July 29, 2010
and it’s still for beads.
however, the need has changed
in that it has become more literal.
i have a couple more repeats to go,
and then a lace edging.
the bead store i go to has none,
and can’t get any until next month!
does anyone have roughly 324 miyuki seed beads?
I NEED BEADS!
and now, to counteract my craziness, a baby alpaca.
say hello to sally’s new baby jezebel.
i love that all the aunties came to see the new baby.
hopefully there’ll be a little baby boy alpaca next year . . .
. . . named steven.
send me beads.
July 28, 2010
July 27, 2010
in the back of mind, there is a voice.
it is the voice of the blog.
at any given moment,
it will speak up and say,
“maybe you should blog that.”
“have you written anything today?”
“that’s interesting, but is it blogworthy?”
today, while i was trying to block out the sound of the
howler monkeys children “playing” next door, the voice in my head screamed,
“you have to tell them about the hole!”
i contemplated the irony that the voice in my head might have gone off the deep end when i figured out it was talking about yesterday’s incident with the stóra dímun.
i wielded my tapestry needle like a pro,
and handed it to my friend yvonne to fix
while i went into the fetal position.
she unleashed her kung fu on its ass,
and it came out beautifully.
the plan was to take an artistic bush photo.
by which i mean,
i would put the stóra dímun in the front hedge,
and take it’s picture, you know, to make it interesting.
demons children made that idea impossible.
then i thought,
i’ll throw it on veronica!
that’ll make it interesting.
i tried to put it on her on her way out the door,
and she threw me the look.
the look that says,
“i tolerate this whole knitting obsession of yours because i love you, but if you put that shawl on me and take my picture, i’ll eviscerate you in your sleep.”
sometimes, it’s about not pushing the boundaries of friendship for the sake of the blog. (this lesson in cohabitation brought to you by bitches get stitches) so what does one do when one can’t use nature or feminine beauty to make your knitting look interesting?
July 26, 2010
last night, or early this morning rather,
i conquered the stóra dímun.
it began with 449 stitches,
and now, this bitch is finished!
(the picture should give you an idea of scale here)
some notes on the stóra dímun:
it isn’t for the faint of heart.
while technically easy,
you’re gonna need a shit ton of stamina to finish it.
i probably whined more working on this shawl than on anything else i have knit thus far. endless garter stitch isn’t happy mindless knitting,
it’s chinese water torture.
but now that it’s done,
it’s like a ringing in my ear has stopped,
and i can finally appreciate its beauty.
there are only two little things that i’m concerned with.
issue the first: i cast on too tightly
and it’s making it difficult for me to get it to block in the exact position i’d like.
take a closer look.
yes, it’s what you think.
you’re eyes aren’t lying.
the yarn has indeed snapped,
and my stitches are moving toward oblivion.
not only am i devastated that, in it’s final hour,
stóra dímun has taken one last poisonous stab at my knitterly heart;
i’m truly sad because this shawl is a gift.
and before i even give the bugger away,
it has something truly wrong with it.
you can’t call a repair a design feature.
it’s a hole, a weak spot, a scar,
it doesn’t help that i noticed it after i began blocking it.
all that tugging couldn’t have been good for the hole.
it’s currently 10:45 am est.
i’m just gonna sit here for now,
watching the shawl dry,
sipping on my big glass of port.
and in a while,
i’ll unleash some tapestry needle kung fu on this shawl’s ass,
and put the final nail in its coffin.
you will be a f.o. stóra dímun.
just after i get my refill.
July 22, 2010
welcome to the first installment of project ten!
when i first came up with the idea of these mini-interviews,
i knew exactly who i wanted my first participant to be.
like many of you, she first hit my radar when everyone and their mother started making her charming felted slippers.
months later, she and i became online buddies,
reminiscing about meeting the yarn harlot at the detroit public library.
You’re so welcome- so excited to be your first project ten ‘guinea pig’
are you ready to go?
let’s get started then.
here we go ladies and gents!
10 questions for french press knits
1) i’m going to start with what could be the most important question any knitter can ask another. its answer immediately places you in one of two major camps, and the repercussions can be devastating. are you ready? english or continental?
Starting with that?! I know I have offended others by admitting this in the past. Primarily Continental. I taught myself English for fair Isle purposes but don’t even use it for that.
2) i would argue that it’s your felted slippers that put you on the map so to speak (and you’re free to disagree with me). what drew you to felting?
Honestly, before the slippers, I hadn’t done much felting. I liked the idea of having a manufactured looking product that was actually handmade. Also, I wanted a new pair of slippers, so, like most things I want, I figured there would be a way for me to make it. Sometimes I have a hard time finding exactly what I want in stores, I like the satisfaction of making exactly what I want, and with a cheaper price tag.
3) as a follow up, why do you think your felted slippers became so popular?
I think other people thought they were cute and were drawn to the design. At the time, there were no others quite like them, so they stood out. The other big events were the fact that they were at the top of the ‘New and Popular’ list on Ravelry, followed by the postings from the Yarn Harlot. These things came with many more blog posts, Ravelry projects, and word seemed to spread. As a new designer, it was a dream come true!
4) creating a persona that reflects who you are is so important, especially with the advent of ravelry. in many cases, it’s vital to one’s success in crossing over from enthusiastic knitter to successful designer. how did you come up with the name french press knits, and how does it reflect who you are as a person? as a designer?
Well, the story behind the name is not all that exciting. In February ’09 I decided to open an Etsy shop. At the time, I was in a big work-out kick (they don’t happen all the time, I need to take advantage of them when they come!) and was training for a race. During the training I discovered that a bit of caffeine an hour before my run seemed to help things along. Because of this, my french press coffee pot was always out on the counter.
My husband Joe and I had been trying to come up with a name for my shop for a few weeks. His suggestions were always better than mine, so it’s no surprise that he came up with “French Press Knits” one night. The idea is this- it doesn’t make much sense, we just wanted it to be catchy. I do think it sounds classy and timeless, which is what I want to reflect in my designs. I do get a good laugh when Joe’s friends refer to it as ‘Fresh Prince Knits’ though!
5) can you describe how you made the jump from knitter to designer?
I have always enjoyed making things, creating a tangible product for my work, and my day job really didn’t provide that sort of satisfaction. This is why, a little over a year ago, I thought it sounded like fun to start an Etsy shop. I read in some places that you can’t sell finished products from patterns, and decided I wanted to honor that (especially when designers requested it on their patterns). I started coming up with simple, quick designs that would not take much time to produce. I aimed for projects that required less than two hours of work. I work full time and as much as I love crafting and creating, my time is limited.
So, I started selling my cowls, felted baby booties, and French Press Felted Slippers in my Etsy shop. Before too long, I had knitters contacting me and asking if I was on Ravelry and if I sold my designs there. I had never heard of this mysterious land, so I went to check it out. I’m not going to lie- I was baffled by the empty screens and never thought I would actually take the time to upload pictures of my projects on to the computer. I left and didn’t sign back on for a while.
Fast forward to summer where I took a month off from producing slippers to make my first adult-sized sweaters for myself and realized what an amazing resource Ravelry is. I posted some pictures of finished slippers and many people commented and asked if I would come out with a pattern. I had considered it in the past, but never thought it would be so rewarding. I have published most of the designs that I orginally used in my Etsy shop, and am now working on other patterns.
6) and how has the transition from hobby to business affected your relationship to knitting?
In so many ways I love it- I wouldn’t trade this for the world and I never dreamed I would be so busy writing knitting patterns. It does make it hard when I see something I would love to make and know that I would never have time to make it. I will be working on a cardigan pattern soon that will be for myself, and I can’t wait to wear it!
7) i’m a pretty consistent reader of your blog, and i’m completely jealous of your studio. how’s it coming along?
Well, I announced on my blog a couple weeks ago that I am actually expecting my first child in November. We found out at the end of March when the basement was *almost* finished. Although it seems we are working on it constantly, we are still *almost* finished. Who knew that stage could take so long?! Now that I have my energy back, things are moving again. I have my first baby shower mid-August and it will actually be down in the newly-finished basement, so now I have a deadline. At this point it’s finishing touches and furnishing. I think it will be quite a while until the studio is ‘done’, I’ll probably be filling it for years to come!
8 ) growing up in my area of michigan, i was pretty oblivious to the fiber arts. partly because my family wasn’t into them but looking back, i don’t remember a strong presence in what was my neck of the woods. what’s the fiber arts community like in your area?
Well, I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, but there seem to be quite a few great shops right around me. Even though it is not the most ‘local’ shop to me, I consider Center Street Knits in Northville my LYS. It has the most lovely interior and is located in a great downtown area. If you are ever nearby, you must stop in!
9) while knitting arguably gets the most attention, it’s certainly not the only fiber art. what is the one branch of the fiber arts you wish you were better at and why?
I feel I should brush up on my crochet skills. I learned to crochet before I learned to knit, but I never really did much with it. There are so many edges and finishing techniques that I could learn if I just worked on the basics.
10) if you could interview one person for project 10, who would it be and what would you ask them?
A new designer that I love is Hillary Smith Callis of The Yarniad. You may recognize her name because she was the designer behind the famed “Citron” in Knitty this past winter. I would just want to know how she comes out with so many great designs so quickly!
thanks again for being the first project ten participant.
i can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
Thanks so much for making me a part of this- can’t wait to read the interviews with the other designers!
*melynda and her husband live across the street from the house she grew up in in hartland, michigan. both her and her husband’s family live close by, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. there’s a little french press on the way so get out your baby patterns! you can find melynda on ravelry, facebook, etsy, twitter, or read her lovely blog here.
i find that sometimes i get writers’ block.
and for days i worry that the few people who actually read what i write on here, will forget me and delete me from their rss feed.
if i’m truly honest with myself,
i know that’s what i’d do.
so i scour ravelry for inspiration.
read a bunch of seriously terrible knitting blogs,
and say to myself, “shit! someone’s got to write something more interesting than that!” (let’s be real. not everyone who knits can write)
then i feel bad, and worry that i’m one of those people.
so i move on, and continue my summer re-reading of stephanie’s blog,
(currently in september of ’04. i’m a bit behind)
and really start feeling bad about my writing.
then i feel blasphemous that,
after only a couple meetings,
i’ve dropped her rightful title,
and i’m referring to her as stephanie.
or worse yet (gods protect me)
the brazen familiarity horrifies me and my sense of knitterly decorum.
then i realize that it’s 3 bloody am and i need to get a grip.
(i blame an overdose of lasagna)
and suddenly it dawns on me i have too much in the way of knitterly things to write about currently, and i’ll just have to do my best to cover it all.
you may remember my boast of starting a blog project called “project ten” where i pose ten questions to what i call the ravelry generation.
it’s basically those fibery people who inspire me, who i want to meet, or i’m jealous of.
that kind of thing.
i’m happy to announce that the first installment comes out this week.
i am thoroughly stoked.
back in early may,
i undertook a stupid challenge.
two of my fellow worker bees started a knit along;
the stora dimun knit along.
as someone who generally wants to fit in,
i thought about joining in the supposed “fun”
but with a shawl that begins with 449 stitches,
i knew i couldn’t afford the yarn,
and couldn’t think who would want the finished item.
my dear friend kelli, whom i love,
said she wanted it but would never knit it.
at least not in a timely manner.
kelli is my mother-sister-auntie,
from day one she’s been like family in a state where i have no kin,
there was no question that i would knit this for her.
plus she was springing for the yarn.
so i’ve been unbelievably unfaithful to it.
i’ve worked on it off and on, but with little joy.
i cast it aside heartlessly for the juneberry for stephanie,
and knit only one row when i was on my retreat.
i decided when i got home,
a meer seven days ago,
i’d work on it furiously,
to honor my love for the kelli,
and to get the fucker off my needles.
it’s all i am going to knit till it’s done.
three days ago i cast on another juneberry triangle.
another gift for a semi-secret recipient.
my roomie will attest that i have declared my personal motto of this summer to be, “i have no shame.”
this is a case in point.
(stats – blue moon luscious silk in the “manly yes, but i like it too” colorway, size 7 (4.5mm) needle)
i think i’ll go knit a row on kelli’s shawl.
but before i go, i want to leave you with a tid bit of gossip.
you may remember that several people have complained about the second chart of the juneberry triangle, i being one of the loudest. the chief complaint is i paid a ton of money for this little canadian magazine, and i deserve a fullly charted pattern, not “work the established pattern into the shawl as new stitches become available remembering that you can only work the yarn over if there are enough stiches to do it’s corresponding decreases.”
don’t even get me started on yarn overs and corresponding decreases!
however! floating around the internets is a copy of the complete second chart, a document supposedly elimnated by the st-denis magazine’s tech editor.
i may or may not have it in my possesion
and i may or may not be able to tell you where to get it.
all i can say is,
if you want to knit this pattern without tears,
find yourself a copy.
à bientôt bitches
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,
July 10, 2010
i’m sitting post breakfast,
thanking god for my irish liver.
my day of traveling began around 8:00 am (eastern) on thursday and came to a close around 6:30 pm (pacific) on friday.
needless to say, i’m still a bit tired.
but with a full belly and caffeine in my veins,
i can appreciate yesterday’s trials.
here’s the timeline:
10:30 am – took lovely roommate to airport
2:30 pm – worked my shift
9:00 pm – finish packing
10:45 pm – night on the town (pittsburgh)
1:00 am – a blur filled with things not suitable for the blog.
(use your imagination)
3:29 am – go to button shorts, button on shorts pops off
3:30 am – “f&@$!”
3:31 am – borrowed a belt, thanking heaven i have friends my size
3:45 am – drove to the airport got a killer parking spot
4:25 am – apparently no one works at the airport
4:30 am – waiting in line FOREVER only to discover i’m not flying united this time, but american.
4:31 am – “f&@$!”
6:01 am – begin flying across the continent
11:00 am – i get picked up from the airport by a complete stranger/lovely new seattle friend stacy.
11:30 am – pet stacy’s cats while she packs.
1:30 pm – devoured lunch at tawon thai. so delicious
(you’ll note there was no eating previously mentioned in my timeline. i think i had some soup around 4 pm thursday)
2:30 pm – i got the nickle tour of fremont
3:30 pm – on the road to port ludlow.
3:45 pm – we begin waiting in line for the ferry
3:50 pm – the car starts acting up
3:51 pm – i jump out of the car to grab gallons of water to cool off the car
from here till around 5:25 pm it gets a little hazy.
i was in and out of consicouness,
in and out of the car pouring water on the hood,
and sitting, windows down praying for a breeze.
till around 7:45 pm it was all rushed shower, dinner, and two martinis. i brought my third into the orientation meeting. everyone introduced themselves, and told wild stories of the whys and hows of their being here;
to the escape their husbands,
to meet judith,
there were some doozies,
including a motion for continuance.
i’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
a lovely knitter sends me my 4th martini,
and it was time for me to share.
i’d not yet slept
and my heart kept pumping more and more vodka to my brain.
so i was feeling a little honest.
“the reason i’m here, a reason that no one has yet said but we’re all thinking, is to make other people jealous.”
and i challenge any one of my fellow knot hysterics to deny it.
later on, tina pointed a warning finger at me,
looking over he glasses the way she does,
saying, “you better not be hung over tomorrow.”
“don’t worry. i’m irish.”
at least my liver is because it came through as always,
and i’m bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.
after my second cup of coffee.
now i’m off to my first day of class,
dying with tina newton.
i’ll keep you bitches posted!
July 8, 2010
in roughly sixteen hours, i’ll again be on a plane headed west.
where am i off to you ask?
why to washington state of course
(port ludlow to be specific) for the knot hysteria silk retreat
a long weekend of knitting, spinning, and dying classes,
taught by some very cool people.
sounds nice right?
for those bitches who already know,
don’t ruin the surprise!
July 2, 2010
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.
the next day,
it was san francisco ho!
we took the windy scenic coastal route.
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.
and powered through to our destination.
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.
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.
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!
whew! i made it through.
how ’bout you bitches?