April 14, 2013
on my way to paris,
i decided to knit a sock.
sock knitting is perfect for airplanes, and
i was drawn to the colorway from the last month of last year’s sock club.
since school timing makes going to maryland sheep and wool impossible,
i decided i would treat myself to a knot hysteria retreat this summer.
and since it’s my tradition to always knit something for the harlot when i see her, the sock would be perfect.
and then, the bomb drops while i’m in paris:
tina and stephanie broke up.
no more sock summits.
no more knot hysteria retreats.
frankly, i’m shocked,
and i know a lot of people are.
within 20 minutes of the post, texts were flying between knitters
asking who knew what? how did this happen?*
never would i participate in yarn-dying melée.
never would i learn more about fiber in a day than i have in the past 3 years. never would i get the chance to spin and knit and make friends and steal my favorite soap that looks like a rock from the port ludlow resort’s maid’s cart. (and i’m on my last fucking bar!)
i made some life-long friends at my first retreat
i learned to spin, just so i could go, and now i’m a spinner.
and now it’s all over.
and there’s this sock
that has no mate, as of yet,
and i can’t seem to bring myself to cast on the next one.
it’s really pretty, and i love this pattern,
but the intension that bore it
can never be fulfilled.
so what should i do?
leave the pair unfinished, in honor of the loss of knot hysteria?
quit whining, knit the second one, and give them away?
**my personal hypothesis is that knot hysteria dissolved because tina and stephanie were sick of dealing with the same whackos that showed up to every single event. i mean, there were some awesome folks who went, people that i love. but some of those regulars . . . if you saw them on the bus, you’d get off and wait for the next one to come. just sayin’.
August 17, 2012
i have a confession to make about my last post.
it was what you might call, not entirely honest.
true, that photo was takes in the nest i’d made on the floor,
but i didn’t actually stay there.
it wasn’t for lack fo trying, mind.
it’s just that,
27 is the age at which
one is no longer able to sleep on the floor.
it’s frankly quite sad since my childhood was filled with instances of my curling up in unlikely spaces to rest. my favorite was the floor of the passenger side of my dad’s red chevey pickup.
adulthood is filled with sad milestones.
so where did i end up sleeping you ask?
well, while i couldn’t sleep on the hardwood,
i was able to channel my childhood talent for contortion,
and curled myself around the item on the bed,
covering the ends of the blocking wires
to avoid being impaled in the night.
which i suppose would be more impressive
if the item in question were bigger.
it was still, nonetheless,
mo upped the level of difficulty
by finding the one spot to curl up
that made any movement in the night impossible.
frankly, this item has been nothing but trouble from the start.
before i went to the knot hysteria gourmet retreat,
i suggested to my fellow retreaters
that we all do a knitalong.
i chose the aCute angle
because it had just been released
and seemed easy enough for us to complete in a weekend.
several people finished theirs in the blink of an eye,
but mine refused to even get started.
the first time, i twisted the join,
and didn’t notice for at least an inch.
the second time i cast on a number of stitches
that had absolutely nothing to do with the pattern.
(i think it was off by something like 12 stitches?)
once i’d finally got myself together,
it was the end of the second day
and my modifications* meant
i’d never finish that weekend.
i know i finished knitting it at some point,
but it sat for ages waiting to have its ends woven in.
then i let it have a nice soak and promptly forgot about it.
i don’t think silk is meant to soak for three days.
there’s something about the texture that feels . . . different now.
even this post has been needlessly delayed.
it’s been written for at least three days;
all it wanted was a final edit.
regardless, it came out beautifully,
and i thoroughly recommend this pattern.
it really is a snap for anyone whose mojo isn’t on the fritz,
(though blocking lace in the round presents its own unique challenge)
and this is one pattern where i think the yarn is perfectly matched.
(just note that, on ravelry, it’s currently misspelled as ‘a cute angle‘
losing all the fun wordplay in the title!)
now i just need to figure out who it’s for.
though, it might be perfect for mo.
tomorrow, the most irrelvant post i’ve ever written.
>glares at certain portland-based blogger<
à demain, bitches!
*aCute angle modifications: i added one pattern repeat and did seed stitch for the border rather than garter stitch.
June 29, 2012
one of the most challenging things about maintaining a blog is managing content flow. one requires enough content to write about and it must be portioned out in regular intervals so as to avoid large gaps or backlog. going away to a big fibery event poses an interesting problem because, while providing excellent content for the blog, it’s really too much for one post. and posting every day at a retreat is, well, unrealistic.
this is the difficulty i face whenever i go to a knitting thing.
instead of giving you a blow by blow,
which, frankly, seems exhausting and rather boring,
instead, i’m going to take a different approach.
we’ll see if it works.
bear with me.
it’s a long one.
a very nice lady who reads my blog asked me at the retreat why i started blogging and i was hard pressed to answer her. i kinda copped out and told her i’d have to go back to the first post to remember why i started this whole thing. but the question stayed in the back of my mind for the rest of the weekend. why did i start the blog? and, more importantly, why do i continue? it’s not my job or anything. in fact, it’s probably cost me money. and yet i continue. why?
the answer came to me during the last night of the retreat at show and tell. at this point in my life, i’m pretty good at getting up in front of people and talking, but for some reason i was particularly nervous. as i was introducing my first item to share, a little unintentional clause slipped from my lips:
“since i moved, i don’t have any fiber people in my life”
and it made me realize that i’ve become a bit isolated when it comes to knitting. when i learned to knit in chicago, i quickly started a knitting group in my neighborhood (which continues till this day, i’m happy to report). we were mostly new to the craft, but in that little group, our identities as knitters were solidified. when i moved from chicago to pittsburgh, i was soon hired at natural stitches and for the next two years, i was immersed in a thriving fiber community. knitting has always been an extremely social activity for me, and the blog has been an extension of that. reading stephanie’s blog as i was getting started was an important part of why i got hooked on knitting. she’s someone i really admire, and i’m sure it was one of the reasons i started blogging. she’s my elizabeth zimmerman, if you will.
but like i told that room full of knitters, i don’t have fiber people in my life here. for the first time in my life, knitting has been a solitary activity for me and i think it’s taken a bit of a toll. it isn’t as if there aren’t people who knit here; i just haven’t had the time to find my niche. right now, the blog is my only connection to the fiber world. i write because people read and make me feel like i’m still part of the knitterverse.
which is why i went on this retreat. god knows i couldn’t afford it (a tax return well and thoroughly spent) but i think i was kinda lonely for knitters. i needed to be in a space where i could talk seriously about things like yarn choice, and needle size, and whether or not knitting a reinforced heal and grafting the toe on a mini sock for a yarn bomb was taking it too seriously. i needed to be with people who didn’t make me feel stupid for getting misty when the skein of laceweight i dyed so carefully to achieve a greyscale color gradient was ruined by a few drops of neon pink dye that leaked from someone else’s dye package. more than anything, i needed to sit and knit for hours with people.
i don’t know if this next year will be another year of knitting alone,
but even if it is, i’ll still have the blog.
so thanks for reading, bitches.
as for the retreat, itself,
you’ll have to settle for the highlight reel this time.
a big thank you to tamara who let me steal some of her photos.
any photo of me you see where i actually look good, she took.
(except the one over there)
knitter shuttle with jen, janice, rebecca, and michelle’s shoulder
our captain, sam (she designed her sweater)
pippin of finnriver farm/cidery
sam and i made the risotto! we were very proud
i look crazy in this photo so you know tamara didn’t take it.
freshy. who is both one of the nicest and most beautiful women i have ever met. also, very short.
no idea what i’m looking at so intently
socks that fit
i have no words
this is sarah. she unvented magic loop. she’s a better knitter than you.
my favorite yarn bomb
a big thanks to stephanie and tina for making it happen.
i really needed it.
you want to know what’s up with this post’s title?
on our first night, stephanie and tina warned us that if we heard an ungodly noise outside in the middle of the night that we should not go investigating. one night, they went to find out what the source of the horrific noise was and what they discovered was . . . disquieting. it was otter sex, which they explained is not something the lady otter is into at all. rather, it is an activity in which she is forced to participate. often times, she doesn’t survive. even if she doesn’t, the male otter . . . leaves satisfied.
June 22, 2012
it’s become a cliché, i know.
but it’s really one of the best places to get writing done.
i feel super slick this trip,
since i managed to pack only one carryon bag.
gone are the days of a dedicated shoe suitcase.
(anyone else miss the falsely inflated economy?)
this is also the first time i’ve got my boarding pass on my phone.
the airline just texts you a qr code, and bob’s your uncle!
i feel like a jet setting businessman.
except in basketball shorts.
and flip flops.
though i guess i lose coolness points for being so desperate for wifi that i accidentally signed up for a monthly subscription to boingo wireless. i mean, i do travel a bit more than the average knitter, but i don’t need access to airport internet every month. anyone know how i can cancel that shit?
in knitting news,
the second sock is well underway.
i have more than five hours to finish (they’re a gift)
and i’m feeling pretty confident about my chances for success.
i’ll be casting on this.
i suggested a weekend knit along for the retreat
and this is what i suggested.
i love it.
here’s hoping for a f.o. this weekend!
i realize this post was basically a glorified status update. i can never sleep before a trip so let’s blame my lack of wit on exhaustion. no? you demand entertainment? hmm. alright. here’s a random arabic song my friends and i used to rock out to. enjoy the utter randomness!
June 21, 2012
in case any of you worried about my week-long silence,
i was fulfilling the familial duty required of all sons:
i helped clean out the garage.
now while for most people,
that would be a job for one person
and could be completed in half a day,
our garage is larger than most apartments.
it’s really more of a huge barn where the cars live
(it has a second floor)
my mother and i spent a few days
and tossing aside with reckless abandon a couple decades worth of all things found in a country garage. a dumpster that could house an elephant was our ally.
a weekend of generally manliness,
where my y chromosome shone with pride,
left little time to blog about my life of fiber.
first, a f.o.
yarn – socks that rock medium weight
colorway – rare gem dyed by yours truly
this cowl has been done for ages but honestly, i’ve felt a little ambivalent about sharing it. this is my first go at a design (sort of). i learned a whole lot while i knit it, but it didn’t come out as i envisioned it. some things exceeded my expectations, others,
i couldn’t get to do what i wanted.
with a few tweaks,
i can imagine it being something i could be proud of.
time will tell.
next, another f.o.
yarn – luscious silk
colorway – copperline
now this, i’m proud of!
it’s a simply-woven scarf, true,
but there’s something beautiful about perfecting simplicity.
think about how long it took you to master your knitting gauge
and how lovely a flawlessly executed stockinette sweater is!
that’s what this scarf is about to me. (check out that sexy fringe)
i was really worried about the evenness of this scarf.
i’ve never woven with silk before
and it was difficult to manage;
it lacks wool’s forgiving nature.
it was especially difficult to maintain the selvages.
but for once in my fibery existence,
that shit blocked right out!
just in time to give it to its intended recipient.
i’m headed to the knot hysteria gourmet retreat (jealous?)
whenever i go to a fiber event,
i check my stock of business cards.
i use them to promote the blog (bien sur)
and make it easy for people to friend me on ravelry.
since i was running low,
i placed an order.
i may have over done it.
i don’t remember ordering this many.
i bet it was after midnight.
(the box is full too)
as you can see,
the loom is re-warped.
(the color in that photo is so off as to be laughable)
this is supposed to be a gift for this weekend.
i haven’t started weaving or anything,
but i can finish,
so i’m a little out of touch with reality. big whoop.
i mean, it’s not like i think i can finish this sweater.
but i am going to try to pull it off for rhinebeck.
let’s check the facts:
yarn weight – sport
needle size – u.s. 2 & 4
size – fuck that shit!
like i’m telling you my size.
let’s just say,
it’ll be dude-sized.
this will be an extreme test of my knitterly endurance.
but hey, it’s rhinebeck.
and it’s not like i’m the only delusional knitting blogger around.
August 2, 2010
so life is feeling pretty normal lately.
work is busy,
knitting is going well,
mo and i are happily reconnected.
it’s business as usual here at bitches get stitches.
this of course makes me very nervous.
i feel like,
based on my life experience,
i am better equipped to deal with extremes.
give me a crisis, and i will handle the shit out of it.
or else, drop an unexpected happy event into my lap,
and i shall bask in the glory of good fortune.
these are the instances i know about.
this is when i shine.
this hum drum, calm plodding along. . .
i don’t know what to do with that.
but i think the winds of change are starting to blow,
and some of that irish luck burried in my dna is kicking in.
it looks like,
by some miracle,
i’ll be going to rhinebeck.
the plan is to cultivate something called self restraint,
by which i mean,
i plan to test out a bunch of spinning wheels,
and maybe take a class.
that is all.
no bags of yarn.
no needles i don’t need.
no spending money i don’t have.
coming home with a fleece is just not an option.
the second part of the plan is to knit the obligatory rhinbeck sweater.
i have chosen the beautiful riddari to keep me warm.
which brings me to my second piece of evidence of my “irish luck”:
i was having trouble getting my hands on the pattern for riddari.
then all of a sudden, in less than a 24 hour period,
it turned out my friend david has a copy,
and is knitting his rhinebeck sweater from the same book,
(creepy right? not the same sweater though. we wont be twinsies)
i found a random company online that had a copy and bought it,
and some kind knitter sent me a pdf of the pattern from her book.
pretty lucky right?
a very special skein of yarn came into my life.
my friend lisa is in the rockin’ sock club
and this was this month’s skein.
she has this new yarn policy
not to purchase/keep yarn she doesn’t love.
i said i loved it.
she said she didn’t.
the skein is now mine.
the beautiful colors and slight scent of vinegar brought back all the memories of yarnie happiness i had last month, visiting blue moon (where tina asked if i was in sock club, and i felt a little shame when i said no) and at the knot hysteria retreat. reading the dyer’s notes reminded me how similar it seemed tina and my sense of humor was, and how great it was to be in the presence of someone who i could tell is doing something important.
i really am a very lucky person.
i have family and friends who love me.
i get to knit for fun for hours at a time.
i live with a roomie who makes me laugh every day.
best of all, i can have no shame, and somehow pull it off!
and even though i have some really heavy shit going on in the background (who doesn’t really?) i have the support and capacity to cope with it, and allow seriously joyful moments into my life.
so i’ll deal with hum drum,
and even welcome it.
especially since i have a lead,
the luck continues. . .
July 14, 2010
i’m finding it difficult to understand, much less describe, my experience at the knot hysteria silk retreat.
living up to its name,
i learned loads about silk
and was given the time to withdraw from the everyday.
i can’t remember i time when i focused so intensely on one thing, or when i heard so much laughter in such a small space of time. i met some crazy amazing women who were both everyday people and unbelievable artists. i was stunned at the level of skill, creativity, and expertise that surrounded me, not only from our teachers, but from my fellow students. it was humbling really to recognize that, while i can effectively execute a knitting pattern at a fairly high level, my knowledge of fiber arts is minimal.
i learned that i know nothing.
but i suppose a more detailed approach would make for a better read, so here i go.
we learned about the chemical makeup of silk in order to understand why it behaves the way it does in relation to dying.
and then we got to go to town.
we dyed a skein each of silk thread,
silkie socks that rock,
some silk top,
and three silk hankies.
it’s hard to pick just one,
but i think hers was my favorite class.
it gave me the chance to access a creative part of my brain that doesn’t get much action. dying the various forms of silk,
and thinking about color in general,
was like eating a perfectly cooked steak,
or that feeling you have when someone rubs your shoulders,
releasing a tension you never knew you had.
dying filled up a space in me,
and a pretty big space in my stash.
(i also increased my stash at the little store they had. there’s no photo cuz knitters know where i live, and there’d be a yarn related b&e in pittsburgh)
i was one of the people who learned to spin to come to the retreat.
i took lesssons, and practiced every chance i got.
and while i wasn’t in the financial position to purchase a wheel,
judith let me use one of hers.
of course, everything i learned went right out the window.
let me explain.
according to judith, spinners have one of two souls.
either you’re naturally a woolen spinner or worsted
for those of you who don’t spin,
think of it as english vs. continental
or being right or left handed.
you’re brain just likes one or the other.
apparently, i’m a woolen spinner.
with some crossed wires since i use my left hand to control twist
even though i’m right handed.
which meant i was at a disadvantage since silk “should” be spun worsted.
so i was at square one all over again.
but i came to learn and learn i did.
i can’t even begin to collate everything i learned about spinning.
but this i know for sure;
after extensive observation,
i’m convinced judith is some sort of witch.
good or bad, she’s the witch of pacific northwest
i’d bet my life she’s the one who taught rumplstiltskin how to spin straw into gold.
my last day was knitting with stephanie
this was the class i felt most prepared for;
knitting was supposed to be my strong point.
it turned out to be the most frustrating of all my classes.
she kept throwing sample after sample of different yarn blends at us to knit, and my hands couldn’t keep up with the pace at which my mind was moving.
have you ever tried to knit a lace swatch with silk thread?
i almost cried!
and knitting with silk hankies??
really pretty effect
but not so easy.
(here’s one hanky layer stretched to the max)
i probably learned more about knitting from stephanie in a few hours than i think i have in the past 6 months.
have you ever heard that casting on over a larger needle (or two needles) will help if your cast on is too tight?
that is only true if you’re doing a single strand cast on!
such as knitted, cable, or crochet cast on.
if you do some form of the long tail cast on,
casting on over larger needles will not make your cast on edge looser!
i know what you’re all saying.
i said the same thing pretties.
i don’t have the ability to draw the picture necessary to prove it to you.
here’s what I’ll say: only one of your strands of a long tail cast on goes over needle itself, making a loop. the other only wraps around that loop underneath the needle and is therefore unaffected by the size of the needle. while the loop itself may be larger because you’re using more yarn, the edge will not be because you use the same amount.
do it yourself.
that evening after dinner was show and tell.
people brought some stunning things that they had made.
i orginally planned on giving stephaine the juneberry triangle then,
but upon further consideration,
it seemed really gauche.
so i gave it to her earlier, when no one was looking.
it was a moment i’ll remember,
and i’m glad it wasn’t public.
i’m home now,
July 10, 2010
i’m sitting post breakfast,
thanking god for my irish liver.
my day of traveling began around 8:00 am (eastern) on thursday and came to a close around 6:30 pm (pacific) on friday.
needless to say, i’m still a bit tired.
but with a full belly and caffeine in my veins,
i can appreciate yesterday’s trials.
here’s the timeline:
10:30 am – took lovely roommate to airport
2:30 pm – worked my shift
9:00 pm – finish packing
10:45 pm – night on the town (pittsburgh)
1:00 am – a blur filled with things not suitable for the blog.
(use your imagination)
3:29 am – go to button shorts, button on shorts pops off
3:30 am – “f&@$!”
3:31 am – borrowed a belt, thanking heaven i have friends my size
3:45 am – drove to the airport got a killer parking spot
4:25 am – apparently no one works at the airport
4:30 am – waiting in line FOREVER only to discover i’m not flying united this time, but american.
4:31 am – “f&@$!”
6:01 am – begin flying across the continent
11:00 am – i get picked up from the airport by a complete stranger/lovely new seattle friend stacy.
11:30 am – pet stacy’s cats while she packs.
1:30 pm – devoured lunch at tawon thai. so delicious
(you’ll note there was no eating previously mentioned in my timeline. i think i had some soup around 4 pm thursday)
2:30 pm – i got the nickle tour of fremont
3:30 pm – on the road to port ludlow.
3:45 pm – we begin waiting in line for the ferry
3:50 pm – the car starts acting up
3:51 pm – i jump out of the car to grab gallons of water to cool off the car
from here till around 5:25 pm it gets a little hazy.
i was in and out of consicouness,
in and out of the car pouring water on the hood,
and sitting, windows down praying for a breeze.
till around 7:45 pm it was all rushed shower, dinner, and two martinis. i brought my third into the orientation meeting. everyone introduced themselves, and told wild stories of the whys and hows of their being here;
to the escape their husbands,
to meet judith,
there were some doozies,
including a motion for continuance.
i’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
a lovely knitter sends me my 4th martini,
and it was time for me to share.
i’d not yet slept
and my heart kept pumping more and more vodka to my brain.
so i was feeling a little honest.
“the reason i’m here, a reason that no one has yet said but we’re all thinking, is to make other people jealous.”
and i challenge any one of my fellow knot hysterics to deny it.
later on, tina pointed a warning finger at me,
looking over he glasses the way she does,
saying, “you better not be hung over tomorrow.”
“don’t worry. i’m irish.”
at least my liver is because it came through as always,
and i’m bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.
after my second cup of coffee.
now i’m off to my first day of class,
dying with tina newton.
i’ll keep you bitches posted!
July 8, 2010
in roughly sixteen hours, i’ll again be on a plane headed west.
where am i off to you ask?
why to washington state of course
(port ludlow to be specific) for the knot hysteria silk retreat
a long weekend of knitting, spinning, and dying classes,
taught by some very cool people.
sounds nice right?
for those bitches who already know,
don’t ruin the surprise!
May 26, 2010
or at least for the next few weeks they are.
in preparation for the knot hysteria silk retreat,
i need to get my spinning skills up to snuff.
spindling has come pretty naturally to me,
and i’m moving past the “park and draft stage.”
i’ll need to be fairly comfortable with a wheel to do all the spinning required for judith macKenzie mccuin’s silk class. (random: any other people with knowledge of irish names find it funny that she has both an “mac” name and “mc” name? just me? ok.)
so today i had my first wheel lesson with carol mcfadden.
before we got down to business,
carol gave me an amazing gifty:
you are reading that label on the ziploc correctly;
a little tuft of pure mongolian cashmere!
she remembered that months ago i said i liked cashmere, (though i ask you, who doesn’t?) and decided to give me some to spin on my spindle.
this is the kind of woman we’re dealing with people;
razor whit and heart of gold.
then we got down to it.
let me just say,
wheel spinning did not come as naturally as the spindle did.
getting my right foot involved seemed to cross some wires in the brain.
but carol assures me that i did very well for my first time,
and i came away with this skein:
as a knitter, i would never purchase this yarn.
i’m not that into thick and thin.
but i have to say
i’m pretty proud of the ugly bastard.
and since i already know i can spin fairly consistent singles on a spindle,
i’m confident that it’s only a matter of time until i can do so on a wheel.
here’s to not looking like a fool in july!
edit: also, i wrote my first article for the shop’s newsletter.
you should check it out!