birthday news

December 18, 2010

well folks, today is my birthday.
i am twenty six years old.
to me, that seems very old,
but i’ve been told i have a problem with aging.
(my face would agree)

rather than dwell on my fine lines and wrinkles,
how about i tell you my news?

at 161 6th ave in manhattan,
soho publishing puts out vogue knitting,
knit simple, yarn market news, and debbie bliss magazine.
this summer, i will be their lowly unpaid intern.

this will mean a move to new york city for at least three months.
right now, the only thing keeping my excitement under control
is this terrible urge to vomit all over myself.

moving to new york is a kind of mythical adventure;
it’s one of those things “other” people do,
not some corn-fed michigan boy.

the mind reels.

however,
being a lowly unpaid intern means i’ll also need a real job in the city.
so, my new york friends,
wanna see my resumé?

to those who wait

December 10, 2010

the other day, i got an email.
which lead to one of the loveliest phone calls ever.
the specifics of that phone call are unimportant.
let’s just say there were plenty of laughs.

the result of said conversation arrived yesterday:

with this yarn,
i will knit my first sample garment ever
for blue moon fiber arts.

i literally got all misty just now typing that.
it just feels really special, having someone think your knitting is good enough, worthy enough to represent their company. tina is a busy busy woman, and she has poured her soul into blue moon. i mean, it’s literally her home for christ’s sake.

i just feel really honored to be a part of it,
if only in this small way.

and the extra money and yarn support ain’t too shabby either.
i’m going to do the right thing, listen to suze orman,
and put that money right into savings.
(i read the money book for the young, fabulous & broke, all of which i am. it scared the shit out of me.)

and that brown yarn,

that’s some handspun. my first birthday present of this year.
(tissue! i need a tissue here!)

oh you didn’t know i had a birthday coming up?
on december 18th, one week before christmas,
i will gain another digit.
to celebrate the end of my youth,
i’m headed to new york in six,
count ‘em, six motha fuckin days bitches!
(it’s my first time, new york. please, be gentle)
how can someone as young, fabulous, and broke as i afford such a trip?
no it has nothing at all to do with cramp in my jaw.
simply put, i’m scamming a free bed off a friend.
actually a friend’s boyfriend.
actually it’s his parents.
i have no shame.

i’m hoping it will be as fantastic as i’m imagining,
and i wonder how it will stack up to paris.
in any case,
the best gifts are still the ones you give yourself.

of course birthday gifts from other people still rule,
and in many cases are implicitly mandatory to maintain a friendship.

if you were wondering what to get for your favorite knit-blogger for their birthday or christmas, here are some suggestions
(purely a hypothetical here)

1 – money. nothing says i love you better, or is more personal than cash. a check or money order is also great, but traceable. better to leave no paper trail. (what? i went to school with mob children)
2 – gift card to a LYS. this says i love you enough to let you spend the money as you see fit, but i don’t want you spending it on drugs or alcohol. wool is much safer.
3 – membership in the 2011 rockin’ sock club. this gift says, i know you have a problem with sock yarn, and i’m totally ok with that. it also says you better knit me some damn socks already.
4 – moisturizer. this gift says, you’re looking pretty . . . fucking old. you need to take care of that hot mess you call a face.
(best birthday card ever tina!)

but if your holiday is going to be as tight as so many americans’
nothing warms the heart of a jaded, grinchy blogger,
like a happy birthday comment.

see you in new york, bitches!

stash karma

November 8, 2010

so i drew a winner for my contest on friday,
and i know you’ll join me in congratulating miss. jen
who has selected this lovely skein of socks that rock.

mo approves.

to those of you who didn’t win, thanks for playing.
i hope you’ll still keep me on your blogrolls.

if there was a particular skein that you were hoping for,
drop me a line. we’ll work something out.

however,
stash just doesn’t seem to want to leave!
in fact, as one skein of blue moon leaves my house,
three more have arrived.

does this yarn look familiar?

it should.

it’s luscious silk in the “manly yes, but i like it too” colorway.
a few months ago, i knit a shawl out of this very yarn
for the lovely tina newton
so why the hell do i have three more skeins of it?

here’s the scoop:

even though we’re both pretty busy,
(tina obviously more than i)
every now and then,
she drops me a line.
or i drop her a line.
sometimes,
i drop her a stack of post-it notes.

in our most recent exchange,
it turns out that she lost the shawl.
she was sick about it, and wasn’t sure if she should tell me.

being a knitter, i immediately offered to reknit it.
i mean, she loved it so much. how could i let her feel bad?
i said my finger was poised above “purchase” button on the BMFA website, and i was ready to dig up the pattern.

she wouldn’t hear of it.
she insisted she give me the yarn.

of course her generosity floweth over
since there is no way i’ll need three skeins.
apparently, the only real way to get rid of stash is to knit it.
any idea what i should do with the third one?

the story doesn’t end there though.
after i got the yarn tina wrote:

“I traced my steps that day over and over and realized that it probably dropped off my shoulders when I headed this toddler off at the pass because her mum was too far behind and not gaining the speed her little girl was.

So I went back to the grocery store that this had happened at a couple of days ago and was about to ask after it when I saw that one of the cashiers had it on.

She was showing it to a customer and was obviously in love and well I couldn’t, I just couldn’t.
I thought you’d understand.

You do right?”

can you believe that?
tina is a bigger knitter than i!
i would’ve snatched that shawl off that cashier
faster than a pissed off queen snatching a wig off.

still,
my answer was obvious.
of course i understand!
tina let the cashier keep the shawl
for the same reason i immediately offered to reknit it.
we knit, at least in part, because we love when people love hand knits.
clearly, the knitting gods work in mysterious ways
and that cashier was meant to have shawl number one.

this time around i’m making sure to say all the right prayers,
lighting extra incense, candles, and such
to make sure this one stays on the intended shoulders.
maybe i’ll send a shawl pin to be safe.

oh yeah,
she also hired me to be a test knitter.
can you say, “yarn support”?
can you say, “paid to knit”?!
i’m a lucky lucky man.
stephen houghton of hizKNITS may be the first man on the (blue) moon,
but there were 17 apollo missions, bitches!

dear knitting,

i know i haven’t spent as much time with you today as i said i would.
but you have to admit i’ve stayed pretty true to you over the years.

i appreciate your tolerance,
and that you recognize that monogamy isn’t my style.
my fooling around with that shiny new spinning wheel at work,
that’s for you. . . for us!

i love you, but today,
you may think i crossed a line.

today, on this beautiful november afternoon,

i took my first steps toward quilting.

my friend lee practically begged me to try it.

and before i knew what was happening,
she was showing me the basics.

yes the fact that i was sitting on a curb

with sewer fumes periodically wafting up
makes it look like i wanted to quilt like a crackhead wants. . . well. . . crack.

and yes,
lee gave me this awesome quilting kit to get me started,

but it’s not what it looks like.

sure i’m sentimental.
i love making things with my hands,
things that are connected to tradition,
things that stand the test of time because i put the effort in.

but honestly,
i’m only doing this so that someday
i can replace the threadbare quilt my grandma made.

one quilt. just one.
two, two at the most!

it’s a temporary thing.
what we have? my love for you?
that’s forever.

i hope you understand.

love,

steven

ps (to the readers). what? like you don’t talk to your knitting. sheesh.
go enter my contest already

(this post unconsciously inspired by the yarn harlot *sigh*)

a northern summer night

September 16, 2010

today was bad.
i woke up very very late
to the sound of roofers and their nail guns.
later on, i had rage. much rage.
thanks to the power of email.
i muddled through somehow,
came home to my very clean house
and veronica let me know that mo peed in her room.

perfect.

so rather than dwell on the bad day,
let’s talk about a good one.

picture it,
monday:

six and two people were coming over
to block my northern summer shawl.
while i am technically able to do it myself,
i’d never blocked a triangular shawl that curves.
any shawl that is worked top down with six increases
(rather than four) every two rows will curve thusly.

so i thought,
why not make a night of it?

but if you’re going to convince people to get on their knees
you need to pay them somehow.
for pinning wet wool,
a feast is best.

menu:
-soul twin salad.
-panko breaded chicken cutlets,
fried in bacon grease,
served with mushroom gravy
-the famous mac & cheese.
-peanut tofu and broccoli,
served with white rice
-roasted asparagus
-chocolate tart with almond whip cream
(provided by the lovely veronica).

the characters:

nancy

yvonne

david

lee

(anna was in charge of the camera
so there’s no picture of her)

and then there was me,
whose sole contribution to the pinning process

was hovering occasionally over my friends
then dashing back to check on the chicken.

they pinned,



we feasted.

and watched steel magnolias with dessert.

it was lovely.

i didn’t even mind the mess.

it was so
worth it.

so remember bitches
don’t block,
cook!

*note – i had no one else to model for me
and while noon is the worst time to do a photo shoot
i love how this photo came out.

sur la table

August 13, 2010

even though i’ve decided to take this year
to live a life of fiber frivolity,
my real life,
“the plan”
looms like an ever present miasma.

so veronica and i got a new table/work station for our nook.

as you can see,
my priorities are still skewed.
but that laptop right there is all business.
i promise.

kelli (of the infamous stóra dímun),
has requested another shawl of me.
per usual, she offered to pay for the yarn.
and anyone who wants to keep me in tosh sock, i’m knitting for.

she wanted a haruni,
but everyone and there mother is making one.
if fact, i think kelli is knitting one for her mother right now.
i said i’d make a shawl, but i wanted one a little more challenging,
and a little less commonplace.

i chose the norther summer shawl by jo kelly.
it alternates stockinette with knitted lace (patterning on both sides)

i’m in love.

it just came out this month and, so far,
there’s only the designer’s finished project on ravelry.
can’t get much newer than that.

i’m racing through it now,
hoping to be the first person to post one to ravelry.
i’ll let you know how it goes!

and now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for,
the winner of the shaelyn shawl.

let me just say,
this was the hardest contest ever.
i never expected a blog contest to get me all misty.
there are so many deserving people.
how could i choose?

the answer is a couldn’t
so in honor of friday the 13th,
i took the top thirteen comments,
and drew cards, one for each card in a suit.

congratulation to sheri and her friend pat.

yours was the queen of diamonds.

to everyone else,
i hope that, at the very least,
the contest made you think about the people in your life.
even if you don’t knit for them, i think you’d agree,
we need to take care of the people around us.
and we could all use a little extra love thrown our way.

speaking of which,
veronica would like to thank all the people for their compliments on the photo shoot and for voting for her to win the shawl.

i however must ask you stop.
i fear she might start charging me.

seriously guys,
tone it down.

bon anniversaire!

August 9, 2010

well folks, today is the one year anniversary of bitches get stitches!
i started it a year ago for some reason i suppose,
but i’m finding it hard to remember why.
if i go back to that first post, i wrote,

“here I am world, Steven A.
why am I here? besides the fact that all the cool kids are doing it? I needed a place to talk shop.
knitting that is.”

simple enough.

it’s harder to articulate why i keep going exactly.
i guess, on the most basic level,
i write because there are people who read;
there are people out there who actually care what i think,
(at least when it comes to stitch manipulation)
and like the part of me i’m putting out for the world to see.

it’s great to feel like i’m actually a part of the conversation,
and not just some crazy person talking about yarn.

there’s also the fact that,
no matter what,
this is my space.
a place where i can be sassy and irreverent as i want.
i get to go there,
be the mayor of there,
and no one gets to tell me to shut the fuck up.

or at least if they do,
i don’t have to listen to them.

in any case this year has been great,
and i can’t wait to see what happens next.

of course, i couldn’t have an anniversary post without a f.o.

so i busted my buns,
tracked down more beads,
and finished my shaelyn shawl.

(veronica was kind enough to model for me)

(you really should check out the rest of the photo shoot. it’s gorgeous!)

i used madelinetosh pashmina in the “copper penney” colorway leftover from the juneberry i knit for stephanie. i added size 6 miyuki beads, color 135 (root beer). 648 freakin’ beads.

i knit this with no one specifically in mind;
i just wanted to use up some beautiful yarn,
and try my hand at some beaded knitting.

really,
it would have made a great gift for so many people in my circle of friends,
but it really didn’t seem to fit anyone.
so i guess it’s that time again,
time foooooooor. . .

the third bitches get stitches giveaway!!

the rules:
this one’s going to be a little different guys.
i want this shawl to embody the essence of giving.

so,

just leave a comment to enter,
but not for yourself.
instead explain who you think i should send it to and why.

it can be for your sister’s birthday,
or your coworker just because she’s fabulous.
maybe you think i should send it to meg swansen,
just for shits and giggles.

in any case,
the best person/reason wins.
the decision is completely arbitrary;
it’ll just be whichever comment i like best.

so help me out people,
and make some one else’s day!

thanks for a great first year bitches!

retreat

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.

i was in group three,
which meant i spent my first day of class with the depraved dyer herself, tina newton.

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,
silkmo,
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)

later in the day, the dying continued.
we all got to paint silk scarves with tina and stephanie,

and dye silk noil skeins in indigo with judith.

some people even dyed their hair.

day two was spent with judith mackenzie.

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.

*sigh*

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.

just sayin’

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.

i mean,
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.

for instance!
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.

lies!

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.

the test?
do it yourself.

seriously, it’s true.
this is the face of experience

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,
hungry,
broke,
tired.

and i haven’t been this happy in forever.

i’ll miss you port ludlow.

this post is epicly long,
but there’s a nice surprise at the end if you stick with me.
here’s a hint.

i’m back from my west coast road trip.
and all i got was this stinkin’ cold.
and you know, a bunch of pics,
some great memories,

and an ache in my soul since i know it’ll be a while till i get back there to see two of the best people i know, megan and deb.

so let’s get this blog post rollin’
we gotta lot to get through.

since in knew i wouldn’t have much time before we shoved off,
i had to hit the yarns stores in portland asap.
first stop was yarnia, a store that came highly recommended by both michelle and erin, friends from my old knitting group in chicago.

can i just say, that was the coolest yarn store ever.
i have never experienced anything like it.

the premise is “you choose the fiber, color, thickness, and amount, and can have your custom cone of yarn wound for you right on the spot.”
the place is filled with huge cones of every color/fiber combination,
and then you (try) to put together ones that you like.
this is my yarn being made:

the machine doesn’t ply the yarn,
but rather “cones” the strands together.
my cone is one strand charcoal cashmere,
one strand navy silk, and one strand silver silk.
i figured i’d go all out on this guy, who knows if i’d make it back?

i have no idea what i’ll knit with it
but for now, it’s just pretty to look at.

i then headed over to twisted.
that place was SO portland.
it has what megan calls that woo woo west coast vibe.
i mean for god sake they serve tea.

before i left for portland,
i jokingly said i was going stalk sivia harding at twisted,
never once thinking she’d be there when i was.
who comes right up to say hi and take care of us?
sivia freaking harding!

of course i was too surprised to think to get a photo
(i can get a little star struck at times).
she really was the sweetest lady, and (i might have misheard) i think deb and she are going to hang out sometime. how does deb do that?
deb can make friends with anyone.
color me jealous.

it was a modest haul.

but i did good right?

the next day,
it was san francisco ho!
we took the windy scenic coastal route.

deb was mad for foxgloves

and megan had to try on every funny hat we could find

we saw sea lions in the world’s biggest sea cave

(exciting i know)

mostly, we just took are time and soaked up the beauty of the pacific


which turned out to be freaking freezing


but it was truly lovely

we spent the night in a seedy hotel when we just couldn’t drive anymore. megan loved it but i’m still trying to forget.
seriously, it was serial killer worthy.

the next day, we grabbed some caffeine


then checked out some trees older than jesus


(you know, if you believe in all that jazz)

and powered through to our destination.

we woke up in san fran and hit fisherman’s wharf.
this is a cute busker from witchita, kansas.

this is bushman. he hides behind these fronds and scares passersby.

it was kinda hilarious.

the trying on of funny hats continued


we then caught a cab over to dolores park for the pre-dyke march rally

(that’s a lot of ladies)

deb had her first bud light

it’s mandatory that she drink shitty american beer to stay in this country. harsh.

then came the dyke march (and a lot of boobs)

i found this sign to be hilarious

and this one to be sweet

then we danced the night away in the castro

on a truly serious note,
we left mere minutes before three people got shot.
undaunted they still went ahead with san francisco’s 40th anniversary pride parade.

these are some of my favorite pics





(that’s san francisco’s sexy mayor, gavin newsom, and his beard . . er wife)

then i saw this guy

who i hear is in some group . . . the backstreet boys or something.


consider it done sir

i almost peed laughing when i saw these two signs

which i guess is ironic?



it was glorious parade.

we’re almost there people, stay with me!

the rest is a blur but somehow we made it back to portland.
it was my final day so i just had to do something extra special.
luckily, deb and i were graciously invited up for a tour of *drum roll please* blue moon fiber arts!

we got out of the car, and tina greeted me with a hug and sassy look.
i knew right away this was going to be awesome.

she took us over to the dye barn, where we swore on this chicken

that what happens in the dye barn, stays in the dye barn.
so this is what i’ll tell you: everyone i met was hard working and quick to laugh.
joyful industry. that’s what i saw.

that and their banana-eating pet dear

and the wall of every color of socks that rock!!


i was silently shitting myself people. (metaphorically)

then we hung out a bit in the newton house proper


with it’s fabulously remodeled bathroom
(i have photos. it’s gorgeous. trust me.)

the whole time, tina was an open book.
she shared her life, her home, her perspective,
and her freaking awesome collection of all things fiber arty.
all while managing her business; making the calls,
checking on her worker bees, that kind of thing.

she and her team are truly special.
and i feel so lucky to have met them.
thanks ladies. keep working your magic!

and tina,

you hiring?
call me.

whew! i made it through.
how ’bout you bitches?

just checking in

June 26, 2010

so much has happened on this trip;
i couldn’t possibly articulate it all.
i’ll catch you bitches up later.

promise.

for now,
a knitting sunset:

hopefully that can hold you over.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 674 other followers