how does your garter grow?

August 30, 2010

i’ve been pretty quiet lately,
and there’s a good reason for that.
i’ve been lucky enough to test knit the xeriscape,
ms. mary-heather of rainy day goods’s latest design.

“Inspired by the richly textured rock and low-water gardens of the American southwest, Xeriscape is a shaped, scalloped scarf knit in a drapey and luxurious hand-dyed yarn. Worked in garter stitch, Xeriscape looks great in solid, semi-solid, and variegated yarns. The long, narrow shape makes it easy to wrap, tie, and wear in a variety of ways.

Xeriscape is perfect for beginners who are ready to work on shaping through increases and decreases, and still has the thoughtful details needed to make it a breezy, meditative knit for more experienced knitters.”

let me tell you,

there was something about the design i loved immediately.
and i knew i needed to have it when the pattern came out.
but to be able to test knit it? to be one of the first people to ever knit it?
that was special.

since this was going to be my first time test knitting a pattern, (officially)
i vowed to be swift and thorough.

but it wasn’t easy.

first, i had a week deadline.
mary-heather said i could take longer if i needed,
but the pattern was getting published in a week.
being bred from overachieving stock,
everything else got pushed aside.

but when it came time to cast on,
i could not for the life of me find a yarn i liked.
there was just nothing i had on hand that would work,
at least not the way i wanted it to.

and i needed the yarn now.

so i began knitting one in a yarn i thought might work,
but it just didn’t.
i hated my yarn choice
and it killed the design.
the end result was completely unworthy of the blog,
and it’s has been properly shamed and put away.

then, out of the west,
ms. tina newton,




which is ironic i think since she’s a vegetarian.

she had paula tackle the postman,
threaten him with a size q crochet hook,
and sent me this little lovely in record time*

it’s the lovely new yarn marine silk sport in the “spruced” colorway.
(isn’t it crazy how differently silk takes color?)
i wish you could see the beautiful iridescence
the subtle navy hidden beneath the calm green.
it’s beautifully soft and made knitting garter stitch worth it.

it is simply divine.

in fact,
take a few minutes to stop reading,
and order a sweater lot.

go ahead.

i’ll wait.



then, as my friend michael would say,
the flames were coming off my fingers as i finished the real xeriscape,
the one i could be proud of,
the one worthy of the blog.

isn’t it lovely?

and in honor of the spirit of mary-heather
and her lovely pup charlie,
i had my mo model the xeriscape

it’s very rare for me to knit for myself,
but this one’s all mine bitches!

go buy the pattern and knit one!

* this version of events may or may not be exaggerated. i can neither confirm nor deny if a postal worker was tackled/threatened.
but the truth is out there.

that you must be crazy to work in a yarn store,
this is all the proof you should need.

(we have no shame)

it’s all about life lessons lately here at bitches get stitches.
as i move ever closer to my third anniversary of knitting,
i notice just how far i’ve come in my knowledge of the fiber arts.

i’ve even come to realize that
the really important life lessons are not about knitting itself;
they’re about dealing with the knitting community.
after almost three years, you’d think i’d have gotten it:
don’t mess with knitters.
they will cut a bitch.
(i know i would)

and for the most part,
i have learned this lesson.

yet somehow,
i still cant get it through my thick skull that,
after midnight,
sending knitting related internet communications is unwise.
(we all remember the great lace debate of 2010 do we not?!)

but last night,
in a moment of weakness,
i sent an inappropriate tweet:

dear @twistcollective. really? only one men’s pattern and its a dumb grey vest?! this is why i don’t read you

immediately followed by:

@twistcollective luckily though, i doubt i’m your target audience.

obviously, this was immature and foolish.
while twitter (and other sites) are obviously spaces to give your opinion,
one must always remember that people will read what you write.
so while in the dark of the night in my bedroom,
it didn’t occur to me that i’d get a reply,
it’s not unexpected that i did:

@Faiche_Stiabhna We prefer “understated” to “dumb” and actually, there’s more than 1 men’s pattern this issue

it’s true, i was wrong;
there is more than one men’s pattern in the fall twist collective.
there’s a pattern for a grey zippered cardigan you can knit as well.
and while each of us is entitled to our adjective of choice,
i will work on not throwing my adjectives at people via twitter.

learn from my mistakes people.
keep your opinions where they belong!

on your blog.

p.s. everyone should go to the twist collective right now,
and purchase mary-heather cogar’s new sweater, promenade. it’s the perfect mixture of simplicity and design detail. it’s what knitting should be.

in tomorrow’s issue: “why sending crazed emails after midnight can save your ass”

project ten: take two

August 20, 2010

my next guest for project ten comes to us from that magic country above known as canadia
er . . . i mean canada.

she is one of those people plagued by a need to create, to make,
to turn nothings into somethings.
she learned the basics of knitting at age 12,
but abandoned it soon after, as she thought it was far too fiddly.

a decade and a half later,
her friends showed her the socks and shawls and arm warmers they were knitting, promising that she too could learn to do this.

she balked at this;
she thought that it might be nice to be able to make things like socks,
but was sure that she would never be able to.

a year passed.
one night she decided that she was going to teach herself how to knit.
she did.

ladies and ladyboys,
bitches of all genders,
i thrilled to present to you,
miss spillyjane!


i have to say thank you, not only for being here,
but for being so patient through this process.

Not a problem! I didn’t mind at all.

trust me bitches, she’s been a doll.
when i was an unreliable flake,
jane was my rock.
which is ironic since this is supposed to be my gig.

so jane, you ready to do this?

Definitely ready.

then let’s go.

ten questions for spillyjane

1 – we’ll start where i always start, with the most important question: english or continental?

English! I taught myself how to knit out of an old book and — though I didn’t know it at the time — it was English. I’ve since taught myself Continental so that my colourwork would go faster and look more defined. When I’m working with one yarn only, it’s English all the way.

2 – i first heard of you at the yarn harlot’s talk at the detroit public library, and everyone seemed to refer to you as the mitten lady. it took a while to get the name “spillyjane” out of someone to figure out who they were talking about. how does it feel to be known, if only by some, as “the mitten lady”?

Really? I always figured that “Jane” was easy to remember and that “Spilly” was weird enough to stick. I suppose that’s my work speaking for itself. While I do have a bunch of sock patterns out there as well, I suppose the mitten patterns (at least mittens the way I do them) are a slightly rarer commodity. Regardless, being “the mitten lady” isn’t so bad — at least people are talking! I do love mittens, and it’s nice to have a niche.

3 – which brings me to the next obvious question, why mittens?

I was waiting for this one! Firstly, because I live in Canada, and we have long, long winters. Where I live it doesn’t get so cold that it’s totally unbearable, but a nice pair of mittens is also capable of adding a pop of colour to a dull, grey day. As a project they’re also small enough to make working them go quickly (they’re wonderfully portable!) but large enough (in stitch-count, at least) that I can inflict all kinds of interesting motifs and patterns upon them. Mittens are folky and rustic and homey and yet elegant all at once. It seems so contradictory — I like that combination.

4 – the next obvious question in my mind is what first attracted you to stranded color work?

Oh, it was only a matter of time once I started knitting! Once I had the basics mastered I immediately moved on to the more complex techniques like colourwork. I am totally infatuated with colour — in fact, I’m fairly sure that I don’t have a least-favourite one. The chance to play with them to create wearble objects was too strong to resist.

5 – as a knitter, i can point to the project i am most proud of (thus far), the project that i can honestly say is my best work. which of your designs are you most proud of or is your favorite?

My L’Amour et la Morte socks, hands down. They combine both colourwork and cables in one project and are an absolute delight to work and wear. And I say this after having knit no less than six complete pairs, five of which were sized to fit a men’s large, so you know I’m not making this up! They combine of quirkiness and elegance, which is what I aim for in my work.

6 – as a non-designer, the question i find myself asking all the time is, “how the hell did they come up with that?!” where do you draw inspiration from to come up with your designs?

The better part of my work is basically my response to things I love. Working a certain motif or pattern into a mitten or a sock is my way of paying tribute to a song, a city, an object — it’s the means by which I translate it into wool. I see my work as being part of a dialogue — carrying on the conversation with the person, place or thing that made me fall in love with it in the first place. I always say that if I were a “normal person” (and being “normal” is overrated, I assure you,) I’d paint or draw or write poems or songs or do something a lot less involved than working stitch after tiny stitch just to say how much I like something. But I’m not, so I don’t.

7 – as knitter dude, there are tons of beautiful patterns out there for me to knit, but i sometimes find it hard to find things i’d like to knit for myself. as a designer, do you find it difficult at all to design things for men?

Not at all! I love designing for men — it makes me feel like I’m spoiling them. I liken fancy socks for men to fine lingerie — you may not know what’s under there, but *they* do, and it’s breathtaking! When I design and/or knit for men I go all out with the little details: luxurious fibres; intricate flourishes; the finest finishing. As most men tend to be extremely selective about what they wear I always take it as a huge compliment when they opt for my socks. It makes me happy.

8 – the power of ravelry has meant anyone can self-publish their designs. sometimes they shouldn’t lol. but i’ve always wondered what the process of getting something published in knitty or a magazine is like. can you talk about your experience with publishing?

I haven’t really had that much experience with publishing — so far I’ve only been featured in one book (Cables & Stripes Mittens in 60 Quick Knits) and had one pattern in Knitty (Mystery + Manners, First Fall 2010.) I’m hoping that this is only the beginning! It’s really exciting knowing that your work will be published in an actual book or on a very popular website. The worst part about the publishing process is the waiting: waiting to hear that your work has been accepted and then waiting for the publication to come out (which, believe me, seems like forever until it does!) But when it is…it really is an amazing feeling when you see your work out there like that.

9 – living in windsor means you have the unique opportunity to hop in the car, cross a bridge, and come to the u.s. whenever you like. this made me wonder, other than the metric system, what differences if any do you see between american and canadian knitters?

I love living in a border city, especially since there are so many great yarn shops in the Detroit area. As far as the differences between American and Canadian knitters — I’ve met a lot of both, and knitters are knitters, as far as I’m concerned.

10 – a very diplomatic answer my dear. which brings me to the final question and the end of our time together here; if you could interview on person for project 10, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Stephanie Dosen of tinyowlknits. I’d like to know how she takes such simple knitted objects and imbues them with so much beauty.

well there you have it folks, ten questions for spilly jane.
and ten excellent answers.
thanks again so much for being here.

Thanks so much for having me.

i can’t wait to see what next!

*jane lives in windsor, ontario in a 97 year old house that she shares with her husband and her bird, pookie. you can find her on twitter, etsy, knitty, ravelry, and on her lovely blog

because if you do,

you will end up with a full bag that in no way adds up to a meal.

all the worker bees who look like 70’s gay porn stars,
riot grrl wannabes, or ysolda teague on meth,
will make you feel bad about yourself.

you will return to the produce section at least two times,
only to emerge with a sad shallot from some mexican hothouse.

you will leave with at least three fall fashion magazines
filled with beautiful things you’ll never fit into much less afford,
and you will feel bad about yourself.

you will try to walk away from the grumpy cashier
without paying for your groceries,
and then say something dumb like,
“it’s just been one of those days!”
and feel worse about yourself.

when you finally get home, crack your last red stripe, and prepare to treat yourself to that cup of shrimp bisque you just couldn’t pass up,
you will notice that you grabbed the whole wheat baguette.
you detest whole wheat baguettes.

the only recourse is to drink that beer real fast,
hug on your french bulldog,
and remember;

never go to whole foods angry.

in knitting news,
the northern summer shawl continues.

the designer, jo kelly, has been furiously charting the pattern.
and apparently triple checking all the stitch counts.
she was good enough to email me the changes
without me even asking.

that is a designer!

i also have a f.o.

my second juneberry triangle.
it’s been done for a while,
but there were blocking issues.
(humidity’s a bitch, no?)
i’ve sent it off to its recipient, but i won’t say who.
they may read the blog, and i want this to be a surprise.

any guesses?

i’m also hoping for another another installment of project ten by the end of the month. fingers crossed that the mitten lady will write back soon.

side of swatch

August 16, 2010

this month,
i’m working a bit more than usual.
if i’m honest, it’s a lot more than usual.
in addition, i haven’t been sleeping very well.
the combination finally hit me last night; i felt unbelievably tired and ill.

i crashed.


and slept for roughly 13 hours.

the upside to this?

i woke up super early,
have time to eat my fave breakfast in town,
and write a little post to you all.

first order of business,
on the northern summer shawl front,
the downside to being one of the first people to knit something?
you’re gonna end up being a second round test knitter.
there’s been some serious stress over stitch counts,
and i’ve sent two e-mails now about errata.
the designer has been very kind,
assures me she’s working on it.
i still want to cry a bit.
in a good way.
i swear.

i say,
if you want to knit this too,
(and you should. it’s gorgeous.),
wait a couple weeks till it’s been debugged
and charted.

dear god give me a chart!

my breakfast has literally just arrived,
so the second and last order of business shall be this sneak peak:

my rhinebeck swatch.

isn’t it gorgeous?! i’ve fallen pretty hard for it.
which pretty much ensures it’s gonna break my heart, right?

sur la table

August 13, 2010

even though i’ve decided to take this year
to live a life of fiber frivolity,
my real life,
“the plan”
looms like an ever present miasma.

so veronica and i got a new table/work station for our nook.

as you can see,
my priorities are still skewed.
but that laptop right there is all business.
i promise.

kelli (of the infamous stóra dímun),
has requested another shawl of me.
per usual, she offered to pay for the yarn.
and anyone who wants to keep me in tosh sock, i’m knitting for.

she wanted a haruni,
but everyone and there mother is making one.
if fact, i think kelli is knitting one for her mother right now.
i said i’d make a shawl, but i wanted one a little more challenging,
and a little less commonplace.

i chose the norther summer shawl by jo kelly.
it alternates stockinette with knitted lace (patterning on both sides)

i’m in love.

it just came out this month and, so far,
there’s only the designer’s finished project on ravelry.
can’t get much newer than that.

i’m racing through it now,
hoping to be the first person to post one to ravelry.
i’ll let you know how it goes!

and now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for,
the winner of the shaelyn shawl.

let me just say,
this was the hardest contest ever.
i never expected a blog contest to get me all misty.
there are so many deserving people.
how could i choose?

the answer is a couldn’t
so in honor of friday the 13th,
i took the top thirteen comments,
and drew cards, one for each card in a suit.

congratulation to sheri and her friend pat.

yours was the queen of diamonds.

to everyone else,
i hope that, at the very least,
the contest made you think about the people in your life.
even if you don’t knit for them, i think you’d agree,
we need to take care of the people around us.
and we could all use a little extra love thrown our way.

speaking of which,
veronica would like to thank all the people for their compliments on the photo shoot and for voting for her to win the shawl.

i however must ask you stop.
i fear she might start charging me.

seriously guys,
tone it down.

on the road

August 11, 2010

i’ve taken a little day trip.
and i’m writing to you from michigan.

i love coming home,
especially since it’s a rare thing lately.
last night i remembered how clear the night sky can be,
and saw a shooting star before the fog rolled in.
i slept in my childhood bed, listening to nothing but the sound of mo breathing and occasional breeze.

thank god i’m a country boy.

my mom and i are now heading west
to the city of my alma mater
and favorite yarn store.

because really,
the only thing more important than family
is getting the yarn for my rhinebeck sweater.
i’ll have more on that later but right now,
i want to talk more about where i’m writing from.

i’m writing from the future!

let me explain.

we’re literally driving to east lansing right now.

my mother recently purchased a new car, and let me tell you,
it’s a robot.

as i type this,
she’s talking to my father
whose voice is coming through the speakers,
my computer is plugged into an outlet in the back,
and with the aid of a little internet stick from verizon,
i’m surfing the web faster than i ever could at home.

i don’t think i have ever been happier than i am right now;
someone else driving me around
with the internet.
i think i may have found enlightenment.

expect details on this trip tomorrow but right now,
let me say one quick thing about the contest:

i thought having you help me would make this easier.

it hasn’t.

i never expected so many sad stories in the comments,
and i have no idea how i’m going to choose.
but by friday, there’ll be a winner.
i’ll figure something out.

until then,
keep the comments coming.
why make things easier now?

bon anniversaire!

August 9, 2010

well folks, today is the one year anniversary of bitches get stitches!
i started it a year ago for some reason i suppose,
but i’m finding it hard to remember why.
if i go back to that first post, i wrote,

“here I am world, Steven A.
why am I here? besides the fact that all the cool kids are doing it? I needed a place to talk shop.
knitting that is.”

simple enough.

it’s harder to articulate why i keep going exactly.
i guess, on the most basic level,
i write because there are people who read;
there are people out there who actually care what i think,
(at least when it comes to stitch manipulation)
and like the part of me i’m putting out for the world to see.

it’s great to feel like i’m actually a part of the conversation,
and not just some crazy person talking about yarn.

there’s also the fact that,
no matter what,
this is my space.
a place where i can be sassy and irreverent as i want.
i get to go there,
be the mayor of there,
and no one gets to tell me to shut the fuck up.

or at least if they do,
i don’t have to listen to them.

in any case this year has been great,
and i can’t wait to see what happens next.

of course, i couldn’t have an anniversary post without a f.o.

so i busted my buns,
tracked down more beads,
and finished my shaelyn shawl.

(veronica was kind enough to model for me)

(you really should check out the rest of the photo shoot. it’s gorgeous!)

i used madelinetosh pashmina in the “copper penney” colorway leftover from the juneberry i knit for stephanie. i added size 6 miyuki beads, color 135 (root beer). 648 freakin’ beads.

i knit this with no one specifically in mind;
i just wanted to use up some beautiful yarn,
and try my hand at some beaded knitting.

it would have made a great gift for so many people in my circle of friends,
but it really didn’t seem to fit anyone.
so i guess it’s that time again,
time foooooooor. . .

the third bitches get stitches giveaway!!

the rules:
this one’s going to be a little different guys.
i want this shawl to embody the essence of giving.


just leave a comment to enter,
but not for yourself.
instead explain who you think i should send it to and why.

it can be for your sister’s birthday,
or your coworker just because she’s fabulous.
maybe you think i should send it to meg swansen,
just for shits and giggles.

in any case,
the best person/reason wins.
the decision is completely arbitrary;
it’ll just be whichever comment i like best.

so help me out people,
and make some one else’s day!

thanks for a great first year bitches!

lucky duck

August 2, 2010

so life is feeling pretty normal lately.
work is busy,
knitting is going well,
mo and i are happily reconnected.
it’s business as usual here at bitches get stitches.

this of course makes me very nervous.

i feel like,
based on my life experience,
i am better equipped to deal with extremes.
give me a crisis, and i will handle the shit out of it.
or else, drop an unexpected happy event into my lap,
and i shall bask in the glory of good fortune.
these are the instances i know about.
this is when i shine.

this hum drum, calm plodding along. . .
i don’t know what to do with that.

but i think the winds of change are starting to blow,
and some of that irish luck burried in my dna is kicking in.

it looks like,
by some miracle,
i’ll be going to rhinebeck.

the plan is to cultivate something called self restraint,
by which i mean,
i plan to test out a bunch of spinning wheels,
and maybe take a class.
that is all.
no bags of yarn.
no needles i don’t need.
no spending money i don’t have.
coming home with a fleece is just not an option.
(stop laughing!)

the second part of the plan is to knit the obligatory rhinbeck sweater.
i have chosen the beautiful riddari to keep me warm.

which brings me to my second piece of evidence of my “irish luck”:
i was having trouble getting my hands on the pattern for riddari.
then all of a sudden, in less than a 24 hour period,
it turned out my friend david has a copy,
and is knitting his rhinebeck sweater from the same book,
(creepy right? not the same sweater though. we wont be twinsies)
i found a random company online that had a copy and bought it,
and some kind knitter sent me a pdf of the pattern from her book.

pretty lucky right?

a very special skein of yarn came into my life.

socks that rock lightweight, firecracker colorway.

my friend lisa is in the rockin’ sock club
and this was this month’s skein.
she has this new yarn policy
not to purchase/keep yarn she doesn’t love.
i said i loved it.
she said she didn’t.
the skein is now mine.

the beautiful colors and slight scent of vinegar brought back all the memories of yarnie happiness i had last month, visiting blue moon (where tina asked if i was in sock club, and i felt a little shame when i said no) and at the knot hysteria retreat. reading the dyer’s notes reminded me how similar it seemed tina and my sense of humor was, and how great it was to be in the presence of someone who i could tell is doing something important.

it reminded me of these photos tina sent me:

i don’t even know who took these,
but thanks to a skein of yarn,
i’ll never lose this moment.

i really am a very lucky person.
i have family and friends who love me.
i get to knit for fun for hours at a time.
i live with a roomie who makes me laugh every day.
best of all, i can have no shame, and somehow pull it off!

and even though i have some really heavy shit going on in the background (who doesn’t really?) i have the support and capacity to cope with it, and allow seriously joyful moments into my life.

so i’ll deal with hum drum,
and even welcome it.
especially since i have a lead,
a lead,
on beads.

the luck continues. . .