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July 3, 2007

In which I interview someone I like and force her to talk about cat hair.

It is SO HOT here in Southern California, where our relative air temperature is approximately the same as the fiery surface of the blistering sun. I left for work yesterday and I had a garden. I returned home and I had crackled leaves and dry fuel for a wildfire of dessicated zucchini leaves. So, you know, this is the perfect time to talk about knitting! With YARN! Because no one should go outdoors. You all should just stay right inside with a cold drink (where I am from that is "colddrank" thanks) and crank up the air conditioning and knit your little hands off.

I am not myself actually doing any knitting, I am just talking about doing knitting. I am not crazy, ya'll. It's going to be 106 degrees at my house today!

So, knitting women with four cats (or you know, more cats than people) are a unique sorority, an ELITE squadron if you will of cool (oh, to be cool) yarn-hoarding awesomeness. This club includes one Sandi Wiseheart, former managing editor of Interweave Knits magazine. I love Interweave Knits so I was excited to talk to her because I hoped some of her expertise would sink into my brain like osmosis. Turns out my brain doesn't believe in osmosis!

Recently Sandi and the Interweave folks launched a new knitting website called KnittingDaily.com, and yesterday she and I chitchatted about cats, summer knitting, and FREE PATTERNS. Because I am all about the freeness, folks. The free and the cool.

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Me: Sandi, ok, you have four cats... I have four cats. So, from one cat-herding knitter to another I have GOT TO KNOW ... how do you keep your cats from gnawing on your needles? Bob has half-chewed almost everything he could get his grimy paws on. He will even dig needles right out of my knitting bag! The cat cannot remember his own tail is attached to his butt yet he can find knitting needles buried under four inches of purse contents!

Sandi: HRH Zoe, my 4-yr-old princess, adores size 10 bamboo dpns. I have two entire sets of those with teeth marks on them to prove her undying love. Dusty, her zen master brother, prefers my Denises. I have two chewed-to-pieces blue cables that need replacing to prove HIS undying love. Sparrow, their singing drama king bro, prefers my toes. Amber, the fifteen-year-old autistic (really) queen of the household, prefers to be alone and hiss at her potty box.

The person I really need to hide my needles from is my husband. He's a knitter, too, and I finally had to buy him his own darn sock needles so he would leave mine alone. (Love only goes so far. I also made him buy his own stash and keep it in a separate drawer. "Keep yer mitts off of the cashmere, darlin'.")


- - - -

Me: Do you sometimes hold up a fabuloso piece of knitting from your bag and you're showing it off to someone, thinking you're all badass and knitter-cool and then you suddenly notice that half the project is covered in cat hair? And then you kind of try to pretend it's mohair or something but the project is worsted weight cotton...? Or does that only happen to me?

Sandi: Why try to hide the fact that you are sensible enough to let cats rule your life? Cat hair is the ultimate in fashion accessories. As a life-long fiber fanatic, I admire the way cat hair, when blended artfully into a hand-knitted piece, and perhaps treated with just a frisson of cat spit, adds texture, sheen, and attitude to my creations. Nothing says "Yes, I Am A Knitter....And You Are...?" quite like four different colors of cat hair intertwined with one's hand-dyed merino.

- - -

Me: Heh. You're funny! Ok, so I have a lot of friends who are avid crocheters... and I know you crochet, too. I'm learning to crochet this year, it's on my Birthday Resolutions list which I studiously kept from prying eyes. In case I don't accomplish one thing on it. Anyway, do you think you might sneak some crochet into your knitting daily website?

Sandi: [insert evil laugh here] There's "some crochet" already in there. We snuck several crochet patterns into the library when no one was looking, mostly because we only have the one database right now, and we wanted the crocheters to be able to find their patterns just as easily as the knitters. Wouldn't want anyone to feel left out! However, it's Knitting Daily, not Knitting-Crocheting-And-BasketWeaving Daily, so when we talk about crochet on KD, it'll be from a knitter's perspective--what to do (besides snarl and growl) when a knitting pattern calls for a crocheted edging, how to pick up stitches with a crochet hook, alternatives for crocheted bits in a pattern, that sort of thing. Interweave isn't neglecting the crocheters--far from it. They're going to have their own community based out of the Interweave Crochet website and Kim Werker's CrochetMe projects. The crocheters rock, so they deserve to have a home of their own online. They shouldn't have to just borrow space in the back of the knitters' house.

And I am still contributing to Interweave Crochet magazine on a regular basis, because I do love crochet....staff projects, designs, columns, all the usual wacky Sandi-With-A-Hook stuff.

- - -

Me: (finally letting my true colors show) Let's talk free patterns.

Sandi: Oooooh, yes, let's. Free stuff rocks!

Me: Do folks have to buy anything or subscribe to any Interweave magazines to be able to access the free pattern library?

Sandi: I am putting my left hand on one of EZ's books as I raise my right hand and swear to you: Free is free....or it wouldn't be free, would it? No purchase necessary, do not have to be present to download, all that jazz. We do ask that you sign up to be a member of Knitting Daily in order to download the free patterns, but you do not have to buy anything or even know where your credit card is.

- - -

Me: How often will your free pattern library be updated and will it have items that some people, I am not saying any names or anything, can knit... i.e. scarf patterns or hat patterns?

Sandi: The library is being updated at least once a week. Really! Depending on what our staff resources are that week, we may add just one or two patterns, or we may add a dozen or so if someone brings us grande lattes and brownies. Right now, I've got a stack of patterns on my desk just waiting to become Knitting Daily Free Patterns when they grow up. A big stack! But it takes quite a bit of time to prepare the files and upload them, so: Patience, my kittens....patience.

As for patterns that, um, Some People Not Naming Names, can knit...about a quarter of our current patterns are rated as Easy or Beginner. Hats, scarves, bags, pillows....my mother-in-law just learned to knit so I have her to answer to if all I put in there is lace knitting on size 0000 needles or entire dresses knit out of
short rows and sock yarn. Call me motivated.

- -

Me: Do you think that intarsia is a plot by the government to make me go insane?

Sandi: Not just you, girlfriend. Several years back, the government transmitted a radio message into my brain convincing me to design and knit an intarsia Dalmation Puppy hat, sweater, and booties set for my little nephew. In chenille yarn. I woke up weeping for months afterwards, screaming "Twist the colors! Twist to avoid holes! Twiiiiiiist!" I think the darn project is still in my UFO closet, as a warning to me should I ever start thinking that maybe intarsia wouldn't be so bad after all...

- - -

Me: Now, on to more important world political and social issues. DO YOU THINK I SHOULD GET BANGS? And also, how the heck do you keep up your knitting prowess in the dead heat of summertime? Do you have certain projects you are more drawn to when it is eleventy eight million degrees outside?

Sandi: Wow. Deeply intense questions. I'll do my best to sound intelligent, witty, and wise.

On Bangs: Honestly? I am anti-bangs, in your case. I mean, what if you wanted to learn to archly lift one eyebrow, a la Mr. Spock? Bangs might obscure the effect, and thus hide your superpowers. Bangs Bad. (Of course, I am coming from a life-long anti-bang perspective. I once tried bangs, in college. I ended up looking like I had parentheses on either side of my forehead. Thus: Bangs Bad.)

On Summer Knitting: On those rare occasions when I am allowed by my cat masters to have knitting in my lap, rather than a cat in my lap, I knit with yarns like hemp, cotton, and silk. However, since I make my living knitting, and since knitting for magazines means that you are knitting things for the Winter issue in June, I'm just resigned to having a sweaty lap. OK. That sounded odd, so let's all just politely pretend that I didn't really say something that odd, that I said something much more witty instead. (Go ahead. Imagine me saying something witty. I'll wait.)

Sidebar ... This summer, I gave myself my very first Knitting Blister. I was knitting with cotton yarn (for my Tomato sweater), and using Addi Turbos, and it was eighty billion degrees, and I was trying to make a deadline....so I did not realize until the next day that I had a blister on my right hand where I was rubbing against both the yarn and the needles. I decided to put down my knitting for a bit, since the last thing I needed right then was a knitter's version of Quest For Fire with metal needles and yarn and sparks flying and stuff. After all, the cashmere was less than five feet away...

- - -

Me: Sandi, I'm glad we met and got a chance to talk about cat hair and freebies and bangs. One last question for you... if we were doing this in person, what would your beverage of choice be?

Sandi: Given that it is currently ninety billion degrees here, and given that I have to write a week's worth of articles all today....the tallest, frostiest lemonade ever. (If I didn't have to write, then it would be a giant margarita. But I gotta talk coherently about bust darts, so no margaritas allowed until after the dart action.)

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Well, there you have it. My rusty newspaper reporter skills put to muy excellente use! I think I should go into business for myself, interviewing dignitaries and world political leaders about cat hair, beverage selection and of course... SHOULD I GET BANGS. That my friends is the age-old question that is a true divider, not a uniter.

Have a happy, hot and dessicated Tuesday!

Posted by laurie at July 3, 2007 9:40 AM