarn is out.
b) Japanese yarn will cost too much.
c) Chilean, Peruvian and Uruguyan yarns are probably affordable unless the Chilean, Peruvian and Uruguyan currencies become as strong as the Euro.
Does that stop is from adding to our stash? Not. bThe reasoning is,
d) Might as well buy whatever is on sale. It’s only going to get more expensive. Thus, I have recently become the owner of,
a) Four skeins of Kid Silk Haze–on sale at Little Knits, for half the usual price.
b) Five skeins of Noro Kureyon– on sale at Little Knits for $ 5.95
c)Four skeins each of Dale of Norway’ Daletta and Sisik for less than four dollars each.
d) 8 skeins of Kiddie Prints also on sale
e) Two skeins of Brown Sheep worsted.
That should be enough, what with two batches of Kauni EQ and one of Habu Stainless Steel and Silk already on their way. But, oh, what of the wonderful deals at Handpainted Silk? What of the bags of ten skeins af Ella Rae’s silk Shibu at a mere $26? What about the yummy Tilli Thomas Mogul at only $19 per? What about cashmere, baby yak, silk and camel blends ? Will they ever cost the same again? Only one thing is certain, as long as there are artisans, all will be well with capitalism.
Categorised in knitting Tags: , , , , ,
Hello world!
March 2, 2008 - One Response
It seems inconsequential to write about prosaic pursuits such knitting while the Israeli Defence Forces fight Islamic jihaddists in Gaza. Yet this has ever been the quintessential quality of Jews–the refusal to give in to despair. Hamas had it coming, no question. It pished Israel to the limit with the shelling of Sderot and more recently with the attacks on Askelon. What is dreadful is that the average Palestinian trapped in Gaza is now caught between the hammer of the IDF and the anvil of the Hamas thugs who use religion to justify their disregard for human life. What is dreadful is that coverage of the conflict in western and in the Arab media portrays Israel as the aggressor and portrays all Palestinians as victi ms. Indeed there are Palestinian victims, as there are Israeli victims. The question is why the media fails to hold Hamas accountable for the suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Knitting changes the situation in the Middle East not a single iota. It has no standing with the United nations. It does not keep oil producing countries from jacking up the price of crude nor does it prevent inflation. All it can do is help the knitter get through the tense wait for news that can be very, very bad.
Knitting helps because it is calming and comforting. It creates order out of the chaos of jumbled threads–in this case, red mercerized cotton. The chaos began as a freform crochet project. It should have formed a square but it insisted in turning the corner and curving upon itself. Switching to knitting needles from a size seven crochet hook is an attempt to retain the curve without adding extra stitches. Eventually, the finished bag should look like sliced fig. In terms of design, it is somewhat unpredictable. In uncertain times such as ours, what with the Iranian Amahdinejad rattling his nuclear saber, Venezuela Hugo Chavez making veiled threars to his country’s Jewish community, what with large numbers of the First World’s intelligentsia spouting anti-zionist cliches that seem to echo Hitler’s Mein Kampf, there is little little comfort in much of the the predictable. Knitting is hopeful, as in, “come summer I will wear a nice red handbag.” Come summer there might be a miracle. Come summer there might be peace.
Categorised in knitting Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Every second Tuesday of the month, sevenish, Ellen, who owns Pocket Meadow Farm, a delightful yarn shop in Berkeley Spring, West Virginia, opens her house to fellow knitters. The group includes a computer technician, a meeting planner and her lovely sixteen year-old daughter, a young mother, a museum volunteer and several other women whose backgrounds, age and training are as diverse as the projects they have chosen . The techie crochets brilliantly and in the most recent meeting she whipped up baby booties of rare elegance. The planner and her daughter both worked on gossamer delicate lace. The young mother finished a deliciously spring like yellow sweater for her toddler. My own daughter worked on her Evangeline knucks, made of Noro Kureyon 40. Ellen offered practical help and advice. Her cats contributed inspirational yoga poses. Ther was much laughter, much comraderie and the sense that this is a good, gentle place to be. Now all we have to do is buy more uarn and Ellen certainly has a wondertful selection. Check it out at


It is probably unfair of me to call the stainless steel and silk yarn from Habu Textiles the yarn from hell. That, however, is what I call it. After waiting for weeks to get my hands on two cones of this stuff, I finally had a chance to try and cast on enough stitches for a simple scarf. What I had in mind was simple elagance--a silvery grey, jwel-like piece. To my surprise the yarn was as easy to handle as a handful of spiderwebs. I am relatively new to knitting, which might account for my difficulties. Possibly, Habu Textiles had a particular niche market in mind when it came up with this product--uberknitters and masochists. If so, I wish they had added a warning label to this yarn. I ama meisterknitter nor am I the sort who loves pain . That is why I gave my daughter permission to put my two cones of Habu in her Ravelry swap list. She is trading it for two skeins of Berrufa Cashwool. I am sure the Ravelry member who participated in the swap will make something gorgeous with the Habu. I wish her the best.
Along with Habu I got yarn the much ballyhooed Kauni, which seems to be highly desirable due to a combination limited availability--the laws of supply and demand also applies to yarn--high price and clever marketing. Call me a grouch, but is Kauni really all that superior to a more reasonably priced lace yarn, such as the dazzling beautiful Handpainted Yarn from Uruguay? I ordered Kauni before of became aware of the vast variety of choicesavailable to me. Sure, one knitters may choose to pay over fifty bucks for yarn spun in Ulan Bator from the eyelashes af a are fruit eating bat. That is their privilege. Somehow, this trend toward the precious and the chichi reminds me too much of the competitive shopping of the Eighties when it became imperative to outdo the Joneses in their frenzy to acquite exotic consumer goods. "Those were the times, and that was New York." We are headed towards a recession. Our country is ar war. The dollar is perilously weak. But I repeat myself. Maybe Kauni is worth its high price. Danes have a long and glorious history of knitting and I suspect they know good yarn. I hope they do. I just spent one fourth of my family's food budget on Kauni. It had better be good.

My current project is modest--a stole made from Malabrigo lace Geranio bought for $ 8.75 and Laines du Nord Kiddy Print, also bought on sale for $ 5.50. The texture of these combined yarns is that of rose petals and down, which is, in part, why I am calling the project Roses and Doves. Rosas y Palomas is a design Mathilde Poulat, of my favourite silversmiths from the Mexican Silver Renaissance used with great success. It is a fusion of Spanish Baroque and timeless Mexican styles. Poulat used mostly turquoise, coral and garnet in her work. Chilean rhodochrosite, which the colour combination in my stole approximate most closely was probably too rare in the Nineteen Twenties. But the idea is fusion. In knitting together Uruguyan and Italian yarns I bring European and Latin American cultural perspectives together. Not bad for a day's work.
Lila Downs, one of the singers whose music make up the soundtrack for the movie "Frieda" wrote a song called "Agua de Rosas" in which Old and New World traditions dovetail. I could have called the srole "Rosewater" after that song. I could also have called it "Raspberries and Vanilla" to please the man in my life. I chose Rosas y Palomas. I hope it flies.