March 2013


Stitchin’ Times


Publication of the Cactus Needles Knitting Guild

March 2013




   Letter from the Editor

Remember when we were kids and being called a "show off" was a bad thing? 

As we know, knitting enhances any occasion Here are some of the comments I've heard while knitting in public:

"You must be really bored." (I'm bored? You've got nothing better to do than watch me!)

"Don't you ever sit still?" (Where's the fun in that?)

"I wish I could do that. I just don't have the patience." (No one has ever accused me of being patient.)

"Are you knitting or crocheting?" (I'm impressed they know it's different.)

"Can you make me one?" (This from a total stranger who has never priced a skein of yarn.)

"Can you teach me?" (When I'm finished learning.)

I have caught even the largest cynic looking over my shoulder to see what I am doing. No matter how strange the look they give or how wide the roll of their eyes, they all see the magic that we produce when we turn yarn into a work of art.

So keep knitting anywhere and everywhere (yeah, like I have to encourage you!)

Barb Hahn, Editor



Meet the Member

 By:  Jo-Anne Mullen

This newsletter's interview is with Guild member Regina Esposito. Regina's interview questions had to be customized. For example, I couldn't ask how she found out about the CNKG. It wasn't a group she FOUND but, rather, one she FOUNDED. Yes, Regina was one of the Founding Mothers of our Guild! Thank you Regina!

Regina grew up in Flatbush, smack in the middle of Brooklyn NY. In the summer her family could hear cheers from Ebbets Field until the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and Ebbets Field became a housing project. I like to imagine that Regina and I are related: We're both from Brooklyn, New York, loved our Dodgers and both of our mothers had the same maiden name.

Regina was taught to knit by family members--she thinks she learned from her mother and Aunt Janette when she was about 6-7 years old. How was she taught? According to Regina this happened with "2 knitting needles and wool yarn." She likes to knit anything in the round and also likes intarsia. The word Wallaby should also come to mind. How many Guild members now knit Wallabies regularly because of Regina's teaching and coaching? She does not like sticky yarn or patterns that she can't "see."

Regina has attended three major Stitches/TkGA knitting conventions, all in California. The biggest change she sees over her years of knitting is the current availability of so many man made yarns giving us options other than wool for our yarn.

What's on Regina's needles now? A scarf with sock yarn, an Encore Wallaby, an interesting vest knit with a soy product, and a pair of socks. Future projects include knitting a lacy shawl, finishing a Project Linus blanket, knitting hats and whatever else happens.

When asked to add something about herself not knitting-related, Regina told of her cousin who married Patricia Neway, a famous opera singer who played the Nun in the Sound of Music on Broadway and is on the original cast album. Regina's husband Joe is credited with adding the word YO! to our knitting vocabulary--you can ask her about that. My guess is that, if asked, Regina has plenty of other stories she'd be willing to share.   



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Taking Care of YOUR Ticker... Get Off the Couch and Knit!

by Jackie Awerman

Close your eyes and picture yourself knitting. Sitting on the couch or maybe curled up in that big comfy chair with the “RESERVED” sign on it, surrounded by baskets of yarns and the tools of your knitting passion. Keep them closed and imagine yourself ACTIVELY knitting-- walking as you knit. Struttin’ your stuff, walkin’ off the belly fat, and knittin’ up a storm! In other words, knit to beat obesity! Who knew that hours of knitting could be healthy for your body as well as your mind?

For centuries shepherds guarded their flocks and knit at the same time. Using extra-long needles (usually 14 inch or more) and a knitting pouch hooked on a belt around their middles, the keepers of our wool knit and kept sheep safe from the wolves and coyotes. The Highlands of Scotland shepherds are probably the best known of these multi-tasking knitters turned baa-baa bodyguards. Until now. Now, it’s possible to spot a real live walkin’, talkin’ knitter in southwest Florida! Yup. I WALK AND KNIT! It’s easier than you think. As a matter of fact, if you keep the knitting simple, it’s so easy that you won’t believe you haven’t done it before! Come on and be one—with nature, with knitting, and with walking your way to healthy!

You can buy a knitting pouch which will hook on your belt or your backpack. Be ambitious! You can walk and knit a whole afghan, strip by strip or piece by piece. You can also buy a kit with a lightweight balsa wood circle, a length of ribbon and a bead. I’m not averse to spending stash dollars on purchasing one of the ready-made devices; I’m just not convinced that you have to buy something to launch a walking-while-knitting routine. Make a Yarn Walker yourself!

Yes! You can make a Yarn Walker yourself. It’s easy, quick, and it’s almost free. Need another reason? It’s GREEN! As in recycled and reconstructed. So as you walk and knit, the entire planet benefits.

Okay. Here’s how to make your own Yarn Walker:


-A plastic coffee can lid- You can use the plastic lid from almost any 12 to 16 ounce can.

-A piece of ½”- ¾”wide elastic approximately 12-14” long.

-An awl or Phillips head screwdriver or heavy-duty scissors.

-A large button or bead

-Sewing needle and thread


Punch a hole in the center of the plastic lid. Fold the elastic in half lengthwise. Thread it through the hole in the lid with the loop at the top (where your elbow or wrist will be.) String your bead or button (whichever you chose) onto the elastic and sew the two ends of the elastic together. Now, pull up on the elastic loop so that the button or bead sits snuggly at the bottom of the coffee can lid. Now, thread the elastic loop through the center of your ball of yarn. Put your wrist or elbow into the loop. Pick up your knitting and –are you ready for this? I hope so. I hope so. On your mark, get set, GO WALK and KNIT! Ten Thousand Stitches! Ten Thousand Steps! Maybe Ten Pounds! You’re on the way!


The above article was written by our own Jackie Awerman and published in the January edition of the "Stitch Red" Newsletter.

Click here to log onto the Stich Red website.

Close up of yarn and knitting needles
January Program
Cast ons
When I decided on doing a program on cast-on methods I had no idea that there are so many ways to start a knitting project. I found books on the subject, not just a chapter in a book…whole books! We discussed a couple of the books and were to purchased them…funny thing a few knitting suppliers had books on sale in January! Perfect timing!!  I thought about some of the more useful cast-on methods, called on a few members and came up with 4 methods that we demonstrated during the January program. A big THANK YOU goes out to Donna, Betty, and Georgia for demonstrating different cast-on methods to the group.. Donna showed us the long tail method, Betty worked the button hole cast-on, Georgia did the cable cast-on, and I did the crocheted cast-on. Most knitters have their favorite go to cast-on, but it is always good to look at different ways to begin a project.




"Heirloom" is knitting code for "This pattern is so difficult that you would consider death a relief".
 Stephanie Pearl-McPheeAt Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much 




“...the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble.

"...knitters just can't watch TV without doing something else. Knitters just can't wait in line, knitters just can't sit waiting at the doctor's office. Knitters need knitting to add a layer of interest in other, less constructive ways.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee




February Program
Yarn Exchange
Yarn, yarn, and more yarn! The annual auction was again a success! Thanks to everyone who participated. We had everything from lace yarn to super bulky yarn. The auctioneer really needs to work on her skills but everyone was helpful and had fun. We are currently thinking up ways to fine tune the rules and stream line the process so the meeting doesn’t last so long. If you have suggestions let us know.
So what is on tap for March…Knitting with Beads! An email was sent out to the membership with information about what to bring. If you missed it let me know.
April’s program is going to highlight crochet edgings. Planned are Picot, single crochet, and crab stitch. If you’re looking for simple ways to quickly finish off a project with little fuss you won’t want to miss this program.
We are always looking for new program ideas!!!
Happy Knitting!

     The Pragmatic Knitter:        E-Reading Knitting Patterns

by Georgia K. Green

Despite the all-too-common (and obviously inaccurate) stereotype of knitters as throwbacks to an era before technology was prevalent in daily life, a disproportionately large number of knitters, when compared to the general population, are far ahead of the curve in adopting new consumer electronics.  Knitters are likely to be pioneers rather than followers when it comes to discovering uses for innovations.

One well-known and much-discussed example is the web site Ravelry.com, a social networking and knowledge repository destination that predates Facebook, Twitter, and their like by (literally) years.  Another example is the rapid proliferation of knitting-related apps for smart phones, whether Android or Apple.

What this column considers, though, is something much more basic -- so elementary, in fact, that it represents a paradigm shift in the way that fundamental knitting information is recorded, stored, and transmitted between and among knitters.  Our topic is digital media -- more specifically, the e-reader, and the growing likelihood that you have already, are now, or will soon knit something from a pattern delivered digitally ... and, just possibly, read that way too.

There are, of course, individual patterns and entire magazines available digitally.  This article will, however, focus on e-books, as they are most commonly also available in physical (printed) form and thus easier to compare directly.

What's so great about digital books (e-books)?  Why bother to have an e-reader?  Well, to be honest, first, it's just plain cool!  OK, the other reasons are that you can use an e-reader to ...

·        Enlarge text, charts, and diagrams to see them more readily

·        Search the text of a pattern book to find what you need faster

·        Have all your patterns and books with you wherever you are; carry 500 or more hardback printed books in less than the weight of a single paperback

·        Print (or electronically copy) and mark up (or annotate) the same pattern chart multiple times, while always keeping the clean original

·        Copy-and-paste to reformat any pattern to your preferred way or style of knitting

·        Borrow and return e-books (typically in ePub or PDF format) from near or far participating public libraries without ever entering their physical premises

Not interested in e-books or e-readers? Absolutely, positively sure that you'll never be?  Then skim or skip over the next sections about hardware, software, and file formats, and go straight to the capsule reviews of ten (10) e-books, all also available in physical (printed) form, and at least you'll not have read thus far for nothing, you Luddite ...  8^)  [Very mild humor alert:  In 1810 in the UK, the Luddites protested against innovative change by destroying industrial machinery necessary for new technology to be adopted.]

What choices are there for knitters who want to begin using digital patterns?  What are the different kinds of hardware, software, and file formats that major publishers are using?

Anything that can display text on a screen can potentially be considered an e-reader, including a desktop PC, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a PDA (personal digital assistant), a smart phone, etc.  Many people do choose to install e-reader software on one or more of these so that they can read their digital media (that is, so that they can look at their e-books or read their knitting patterns) no matter what device they're using at any given time. 

 Most often, however, an e-reader is a dedicated device with the primary purpose of providing a portable or mobile high-storage capacity with an easily read display (which may be gray scale or color), long battery life, compact size, and sturdy construction.  Some of the most common and widely available e-reader devices are the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo Glo [formerly sold by the no-longer-in-business Borders Books and now available at Best Buy], and the Sony Reader.  MSRPs (list prices) range from about US $110-140, but there are frequent special promotions with lower prices offered, especially from the first two sellers. 

 E-reader application software is separate from the hardware [and, indeed, the operating system (such as Windows, Apple, or Android)] on which the application software runs, but is usually identically named. So, for example, the Amazon Kindle e-reader hardware runs the Kindle e-reader software, and you could also install the Kindle e-reader software on your Windows desktop PC and/or your Android tablet computer.  In addition, you might have the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader hardware running the Nook e-reader software, and then you could decide further to install the Nook e-reader software on your Windows desktop PC and/or your Android smart phone.  Handy in practice, but potentially confusing to discuss without using many words to ensure that the meaning is clearly communicated ...

To add to the complexity of the situation, there are also some very worthwhile e-reader software applications that were either designed for hardware products that are now no longer sold, although the software was a hit and lived on, or were developed independently of a specific product line.  E-reader software for DjVu e-books and the Adobe Digital Editions e-reader software application are excellent programs with which to become familiar in this context.

There are at least two dozen different file formats used by e-book publishers, and not all formats are readable by all devices.  An e-reader may be able to read more than one file format.  A single e-book may also be published in multiple file formats.  The file formats most often seen when reading knitting e-books are as follows:

·        ePub / IDPF -- Open standard based on XML; not vendor-specific.  Supported by the most (the greatest number of) e-readers.  Not supported by Amazon Kindle, however.

·        PDF -- Created by Adobe Systems as portable document format; derived from PostScript.  Reproduces page images.  Readable almost universally across platforms via Acrobat software and(or) Adobe Digital Editions software, which also uses ePub format.  Lacks support for word wrap.


·        AZW / KF8 -- Used by Amazon Kindle.  Not an open standard.




·        DjVu -- Optimized for scanned documents, especially low-color images. Wonderful for viewing older knitting books from the 1800s.  Lacks support for word wrap. 

Finally, let's look at a few relatively recent books in which knitters might be interested, and see what options there are for acquiring and using them.  The attached ten (10) books were selected based on several criteria (click here to view):

Subject interest …  Am I as a knitter interested in the book, whether or not it strictly fits within the precise boundaries of the craft?

Type of author …  A variety, from first time to highly experienced, as well as different backgrounds (like yarn shop owner, yarn company executive, etc.), different countries of residence, different levels of on-line presence.  More than one book from a single author and at least one co-authored book.

Publisher …  Again, a variety, but also several books from a single publisher.

Date of publication  …  Grouped into four (4) rough categories -- forthcoming (not yet published); just published this month; published six months ago; and published a year ago.  [The categories are “rough” of necessity, as publication(s) in hard cover, paperback, spiral-bound, Kindle, Nook, PDF, and various other formats may occur months or even, in some cases, years apart for the same title.  It is also interesting to see that while some forthcoming books launch print and digital versions at the same time, others launch print first, and still others launch digital first; there are even some that have a specific launch order for different digital formats .] 


Upcoming Events


March 4 – CNKG Meeting 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM*

March 18 – Fry's Marketplace knit-together – 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

April 8 – CNKG Meeting 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM*

April 13 - Stitch & Pitch

April 22 – Fry's Marketplace knit-together – 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM


*Dinner for Hungry Knitters – 5:00 Streets of New York.


Don’t forget to Host your Own Knit Together! Refer to the “Latest News” under “Members Only” for a list of available months. Enjoy the pictures from our events from the last couple of months!