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October 28, 2009

Reader Q&A Day

The immediacy of email still surprises me, mostly because I am not very immediate about it on my end. But just imagine you post some little essay and then you go get coffee, wash your hands repeatedly, flip through an Avon catalog, stare out the window, and fifteen minutes later you check your inbox and you have 149 emails about your forgotten essay's factual inaccuracies. How else would I know when I had neglected to talk up Alaska's tax-free status?

I tell this to my friend Work-Jennifer and she says, "Doesn't it bother you that an essay about people pointing out flaws in your fantasies only elicits a flood of email from people pointing out flaws in your writing?"

I think about it for a minute.

"I must be either totally desensitized or completely shallow," I tell her. "Because all I thought was, 'Wow, I have a lot of readers in the state of Alaska! Cool!'"

Here's some other recent email questions from readers:

I'm making the baby sweater with seed stitch bands that you recently made. I could NOT figure out the buttonhole rows. Finally, I realized that "P1,k1,p1,k2tog,yf, seed stitch to end" must be English instructions, and that the "yf" that made no sense should be "yo". I think the edition that I took my pattern from is older. When I looked on the website for errata, the pattern was called Baby Jacket with moss stitch bands. --Maureen

Maureen, I had the same problem with the buttonhole rows on the red baby sweater! That "yf" made no sense to me. I had to Google it and that is when I discovered Debbie Bliss and her seriously adorable baby clothes (in Baby Knits for Beginners) are British and over there all yarn is called wool and yarnovers are called yarnforwards. Have you ever noticed how everything sounds better in a British accent? Or any accent-- lilting French, cheerful Irish, sexy Italian. I've spent years and years getting my Southern accent down to a bare hint and yet I could listen to someone with a British accent read me the phone book. Maybe yf would sound better in a pattern as a book on tape?

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Hi Laurie. I made the chickpea and kale soup you linked to last week and my husband and I both loved it! I just wanted to thank you for sharing that recipe. so -- thanks! (and if you have any suggestions for the chard or collards taking up space in my veggie drawer...) --Mims

Oh, I am so happy you like that soup recipe. I love it, it's a new staple in my house and it freezes and re-heats really well. Also, I am shocked that I do actually have a good recipe for chard! I made this Swiss Chard and Red Pepper Gratin last year when this recipe came out in the New York Times and I really liked it. That is also the recipe that started my deep love affair with arborio rice. I'd never made it before and so I just boiled two cups of water to one cup of arborio (so I had plenty left over from the recipe) and it was like heaven. Gooey, white carby heaven. Oh -- and the gratin wasn't bad either.

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Hi Laurie, I have been reading and enjoying your site for a couple of years. You mentioned in a post once that you are learning Polish. That struck me because I lived in Poland for a year and learned as much Polish as I could - tough language! Anyway, I found this website yesterday from a CNN post and thought it might be helpful to you - http://lang-8.com. You post journal entries in the language you are learning and native speakers correct them for you (and you can do the same for English learners). --Lisa

Lisa, that is so cool! I'm not sure I'm ready to write anything in Polish just yet but I love this idea. Proving once again you can do so much more with the innernet than just buy shoes and stalk old boyfriends on Facebook.

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Hello! I have been on a rather disappointing quest! I'm a relatively new knitter, and quite obsessed with conquering the art of sock construction...something at least bound to be productive one day. My weapon of choice is a set of DPNs which are metal. I've tried knitting a wide variety of gauges and for the life of me can't figure out why there are three gaps in my work. Every time I change over from one DPN to another, there is a nearly double wide gap in my sock, which looks ugly! Would you happen to know how to fix this? What am I doing wrong?! Any thoughts or suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Hi Trish! Those gaps are really common, especially when you first start out using double-pointed needles. Sometimes they're called "ladders" or also "holy crap why do we have to use these freaking DPNs?"

Because I am a freakishly tight knitter I don't get gaps. I do sometimes get knitted objects that can stand on their own from the stiffness of the gauge but hey, no ladders! Since I don't think everyone is comfortable being a crazy-tight knitter, I looked online for some suggestions to help you and found this thread on the knittinghelp.com forums. I hope some of the suggestions there can help you close the gap.

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Hi Laurie! =-) I have a question for you. I have made the sweet little baby sweater out of the variegated yarn and am at the button stage. Did you ever tell us how to sew on those buttons that never in a million years will come off? I was away from the computer for about 4 months over the summer and into the fall and don't know if I missed it...and that is a LOT of reading backlog, I tell ya! If you did write about it can you point me in the right direction to find the post? Or, if not, if you ever get a chance, I am sure there are others like me who would love that info. I'm a fairly new knitter, maybe about 3-4 years worth of scarves, hats, bags,and dishcloths. Now I have graduated to baby sweaters and simple adult garments. No grandbabies yet (except grand cats, of course) but I figure the sweaters are good knitting practice and I can put them away in my grandma hope chest or have something already available when I get invited to showers, etc.
Debby Mc

Debby, I am SO glad you emailed me, I forgot all about the buttons! This weekend I'll sew something up and take a picture or two for illustrative purposes, as I to tend to be wordy, and I'll post something next week. Thank you for the reminder! And congratulations on your sweater-making!!

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Hi Laurie-- I just wanted to ask you where you got that rug in front of your fireplace in the picture. The smaller one on top with the squares. It's the exact color palette and similar square pattern as my living room rug and I could use a little bit of matching in my mish-mash of apartment decor. :)


Hi Heidi! I wanted to be named Heidi for about ten years of my childhood. I was so jealous of girls named Heidi. Lucky you and your cool name.

The fireplace rug on top of the other rug (which are still there, by the way, I have made no progress at all in my house) was a little find from Target. They have such cute household stuff. And best of all, this time I actually found a link to the rug online for you here. I bought the small one which is a little too small for the fireplace hearth, but I love it and I feel weird returning something my cats have been sitting on for two weeks, so I may use it at the front door as the entry rug. But for now it's being held down by this little goofball:

If you look closely you can see Frankie's tail on the bottom right side of the picture. It's the tail with the white dot on the end. She sees the camera come out and wants to be in all the pictures. I had to push her out of the way before Soba gave her a smack down for harshing her kittycat fireplace buzz.

That's about it for today. I'm almost finished with my top-secret knitted item, which I have to ship by tomorrow at the very latest so I will be up late again doing weird things with yarn and wine. Hopefully by this time next week you will have pictures of what I believe is both the silliest and the most oddly-proportioned thing I have ever made in my entire life.

Thanks for the emails! Love you, Alaska!

Posted by laurie at October 28, 2009 11:36 AM