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Vogue Knitting Winter

One thing I really like about freelance knitting is you work really hard to knit something (usually under an insane deadline), block it, finalize the pattern, pack it up, send it off to the publisher and promptly forget about it. You send your creative visions in knitwear form off with a smile and a wave and they are out of your life.

© Vogue Knitting

Then the best part happens… You get the magazine or book your work is featured in in the mail, you flip through the pages and lo and behold, there it is! Styled, beautifully shot and out there for everyone else to see, what you worked on feverishly on your living room couch, car rides, in bed while watching the late night news and on the Metro is now public. It’s a nice feeling to open a page and see your work.

My latest design was something I had to knit very quickly with a lot of yarn. It’s in the Vogue Knitting Winter 2011/12 issue that hits stands January 8, 2012. An oversized lace poncho (anyone who knows me as a knitter knows how much I love knitting lace), it’s knit with 18 balls of S. Charles Collezione Peruviano and 3 of S. Charles Diva. You can check it out on a body from all sides in realtime on VK360 here.

© Rose Callahan/Vogue Knitting

I always love Holiday and Winter issues of knitting magazines. They pull out all the stops and when it’s chilly out, all you want to do is curl up and knit anyway, right?

You can find it on Ravelry, along with all the other garments from this issue, here.

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Igby

Originally this was going to be a knitting-related blog only, and I intend to keep it that way save a few personal posts here and there that cannot go unacknowledged. We lost a member of our family today and that demands attention.

My sweet Igby hung out on my stoop in Brooklyn for a week. She kept coming back and she was so small I thought she was a kitten. Of course we started feeding her and before I knew it (and many “found” posters later that went unanswered), I was officially adopting her. She was malnourished, but fixed, so she was someone’s pet at some point. Her ribs were bruised and the vet said she had probably been kicked around. She was in rough shape but lovable and very beautiful.

I was never really a cat person. I didn’t like the hair everywhere or the smell of cat food. I’d rather play tag in traffic than scoop out a litter box everyday. That all changed when Igby and I found each other and we got each other through many tough times. Bad boyfriends, friendships starting and ending, broken hearts and broken bones, moves here and there… Through it all there she was, waiting patiently for me to let her out of her carrier and move onto the next phase together.

We moved from Brooklyn to Jersey City. Suddenly we were living with a guy who hated cats (my soon-to-be husband) which took some getting used to for both of us. Then a year or so later we really threw her for a loop and introduced Mercury, our pug into the mix. Igby hid in the bathroom for almost a week, scared of the happy puppy who made it her mission to lick Igby, jump on her and run circles around her. Eventually they became buddies, with Igby clearly the alpha female of the house. Sometimes they’d even squish themselves into the same pet bed.

We bought our first home in another part of Jersey City and moved the girls the night before we moved the furniture. Igby hid in the closet until the movers left, but seemed excited about the prospect of lower windowsills-perfect for lounging.

A few years later we moved to Washington, DC, a long car ride with Mercury and Igby in their respective crates wondering what the heck was going on. We had a small balcony in the new place and they seemed ok with the move after that, as long as we’d drag the pet beds out on the summer evenings for them to snooze in the breeze.

Suddenly, we found out a new addition would be coming (the human variety this time) and moved to the other tower of our complex. No balcony this time, but a long hallway perfect for playing fetch and a floor-length window under my desk ideal for both people watching and easy petting access.

We were never really sure how old Igby was. I rescued her in 2002 and the vet said she was at least 3 at that time. I took her for her check up last year and she needed a few teeth removed. The vet said she was pre-hyperthyroid but it could be a year or many years before it manifested. It was hard to estimate since we didn’t know how old she was.

We came home from Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and Igby was barely eating. Barely eating turned into not eating at all and suddenly my beautiful cat went from a robust 14 pounds to a barely there 6 pounds in a matter of a couple of weeks. Off to the vet we went again, but I knew it wouldn’t be good news.

I got the call yesterday that she was full-blown hyperthyroid, her liver was failing, she was prediabetic and this self-imposed anorexia was causing significant problems with her chance to ward off everything that was descending. Cats take medication through food and when they won’t eat… I have too much respect for my sweet girl to make her go through any more pain than she was in already.

My affectionate, marble-eyed beauty went to sleep today. I never liked cats but with her it was love at first sight. I’ll miss your forever, dear Igby and I know you’ll be waiting for me on the other side. Take care, my lovely.

Igby, pre1999-2011

A Stitch in Time

Earlier this year in April our son, Callum arrived 7 weeks early. Callum (pronounced the American way, KAY-lum) was born with pneumonia and spent almost a month in the NICU. My days were spent trying to heal from an emergency c-section and going back and forth twice a day to Sibley Memorial Hospital here in Washington, DC. Needless to say, I wasn’t knitting, but more worrisome was that I simply DID NOT WANT TO. During those days I didn’t care if I ever picked up knitting needles again. My priorities had changed. Knitting went to the bottom of the totem pole.

These were dark days.

Sometime we’d make the long drive and he would be asleep in his plastic box and we weren’t allowed to hold or touch him. He ate through a feeding tube and it was such a minuscule amount I wondered how we’d ever get weight on him. He was hooked up to many wires that when we were allowed to hold him, it was a choreographed dance of hopping, stepping around and detangling ourselves from all the machines and their attachments. Most days he barely opened his eyes and he never moved much. He was so small-born at 4.6 pounds and dropping down to 3.6 at one point.

April 20, 2011

The rock star nurses in the NICU as well as the doctors and nurses who had taken care of me became our second family and held me together as I teetered close to the edge emotionally. More than once I fell over that edge, but with the staff at the hospital, my incredible husband and amazing mom and dad offering a hand to pull me back up, somehow we made it through. We’d cheer when he reached any milestone – a bit more food, moving on from the feeding tube to an actual bottle, getting out of the plastic box and into an open-air tray and finally, at long last, coming home in late May.

Callum came home on a heart and lung monitor. We couldn’t carry him more than 8 feet without having to pack up the heavy machine and take both him and it with us. Each time the alarm went off signaling he wasn’t breathing or his heart stopped (mostly false alarms), my heart stuck in my throat and I sprang to action. I got really good at moving very fast, not panicking until I had all the facts and sleeping with one eye open.

Great Grandma Jenny, who made the dress, holding my mother, Patricia

Eventually we were able to ditch the monitor and while we were on lockdown (no germs, no unnecessary travel, barely any visitors and no going outside in anything over 90 degrees-which it is every day in a DC summer) I started planning Callum’s baptism. There is a dress in our family that was made by my great-grandmother Jenny out of my grandmother Irene’s wedding dress. It has been worn by my mother, my aunt, my brother, me, my cousin and her sister and now Callum. I decided to knit a matching bonnet for the dress and somehow found my way out of the knitting darkness I had been living in for many months. I credit Callum for bringing me back to something I love doing.

Irene's wedding dress that eventually became the family heirloom Baptism dress

my mother, Patricia holding me on my Baptism day, 1980

Callum in the bonnet I knit for him that got me out of my knitting funk, August 2011

While telling my story to my former boss at VK, Trisha Malcolm, she encouraged me to write about it and have it published in the Winter 2011 issue of Knit Simple Magazine. The issue hit stands last week and I am so proud to be able to share a bit of my (crafty) family history with the knitting world. The article is on the last page. Hope you enjoy it.

© Knit Simple

Knitter’s Review!

Knitter’s Review is a big deal. Run by Clara Parkes, she reviews yarns, books, notions… Pretty much anything related to knitting under the sun.

I’ve developed a thick skin over the years. You learn from a young age that you can’t please everyone and as you get older you begin to care less and less about even TRYING to please everyone, but Knit Local is special. It’s special to me because I wrote it at 3 coffee houses, but mostly sitting at my kitchen table late at night while the rest of the world slept. I’d work by the glow of my computer screen, books, yarn, garments and color cards piled high around me creating a protective cocoon. My 2am break was spent shivering on my tiny balcony watching the Capitol dome lit from below. Occasionally my dog or cat would curl up on my lap or my husband would stick his head out and ask how it was going, inevitably woken up by the typing and looking over to see the clock read 4am and his wife was not where she should be. I thought about the book constantly. Riding the Metro, washing the dishes, walking the dog, getting the mail, taking out the trash, you name it. The book consumed me. It was my 5th appendage.

Why did it consume me so? This book is an extension of myself. I live my life in a certain way and trying to get that out into book form and try to get knitters, crafters and shop owners to take a look at the big picture and think more about what they carry and why they do is no easy task. Some people resist and that is their right, but after having my son, Callum in April, I no longer think about my lifetime, I think about his and what we’re leaving him. I want him to breathe clean air, know what it’s like to swim in a clean lake, be proud of being an American and think about what he can leave behind for HIS children.

So yes, when it comes to Knit Local I take things personally. Good reviews are fantastic, the bad ones I think about and decide whether or not they deserve merit, make a mental note and move on. This is where thick skin comes in handy.

When someone sent me an email this morning asking if I had seen the write up on Knitter’s Review, I braced myself and went online. Knit Local made the top 11 books of the year (according to Clara Parkes)! See the review here. Clara is someone I admire and kind of want to fist bump. I think she’s got a good eye and a smartness to her. Getting a good review is great, but being named one of the top 11 of the year, especially since the book has only been out for a month more or less made the rest of my year.

Now going into its second printing, I am darn proud of the book. Even more so, I’m darn proud this the book is starting dialogue between shop owners, local yarn companies and the crafting community.

Knit on.

Noro Accessories

I have a new design in the brand-new Noro Accessories book!

Photography © Rose Callahan

Soho Publishing has begun a new series featuring projects done in the ever popular Noro yarn. I had a shawl in the Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color book earlier this year and this time around it’s a scarf.

Noro: 30 Colorful Little Knits comes out early 2012. Noro yarn has a crazy cult following and I appreciate the colorways that are offered.

Photography © Rose Callahan