LYS Destination: Birmingham, Alabama

by Lee Louise

We all have our favored LYS — the local yarn store. I have two that I visit often, here in the Memphis area, but that doesn’t stop me from seeking out new yarns and new friends in new areas. My ongoing mission? To seek out new yarn communities, to boldly go where other knitters have gone before. And to go again!

In January 2015, my daughter was quite ill in Birmingham, and we made our first trip of many to that area. That is when I first stepped inside the doors of Memory Hagler Knitting where knit happenz in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and it was a beautiful sight. I was made welcome by the owner, who sat at a large rectangular table, helping her customers. And there was beautiful yarn, the balm for my troubled soul, displayed all around:


I joined the group at the table, and admired the yarn and enjoyed the camaraderie. Quantities of yarn in all colors, brands and fibers met my eyes:


I took a walk around the shop and saw buttons and patterns and books and shop samples and More Yarn:



Yesterday I got an email from KnitHappenz, advertising their Back to School Blowout Sale, which started today and will run Tuesday through Friday of next week, and I wish I could go, but I can’t this time.

I have only been to KnitHappenz four times, but the last time I walked in the door, Holly recognized me, asked after my daughter and grandkids, and made sure there was a place at the table for me. When my destination is Birmingham, KnitHappenz is my LYS!!







Name That Sweater

by Lee Louise

I have recently been digging old projects out from odd corners of the house (including my daughter’s closet), photographing them, and documenting them on Ravelry, that wonderful social medium for knitters and crocheters, spinners and weavers. I’ve made lots of friends there, joined several groups, and found sweaters that I had almost forgotten about, but not quite.

Let me state that I am, unequivocally, a self-confessed Kathy Zimmerman fan. Back in the 1990’s, my earliest cabled sweater was a Kathy Zimmerman design, and my first lace sweater was also a Kathy Zimmerman design. Then there were some cabled and basketweave vests for the men in my life… K.Z. designs, all. Whenever I looked through a new issue of one of the knitting-themed magazines, if there was a sweater that made me think, “I MUST knit that,” about 2/3 of the time it was designed by K.Z.

A few days ago, I had Sarah bring down the aforementioned blue-green cabled Knitaly wool cardigan (true color is the blue green in the top right picture):

and the deep red lace cardigan, which is decidedly not-wool and also decidedly a mystery yarn after all these years (true color is much deeper red than depicted in any of these pictures):

I no longer had any idea what they were called, or which issue of Knitter’s they were from, but I had just joined the Kathy Zimmerman group on Ravelry, and the ladies there offered to play “Name that sweater” with me. I was amazed at how quickly they solved my mysteries! The consensus (and I agree) was that the cabled sweater is the Diamond Cable Classic pattern (there were versions for both pullover and cardigan; I made the cardigan variant) from Knitter’s #45 Winter 1996 issue, and the lace sweater was the Cool Coral pattern from Knitter’s #50 Spring 1998 issue.

They have been worn, to the point of being worn out today. Sarah wore them to college in the mountain west. She wore them when she lived in England for a year and a half. She wore them until all the buttons came off the red sweater (none sewn on again, and missing for years now), and until the cabled sweater’s wool sprouted holes. Unwearable? Yes, but so well loved I don’t think she has ever considered recycling them when my back was turned. They were made with love, and have been worn with love, and are now preserved with love and rich with memory.

K.Z.’s most recent design that just came out in the Interweave Knits 20th anniversary issue (Fall 2016) is called Neota, and is high on my list of wannaknits. I mean, just LOOK at it —

So classic. So cabled. So Kathy Zimmerman!! Neota Cardigan — You are MINE!!!



Mystery Hat

by Lee Louise

If you knit, you know that these days many of the new knitting patterns are rendered in chart form. Being a math major, charts make sense to me, and I use them faithfully, referring to the written instructions only minimally. I also encourage others to use charts, and have taught workshops on this topic.

Recently, I designed a “mystery” hat for my Tuesday night sit and knit group to knit with me. Why a mystery? Because I didn’t know what its finished form would look like when I started it. I knew that it would have a roll brim, that it would incorporate a medley of knit-purl textured stitch patterns divided by purled welts, that it would be a “slouchy” hat as opposed to a beanie, watchcap, pillbox or some other type of hat, and that it would have an i-cord drawstring at the stop, so it could also be worn as a cowl.

I watched it grow:

And as it grew, I came to believe that I had a keeper. It is done now, and I am still surprised by its awesomeness. It has a roll brim and textured panels divided by purl welts, as planned:

When tied tight, the i-cord at the top forms a charming rosette (a delightful surprise):


It looks good without a head or with:

With a ponytail or without:

And also as a cowl:


If you’re wondering whether I knit a gray hat AND a beige hat, I did not. All the pictures are photos of the same hat. The true color is gray, specifically it is Baruffa Merinos Sei’s light gray colorway, and I estimate it took about 300-325 yards of this wonderful 100% merino yarn to make a hat with a 24 inch circumference that is roughly 9 1/2 inches tall before cinching. The pattern is also sized for smaller heads.

It’s worth every yard of the three balls of yarn I pilfered from my stash!

P.S. The pattern is currently a work-in-progress, but I am working on it, and I’ll let you know when it’s published and available.




by Lee Louise

I passed by what is left of the Richardson Towers today. My daughter Katherine had a scholarship that included tuition, room, board, books… and she lived in Richardson Towers for three years. It wasn’t that we lived that far from campus. Indeed, her first day of class as a freshman? She stopped by home for breakfast on her way to class because it was on the way!

Memories are fleeting. As the old is demolished, the replacement dormitory rises behind:


The public school children went back to class last Monday, and there are new obstacles to dodge on my way to work. School buses. Children in crosswalks. Crossing guards. I leave five minutes earlier to get to work on time. But, in two more Mondays, it will be even worse — probably 10-15 minutes worth of worse. On that day, classes will start at the university, and the traffic!!!  The backups at the traffic lights!!! The jaywalking pedestrians!!!

The incoming freshman won’t see a memory, just a dusty construction (destruction?) site behind a wall of blue plastic, which will soon be an empty lot. For them, progress.

But not for me. I still remember Katherine.

Sisterly Affection

by Lee Louise

My husband has three older sisters. My son has three older sisters, and he turned out pretty well, I think, rising manfully above their efforts to teach him his place and keep him in it.

Eight of my nine grandsons, two of whom were born in 2016, have an older sister.

Sisterly love is so sweet.

The Written Word ~~by Hillary

Back by popular demand, here is another one of Hillary’s poems, this one with a dyslexic theme.

The Written Word

The Mongolian Tsuga Saga

by Lee Louise

S. is preparing to teach English in Mongolia for the next 18 months, and I wanted to make something to keep her warm.


I decided to make a Tsuga for her — — lacy, must be lacy, and since it is written for a DK weight yarn, I knew it wouldn’t take forever to finish. Since her departure date is in August, a realistic goal for completion was imperative. When I touched the Shibui Baby Alpaca, I recognized it as the Right Thing for S. Mongolia is a cold place. Alpaca is known for warmth, and since it is also soft to the touch, I knew it would keep me knitting. (Another motivating factor for choosing this yarn is that, since it has been discontinued, it was on sale. Even so, I got Sarah to commit to knit part of the shawl, if I needed her to.) I bought three skeins in the Honey colorway on June 25. Three because, since I didn’t have the pattern with me at the yarn store, I needed a generous estimation. In actuality, it took 2 1/2 skeins, so, while I bought enough, I didn’t buy too much.

On June 28, the internet went down. No blogging. No Ravelry. No gaming. No Netflix. And so, I did my garter tab cast on with a provisional crocheted chain. That wonderful Shibui Baby Alpaca met all my expectations for softness and warmth. By bedtime, I had reached row 11 of Chart A.

On July 4 a thunderstorm took out the internet again, and my holiday was wasted. No internet, so once again… No Ravelry. No Netflix. No online computer games (my game of choice being Maple Story). But it did give me plenty of knitting time, and I neared the end of Chart C during the closing credits of Star Trek: Into Darkness. The recent passing of Anton Yelchin (Chekhov) had precipitated a compulsion within me to watch all of his movies. So young, so talented. Such a tragic accident.

On July 5 we finally got our internet back. It had been out for 28 hours. How did we LIVE before internet???

By July 15, I had knit almost to the bind off. (I ended up being greedy, and Sarah did not get a chance to knit a single stitch on the Tsuga after all.) But I stalled on the bind off… I have knit other lace shawls, and had never found a bind off that I was happy with. I fussed, and fiddled, and hemmed and hawed. (Maybe I should have had Sarah do the bind off?) After some research, though, I completed the bind of on July 19. Definitely worth looking at!!


On July 31 I gave S. the shawl. What a beautiful picture:

She may send some more snaps from Mongolia… Mongolia… See that she dresses warm.