I’m heading out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest this weekend to teach a workshop at Camp Yawatink, sponsored by Ana-Cross Stitch in Anacortes. I’ll give an introduction to sweater design based on The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. It will be the first time I teach this workshop and I can’t decide if I’m expecting to accomplish too much or too little. Over the course of two days, we’ll knit a baby (or teddy bear) sweater following the instructions outlined in the Handy Book. Students will choose between a V or round neck, and between drop-shoulder (blue), modified drop-shoulder (green), and set-in sleeve (rust) options. We’ll work the sweaters with worsted-weight yarn and only 40 stitches for the front and back, but still, it’s a fair amount of knitting. I’ll talk about cast-ons, shaping, bind-offs, seaming, and picking up stitches, and whatever else comes up along the way.

Wish me luck! I sure had fun knitting sample sweaters for the class.

Advanced copies of Knitting Green arrived at Interweave Press last week. The other 15,000 copies are on the slow boat from China (literally) and will be available next month in time to celebrate Earth Day.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this book. Instead of judging between “right” and “wrong,” Knitting Green will help you understand the complicated issues so that you can make educated choices for yourself. Articles by Pam Allen (former editor of Interweave Knits and creative director for Classic Elite Yarns) and Clara Parkes (editor of Knitter’sReview.com) explain some of the misconceptions about organic and “green” yarns. Essays by author and shop-owner Lisa R. Myers, natural-dyer Darlene Hayes, and author/designer/sheep-breeder Kristin Nicholas bring to light some of the pros and cons of putting green practices into use. Additional essays by Sandi Wiseheart (former editor of knittingdaily.com), Amy R. Singer (editor of Knitty.com), Kristeen Griffin-Grimes (frenchgirlknits.com), and avid knitter Carmen S. Hall provide a smorsgasbord of food for environmental thought.

In addition, there are 22 terrific projects (it’s photographed here with my Blue Cloud Afghan) that either make use of an organic or “green” yarn or are designed for an earth-friendly purpose. The projects include Veronik Avery’s All-North American Hoodie that is knitted with yarn that is grown, processed, and distributed only in North America; Nancy Bush’s Videvik Shawl that provides a lightweight layer of warmth; Deborah Newton’s Commuter Knapsack that encourages travel by bike or public transportation; my Honor-the-Buffalo Socks and Mitts that make use of buffalo fiber that would otherwise go to waste, and Kristin TenDyke’s Soap Nut Vessles that just might change the way you do laundry forever.

And talk about green–if you order this book through the Books page on my website, the kind folks at Interweave will give me a kickback of “green” currency!

The winner of the book drawing is nora-brown for her Chicken, Rice and Vegies recipe. I plan to make it this weekend!
Nora, please email me at annbudd@annbuddknits.com to state your book preference (go to my website for a list of all my books) and to give me your mailing address.

Everyone else, thank you for the diverse and tasty-looking recipes. I’ve already made Sandy’s Pork Chops & Apples (or Pears) and I plan to try Mary Ann’s Sausage, Potato, & Veg Bake tonight–just the thing to use up that tired-looking broccoli in the frige.

I’ll try to get all of the recipes together in a downloadable pdf next week.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that many knitters have other impressive talents. Two of my friends, Bonnie and Jane, are also accomplished artists. Both love color and texture and use it liberally in their work (something I appreciate but am unable to do myself). Because I like to support my friends, I’ve bought paintings from each of them.

You may remember Bonnie from my February 1 blog post (Why I’m a Spoiled Brat #2). She’s the one with the unbelievable yarn stash. Although they don’t take up as much space, Bonnie has about as many paintings (oil, watercolor, pastel) as bins of yarn. If you look closely, you can see a few amongst her yarn stash.

The day I took the photo of Bonnie’s stash, I also purchased one of her pastel landscapes. It came back from the framer this week and is now hanging prominently in my livingroom. I only wish I had purchased one of her oils as well.

My friend Jane lives in Wisconsin and in addition to her own line of knitted garments and accessories (called Jazzknits), she paints pretty amazing watercolors. A couple of years ago I purchased a couple of Jane’s pieces that I lovingly stored under my bed waiting to find the funds to pay a framer. I finally took them to be framed the same day as Bonnie’s pastel. One is now featured at the end of a short hall that is visible from my place at the dining room table; the other, which is only about 6″ square, hangs by the light next to my side of the bed.

I love the way that as I walk through my house, I catch glimpses of Bonnie and Jane.

As predicted, I’ve been knitting socks instead of mending the holes in my old socks (but I still plan to get to them).

Remember the Sanguine Gryphon Eidos yarn I picked up at Sock Summit (see my blogpost Why I’m a Spoiled Brat—#4)? I just finished working it into my favorite k3, p1 rib pattern along the leg and instep. I worked a standard heel with heel flap and gusset and, just for fun, I worked Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ short-row toe with a bind-off ridge on the top (this ridge is NOT uncomfortable in a shoe). I took advantage of the sun shining through my living room window to highlight the amazing colors in this “brown” yarn.

I also recently finished a pair of twisted rib socks. For this pair, worked in Footpath from the Wooly West, I used a tubular cast-on and worked a zig and zag near the top of the sock. I worked a basic heel with heel flap but for a little change, I worked the gusset stitches in the twisted rib pattern.

Being the spoiled brat that I am, I planned that both pairs would be for me. But I have a serious character flaw—every time I really like a pair of socks, I feel compelled to give it away. What is wrong with me?!

Don’t forget to submit a recipe to get included in Friday’s drawing for free book (see last week’s blogpost What’s for Dinner?).

I am overwhelmed with the recipe response–I’ve already received 19 recipes in less than than 12 hours. At this rate, I’ll have more than 1,500 recipes by the March 5 deadline. I’m already salivating and it’s only 7:00 am.
Thank you all!
For those of you working on Macs or who cannot post a comment, submit your recipe to my email address: annbudd@annbuddknits.com.
Feel free to submit as many recipes as you want, but your name will go in the hopper just once.
My current plan is to make a downloadable pdf of all the recipes when this is over. It just doesn’t seem fair for me to have all the good eats.

Do those three words make any of you cringe?

When we married, I told my husband that if he complained about my cooking, he’d have to cook the next meal. It’s been twenty years and he’s never complained—despite some of the sorry meals I’ve put in front of him (never put asparagus in a crock pot). It reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell about a group of men who go camping and draw straws for who will cook first. They agree that the first person to complain has to cook the next meal. Days go by and nobody complains as the fellow who drew the short straw serves progressively worse meals. He finally serves horse apples. On tasting it, one of his buddies says “This tastes like horse apples…but good!”

Unlike the implications of the joke, I don’t think the actual act of cooking is a problem, but I do get weary of deciding what to cook. There are just so many days that I can serve the same staple meals before I get bored. I spend a good part of each day chanting “what will I make for dinner.” Frankly, it wouldn’t be such a problem if it didn’t spoil the zen of my afternoon knitting. Most days, I don’t have an answer by 5:00 pm and I stare in the refrigerator and pantry for long minutes searching for inspiration.

But as I was making pasta (again!), I had the brilliant idea to set up a competition on my blog for easy, tasty recipes! Here’s how it works: You type the recipe for a favorite main dish in the comment box and I’ll send you an autographed copy (or not autographed if you prefer—the resale value is probably higher if I don’t deface it) of the Ann Budd book of your choice (see http://www.annbuddknits.com/ for a list of my books). If more than one person responds, I’ll put the names in a hat and draw a winner.

Winner will be notified March 5, 2010, at which time I’ll ask for your mailing address.
Important Note: The following ingredients are cause for disqualification: anchovies, brussel sprouts, any animal organ (ick).

I’ve managed to convince my family that because of all the time I spend knitting and at the computer, I must have regular massages. So about once a month, I spend a blessed hour and a half with Adele of the magic hands (Adele is also a knitter, which probably explains her talented hands).
I had a glorious session yesterday. Imagine—it’s cold, snowy, and icy outside and I get to climb onto a heated massage table and mentally check out while Adele works her magic. Some of what she does—like kneading my muscles until they scream uncle—makes sense to me. But other times—like when she holds my ankles for about 5 minutes—is a mystery. In the end, though, I always feel great so I believe that Adele knows what she’s doing. And today I can almost touch my shoulders to my ears!

After that relaxing session, I picked up my Boxleaf shawl (pattern from Anne Hanson; yarn from Briar Rose Fibers) and worked several pattern repeats without making any errors! Hmmm, I bet that I could finish this shawl tonight if I had another massage today.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend proudly remarked that she had done all of her mending over the weekend. Knowing that some of my socks have been in need of attention for more than a couple of years, I was duly impressed. Whenever asked about mending socks, I’ve answered that I’d rather knit a whole new pair than mend an old pair. But ever since hearing about my friend’s virtuosity, those holes and worn areas have haunted me. So today I gathered all the projects needing attention and put them in what I have now designated as my mending basket. Although it doesn’t count as mending, I also included the sweater I finished in January but haven’t sewn together yet. In all, there are nine pairs of socks and one sweater in the basket. (I also need to mend a knitted afghan, but that’s too big to include—either in the basket or in my intentions.)

My plan is to keep the basket in plain view to nag me until I get around to it.
I wonder how many new pairs of socks I’ll knit in the meantime.

Most Satrudays I meet some friends at a local bookstore for a cup of coffee and a couple of hours of knitting. Naturally, we gather in the crafts section of the bookstore where people are less intimidated by a group of middle-aged women with pointy needles. This particular bookstore has a nice section of knitting books, including many that I authored. In a brief moment of shamless self promotion, I rearranged the display shelf to include as many of my titles as possible.

Just to prove that I’m not a hopeless spoiled brat, I put things back before I left.