A Little Reading With Your Knitting?

A few posts ago, I posed this question: Are you a knitter who enjoys reading while you knit? Do you take your knitting to the movies and click away in the dark while the film rolls? When you go out for a meal with friends, are you knitting even as you wait for your food to arrive?

Stockinette Rules For Knitterly Multi-Tasking

For knitting under these circumstances, I’ve always preferred an easy project that doesn’t require too much of my attention. Stockinette is in many ways ideal; on its own with no multi-tasking, it can be the ultimate bore. But when my attention is divided and I need to focus visually on something else, stockinette is just the thing.

Habu Love

These gorgeous fibers from Habu entered my stash at Stitches West this February. Tsumugi Silk with its slubbed perfection, Wool Stainless Steel in all its tensile glory, and Kusaki Zome  with its gorgeous sheen and dry, crunchy hand. Oh, how I love them. The clean orchidacious colors are the icing on the cake.

The fibers themselves are so interesting that I didn’t want to use them in a project with complicated stitches or texture, although they would certainly work well enough for those pursuits. As I thought more about my Knitting-While-Reading project, the Habu yarns captured my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I decided to work with them on a larger needle than their fine gauge might suggest; in this case, a US size 6. With yarn so fine, the airy openness of the Stockinette stitch is lovely.

Simple But Effective

Elegant Simplicity became my mantra. I wanted a simple project, but not quite as straightforward as a scarf. The photo below might suggest that this is exactly what I wound up making, but that assumption would be wrong. With enough of the Habu yarns to make a garment, I set my sights a bit higher. Taking advantage of the knitted fabric’s wonderful soft drape, I settled on the idea of gathers. Simple construction to be sure; the tunic will be made up of only two pieces cleverly assembled with seaming and ruching that takes advantage of the fabric’s best qualities.

Stay tuned! This is a vacation project that I’m knitting while reading, and it will be completed upon my return next week!

Knitgrrl Rides Again

Shannon Okey, otherwise known as Knitgrrl, is probably a genius. Anybody doubting the veracity of that statement should take a look at her new book, The Knitgrrl Guide To Professional Knitwear Design. Here it is:


When it showed up in my mailbox a few days ago, I stayed up til 2 AM devouring every page. And since that first read-through, I’ve skimmed it at least half a dozen times more. 

Although I am one of the “industry professionals” whose interview is included among the 30 in her Guide, I learned so much from the rest of them, not to mention Shannon’s own chapters that are chock-full of valuable insights. Wow! I’m impressed.

A few of the designers featured in my book Brave New Knits are also among the interviewees in Shannon’s book, but the great thing is that they all have had such amazing career trajectories that there is virtually no duplication of information!

Knitting While Reading

Or should that be reading while knitting?

A group of us were sitting around the other evening talking about knitting (what else?), and one member of the group asked if anybody had figured out how to read a book while knitting. Now, most of us already watch TV while we knit and don’t think anything of it. Easy-peasy, right? But reading seems to require a whole new level of multi-tasking proficiency. It turned out that I was the only person sitting around that table who has been known to read and knit simultaneously.

Here’s my secret:

In a word: Stockinette. In another word: Garter. If the knitting project on my needles is worked predominantly in either Stockinette or Garter stitch, I am perfectly capable of reading a book at the same time – probably because I could do those two stitches in my sleep, so reading doesn’t feel like much of a stretch. Anything more complicated or demanding such as cables or lace, however, and I have to close the book and concentrate on the knitting.

The miraculous thing about knitting a long stretch of Stockinette or Garter while reading a good book is that by the time I finish a chapter and take a look back down at my knitting, a huge amount of progress has been made. It always astonishes me that the muscle memory in my hands can take over like that. Makes me wonder what else my hands might get into while my attention is elsewhere… such as the cookie jar, the chocolate stash, etc.

The Single Most Important Tool for Reading-While-Knitting Success:

In my opinion, this simple hands-free bookmark is your insurance policy against books that seem hell-bent on slamming shut all by themselves, thereby losing your place just when you were getting to the good part. A friend gave me one of these years ago and it is still my favorite bookmark ever. Yes, you do have to stop knitting momentarily to turn the page, but it’s worth it.

A Project To Facilitate Reading While Knitting:

We all want them; those projects requiring so little attention that we can focus without worry on our favorite TV program, or keep our hands busy on a long car trip but still be able to make conversation with the driver, or occupy us during a long flight (but allow us to ignore a snoring seatmate).

As it happens, I am working on one of those right now, made out of this gorgeous laceweight slubbed tsumugi silk from the geniuses at Habu:

I’m picturing something drapey and fluid, a tunic perhaps. Knit on large-ish needles (US size 6 or 7?) to render the finished garment translucent and cool. Gathers or ruching or smocking; whatever the fabric demands to create a sense of movement and simple elegance. Let’s see what I come up with.

I’ll be on vacation next week, and have already warned my family that I might not join them for every single activity: the zipline tour/swim with dolphins/sunset cruise (well, maybe just not the zipline tour…) kinds of things, so that I can simply relax (now there’s a novel concept). Lie around, free up my imagination, play with this silk, and see what happens.


Never Too Much Shawl

I’m loving this shawl so much I just had to share a couple more photos:

Let’s take a closer look at that, shall we? Kieran Foley’s Emily Dickinson shawl pattern was a great starting point, but I had fun putting my own spin on it.

Kim’s gorgeous Whisper Lace Merino from Woolen Rabbit doesn’t hurt either! I have a pretty dove gray dress for which I’ve looked everywhere to find a suitable wrap – and now I have one. 

Love Bites Up

Love Bites Neckwarmer and Fingerless Gloves

If you’ve been on my Ravelry Designer page within the last 48 hours, you may have noticed that these patterns are up for sale. As promised, you can purchase them as a set for $7.00, or individually for $4.00 apiece.

In addition, way past my bedtime two nights ago I uploaded them to my Pattern Store on this site. The link routes you to PayPal to complete the purchase. I hope you’ll enjoy these projects – because even if you are not a fan of the Twilight books/movies, or the True Blood TV series, this is a project to love for its own sake.

Do Vampires Have A Sense of Humor?

And did you notice those brilliant red “drop of blood” buttons to fasten the neckwarmer? Resistance was futile, but they were selected with tongue firmly in cheek. Equally true for the toothsome (OK, a fang is a fang is a fang) “Shark’s Tooth” lace border that edges both the neckwarmer and the fingerless gloves.

This craze for all things vampire-ish seems to me to demand a sense of humor! That’s also the inspiration behind my cable choice for both projects; the X-O-X-O represents that strange attraction that humans seem to feel for vampires, and vice versa (at least according to the movies and TV shows that feature them).


Do Vampires Knit?

If you are an intermediate skilled knitter, or even an adventurous beginner, the Love Bites ensemble is designed to be only moderately challenging but provides a relatively quick reward for taking your knitting skills to the next level.

And just a reminder; the 1st, 13th, and 25th purchasers of one or both of these patterns will receive a skein (of my choosing) of indie dyed yarn. I’ll PM you so I can get your mailing details! Actually, Christina C. was the very first knitter to bite (hehehe!) when she purchased the neckwarmer two days ago, so she will receive a skein of luscious merino wool from Fearless Fibers.

Agapanthus means “Goose” in Gardenese

Every summer, among the dozens of agapanthus buds stirring in the front garden, we get a few of these mutants:

But this summer it’s a bonanza.

Every once in a while I am struck by the similarity between plant and animal life forms, and these gooseneck agapanthus buds crack me up. I do the same double-take when I see someone in Craftyland has knit up life-size, anatomically correct fruit and vegetables, space aliens, or sea creatures out of yarn.

But then, I am easily entertained.

My Favorite Accessory

In conversation with eyeglasses-wearing, outrageously creative Kim Werker the other day, I began to reflect on my own love for eyeglasses and how they have come to represent, in a couple of weird ways, my own creativity.

Yes, it’s strange, but I feel naked without them. I think better when I’m wearing them, or at the very least when they’re pushed up onto the top of my head, which is where they go when I need to read something.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a design for a knitted, felted eyeglass case. Something chic but functional. Cruising around Etsy, I saw a couple that are similar to what I have in  mind, such as this lovely horizontal version with a Swarovski crystal button embellishment, created by MaisonMilli:

I also really like this felted one by bonniegoldingpurses:

Those little roses are adorable, and the no-sew aspect is very appealing. Time to put on my creative thinking cap on and see how I can improve upon these ideas!  A hand-knit eyeglass case (or two or three) would be wonderful, and felting seems like the best way to give it some structure to protect the glasses within.

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was two years old, which might explain why it feels so natural to wear them, and so unnatural to face the world without them. At first, their purpose was to correct a lazy eye. One of the many reasons I will always love my mother is that when I was that toddler wearing the pink cat’s-eye glasses (with tiny silver stars in the corners! Fashionable even then, folks…), she worked with me both morning and evening on exercises to strengthen that lazy eye.

I have no recollection of that fluffy kitty I am holding in the photo above. Was it a muff? I am wearing a coat, so it must have been cold out. My favorite doll was my Raggedy Ann, and it’s hard to imagine this stuffed kitten usurping her place in my affections.

I have my mother to thank to this day for my improved vision, for which I am even more grateful knowing that the prevailing wisdom in those Mad Men days was apparently to operate on the lazy eye or risk losing the vision altogether.

Mom nixed the operation and put all her effort into getting that toddler me to concentrate on strengthening the eye muscles through a series of boring but necessary exercises that ultimately worked. Thank you, Mom!

Notwithstanding a brief flirtation with contact lenses in my twenties, I have worn glasses throughout my adult life. While I no longer have that gigantic pair from the 80’s (big shoulder pads and bigger hair were only two symptoms of the craze for everything oversized back then!) with lenses the size of a windshield, it’s obvious from the photo below that my color preferences have been consistent: either red or black frames work for me. I definitely opt for the squinchier variety now, as long as my lineless trifocal prescription can fit into them.

Glasses are definitely my favorite accessory (not counting a hand-knit accessory or garment, of course). And, of course, they bring the world into focus.

Color Me Pink and Green

I make a lot of bouquets out of whatever is blooming in my garden, and love having fresh flowers in the house as well as outside my windows. During the spring and summer months there are lots of possibilities, sometimes a seemingly infinite variety of options to combine. Friends of mine, aware of my flower obsession, have enabled me with gifts of vases and other vessels to contain these bouquets.

While I don’t pretend to have any special skill in flower arranging, every bouquet is a soul-satisfying opportunity to play with color and texture – and these are driving forces in my life. From my 20 years as an interior designer to my current and equally long-standing passion for knitting and beautiful fibers, the visual feasts of my garden and my yarn stash are what make me so happy to jump out of bed in the morning.

This particular arrangement includes pink calla lilies, astilbe, and pink yarrow, a single fat magenta rose paired with a cluster of equally intense geraniums, and leaves that range from chartreuse to bottle green. It’s a decidedly Lilly Pulitzeresque color combination, but one that works in both flower combinations AND yarn:

For all that I love color, it’s surprising that I do virtually no Fair Isle or other colorwork in  my knitting. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, but that I am still so enamored of the textural possibilities in cables and lace. While I sometimes play with color combinations such as those above, time and again when choosing a new project, I return to my purist roots and gravitate toward the solid and semi-solid colors in my yarn stash. They work especially well with the textural stitches I enjoy building into the projects I design.

Love Bites

Just in time for the release of the third installment of the Twilight movie series (wow, is that ever a franchise!), here is my contribution to the ever-growing library of Twilight-inspired knitting projects. Please say hello to “Love Bites,” a pair of projects that includes a cozy side-buttoned neckwarmer and a pair of practical yet pretty fingerless mitts. The cynical among my readers should feel free to emphasize the “Bites”, while Twilight fans will no doubt prefer to come down on the “Love.” Both groups will undoubtedly pick up on the pun – we have X-O-X-O cables winding around the length of the neckwarmer and running up the back of each mitt, and both projects are embellished with a deliberately fang-like lace edging. 

Each project requires less than one skein of Sundara’s lovely Silky Merino; I used roughly one and a half skeins to complete both. If your own personal Twilight fan wears mitts but not neckwarmers, or the other way around, it’s easy enough to make just one of the projects. Some may consider the set a bit too matchy-matchy; others will love the idea of creating a set that – despite the odds – simply belongs together, just like Bella and Edward. 

The combination of X-O-X-O central cables and an easy sawtooth (ok, yes, ‘fangs’) edging makes this a wonderful pair of projects for the knitter who really wants to master cable and lace skills by tackling an intermediate project. I-cord button loops (and if my choice of little round, red, ‘drop-of-blood’ buttons doesn’t work for you, feel free to choose alternative ones you really love) secure the buttons that run vertically up the edge of the neckwarmer.

Readers of my blog already know that I have a real thing for Sundara’s glorious yarns. The semi-solid colors in this silk and merino blend were the real inspiration for the projects. Her wonderfully subtle palette of dusky reds, purples, and pinks spoke to me of mystery, romance, and forbidden love; this was definitely a project where the yarn itself told me what it wanted to be!

I will release the patterns for the two projects next week. Each pattern will be available separately, either through my blog or from Ravelry, for $4.00. If you prefer to buy the set, there will be a separate link to purchase both together for $7.00. The 1st, 13th, and 25th readers to purchase patterns for either the neckwarmer or the mitts, or for the two combined, will win a skein of fabulous yarn by the indie dyer of my choosing. I’ll PM the winners so you can send me your mailing information.

During the summer months, when I just can’t bear the thought of a pile of heavy knitting making my lap sweat, I love little projects like Love Bites. And even though it’s hard to think about what I want to knit for my holiday gift-giving when both the temperature and the humidity are hovering around 100, the fact remains that I still want to be knitting no matter how hot it gets. And this is just the sort of project I am happy to work on… hope you’ll agree!

Emily Dickinson’s Little Sister

While back in New York last week, in between my other activities I managed to complete the Emily Dickinson shawl. I made one particularly obvious mod, though, that makes me feel I must call this “Emily Dickinson’s Little Sister.” For starters, she is full of holes instead of beads.

I used Woolen Rabbit Whisper Lace merino yarn in the color “Chocolate Chambord,” which is really the color of roasted eggplant – the bruised purples and browns are enhanced by little skips of the most wonderful pale lilac. I used only about 1/4 of the 1700 yard skein, making this a very economical project. Placing beads only at the edge of the sawtooth border (where I quickly realized they would not be sparkly enough to show up), I worked simple yarnover/k2tog lace every fifth row or so.

The long edge of the shawl, blocked out, is 50″, and each of the two short sides is 30,” making this a wonderful neck wrap or shoulder warmer.

It’s good to be home! It feels as if I’ve missed the last of spring, and now we are already in the throes of summer.

Getting Old Is Not For Sissies

I can say that because a) I just had another birthday and it made me wonder if it would be kosher to start subtracting rather than adding a year from this point forward, and b) tonight I’m on my way back to New York to spend another week helping out with my parents. New round-the-clock aides are in place and (we all pray) will work out, meaning they will be able to tolerate my dad’s, ahem, quirky personality. Friends tell me that they see an entirely new – and not usually good – side of their own parents when their infirmities necessitate the help of paid companions. And my dad was not terribly patient to begin with. So, we’ll see.

I’ve already been ordered to make a stop at the pharmacy to pick up a new prescription on my way to their house from the airport. And believe me, it was not a request. Aye-aye, Dad, SIR. Make that aye-aye-ai-ai-ai!

Here’s a bit of what I’m leaving behind for the week:

I’m taking my knitting, and this time am determined to make more progress!

Up In The Air

I’m no Ryan Bingham, and certainly no (spoiler alert!) cheatin’ Alex, but lately I’ve been up in the air way too often for my liking. Air travel takes on a whole new perspective when you’re doing it because you HAVE to instead of because you WANT to. While I’d do anything for my family, this back-and-forthing from California to New York is taking a toll. I just don’t bounce back the way I used to, and it takes a full week for me to get back to normal (well, as normal as I ever get!) from the jet-lag.

Dad is back home after two weeks in the hospital, precipitated by a fall that broke 4 ribs and also caused him to 1) suffer massive internal bleeding when one of those broken ribs pierced an artery, and as a result required 2) several blood transfusions, leaving him so compromised that he 3) developed a serious bacterial infection, and 4) had a heart attack, and then 5) developed a secondary bacterial infection. The man is 89.  Evidently, he has nine lives and if it is left up to him, he will tell you that he still has a few to go before he’s done.

In order to make it feasible for him and my mom to return to their very old and creaky two-story house, several things had to happen. The most important of these was that we had to make it possible for them to live exclusively on the ground floor. And then, we had to make it easy for a very frail man (who gets around s-l-o-w-l-y with a walker) to get from the house out to the car for the doctors office visits that now comprise the bulk of his activity. Ramps were installed, furniture was moved, new showerheads and grab bars were installed. And none of this takes into account my mother, whose dementia is pretty bad at this point and who was being taken care of by my dad until all this happened. And let me tell you, it takes a village – but we got it all done. This is what we do for our family, right?

Meanwhile, while I was away, the garden continued to do what it always does at this time of year: it bloomed! One of the best things about coming home from these trips is that I am blown away by the changes in the garden. This means these tiny heirloom roses that were in bud before I left, and ju-u-ust beginning to adapt to their new life climbing the pergola column on the back patio, are now in full, glorious bloom:

The Satsuma plum tree is LOADED with green fruit that over the next several weeks will turn miraculously deep purple and sweet. These plums make the most divine jam, not to mention tarts and crisps. Mmmmmm!

When I left home, the last of the irises from spring were beginning to fade away. The asiatic lilies of summer had not yet begun to bloom, and yet, upon my return it was clear they had decided in my absence that it was time to get their show on the road:

The roses bloom all summer long, and last month they were particularly gorgeous. Still, these Eden double-flowering ones are among my favorites. They cover a back fence (smother is more like it) in a profusion of delicate pink set off by shiny dark green serrated leaves. Although they have only the most subtle fragrance and I usually like my roses stronger, these are so lovely that I gladly forgive them their lack of scent.

Another good thing about travel is that it often presents the opportunity to knit. Ordinarily, I can get quite a lot accomplished when I’m out on the road, but under the circumstances I was often so exhausted by evening that it was all I could do to work a few rows of my current travel project, the Emily Dickinson Shawl by Kieran Foley. Never one to leave well enough alone, I’ve made a couple of modifications to Kieran’s lovely design. As already mentioned, these were the result of having insufficiently sparkly beads coupled with the need to make that broad swath of stockinette a bit more interesting to work sans beads. Wish I had more progress to show, but I also worked on a couple of secret projects for which I was under deadline. And unbelievably, I met those deadlines. Don’t ask me how.

Close-up of my little yarnover modification:

The best part of being home, however, was definitely seeing these two smiling faces again:

The Sandwich Generation

That’s what they call those of us with both elderly parents and children of our own; from our caught-in-the-middle perspective, the Sandwich Generation can be a challenging place.

Silence on this end for way too long, due to a family emergency. One of my parents has been in the hospital for two full weeks with a variety of serious ailments that started with a bad fall. I won’t go into all the details, because that’s not what this blog is about.

I’ll simply say this to anyone reading this entry: if you have children or other loved ones, please plan for your old age. Have a back-up plan should your health begin to fail. Be honest enough with yourself to accept that your needs may change as you age, and that you may have limitations you never expected. If your greatest wish is to die at home, be sure you choose a home that is safe and appropriate for you to remain in until the end of your days. Then, if there is a medical crisis it won’t send your entire family into a tailspin trying to make decisions on your behalf and fix the mess you made.  And that’s all I’m going to say.

In a week or so, I hope to be back to regular posts.

All Keyed Up

Have you ever done something so completely hare-brained that after the fact you can’t quite believe you actually did it? I’m still shaking my head over what happened at my house last night.

My husband and I were all dressed up and ready to head into the city for an event that we were really excited about. As avid back-yard gardeners ourselves, we follow the news about sustainable agriculture and were ready to celebrate the achievements of the NRDC Growing Green award recipients.

EEEeeeerrrhhhhh…!!! (That’s the sound of brakes being slammed on, in case you couldn’t tell from my phoneticization) Not so fast.

Carrying a tiny evening purse with space for little more than my lipstick and Blackberry (Oh, OK, and a couple of tissues – never leave home without ’em), I’d mentioned in passing to my husband that I would not be bringing my keys with me. He was driving us into the city in his car, so he had to bring his set anyway.  He went out by the front door, and I went out by the back door so I could grab the recyclables on my way out. As I pulled the door shut behind me, I heard a faint voice call out something that sounded vaguely like, “Don’t lock the door…..!”

Too late.

As I rounded the corner of the house into the driveway, my husband appeared with a look of total panic on his face. “You’ve got your keys, right?”

Uh, no. Actually, I don’t. We already covered this, no?

Thinking his keys were in his coat pocket, my husband had pulled the front door shut behind him (it locks automatically). A quick search of his pockets for the key ring soon revealed his mistake. As the early evening air grew distinctly chillier, and ominous rain clouds piled up in the distance, and the sun began to set, we pondered our options. A quick call to a neighbor confirmed my suspicion that although we had talked about exchanging keys for just such an emergency, we had never, in fact, completed the thought into action. And the local police don’t make house calls unless there’s an actual problem; say, if somebody other than ourselves was trying to break into our house, for example. We then wasted a good ten minutes surveying the garden and arguing about where we should have hidden a key that would not be obvious to a would-be burglar.

All I can say is, thank god mobile phones still work when you are locked out of your own house and feeling like a complete ninny. I called a locksmith who promised to get to our house as quickly as the rush hour traffic would allow. Then we pulled two lawn chairs into the driveway where the last rays of sun were warmest, and sat down in our dress-up clothes to await his arrival. Tick-tick-tick. When I think about how much knitting I could have completed while we were sitting there, I could cry. But if my keys didn’t fit into that tiny little evening bag, not even my smallest one-skein shawl project would have made the cut.

The awards ceremony started at 6:30 and by the time we got the locksmith on the phone, it was nearly 6:00. At three in the morning, the drive from our home into the city takes about 20 minutes, but during rush hour it can take an hour. When the locksmith finally did appear, he came supplied with a sophisticated set of lock-picking tools. I was most impressed – haven’t seen such equipment since that movie The Italian Job with Charlize Theron and that cutie pie Marky-Mark (Oh, yeah, he’s plain old Mark Wahlberg now). Unfortunately, this locksmith was no Marky-Mark, in that our locks proved un-pick-able. Who knew? Meanwhile, time’s a-wasting.

His next suggestion was to drill out the lock, and by that point we were not standing on ceremony. He could have suggested dynamiting the door and I probably would have agreed. Did I mention that my sister is the event planner for NRDC, and that this was the first event in San Francisco we were able to attend in all the years she has been with that estimable organization? No? Well, maybe that helps to explain why we were so anxious to get going. No dynamite proved necessary, but Mr. Locksmith still had a heckuva time drilling out the lock on our door. These locks were reassuringly, impenetrably solid, except when we needed them to give way! Another fifteen minutes ticked by with excruciating slowness, magnified dramatically by the whine of the drill as it failed, repeatedly, to incapacitate the door lock.

Finally, at about a quarter to seven, we were in!! Once the locksmith was paid and on his way to the next bone-headed home-owner lock-out emergency, we high-tailed it into the city for what was left of the evening. Turns out we were not the only guests to appear fashionably late, and we actually made it in time for the awards ceremony. It was sad that we missed the cocktail meet-and-greet hour (I seem to appreciate awards ceremonies better – especially ones featuring a comedian, like this one – when I’ve had time for a glass or two of wine ahead of time), but we still got to visit with my sister and meet some of her colleagues. In the end, a good time was had by all. It’s just, well, our back door knob looks a little funny with a hole drilled through the middle of it. Good thing we’ve still got that dead-bolt above it.

And yes, just to be on the safe side (better late than never, I always say), I crammed my keys into that teeny purse of mine. Because, well, you never know.

Iris’t My Case

Two titles in a row that feature bad puns… oy. Just couldn’t resist.

Today’s garden extravaganza is the iris population that has overtaken the garden. While the roses are mustering their strength for the long haul of late spring/summer blooms, the irises stand proudly in full regalia right now.

Some of them smell like grape soda, some like violet candy, and some like cotton candy – they are really amazing.

It must be pretty obvious from these photos that I am most attracted to the frilly, giant irises.

The garden had a few forlorn clumps of irises when we first moved in, and over the years I have supplemented those with enthusiasm.

When we lived in Montclair, NJ, it was a family tradition to visit the beautiful Presby Memorial Iris Garden every spring. That is where I first realized the incredible variety of irises out there, and where the first hint of my current passion was born.

A decade later, I’ve learned (a bit too well) that the Schreiner’s Iris catalogue offers substantial volume discounts that are as irresistible as the colors and fragrances of the flowers themselves.

I’ve also learned that there’s no such thing as too many irises in one’s garden, and that it is always possible to find a spot for one or two more – similar to the way I seem to be able to make room for one more skein of gorgeous yarn even when a dispassionate observer of my stash would consider that impossible.