August 31, 2012
when i worked at natural stitches,
an old, sickly woman would come in a knit.
her name was mattie.
mattie was wheelchair bound
blind in (at least) one eye,
and on dialysis 3 times a week.
she would save up her transportation tickets from her senior center
so she could come, hang out with us,
and we could help her with her projects.
she was always happy
and slightly outrageous.
i always had to help fix her ribbing.
now and then, i’d get roped into running to mcdonalds
to buy her a small fry. (with her coupon, of course)
she always made sure her nails were done, her makeup was on,
and always wore her “good wig” when she came to the shop.
sometimes her leg would pop off as she wheeled across the store to her table and we’d have to hand it back to her. sometimes she’d put it back on. other times, she’d simply plop it on the table and keep on stitching.
i recently found out that she passed away;
they blogged about it on the shop blog.
in honor of mattie i am going to reveal a photo.
it is not the most flattering photo;
the outfit i’m wearing is . . .
it was given as a thank you to my friend yvonne.
when we opened, i couldn’t resist modeling it.
for the most part,
the photo has been suppressed
i’ll never forget you.
wherever you are, i’m sure you’ve finally mastered k2p2 ribbing.
p.s. yvonne, if you read this, do post the details surrounding the outfit in the comments!
June 12, 2012
my instructions say to begin the toe decreases 2.25″ shy of the total sock length. when i measured my sock i had about 6.25″ of sock. when i just about finished my toe decreases,
i’d knitting about 2 more inches,
bring my sock length to
now, i’m no math major
but i’m pretty sure 6.25″ + 2.0″ ≠ 7.5″.
therefore, i have come to the only reasonable conclusion;
i am apparently incapable of correctly measuring the length of a sock.
even though these socks are for someone with small lady feet,
i’m pretty sure they don’t have some kind of baby foot;
an inch of negative ease is a bit much
when we’re talking foot length.
7.5″ ain’t gonna cut it.
(that’s what she said!)
last night’s knitting may have been for naught,
but i’ll finish this bitch by tonight.
in life news,
i took my french midterm today,
and it was wicked hard mes amis.
i had to translate a bunch of things
including a passage about mythical creatures in ireland.
to add to that weirdness,
i had the following encounter:
[setting: msu international center courtyard. steven is leaving the atm heading back to the lot where his car is parked]
“hello. how’re you today” says a man in a thick middle eastern accent. unsure that he was addressing me, i turned to see a slight man smiling. apparently, i was being addressed. this is perhaps odd, but not totally outside realm of possibility. we have a large international student population and most of them stay for the summer since it is very expensive to return home. i figured he was just practicing his english or found it amusing to disconcert a stranger by addressing him. soon, however, i realized he was matching my pace.
“i can make friends?” he says.
“excuse me?” i say, confused by the question.
“i can make friends” he repeats more confidently, extending his hand.
while this continued contact enhanced the oddness of this encounter, i was raised to be polite to people. i suppressed initial thought of who is this creepster?! and took his hand, shook it as best one can a limp clammy fish of a hand, and said “sure”. after all, why can’t we all be friends, right?
“what is your name?” he asks.
again, i tell myself he must have just left his esl summer class and is trying to practice his english.
“steven” i say, smiling paternally.
apparently, this is an unusual name to arabic ears since he had a hard time getting his mind and mouth around the phonetics of it. he would ask me that question at least four more times.
“i am __________” he says.
“i’m from saudi arabia. you know where that is?”
i respond affirmatively, trying to hide my annoyance with such a ridiculous question. like i don’t know where saudi arabia is! he continues in this vein, asking if i study here, informing me that he does too and now i’m catching on.
he is practicing his english, i think
since this stuff is foreign language 101.
that kind of thing.
i proceed with the pleasantries, answering politely if succinctly in hopes of signally my desire to end this linguistic exchange
when things take a turn:
“i like your body. you have time now?”
now, this isn’t my first time at the rodeo; i’ve been around the block and i’ve had men step to me in a variety of ways. but never have i had a stranger from a foreign land inform me in broad daylight in the middle of campus with people all around that he likes my body and inquire if i “had time now.” i kindly thanked him and informed him that i did not, in fact, “have time now” and continued to walk hoping that would end things. undaunted, he followed me saying,
“no worries. another time. i have car. we can go somewhere.”
i don’t know what kind of pheromone i was putting off that made this man think that i’m the sort of guy who gets into the cars of foreign (or domestic) business majors simply because they ask.
i mean, maybe if he were a saudi prince. . . .
but i digress.
the rest is a bit of blur.
suffice it to say i walked off
unharmed, if totally weirded out.
when i was sure i was out of his line of sight,
i remember pausing, looking back, and thinking:
May 26, 2012
my original goal was to blog every day
while i was in the greater portland area.
i also promise myself i’m going to eat better and exercise.
let’s get real for a moment,
and see if i can tell you about my trip.
hmm . . .
day one was a beach adventure/excursion/extravaganza,
a sunny day of photography, sandy toes, and general irreverence.
and of course what day at the beach is complete
without a dead sea lion in a front loader?(sea corpse has a very distinct scent)
i spent the day with tina and her two lovely daughters
who reminded me that teenagers are really just adults
with fewer miles under their belt.
(is that a mixed metaphor?)
the rest of my days were a blur of
i managed to finish up my spruce forest shawl,
and the rain gave way just long enough for a photoshoot.
i even found a couple models to zhoosh up the shot.
the yarn is marine silk sport in the ‘spruced’ color way.
i’ve given up trying to photograph the true color of this yarn;
the silk content and sea cell make it impossible for an amateur like me.
what i love about this color way is that the dye breaks at some point in the process, leaving patches of blue and yellow in the yarn. this process is apparently unpredictable, and therefore the color way has been discontinued. blue moon will, of course, make it upon request. i highly recommend it, especially in this yarn. just make sure to get it all at once if you want your skeins to be at all similar.
this shawl is beautiful when finished,
but the beauty is matched by it’s fussiness.
i do not care for nupp-knitting,
or the bottom up construction.
it was, however, worth it;
the results speak for themselves.
with one shawl completed,
i decided to dust off my shetland tea shawl.
it was the first lace project i ever cast on
and will soon celebrate its third birthday!
i can’t abide its w.i.p. status any longer.
so i grabbed a cat and got to work.
the cat was really there for moral support.
she’s not good for much else.
but even with the support of a cat
i could barely complete a round a day.
those last few rounds have so. many. stitches!
knitting all those stitches
i became hyper aware of the silence,
the sound of the rain falling on the deck,
heck, i could even hear the humming birds at the bird feeder!
apparently, i must’ve had a crazed look in my eye or something
because tina could tell i was getting a little stir crazy.
so she put me to work in the barn.
i learned a heck of a lot in there,
most of which i can’t tell you.
what i can tell you is
it’s fucking hard work.
i can almost guarantee none of you realize how much work actually goes into the whole process, unless maybe you’ve worked in a factory. i worked about a half shift and i was pooped.
it’s basically a yarny sweatshop in there.
(literally. it’s hot in the barn)
that little bit of work really helped me to appreciate just how special hand painted yarns are. we’re lucky to knit in a time when we have easy access to such beautiful yarns. i would much rather give my money to people who are working their asses off to make something unique and special. i know exactly where my money’s going and, to me, it’s worth the cost. but that’s just me.
we ended my visit with a binge at gino’s.
if you live in or around portland,
you must go to gino’s
the tiramisu alone is worth it.
we chose gino’s because deb accuardi owns it and also works at blue moon.
she’s an amazing cook, knows a heck of a lot about gardening,
and had been cracking my ass up all week.
if you meet her,
ask her about her salamander story.
i almost peed in the car when she told it.
(i want that tiramisu recipe deb. stat!)
i think that just about covers it.
. . .asking myself why i don’t live in portland.
May 18, 2012
first, allow me to clarify my last post:
my dad had some surgery.
it went well.
he’s home now.
it may have been a little mean
casually mentioning i was in a hospital
but wasn’t it a good suspense builder?
currently, i’m headed off to a reclusive week in oregon;
my exact whereabouts are known by a select few.
more on that later as things develop.
but i can’t go off on one trip
before i fill you in on my last one.
one of my dearest friends in the world, caroline,
got married last weekend on the outskirts of chicago.
frankly, weddings and marriage aren’t really my thing,
but she’s one of those friends where not attending was unthinkable.
there are few people in my life that i can say i have been friends with for more than a decade; caroline is one of them.
veronica went as my date,
and i’m really glad i brought her along.
because as soon as i saw caroline in the church,
standing in her wedding gown, ready to walk down that aisle,
i fucking lost it.
it was a quiet, dignified cry,
but i cried in public nevertheless.
it didn’t help that care was crying as well,
but i really can’t explain why, exactly, i cried.
i couldn’t tell you why if my life depended on it.
but it did.
luckily the priest started talking,
and his spiel about god and love
turned my tears to a frown.
it’s odd that,
however uncatholic i’ve become,
i remain catholic nonetheless.
even though i thought most everything the priest said was some strightup bullshit, i was totally pissed at the people in front of me who were chewing gum, irritated by the fact that we don’t kneel anymore apparently, and baffled by the new ‘version’ of the mass.
how can i care about stuff like that
when i find the content of the situation to be . . . unpalatable?
the important thing
is that there was something special about being there to witness an event that was meaningful to one of my best friends.
i feel really lucky to have been there.
plus i looked totally fly.
March 25, 2012
depending on which side of the family tree you look at,
i’m either fifth or sixth generation michigander.
i’m also the first generation
not to grow up in detroit.
my family emigrated from ireland and settled in detroit
and did all those big life things in the motor city:
burial (i discovered our family plot)
all with a particular irish catholic flare.
my grandmother’s grandfather was chief of police.
my grandfather’s grandfather built a house there for a staggering sum.
(though that might be the german side. not as popular in the family lore)
last time we checked, someone’s still living in it.
the same feeling that made me weep when i found my ancestral knock in co. kerry i often feel when i go to detroit.
getting to know detroit
makes me feel closer to my family history.
it may be silly or illogical or whatever,
but it’s something i enjoy doing.
i was lucky enough to make it to john k. king used and rare books.
(sorry for the photo quality. clouds + iphone + no photoshop = reality)
walking around a factory
that purports to have 1,000,000 books. . .
overwhelming just isn’t a big enough word.
being there ignited the hoarder within
and i left with more books that i need.
while i doubt any of my family members went there
it’s still a really cool piece of detroit history.
and now, it’s part of mine.
February 24, 2012
as museums go,
the nordiska seemed lackluster.
i feel like, for a cultural museum,
there should have been more stuff or something.
but i went for one reason: the knitting.
here are some of my illicit photos:
(can someone give me a tutorial on how to take good illicit museum photos? i need to somehow get good focus and find an angle that doesn’t show the glare from the glass in the thirty second window of opportunity when the museum worker bees aren’t looking. tips?)
but seriously, bitches.
there were drawers full of knitting samples
and all of the other fiber arts.
i know.got that crazy look in my eye.
it’s a tribute to his character that matti didn’t try to escape.
then there was this little display
that reminded me of franklin and his love of all things old.
but all of that was nothing compared to this
the fucking door had been yarn bombed!
that alone made this museum worth visiting.
(yarn bomb by masquerade)
then it was off to the thielska galleriet
to see the eugène jansson exhibition.
is a gay swedish painter know for his use of blue,
his nighttime cityscapes, and use of light (my fave).
i snuck one shot of the highlight of the exhibition
it and his other works were truly moving.
i’m not a big ‘art’ guy, but i still know when someone’s special.
i wouldn’t have even known about this show if it weren’t for matti.
i owe ya one.
the rest of the shots from that day are of the views from the windows
or from outside while we walked from one museum to the other.
not very exciting, but the guards were nazis at the thielska.
still, maybe just a couple highlights:
this one i took for my mom.
christmas cacti are big in my family.
and this one, i took for me
because i love photos where the sun does . . .
whatever it is you call that in photos.
where it’s peaking through and kinda starbursts?
like this one i took a while ago.
what is that called?
who cares, i like it.
you get the idea.
**if you’re not totally bored with my little travelogue, stay tuned for my final thoughts, an adorable dog, my favorite photo of the whole trip, and the knitting.
February 11, 2012
this song is and will always be my jam.rip whitney
February 5, 2012
i got a package today.
yes another one.
(i’ve considered changing the blog to ‘bitches get packages’)
but this one didn’t arrive at my doorstep, oh no.
i had to track this bitch down.
stupid post office put that little brown sheet in my mailbox
the one that tells you you have to pick it up, you know?
but it was tucked against the front
so i didn’t see it for 2 days!
so i hauled my ass to ass nowhere lansing
where the post office was holding it hostage.
i handed over the brown paper
and my passport which elicited a
“what in the hell is this?” from the postal worker.
apparently she’d never seen a passport before.
then it took a manager to find my package,
because someone had checked the wrong box or something.
wanna know where it was?
right freakin’ next to the worker bee.
if she had reached 3 feet to her right,
she would have touched it.
now, lest you think me an unfrugal grad student,
this membership is courtesy of an anonymous sugar mama/daddy.
that’s right. someone made a generous donation to the bitches get stitches happiness fund in the form of a rockin’ sock club gift card.
i’m one lucky son of a bitch.
while i actually think that rockin’ sock club is underpriced, especially if you compare it to what you get from other clubs. my guess is tina does it on purpose so more people can afford to be in the club.
she’s cool like that.
(seriously, have you checked out other yarn clubs? crazy pricey!)
still, it’s always been just out of my budget.
don’t get me wrong. i’ve dropped some dough on yarn in my time,
but generally, i’m a layaway guy when it comes to big yarn purchases.
(excluding, of course, fiber festivals or travel. that’s what debt is for)
and because i’m not really a sock knitter,
i’ve never been able to justify sock club.
luckily, i don’t have to!
[insert mental .gif of me doing a salacious victory/booty dance]
ps what should i knit with this?
January 10, 2012
how much i love getting packages?
because i really, really do.
back around my birthday,
when i was in new york turning twenty seven,
a package was sent to my old pittsburgh address.
(this happens when someone moves as often as i do)
it was from blue moon fiber arts.
generally speaking, i know when a package is coming from blue moon
because, generally speaking, i’ve placed an order with them.
not so in this case.
(i think i remember getting a little aroused)
luckily, veronica still lives at the old abode.
i knew it was going to be a while before it was sent on to me,
since, with all the holidays, veronica wasn’t there to forward it.
yesterday, it finally arrived on my stoop. i may have squeed.
(note: can you imagine being me, knowing you have a package, and then having to wait for three whole weeks to get it? brutal)
then i thought of the blog, as i often do.
i thought, this is totally blog worthy; it must be blogged.
(i have so little material these days)
but it was dark out when i got home
and therefore i couldn’t take a good photo.
so i waited.
yes people, i waited until the sun came up so i could properly document the moment and share it with you all.
i believe this shows some growth on my part.
(i need to ask frankie for a refresher on how to shoot true colors)
regardless, these colors are perfect.
you can never go wrong giving me a green,
but this deep purpley blue has this acid yellow on the back
that just. kills me.
the crazy thing is i’ve been planning my rhinebeck sweater
(yes i know rhinebeck is in october, but i will not fail this year)
and i wanted to try knitting some mopsy for it.
it seems like it might be meant to be.
but i kinda don’t want to knit this yarn.
it might go into the precious ‘keep forever’ section of the stash.
we shall see.
the card is unsigned,
but the sender has the handwriting of a serial killer.
that can only mean it came from one person.
edit: i just looked up the description for grawk – raspberries in pond scum drowned in black. loud and just a wee bit obnoxious. attention is what he craves and he will get it. from the primordial ooze, he has risen to wreak a bit of havoc. trickster? definitely! hmmm
January 1, 2012
my best friend told me that i should write a proper year in review. being that she is my role model, i try to always follow her advice.
frankly, a year in review post is probably something someone should plan in advance to do it real justice. but everything i do is last minute. why should this be any different?
the researcher in me says i should go back, review my posts, and try to create some semblance of order. instead, i’m working from memory. i’m going to lie back in my bed, nurse this hangover, and you’re going to bear with me.
last year i travelled to portland for the summit, new york city for my birthday, rhinebeck for the star power, maryland for the sheep and wool, chicago for the memories, and pittsburgh cuz i couldn’t cut the cord. not too shabby. i now know why i’m always broke.
last year i almost died. for the two weeks i was in the hospital, i couldn’t eat, and i lost about 15+ pounds. i had a very rare second round of appendicitis (don’t even ask, i’m just weird) that required two surgeries to fix. i remember them putting in an ng tube and projectile vomiting green poison from my stomach that made that scene from the exorcist look like a sneeze. i think about that experience and how lucky i was to survive. i’m grateful the surgeries worked or i’d be carrying around a colostomy bag and i’d still have a tube up my nose. my stomach now looks like i was stabbed several times, my cute nose (the only facial feature i liked) has a scar from where the tube rubbed it raw, and if i ever want my lip ring back in, i’ll have to get it repierced. but i guess it was worth it. i’m still here.
last year my dad almost died. he flipped his car and injured his brain to the point where he needed minor surgery to relieve the pressure. he lived, thankfully, and only my mom and i can tell that he’s just a little bit different now than he used to be. luckily he was always a weirdo so no one else will notice.
last year my grandpa almost died. he fell and broke his back. he’s almost 90 so it’s not that big of a surprise, i guess, but i don’t have the words to describe how terrifying it is to see someone in so much pain that they are no longer mentally coherent. i remember my first instinct was to run away, and how ashamed that made me feel. he made it through, and his cranky ass now lives with my parents. the cats like to sleep on his pillow.
last year, somehow, my mom got us through all this. she’s a tough cookie. i like her a lot.
last year i had my first proper boyfriend, i guess. i never really wrote about it, or talked about it with my friends much. he is a good guy. he bought me my favorite ice cream without me asking. he would drive me places because he new i liked not having to drive. it ended. it was my doing.
last year a crazy lovely lady in colorado named an alpaca after me. he’s funny and special. he does me proud.
last year i danced my freakin’ heart out with tina newton. that bitch can boogie!
last year i sent my clockwork out into the world to see where it would go. it’s stopped for a long time with one person. i don’t mind, really. maybe it just wants to live there for a while. i know who she is. i’d probably hang around there too.
last year i moved into my first apartment by myself. it’s kind of nice. i don’t wear clothes often. i remember when i was young, i promised myself that, for the first year in my first apartment, i would put a desk at the window and smoke to my hearts content. i have broken this promise. i’m sure that makes my mom very happy.
last year i was terrified to leave pittsburgh. it was the first place since leaving my childhood home that i felt was home. i was terrified that leaving would be a mistake, that my goal of getting a phd wasn’t what i really wanted, that i’d be trapped, and i’d be leaving all these new people i cared about for no reason. i was wrong. i really love my program at michigan state. i have an amazing cohort who really supports each other. i made the right decision.
i know lots of other stuff went down, but i think that covers the big shit. all that really matters is at the end of 2011 and taking my first steps into 2012
i am happy.