Blog - Patty Lyons | Knitting Teacher

One step forward, two steps back

Everytime I make a little progress with this pattern I realize how much I’ve screwed it up and have to rip back to fix it. This pattern is feeling like a metaphor for my life lately. Ah well, if only it were as easy to frog your life and just go back a few rows/years.

I was almost to binding off the left sleeve and upper bodice of the Soft Linen Feather and Fan Cardigan when I realized I forgot to change to the LEFT bodice instructions and I had just repeated the right bodice again. Since I’m not a mutant. That ain’t gonna work. Frog (again)

Saturday night I got home from work at my favorite time in my favorite season in my favorite place. It was twilight, springtime in Park Slope. I went straight up to the roof to check out the light and see our garden.

Here’s the Park Slope springtime sky

As for the garden, the woefully untended garden, well, springtime is nature’s do over. Gives me hope that I can keep reinventing myself and still be okay.

The tree we moved last fall . . . we didn’t kill!

The tulips bulbs that we didn’t move up in the bed after we dug up the Dahlia’s . . . in bold defiance of our neglect, decided to bloom

and the Flowering Quince that we killed from a total lack of watering, decided to give us another chance

We’ll try to do better this year.

Long lost friends, springtime and other contradictions

I’ve been missing my friends lately. It’s my own fault. We say we’re going to stay in touch but we never do. Life gets in the way. We are spread all over the place now. My pals Maggie, Tom & Rachel are in Chicago, Michele is in Ohio, Genevra is in Carbondale, 1 Francesca is in California, 1 Francesca (that’s right I know two) is on tour and god only knows when she’s coming home. Just as I was really missing my old friends I got a call from Michele to say she’s visiting NY!!! Yeah, I needed a bit of home.

Time is moving so fast that spring totally snuck up on me. We’ve done NOTHING in the garden, yet spring comes whether you do anything about it or not. I went up to check things out and saw:

Nature doesn’t really wait for you to catch up!

The Feather and Fan Cardigan is coming along, and I can safely report that Classic Elite Soft Linen takes being ripped out and frogged VERY well. I’ve screwed up this pattern more than I can say.

Here it is so far

Road Trip!

Saturday night David and I hit the road to visit our niece in Saratoga Springs. She’s in College up there and we’ve been meaning to visit. It’s an amazing town full of mansions. We stayed in a great B & B just outside of town. It was gorgeous.

After strolling around town and having a little lunch, we all headed back to “our mansion” to hang out by the fire



I had cast off the fitted knits sweater the day before the trip. Here’s a couple of not very great photos of me by the cozy fire

I had worn the eyelet tunic from Vogue the day before, and decided it would look better on someone taller, so I gave it to Alana. Here she is looking adorable

The next day we headed over to the awsome Saratoga Needle Arts. If you are ever in the area, you have to stop by. Great selection and fantastic prices. Usually when I’ve seen a yarn store in small towns in New York, Conn, Mass, they jack up the prices because there’s no other store around for customers to compare them to. (I could say the same for one or two stores in Brooklyn that shall remain nameless). This store’s prices were really good and they had a huge selection of yarn, books, patterns and notions. The owner was really nice. Alana had gotten me a gift certificate, so I got sweater blockers – YEAH!

I’m loving the yarn I’m currently working with! It’s Classic Elite’s Soft Linen. A GREAT yarn. I’m working up the Feather & Fan Cardigan from the Make It Modern Book.

Here it is so far:

Freakishly long arms??

Why do I add inches and inches and inches to every sleeve length I ever knit and they are still too short?? Does anyone else have this problem?

I finished my Mr Greenjeans before I left on vacation. I have worn it several times and I’ve decided the sleeves are just too short. Ironically, the pattern calls for “bracelet length” sleeves (my least favorite look), but I decided to knit them longer. Now, after a few wears, the sleeves are bracelet length. The problem is, even in top down patterns, that I can try on as I knit, I can still never tell. I try it on, it looks great, then I wear it for a while and the stitches stretch out and the wider the stitches get, the shorter the sleeve gets. Here are the pics I took before I took the sleeves out. You can only see the sleeves in the last pic. I was waiting for David to come home, so all of the pics until the last one were taken by me holding the camera out and blindly pointing it at myself. . . cool

So, I unbound off, put the sleeve back on the needle, and started to extend the sleeve. The other thing I did to keep the cuff snugger was to change from a US 8 to a US 7 for two rows, and then go down to a US 6 for the rest of the sleeve.

In other tales of frogging . . . there’s the sweater from Fitted Knits. First I (as always) did a gauge swatch. I was achieving my 18 st/4 inch, so I cast on and merrily knit away until I divided for the sleeves and connected the body. I then (tried) to slip it over my head, and much to my horror found it was INSANELY tight. Okay . . . frog #1. I went up a needle size and tried again. Swatched perfectly (hmmm), cast on and away we go. Dived for the sleeve, connected the body, tried on . . . still snug, but doable. Light bulb (otherwise known as the, freakin duh) moment. If you are going to be knitting in the round, for god sake, swatch in the round. Why did this not occur to me??? It’s the purl stitch that affects your gauge, well if you doing stockinette in the round, there is NO purl stitch. What a dope.

From there came mistake number two. The sleeves are not knit in the round, and for some unknown reason, I decided to follow this pattern instead of ignoring it (as I usually do when I have the option of knitting in the round.). Well here in lies the problem. I knit the sleeves to a length that seemed good (as always, a good three inches LONGER than the pattern called for). Then when I started to seam up the first sleeve, because I was suspicious it would be too tight, and tried it on again – SLEEVE TOO SHORT. Errrr. Again, once you stretch the stitches horizontally around the arm, the sleeve shortens up. Frog #2. First sleeve back on the needles. Now I have both sleeves on the needle and the bottom still on the needles. I wanted to wait to decide how long it would be until I finished the sleeves. What a pain.

This time I’m going to keep BOTH sleeves on the needles and seam them both up, and try it back on before deciding on the sleeve length. Luckily, I got my whole KnitPicks interchangeable & my Denise interchangeable to play with.

Speaking of KnitPicks, the Point got these cool needle cases in from Ashland Sky. I was going to get a circular case until I realized that I don’t need all that room because I only have 4 cables. The crochet hook sack is perfect for my KnitPicks set.

The cables tuck right in

It folds up easily

And my favorite thing, the frosted plastic is easy to write on, so you can label your own case


Well it’s been a long, been a long, been a long

. . . been a long time (you can take the girl out of musical theatre, but ya can’t take the musical theatre out of the girl!)

I know, I know (as my pal Kia pointed out) Feb 4th, what the heck. Well, it’s been a month. First there was preparing for the semi annual sale at the Point. That was a scene I did not anticipate. We put the entire store on sale (20% – 75% off). I asked Leia, one of the women who works at the Point, “do you think a lot of people will come?”. She replied only “are you kidding?”. The Saturday of the sale was not to be believed. They were hanging from the rafters.

Sunday afternoon David and I headed off to Israel. We were going for a week for his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. We didn’t really have time to do much planning (or any) so it was all a little last minute. We arrived late on Monday exhausted. Tuesday morning we woke up to a sight not seen in Jerusalem for five years.


It took a bit of figuring to decide what to do next. You see Israelis don’t know what to do when it snows, and start to shut everything down. Our nephew Carmiel is a tour guide, and he planned our day. First he took us to these very cool caves. Since the snow turned into pouring rain he thought it would be good to run from cave to cave. Here’s a few cool pics

(burial cave)

This was the translation of one of the more bizarre inscriptions:

(The bell caves)

Here is the version of the main post office. The holes in the walls are for carrier pigeons

A BRIEF break in the rain affords a glimpse of the countryside.

Next we went to a Bedouin Village to see the women spin and weave. When they spin they go right from the fleece, with all the straw etc.

Here’s the yarn hanging out to dry after the dyeing process:

Here’s the weaving:

I bought some yarn just because. It’s terribly rough and overspun, only suitable for a rug. I may try to take some of the twist out, wash it and hang it out, then knit up a little throw rug.

The next day we headed off to Haifa. We saw the Bahai Center at Haifa. Gorgeous!

(The view of the harbor from the garden on the hill)
The next day we went to the old city at Acco.

After a lovely day in Acco we headed back to Haifa for a great meal and to enjoy the garden lit up

Next morning to was back to Jerusalem for family time. The next few days were all about hanging out with the nieces and nephews and about the Bar Mitzvah. It was fun to spend time with everyone since we don’t get to see them all that much.

Sunday we did a bit of bumming around the old city. Checked out the markets, etc.

Sunday night was the party. Lots of food, music, family and fun. We were so tired, but the party was great. After that we got in a cab to the airport at 1:00 am (ugh), two planes and 19 hours later, we were home!

As for knitting, I left the scarf I was working on at home (it was on US 4 Knit Picks and I was afraid they’d get taken away). I took my Fitted Knits sweater on my plastic Denise Needles instead.

Here’s how it’s coming along:

When I got home I finished the scarf out of the yarn that one of our reps gave me. I love this yarn. The color changes are so subtle and beautiful. We are going to order it in lace weight and worsted. Here is is:

I forgot, I finished Mr Greenjeans before I left, but I didn’t get any pics of it.  Next time

As my pal Nell would say . . .

How ironical (our favorite fake word, right in front of irregardless).  The last few days have been a crazy roller coaster.

So I was writing a post last Wednesday, trying to will myself out of a bad mood.  I hit save and was feeling better . . . but not for long.  After some terrible Google experience which I can’t go into . . . my blog was gone.  What?  My blog was gone.  What was that now?  My blog was gone, where there was a blog, there was a blog no more.  AHHHHHH!!!!  Does anyone back up their blog, their life?  Not me, nope.  Not a word, not a picture of a work in progress.  Nothing.  After a fluky, try to delete an old gmail address, accidentally delete a google account, blogbegone moment, the last year of my life was gone.  Okay, not my actual life, but my record of it.  I discovered it on Thursday morning before I went to work.  Ever try to find the contact info for Google or Blogger.  Finding the Holy Grail would be a tiny bit easier.  I had to leave for work, so I gave up.  I spent the whole day at work being distracted and depressed.  I didn’t go to my knitting group because I had to go home and spend all night on the computer desperate for help.  After reading some tragic “official” line from Blogger stating simply, “If you delete you Google account, your blog is gone” I got some help from some other Bloggers.  After nearly 48 hours of my blog being gone, I got an e-mail from Google Friday night saying they were able to restore my account.  I WAS BACK.  
Okay, feeling pretty good.  Went to work on Saturday, and because of a serious of events not worth going into, I ended up leaving work 11 1/2 hours later.   I wasn’t feeling so good from having gotten not a lot of sleep, and (ironically) despite my exhustion, I couldn’t go to sleep.  I finally dozed off at 5:00ish, only to be woken up by a phone call at 6:45 am.  It was my asst. saying she was really sick with the flu and couldn’t come into work.  So sad.  I slept for an hour, before getting up throwing on some clothes and heading to work.  I poured about a half a pot of coffee down my gullet.  I was now exhusted and crazy wide awake at the same time.  I was there from 9:00 – 1:00 pm and then Helane (the owner) came to take over for me (she had been sick herself the day before, but she wanted me to get some sleep).  I went home and went to sleep for 2 hours.
When I woke up David and I walked to the Pavillion movie theatre right on Prospect Park.  It was an amazingly beautiful day.  We saw Juno (GREAT movie) and then walked through the park.  It was about 5:30 pm and the park was so quiet and still.  There were lots of people in the park, and dogs, but everyone was quiet.  It was like everyone there wanted to enjoy the late afternoon light, the crunch of leaves under their feet and the magic of the park.  Just then we saw an albino squirrel.  I felt like my crappy streak was over and I was feeling pretty great.  We went home and had a great dinner and watched a movie.
Today .  . . I locked myself out of my apartment (sigh).  Well . . . tomorrow is another day.

Getting out of a funk

Last week sucked. Did I mention last week sucked?

First we got some bad news, then David got sick, then it was a long work week (spring ordering began – my first big ordering season . . . lots of work!), then I got sick. As is usually my luck I started to really get sick just at the end of my week, which for me is Saturday. For those of you who haven’t been to the Point on a Saturday . . . it is a sight to behold. It is hopping! Classes, shoppers, full tables of folks knitting and eating. Usually I tell my regulars that Saturday is my reward for the week. It’s the day I don’t pay bills, or write POs or do receiving, I just work with customers and enjoy the regulars and the general (chaotic) fun of the day. I did not get to enjoy Saturday because I felt AWFUL. Of course Sunday and Monday (my day’s off) was when I got to feel really sick.

Since I felt that I had spent most of the week feeling sorry for myself (and the first paragraph of this blog reinforces that!) I decided to change my !@#%$^ attitude and make this week better. Monday I finished David’s vest (my own design)

(the boring pictures I usually take)

(Me trying to take more interesting “Brooklyn Tweedesque” pics)

Here’s David wearing it on Tuesday. He said I had to take headless photos because he was tired at the end of a long work week

My Mr Green Jeans has taken a pause while I do some sample knitting for the shop. Here’s how it’s coming along

Here’s the sassy little one skein Misti Alpaca scarf I knit up for the store. It’s a great pattern for everyone who has (or sees one at the Point) skein of Misti and doesn’t know what to do with it.

Too cold to do anything but . . .

. . . drink tea, sit by my fire and knit. My favorite type of day! It’s was a crisp 10 degrees when I lit the fire at 9:00 am. It’s 6:30 pm now, and it’s still going. What’s the only thing that can make this day better? David having the day off and staying home with me – YEAH. I got a few tedious life things done (file papers, open mail, renew car insurance, change homeowner’s insurance), got a few work things done (worked on March’s class/workshop schedule for The Point, worked on cleaning up our house pattern file), so I felt perfectly good about eating fudge and knitting.

I finished the back of David’s vest and started on the front:

Mr GreenJeans is far enough along to try on. I need to do a few more inches on the length before going to the sleeves and band

Last week I got over my hatred of finishing to sew up my Pin up Queen from Stitch ‘n Bitch. I wore it to work and asked Cale, who works with me, to take a picture in front of the store.

He then put the camera on that continuous setting and took a zillion pictures including those where I was threatening to kill him

Yarn, jet lag and chocolate

I got back this morning from a whirlwind 48 hour trip to Long Beach to attend the TNNA Winter Show. I took the red eye and got home at 6:30 am. I’m jet lagged and exhausted and left to sort through STACKS of information.

I left straight from the Point at 4:00 pm on Thursday and got into my GLAMOROUS Travelodge at 10:00 pm (1:00 am NY time). I waited way too long to book a hotel, so all the good ones were gone. The important thing is it was 5 blocks from the convention center and it had wireless and a clean bathroom.

I did get a lot of knitting done on the plane. I spent the first hour or so getting all my notes together about what vendors I wanted to visit, what books I wanted to see, and what bags I wanted to check out. After that I worked on David’s vest and my Mr. Greenjeans.

Here’s David’s vest

It looks much too blue in the first picture. It’s really more of the brown/gray in the close up.

I also got a big chunk of my Mr Green jeans in my yummy Rhinebeck yarn:

After sending a bunch of e-mails and checking my notes for the next day, I was sound asleep by 11:30 pm . . . and then wide awake at 2:00 am when the neighbor’s TV started to blare . . . sound asleep by 2:30 am . . . and then wide awake at 4:00 am when the hotel alarm clock went off (set by the last unfortunate tenant) . . . sound asleep by 4:15 am . . . and finally wide awake at 6:30 am when my wake up call came. An evening of waterboarding would have been more restful. Ah well, on to the convention floor to register by 7:45 am, and then on to my retailer’s meeting at 8:00 am. It was really interesting listening to retailers all over the country struggling with the same issues.

Next step, before hitting the sales floor, a stop at the wall of yarn & thread

(the only photo I can show you, as cameras are NOT allowed on the sales floor)

On the table were books listing all the yarn companies and the names of their yarn, rolls of tape, and samples of all the yarn. You could then make notes of what you like and tape in the samples. Can’t tell you what I loved until we secure the vendors. Stay tuned . . . LOTS of cool new stuff out there for the spring. The name of the game for the new season is blends. . . bamboo blends, silk blends, alpaca blends . . . mmmm. Companies are blending fibers in really interesting ways. There’s a lot of new combinations coming out that have not been seen before. The other word I saw every two steps – organic.

I settled in with my $3.50 tiny muffin, and the worlds LARGEST map, to create game plan.
Check out this intimidating sales floor:

My plan was to cover the whole floor in one day, not talk to anyone, just take notes and keep moving. That translated to a little over 2000 booths in a little over 7 hours (when you take away the 160 booths that are just needlepoint, and 45 min for lunch). I was DEAD on my feet by the time I met up with my pal Zeena for dinner.

The brought a backpack and tote bag to collect samples, but that became fairly backbreaking. I noticed everyone around me brought empty rolling bags. Genius! Live and learn.

The next day I slept in until 8:00 am, and spend the morning marking my map for the places I was going to return. The floor opened at 10:00 am, and by 5:30 pm I had gone to the 25 vendors I was the most interested in and made a few more passes to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.

The show was over at 6:00 pm and my flight wasn’t until 9:45 pm. Do you know how if you have time to kill before a flight you can always get something to eat, look around some shops, get a magazine, maybe check your e-mail with the wireless you can find. Yeah, not at Long Beach Airport. There is one magazine stand, and one stack bar with ham & cheese, hot dogs and muffins. . . and that’s it. In addition, the gates are in one of those freezing cold temporary buildings. The airport may have sucked, but at least my flight was late!

One other thing I didn’t really think through was how I was going to cram all the stuff I collected into my little carry on. There was all the color cards and yarn samples:

Then all the catalogs, price sheets, company info etc

And all the book, bag, needle etc. samples

I forgot to mention the chocolates. Every few feet people hand you chocolate.

Today I came home to my unfinished Pin up Queen. I HATE finishing. One more sleeve and I’m done

It’s a whole new year . . .

Sooooo much to tell you all since last I blogged. Where to begin. First of all, it’s another lazy Sunday in Park Slope. First brunch with a friend, a walk, and now David reading in our cozy chair and a half. I am sitting by the fire listening by my MANY podcasts that have piled up (including over a year’s worth of Quirky Nomads). I fully plan on finishing my Pin Up Queen, and my vest for David is coming along nicely. Since I’ve only roughly sketched out the pattern, I am avoiding doing the math for the armhole & shoulder until I knit the 13″ I need to. Love the cable pattern I’m doing though. I’m finally treating myself to a few new books. We got a HUGE book shipment to The Point, and Vogue Stitchionary Vol. 2 (cables), and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns is calling my name!

New Year’s brought me a deLICious three days off. David and I went to Boston to see his folks and to go to First Night. We had the swellest of all possible times. We treated ourselves to staying at a nice downtown hotel right in the middle of the action. We crammed a LOT into that day (making sure we got our $15 dollars worth!)

First we all went out to breakfast and then David and I went to his folks house and spent the day over there. That night we stayed at our nice downtown hotel (robes & HBO – yeah) and the next day we met up with friends and did first night events all day. We saw the ice sculptures, went to see some foreign short films, went to the museum, went out to a nice lunch, saw a few concerts, saw a parade and fireworks. It was really fun. The next day we had brunch with friends, went back and saw David’s folks again, and then drove home.

Here are some highlight photos:

The beautiful rotunda of the MFA

First cool ice sculpture . . . time for the parade now

These super cool dinosaur balloons kept stretching into the crowd and bopping people on the head

More super cool (pun intended) ice sculptures

After that it was time for fireworks and concerts. All and all it was a great start to what will, hopefully, be a great year.

David’s sweater vest is coming along nicely. The alpaca from Rhinebeck is so soft and a pleasure in my hands

My new work schedule starts next week, with our new asst. manager. I’m SOOO excited that I can go to my Park Slope Knitting group again. My late nights will be Wed & Saturday, but Thursday I will be able to go straight from work to the knitting group.

I’ve been so missing Chicks with Sticks. That was by far the best part of being in San Francisco. Those women cracked me up. I went to the web page and looked at all the pictures from the last couple of months. Miss you all!