July 28, 2011
day one is well under way.
here’s what i’ve done thus far:
picked underwear i thought apropos for meeting frankling habit.
no i won’t tell you what it is, or show you.
(i would show him, though)
met franklin habit.
learned more about photography and my camera in three hours than i have in my whole life. (which is pathetic if i think about it)
ate lunch with a baby, then pushed him around in a stroller.
(shocking, i know)
drank a dirtini martini and stood in the longest line i’ve ever seen in my life. (these bitches want their yarn!)
somewhere in all of that,
i took some photos of my mojo shawl.
the light was fighting me,
but i wanted to give it to its recipient.
no i’m not going to tell you who it was for.
(isn’t this just a fascinating read?)
i’m off to the opening night reception.
here’s hoping i (don’t) make a drunken fool of myself!
July 14, 2011
i cast on a project.
i knew the answer to my funk lay in a shawl,
but hours on ravelry left me feeling rather hopeless.
nothing inspired me.
let me tell you,
it feels good to be back!
it’s like that feeling when a cold breaks,
and you can finally take a deep breath again.
i was creatively congested!
then this morning,
i woke up to the following e-mail:
Thanks so much for your inspiring blog post. Because of you, we have received over $400 dollars in donations! Thank you for getting yourself tested, and thank you for your amazing support of Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force!
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force
5913 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
that was a great way to begin my day.
thank you to everyone who contributed,
not only to pittsburgh aids task force,
but to their local testing centers.
that $400 will pay for 10 tests.
your generosity makes me feel like maybe the effort i put into this blog isn’t a fruitless endeavor, that maybe people are listening.
so thank you.
and congratulations to faye.
the random number generator selected you,
and my skein of handspun is yours.
you better knit with it!
that’s all i’ll say.
the cashmere mafia’s listening.
May 27, 2011
i’m celebrating memorial day weekend
by escaping to the wilds of pennsylvania.
there will be a cabin.
there will be no running water.
there will be a bunch of dudes and, with any luck,
some mild debauchery.
but i couldn’t just abandon you for a long weekend
without sharing one last fibery tidbit.
in my packing frenzy,
a parcel arrived at my doorstep.
i opened the envelope to find these:
fucking hand knit socks!
these socks are perfect,
perfect color, perfect fit.
i heart them so hard.
they’re from julie,
my spoilee in the secret pal swap,
and all around badass bitch.
i wasn’t the best spoiler, in terms of getting things out in a timely fashion. what i lacked in timeliness, i tried to make up for in quality.
the point of these swaps is to bring knitters together,
and, in the case of julie and i,
it certainly did.
it’s lovely to think that,
all the way across the ocean,
on an army base in athens greece,
there’s a lady who likes me enough to knit me socks.
what a crazy-ass world we live in.
have a great weekend, bitches!
May 12, 2011
last year, i went to my first ever fiber festival,
maryland sheep and wool festival ’10.
i knit my hotpants for a lark,
because all the talk of what to make/wear to the festival, well,
i thought people were a little nuts about it.
suddenly it was time for mdsw ’11,
and i had to decide if it was time to iron the hotpants,
or retire them.
i had to ask myself,
am i too old for this shit?
is it time for a little dignity?
or is this a tradition i should embrace?
i said fuck it.
i spent a lot of time on them,
and it hurt my hands to knit them.
(aran weight cotton on 5′s + cables. never again.)
i mean, there are only so many places one can wear handknit hotpants.
as long as my ass isn’t saggy, i’m wearing ‘em!
and if nothing else, they’re über comfy.
of course i realize that wearing them will garner some attention,
and people are going to snap a couple surreptitious pics.
these are some of the pics i could get my hands on:
there was obviously a lot of kinnearing,
and several people stopped me to ask for a photo,
which i am always happy to do if i can get a copy.
but two encounters really stand out.
the first is when a little boy, adam,
came up to me to ask about the hotpants.
apparently, he’s a little knitters, and he recognized me from ravelry.
this little bugger was totally fearless, asking all kinds pertinent questions.
at first i just answered his queries, talking like i would to any knitter,
until i realized that he looked like he was alone.
“where’s your mother?!” i asked, a little worried and incredulous.
that’s when little adam’s entourage rolled up.
really nice family, totally awesome.
and adam kept right on talking the whole time.
(thanks for the pic guys!)
the other is the “in search of hotpants” tee shirt.
meg and her mother, karen, made and wore the shirt (respectively),
and then made it one of their festival goals to find me.
now that is dedication if i ever saw it.
all in all,
the hotpants and i had a lovely time.
i’m still thinking of retiring them,
or perhaps knitting a new pair.
maybe when i’m thirty.
twenty six in hotpants may be acceptable.
i still have a little crazy youth on my side.
but an anonymous bulge at thirty?
not quite so classy.
i’ll see you next year, bitches!
May 10, 2011
i feel like everyone who blogs about a fiber festival
covers three basic things:
and famous people.
(i saw clara parkes coming out of the bathroom,
and am 99% sure i saw anna zilboorg.
can anyone confirm that one?)
but how many pictures of cute sheep can one look at
before you realize you’re bored out of your skull?
so on sunday, the last day of the festival,
i decided to photograph something different,
something i saw all around the fairgrounds this year:
specifically bearded men.
they seemed to be everywhere,
which is lucky since, at least to me,
facial hair is very sexy.
it took tremendous energy to overcome my shyness,
and ask total strangers if i could take a picture of them.
so for about every five beards i saw,
i asked one for a photo.
and now without further ado,
i give you, the bear(d)s of maryland sheep and wool!
this was my first beard of the day. his wife, a shy raveler, sent him over to ask if i was the infamous “hotpants” from the ravelry forum. he asked to take my photo so i thought it was only right to ask for his.
(his accent was wicked cool as well).
immeditately after, this guy rolled up. you gotta respect a dude who can commit to that kind of length. i could never grow my beard that long. plus, you may notice he is smoking in this photo, which of course makes him extra cool. what? you never knew smoking makes you cool?
well, it does.
then we have kilty mcbeard as i like to call him. i’d seen him the day before, and when i decided to undertake this project, i hoped he’d be there sunday as well. he gets kudos for his whole ensemble, from the leather hat, to the cabled vest, to the utilikilt. there were a lot of guys in utilikilts at the festival, but many of them weren’t flattering. his was the right color and length. seriously guys, your utilikilts are too long! you need to shorten them up or else you look like 6th grade catholic school girls. definitely not hot.
i had this man in mind as well when i decided to shoot some beards, if for no other reason than he is exactly one of my good friend’s type (you know who you are, buster). i’ve forgotten his name, but i believe he is the proprietor of the trawitz sheepskin products booth. while from afar he’s very imposing, he was willing to model his sheepy hat, which is frankly a little hilarious.
he may be able to snap my not-so-little ass in half,but i think that smile deserves a second shot for sure.
i almost missed this beard. i was standing on the main drag, and one of my friends yelled “beard!” i immediately stopped him with my, “excuse me sir” line, only to realize it was my fibery friend tammy‘s husband, who i had just talked to the day before. he accused me of using his image for nefarious reasons. someone help me think of one. i wouldn’t want to disappoint.
here we have a beard in motion. i caught this guy in passing in the main barn. he may have a confederate flag pin on his hat (boo!), but his hat/suspenders/pocket protector combo makes this beard worth noting.
i saw this little guy, walking around with his pretty girl, holding hands, clearly in love. rather than make me vomit, it touched me, and gave me the courage to ask for his photo.apparently, i’m going soft in my old age.
the final beard i captured belongs to the the sanguine gryphon‘s cute male worker bee. i have to admit he was my festival crush, and i made sure i told everyone to hit up their booth to take a peek. to me, he looks like stephen west‘s older, beefier brother, and believe me, this photo doesn’t do him justice. i did ask to take his photo, but even on the last day, he was too busy to strike a pose. so i did what any good knitting blogger would do.i kinneared him.
and because it’s obligatory,
this is my haul:
jennie the potter yarn bowl (victory is mine!),
a crochet hook roll up.
and some bugga!.
nothing too outrageous,
but these four little guys still put me over budget.
see you next year!
**tomorrow, an epilogue or hotpants strikes back.
May 7, 2011
i’m still a little weak,
and my knitting mojo is m.i.a.
but this weekend, i’m shedding my invalid shell,
and heading out into the world for real real.
that’s right bitches.
this shut-in is at the maryland sheep and wool festival.i packed light. i’m very proud.
the best part about this particular trip
is the fact that andrea is working the festival.
this meant i got to go in today with the rest of the vendors,
and have a peek around before anyone else.
while she was setting up,
i took a stroll around the fairgrounds.
i remember last year was so hot and awful,
i never got a good look at the different sheepsees.
so i made a point, with so few people around,
to take in some of their epic wooly cuteness.
i also previewed all the vendors booths (jealous?)
here are my notes on some of my faves.
the fold needs no introduction. it is where the epic line begins to get your hands on the highly coveted socks that rock. while i too get hard for the socks that rock, i go to the fold for fiber optic yarns and fiber. there’s just something extra special about fiber optic’s stuff. i am drawn to them, their fiber especially. they have a quality.
miss babs was a mob scene last year, and rightly so. their yarn was wicked awesome. this year, peering into their clean looking booth, i didn’t feel the same pull. i’m sure when i see the hordes shoving each other to get the last skein of a given color, i’ll feel it again. and then cut a bitch for the skein.
seeing harriet of autumn house farm brought a smile to my heart. i remember last year, seeing her swamped, sweat pouring off her forehead, a booth full of hot, cranky customers. that woman held it together with a degree of poise i’ll never have. and i challenge anyone to display and communicate the level of passion that woman has for the fiber arts. she’s on another level that one.
and her setup is kick ass, too
spirit trail fiber works has some of the most beautiful yarn, both in color and base, that i have ever seen. but honestly, their booth is a straight up mess. it’s far to cramped. with no one else there, i don’t think i could have fit in their booth. buy their yarn, but be prepared for some claustrophobia (and to throw some elbows).
oh jennie the potter. i’ve tried for a year now, both at maryland and rhinebeck, to get my hands on one of your yarn bowls. today, i saw a variety sitting there in all their glory. one will be mine tomorrow. or else.
and finally, the sanguine gryphon. a late addition to the festival. you will be my first stop. not only because i must have more bugga!, but because i must flirt with the ginger bear(d) i saw helping you set up. seriously ladies. he’s wicked cute. nice touch.
there is another vendor i want to talk about,
a vendor that i met for the first time,
and i left pleasantly surprised.
i’m not really one for needle cases, mostly because they’re either too soft to hold up/protect my needles, or are just straight up poorly made. however! the cases and bags at the crippen works booth are both unique in look, but unique in the fact that they look like they could hold up to the type of abuse we knitters put our notions through.go there. say hi to katharyn.
buy some needle cases.
tell her i sent you.
it won’t get you a discount or anything.
i just told her i’d blog her.
it was sort of surreal, being back here. i can’t believe it’s been a year already. last year at maryland was my first fiber festival, and even through the extreme heat and otherworldly sunburn, i had an amazing time. coming back a year later and under such different conditions . . . it’s an uncanny feeling. everything is so familiar. i remember where everything is, even when vendors are in a different place. and yet, you can feel the passage of time in the place. it’s like seeing someone you haven’t in a while, and you can’t quite put your finger on what’s changed.
all i know is i’ve met an old friend again.
and i can’t wait to spend two more days with her.
i hope so!
May 2, 2011
part of what makes maintaining my blog so difficult
is the fact that most of my knitting is secret knitting.
i rarely knit for myself, and when i knit for other people,
i usually want it to be a surprise.
i like surprising people,
i like making them happy.
the shock/smile is the face i live for.
i also generally prefer to knit for knitters
since, let’s be honest, they’re the only ones who truly get it.
finding a non knitter who actually appreciates the work that goes into a hand knit item, well, it’s like petting a unicorn.
let’s take a sweater for example.
i can knock out a sweater in about month, which is fairly quick i think.
but that’s still a lot of my free time dedicated to just one item.
i spend that time thinking about the person it’s for,
if they’ll like it, what they mean to me,
why i’m knitting it in the first place.
for me, it’s about making something beautiful,
something i can really be proud of, so the person it’s for knows they’re important to me, that i’m happy they’re in my life.
so i’m not going to waste hours upon hours of my time,
(not to mention a good chunk of my yarn money)
if the person for whom i’m knitting
isn’t gonna give a shit.
that’s just stupid.
which is why i decided to undertake this super secret knitting.
i was talking to my good friend bill about knitting one night.
he doesn’t knit himself, but i like him nonetheless.
i can’t remember what he said, precisely,
or how exactly it came up.
i just remember i’d never heard a non knitter put into words so well how special it is to have someone knit them a garment. it was simple, and to the point. and i just remember thinking,
this is a man who gets it.
and in that moment,
i knew i had to knit him a sweater.
luckily, i had the perfect opportunity;
his birthday was six weeks away,
plenty of time to knit a sweater.
so, i cast on.
just a top-down raglan.
(elizabeth zimmerman would be proud)
everything was going well until the night before his birthday party.
i was finishing a sleeve, and planned to get up early to knit the collar.
(i cannot explain to you how many times i ripped out that fucking collar.
no matter what i did, it would not come out right. tears were shed)
but something was slowing me down,
a nagging pain in my stomach.
was it something i ate?
was i just overly tired?
well no, actually,
it was the appendix stump rotting in my gut.
it’d laid in wait, a few days shy of a decade,
(i had my appendix out in april 2001)
wrapped itself up in gangrene,
ruining my sweater’s reveal.
when i was feeling better,
i tried knitting on the sweater in the hospital.
but apparently, having at least three tubes in your body,
one of which putting mega doses of narcotics directly in my bloodstream, made trying to knit kinda laughable.
i think i did laugh, actually.
when i got out, i tried again.
apparently, extra strength vicodin also makes trying to knit with any skill somewhat impossible, at least for me.
so i picked a day,
skipped my meds,
powered through the pain,
and knit the shit out of that sleeve and collar.
**some notes on the sweater: i chose a top-down raglan because, while i prefer the look of a seamed sweater, it’s just a faster, easier construction. but i did think a raglan would look best on bill. i also chose a v-neck because it think it enhances the sexiness of any man. clearly, i was right. i used cascade 220 superwash because bill is a non knitter, and while i trust him to handwash a garment, accidents happen. nothing worse than a felted sweater.
March 24, 2011
so in my frenzy to make my life into a list,
i forgot a couple of things that i wanted to write.
that and day two of my class should be enough for a post, right?
so let the randomness continue!
x. on friday, when i was still pretty bummed out, kristen, a.k.a. @carcosa, tweeted at me: My #FF crown this week is awarded too… @Faiche_Stiabhna for his unique combination of humor, fiber knowlege, and fierce glasses. that totally made my day. (are my glasses really fierce?)
xi. i apparently inspired one of my most loyal commenters and internet friends, miss sally of rivendale farms. or maybe more accurately, this photo of mo did. after seeing it, she went on a cowl binge. she wrote about it here.
xii. another besty from the internet, kim, is a nice person. she wants to help the people in japan. she asked me to spread the word, so do me a favor, and click here to read her post. go ahead. do the right thing. i dare you.
xiii. in my last post, i mentioned that i felt that, when you meet a knitting celebrity, maybe you should keep your cool and not act like you’re old friends reunited. this is how i try to operate. (don’t ask me about my success rate). PrincessFee left me the following comment:
You don’t know me, but I do feel as though I know you. Thank you for your humour, wit, & frankness. If we ever get to meet, I will act as though I don’t know you.
first of all, that is sweet. second, i’m so far from being a knitting celebrity that the sentiment is almost laughable. third, if you do read this blog with any kind of regularity, i imagine you’ve a certain amount of shamelessness in you. i would never expect you to show such restraint if you see me out in the real world. just don’t be disappointed if the dude you run into is actually pretty shy.
xiv. however, i find it ironic that i spent all of day one quietly sitting next to the lovely natatlie who, as it turns out, reads my blog. small world, eh? of course, she didn’t say anything until day two (class act, right?). we spent the first day like any other kids on the first day of school, making idle chit chat and nervous eye contact. but i’m totally glad she told me. it was great way to start what turn out to be a really hard day of class.
xv. i think that, while she doesn’t say it, stephanie doesn’t like to have her photo taken. i think this because almost every single photo i took of her is kinda terrible. she’s making a face in or blinking or possibly about to sneeze. somehow, i think this is done on purpose as a way of fucking with our heads. luckily, i snapped this one.yeah she’s a little blurry in this photo, but at least she doesn’t look like she’s in the middle of a seizure.
xvi. day one of “knitting for speed and efficiency” with stephanie pearl-mcphee was all about learning a brief history of knitting, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of english and continental knitting, and learning ways to improve our own personal styles of knitting. the most interesting concept for me was the idea that we get too comfortable with our own styles, and try to apply them to every type of knitting when altering our personal style, or using another method might make it easier for a given project. according to stephanie, we as knitters seem to resist using all the tools at our disposal to make it easier on ourselves. for instance, if you’re an english knitter (like me) why wouldn’t you use continental knitting to knit miles of stockinette in the round when it is so clearly the superior technique for that particular project? or if you’re a continental knitter, and have a project with lots of texture and decorative purl stitches why wouldn’t you use the method best suited to purling (english knitting)? it’s a good point. why not expand our personal abilities to improve ourselves as knitters? unless of course excellence doesn’t matter to you.
day two was dedicated to learning “lever knitting” (sometimes called irish cottage knitting) which is the method used by the people who knitted for their livelihood. it also happens to be the style the harlot learned from her bitch of a grandmother. rather than go into a long description of the method, here’s a video. because we all have a certain amount of knitting knowledge burned into our minds, changing our techniques is kinda hard. everyone’s hands were freaking out, fingers moving of their own accord as if our brains no longer had anything to say about what they did. natalie’s pinky finger kept trying to get involved to the point where stephanie had to immobilize itwhen stephanie asked how i was doing, i told her i sucked. the moment that followed involved a joke about my “sucking”. it must have pretty embarrassing since i can’t for the life of me remember the details (if you do, feel free to leave it in the comments. i’d like to remember that one) but whenever my face stopped being pink, i eventually got the hang of it.
even though i posted a link to the video, i wouldn’t recommend copying her technique from it; you really need to have it explained in person. it’s just too easy to think you’re doing it correctly when in fact you’re doing it very very wrong. i mean, we had an expert in the room, and each of us found a way to fuck it up to some degree. sometimes, you just need someone to hold your pinky.
this post began as an e-mail to stephanie pearl-mcphee.
like many of you, i stalk her blog and on twitter.
like many of you, i’ve even met her a few times.
but somehow, this time, i realized i was being . . . really fucking crazy,
and sending a relative stranger my knitting worries is, well, insane.
instead, i’m writing this blog post
and asking you even more strange readers
for your advice as knitters.
to those few who are close to me, poke no fun,
for i know where you sleep.
the other day,
against all my better judgement,
and with much anxiety in my soul,
i cast on a . . . . project.
this is an important project to me,
and like so many others, is meant as a gift and surprise.
the clincher is of course that this project is . . . well i can’t tell you.
let’s just call it an item, one that has to fit the intended person,
or else i will die inside.
as knitters, we all know that “surprise” and “a item that fits” is a scary combination of concepts. yet somehow, i found it impossible to resist the temptation. i deluded myself with phrases like,
“i’m a good knitter!”
“i’ve knit this item before!”
“the area this item needs to cover is similar in shape and size to that same area on myself so if it’s slightly snug on me, it’ll fit perfectly!”
i even stole a comparable item from the intended person’s repository of things which is really the only hope any knitter has of ever pulling something this off.
but while the gift giver in me says,
“work for the surprise! it’ll be so worth it.”
the knitter in me is saying, “suck it up!
take some good measurements,
and it’ll still be a surprise.
just a less dramatic, exciting, and fulfilling one.”
so i ask you,
what should i do?
i really am extremely confident that this item will fit.
but should i do the smart thing?
the right thing?
i’m generally a rule follower when it comes to knitting.
i knit my swatch, and check my gauge.
i wash my swatch, and recheck my gauge.
i always make sure my contrasting color is in my left had for colorwork.
i buy much more yarn than the pattern requires,
and always in the same dye lot.
can i risk it this once? hoping beyond sense that i have enough good karma to say that maybe, this once, EZ owes me one?
or continue my orthodox ways, recognizing the knitting goddess as the hateful bitch we all know her to be? (praise be to her)
tell me what i want!
(and no. it’s not for you.)
March 8, 2011
you may remember that,
a few months ago,
i test knit the
my initial test knit used yarn that,
in my humble opinion, looked like shit.
i wasn’t at all happy with how it turned out.
so i begged tina to send me something prettier
and she came through hardcore.
sometimes you just need a little distance from a f.o.