Even I have to ask why

Here’s something you may not know about me: I run marathons. In fact I am running the NYC marathon this coming November 1st. Usually when I tell people this the reactions run the gamut of  “why would you ever do that ?”  to “are you insane?” Of course, I also get the sprinkling of “wow, that’s amazing” and “you go girl!” but generally these are followed by rolling eyes and shaking heads.

It’s difficult for people who don’t run marathons to understand the fun of it. (“Fun, she says!”). True, 26.2 miles of running does tend to sap the fun out of it somewhat but really most marathons, and especially the NYC one, are 26.2 miles of  PAR-TAY! The bands along the route, the cheering, the sheer energy is hard to equal in anything a normal person like myself could do. Only my homemade brownies at the last soccer dinner were greeted with the same level of enthusiasm, albeit on a much smaller scale. Sure professional sports and entertainment people can experience the roar of the crowd on any given day but poor schmoes like me cannot. That amazing moment when you come across the 59th Street Bridge and enter that tunnel of sound that is created by the millions of people lining First avenue cannot be described. And to have millions of complete strangers rooting you on, well, it’s definitely an “I love humanity” moment.

So what does any of this have to do with knitting?

Well, there are people out there for whom running 26.2 miles is not enough. Some people go on to triathlons or ultra-marathons. And then there are people who do this.knitting marathoner (Please note that this gentleman is actually knitting fair isle, not just a design but one that says something. Insert rolling eyes and shaking heads here, you have my permission). This whole knitting-while-running thing was brought most recently to mind when Pam forwarded me an article about a 22 year old who is planning to knit the length of the NYC marathon. It started out as a joke but then this young woman forged ahead with the training runs carrying her yarn and knitting with her. All I have to say to this is, really? REALLY?!?!? Just when you think you’re accomplishing something someone else comes along and on-ups you.

Now,  we all have moments when we don’t want to put down our knitting but while running a marathon is definitely NOT one of those moments. I suppose it’s all about proving something to yourself and in the young woman’s mind it also helps to regulate her pace. Generally the fact that I’m breathing and my legs are moving are the two things I count on to determine my pace. I can only hope that I am not running anywhere near her.

Mohonk Knitting retreat – how do we love thee?

Let me count the ways…

This coming February will be our 5th annual knitting retreat at Mohonk Mountain House. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been doing this for 5 years. We have really become more of a family over the years, with many of the same people registering every time. We all look forward to seeing each other and the interim 362 days seem to fall away. No fear for first-timers however! We welcome everyone with open arms!

Here are some photos from our last retreat:IMG_0263 IMG_0257 IMG_0256IMG_0220IMG_0218 IMG_0023 IMG_0269









Of course, we all love it so much that right when we get back we are already dreaming of the next year and how we can make it better.. It seemed that we had made it as good as it gets until we got around to scheduling the dates for this coming winter and we realized the one thing that was missing to make the weekend blissfully perfect.


Yes indeedy, better start knitting those loose fitting ponchos and oversized sweaters now to bring with you because this year’s knitting retreat coincides with Mohonk’s Chocolate Lover’s Weekend. We instructors will have to face that fact that tumbleweeds could be rolling through our knitting workshops because everyone will be attending things like “Decadent chocolate tiramisu cooking demonstration and tasting” (emphasis on the tasting) and “Design your own chocolate bar” (that’s design AND consume). There are few things that can drag me away from my knitting but I have to say chocolate is one of them.

If you don’t fall too quickly into a chocolate coma, you could work off the calories in Mohonks incredible gym/spa facility. Or you can just attempt to feel weightless for a short time in the hot tub. Or for the really ambitious, there is the gorgeous skating rink. Oh, and did I forget to mention the 40,000 acres with 85 miles of hiking/cross country skiing/snow showing trails?

But, if you’re like me (you may find my picture if you Google the term “slug”), there is  finding a comfy corner (there are too many to count) to knit or sneak some reading time in. Really there is no more perfect weekend for reconnecting with friends, knitters, nature, and most of all, yourself.

And then there’s chocolate…

For more info on Mohonk itself go to:


The Return of the Ripper

Back in 1888, Jack “The Ripper” terrorized London with a grizzly series of particularly ruthless and bloody murders of some East End prostitutes. This spawned endless conspiracy theories (it was the Prince of Wales, it was The Prince of Wales’ personal physician, It was Queen Victoria herself!), novels and any number of made for TV movies. Still no one knows who the Ripper was. But I’m hear to tell you that the Ripper has returned. I know, because I am the Ripper.

I have always considered myself to be a gentle person. A (relatively) calm person. A person who wouldn’t harm a flea (well, maybe a flea but you know). But I have discovered that I can be ruthless and moreover, that people like this about me. People come to me when they need to rip out large sections of knitting. I try to encourage people to do it themselves but so many knitters think of their projects as their babies and the mere thought of ripping them apart is too much for them. So they come to the professional.

It’s amazing the look of awe, tinged somewhat with fear, that comes over people when I simply sit down (sometimes I don’t even do that), slip all the stitches off the needles and start to pull. There’s a reason it’s called “frogging” (rip it. rip it).  I almost always get the comment “I could never do that”. Yes people! You can all be Rippers! Here are some tips:

1) Strengthen your resolve: in other words, don’t be a wimp.

2) Learn to shrug it off: If you rip out and you can’t figure out where you are and you end up ripping out more than you wanted to, so what? Is it the end of the world? Will tectonic plates shift, volcanoes erupt and pet animals turn feral? I think not.

3) Learn to rip and then pick: If you have to rip an inch or more of a more complicated pattern, rip down to one, maybe two rows above the mistake, put the work back on the needles and then pick out the final row(s). This will help you identify all those pesky yarn overs and cable crossings.

4) Don’t drink and rip: This might seem counter-intuitive, since you might think you would need a little liquid courage before endeavoring frogging. However, liquid courage can also lead to a “f*#k it” kind of attitude where you end up tearing the whole project out. Trust me on this.

5) Practice makes perfect: If you have to rip something out it means you’ve already identified the tricky areas and “practiced” doing them. So the next time through will be so much easier, right? RIGHT?

6) And finally…: As much as we love it, it’s only knitting (see point #2)

If you follow the above tips, you can join the exclusive club of knitting rippers. We are few, but we are awe-inspiring.


Can you love a yarn too much?

Still of Gene Wilder in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972) 

So what am I getting at? I am in the midst of a similar obsession. Not a sheep, mind you. More like an offshoot.

I am obsessed with ArtYarns. Particularly the sparkly ones with beads and sequins.IMG_2251Now I have had feelings for yarns before. MadelineTosh (particularly pashmina). Malabrigo. But with Art Yarns I have taken obsession to a whole new level. When I am in the store I find myself staring at the wall on which they hang.IMG_2493 IMG_2492 I daydream about all the beautiful things I could knit with them, not just shawls but tops, jackets, afghans, tents. I want to wrap myself in them, stuff my pillows with them. Mortgage my house and buy enough to line a room with them. You’ve heard of man caves? This would be the ultimate knit nirvana.

Currently I’m knitting the Sparkle Ridges Wrap.IMG_2491 This in itself is not a problem except that I NEED to be finishing my fair isle mittens and tackling the huge Rowe sweater I am teaching in the fall. But I cannot help myself. I am irresistibly drawn to the ArtYarns. The color (bright red with purple and lavender notes – I don’t even wear red. I blame Margaret, she hooked me)! The sparkle! The feel in my hands! Sitting here staring at it I feel like one of those gamblers in a casino who sits next to the direct line to a mortgage lender. Everyone carries three mortgages right?

I guess the bottom line is that I need help. But what a way to go.



Autumn Daze

Ahhhh, Fall! For most people this time of year conjures up warm days, cool evenings, beautiful apples and jolly pumpkins showing up in the markets, and leaves aflame with color “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” indeed (did Keats know how to turn a phrase or what?).fall.blogFor me, all the loveliness of Autumn is summed up in one word: frenzy. Madly dashing around during the day trying to get my daughter ready to go back to high school (is it just in their biological make up that they have to wait until the week before school to remember to do that 500 pages of A.P. biology, read those 4 books, buy those new soccer cleats?)

At night, and all other free moments in-between, it is the frenzy of knitting samples for the store and for classes that are going to be taught. Now this wouldn’t be too bad if what one is teaching is something small. But for some reason I am always attracted to the projects of epic proportions. For example, the Great American Aran Afghan KAL; 4000 yards of wool. (please don’t bring up the fact that Jane Elliott has already knit 2 of them in the time I have knit 8 squares. It will trigger my inferiority complex and send my crying to my therapist).


Who could resist this cable?

My epic project of the Fall is the Rowe sweater from Brooklyn tweed, 2200+ yards of cabled deliciousness. It is a project I have been in love with for a couple of years, ever since it was added to the Brooklyn Tweed stable. However, given that it is not in my genes to actually do anything in a timely fashion (I am always on time but I seem to need that rush of Adrenalin that comes from knitting the 72 hours straight before the class is to begin) I am once more faced with a knitting frenzy.

Now if I were Beth (or Danni,or Margaret or Pam, or pretty much any other responsible knitter) I would have plotted my time throughout the summer so I wouldn’t be in such a crunch. I wouldn’t have gotten distracted by a half a dozen other projects. Perhaps I wouldn’t have even chosen such a huge project to begin with.

But take me or leave me folks, that’s just the way I roll.