Archive for January, 2007

I’m back in Chicago starting another semester at SAIC. This is my first official Art Ed semester and it looks like I am going to be reading theories and case studies and writing lesson plans until the end of time. If I get 1 page read for every time I inhale I might stay on top of it. I just snuck away from the mountain of papers on my table to post on the ole’ blogaroo. When I’m not reading Paulo Freire interviews I’ve been trying to get those fair isle mittens finished. They are mostly done but I am rather attached to the idea of them having a bi-color brioche stitch cuff. I knit the mitten parts first because I had left a really good article on Brioche Stitch (from InterweaveKnits Spring 2005) here at the room. I got the hang of the stitch and it looks fantastic… but brioche stitche is much wider than the fair isle mitten body. So, 35 cuff stitches and 52 body stitches is quite a gap to jump in just a row or two without looking to akward. Plus I keep trying to find a way to stitch them up semi-seamlessly while remaining really elastic. So far, not going terribly well. I’ve tried all sorts of things. Much ripping back, much experimenting. I will get it eventually. For now, I have handknit gloves already so my hands aren’t TOO cold (though the mittens will be warmer).
By the way, I also accidently ordered 5 pounds of carrots and I live by myself. I get my groceries through Peapod. If anyone wants to come over for some tea and carrots you’re welcome to. Also, any vegan recipes involving carrots are greatly appreciated. I have no idea what to do with them all.


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Turning 21

So Darling Boy Friend celebrated his 21st birthday this weekend. I had a rather festive schmancy day planned but instead we ended up driving around my teenaged sister and her friends. The highlight was when I made him a stack of pancakes and hashbrowns for breakfast, complete with birthday candle. I then gave him his present. I didn’t make his present this year because I was still burnt out from the Felt Clogs. Instead, I went out and scoured the internet until I found this guitar/computer gizmo . It took me a while to track this down. I found it online a while ago but it was always out of stock or the retailer would not ship internationally… finally got it though. He seemed rather pleased with it, but unfortunately his computer is down for the count until he upgrades to Windows Vista (insert mac user superior eye roll here).
We then spent the rest of the day taking care of my two little siblings while my parents cavorted around London. As soon as we got one kid squared away the other one would come screaming in demanding, alternately, food/money/a ride. The nice dinner out I had been saving up for ended up being Culvers between picking sister up from her ski trip and dropping her off at a school dance. Not what I had in mind. We were hoping to go out and make up for it with a fancy dinner tonight but I just got my teeth drilled and now I can’t talk. Or eat. Better yet I get to go in for more tomorrow. Not. Cool.

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Many, Many times I have felt the lure of some incredibly well designed, practical, comfortable, fun-to-knit menswear pattern. I see those tweedy scarves, warm thrummed mittens, fun hats, not to mention sweaters (and no, calling them “jackets” does not fool the curse). I feel my fingers itch to cast on and knit Darling Boyfriend a whole wardrobe. But I know it would all be in vain, for unless I want to knit at uber-micro-gauge stockinette in black and silk screen Led Zeppelin logos onto it and present the most labor intensive rock t-shirt in history to him, he probably won’t wear it much. That being said, if we were ever to get to the point wear the curse was not an issue I would surely produce a sweater of epic proportions. It would have cables and bobbles and technicolor fair isle hearts all over it and a giant turtle neck and once it was all knit up and go to pick up the band at the bottom and get a little carried away and knit all the way down till it was a full body jumper, complete with little footies and intarsia elephants on the butt. I would have him try it on before I stitch up the final seam and then pin the poor guy down and stitch the whole thing up so firmly there would be no taking it off. “Oops, forgot the buttons. darn.” There would be no rhyme or reason for this knitting catastrophe beyond the fact that I have held the line against my urges for so long.
In the mean time I have knit a few items for DB.
My first major knitting undertaking, just after my first and last quickly abandoned garter stitch scarf, was this cabled lap quilt. I made it during my first semester of college. At this point I was such a new knitter that I knew nothing of what yarn was good yarn for a project. I took the bus to the nearest JoAnn’s Craft Store and bought what seemed like a sufficient amount of LionBrand Homespun to make an afghan. I picked out manly shades of blue, green, and brown and cast on with the yarn double stranded on size 13 needles in September. I knitted it in blocks so I could carry it with me everywhere (and I did knit everywhere). I knitted constantly, right up till Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day I was sewing the final squares together. It was much smaller than I had predicted based on the weight of the thing (which was substantial). I wrapped it up in a big box with a huge bow on top and presented it to DB very late in the day on Christmas. He accepted it with amazement and love. It was a very proud moment for me. Today the quilt sits, perfectly folded on the back of his couch. It is always perfectly folded in the exact same place on the back of the couch. While I know DB is a very tidy person, I have come to believe that he does not ever really use said quilt. I understand as it is much too small and much too heavy to be much good. I take it off the couch every once in a while for the dog* to snuggle with, which also makes me very happy.

By the next Christmas I had knit a few sweaters of varying degrees of success. I was getting better with garments and yarn selection, and all those fiddly details like gauge and fiber content. I knit Socks for DB. I chose a cotton/nylon/elastic yarn that would be soft, stretchy, strong, and cool (DB is perpetually warm, it defies logic). I used a very basic pattern in a solid color to suit his tastes. They knit up rather quickly as socks are wont to do. They fit! They looked good! I was once again, very proud of my handiwork. I was expecting the moment of revelation that I always hear about when a person recieves their first pair of hand knit socks. You know, when they declare that they will never again lay foot in a machine knit sock and thereby kidknap the knitter and stow her away in a tower to knit them socks until the end of time. Well, the socks were once again accepted with love and gratitude, but I still almost always find white adidas tube socks on DB. The hand knits are cherished and saved for special occasions.

*With regard to the aforementioned dog, Tink, she is also the unwitting recipient of my knitting. One day, I believe a year or so ago, I was looking for a quick oddball project and I was sick of hats. I pondered if the curse of the love sweater applied to my boyfriend’s dog. I decided not, so I cast on to knit pennyfrom Knitty.com for Tink. It knit up rapidly and when next I was home I put it on her. It went on fairly easily the first time. I set her down on the floor and went to get the leash to take her out for a walk to show off her new duds. Tink stood there, stock still, and stared at me. She did not scratch at it, she did not bark or growl. She also didn’t run around or wag her tail when I got the leash or follow me around. She just stood there. After a little while of the statue impression I caved and took it off her. Since then it has been much more difficult to get the sweater on her. So it sits in a closet somewhere. Better a dog sweater sitting unworn than a boyfriend sized sweater. I could not get a photo of Tink in the sweater, but this is the face she makes at me when it is mentioned.

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It is my Darling Boyfriend’s birthday this weekend and in honor of the occassion I want to post a little about what I have made for him over the last couple of years. Well we have all heard about the “Curse of the Love Sweater” (and heard it and heard it and…you know) I have included how they fair on the continuum of cool gifts. Please note that Darling Boy always accepts these gifts with a healthy gratitude and awe, no matter how big a flop they are. I have given him lots of stuff and learned a lot in the proccess so this will probably be an ongoing series.

This was the first thing I remember making for Darling Boy. Judging solely by this relic one might think we’ve been dating since roughly 1968. Wrong. I sewed this little throw pillow for DB right before we went away to (read: separate)colleges. He was headed for Iowa and I was New York bound. I used my favorite vintage T-shirt and Jeans to make something snuggly that wouldn’t embarrass him by being to girly. This item is a fantastic illustration of the rule that the crappier it is made, the more he will cherish it. When he came from college that summer and I saw the disgusting srap heap this innocent throw pillow had become I was amazed. He still sleeps with it every night. I want to bleach it. Mind you, it is much ickier in person. P.S. his dog loves it just as much as he does. Figures.

Once DB and I moved back to Illinois after a long year apart I eventually decided to knit him something else stuffed. He was no longer living in a dorm with a roommate or anything of the sort so I was less concerned about the “embarrassing girly” factor. This is a Bobbi Bear by Blue Sky Alpacas knit with Patons Merino (Lovely pattern, I highly reccomend it). The Pro/Con break down:
Pro: it’s blue.
Con: it’s a teddy bear.
Pro: it has a tattoo on its butt
Con: it’s a tattoo of a heart.
The bear is appreciated and sits next to the hole-y throw pillow on the bed, but I have a feeling it is not cherished on the same level. Lesson I learned: You can give stuffed animals, but there is a limit to how much he can take. Discretion is the better part of valor. DB is probably a little relieved that he will probably not be getting another stuffed animal in the forseeable future (I’d say never, but I have a policy against using that word).

So that is Part 1: “Stuffed Stuff”. Next installment will be “Does the curse of the love sweater apply to his dog?”

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So this is blog tag. I was tagged by Jeremy from Knit-a-Bit
THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog

Here are my weird things:
1. I am a compulsive counter. When I was on a family trip this summer to the Grand Canyon this lead to lots of fun because I counted fanny packs on tourists. I counted an average of 150 per day, and the count would rise rapidly after 5pm, which I suppose makes them evening wear and hence, a far more atrocious fashion disaster. When I’m at the train station downtown I count ties on bussiness men. Counts have been artificially low lately due to scarf-wearing (so I can’t see the ties). Despite my obsessive counting, I still hate counting stitches.

2. I’m a vegan who knits with wool and that doesn’t bother me

3. I’m bathroom shy

4. In high school I drove a 1991 Chevy Astro van named ‘Zippy the Wondervan’. Zippy had her own soundtrack and only 2 out 5 functioning doors. Zippy has recently slipped into a persistant vegetative state in my Grandmother’s garage. I refuse to have her carcass removed until I can arrange for a viking funeral (meaning we light her on fire and drive her off the bluff into Lake Michigan).

5. I cannot bake cookies. It really isn’t just the vegan-thing, like I just can’t do it. I bake them and they look beautiful, like the cover of a cookbook. Perfect color and texture and lovely… but they always taste like baking soda, even when I don’t use baking soda. It was like that before I made vegan cookies, I use all different recipes, I can bake other stuff really well but not cookies. It is torture because I bake them and they look so good and I leave them in my kitchen, which is also my front entry-way so I come home and they look at me and say “we’re yummy” and I want to eat them but they taste bad and I just can’t bring myself to throw them out because maybe they’ll taste good tomorrow, but they won’t.

6. I hate being wet. I can’t swim, I don’t like showering. It bugs me and I avoid both at all costs. When I do shower I do it with lightning speed that has baffled everyone and anyone who has ever lived with me.

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So, I’ve been knocked off the series of tubes for a few days for some reason, though it was probably a good thing. I needed a little time away from the blog (I have a lot of momentum right now cause it’s new and I’m unemployed). With my time out in the real world I got a bit of knitting done. the Fair Isle Mittens I’m designing/knitting are shaping up pretty well.

I also made a large knitting related purchase. I got an Ultimate Sweater Machine. Now, before you brush me off as a, well, machine knitter, allow me to explain myself. At school we have large, very well attended “Art Sales” at the end of every semester. People see me sitting around and knitting constantly and I frequently get comments from other students, professors, or patrons that they can’t wait to see my stuff at the next art sale or could I whip up a few blankets or sweaters for the next fundraiser (“you know, nothing fancy, just a plain flat blanket.. that’s easy enough, right?”). Well, as much as I would love to participate in these things, I think you all know that even a “plain old sweater with nothing fancy on it” can take months of mindless, thankless knitting. So I’ve been looking for a cheap knitting machine. My mom was trying to get me one for X-mas but they were all sold out at the local craft store. The other day she handed me a 50% off coupon and sent me on my way to find one, at her expense. I wasn’t going to pass that up. I found one and laid the money down and now I am the proud owner of a Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine. I got the hang of it fairly quickly and knitted up a plain, Stst square. I think this will be just the ticket for my Art Sale knitting.

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To Build a Sweater

Currently I’m toiling away on a sweater design. I design on the needles because I hate myself and love to waste my own time (apparently). This is particularly masochistic because I am not using a conventional sweater construction. I am working entirely on the bias, outward from a center mitre square. So far I have ripped back, frogged, re-knitted, knitted multiple samples, sewn together and re-sewn together pieces, counted stitches, rows, stars in the sky, till my hair is falling out. It is coming along, slowly and not-quite-as-surely-as-I-would-like. Right now I have most of the front done but as I was trying it on and admiring the front my sister came up behind me and uttered the most chilling words I have heard in a long time; “Ohhhh, that can’t be right!”. I turned around and realized my pseudo-calculations had failed me. Most knitters consider knitting to be an art, well… it’s not. It’s a science for me right now. The closest thing to science class I get these days is watching Good Eats with Alton Brown on the FoodNetwork (do you watch? well, you really should, but that’s beside the point). I am now considering ripping out part or all of the back pieces right now.

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