10 Nov 2006

Episode 41: A Love Story

After vacillating for several weeks over whether to repaint the living room, or live with it through the winter, we decided to bite the bullet and resigned ourselves to living in less than ideal circumstances while the Very Big Job was being carried out. This is a state of affairs that Tonia refers to as “a bit untidy”, and that I insist is akin to abject squalor. Furniture askew. Bewildered dogs prowling the floor in search of a few inches in which to lie down. Dinner in bowls on our laps. Anarchy. I have done extensive reading on the fall of the Roman Empire, and am convinced it could not have been worse than my living room at present.

While prepping the room prior to painting, we discovered that there were some areas of the room where the job was going to be less than straightforward. This is owing to the previous owners who (we know from experience) didn’t just cut home maintenance corners during their tenancy, they hacked away large chunks for the sake of expediency and a few pence. They apparently never sealed the plaster in the living room before they painted, and this latest layer of paint, our layer of paint, is just that one layer too many. In short, the new paint has come away from the old plaster, and is peeling off the wall like birch bark. So what was a Very Big Job, is now that much bigger. The project has eaten up most of my week, and threatens my weekend with more of the same. And now you know why it’s a short podcast this week.

Nevertheless, my adorable baby sister, Pam, shows up this week, to tell you about knitting her first sweater. The raglan sweater pattern that Pam and I talk about (with the Noro yoke) is from Shannon Okey’s new book, Spin to Knit. One of my favorite patterns, the Easy Head Hugger Hat, is also up for discussion. This darling little pillbox hat uses short rows in a clever way, and takes just one ball of Noro. Unless your head is freakishly large, like Pam’s, in which case you should buy two balls of Noro. Finally, this week’s guest writer, Patricia Zaballos, proves that there are some people who lead full lives and knit interesting things, without blogging about it. Kindly leave all those nice comments about her essay here. And when you’re done with that, you can help shop for the home that will one day hold all there is to know about knitting.

Download trouble? Over the past two weeks Libsyn, the hosting company for the podcast, has been experiencing some problems – downloads timing out, 404 errors, and related hiccups. If you are subscribed with iTunes, and have encountered difficulties this past week or so, you may have to unsubscribe and then re-subscribe to the podcast in order to correct the problem.



  1. Barbro Wilhelmsson wrote:

    I can not download. Do you now if it is something wrong?

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  2. Sorry about that! I transposed a digit in the file name. It should work now.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  3. Barbro Wilhelmsson wrote:

    Yes It does. My spinning Friday is complete now! I just love this podcast.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  4. Sarah wrote:

    What to do with the sweater? Cut off the sleeves and cut up their seam so you have two opened up sleeves and a body then felt. By opening up the sleeves you will get a flat piece of felt with no creases in it, much easier to work with. The sleeves will make a triangle bag – whichever way up you like, just add a pair of handles and make another bag/lap top case/cushion cover with the body.
    Thanks for another great show Brenda.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  5. ninaclock wrote:

    I have a Kromski harp! It is very versatile little rigid heddle loom. Recently I wove a pseudo-knitting project: a woven rug made of i-cord. You can see it here

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  6. Rebekkah wrote:

    I haven’t yet run into the problem of sweaters going out of style, either because I haven’t been knitting long enough, or because I am so out of touch with style and fashion that such a concept does not interfere with what I want to wear. (A pain in middle school, a blessing as an adult?) I *do* find that, by the time I get to the end of a long project, it’s likely that I won’t want to look at it anymore because I’m tired of it, or because I chose a pattern that would be fun to knit, not necessarily one that would have ever suited me. In those cases, I’ll either immediately give the project away to a close friend or loved one, or stick it in a drawer until I decide whether I want to keep it, and if not, who will receive it. I *have* frogged a sweater before, but there was no way I was giving away that yarn. (As giving as I’d like to be, machine washable silk/wool blends do not go to Goodwill. I’m too selfish for that.) It ended up being comically large on the intended recipient, and perfectly wonderful in its new form as a completely different sweater for me. And there are enough leftovers for a sweater for a friend’s child.

    The photo of you and Pam is hysterical. Well, mostly Pam. What a face!

    Thanks to Patricia for a beautiful essay, and good luck with the painting.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  7. Hi Brenda,

    glad to have you back and soooo early prior to the weekend!

    Anyway, I don’t know what you could do about your sweater, as I’ve only knitted one cardigan. But I’m sure you’ll find a solution to it.

    As to Noro yarn. Maybe you might like to check out Kolenyas over at Sheep and No City. You need only ONE skein for a pair! I’ve made about seven pairs now, the very first pair was “stolen” by my mum and two of which I knitted for friends. I’ve lost a pair, but my old second pair is still going strong. It’s a quick knit and you can whisk up a pair in a day….I spiced up my latest pair with cables…and I still have yarn left from only ONE skein! (Mind you though, my gauge is a bit tighter than the gauge given in the pattern).

    If you want to give it a shot, make sure to cast on loosely or you’ll have to fight trying to put your hands into a pair. 😉

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  8. CAT wrote:

    For my old sweaters, donate or keep wearing regardless of style…afterall they’re like part of the family.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  9. Molly wrote:

    Sorry to hear about the chaos in the house… here at chez geek we are currently living a couchless existance (waiting on a delivery) and I’m at a loss as knitting in my armchair is difficult (arms are too low for comfortable knitting) and knitting at my desk is impossible (ditto, but way too high).

    I end up giving my older handknits to charity shops. I have short arms for my frame, and no one in my family or circle of friends can wear items knit for me comfortably or fashionably.. unless they’re really keen on three-quarter sleeves 🙂

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  10. Kirsty wrote:

    I haven’t knit enough to be faced with what to do with older sweaters that I no longer like although I do sometimes get to sewing up and decide that I hate something at which point I frog it and knit something else. My tendency would be to frog and reuse, I think, unless I either didn’t like the yarn or knew someone else it would suit.

    I loved the essay, it really spoke to me and I’m glad that Patricia has found a craft that feeds her writing. As an artist, I like knitting because it relaxes me and I enjoy doing something creative without having to design something from scratch.

    Oh, and I also loved the first song – thought it was nicely sarcastic.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  11. Taphophile wrote:

    Listening on iTunes and I can’t hear Pam. Strangely surreal – like listening to one side of a telephone conversation.

    Old jumpers and cardigans usually get unravelled and reknitted in this house. I will admit to having a couple of sentimentally preserved jumpers because I just can’t bear the thought of them no longer being in the world. They are permanent, not ephemeral.

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  12. Violet wrote:

    hi brenda!
    i loved this episode; you should have pam on more often!

    the reason why i’m commenting, though, is to let you know about a book i stumbled upon a review for, The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but it looks like a fascinating study of her life. just wanted to share!


    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  13. Awesome essay, well done!! Thank you Brenda for the show! 🙂

    Hugs and bunnies,

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  14. christa wrote:

    I was listening on iTunes, and could only hear Pam, not Brenda… again, oddly surreal: I found myself trying to figure out what the question or comment on the other end of the phone (Skype?) line might have been 🙂

    Loved the essay.. speaks to my current attempts to merge my work life with my play time, and I don’t even have any kids to struggle with for me-time!

    Good luck with the housepainting.. my weekend project (while the two roomies are out of town) is to bring all the chaos in my room out into the main area, sort, and then return to my room in a non-chaotic fashion.. good times, I tell ya.

    Love listening, as always.. thanks so much!

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  15. Laritza wrote:

    Hang on to the sweaters. Put them away somewhere nice and clean. In 5 years they will be instyle again!

    Posted on 11.10.06 ·
  16. Hi Brenda! I cut up old sweaters and sew them into new pieces, like wall hangings and a vest or two. I do not felt the sweaters, but stabilize the knitting with iron-on interfacing.

    You can see them on my website under “artwork” and “intermediate.” The red/white/blue vest is from two sweaters that I made–both were fashionable but never looked good on me. Then moths found one of them.

    Thanks for asking! Enjoyed your podcast.

    Posted on 11.11.06 ·
  17. Mia wrote:

    Thank you for the show today! It was brilliant as always 😉
    I was trying to figure out what DIY meant… and then, all of a sudden, my husband said it to our children (concerning cleaning our living room…). Do It Yourself. So now I know! (English is not my native tongue.) Good luck and have fun painting!

    Posted on 11.11.06 ·
  18. Su Bell wrote:

    Could you tell me the name of the song that you play a clip of every podcast? The one where it say ‘When I walk through the door and take off my shoes’ I reallt like this song.


    Posted on 11.12.06 ·
  19. may wrote:

    Wonderful show Brenda as always! Thank you so much for your good work!

    Posted on 11.12.06 ·
  20. Denise wrote:

    This is probably a comment that you don’t get very often, but… okay, I can’t hear out of one ear, and I was listening to the podcast for the first time on my ipod. I could not figure out why I could only hear you, and only silence when Pam was supposed to be talking. Then I thought “what if it’s splitting the audio?”, and reversed the phones. Suddenly, I could hear Pam, and silence instead of you.

    Is there a way that you can have everything go through both sides, or one side? Or is this too hard to do? This is the first time that I’ve encountered this on a podcast.

    Posted on 11.12.06 ·
  21. kellie wrote:

    Hi, been listening since I saw “Mrs. Beeton” in Knitty and love your show. It is the flagship of knitting podcasts. I can only hope to do so well. Been kicking around the idea of doing my own. I have, what I think, to be a great idea, just gotta do it.

    I loved the Muses shows and find the idea of free culture inspiring. I am so tired of hearing people say they are not talented or not crafty or not artistic. I think this is a direct result of copyright and a culture of “specialists”. I homeschool so I run into this attitude often. So many people think that you can’t teach, even your own child, if you don’t have a teacher’s degree.

    And about the DIY situation you are whining about – “buck-up for crying out loud!”, she exclaimed with a playful laugh. Ok, so it turned out to be a messier job that you thought it would be, but you gotta know there are always worse DIY stories out there. Not say that mine is one of them but we moved in to our new place 2 months ago and immediately started painting and constructing. The whole place was institutional beige. We’re done the upstairs (3 bedrooms and hall), just finished the living room (hubby is putting the furniture in place now and soon to start loading up the full wall of new built shelves), tomorrow we start taking apart the kitchen. I figure it will be another 2-3 weeks before we can really feel like we are settling in.

    I have hardly been knittng but I give myself that pleasure while I am listening to Cast-On.

    Posted on 11.12.06 ·
  22. bells wrote:

    I really loved the essay this week. I’m a lapsed writer (apart from blogging). The idea that i could knit and write at the same time is mind blowing. I’m going to try it.

    Brenda, I keep jumpers I don’t really want to wear – they’re great for around the house. Style doesn’t count so much if you’re not going out…

    Posted on 11.12.06 ·
  23. Max Daniels wrote:

    Hi Brenda –

    A wonderful podcast – thank you!

    On the topic of outmoded sweaters: For me, giving away not-truly-loved items has been very freeing, and I’ve been doing it more and more – one of the happy byproducts of my midlife crisis. I see now that I’m not going to live forever, and collecting yet more clothing, books, lurid afghans, and teapots won’t keep me anchored to this earth. So at 46, I’m somewhere in the middle of a good comprehensive clear-out, and I like the unemcumbered feeling it gives me.

    (I do, however, own a cherished glass redwood tree I got in Palo Alto – I’m pretty sure that whenever they look at it, my family are secretly thinking “Man, the minute she’s gone, that goes on the trash heap”…)

    Anyway, my suggestion would be: experiement! Try giving away an unloved sweater, and see how it feels. You’ve documented them all, right?

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  24. teresa c. wrote:

    Small is beautiful! 🙂 Well, I enjoy a whole hour of Cast-On, but understand perfectly your living room problems – and I enjoyed the show as much as always. I loved the essay, and it was fun listening to you and your sister chatting! Maybe you should do a “chatting segment” on a regular basis. Anyway, I’ve finished my first pair of toe-up socks while listening, so thak you very much, Brenda! Have a nice week!

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  25. Thank you for sharing that conversation with your sister. It was great to hear that natural chemistry and it made for a great piece. Does she know that you put that picture on here yet? 🙂

    Thanks for the “I Hate You” song as well – Dave, my darling left-handed fiancee, loved it.

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  26. Jessica wrote:

    I don’t have any old sweaters. I’ve never knit a sweater. But, I think, if I had knit sweaters that were no longer my style, I’d hang on to them anyways. Someday it might come back into style. Or, I’d give it away to the first person who expressed interest…

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  27. moirae wrote:

    RE: Putting together a CD for the year.

    Dear Brenda,

    Have you ever considered putting out a CD for a years worth of podcast? I know I can put one together for free. Frankly, I am limited by hard drive space and would be perfectly happy to pay for a CD that I could send my Mom (who only has dial-up) as a Christmas present.

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  28. Cathy Ehlers wrote:

    Brenda, loved episode 41, especially the interview with Pam. Cute photo of the two of you. You are both very talented and cute. You both must have a very clever Mom!
    Love you,

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  29. stella wrote:

    Hey Brenda, when I googled cast-on, you came up number one listing, cool! you are the cast on of choice to a googled world. Listed in lesser spots are how to cast on, cast ons for toe up socks and twisted German cast-on. but Brenda you are my all time fav cast-on. I use you in every project i do now.
    old sweaters (why do you Americans and ex-Americans call them that, sweaters, sweaty, what’s wrong with jersey? – sweater is just so…. sweaty), well as a I age, I’d like to think I have gotten more sensible, my early ones were cropped, 3/4, bright pink (in my defence it was the 80’s), more recent ones are more ‘traditional’ verging on the long long sleeve side, muted colours hopefully a more timeless design. However I realise fashion changes and with it my perspective, once like you cropped looked so cute, now it just seems so wrong and not in proportion (where did that big butt come from?). The tiny and beautiful jerseys I make with love for my son and daughter are lovingly gifted to smaller children, who are special because of my connections with their parents, or , younger Montessori children in the same classes as my two. I have to let go of these gently, knitted with love, but are worn to be warm, to learn and of course play, and do get paint, food and unrecognisable stains on them. That only gives me an excuse for fair-isle, and colour work.
    I love the comments by others about felting and stitching, but until now my ex-jerseys have gone to hopefully loving homes via the charity shops. In reality I hang on to clothes way past their fashionable stage, and so they probably become dog blankets – or cat basket liners. My local charity shop uses torn and worn out blankets and knits to make these and sells them for between $5-$20. As a teen, my family dog and cats all had their own cast-off piece of my dads apparel to sleep on, occasionally renewed. Sometimes the cats or dogs decided or claimed a garment for themselves, and unless it was new, had at least one paint, grease spot, hole or tear, my gentle and caring but gruff mechanic of a dad would have a resigned moan and let them have it, especially if winter was approaching.

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  30. Wow! Thank you Brenda for mentioning my hat pattern in your pod cast and putting a link on your page.

    I’ve had a flurry of sales because of this!

    One woman let me know she heard about if from your site, so I had to come have a look.

    Good luck with the house chaos. It never seem to stop around here either.

    Thanks again and keep up all the great work!

    Posted on 11.13.06 ·
  31. Linda wrote:


    If you really loved wearing the sweater when it was in style,
    pack it away carefully. You are right – sweater styles change,
    and when this style comes back, you’ll be prepared! Wouldn’t
    you feel the loss if you gave it away and two seasons later the
    style felt “right” again?

    Love the podcast. Thanks for continuing it.

    Posted on 11.14.06 ·
  32. Max Daniels wrote:

    Pam and Grumperina: separated at birth? You be the judge: http://www.grumperina.com/knitblog/

    Posted on 11.14.06 ·
  33. Deborah wrote:

    Another wonderful podcast, Brenda, thanks!

    I identified with the part of Patricia’s essay where she writes about feeling like a lovesick teenager when she discovered Cast On. I found your podcast only recently, and have had absolutely no success with my plan to slowly ration your past podcasts so I’ll have a new one to listen to at any time. I can’t help myself!

    I loved listening to you and Pam giggle together. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship. I’m desperately trying to teach one of my two sisters to knit. How much fun that would be to talk knitting with them!

    As to your sweater: I am usually the type to get rid of something in my closet I have no interest in wearing. However in the case of a handknit sweater I had once loved as much as you did yours, I would probably keep it for a while longer to see if it the style comes back.

    Deborah in Maryland

    Posted on 11.14.06 ·
  34. Charity wrote:

    If you can part with it, put it up for auction. I’m sure that the listeners of this podcast would help you raise money to donate to the charity of your choice. I also like the idea of felting it and making a new handbag or pillow. Love the show, thanks for taking the time to do it right!

    Posted on 11.15.06 ·
  35. Richard wrote:

    Men’s sweaters do not change so much, so I haven’t been faced with “unstylish sweaters”, although I am not crazy about all of my sweaters.
    Now, that said, I have been known to rip out whole sweaters after many years and incorporate the yarn into something else, mostly my stash.
    Not what you want to hear.
    I don’t know about this gray tweed sweater of yours, but I do have a comment and I am almost ready to make it.
    I knit almost exclusively from the top down. Everything.
    If you had knitted your sweater from the top down AND had yarn enough to knit more (I always over buy) you could knit longer with no problem, no break in pattern, etc.
    I am always lengthening and shortening my sweaters, as well as knitting new ribbings.
    In your sweater, assuming it is knitted in the usual way, you could take off the bottom ribbing and go down MAYBE. Again, don’t know the sweater.
    If it is stockinette, definitely not a problem.
    If you don’t have the yarn perhaps you could still get it.
    You can alternate the yarn from the ribbing (is there a ribbing?) with the new yarn or if you are lengthening only a bit, knit the new length in the old yarn and knit the new ribbing in the new yarn. The dye lot won’t matter when you change from body pattern to ribbing.
    I hope this isn’t too ridiculous, because if it is then I am extraordinarily ridiculous because I love alterations.

    Posted on 11.16.06 ·
  36. Richard wrote:

    I should have mentioned that I’d be happy to alter your sweater for you.
    At no cost, if that is what you might be thinking.
    I mean no cost for my labor.
    You’d have to send it to me with the extra yarn.
    Happy to do it.

    Posted on 11.16.06 ·
  37. Kate A. wrote:

    My mother taught me that a cedar chest is not so much for out-of-season clothes as for out-of-fashion clothes. They *always* come back. Handknits, especially, can be ever so slightly adjusted when a style comes back with a slight twist a decade later. And if it takes longer than a decade…the next generation will appreciate it.

    Trust me. Mom got rid of her authentic Navy peacoat and her high quality leather knee-high boots from the late 70s…and I still haven’t quite gotten over the loss.

    Posted on 11.18.06 ·
  38. Witt wrote:

    I knit sweaters (and scarves and wraps and whatnot) that both my mom and I like and we switch them back and forth. When weather starts to get cold we have this little summit about which pieces are going to live where that year, so I have less time to get sick of them.

    Our both loving them increases the sentimental attachment to them too.

    Love, your knitbear

    Posted on 11.18.06 ·
  39. Siún wrote:

    News of the arrival of a new series of Cast-On turns me into a slavering Homer Simpson – Mmm…Brenda…

    Thanks for putting so much work into giving us something to click our sticks along with. Great new theme as well.

    I would find it very difficult to part with anything I’d knitted just because it had lost its original glamour to the ravages of time and fashion. I might not want to wear it, but I wouldn’t trust anyone else to appreciate how perfect it once was – at least, as Kate A. suggests, until the gods of chic have their inevitable rethink and the next generation decides it’s way too cool for wrinkly old me.

    Posted on 11.18.06 ·
  40. Carol wrote:

    Stunning essay! Well done!

    Posted on 11.22.06 ·
  41. Hilda wrote:

    wow, this essay was beautiful. I had to listen to it twice and the second time was even better. The Knitting Song also shook me. I had to buy it right away. Thanks for the wonderful digs Brenda.

    Posted on 11.23.06 ·
  42. Tricia wrote:

    thank you for your essay. Your comments about motion, writing and creativity made me say “Ohhh I used to know that. How could I have forgotten?” I’ll be sharing your insight with my college writing class next week.

    Posted on 11.24.06 ·
  43. Sandra wrote:

    Does anyone have the text to “Knitting Song” from the Rainbow Chasers? I have downloaded it, and love the sound, but I would like to know exactly what they’re saying.
    No luck with Googling.
    Thanks if you can help. 🙂

    Posted on 12.23.06 ·
  44. Rebecca wrote:

    I finally got around to catching up on this old podcast, was having problems with my HD.

    I had the same problem painting my dining room, so I feel your pain (belatedly). It must be lovely now!

    Posted on 4.20.07 ·
  45. Erin wrote:

    Oh, golly, Brenda – I clicked on the link for Curiosity Shop and it brought up a German porn site!

    Posted on 8.27.07 ·

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