Picture Book Picks: From Sheep to Sweater

I’ve been working on a big project in the Picture Book section at my library lately. It’s made me think about the fact that you can find a picture book for just about any topic you can imagine. Including, of course, knitting. And spinning. And weaving. (I haven’t found crochet yet, but I’m sure I will.)

Being me, I was drawn to the yarny yarns. Want to hear about a few of them? Of course you do! You know, books make fantastic holiday presents for the kids (and adults, for that matter) in your life. I checked all of these out from my library for review. The Amazon links don’t net anything for me, in case anyone is wondering, since they’re not affiliate links.

The Surprise by Sylvia Van Ommen.

Originally published in the Netherlands as Verrassing, this is a wordless picture book. That’s right, no words, just pictures. Give this one to a pre-reader and have her tell you what’s happening as a scooter-riding sheep turns her own wool into a special sweater for a friend. From shearing to spinning to knitting, it’s all there in the brightly-colored gouache illustrations.

Feeding the Sheep, by Leda Schubert, with pictures by Andrea U’Ren

Step by step, through the seasons of a year, a mother transforms her sheep’s wool into a sweater for her daughter. In each watercolor spread, the little girl asks, “What are you doing?” and gets a brief explanation. By the end of the book, the little girl is ready to take on the tasks herself. This one is especially good for a spinner-to-be.

Farmer Brown Shears his Sheep: a Yarn about Wool, by Teri Sloat, with illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott.

This adorable book is the third in a series about Farmer Brown, and it seems to be sadly out of print. After being shorn and left with only fuzz in the chilly Spring air, the sheep follow Farmer Brown around as he takes the wool to be dyed and spun into yarn. The perplexed sheep end up tangled in the yarn before Farmer Brown realizes what’s going on, but all ends happily once he knits each of them a colorful, comfy cardigan to wear. The bouncy rhythm and easy rhyme, plus the giggle-inducing pictures, make this a winning picture book, so I’m sad to see that it’s only available through third-party sellers on Amazon, and not at all at Powell’s. Get it second-hand, or check it out from your local library to share.

Where I’ve Been, Part III

After leaving Arcadia Knitting with a heavy heart and no new yarn, I had to go back down to the Convention Center to pick up my backpack before going back uptown to my sister’s place.  It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was a little concerned about getting to the bag check before it closed for the day, so I took one of the three cab rides I took during my time in Chicago.

I had stuffed my backpack full of ARCs picked up at the Exhibits, you see.  It was much to heavy to carry all over the place.  And the bag check was free.

Backpack on, it was back to the Loop, then back on the El, and back to my sister’s place to change for the Newbery Banquet.  And then back on the El, back to the Loop, just in time to miss the last shuttle bus. Back in the cab.

I arrived a little bit after the doors opened, completely missing the (cash bar) cocktail hour.  I was seated with a couple of lovely ladies from the incoming Caldecott committee (one of whom works near my in-laws in the San Gabriel Valley), and three very nice gentlemen.  At the first table in my line of sight to the podium sat Elizabeth Bird, whose recap of the whole evening is a must-read.

The food was interesting, but the speeches were fantastic.  And after dinner was the receiving line.  I was behind Elizabeth, and after a few minutes, I realized that directly behind me was Linda Sue Park.  I gushed over Keeping Score a little bit.  And then I had reached the first person in line.

Me and Neil

Neil Gaiman, me, and my Storm Cloud Shawlette, knit out of Tempted Handpainted Glam Grrl.

Everyone was so gracious to the gazillion library-folk streaming through the line. Well, given that Neil Gaiman was at one end of the line and Ashley Bryan was at the other end, maybe “streaming” isn’t the word for it. I got to have a very nice chat with Beth Krommes about toddlers and Goodnight Moonand gushed a bit to Kathi Appelt about The Underneath. I told her that I thought of it as “stealth fantasy”. And Jacqueline Woodson complimented me on my shawlette.

A fabulous evening, but a late one. I made it back to my sister’s place around midnight for another 4-hours-of-sleep night.

Why did I have to get up so early on Monday? So I could do this:


Gaiman was going to be signing at 9 AM at the HarperCollins booth. Two CTA buses got me to the Convention Center by 7 AM. I staked out a spot near the Exhibit Hall entry closest to the booth. The bemused Security Guards told me I’d be waiting a while. I sat down on the carpet and pulled out my travelling sock. The young lady next to me arrived with her mother about 5 minutes later, and a guy arrived about 10 minutes after that. By the time the HarperCollins employees starting showing up, the line had stretched across the room and was confusing quite a few people, who thought there was now a line just to get into the Exhibit Hall. A very nice HarperCollins representative brought out the signs around 8:30. The one in my hand says, “neil gaiman line starts here”. There was another sign for the end of the line. Other than some drama with a fellow who showed up around 8:30 and wanted to jump the line because he had a meeting to run, everyone was very friendly. There was another sock knitter a few people back, and several people commented on the sock.

One even took a picture and posted it to twitter. Please excuse my hair in that photo. It looks better in this one, which was also posted to twitter, but the sock is hiding.

I wanted to get a picture of Neil holding the sock (a la Steph), but the very first thing he said upon arriving was that he was not going to do posed photos, as that was what had held up the line at his previous signing. He did, however, autograph my “line starts here” sign as well as my book. (I cannot express how annoyed I am with myself for not bringing my stamp packet.)

Another couple of sessions, and that was it for my ALA. I crashed at my sister’s around 6 PM and woke up at 7 the next morning, enough time to pack up, go to Joy’s for another lunch, and get to the airport almost exactly one hour before my scheduled departure.

The next day, K, Little Miss, and I drove down to Sea World for a couple of days, followed by a couple of days of laundry and other chores before returning to work.

There hasn’t been much knitting since we’ve been back, just a little bit of test-knitting that isn’t bloggable, and it’s going to be All Cross-Stitch All the Time around here before long.  But maybe poor neglected Miss Honeychurch will finally get some quality time.

Where I’ve Been, Part I

The silence around here has been for one big reason: I was on vacation.  And it was lovely.  I had several days at home (“staycation”), one of which happened to be either our fourth or first wedding anniversary (depending on who’s doing the counting).  Then, I took off for Chicago.  I got my bamboo dpns through security with no problem, and I did this on the flight from Burbank to Phoenix:

Sock in Progress

A toe in the very soft Artsygal Stripes.

I had about three hours between flights in Phoenix, which turned out to be a very good thing.  I was booked on a different airline for the second leg of my flight.  When I got off the little plane from California, the only monitors in the terminal were for my original airline, and I had no idea where to go.  Eventually, someone told me I needed to be in Terminal 2.  Since I didn’t know which terminal I was in, this wasn’t entirely helpful, but I went with it.

I had to go outside, get on a bus, ride to Terminal 2, go through Security again, and find my new gate.  Bless the Airport Volunteer who warned me which bus would go to the Terminals and which bus went to the parking garages first.

And on the flight from Phoenix to Chicago, I did this:

Sock in Progress

A very simple improvised pattern for a toe-up 2×2 rib sock.  At this point, I was about ready to turn the heel.  Unfortunately, after two attempts to do a short-row heel without a bunch of little holes, I came home with a still-unturned sock.  Since the Artsygal yarn is a little thinner than some of the other yarns I’ve used, I think I want to go down to size US1 needles and start over anyway.

When I arrived in Chicago, my sister was there to pick me up in her car.  Ah, the joy of not having to take the Blue Line into the city.  My sister just bought herself a 2-bedroom condo, so I even had a room to myself while staying with her.  She’s so new to the building, her name hasn’t yet been added to the directory in the lobby.  While waiting for her to park her car, though, I did notice this listing:

For Reals?

How would you like A Dumdum for a neighbor?

Actually, my sister’s neighbors seem perfectly pleasant.  At least, the one we met in the elevator was.

My travelling sock accompanied me to the ALA Conference, where I caused a tiny stir by knitting in a signing line, but that’s a tale for another day.


Last week, this was a Jeopardy clue: “It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room…”. I don’t think my answer of “Oh, oh, that book I just got!” would have been accepted.

I am still working on an acceptable swatch for Miss Honeychurch. I’m concerned that if I actually get the right stitch gauge, the fabric will be too loose for me to wear comfortably. This was an unexpected issue, since I normally have to go down a needle size or three to get gauge on socks. Cotton, it seems, inspires me to tighten up on the needles.

I’m in the midst of a Project That Cannot Be Blogged Yet, and very busy with Summer Reading at work, and getting ready to go to Chicago for ALA (which means everything at work has to be set up for someone other than me to run in my absence), and working on some book reviews that I need to send out before leaving town.  And I’m determined to get an entry into the County Fair this year, and the deadline is fast approaching.  So Miss Honeychurch and Mr. Forster must wait on my desk for a little bit.

The Yarn Harlot Does LA

Yesterday was my first Saturday off in a few weeks, and I was busybusybusy. Little Miss and I got a late start on going to our church’s Yard Sale, then walked by another yard sale (with a not so much accurate sign that said “Estate Sale”) where I bought a bunch of buttons. After picking up a cinnamon roll for K, we headed home, and Little Miss went down for a nap.

Then, it was out the door again, this time all by myself, to drive downtown for the Yarn Harlot. It was odd being in the Central Library in a non-work-related situation. I had to borrow K’s library card in order to get my parking validated, since I can’t find my card. (I memorized the number some time ago. The sad thing is that this is the second card I’ve lost. I’d be more concerned about it if I weren’t checking my own account activity on a very regular basis, so I know no one else is using it.) Stephanie was highly entertaining, even while being (unknowingly) threatened by the Giant DPNs of Doom:



She’s not nearly so blurry in real life, but I was three rows from the back of the auditorium. “Get there 10 minutes early,” said K. Yeah. Sure. I was in line 20 minutes before the start time, and I was still nearly in the back row. In fact, I was in just about the same seat I usually occupy during the monthly Book Order meetings. And, yes, that’s a sock she’s knitting during the Q&A time.  My knitting is not so blurry in real life, either, but it’s a test project, so I won’t be putting up a real picture of that until the pattern goes live.

I found out about the test knitting gig through (where else?) Ravelry, where I also found out that the Yarn Pirate Booty Club is open for enrollment. With all of these new opportunities to spend money, I am in search of new financial planning software. I am not loving the Quicken 2004 I’ve been using. Any recommendations for a Mac-OS-X-Tiger-friendly program?


Friday was my day off, so, of course, I spent it at a workshop on Cataloging and Classification. Because that’s just the sort of Partyin’ Librarian I am. The workshop was interesting, and I got to spend some time on the UCLA campus, where they have a potato tree.


Wanna see a close-up? Sure, you do!


See? Potatoes!

I showed people in the workshop that picture (in the little preview window on the camera). They thought it was a joke. But I bet I’m not only one who went home and looked it up and discovered that it’s a Kigelia pinnata, better known as a “Sausage Tree”. I still say potato.

UCLA is a place of many wonders.

The workshop itself was held in a gorgeous reading room lined with bookcases.


What can I say? I love a bookcase that requires a ladder.


And then I looked up.


I realize that this is probably an architectural choice, some sort of deconstructionist approach, but, to me, it just looks they got confused about where the ceiling would go and decided to leave it out.


I also worked on the second Jaywalker sock during the break (when I wasn’t taking pictures of odd vegetation). But, of course, I didn’t think to get a picture of that.