Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hunting for Color

Dear Hearts,

What with one thing and another–where “one thing” is a ranch in Wyoming and “another” is a camp site in Chiapas–I’ve not had a moment to paste into this notebook a few photographs* from my recent stay in Morocco.

In the souk of Marrakesh, where I’ve lingered for many an hour, you will be delighted to find dyers hard at work…

creating yarns in colors so proud and revelatory that make one feel as though one has long been looking at the world through a grey veil…

Of course, when it comes to color Morocco as a whole is nothing short of a revelation. Sometimes, as a game, I pick a color in the morning and see how and where it pops up. These are from a blue day…

I’m simply over the moon to note that our own, dear colors are proving inspirational to a growing cadre of knit and crochet designers. Here follows a list of tremendous patterns either designed with our yarns or noted as being particularly suited to them.

Each title links to the pattern’s Ravelry listing.

Voyager Wrap (Julie Dietz)
Jewel Neck Shell (Karen Connor)
Raspberry Beanie (Lauren Sanchez)
Alice Elizabeth Shawlette (Laura Linneman)
Broadwyn Shawl (Miriam L. Felton)

Gloria Cloche and Headband (Quirky Bird Knits)
Gloria Handwarmers (Quirky Bird Knits)

Oakdale Hat (Darla J. Fanton)
Go Team, Go! Mitts (Lisa Ortale)
Fancy Panties Hat (Lisa Ortale)
Santa Maria Scarf (NorthbrooKnits / Joyce Weida)
Foliage Garland (Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich)
Cara Cardigan (Lorna’s Laces)

Where shall we go next?

Yours Ever,
Mrs. Crosby

*Speaking of photographs, I do hope you'll be playing along in our new photography contest.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fanfare for Finished Objects: Our New Contest!

Dear Hearts,

As the dusk of the year draws in, I have taken in the evenings to poring over photographs–some submitted to our Ravelry group; some sent via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter; and two delivered by carrier pigeon–of the colorful caravan of pieces you've made with our yarns.

The launch of this bold experiment in early spring was a thrilling, terrifying time. We unfurled the flag and let go the lines hoping you would wish to share in our adventure, and you have. I tell you, I could not be more over the moon if I were orbiting Mars in a space capsule. (Note to self: Next year?)

So fascinating have your own explorations been that I feel we must celebrate and reward them.

To that end, I am pleased to announce the inauguration of...

The Mrs. Crosby Finished Project Photography Contest.

This ongoing competition, open to all fiber artists in the United States, will be very simple in structure. In summary:

  1. You knit, crochet, weave, or otherwise fashion something using Mrs. Crosby yarns.
  2. You present your finished work to us using the online entry form and following our rules and regulations.
  3. We select one champion every month, and reward her or him with a number of fresh skeins equal to those in the project, up to a total of five.
  4. The champion's work will be displayed here, in my blog, to widespread public acclaim.

How does that sound? Will you play? I do so hope you will.

For the first round, our contest deadline will be midnight (American Central Standard Time) of January 10, 2015. We know that at this time of year many of you will have poured heart and soul into utterly fabulous gifts that cannot yet be revealed, so we're allowing extra time.

For complete details, and link to the entry form, I invite you to visit our Web site.

I look forward to seeing what you have made and will make, dear hearts. Onward!

The bell on the chuck wagon indicates that breakfast is served, and so I must away.

Yours Ever,
Mrs. Crosby
Moose, Wyoming

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Well Beyond Olives

Dear Hearts,

If you are an American, probably you have begun your holiday cooking or have begun to worry about your holiday cooking. Thanksgiving is at our throats.

As a young girl I watched my relations–mostly my female relations–confront this time of year with various blends of joy, loathing, cunning, subterfuge, skill, and daring.

My maternal grandmother, who is said to have come into the world clutching a wooden spoon, spent eleven months of the year with one eye on November. She adored food and cooking. Her Thanksgiving dinner–prepared in deep secrecy and served with great ceremony–was greeted by the family in much the same way that le tout Paris once greeted dear Christian Dior’s spring collections. Applause, followed by mass consumption. And she, like dear Monsieur Dior, poured her soul into everything she created.

I loved her dinners very much.

My paternal grandmother believed that cooking was a nerve-wracking and potentially lethal activity best left to trained professionals. She considered her Thanksgiving duty complete after she had telephoned the maître d’ of her favorite hotel and secured our usual private dining room.  She took care to make sure my grandfather would be served oysters and my abstemious Aunt Adelaide would not be served brandy. For me, she always ordered a small bonbonnière of petit fours in lieu of pumpkin pie.

I loved her dinners very much.

My own mother, who kept house in a bewildering variety of situations from a beach hut in American Samoa to a penthouse in Seattle, fell between these extremes. She believed that a person should be able to feed herself, and know how to be hospitable. Whatever you put before a guest–from a humble cup of tea to a flaming French dessert–you must know how to make it clear this was being given with open hands, gladly.  And your tea had better be good tea.

The subject of dinners and dining has been very much alive around the studio lately.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee–known to thousands of knitters as the Yarn Harlot–asked me whether I might do up a little something as an appetizer for the dinner at her Strung Along Retreat.  I need not tell you I was delighted to oblige, and dear Stephanie sent along these photographs of our special Strung Along colorway, plated and presented in a way that my grandmothers would have approved.

And our friends at Jimmy Beans Wool asked for a contribution to the 2014 edition of their Fit for a Feast program. Have you heard of this? Here is what happens, in a nutshell.

Jimmy Beans invites a coterie of their favorite (I blush) dyers to contribute courses (complete with recipes) to a holiday collection of yarns, produced in limited quantities specially for the feast.  To allow for differing appetites (and budgets), there are various ways to partake, from the Full Feast (a generous helping from the entire groaning board) to A Bite of Everything (a sampler of nibbles). It’s a large table, with seats for all.

You will find the delicious details here.

I was chatting about this with my teacher, Swapna, after a sitar lesson and told her I’d chosen to contribute the relish tray.

She shook her head.

“Are you nuts?” she said. “Who wants to make the relish tray? What kind of a recipe is that? Why not offer to make the stuffing? Everyone loves the stuffing. Or the pies.”

I must admit I could see her point. The relish tray is seldom anyone’s favorite part of the meal. Even my mother’s mother prepared one mostly out of habit, peeling and cutting and organizing for the better part of an hour. My grandfather would eat one green olive and a stick of celery, and the rest eventually would come to rest in soups or sauces.

But I like the relish tray.

As it has such a low profile, one may experiment boldly without inviting the avalanche of objections that come from putting Brazil nuts instead of pistachios into dearest great-great-grandmama’s prize-winning turkey dressing.

So do experiment! Don’t undertake it by rote, doing what has always been done without asking why. Change, push, mix and re-mix. Remember the oft-forgot role of this dish: to give the guests a brief respite from the succulent, the savory, and the lavish.

Gather sharp, bright, clear flavors. Seek out small bites that snap and tingle. Embrace novelty. Has your market come into a supply of heirloom carrots in unfamiliar colors? Small fruits and vegetables from afar that quicken the palate? Let them keep company with the celery and the olives, which will taste the better for it.

Use the relish tray to wake up your loved ones and prepare them for the next adventure.

That is what I do, dear hearts. That is my life’s goal. What dish, I ask you, could possibly suit me more?

Yours with Relish,
Mrs. Crosby
Lisbon, Portugal

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One Does It in Public

Dear Hearts,

How did you observe I Love Yarn Day?

I am at present in Spain, on the hunt for the perfect paella and–it goes without saying–the perfect saffron yellow. But I pause to share with you the souvenirs of my own celebration.

Here in Chicago we were kissed by the most perfectly crisp, sunny fall weather. Thirty-five of us gathered in the Boeing Gallery of Millennium Park.

We appeared at first to be no more than an everyday assemblage of visitors until noon sharp, at which moment we caused a spectacle by rising as one and beginning to knit.

As we'd hoped, this caused more than a little comment and curiosity among passersby. Many were in town for the Chicago Marathon (as was one of our number–Kelly Momsen of Yarnology in Winona, Minnesota).  We were only too delighted, of course, to talk about our passion and lure them to join us.

We played a knitting-bag version of "Let's Make a Deal," with prizes of Mrs. Crosby and Lorna's Laces yarns given to those who were first to produce a blue stitch marker, and a length of dental floss for holding lace lifelines.

Everyone received one of our signature Mrs. Crosby luggage tags. Here is one proudly displayed by
Janet and Gail, sisters from Boston who were among the out-of-town knitters we welcomed into the fold.

So golden was the day, and the company, that we lingered in the park until fully two in the afternoon.

I do hope to see you next year, whether in my home city or yours. Or perhaps we shall meet in a place foreign to both of us–but we shall become fast friends, bound together by a love of yarn.

Yours Ever,
Mrs. Crosby
Barcelona, Spain

Friday, September 19, 2014

O, Canada!

Dear Hearts,

One of the delights of visiting Canada–and if you have not yet, you must–is that the nation is so very much what you imagine it ought to be. Friendly, polite, outdoorsy, and unabashedly generous when it comes to handing round the beer.

I fell in love with the idea of Canada as a little girl, curled up on a balcony seat in a fading second-run movie palace, watching Nelson Eddy (as a Mountie with a golden voice) crooning to Jeanette MacDonald in Rose Marie.

At that moment I knew I wanted nothing more than to cross the border into a magic land of moonlit lakes, clear air, and handsome law enforcement officials with perfect pitch.

It has never yet disappointed me.

I cannot myself spend as much time in the gorgeous north as I might wish, so I am over the moon to report that after the most recent Knit Trade Sunday our yarns will be débuting at no fewer than eleven Ontario shops.

Here they are:
AB Originals (Rockwood)
Eliza's Buttons and Yarn (Barrie)
Grey Heron (Collingwood)
Kniterary (Whitby)
Purlin' J's Roving Yarn Company (Kingston)
Serenity Knits (Newmarket)
Sheeps Ahoy (Nepean)
Singing Hearts Studio (Orillia)
Stix and Stones (North Bay)
Sweet Yarns (Sudbury)
The Wool  Boutique (London)
Elsewhere in Canada, the wonderful people of The Needle Emporium–who have been friends from the first–brought us to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Guild Knitters' Fair, where much good company and many fine knitters. You can read all about it (and marvel at the number of suitcases required) if you'll just pop over to the shop's blog.

Must dash now, darlings, as the clock on the mantel indicates it's time to dress for my curling lesson.

Yours Ever,
Mrs. Crosby
Calgary, Alberta

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Fell In with Playful Companions

Dear Hearts,

It does a woman good to sit down at an internet café in Dubrovnik, open her blog and find more than a dozen dauntless souls have joined in her game.

As I expected, our circle of friends does not run short of imagination. I laughed aloud to find myself compared variously to Mary Poppins (quite a compliment), Neville Longbottom's grandmother (ditto), and Lillie Langtry (I blush!).

A good hostess? I do hope so. An optimist? I should say so. A clotheshorse? Guilty, darling. So guilty.

I do hasten to reassure all (including the gentleman himself) that my beloved husband, Dash Crosby, is still very much in the present tense. You may read the story of our first meeting here.

As to the rest–the dark, the fair, the slim, the less so…I think it best at present to leave the veil of mystery in place. Not to mention that veils are very much au courant this season, at least in certain happy quarters where a good hat is still an object of admiration.

Now, as to the winner. Who shall be our winner?

This was our first game, and upon reflection I find myself inclined to dispatch grand prizes (one skein of Carpet Bag, and the "Bettie's Bell" pattern), to three of you:

CanAm, whose suggestion that I nearly toppled a monarchy with a love affair hit terribly close to the mark. (You mustn't ask, dear hearts. One has pledged never to tell.)

Widha, whose evocation of perfect hospitality reminded me of the person whom I wish to be, and hope I sometimes am.

Mommaontherun, who carries off the prize for cleverness with her imaginary (?) conversation with a skein of our yarn. (We thank you for giving it a good home.)

And I also wish to hand Honorable Mentions to…all the rest who entered:



Abigail Goben


Tom T

Amy (Noknotz)


Debbie VanDerMolen (Debbieamy)



For keeping me company here in Croatia, as I sip a flavored soda and ponder where to wander next, I would like to send you tokens of esteem drawn from my Ephemera lines of soap (from Thrive Handcrafts); or gift tags (from a. favorite design).

If you are listed above, I invite you (in the next week or so, please) to be in touch via the e-mail address frolic@mrscrosbyplays.com with a mailing address, so that we may dispatch your prizes with all due haste.

Now, what shall our next game be?

Yours Ever,
Mrs. Crosby
Dubrovnik, Croatia