April 14, 2013
on my way to paris,
i decided to knit a sock.
sock knitting is perfect for airplanes, and
i was drawn to the colorway from the last month of last year’s sock club.
since school timing makes going to maryland sheep and wool impossible,
i decided i would treat myself to a knot hysteria retreat this summer.
and since it’s my tradition to always knit something for the harlot when i see her, the sock would be perfect.
and then, the bomb drops while i’m in paris:
tina and stephanie broke up.
no more sock summits.
no more knot hysteria retreats.
frankly, i’m shocked,
and i know a lot of people are.
within 20 minutes of the post, texts were flying between knitters
asking who knew what? how did this happen?*
never would i participate in yarn-dying melée.
never would i learn more about fiber in a day than i have in the past 3 years. never would i get the chance to spin and knit and make friends and steal my favorite soap that looks like a rock from the port ludlow resort’s maid’s cart. (and i’m on my last fucking bar!)
i made some life-long friends at my first retreat
i learned to spin, just so i could go, and now i’m a spinner.
and now it’s all over.
and there’s this sock
that has no mate, as of yet,
and i can’t seem to bring myself to cast on the next one.
it’s really pretty, and i love this pattern,
but the intension that bore it
can never be fulfilled.
so what should i do?
leave the pair unfinished, in honor of the loss of knot hysteria?
quit whining, knit the second one, and give them away?
**my personal hypothesis is that knot hysteria dissolved because tina and stephanie were sick of dealing with the same whackos that showed up to every single event. i mean, there were some awesome folks who went, people that i love. but some of those regulars . . . if you saw them on the bus, you’d get off and wait for the next one to come. just sayin’.
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,
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,
mo upped the level of difficulty
by finding the one spot to curl up
that made any movement in the night impossible.
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.
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.
September 6, 2011
i took a wee break from reading what i’m supposed to read,
to catch up on those few blogs that make me smile.
but when i came to tina’s blog,
i could feel the cold-wet of tears in my eyes.
truly good blogs are a scarce these days,
blogs that post regularly enough to satisfy
and with quality content to merit their existence.
i try to share as much of myself on here as is safe.
i try not to hold back. (hell i was even naked once)
and it’s rare to find someone brave enough to expose themselves in that way, to let perfect strangers have access to your life
in a genuinely personal way.
and here we have tina,
not only writing a post so raw it moved me,
but sharing her life experiences in the colors she gives us.
a rare gem indeed.
don’t take it for granted.
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.
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.)
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!
November 8, 2010
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.
does this yarn look familiar?
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.
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.
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.
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!
September 15, 2010
today i got my shipping notification,
and my yarn will be here soon.
i think i have a crush on you.
(which is more than a little confusing).
p.s. (to the readers) my friend jen is demanding photos of my blocked northern summer shawl. keep your eyes peeled later ok?
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.
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,
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
do it yourself.
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,