Friday, December 7, 2007

Day Seven: The One and Only Grumperina

Just a Little Bit Grumperina

I am a blog freak---- a blog stalker, a blog hussy, whatever you call it! (I was going to say Blog Whore but my Mom might be reading and, well, y’know. So just know that I didn’t say that!) One of the blogs I really enjoy is “Grumperina’s” and have for some time. When I asked her if she would like to participate in the holiday blog offering this year, she agreed, but I could tell that it probably wasn’t her first choice! :) On her blog she even said “I was a little hesitant when Knitting Contessa Tina asked me for a Holiday interview for her blog. Okay, more than "a little" hesitant. Perhaps "highly resistant" is more like it. "Holidays" are a strange time for me - coming from a mixed and largely-forgotten religious background, being raised in a Soviet Godless regime, hating the craziness of Department Stores this time of year... But it's not strange to pause and think about our lives and our gifts, both given and received, at any ol' time during the year. So, I agreed, and my thoughts will be featured on Tina’s blog coming up soon. Now that Tina has made an official post about her Knitting Contrisstmas I realize that all she had to do to get an enthusiastic "Yes, I'll do it!" out of me is tell me the other participants. Because, come on, look at the other gals being interviewed!!! I'm so flattered to be included!” Silly girl, I’m so pleased and flattered as all get out that you ARE included!


(KC) Kathy, if you don’t mind answering, what has been your greatest gift in 2007?

(G) I'm not sure if you mean the greatest gift I've received, or the greatest gift I've given, so let me answer both. In terms of receiving, I'll answer in metaphysical terms. I've been blessed in every possible way during this year: I'm healthy, I have loving and supportive friends and family, I look forward to going to work every morning - what more could I want?!?

As for giving, my answer is in the physical realm. The greatest gift I've given this year must be the Ribbons Baby Blanket


(aka, Underpants Blankie), which I knit for my friend Michelle's newborn daughter Milly ( When I see a baby, or even just imagine the cuteness inside the belly if my friend is still pregnant, I cannot help but knit. It's wonderful to have the ability to create such meaningful and practical gifts. Just the other day I received a note from my friend S, "Thank you again for the beautiful circular blanket you made for L-- she still sleeps under it every night!" S is talking about the Grumpecue (, which is apparently still alive and kicking two years after its creation! This kind of stuff melts my heart :).

(KC) I had to smile when I read your feelings about baby bellies and babies in general! I know everyone else will too! I don’t always rush to knit for friends (or their daughters) who are preggers, so hats off to you!

(KC) 2008 is right around the corner, from the vantage point at the end of 2007, what would you like to be doing in the New Year?

(G) Two thousand eight promises to be a busy year for me - many changes in aspects of my personal and professional life. I hope that a year from now I'm once again comfortable in my surroundings, in my new life, and that I still have needles in my hands whenever I get a spare moment.

(KC) Very profound Kathy. I think what strikes me the most is that it is a simple and straightforward wish centering on being comfortable---- on being strong in who you are and centering off that. And knitting of course, I love to ‘watch’ you knit; you’re very prolific and have such a nice range of projects to enjoy vicariously!

(KC) I know you don’t bake a whole lot Kathy. As a woman who knows where to get really yummy things that don't necessarily come from your kitchen, can you share some of your favorite links to delish?

(G) I may be good at knitting, at science, at listening, but I'm a total dud in the kitchen. I don't even try anymore! So when it comes to yummies, I rely on the talent on others. One of my favorite ways to sweeten up the holidays with something truly unique is to indulge in some Argentine alfajores. The Havanna brand covered in meringue are my favorites, and plenty of sellers carry them on eBay (

(KC) I must confess to rushing to my computer to check this out. Consider them ordered!

(G) I also really love "pryaniki" which is a merger of a sweet cookie and a spiced biscuit. Pryaniki are commonly served with hot tea in Russian households. I'm not sure where one could get them online, but walk into any Russian specialty store, and they are bound to sell them!

(KC) My son brought home a girl from Russia last year at Christmas and I was introduced to pryaniki, very yummy and I loved them with my favorite chai tea. I don’t have a Russian specialty store here in town and now you have stirred the fires for one of these delights, I’ll have to get searching in earnest now!

(KC) As a student about to graduate, you're always incredibly busy. Do you have any tips for maximizing knitting time that might be helpful to others approaching the holidays?

(G) I think accessibility is paramount to maximizing knitting time. Have one project on the coffee table, one in your desk drawer at work, a tiny sock or hat in your purse, something mindless in your car, and leave the last project at your best friend's or boyfriend's house. If the knitting is always underhand, you'll be shocked at how much you can accomplish between this, that, and the other!

(KC) I just love you! Good solid advice indeed!

(KC) What things do you do just for yourself in this crazy busy time of the year?

(G) I'm a very independent person, so for starters I insist on having alone time every week. During that time, I go shopping, tidy up my apartment, watch a little TV, surf the web compiling mental wishlists of books, yarns, clothes... all these things make me calm and take my mind off of the daily grind. If I have a little extra money, I indulge in a manicure or a facial at my favorite spa, or something special from Sephora.

(KC) Sephora! How can you not go crazy there? Love that place!

(KC) Kathy, is there anything special on your needles that you're knitting just for yourself among the knitting tucked away all over your house (and bag) is there something that is YOURS?

(G) I just finished an awesome scarf from the book "Knitting New Scarves." The pattern is very creative with respect to the scarf's construction, and the yarn I'm using is a gift from a dear friend, so I'm enjoying this project from every perspective. Now that the Drifting Pleats scarf is finished, I'll once again focus on "Hannah's Tablecloth" from the book "Handknit Holidays." I think I'll actually use this tablecloth one day at the dinner table! (you know, when I serve alfajores and pryaniki I didn't cook, haha).

(KC) Oh honey…….. presentation is everything after all!

(KC) Here comes my obligatory question this season, but I love to ask it! With a very special knitting friend in mind, think of the perfect gift you'd like to give this year. If cost were no object, what would you choose? How about if you were budget minded?

(G) I know several friends who would love to add some luxurious yarns to their repertoire - cashmere, llama, even those fancy bedazzled silks from Tilli Tomas. And in quantities enough to knit a sweater or a sizable shawl!!! But that would be an expensive gift indeed. So, for a budget-conscious alternative, I could give them enough of these fancy yarns for something small, like a scarf or fingerless mitts. Or default to "the usual": a book! A book filled with patterns that the recipient would find wonderful and meaningful just might be the most perfect gift ever.

(KC) Wonderful gifts, sign me up for any of them!

(KC) We both know how much incredibly good knit booty is out there! If you could choose something special and rather coveted to show up on your doorstep, what would it be?

(G) Does camera gear count? Haha... I've become a bit of a camera junkie lately, and beautiful yarns and fabrics are my favorite models: they don't complain when you prop them up, or pin them flat into place, or decide to get "one more shot" even after declaring "that aught to do it" And the camera is always hungry for more equipment... I would love to get my hands on a good flash and a nice macro lens.

(KC) Because I work as a creative director in a photography studio camera gear absolutely counts, you bet! And I would add that yarn and fabric is sweeter and more compliant than brides as well! Ha!

(KC) You have knitters from all over the world who consider themselves fans of yours; do you have any holiday greetings you'd like me to pass along for you?

(G) Certainly! May your new year be filled with happiness, love, and success! May this year be the best one yet!


I love Christmas crafts, and being the creative sort this time of year allows me to unabashedly watch crafty tv (thank heaven for TiVo!) and think about all of the wonderful things I’d make if I were a trust fund child and didn't work for a living! (Can I get an amen?) One of my favorites from the days of the Carol Duvall Show on HGTV is Mary O’Neill. I still get her email newsletter although I haven’t made a rubber stamped craft or a velvet 'pretty' in ages and ages. In her recent holiday email she said “Did you know that the twelve days of Christmas are actually the twelve days after Christmas? Yep, and I observe those with all my heart, and often in my pajamas! And that is the time I enjoy the holidays, a sip of champagne, a jigsaw puzzle, and make some holiday crafts.” I don’t know about you but I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this idea! The 12 days AFTER Christmas. The studio is closed until January 3rd and I’m off from December 20th, by jiggy I’m calling it good! The only thing I absolutely have to do is make sure I get to the Y and log miles on the treadmill and elliptical or I’ll blow up like Santa hanging out for that long with cookies and eggnog and the obligatory Starbucks or four! Now, in between everything I have on my desk for the end of the year, and gifts to finish, I’ll have to lay in some stash. Okay, more stash. The part about not having a stash was simply misplaced and ugly pride, I’m woman enough to admit it now! I need more yarn and I need it now. I’m on the hunt. I'm going to press and starch my pajamas so they're ready!


On the finished knitting front would be a rather plain little earflap hat with a big ole' tassel on the top of the pointy head. It is knit from gray Lopi flecked with primary colors based on a pattern in the Fall Knit Simple. I went up a size in needles and will very, very gently give it a bit of the hand felting treatment so it is perfect for my youngest grandson's sweet head. I'm about half way through the wave pattern of my last hat from Knitty for my middle grandson. Then? I am almost done (I think) with the hat extravaganza of 2007. I might be ready to knit a cabled grand piano cover when the miles of hats are done! :) At least the two pairs of socks that are just sitting in their little bags calling my name!

The snow predicted for last night didn't amount to much. Just a coating on the ground, nothing on the roads and a glazing of ice on the back deck that just about caused the dogs to go flying and my tender self to go butt over teakettle this morning. Never a pretty picture!

Tomorrow we enter two week territory and I have another great project up my sleeve, see you then!


grumperina said...

Thank you for the interview! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Virtuous said...

Great interview from Grump!
And I am so taking in her NY blessing to heart...I need it!