October 30, 2010

happy halloween bitches!

dear stephen,

i love you.
not in that way since we obviously haven’t met,
but i love your designs, your aesthetic,
that carefree attitude that nearly
drips from your photographs.

the speed with which you churn out patterns is astonishing.
and there are several i’ve been meaning to start.
ask any of my coworkers of my struggle
to find the perfect colors for daybreak,
or my new crush on chadwick.

i’m also très grateful that i get to test knit for you.
even if i can’t show the world what i’ve been knitting,
it still makes me feel special.

that being said,
i have to ask one question about your new pattern,
the one you’ve named knothole.

don’t you think that it may be a tad . . . .

. . . vaginal?

i’m just saying.

sincerely yours,


where’s steven?!

October 20, 2010

why he’s in clara parkes’ rhinebeck video!

see if you can spot me.

you can also see the xeriscape i knit on cirilia rose @2:16.
i gave it to mary-heather at the ravelry party,
but how it got from mary-heather to her is a mystery.
anyone got the scoop?


October 20, 2010

here’s proof that i saw uma thurman at rhinebeck.
note the clothes are the same as in my photo.
(as if you doubted me)

go check out maggie’s farm.
i stole the pic from her.

let’s just get this out of the way: i finished my sweater.
and i hope to never be put in that position ever again.

i knitted almost the entire drive from pittsburgh,
and had to pop pills to dull the pain in my hands and continue.
i could never have done it without the support of my travel buddies
kelli, lisa, and especially andrea who had the needles i needed.

around 11 p.m. friday night
with pits to kitch
and ends to weave in,
i bound off

too tightly and my sweater wouldn’t fit over my head.

i kinda wanted to die.

rather than commit suicide,
i decided to work on finishing.

when midnight rolled around,
my underarms were well closed
and most of my ends were woven in.
but i knew i couldn’t go on.
i’d have to finish in the morning.

as soon as the alarm went off,
before i even remembered my own name,
i found my chibi, and finished weaving in my ends.

i then ripped out my collar
borrowed a bigger needle size
and knitted like the wind.

in the parking lot of the dutchess county fairgrounds,
i bound off for a second time,
and pulled that bitch over my extra-large cabeza!

and walked through the gate properly attired.
(which was good since i didn’t really bring a coat and it was pretty cold)

the rest is a blurred happy memory.
there was yarn. there were sheep.
there were several nips of whiskey from my flask.

here are the highlights:
i met the pocket wheel

and now want one.

i ran into adrienne martini, a new old friend from the blogosphere,

and clara parkes who knew who i was! really, she knew the hotpants from maryland and i told her i was the one who knitted them.

i also ran into beth hansen who i met back at the silk retreat. she was selling the lovely miniSpinner.

i now want one of them as well.

there was this crazy wheel that i do not want.

i saw bobsolda and casey at the ravelry meetup.

it was kinda more creepy than cute.

(also i totally have a crush on jess aka frecklegirl aka mama rav’s brother.
what can i say? i love me a ginger beard.)

the lovely melynda of french press knits spotted me and my sweater, and we finally got to meet in person. i got to feel the baby bump and meet her husband too. she was so beautiful in every sense of the word. i loved how michigany she was, her accent and demeanor. she made me miss home.

of course i was so caught up in the moment that it didn’t occur to me document the moment. *sigh* curse this blond hair!

between nips of whiskey,
andrea and i hung out at the beer garden.

there was this guy who was apparently very into carbs.

i spun on my future wheel.

it was brand new and heavily discounted.
they wanted cash, didn’t take plastic.
shady? i thought so.
and kept walking.

i headed back to the motel to rest and get ready.

on my way out i saw uma fucking thurman get out of her car
with an unidentified homely gay man.

she was smoking what appeared to be a parliament light.

the lady directing traffic asked her, “aren’t you in the movies?”
uma replied, “i used to be!” and kept walking.
then i snapped this shot.

i was too chicken to be a real papparazzo.
but andrea can back me up that this was in fact her.

after dinner, it was time to party ravelry style.
i slipped on the hotpants,
grabbed my tuxedo jacket,
and off we went.

the highlight for me was finally meeting ms. helloyarn herself.

i’ve been stalking. . . er. . . befriending her online ever since i started knitting.
i spotted her earlier at the ravelry meetup,
but was too apple juice* to say hello.
plus i didn’t have my gift for her.

i decided the rav party would be the perfect time.

i stood right next to her at the bonfire but didn’t see her.
she couldn’t see me either but couldn’t miss the hotpants.
those shorts saved my ass!

she gave me jam.
i gave her booze.
it was perfect.

i had an emotion.
i posed with the ladies of the sanguine gryphon

who are both beautiful and fabulous.
(but i really love the rabbit-eared photo bomber in this shot!)

i spotted melynda again, and made up for my earlier absent-mindedness.

and yes, blondes do have more fun.

when i met the smoking sheep puppet

i knew it was time to get the hell outta there.

but before i left,
i swallowed the last of my apple juice,
and asked mary-heather for a photo.

you know how, people online can be totally different in person?
like they seem super sweet and nice online,
but are really a complete bitch?

this is so not the case with mary-heather.
she comes off not only as sweet and nice,
but beautiful and intelligent.

she is all good vibes folks.

here we are

blurry and fabulous!

after freezing to death waiting for the bus,
i headed back to the motel and slept like a christian.

the next day was a bit lower key.
i hung with yvonne and kim,
bought some loot
and just tried to take it all in before i had to head home.

i had a lovely time.

but the absolute best part was the handful of people who came up to me all geeked out telling me they love my blog. that seriously made everything worth it. to those readers i say thank you so so much for making rhinebeck for me!

if you spotted me i’d love to hear it.
and if you took my photo, i’d love to see that too!

oh yeah,
hear’s my loot.

socks from lisa.
sweater from me.
jam from hello yarn.
two skeins of sunna by spirit trail fiberworks.
two skeins of bugga by the sanguine gryphon.

see you next year!

*apple juice is our term for losing all sense of intelligence in the presence of a celebrity of some sort.


October 14, 2010

no time to talk.
just a quick update.
there is much more sweater to be done.
but it might just be ready in time for saturday’s debut.

i am thoroughly exhausted from all this intense knitting.
and the colorwork is really taking it out of me.

i’ve left my house where my comfy bed lives
and am knitting at a friend’s apartment.

i have eight hours before i leave for rhinebeck.

i haven’t packed.

i won’t make it tonight.

but as ga ga as my witness,
i will wear this sweater through rhinebeck’s gates!

dear reader

October 12, 2010

i love you.
i adore and respect you.
you complete me.

so of course i turned to you in my time of crisis.
almost every one of you told me to steek the sweater
since it was clearly the fastest solution to meeting the deadline.
it was sound advice.
expert even.

i listened to every word.

and promptly ignored it since it was clearly the wrong advice.

i am a perfectionist knitter and a spiritual one.
i didn’t go into this project with the intention to steek
so i just couldn’t do it.

it would be wrong.

(i am especially ashamed of you jen,
for suggesting i cut corners.
you of all people!)

so i ripped (and my friend anna documented)

it was painful.

and shocking.

but i’m happy with my choice.

when i ripped,
i told myself that,
if i didn’t finish for rhinebeck,
i’d still be happy finishing the sweater properly.

this was clearly a delusional lie since i will only be happy if i get to wear my intended rhinebeck sweater to my first rhinebeck.
here’s about three and half days of knitting:

that’s about fourteen inches of sweater.
only a couple more and i join the sleeves,
and start the yoke.

what do you think,
can i still make it?

project ten: take four

October 9, 2010

today, we have a couple of firsts.
the first first: this designer is my first referral.
the second first: this is my first interview with a rocket scientist.

all the way from san francisco and freakin’ nasa!,
(yeah that’s right. i said nasa.)

i give you the yarniad herself,

ms. hilary smith callis!

thanks for being here hil.
can i call you hil?

Of course you can call me Hil! I love being called Hil. And does that mean I can call you Stevie?

for this one interview only, i’ll forgive it.
are you ready to get started?

As ready as I’ll ever be, Stevie.

then here we go:

ten questions for hilary smith callis

1) even though I know the answer, we begin with the infamous first question: english or continental?

Continental all the way. I haven’t yet checked this theory with my grandma who taught me, but I think we knit Continental because she learned from her mother, who was from Denmark. I learned how to knit when I was pretty young and never knew there was a different style of knitting until I picked it back up in 2003. I would even see people knitting English style and would try to copy the “throwing”, but with my working yarn still in my left hand (didn’t really work). It was a major “aha” moment when I realized what English style knitting actually was.

2) melynda bernardi of french knits press nominated you for this interview. when asked what she would ask she wrote, “I would just want to know how she comes out with so many great designs so quickly!”

Well, first of all, I am beyond delighted that Melynda Bernardi knows who I am – she’s brilliant! – and that she would nominate me. Earlier this year, I was even surprising myself with how quickly I was able to finish some designs and get them on the market, and I attribute it to a couple of things. Firstly, I’m a pretty monogamous knitter. It is rare for me to have more than one thing going at the same time, and once I’ve started something it’s really hard for me to stop until I’m done. I get a little obsessed. Secondly, I have a gross commute that can be 45 minutes to an hour each way. My husband and I work together and take turns driving to work…the days he drives, that’s a full hour and a half to two hours I can devote to knitting. That makes more of a difference than I even realized…this fall, he’s been traveling for work a lot so I’ve been commuting solo and my knitting progress has majorly slowed down. How selfish of him, right??

3) unacceptably selfish! in the winter of ’09, you exploded onto the knitting scene when citron was published on knitty. the last time i checked, there were nearly five thousand citron projects going on ravelry. can you talk about your citron experience, from design to publication, to ravelry phenomenon?

Oh my goodness, I still have to pinch myself every time I look at the growing list of Citron projects on Ravelry! The design started out as something I was making to use up a single skein of Malabrigo Lace that had been sitting in my stash for some time. I’m not even sure where the idea came from, except that it had to be top-down because I wasn’t sure how far the yarn would take me. I finished it, thinking it would make a nice Christmas gift for someone, but one day I was reading Knitty’s submission guidelines and thought, “Oh, what the heck,” and put together a submission. I’d heard that Amy Singer’s rejection letters were really sweet and encouraging, and thought she might give me some advice for the future. Then, to my utter amazement, it was accepted! Then came the wait for publication. I was fully expecting the knitting world to cry out against the addition of yet another “shawlette” pattern, I thought people would hate that it was mostly stockinette, that you end the shawl with one bazillion stitches, etc. etc. But people loved it! There were something like 97 projects added to Ravelry in the first week. I continue to be amazed by the popularity of the pattern, but it is such a joy for me to see all the different versions and what people have done with it. People have added lace, different textures, different yarns….it is so cool.

4) it is very cool. i think almost everyone at my shop made at least one. i picked up a copy of julie turjoman’s book brave new knits, in which you and a pattern of yours is featured. can you talk a little bit about what the book is about for those who haven’t yet bought a copy from their LYS?

Brave New Knits is the very first celebration of knitting/designing bloggers in print form. It is a collection of profiles (based on one-on-one interviews) and patterns from 26 different knit bloggers, with photography done by one of the most prominent of the knit bloggers, Jared Flood. Julie did a great job assembling everything – the profiles are fun to read, and the patterns are great. And I swear I’m not just saying that because I’m in it! There are at least 6-7 patterns that I’m dying to make for myself.

5) obviously your blog played a crucial role in your participation in this book. but while almost every designer has a blog, i would argue that most of them don’t blog (by which i which i mean, write on a regular basis unless a new design comes out). so i wonder, which technology do you feel is most important to a designer’s success?

Great question! I have noticed the same thing…it seems that many designers start out primarily blogging, but then seem to stop once their designing careers take off. Part of this is probably because in the beginning, you’re really eager to share your whole process, your inspiration, etc. but when you want to start submitting ideas to various publications, you have to keep all of that quiet. I do still think that blogging is important to a designer’s success, especially in the beginning – it’s how you make friends and contacts and get your ideas out into the world. But Ravelry really takes over from there (at least for the designers who sell on the internet, rather than those who focus on in-print publications). A design can spread through Ravelry *so* quickly, not to mention the ease of setting up a shop there, plus all the great advice in the designer forums. Personally, I’m not sure what I’d do without Ravelry.

6) when did you come to realize that your blog/designs were becoming kind of a big deal?

Are they a big deal?? I mean, I guess I see that Citron is a big deal because so many people have made it, but other than that I still kind of feel like I’m a little kid playing dress-up in the world of the real designers. ☺

7) while i wouldn’t call my knowledge extensive by any stretch of the imagination, knitting and its integral tie to the internet has forced me to learn more about computers than i ever did in school. let me tell you, the day i finally memorized the html code for linking, i did a jig of glee. (how?) has knitting and designing changed your interaction with technology?

Your “jig of glee” over memorizing the html code for linking made me laugh! I am so the same way! Though I work at NASA, I don’t work on the technological side of things, and my educational background is in Greek and Latin, so I knew hardly anything about things like html before I started blogging. But having a knitting blog, and trying to get it to look *exactly* the way I wanted it to, forced me to learn pretty quickly. And, honestly, I never thought I’d ever know so much about Excel formulas. I do all my pattern grading in Excel (thank you, Marnie MacLean for your awesome tutorials!) and, oh, the lengths I will go to in order to avoid having to do calculations by hand. I’m actually not bad at math, but I am *awful* with making idiotic mistakes. So spending hours perfecting complicated formulas actually saves me time in the long run. Anyway, in these ways I feel like what I’ve learned from designing/blogging has actually helped me in my day job, which is kind of cool.

8 ) i’m all about growing as a knitter, challenging myself to learn new techniques. my recent rhinebeck sweater tragedy may force me to learn to steek. is there some knitting technique you really want to master but have yet to? either as a knitter or designer?

Definitely. I have yet to even attempt intarsia (and I’m not sure why I’m so scared of it), but until I do, I will not feel complete as a knitter. As a designer, I would love to do a top-down sweater with set-in sleeves one day.

9) with question nine, i’m giving you this chance to finally set the record straight, to dispel decades of rumor and doubt – was the moon landing staged?

Haha! You know, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you…

10) it might be worth it. i’m sure i’d get some kind of journalist prize for breaking that story! and now the final and most important question: if you could interview one person for project 10, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Hmm…I would interview Thea Colman of Babycocktails, and I’d ask her if she absolutely *had* to choose between mixing fabulous potable concoctions and knitting…which would it be?

good question! i’ll see what i can do.

thanks so much for being here.
i’m sure we’ll see lots more of your work in years to come.
you know, if the c.i.a. doesn’t get you for leaking top secret moon landing info.

Thank you so much for having me here! It’s been a real pleasure, and I hope we meet again. Oh, and I’ll try to be discreet when I spill NASA’s secrets in the future.

*hilary smith callis (30) lives in san francisco with her husband and step-cat. when she’s not keeping the folks at NASA’s project SOFIA (stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy) on time, dabbling in crochet and sewing, recovering from the inevitable heartbreak of loving the giants, or attempting to find the best restaurant in san francisco, she’s designing and knitting her heart out for us. find her stuff (and buy it!) on ravelry, knitty, in brave new knits (though you should buy it from your LYS), or on her lovely blog, the yarniad.

i may have a stroke.

October 7, 2010

or at the very least a nosebleed.
today was a terrible day, blog readers.
most of it isn’t really worth writing about,
but there is a knitting related disaster that is.

the rhinebeck sweater may not happen.

where to begin.
the pattern i chose doesn’t go up to my size.
and i was getting a tighter gauge in the yarn i wanted.
this means, much math was needed to make the sweater fit.

i’m a good knitter. i can do math.
hell, i completed calc 4 in undergrad with a 3.5!

i swatched.
i washed my swatch.

i did the math.
i did it again.
i did it again!

and completed two beautiful sleeves
whose gauge matched my swatch.

i measured my body.
i measured again.
i had my coworkers measure me.
i cast on the number of stitches that would fit me
and the pattern repeat for the colorwork yoke.

all was well.

today, after traversing the knitting black hole for two weeks,
the body of my sweater is finally long enough to join the arms
and enter icelandic colorwork yoketown.

i’ve been measuring for days,
but today i noticed something.
the body seemed a little big.

i am not skinny by any stretch
but still. it seemed pretty big.

so i decided to put half my stitches on another needle and try it on.
well as soon as i did that,
it looked really big.

i asked yvonne to come back with me in the office,
told the thursday night knitters not to steal anything,
and tried it on.

it’s huge.
very huge.

i asked yvonne to check my gauge to see if i’ve been hallucinating this whole time.

i wasn’t.
i was being lazy.

there is a good reason patterns list gauge over 4 inches/10cm
i was only checking over 1 inch.

so while i was getting 5 stitches/inch (perfect swatch gauge)
yvonne was getting 18.75-19 stitches/4 inches.
these gauges do not match.

this is a huge difference when we are talking about a sweater.
the short of it is, instead of the 1 inch of ease i was going for,
i have 6. 6 inches of ease.

it is a tent.

i want to die.

i know i know, you think it can’t be that bad.
let me give you a visual:

i told you.

now, i’m not looking for sympathy.
i’m looking for advice on how to proceed.
this is my first trip to rhinebeck
so the sweater was/is really important to me.
but i have a week and need to be realistic.
so i’m asking the knitting blogosphere for advice.

what should i do?

1 – rip it! you can knit this in a week!
2 – steek it. cut the fat and pick up for the yoke.
3 – fuck it! wear the hotpants.
4 – drink until you don’t care and pick up a man.
5 – other

please people.
i need advice.

just keep knitting

October 1, 2010

before i get to the meat of this post,
i must confess to being a bad friend.
in my last entry
i only thanked my friend annette for my new bag.
but it she wasn’t the only one involved.
my friend zelda also had a hand in my ballsack.

so thanks zelda.

i owe you one.

now for the knitting stuff:
rhinebeck is two weeks away,
and i’m a little behind on my sweater.

i’ve got the sleeves done,
and about ten inches of body.
i have seven more before i join the sleeves
and do the yoke.

when i say it out loud,
it feels impossible.
but keep citing the knitting olympics:
17 days
1 sweater.

i can do this.


someone please validate me.

i also want to talk about shelter,
brooklyn tweed’s new line of yarn.
about the yarn, he writes:

As the summer ended last year, I began researching answers to very specific questions I had been asking myself for some time: With such a rich textile history and an abundance of wool and other resources, why does it sometimes seem so difficult to obtain American yarns in our booming US knitting community? Would it be possible to develop a 100% American sourced, spun, and designed yarn that could be presented in a compelling way to knitters? What would a yarn look like that was developed from Stage One by a single person with no one to answer to but his own personal wool obsession?

The desire to answer these questions sparked the beginning of a year-long journey – one that begins a new chapter today, as SHELTER takes its first steps into the real world.

SHELTER is a woolen-spun 2-ply yarn made from American Targhee-Columbia fleece, grown in Wyoming. The yarn is spun in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire in the heart of New England, in a mill town that has been producing woolen yarns and fabrics since 1794. I have developed a palette of 17 shades including both rich, autumnal colors as well as natural sheep-colors (you didn’t think I’d forget the greys, did you?) The yarn is a very lightly-spun lofty material that, as a result of it’s woolen-spun process, knits at a variety of gauges comfortably without losing fabric integrity.


Globally speaking, I think that knitters should be able to procure wools of high-quality that support designers, farmers and mills in our own back yard. I think there is now becoming an opportunity for yarns to tell us a story, and offer us a connection to something deeper than just the experience we’re having on our needles.

Consider this my contribution to that cause. I very much hope that you enjoy it.

i think it’s a great idea,
and the yarn is very very yummy looking,
but i just can’t stop myself from naming some worries:

1 – the price. at $12.50 for 140yds/128m,
it’ll cost a small woman about $125 to make a sweater,
and a guy my size like $163.

just for a comparison,
i’m making my rhinebeck sweater out of a yarn from a small mill in michigan, the stonehedge fiber mill.
it’s a 3 ply worsted,
and costs $10 for 250 yds.
that’s about $80 for a sweater for me.
it’s spun worsted
(rather than woolen)
which should cost more right?
(spinners weigh in on this.)

i’m more than willing to spend money on yarn.
but if i’m gonna pay that much,
i want a sweater for life.

which brings me to

2 – a lightly-spun 2 ply (i also need some spinners help on this one)
as i understand it,
being lightly spun
and a 2 ply yarn,
means it will be extra soft.
we in america are obsessed with softness.

(never mind that for thousands of years,
babies have been wrapped in cloth made from wool so scratchy
it would make noro seem like malabrigo)

but lightly spun yarn won’t wear as well, right?
it’s more prone to pilling and felting?
am i wrong?

i believe i remember judith mackenzie saying
that you should always use at least a 3 ply for garments
because it wears better.
more plys equals better durability.
am i wrong?

i think the yarn is lovely.
i’ll probably buy some (for a hat).
but i’m worried.
i’m worried that,
like so many american-made products,
it’s going to be amazing at first,
but isn’t made to last.

i know in the knitting world,
criticizing anyone is taboo.
much less a knitter as beloved as brooklyn tweed.
but i think these are important questions to ask.
the recession has scared the shit out of me,
(and has anyone been watching what’s been going on in europe?).
i feel strongly that, in the world of hobby in which knitting resides,
i feel the need to be extra critical of how i spend my money.

please please please
someone, anyone,
tell me i’m wrong!

so that i can buy a sweater lot of shelter.