well folks, i’m home and well.

and tired.

and a little crispy.

the weather in maryland was exceptionally sunny and hot.
the result? my fair skin is a bit brown in some places,
pink in many others.

as with many of my big life events, i’m finding it difficult to accurately describe the weekend. (i need to start carrying a dictaphone with me or something)

plus i have two final papers to finish this week so i kinda need to conserve some of my writing mojo. but as always, i’ll do my best.
here goes:

it’s the middle of the night and i can’t sleep.
i’m totally stoked for tomorrow and my mind won’t shut up.
so of course, i edited my “i’m with hotpants” blog post, and did a mini photo shoot.

after which i questioned my sanity, put late night vegas poker on the tv, spread out in my king sized bed, and hugged all six of my downy pillows.

sleep came soon after.

later that same morning . . .

we started out early and beat the traffic.

i left my friends at the fold/socks that rock line, making a bee line for. . .

the fleeces!

now, i’m not a spinner.
but as this was my first fiber festival,
i had this romantic notion that i would own the grand champion fleece.
so i waited in my own line, and put in a stupidly aggressive bid.

i also had what i feel is a pretty realistic fear that i actually wouldn’t win, so i purchased “ike’s” fleece, a border leicester/lincoln/corriedale mix ram from shepherd’s hey farm in comus, maryland.
it’s beautiful and would easily make my black sweater dreams come true.

i then braved the heat, saw some baby sheeps,

and proceeded to buy some lovelies.
not too many though.
i had to be sure i could pay for my fleece if i won.

by noon we were all pooped.

(note the custom “i’m with hotpants” tees made by annette)

unfortunately, i had to wait around ’till 3 to see if i won the silent auction.
so i wandered around some more,

saw some more sheepy things,
drank my weight in lemonade and root beer floats,
and headed to the “big barn” at 2:40 ish.

when i arrived, the gossip amongst the volunteers was that a mysterious man was lurking. last year, he swooped in a bought all the winning fleeces at the last minute.

i was obviously concerned.

when he moseyed into view, the ladies quietly pointed him out.
his wife clearly wanted my fleece,
what with it being an uncoated black merino that won best in show.

the volunteers galvanized their power behind me,
handing me a pen to write in a last minute bid if i needed,
and heckled the couple, warning them of my ire should they try to outbid me.

i gave the interlopers my absolute best evil eye.
those who have met it’s gaze can testify to it’s sauron-like power.
(the few that have survived that is)

with two minutes two go,
it was reported to me that the wife said,
“if he wants to pay that much for it, he can have it.”
my stupidly aggressive bid did the trick, and i walked away with my grand champion fleece. by christmas, expect to see me in gorgeous black sweater of my own making.

i then headed back to the hotel to crash, and sooth sunburned scalp.
after a beautiful thai dinner,
and my first lesson in spindle spinning,
i proceeded to the maryland sheep and wool after party which was conveniently held in my hotel.

when i found out that the epic pakistani wedding also being held in our hotel bumped the after party outside into the parking lot, i should have taken it as a sign that things wouldn’t end well.

here’s the good of it:
there were crazy good prizes,
and i was with my friends.

(anna apparently got some good gossip)

but there were some serious issues:
there were not enough chairs,
or enough light to knit or drool over peoples hand knits.
so we were left to wait,

and wait,

and wait,

and wait some more for the raffle.

and guido, bless him, had pretty much no skills as an emcee
beyond mad geeky enthusiasm
which may have worked against him really.

and of course they did the raffle in two parts meaning,
(god help me)
we had to wait another hour to see if we’d paid for more than and evening of sitting in the dark with our friends with only the hope of a coconut shrimp and fruit skewer to warm out spirits.

of course i didn’t win.
but two of my friends did.
i took my bitter, pouting, sunburn to bed.

the next day,
after a leisurely breakfast in bed,
we made our way back at a more respectable hour to make sure we hadn’t overlooked anything we had to have.

i resisted the cashmere,
but left with a gorgeous golding spindle

i don’t spin.

with that crazy purchase, i knew i needed to head home.

and here i am, back in pittsburgh with a pretty impressive haul.

(excuse the unnatural light please in this photo)

did i mention i got some sun?

a little pick me up

April 19, 2010

i was feeling a little woebegone today.
i’m really missing mr. mo
(he’s visiting his grandparents during finals week)

but when i got home,
i found a little pick me up.

sitting there on my davenport, was a package.
it was the tee shirt i bought from cubist literature

it’s called knit for fish & needless to say it turned my frown upside down.

nothing makes me happier than an unexpected package on my couch.
especially from a talented boy from brooklyn, like craig hunter
(i can hear you giggling in the back. grow up.)

he even left a little note.

believe me,
i won’t.

and the winner is . . .

April 11, 2010

i couldn’t believe how many people entered the girasole contest.
i had to honor that by making a bit of a to do about it.
and in order to be fair,
i had to have someone impartial pick the number

this is my roomie, veronica

she graciously agreed not to enter so she could pick the number.

(and wear an evening gown and pumps)

we had quite a photo shoot for this one

(we were cracking up the whole time)

but you don’t really care about that, do you?

you want to know who won, right?

well, we have a winner


congratulations shara!
her comment was hilarious too:

i totally want that, i’ll trade you a kidney for it….or part of my liver, if you’re not too particular.

that won’t be necessary.
mine work just fine.

and thanks again to everyone who played.
i’m sure i’ll make something else one day that i’ll need to give away.

xoxo bitches!

the best laid plans.

April 4, 2010

i have some good news, some not so good news, and some pretty interesting news.

the good news – i finished the girasole

the not so good news – it’s not as big as i wanted it to be

it’s measuring out to be about 4 feet across.
i’m guessing that i can block it out to about 5 feet.
i wanted it to be at least 6 feet in diameter.

though i’d really love to blame the pattern or the designer, this one was all me. when i started, i knew i wanted to make the blanket, not the shawl. the pattern calls for a aran weight. i subbed in a worsted. the pattern called for a 10.5 but that was WAY to big for the yarn i had chosen.

so i used a 9.

plus, i’m a tight knitter.

this failure is all my own.

(but the fact that you have to fudge the last stitch in the edging is jared flood’s. take that!)

i recognize that it’s beautiful and i put a ton of hard work into this project. but the fact is, it’s like making a sweater that doesn’t fit. you gotta give it to someone it does.

which brings me to my pretty interesting news.
i’m giving it away to you!
that’s right, you can win my girasole.
(totally inspired by the yarn harlot’s most recent giveaway post)

the rules of the first bitches.get.stitches giveaway:

  • leave a comment
  • your comment = your number
  • i’ll have an impartial person draw a random number and that person will get the girasole!

we’re on the honor system here people.
i can’t stop you from making a bunch of fake emails and pseudonyms and commenting like crazy. but i trust you bitches.

i’m having some friends/coworkers over on wendnesday to block this bitch. there will be feasting, conviviality, and perhaps a soupçon of debauchery.

and maybe some pinning. maybe.
the drawing will be sunday sunday sunday
(april 11, 2010)

so bitches,

who wants it?

edit: thanks for playing everyone, but we have a winner!

so i hope you’ll still find it gripping.

last night i went out and did young people things.
it’s been a while since i’ve had the inclination, energy, or time to go dancing.

but last night was special.
last night, i had the opportunity to see an icon of the queer world.
last night, amanda lepore came to pittsburgh.

since it’d been a while since i’d been to a club, i felt a bit overstimulated

but i’m a pro, and i shook my ass like one.

there were some seriously fabulous people there

(i love this queen!)

but no one could have ever topped amanda herself

(these have to be some of the best shots of my career)

i kinda wish i’d paid the $200 to get into the v.i.p. room to meet her.
i mean, did i really need to eat this week?

while many of you were probably more excited about my harlot encounter, seeing an icon in person is one of those once in a lifetime things. i know i’ll never forget that night.

how could i?

she did look a little cold though.
maybe i should have knit her something.

i’m one lucky bitch

March 16, 2010

while taking a nap this afternoon, i got a couple text messages letting me know that the yarn harlot blogged about me and my socks!:

“And there was Steven,
who not only knit his first socks, but knit them for me, which was pretty outstandingly touching. (I’ve had a good look at them too… they’re perfect. They look nothing like first socks. Darned good knitting, even though he had to put a rush on them and finished them right there.)”

i know they’re not perfect, but i’m loving the idea the sock knitter herself gave my socks a proverbial gold star.

in the very same post you should also note ms. juliet (the fine lady who knitted the carrot).
or as i know her, my first fan.

waiting in in the morning rain for the library to open, she asked me if i was steven. i figured since i was back in michigan that maybe i was a school mate of one of her children or maybe she was a former teacher i just didn’t recognize.

no my friends, she recognized me from my blog. (how cool is that?!)
believe me when i say that was the best way to start one of my favorite days.
she even asked me to put some of my mojo on her carrot.
thanks juliet!

unrelated to my harlot encounter, i’m currently watching the original halloween by john carpenter. in one brief shot, you see that laurie (jamie lee curtis) has a knitting bag! how cool is that! i guess her long aluminum needles and blue acrylic yarn are supposed to add to her 70′s girl scout persona.

all i could think was she should use them to defend herself later on in the movie!

warning. if the notion of a knitting celebrity is lost on you, this post might not make a whole lot of sense. just sayin’

i always feel like i need a vacation after my vacations; when i leave my “real” life behind, i invariably try to pack in as many activities as humanly possible leaving me completely drained when i get home.

which isn’t to say that my spring break wasn’t completely worth it.
i’m only saying i am bushed, bitches.

i’ll skip the details of my family fun time. this is supposed to be a blog about knitting right? suffice it to say there were a lot of movies, excessive ingestion, a piercing replacement, and one wicked game of canasta where i, of course, kicked ass.

the subplot of my week was the knitting of my first socks which would then be given to ms. stephanie pearl-mcphee (a.k.a. the yarn harlot). let me tell you, coming off my knitting olympics “win”, choosing to embark on yet another project with a radical deadline only added to my current state of exhaustion. luckily, the knitting olympics taught me the most important lessons of deadline knitting:

one. knit everywhere.

i knit in the car.
i knit in the movies.
i knit over dinner.
i knit in front of the television.

this may seem like an obvious lesson, but how many of you actually practice it? imagine how much we would finish if we knit everything as if we were on deadline!

i do warn you that knitting everywhere, while very productive, can irritate the non-knitters around you. i suffered a frown every now and then when my knitting was deemed de trop.

two. if you finish, it will always be a close call.

for instance:

here’s the (second) sock waiting with me in the friendship auditorium of the detroit public library roughly two hours before the event was scheduled to begin

i definitely wasn’t the only one stitching in the auditorium:

and look! the quasi-mythical spindle spinner:

you don’t often see them outside the yarn store. i was so happy capture an image of one in the wild.

after a couple hours of just sitting there knitting, borrowing strangers’ measuring tapes, and a phone call for a last minute kitchner stitch refresher, i finished my second sock!

two minutes later, out came the yarn harlot!
now, everyone i know who’s met her says how nice and down to earth stephanie is, but that’s not how she came off to me, or at least that isn’t what stood out most.

if someone asked me, i would say the yarn harlot is one sassy bitch!

and i love her even more because of it!

i was enthralled by every syllable of her talk; it was the perfect fusion of comedy and insight couched in personal experience. (i delighted in her anecdote of spilling coffee all the time since i had spilled my mocha a few hours earlier on my knitting olympics sweater)

she read from her forthcoming book (which she had never done before ironically enough) on knitting and self esteem. when she finished, i had a tear in my eye. i was truly moved and i cannot wait to buy it.
(and no it’s not available for pre-order on amazon. believe me i checked)

after the talk, i waited in line to get a book signed, and, most importantly, deliver my socks.
i kept rehearsing what i thought i should say so i would come off as witty and poised, like in this photo:

a photo worthy of the hipster olympics for sure.

when i got to the front of the line, and she KNEW MY NAME, any possibility of coming off as cool went out the window. she graciously accepted my socks, and posed for the obligatory fan photo with me and the socks

(note the stark difference between the “posed hipster olympics face” and the “totally geeked out to meet stephanie pearl-mcphee and she’s holding my socks face”)

the best moment of the day: addressing her assistant she said, “he seems nice.”


so that’s my story, bitches.
i don’t know if our paths will cross again, but here’s hoping

i did it bitches!

February 28, 2010

hours before the torch goes out, and while the usa and canada duke it out for gold, i cast off my sweater at 3:15pm est.
i did it bitches!

(mo is proud of me too)

working this pattern, i learned to do a lot of things i’d never done before including:

short rows
hiding wrap and turns
bottom up sweater
sleeve seeming
yoke sweater
extensive color work mixing english and continental knitting

i also learned that jared flood might be the next ysolda teague. the pattern was definitely unclear at times, and not easily modified to achieve a different fit. i would NOT recommend this pattern for the inexperienced knitter.

i want to say i can’t believe it, i can’t believe that in two weeks, i finished this sweater that was a real challenge for me. but honestly, i can believe it. i’ve learned that i do in fact know what i’m doing and that gosh darn it, i’m a pretty damn good knitter.

so yarn harlot, your team may have won olympic gold, but did any of those hot hockey men knit a sweater?

i didn’t think so.

of bloody course

February 16, 2010

i’m having an emotion right now.
it’s mixed.

i received a package today.
from sweden.

that’s right folks, it’s my green mist bohus hat kit.
the one i wanted to knit for the knitting olympics.

isn’t it beautiful?

however, i will continue on with my sweater.
i’ve made my commitment,
and some good progress.

check it out

two sleeves

and for your pleasure, bitches

some ribbing

seventeen days

February 12, 2010

so i’m sitting here waiting to cast on for the official 2010 knitting olympics

i know there are thousands more of you waiting too

i had originally hoped to cast on a bohus stickning Green Mist hat (Gröna Dimman mössa) but due to many acts of god and pittsburgh being bad at dealing with snow (biggest understatement of the century) it has yet to arrive.

instead am casting on jared flood’s huron (rav link) which may actually be less realistic than the bohus hat.

i’ve trained for this day

(note the washed gauge swatch)

and i’ve been drafted by my nation to be a member of the of the semi-official, self proclaimed natural stitches team

as i sit here dying to cast on yet another project, i just want to take this opportunity to thank the yarn harlot for not only holding these knitting olympics, but for being an inspiration to knitters across the globe.

it moves me to think that, because of her, i know there are tons of crazies out there casting on with me, all knitting toward the same goal.

a gold medal with a naked man on it.

so as i sit here, at the ready, i answer the call and recite The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I’m supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success….
but on my trying.



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