Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Knit Three

Another great event--this time in Duxbury at the Free Library in partnership with Westwinds Bookshop.  Carol of the library and Brooke of Westwinds are both amazing. Such great readers and supporters of books--and big lovers of Clovis!  They each got sets of the new Clovis cards I printed up--more on that later.

There was a great turnout--and this community clearly loves knitting. They yarn-bombed the trees out front. And there was more yarn-bombing inside. If you live in the area, you should definitely stop by to check it out.

The bike rack was turned into a dragon--here I am with the tireless Ann Hood and wonderful Anne D. LeClaire.

Anne's essay in Knitting Yarns is so beautiful and moving. It brings people to tears. We also read with Marianne Leone--a hilarious and touching essay. The Philadelphia Inquirer in a great review said she wrote one of the best essays in the book! You may know her from The Sopranos, and she brings all that Italian pride into her writing and reading. She becomes la strega before your eyes! It was a wonderful event and I can't wait to get back to Duxbury for more fun.

In the meantime, I was back in the printshop last week and with help from my artist-mentor Caitlin printed some new Clovis cards!

Here is Caitlin hard at work at the AS220 print shop.

An artist at work.
Caitlin made these awesome and funny "Merciless Fatty" cat prints. 
Cristin did this beautiful illustration and printed it up in two colors. Beautiful.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Finding Pearls (and Purls) in Middletown

In case you missed it, there was Small Business Saturday this weekend. I had the great pleasure of doing my part at Island Books in Middletown, Rhode Island. What a great store! Sally, Pat and Emma were wonderful and welcoming. I overlapped with the unsinkable Ann Hood, which is always a pleasure, and got to hand sell my favorite books to many eager readers.

This concept has been championed by Sherman Alexie, a great writer who recognizes the importance of local, independent bookstores to our profession as writers and to our communities. Here's a great interview on NPR about the idea. I had so much fun and hope to do it again!  Here is the book table I worked.

I pushed some of my favorite writers, including the laugh-out-loud funny and moving collection of short stories by Sara Pritchard, out this summer from Etruscan Press, called Help Wanted: Female. Two great memoirs by two great writers, Beverly Donofrio's new Astonished and Kaylie Jones' wonderful, funny and sad memoir Lies My Mother Never Told Me.  J. Michael Lennon's authoritative, encyclopedic and beautifully written biography of Norman Mailer, A Double Life was there. And let's not forget The Rebel Wife!

There is a great knitting store next door, too! The Knitting Corner and Beadery. I got some beautiful yarn to work on a new sweater for Clovis. My new ambition: houndstooth!

Clovis also had his first acupuncture appointment on Saturday. I'm hoping this will help us get in front of any future back problems. He is not, however, a candidate for needle acupuncture. He won't even let me clip his nails! But the wonderful staff at Healing Paws on Westminster Street have laser acupuncture. I cannot believe the difference. After the session, Clovis was hopping and prancing around like a newborn! He was a little stressed as we waited for our session.

Here's the kid doing a nice stretch in some new winter combinations. Blue sweater with orange cabled scarf.

Hot pink and navy stripes with a gray scarf.

This one is too much for me. Coy chihuahua.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Knit Two

Look at this great picture! Taken by Helen Peppe at an event the other night at the wonderful Wellesley Books. Huge thanks to Jillian and Kym! I had the great pleasure to read with this amazing group of contributors, in order Elizabeth Searle, Marianne Leone, Suzanne Strempek Shea, me, and the unstoppable Ann Hood. Peeking over the table is her multi-talented daughter Annabelle, also a knitter!

There was a great crowd and much sharing of knitting advice, projects and vocabulary. I learned that frogging is when you have to rip out the work; you say "rip it, rip it, rip it." Handy to know. BOFA was another phrase, but I've already forgotten what that means!

And in the meantime, some great reviews have come in.  Here is an excerpt from the review by the Book Reporter:
Lan Samantha Chang, in “The Perfect Gift,” writes about the age-old knitter’s dilemma of making gifts for other people who may not really want the hand-knit item, no matter how much work it entailed. But, she shares, when the recipient of one’s knitted gift loves it, it is the best type of gift-giving there is. In “Teaching a Child to Knit,” Sue Grafton offers solid (and witty) advice for teaching the craft to kids. Kaylie Jones’s contribution, “Judite,” is a heart-tugging recollection of the Portuguese nanny who raised her and showed her love with knitted items. “The Clothes Make the Dog,” one of the best selections in the book, is a hilarious and honest essay about Taylor M. Polites’s relationship with his tiny chihuahua, Clovis, and how he learned to knit just to make sweaters for the dog who taught him to “love more broadly.”
And would you believe it? Clovis made People Magazine!!  He is a celebrity. No dog deserves it more.

The sexiest man alive is on the cover (?). I'm waiting for the sexiest dog alive. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

I love this pic of Mike and Donna Lennon. Taking a break from promotions for Mike's great biography of Norman Mailer, A Double Life, to check out Knitting Yarns!

Some recents of Little C.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wet Plate

I have been playing with a novel idea that has led me to antique photographic processes. The earliest, calotypes and daguerreotypes popular in the 1840s and 1850s, were replaced by the ambrotype and variations around the time of the Civil War.  These are all wet plate processes. The ambrotype involves preparing a piece of glass, coating it with a collodion chemical mixture, then submerging it into a silver nitrate bath. Once the surface is light sensitive, the plate is put into a negative holder and exposed--the length of exposure is determined by the amount of light available. The plate is then quickly developed with another chemical solution, fixed with another solvent, dried, and varnished. It is an amazing process, fraught with the potential for error at every step. But those errors also can create beautiful, even haunting, effects.

Living in Providence has many benefits, one of which is the community arts organization AS220. They offered a wet plate collodion class with talented artist and teacher Brett Henrikson. It was an amazing class. I overuse amazing, but it is entirely accurate here! I encourage everyone with an interest to give it a try.  Here are the results, some of my work and some from others.

Still life of a cotton boll. Very fitting.

The beautiful Lara.

A gorgeous portrait of Lara, very Gibson Girl. 
Mitch, a Jack London feel.

Marilyn, all in the eyes.

Peter and Amy, true love.

And me as Edward Gorey...

Sylvester Stallone...

and myself, this might be my new author photo...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Knit One

Yesterday afternoon was my first reading from Knitting Yarns. At the great local indie Books on the Square in Wayland Square, Providence. It was a great crowd! Here I am showing off one of my first efforts at knitting a sweater for Clovis.

The amazing Ann Hood was there as well as knitting guru Helen Bingham. Helen did the knitting patterns in the book and showed off her handiwork, along with prizes for the audience. It was a great time. Our next event is this Thursday in Wellesley, MA, at Wellesley Books. Come if you are in the area!

Here is my latest Clovis sweater project. A new look.

And here is the coffee cup I'm drinking out of this morning.


Is this taking knitting to an extreme? I wonder if these weather well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Knitting Yarns Pub Day!

I was so busy posting about Knitting Yarns on Facebook and twitter, I forgot to post it on my blog!  The amazing Ann Hood edited the book and she assembled an amazing group of writers. I am so proud and humbled to be among them, each writing in unique, heartbreaking and funny ways about knitting and the knitters in their lives. The book came out yesterday with yarn bombs from many of the writers. Here are a couple shots of my yarn bombs!

Here are a few from other contributors:

Kaylie Jones wrote about her Portuguese nanny Judite. Her she is with a handbag Judite crocheted.
Marianne Leone wraps her book in beautiful sky blue yarn with a picture of her mother. Without knitting, she writes, she wouldn't be here!

Jane Smiley knit her copy in the most beautiful and intricate pattern--with beautiful bright yarn, too!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Old Yarn

I am so excited to be a part of a new anthology about knitting that is coming out in a couple weeks. The title is Knitting Yarns. I received a few copies of the hardback yesterday. They are so beautiful!

And check out all the writers in this anthology! An amazing thing to be a part of! I can hardly believe my name is on this list, too. Andre Dubus III, John Dufresne, Sue Grafton, Kaylie Jones, Barbara Kingsolver, Marianne Leone, Alison Lurie, Joyce Manard, Ann Patchett, Jane Smiley and MORE!


I wrote an essay about knitting sweaters for young Clovis. That should come as no surprise. Please check it out and tell me (and Clovis!) what you think.

All the contributors are working on "yarn-bombing" their copies. Here is mine--a little preview of the work in progress.