Obsession Thursdays

When last we left Amy, she was in Wales…

…and heartbroken to leave. So much so that within days of returning home from the big trip, she (me, actually) and Brenda had decided we needed to make our Retreat an annual thing. Date is set already: October 5-8, 2012, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. To stay in the loop and hear exactly what we’re planning once we’ve finalized it all, sign up for the list here.

Anyway, I digress. We left off in Wales, with me making friends with Bulmer’s pear cider. Which I hear I might be able to find in the liquor stores in Ontario. I will start looking.

I took a very short flight, with a painfully expensive overage charge on my luggage (£98…not kidding) because I didn’t realize allowances were different for inter-UK flights. Oh well. And when I arrived in Glasgow, only just slightly tipsy from my Bulmer’s, I was greeted by the nicest people in Glasgow, the staff of The Yarn Cake, led by fearless leader Antje. They took me to my hotel, and as the knee was particularly horrible right then, carried my luggage up 2 super-tall flights of stairs to my room. Service above and beyond? You bet. And they were like this all weekend, taking the best possible care of me a teacher could ever hope for. I am spoiled for life, Antje.

Here’s what I found waiting for me in my room:

thistles and roses, project bag and scotch, chocolate sweeties and a fab mug

They also brought me my first Scottish meal: pie and chips. The best chips I’ve ever had. Was reminded tonight that it might be the lard they were cooked in. If that is true then mmmmm, lard.

The next three days were a blur unlike any I’ve experienced in my travels. I had a lovely lightweight tour of the city by car, since I couldn’t walk more than a few steps at a time, and got to peek at the unbelievable House for an Art Lover, a house recently built based on plans drawn up by Charles Rennie Mackintosh [whose work I adore]. Here are some snaps:

This is a piano. A ridiculous piano.

I adore the rose motif

what a beautiful bit of ironwork

Paisley obelisks that look like something quite different. Ahem.

The house was fantastic, in the old sense of the world, and a little more twee than I expected. A fascinating afternoon’s visit! Was quite bothered by a motif in the light fixtures that the people who built the house insisted on changing from Rennie Mackintosh’s original design. Dudes, you’re not him; don’t redesign him. But look at this room!

the little motif in the light fixtures? not authentic. why?

End of rant.

Anyway, after this fun bit of whimsy, Antje took me, Carol Feller [!] and her fabulous staff out to The Ubiquitous Chip for an extraordinary dinner. One of my favorite memories of this trip is of four of us cuddled into fur-covered chairs near the outdoor heater, under the roof overhang so we stayed dry, looking at this view, each with a pint of something yummy at hand.

Ashton Lane, beautiful in the rain

And then inside for my first haggis [this one with venison!], and of course, the essential sidekicks: neeps and tatties.

I finished 2 of the three things on this plate. Guess which?

And my first sticky toffee pudding, but not my last. It was unbelievable. Oh, sigh. Here is a nice picture of Carol, who is not pudding, but very sweet anyway. [Oh, stop groaning. It’s 1:20am as I write this. I’m punchy.]

The lovely Carol Feller in her own Killybegs sweater

After that, we got down to the business at hand, which was the Glasgow School of Yarn, an endeavour dreamed up by Antje and brought to fruition insanely professionally, especially for an event of this size and it was their first ever. Really impressed, and I heard the same from the students and vendors as well. It looked something like this:

GSoY held in a church designed by Rennie Mackintosh, of course!

That little black thing in front of my iPad? That's my new pico projector. SO COOL.

I got to use my brand-new pico projector (a Cinemin Swivel) to deliver my presentations on this trip. I’ve wanted something like this forEVER and now that it exists and is affordable, I jumped. It needs a very dark room and the text needs to be larger than it would on a big, expensive projector, but it works absolutely brilliantly. Everyone was stunned by the coolness of this thing.

As a bonus, it also lets you project movies, so I got to watch Lost in Austen in my room later that week. Love this thing.

My students, busily swatching for their own shawl designs

It was a great three days, though it went by so fast, and I really hope I get to go back next year. There are rumours of a return of the GSoY, and I hope they’re true! I also left my new BFF Sharon there, and I owe her a pint. Or three.

I promised you Dublin as well in this post, but as it’s Knitty deadline time, I think I’ll have to save that for next week. Besides, it’s fun to stretch this out a bit.

See you next week!

Party in the UK, eh?

I just got back from the biggest trip of my life. Almost a month in the UK and Ireland, coinciding with a big milestone birthday.

It was a teaching trip, which meant a lot of pre-planning and arranging, and it also meant that I got to meet more knitters from places I hadn’t been to before. This trip, I went to Wales, Scotland, Ireland and ended up in London. A really nice itinerary.

Let’s start with Wales. Wales [specifically West Wales] is the home of my friend Brenda and her partner, Tonia. Hub and I got to know them on the Sea Socks cruise in 2008, and we’ve been close friends ever since. We’d even travel with them — and that says a lot.

Brenda learns to use Instagram while waiting for tea to brew

I arrived in Wales the day after my 21st anniversary with the hub, and with a bunged-up knee that [frustratingly] plagued me the rest of the trip and is still not right (a little acupuncture a few days ago is helping, though).

I spent the run-up to P3 on Brenda’s couch, knitting and watching Downton Abbey right from episode 1. I fell in love with their cat, Jasper, who is now my cat, or at least Brenda allows me to believe this, which is a kindness.

Jasper, my cat who lives in Wales.

We took day trips to nearby towns where the streets are paved with cobbles and everyone is nice to you, whether they’ve met you before or not.

Smack dab in the middle of town, history. I love the UK.

It’s true. Everyone is nice in Wales. Hub and I want to live there.

Brenda took me to Cardigan, where the opportunity for puns was rampant, but the cardigans were scarce. She took me to visit the most beautiful Castle gardens; even at the end of its season, it was exquisite:

Huge plants, with Brenda there to show they're taller than peoples!

faery ring?

I have a thing for water lilies. Water lilies in a Welsh castle pond? Swoon.

Me, being a tiny elf. (I'm not fooling anyone, am I?)

Take that, Downton!

Brenda and I had decided that, instead of me teaching a simple afternoon class in Wales, she and I should plan a lace-knitting retreat where we could both teach. So we did. We called it Plug+Play in Pembrokeshire, or P3 for short. As the week went on and the retreat was fast approaching, we had a few little loose ends to tie up. This one was the most fun: packing the goodie bags!

Brenda sorts the yarn, provided by AlishaGoesAround, Anzula and Indigodragonfly, destined for the P3 goodie bags...a delightfully challenging job!

Boxes and boxes of well-stuffed goodie bags

And then it was time to drive to Beggars Reach, home of the P3 retreat.

The view from our classroom. Not too shabby.

14 knitters joined us from the US and all over the UK in a beautiful Welsh country setting, and we had an unqualified blast.

We talked about my Plug+Play lace principle and applied it to shawl design. We brainstormed over graph paper [they call it squared over there], stitch pattern books, and lots and lots of tea.

Lian, Karen, Laurie and Kathleen, making lace magic happen at P3 (look at the backdrop for our learning environment)

Vandy sits back and examines her work in progress

We learned how to put lace into a sweater pattern without tearing your hair out. We exchanged US/UK comparisons on expressions, holidays, customs, traditions. We bonded over Downton Abbey and Doctor Who. We ate yummy foods, including a traditional Sunday dinner (at the traditional lunchtime).

Roast beef with potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding (the veg came soon after, in heaping bowls)

Pavlova for dessert. I knew I should have ordered it.

We knit a lot. We laughed even more. We had the most wonderful time.

the knitters of P3

A few accounts of what it was like from the participants’ perspectives can be found at the pages of Catherine and Kathleen, and the video that Laurie took.

Leaving was hard. We were super-tired, but the good kind of tired that happens after something important goes well and you did your best. Brenda and I talked about next year the whole way back, and Tonia put up with us. She’s good like that. We talked about the people and how much we’d miss them. It was a pretty fabulous first retreat.

So yeah, next year, in some form. I promise details when they are available.

After that, there was little time left in Wales for me, which started to elicit physical responses. I was already homesick for it and hadn’t even left yet. So Brenda popped me back into the car and off we went to Hay-on-Wye, in search of this place. I was so surprised to have missed it last year when we were there, and was determined not to let it happen again.

I also had a short booky wishlist: I wanted an Arnold Bennett Penguin paperback and maybe something sailing-y for the hub. Both of those were easily achieved in Richard Booth’s Bookshop, a place I wanted to move in to and never leave:

This is a BOOKSHOP, people. Can you stand it?

But no one had heard of Merchant & Mills. No one. Until one sweet shopkeeper offered to use her phone (our mobiles were useless in town for some reason) and call them. Turns out, they’re not in Hay-on-Wye. They’re 20 miles down the road. Cough, cough. Unimpressed with this marketing tactic (labelling your shop as coming from somewhere posh when it actually isn’t), we headed to the home of solace, Shepherd’s. Where we had what may go down in my lifetime as one of the best lunches ever. It looked like this:

Ginger ice cream with lemon polenta cake at Shepherd's.

Brenda and I are still talking about this. Yes, ice cream, cake and coffee for lunch. What of it? (Did I mention that the ice cream was made from sheep’s milk? Because it was.)

The last day in Wales was meant to be me and Brenda and Tonia booting about Cardiff, seeing Doctor Who sights. But with my knee as it was, we chose another day of relaxing on the couch, with much icing of knee, knitting and lots of Jasper love.

This was my view all afternoon. You tell me YOU could resist this cat? It's impossible.

And then off I went to the Cardiff airport, where I met my new best friend: Bulmer’s Pear cider. I would spend quite a few happy evenings with a glass of this stuff as the trip went on. (I’m not much of a drinker, but I do like cider.)

Yummy. I don't usually get on planes a bit tipsy, but this time....

 And we’ll leave the trip here. See you next Thursday for installment 2, which will include my next stop Scotland, and Ireland, which followed soon after!

Namaste Giveaway!

I’ve never known a knitter who didn’t love bags.  The lovely folks at Namaste have donated one of their fabulous Mini Messenger bags for a giveaway. If you’d like to add to your bag collection, this giveaway is for you. Prize Value $85.

Mini Messenger stylish and practical!

The usual rules apply for our giveaway: Leave a comment on this post before midnight, eastern time, on Sunday, November 6, 2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If s/he answers correctly s/he will win our prize.

Obsession: Birthday Cake

Oh come on, admit it. You’re obsessed with birthday cake, aren’t you?

I know I am.

Jillian is.

And I know for certain that Amy is – particularly adorable  little birthday cupcakes.

And today, our lovely Amy, our editor in chief, gets to indulge her passion…

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you... happy birthday dear Amy, happy birthday to you!

For today it is HER BIRTHDAY!

Sending happy birthday wishes and hugs and kisses and cupcakes with extra sprinkles.


It’s a big birthday, a decade birthday – Amy might be feeling a little like this about it


because turning 20 is hard. So leave her your Happy Birthday wishes in the comments!


Obsession Thursday: Travel Knitting and a Giveaway

Everything a knitter needs for a long plane trip - a pillow and a new lace project.

I recently made a quick trip to the UK for a family birthday and reunion event. It’s a long, long plane ride from where I live…

The most stressful part of any travel, for me, is choosing my travel knitting. Figuring out what to take my brother as a birthday gift, and what to wear and how to pack lightly for changeable weather is easy…

The big decision is what to knit while I’m away. You need really engaging knitting for the boring parts of the trip – the long waits at the airport, the train rides, the time spent waiting for your brother to get finish his phone call before you can leave for lunch… And then you need auto-pilot knitting (pun intended) – knitting you can work on while you’re chatting, at the pub, and while you’re in the car without making yourself motion sick.

For engaging knitting, I like lace, as the yarn required doesn’t take up much room in your bag, and you get hours of fun from a single skein.

Don't get in a car without at least one sock project.

For auto-pilot knitting, I like a plain stocking stitch sock (or two)… I can tuck a sock in progress into my purse to carry around, and it’s easy to pick up for a few minutes’ knitting here and there.

I always have a sock or two on the go, so that decision was easy. The question was what to take for my engaging knitting. I added an extra level of complication to this decision: do I take a design-project-in-progress? I am currently working on a new lace design, but I wasn’t confident that all the details were worked out, and I was worried I would get stalled without my stitch libraries.

So I looked back at my project queue and and chose something I’ve been meaning to make for at least 5 years: the Super-Spiral Shawl from Meg Swansen’s fabulous A Gathering of Lace book. I slipped the patterninto a sheet protector, grabbed some extra graph paper just in case I decided to make tweaks on the fly, and wound up the yarn.

Well-prepared for even the longest flight delay.

But the hardest decision of all is the discretionary knitting… Extra knitting just in case I finish what I’m working on. In case I’m not enjoying the projects I’ve chosen. Extra knitting in case I get delayed coming back and need more to do. Emergency knitting, if you will. This can be tricky – you need to balance your need for engaging knitting with auto-pilot knitting. I chose to take along another sock project, but a cabled sock, so it could be both reasonably easy and reasonably engaging.

So yes, to recap: for four days away I had four socks and a lace project that requires 800m+ of yarn. Needless to say, I didn’t run out.

Whether you need a travel project, or are just looking for something to add to your fall wardrobe, we have a Lisa Souza sock yarn giveaway!

Gratitude by Brenda Patipa

Gratitude, a lighter version

The prize is a Gratitude sock kit: enough Lisa Souza yarn for both versions of this lovely sock design from our First Fall issue.

Dark version: Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks, Cashmere Silk Fingering; [55% Bombyx Silk, 45% Cashmere, 400 yards per 2 oz. skein]; Marionberry; 1 skein

Light version: Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks, Sock!; [75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon, 450 yards per 4 oz. skein]; Zazu; 1 skein

Prize value: $50

The usual rules apply. Leave a comment to this post before midnight, eastern time, on Monday, September 12, 2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If s/he answers correctly  they will win our prize.

Thanks to Lisa Souza for the prize!

Obsession Thursdays: Knitting Books

It’s Jillian and I have a knitting book obsession. I have a lot, I’ve been buying them since the late 80’s. They have moved with me 5 times, growing every time.

I’ve never counted them:

Newer knitting books and magazines, also spinning books

I don’t alphabetize them, just sort of group them by topic or whim. I almost never loan them out.

Knit design books and stitch dictionaries

Some of my books have to live in the basement, which I’m reorganizing. They keep my yarn company.

The 80's & 90's. Lots of Rowan, including the magazines starting with #1

Even though I get review books for Knitty, I still buy a lot of books every year.

Review book stash in the process of reorganization, plus older magazines.

Right now I’m stuck on stitch dictionaries of all eras and all of the self published and small press knitting books that lots of designers are doing.

What are your favorite knitting books?


How to choose your first ukulele: an essay by your uke-obsessed Editor.

Hana Hou!

Well, it’s the day after the big Spring+Summer Surprise went live and one of the patterns in there was not much of a surprise for anyone who follows my Twitter feed: a felted case for a ukulele or two. [Kudos to designer Wendy Bernard who turned a whimsical idea into a functional and fabulous pattern that I hope lots of you will make!]

One might wonder what took us so long to serve up something uke-ish. I admit that I was hesitant, because I try not to make Knitty only about what I love personally, but what I think our readers will love. Of course it doesn’t hurt if I love it too.

a little purple Mahalo started it all

But Jillian kept urging me to get a uke case pattern designed and in the magazine and I finally saw the wisdom in her idea. Because it’s not just me that loves the uke.

Ukuleles are experiencing a resurgence not seen since the 1950s, with movies like The Mighty Uke showing to packed houses, and musicians from Train to Amanda Palmer to Eddie Vedder reclaming the little 4-stringed wonder. I’ve been playing the uke since 2008, when I traded a skein of yarn for a purple Mahalo. It was this video that made me want to learn how to play the uke. [aside: yes, that’s Bret of Flight of the Conchords, 2nd from the left.] I have been very fortunate to find a ukulele community that meets and plays together weekly, and thanks to these sessions, I’m getting better all the time.

But what is the point of this post? It’s to tell you that you can do it too. The ukulele is absolutely the friendliest, easiest instrument to learn on this planet. Easy to learn, hard to master, sure. But you can learn 3 or 4 chords, and be playing along with a group in less than an hour. And with a little practise, your repertoire of chords will grow, just like mine did. With the uke, I have found it’s about enjoying music, not about being a kickass performer. It’s about F.U.N.

People ask me what kind of uke to start with, so that’s really the point of this post. This is my best advice for those starting out with the uke with zero experience. There’s no way to know if you’ll like the uke until you play one for a while. So I recommend you choose one of the colored Mahalo soprano ukes, like the purple one shown above, at a cost of around $20.

First thing, replace the crappy strings it’s wearing with a set of Aquila Nylgut strings. This will make a world of difference. If you’re new to stringed instruments like I was, don’t be surprised that the strings don’t hold their tuning for long. They’re plastic and they will stretch for a while until they settle in.

Next, download a chord chart, and learn some basic chords. C, F, G will get you a long way. Add A, D and E7 and you’ve got a lot to play with. Visit Chordie and type in some song names, and you’ll find things to start playing!

I’ll skip the part about playing as much as you can, because if you like the uke, you will do that. I’ll also skip the part about googling and finding [hopefully] a uke group near you. If you don’t find one, you can always start one, right? Think of it like a musical S&B night.

I meet my Pono Tenor at the now-closed Music Guy Mic's...and fall in love at first sight.

You love the uke and are ready to upgrade? The next place to start looking is the $100-300 range. You can go up into thousands of dollars with ukes, but to get something really playable for a relative novice, you don’t need to spend more than $300ish.

Brands I recommend are Kala, Ohana, Pono. Kala is most affordable and has some fun models, if aesthetics are your thing [I like this plaid model]. Ohana is a factory-made uke with good quality control and really nice acoustics [my first really good-sounding uke was this Ohana Sopranino, which — because it’s so tiny — often travels with me]. Pono is the factory-made (but hand-finished) offshoot of the Ko’olau brand of Hawaiian ukes, and I love their quality. I have a Pono Tenor that I play all the time lately.

thanks to ukuleletricks.com for this great image

Who should you buy from? I recommend a uke-focused seller, because they will usually check and adjust the uke before they sell it to you. This is a good thing. I have personally dealt with and would recommend the online sellers Mim’s Ukes and Uke Republic.

When in doubt, put your hands on the uke you want to buy and play it first. Does it feel good? Do you like the sound of it? That’s what matters. That’s what happened to me in the pic above. I had planned to JUST LOOK in the shop [stop laughing] and after a few strums, I was lost. I played a lot of ukes that day, most more expensive than this one, but this one felt just right in my hands and made sounds that made me happy.

image via Lamorinda Music (thanks!)

What about all the sizes? How do you choose? This is easy: play them all. Ukes come [from smallest to largest] in Sopranino, Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone sizes. Baritone uses the same tuning as a guitar and has a really deep sound, but still just 4 strings. The others use either GCEA tuning [my preferred] or ADF#B tuning, and sound like you imagine: the smaller ukes have higher-pitched voices. The most important point, in my opinion, is how the fretboard feels under your fingers. Some are made wide or thick, some are thin and flat, and every model feels different. The one that feels best to you is the right one. It’s as personal a choice as the kind of knitting needle you like best.

Lamorinda Music has a great explanation of the different sizes of ukes here.

KoAloha Soprano ukulele, in solid koa. Ahhh.

And I’m adding this in as an afterthought [December 2011], but not an unimportant one: if I had an unlimited budget, what ukulele brand would I buy? KoAloha, hands down. The sound these beautiful hand-made Hawaiian ukes produce is warm, like a tropical hug. I have a Noah [their sopranino, aka smaller than the soprano], and have watched my uke friends fall in love with the KoAloha sound as well. We now have a Soprano and a long-necked Concert sitting next to me at the uke jam, and across the aisle, a Tenor or two. There are more expensive ukes, but I don’t like them as well as I do the KoAlohas, and I’m not alone. 

One more thing: there are tons of online ukulele resources to help you along on your journey. I’ve spent a lot of time at the Ukulele Underground forums, reading back posts and asking questions when a google wouldn’t suffice. Lots of helpful people there. There are tons more places to explore. Google away!

Remember: ukes are happier in bunches. If you find you love the uke, teach someone else. Pass it on. Don’t be shy.

Sheeping and Woolling in Maryland

I love a good fiber festival and I haven’t been to one in a few years. When my friend Jennie the Potter invited me to join her booth crew in Maryland, I decided it was time for a return visit!

Everyone talks about Rhinebeck, and I’ve been to and loved Rhinebeck New York’s Sheep & Wool festival many times. It’s got a country-gone-urban vibe that’s very different from what I’ve experienced at Maryland’s Sheep and Wool Festival.

The Maryland festival [MDSW] is, frankly, huge. Very well attended this year — crowds lined up for the awesome branded merchandise with the festival logo [see poster at left] long before the show even opened Saturday morning. Barns full of every kind of sheep and many other fiber-bearing animals amused kids of all ages. Sunday was remarkable for the number of moms being ushered around the fair on Mother’s Day, and pairs of bewildered sons and daughters trying to find just the right thing to give their mamas.

Me? I spent much of the weekend at Jennie the Potter’s booth, helping write up sales and find her beautiful hand-thrown pottery new homes. I love getting to spend time with my friends this way, and having a home base at the fair means a lot of Knitty readers stopped by and got one of the new 2011 Knitty buttons. [Right now, the only way to get one is to meet me at an event somewhere…upcoming events for this year include Sock Summit 2011 and Vogue Knitting Live in LA.]

While waiting in line for the obligatory pit lamb sandwich, I heard the beginnings of the Parade of Sheep nearby. Did you know that there were originally 4 breeds of sheep that all current sheep descend from, and only one of these original breeds remains relatively unchanged? It’s the Bighorn Sheep. Anyway, I had to get back to the booth, but next year, I’m going to grab a spot in the bleachers and watch all the different breeds go by with the interesting commentary to match!

I leave you with a few snapshots of my weekend. Did you go to the festival? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Yes, I know that's not a sheep. It's an alpaca.

an excellent motto for the weekend!

Jennie's hand-thrown and carved mugs...they're fabulous

pluckyfluff -- free spinning lessons all weekend!

matching woolmark tattoos

some of my haul from the weekend: a new Dyak Swan spindle, Bullens Wullens tussah silk, yak down from Bijou Basin Ranch and silk/yak fiber from Shadeyside Fibers. plus a new Jennie cup to hold my spindles.

And for a great video of the weekend, visit this week’s entry at Knitter’s Review. You might recognize someone around the 5 minute mark.

Congratulations to our Denise Needles winner: Anna from Illinois!

Obsession: Knitting & Television

All prepped for a long (and early) morning of TV viewing.

Many serious knitters are inveterate television watchers; I certainly am.

Knitting makes me feel less guilty about sitting on the couch watching TV; watching TV help pass the time when you’re knitting.

What I watch is very much affected by what I’m knitting, and what I’m knitting is very much affected by what I’m watching.

If I’m knitting something challenging – something that requires focus and attention – I’ll watch something that I’m either not very interested in, or that doesn’t require much attention. I know a lot of knitters who wholeheartedly embrace their partners’ sports addictions for this reason; if you’re not that into hockey, you can get a lot of good knitting done during the season. Me, I watch a lot of procedural mystery shows – they have a comfortably predictable structure, and if you miss a few minutes, chances are you’ll be able to figure out what’s going on. In addition, I find that I can usually get by just listening to the dialog, and therefore can look at my knitting instead of the screen.

But if I really want to look at – and enjoy – what’s going on on the screen, I need knitting that doesn’t require any attention at all.

A plain and simple stocking stitch sock works brilliantly for me for these situations. And that’s precisely what I’ll be knitting in front of the TV tomorrow morning.

After all, I believe there’s something good on…


Obsession Thursday: Audio Books

I listen to a lot of audio books. I still love being read to. I listen when I knit and spin —  it helps to focus me on my work. I listen when I do laundry or clean the house – it’s my version of Calgon, Take Me Away. I listen when I can’t sleep or wake up restless;  it’s a great way to have company at 3 am.

I know a lot of other knitters and spinners listen to audio books too, so Amy and I decided to share what we’re listening to and like. Every few weeks one of us will post our thoughts on an audio book or two.

A story set in early New York

Clara and Mr Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, $45

Clara Driscoll heads up the women’s department at Tiffany and Co., she is a talented artist and a champion of her staff. She’s also the person who came up with the idea for the iconic Tiffany leaded lampshades. She spends most of her working life striving and growing in her artistic expression while fighting for the right to be recognized as a designer. She has a close circle of Bohemian friends at the boarding house where she lives who support her in her creative and political endeavors, and she in theirs. For me, Clara’s story was interesting particularly the passages about  her design process, but especially fascinating was the story of the unfolding history of New York and women in the workplace and the turn of the century.

Actress Kimberly Farr portraying Clara and her circle of acquaintances and co-workers with a deft hand. She reads Clara in a flatish Midwestern accent, slow and steady, while her cadre of immigrant co-workers get accents soft and believable.  This book doesn’t feel performed. Every time I started up the story again it felt like picking up the phone to a good friend, familiar and comforting.