things finished

July 27, 2013

DPP_1689
DPP_1687
photographing these socks was a bittersweet event for me.
as you may recall, i began these socks with the intention
of giving them to stephanie pearl-mcphee
at the next knot hysteria retreat.
it’d become a tradition of mine.
but of course knot hysteria is no more,
so god only knows when and if i’ll see her.

when i finished the socks,
i was in the tipsy fog.
and it didn’t hit me
until i took their picture
that these socks are basically homeless.

so as i see it, i have two options:
a. – give them away on the blog to someone with similarly tiny feet.
b. – use my super secret sneeky plan to get them to canada.

what do you think i should do?

still, i’m totally happy with how these turned out.
they’re as close to perfectly matched as one can get, even the heels.
DPP_1686i love the heels. (pattern details: here)

my tipsy socks are also finished.
DPP_1697that’s right, bitches.
two f.o.’s in a month.
(i may have an emotion)

however,
unlike my mes chausettes pour p.-mcphee,
my tipsy socks do not match.
DPP_1696at all.

now i ask you,
because maybe this is just my ignorance about dying,
but how can two socks be so different when:
1. same knitter
2. same needles
3. same pattern
4. same gauge
5. same fucking yarn.

can someone please explain that to me?

while i do love the second sock
and recognize that it is beautiful,
i still completely prefer the first one.
there’s always gonna be a favorite,
as with any siblings.

these socks are not homeless, though they will be a surprise.
luckily, i have the recipient’s address this time.

finally,
(and believe me it pains me to say this)
i need advice on . . . a baby sweater.
let me be clear: i’m cool with babies.
it’s parents of babies i can. not. stand.
which generally results in the same thing: avoiding babies.

but this universe has a sick sense a humor
and frequently makes us deal with things we’d rather not.
so i’m going to knit my friend a baby sweater.
it’s not going to be any degree of cutesy;
nor will it be even the slightest bit wootsy.
if i see any baby blue acrylic yarn, i’m pulling the plug.
i want to make something dignified and stylish for a small person.

that’s all.

so what would you recommend?
is the baby surprise over?

clockwork and the harlot’nuff said.

tomorrow i recount my epic adventures with the tina in portland

aCute angle

August 17, 2012

i have a confession to make about my last post.
it was what you might call, not entirely honest.
true, that photo was takes in the nest i’d made on the floor,
but i didn’t actually stay there.

it wasn’t for lack fo trying, mind.
it’s just that,
apparently,
27 is the age at which
one is no longer able to sleep on the floor.
it’s frankly quite sad since my childhood was filled with instances of my curling up in unlikely spaces to rest. my favorite was the floor of the passenger side of my dad’s red chevey pickup.

adulthood is filled with sad milestones.

so where did i end up sleeping you ask?
well, while i couldn’t sleep on the hardwood,
i was able to channel my childhood talent for contortion,
and curled myself around the item on the bed,
covering the ends of the blocking wires
to avoid being impaled in the night.

which i suppose would be more impressive
if the item in question were bigger.
it was still, nonetheless,
a challenge.
mo upped the level of difficulty
by finding the one spot to curl up
that made any movement in the night impossible.

so here it is, the first knit i’ve ever slept with:
pattern – aCute angle yarn – luscious silk in the ‘ghillie dhu’ colorway

frankly, this item has been nothing but trouble from the start.
before i went to the knot hysteria gourmet retreat,
i suggested to my fellow retreaters
that we all do a knitalong.
i chose the aCute angle
because it had just been released
and seemed easy enough for us to complete in a weekend.

several people finished theirs in the blink of an eye,
but mine refused to even get started.
the first time, i twisted the join,
and didn’t notice for at least an inch.
the second time i cast on a number of stitches
that had absolutely nothing to do with the pattern.
(i think it was off by something like 12 stitches?)
once i’d finally got myself together,
it was the end of the second day
and my modifications* meant
i’d never finish that weekend.

i know i finished knitting it at some point,
but it sat for ages waiting to have its ends woven in.
then i let it have a nice soak and promptly forgot about it.
i don’t think silk is meant to soak for three days.
there’s something about the texture that feels . . . different now.

even this post has been needlessly delayed.
it’s been written for at least three days;
all it wanted was a final edit.
regardless, it came out beautifully,
and i thoroughly recommend this pattern.
it really is a snap for anyone whose mojo isn’t on the fritz,
(though blocking lace in the round presents its own unique challenge)
and this is one pattern where i think the yarn is perfectly matched.
(just note that, on ravelry, it’s currently misspelled as ‘a cute angle
losing all the fun wordplay in the title!)

now i just need to figure out who it’s for.
though, it might be perfect for mo.
tomorrow, the most irrelvant post i’ve ever written.
>glares at certain portland-based blogger<

à demain, bitches!

*aCute angle modifications: i added one pattern repeat and did seed stitch for the border rather than garter stitch.

tomorrow evening, i’m on a plane to portland.
i am going to the summit.

tonight i’m knitting my little wrist off.
like many a student before me
i didn’t do my homework.
i’m cheating a little,
making it work,
using sport weight yarn on 2.75mm needles
rather than fingering weight on 2.25mm needles.
it’s just like that old trick of adjusting your margins
in order to meet the minimum page number.

(like you never changed your margins and watched the sun come up)

i promise, mr. habit,
it’ll be ready in time for class.
i usually take better pictures than this.
it’s just . . .
my iphone was handy
and i need to finish this homework
and my summit sock probably won’t fit
and i have a shawl to finish by august 1st
and i’ve been packing for days
and i leave pittsburgh in a week

WHOAREYOUTOJUDGEME!?!

*pant* *pant* *pant*

alright.
i’m ok now.

in any case,
this is my class schedule:

7/28
9:00am photographing your fiber – franklin habit
7:00pm opening night reception
7/29
9:00am knitted tessellation: playful and powerful patterns in practice – franklin habit
3:00pm hizsocks: making socks manly – stephen houghton
10:30pm sock hop
7/30
9:00am tvaandsstickning/twined knitting – nancy bush
5:15pm this. but only to document, not participate. as if!
7:00pm this is your brain on knitting – stephanie pearl-mcphee
7/31
9:00 am fleece on your feet – judith mackenzie

so if you see me in class,
or wandering around the convention center,
you bitches better say hello!

(do you think the harlot ever cheated on her sock homework?

more roman numerals

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.

a pretty thing

February 14, 2011

hey.
over here.
i made a pretty thing.
just in case you wondered if i’m still into the whole knitting business.

(this knit is mo approved)

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.

it’s been a day

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.

switched shifts.

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

(stolen from the harlot's blog)


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 cast on this sock:

and this february lady sweater without a second thought.

i’ve got a long weekend in front of me.
i’ll see you in pittsburgh on monday.

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