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.
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.
February 17, 2011
as a rule,
i don’t really believe in knitting prayer shawls.
i’m not sure why, exactly. perhaps it’s simply my inner cynic.
but, with all the many tragedies occurring in my periphery,
none has ever compelled me to knit a damn thing.
for me, knitting is about happiness,
the joy of beautiful yarn,
the mediation of repetitive motion,
the focus required to execute a high degree of difficulty.
knitting is a selfish act.
at least for me.
and while i do give most of what i knit away to other people,
i’m only looking for that smile on their face.
it’s the best drug.
recently, though, i read a blog post that literally brought tears to my eyes. and, for whatever reason, i finally felt that need to comfort through knitting. three days later, a boneyard was born.
i decided to use the handspun tina gave me for my birthday.
she made me promise i wouldn’t treasure it;
i had to knit something with it.
this felt appropriate.
we all know that, with handspun, you have to be extremely careful.
if i ran out, i couldn’t just call tina and be like,
“whip up some more of this yarn please!
i’m making a shawl and need to bind off.”
believe me when i say i cut it close.
i was weighing that ball after repeat.
and following a sewn bind off that took me three hours to finish,
i had this much yarn left:
it’s roughly a yard and a half.
not bad, right?
the shawl went out in today’s mail,
and should arrive by saturday.
but now i’m all worried.
we’re not exactly real friends.
yes we tweet back and forth,
and occasionally comment on each other’s blog.
it’s . . . . a ravelry friendship i guess you’d say.
two people brought together in cyberspace because of our mutual love of all things knitterly.
but there’s a fine line between doing something touching, and plain old-fashioned stalking. and that line is always drawn by the other person.
February 14, 2011
i made a pretty thing.
just in case you wondered if i’m still into the whole knitting business.
June 19, 2010
i’m pretty beat so i’ll make this quick.
i blocked my juneberry triangle, and it turned out lovely.
i was a bit nervous about blocking this puppy,
since i’d never done it before.
i mean, we all understand the basic principles:
soak, then pin in place. (threading blocking wires through the edges is optional really, but holy god do i recommend them)
but trust me, if you’ve never blocked lace, there’s a bit of a gap between theory and practice. no one tells you through which stitches exactly one is supposed thread the blocking wires, or how ‘hard’ to stretch the lace. no one tells you precisely how to use the pins to hold the wires in place (fyi, pin at a sharp angle to hold them down). nor does anyone mention how uncomfortable it is to lie on the floor at 1 a.m. repositioning pins again and again to get that sucker into just the right shape, especially if your dog decides that is the perfect time to take an interest in your tush. (dog people, you understand. the rest of you, don’t ask)
i swear, we don’t give bitches enough credit for good blocking.
(maybe i should start a blocking business to supplement my habit)
May 14, 2010
this post was supposed to go out yesterday.
but my family lives in the land of dial up.
things take time here.
it’s been day.
or two really.
i wasn’t sure if this was the proper place to write about it,
or if it’s even appropriate to share this kind of thing with the world.
but life isn’t just amusing anecdotes and knitterly antics.
my grandma is ill.
her body and mind have mostly given up the fight, and my mom is her last line of defense. she went into the hospital two weeks ago and it became clear that, while she may get well enough to the leave the hospital, she’d never be able to go home again. my mom found a great nursing home (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms. she assured me that is passed my requirement that it didn’t smell like death) where people seem to care and can handle residents with dementia. only a couple of days after she was settled into her new home, a fever spiked, and i got an early morning wake up call from home.
cap and gown unclaimed.
diploma in the mail.
5 highways and i’m back in the great lakes state.
there were many hugs exchanged back at the homestead, reunited with parents and pup under midnight clouds. but a good night sleep in my childhood bed did little to prepare me to see my grandma this morning.
i came with the sole intention of supporting my mom; i wasn’t thinking about how i’d react. i definitely ate my tears to make it through the day.
the change from the last time i saw her is stark.
it’s hard to see in this frail, confused woman the grandma who played “farm stand” and “kick the sponge” with me when i was a toe-headed boy.
she may have forgotten,
but i haven’t.
and i’ll gladly remind her of what day it is, what time it is, where she put her purse, and any other question whose answer she’ll forget the moment i give it.
it’s the least i owe the woman.
while all this is going on, i get some crazy awesome news:
i got into the yarn harlot/knot hysteria’s silk retreat
i received the email confirmation yesterday,
and a call from stephanie pearl-mcphee today to go over the details.
(i promptly saved the number in my cell and did a gleeful jig)
i absolutely cannot afford to go to this retreat.
(and will unashamedly accept any donations you’re willing to give)
but why have I worked for ten years to build an excellent credit score if i can’t throw caution to the wind and melt my visa card every once in a while?
i don’t think it’s healthy having this level of emotional stimulation coming from two very different places.
or fair for that matter.
all I can do is form a plan of attack;
a strategy for coping so to speak.
so far, the list includes an obscene amount of diet coke, thai food, spindling, and casting on with impunity.
i’ve got a long weekend in front of me.
i’ll see you in pittsburgh on monday.
May 10, 2010
the great thing about working at a knitting store?
you learn something new everyday.
one day, when everyone was singing praises at the alter of elizabeth zimmerman, i impudently remarked,
“she’s not that big a deal.”
a yarn over immediately jumped off my needle.
a number of stitches popped off the needles and fell down several rows.
apparently, arrogant thinking is a sin in the eyes of the knitting gods.
now, it looks like this:
i’ve dropped down.
i’ll attempt to re-knit the rows.
i’ve done it before, though never with knitted lace.
i’ll burn some incense and maybe do a little chant prior to the attempt.
May 7, 2010
i’m in a state of recovery.
from my trip to maryland,
and my (second) masters program.
that’s right bitches, i’m graduating.
fatigue, aphasia, loss of time, peeling scalp,
and my room smells like sheep.
course of action?
milk shakes, knitting, find my watch, head and shoulders,
and stay out of my room.
i’m actually doing quite well, and enjoying finding all the pictures of me and my gams floating around the internet.
you can find them on:
and elsewhere. i know more people stopped me and asked for my photo than i’ve been able to track down. even with yvonne creating a ravelry thread about them.
but my favorite by far was taken by cristi:
because she kinneared me, and i love her for it.
in knitting news . . .
let’s keep in mind that i’m a relatively new knitter (less than two years),
but there is evidence mounting that my i’m maturing.
for instance, i now have a small stash.
and i have a project that is coming up on its one year anniversary:
my shetland tea shawl.
i find the signs disturbing.
so i’ve decided to fight these manifestations of conventional knitterdom,
and knit the shit out of this before it turns 1.
first step in attaining my goal?
casting on 449 stitches for the stora dimun knit along
(note my yarn ramekin and the perfect alpaca silk soufflé)
what can i say?
i’m a sheep.
May 3, 2010
well folks, i’m home and well.
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.
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. . .
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.
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.
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 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.
did i mention i got some sun?
May 1, 2010
it’s been a pretty rough week here at bitches get stitches.
i don’t really want to get into too much detail here.
or any detail really.
i’ll just say this:
i’m behind in everything,
my mother is my hero, shouldering the weight of a family crisis,
and my trip to maryland couldn’t have come at a better time.
(or worse depending on how you look at it)
part of my being behind (in everything)
means i didn’t get to set up a proper photo shoot for my gams.
(though the tripod made anna wonder if i were making knitting porn)
i will be wearing my shorts to the fairgrounds tomorrow
and my friends will be wearing t-shirts that read, “i’m with hotpants.”
somehow, my dignity remains intact.
anyway, hope to see some of you there.
if you see us, say hi.
good night bitches!