BLUSH Tuesday, Feb 5 2008 

Blushing for many, many reasons these days. This first story is…almost too embarrassing to tell, but it’s kind of too funny to not tell. As you know, Super Tuesday is upon us! I called Town Hall to double check my polling location and that Independents can vote in the Massachusetts primary. Turns out, I am enrolled as a Q. Q stands for American Independent, a branch of the Constitution Party. SOMEHOW, when I registered to vote I chose this party instead of Unenrolled. Unenrolled sounded like a slacker party, like the show!

For the past 3+ years, I’ve been an accidental registered American Independent. My political views couldn’t really be more OPPOSITE of theirs (very conservative!). With Hillary and Barack in a statistical dead heat and everyone I know supporting Barack I was really looking forward to casting my vote for a viable, female candidate but I effed up and that won’t happen. If she loses Amherst, I’m going to feel irrationally guilty!!

Onto happier news–Gudrun, aka the Shetland Trader asked me to model one of her fabulous hat patterns. Meet the Bousta Beret! Here are a few outtakes from my little photoshoots. The paparazzi shot:

Bousta Beret

Some light reading:

Bousta Beret

Like I said, I’ve been away from the blog, focusing on knitting, designing and schoolwork. In that order. Some MORE good knittish things have happened recently but I sort of feel like keeping them secret for now! Another reason I’m blushing is that I’ve been given the You Make My Day blog award from Gudrun, Cosmicpluto (didn’t even know she read my blog, eek!) Sknitty and Brokeknits and Elin. ETA: Also, Reckless Glue and Miss Scarlett! Thanks, ladies, I echo the sentiment! Here are ten additional favorites:

1. Ysolda for her Scottish photoshoots and for being an inspiring designer.

2. Emily at Inside a Black Apple for all around cuteness and amazing artwork (which I often wear)!

3. Melissa at Knitting School Dropout for being adorable and having the most covetable FOs around.

4. Kate at Zeitgeist Yarns for being my birthday twin (one of many September 20th babies that I know) and for making it academic—I can’t help but envy her textile design grad studies…

5. Tied for funniest, sharpest ladies I know in real life, Huelo (whose blog has apparently run away from the Internet) and Chloe.

6. Jared at Brooklyn Tweed, of course, for his handspun and garter love. Loved listening to him on the Webs podcast this week!
7. Jenna at Cinemaknits who I pester all the time about not blogging anymore. She picks such great, obscure project and I love her color sense. I might have to start bribing her with Manchego and wine…

8. Adrian at Hello Yarn for the cutest dog name in the world (Shambles!) and her awesome knits, especially the ones for men (modeled by an oft-bearded Irishman!)

9. I have a confession to make about Pamela at Flint Knits and Megan at the Knitting Philistine…I confused them for a long time, they were both grad students with similar haircuts, glasses, equally awesome knitting…I finally got it straight and…this post continues to be embarrassing.

10. Jenny at Wikstenmade for making me want to move to Kansas City just so we can hang out, sew and speak in Jerri Blank quotes exclusively.

Speaking of sewing, I started a Denyse Schmidt foundation pieced scarf, here are my pre-cut bindles of fabric, which I find ridiculously cute:


So far it’s been really easy but my sewing machines hate me and started making terrible grinding sounds late at night, so I took a break. Might be because I’m using that gold top-stitching thread, the kind used on jeans, it’s so golden and pretty.

This doesn’t count as an FO, but I had to show it off! This was a store sample from Classic Elite, I can’t find the pattern info anywhere but it is color #1229 of discontinued Skye Tweed. It is a little Flashdance and I luff it:

Skye Tweed

Color is much more accurate here:

Skye Tweed

Over and out,


P.S. Don’t forget to vote!!


She’s Snoody… Tuesday, Jun 26 2007 

Okay, sorry for the punny title but I couldn’t help it, I love puns! I’m up late playing around with new Interweb tools after spending most of the day laptopless (I reformatted, all by myself–Eric, didn’t think I had it in me, didja?

Time for a finished object!! It’s the Art Deco Beret by Grumperina, from the fall issue of Knitscene. The yarn is Sheep Shop 3. I have a few hints–it is much, much easier to knit from two balls. I tried to knit from the outside and the inside (you alternate knitting with the beaded and non-beaded strand) of one center pull ball and it was a massive tangle fest. Another tip–look for knots. The unexpected knot on your beaded strand will BUM YOU OUT. When I was about 2″ from finishing one ply finally gave out. I was at Eric’s and the crafty engineer whipped out an old guitar string for me to use as a big eye needle. After carefully restringing my beads I knit about one round and found A KNOT. Knot cool.

Anyhow, the yarn is gorgeous and I love the fit, I’d wear this as a snood but blocking it over a dinner plate definitely yielded a beret shape. It was a fun, addictive pattern with a very cool cast-on…tubular-ish but I’m not sure. I’ll have to investigate, it looks like it’d be great for socks. Now for tons of pictures!

My tribute to Emily (I think she’d like my golden mirror):

Over and OUT,


Itchy. Tuesday, Mar 20 2007 

I’ve got a raging case of the mean reds. Could be because sewing is so distracting to me that I can hardly get any real work done or leave the apartment. I’ve taken up watching The View for a number of reasons, but I’ve got to stop. It derails my day. I get up around 9 (late for someone who used to row and work a ‘regular’ job) and do some organizing/reading/craft planning. Eric makes coffee and eat cornflakes really noisily. I glower. He leaves. At 11 I’m watching the View and eating a little brunch. I started off just watching the opening ‘hot topics’ segment but now I usually watch straight through. By noon I still haven’t showered (there is a reason I’m admitting to this publicly–I NEED TO BE SHAMED!) and I don’t have to be to campus for any particular reason. This isn’t just a spring break schedule, it’s like this every week. The earliest I’m expected to be anywhere during the week is 3:30 p.m. Yeah. It’s bad.

Anyhow, the View. Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck have the most ferocious political arguments, I am just waiting for the day it turns physical. Rosie jokes about not liking her job as ‘gay mascot’ of the show but the fact that she discusses alternative sexualities on an almost daily basis and gets applauded for doing so blows my mind. It’s not the lesbianism that I’m necessarily impressed by it’s her voiced attraction to various celebrities regardless of gender. She endorses a carnivalesque approach towards human attraction, claiming that we’re all on a spectrum that is above all things mutable. She pulls no punches politically and it’s a thrill to see it happen on daytime television in front of audiences that I’d (perhaps unfairly) assumed to be the very opposite of forward-thinking.

Oh! And on a lighter note, her and Joy Behar talk about what it means to be a woman in comedy almost daily. I’m currently cobbling together a paper on Sarah Silverman for a conference in April so anything about the subject catches my interest these days.

So anyway…I’ve been sewing more than knitting these days. Here are some pictures, and all the details are over at Craftster:

It’s only Tuesday and it feels like my break is flying by…I’ve been buying a crapload of sock yarn lately and I swore I’d finish some very old chunky weight projects (I just typed ‘problems’ instead of ‘projects’…is that a sign?) so hopefully my next post will be…yarn-ier.


Home Ec x 2 Tuesday, Mar 13 2007 

I have a feeling you’re all going to get soooooooOOooo sick of this top!

It’s another Built by Wendy Home Ec top, and anticipate making about one zillion of these! My size takes just under 2 yards of fabric and it’s the perfect project for trying out lots of different seaming/edge finishing techniques. It’s getting super fast and I absolutely love wearing them, they are super comfortable. This one is also a size 10 but I’ve since purchased a new pattern and my next will be the right size, a little less fitted. Right now it’s a bit snug under the pits and the back is a little blousy:

The best part–my very own label!! I had these made at, I also have some ‘skrillaknits‘ ones, I’ll debut those as soon as I finish a dang sweater. I haven’t come up with a good way to sew them on, any tips? This is the best I could come up with…

Lastly, it appears that my worrying about Interweave was for naught–the scholarly, reverent Eunny Jang is taking the helm! This is by far the coolest blogger hits the big time story yet. I’m psyched, I bet it’s going to reach encyclopedic proportions!

Speaking of being excited about academics…I’ve been really up and down about graduate school this year. On the bad days I feel incredibly inept and frustrated, but on good days I feel the way Emily does about her artwork/cottage industry:

“It’s strange to say, but The Black Apple has been pretty much a best friend for the last few years, even before I had my online storefront or blog. It has been my constant companion through two different wonderful-but-difficult-in-their-own-way relationships, the changing and shuffling locations and closeness of friends, and two big moves. People ask all the time for tips, or pearls of wisdom about the success of my cottage industry, and maybe it’s as simple as that. It’s my companion and if I’m not working for it, I’m thinking of it.”

I just dug through some old papers looking for a syllabus from a colloquium I taught as an undergrad and it was really heartening to see that I’m pretty much following the trajectory I dreamed about 5 years ago…it’s hard to stay the course, but I think I will. Speaking of Home Ec (my name for the easy peasy top), I’m cornering my thesis idea more and more, I’ll tell you all about it soon…

Oh! A public thank you to all the Western Mass. blogladies who joined me on Sunday for a knit-together. We were all tempted to photograph it for our respective blogs, but we showed remarkable restraint. Inside joke time:



It’s been awhile! Wednesday, Feb 21 2007 

I can’t post long, I’m heading off to Stitches West in, oh, 4 hours or so! I can tell you that

A. I cheated: I bought yarn! From our competitors, no less! It’s for Thermal!

B. I finished: I finished a sock in Gail’s Franklin for the store, isn’t it gorgeous?!

C. I cheated: I sewed! And I love it!

Mensch, ich muss jetzt schlafen! Bis spader!


First Interweave Review? Monday, Feb 5 2007 

I picked up Interweave Knits Spring 2007 yesterday and after Googling for reviews today and not finding any it occurs to me that I could be one of the first to review it! This never happens! Except you know the whole thing about if you don’t have anything nice to say…?

Well…first of all, they’ve re-designed the magazine. Pam Allen does a great job of explaining the reasoning behind this in her editor’s letter but I really don’t think I’ll get used to it as she urges us to do. I really loved that the layout of Interweave was different from the typical fashion layout with patterns in the back approach. I loved not having to flip back and forth to see a close-up of something. Patterns are now arranged in thematic ‘stories’ and I hate to say it but I thought it was an ad for several pages before it clicked that I was in fact looking at the heart of the issue! This move towards a more commercial look just doesn’t do it for me. But! I’m sure many will love it. Example:

How about a moment of silence for all those involved with the silk thong–designer, future knitters, wearers, um…beneficiaries? I actually love the two camisoles and the socks.

I’ll be honest, I was sort of more excited by the actual ads. I tend to not care much for the warm weather issues. I finally ‘cheated’ on Webs and purchased a set of Options needles:

Shh, don’t tell anyone, they might revoke the Ms. Webs crown! Then I’d have to blubber at a podium for a ‘second chance’. Speaking of the ads, have you ever seen me so very groomed??

This ad from Blue Moon Fiber Art has me thinking that this will be the year I finally buy some Socks That Rock yarn at Stitches. In the past I’ve thought my sock knitting skills too shoddy for $$ yarn, but these colors…I just hope they aren’t exclusive to the Sock Club. Because I’m a vendor’s employee I will have the distinct pleasure of getting a crack at it before the masses descend upon it which, truth be told, is the real reason I haven’t purchased any so far. The melee (which I’m sure some of you have been party to!) is downright ugly, I think the word ‘scrum’ is really accurate.

On the crafty front I made some book weights! This was great practice for making straight seams and just generally getting aquainted with my machine. I made several, tweaking the design as I went. They’re filled with popcorn and (I think) adorable! This was all inspired by Anjali asking what to do with very precious fabrics and by Ysolda’s amazing Reading Jumper. Ysolda and I even have some reading in common!

My set-up (the awesome mixed-up fairy tale fabric is from the swap I had with Anjali!) EDITED TO ADD: I started whipping these bad boys up for all my grad school friends and one of them called (just as I was sewing his, no less). I excitedly told him about it and he said (in a very HIM tone) “Is it particularly tiring to hold your books open?” I realized that the main reason I was making these was because I knit and read at the same time unless the book won’t stay open. Other people don’t necessarily have this problem, but I did make a pretty good case for free hands leading to better notes. I tell you, as a grad student reading is no laughing matter. We continually have debates about favorite highlighter brands, scamming free copies and holding books hostage from the library. Good times!

That is a Zimmerman book in the back there, I needed some reading knitting of my own so I cast on for a Baby Surprise Jacket (my first!). A professor/friend is having twins soon (a boy and a girl!) and while they wanted gender neutral, I couldn’t help putting these colors together. They will most likely have dark hair (who knows, but one of the parents is Italian and dark hair IS a dominant traits…) so I hope the brown is suitably non-traditional for them. Now to decide which side is cuter…I’m thinking ‘wrong’, the one with more striping!

Lord knows I love my stripes…


5 Things+then some (a F.O., even!) Tuesday, Jan 30 2007 

I was tagged by Into the Fray quite awhile ago! I haven’t forgotten, I’ve just been busy. These 5 things might not fall into the ‘weird’ category, but they are frivolous little factoids about me that the average Skrilla dabbler might not come across.

1. I have always had a love affair with magazines. I used to think that I wanted to be a magazine journalist and pursued this for about 2.5 years in college. I made a zine in high school called Wit’s Ashtray under the pen name Rebel Without Applause. A highlight was when a local (this was in Germany) hardcore band mentioned it at a show of theirs while I was in the audience. Now I just cut my mags up and use them for design inspiration. Here are some pages from my notebook that is full of these clippings:

2. I have a serious salt problem. I often joke that I want a salt lick, like a deer. Eric is always begging me to go easy, and he’s right. It’s in my blood (no blood pressure pun intended), my Nana loves her salty Italian cold cuts and Dirty Martinis. For me it’s salt and vinegar chips, French Fries (with mayo no less, what’s up heart disease??) and popcorn. I get by with nutritional yeast sometimes.

3. I am fastidious about school/office supplies and anything related to them. This is slightly OCD, but I can’t bear smudges, crinkled edges, sudden pen color switches. I once wrote and performed a song (spontaneously) that sums up the level of crazy this involves–it’s called ‘Tape Lamination’ and it is sung to the tune of the Bee Gee’s ‘More than a Woman’. Crazy, I know, but when I spill coffee on my notebooks I just WIPE it off!

4. I actually hate shopping. I am very sad that my beloved local Trader Joes is getting more and more crowded. It used to remind me of the old mini-market exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum. I am in love with Internet shopping because it allows me to A. not drive, B. comparison shop until I’m blue in the face without getting the eye from store owners, C. support friends with stores and fellow crafters, D. act like Veruca Salt and get basically anything I want in the world. I know that sounds terrible, and fear not, I support local merchants as often as I can but places like Ex Libris Anonymous and the like make me very happy. Also, like all humans, I love getting mail.

5. I can’t believe I’m going to turn 25 this year. I still feel like a little girl.

Time for a mini book review! I’ve gushed about Built by Wendy enough, and I sorta feel like it’s already old news in Blogland. And a quick Google search just turned up a far better review for this book than I would’ve written.

I’ll just add that I find the clear pictures very helpful for a new sewer like myself. They are probably embarrassingly simplistic but I think the assumption that a verbal description is sufficient is a major failing of most sewing books.

The photography is gorgeous, spare, tres chic and all that. I have been batting around the idea of writing a paper on the Anthropologie aesthetic that seems to authoritatively dominate anything geared towards young crafty types with cultural capital to spare. The A-word has been uttered by stylists at several of the photoshoots I’ve done and it seems to be heavily ripped off in the catalog world in general. There is also the influence it has with crafters–I wonder what the numbers are for people like me, who get the catalog and pore over it (sometimes going as far as interpreting the designs) but can rarely afford to buy any of it. I’d like to get to the bottom of its appeal.

This is my favorite project in the whole book. I still die laughing everytime I see a granny cart because it reminds me of Grumperina’s saga about her granny cart breaking and no one in Cambridge helping her. I can’t for the life of me find the post on her blog, but it was super, super horrible/funny.

I finished some socks for a friend who recently turned 31 and will be starting to write his dissertation soon. He claims that he loves tweed but doesn’t wear it because he doesn’t want to be a ‘professorial cliche’. I figure this way no one has to know. I knit them toe-up because I was wary about my yarn, but each sock took less than a ball of Regia 6-ply tweed. I knit it them on size 3 Susan Bates. I’d started them on 2s but that was nearly cardboard. These were supposed to have an ’embossed’ (read: purl stitches) monogram but it looked crap so I skipped it. It was also supposed to have a ‘princess foot’ (read: reverse stockinette sole) as a joke (as in, he is a delicate flower) but it looked odd and I skipped that too. Yawnsville, but still, a finished object(s).

The best part of this process was taking my pattern book to a copy shop and having them chop the spine, drill holes and spiral bind it for me so it will lay flat! I can’t take credit for this (a Webs customer came in with all of her books sporting this treatment once) but that doesn’t stop me from feeling WICKED CLEVER whenever I look at it.

Still with me? Here are some randoms, Eric wearing a LOT of handknits at Mass MOCA (it was great, you have to go and see the Notion Nanny):

Just a few more sew-y pictures including my ham (hee hee!):

Some more fabric:

A few more 1.99 patterns:

And my current WIP, for the store. This is Valley Yarn’s new sock yarn Franklin in Mountain Spring, dyed by Gail the Kangaroo Dyer. Very pretty and knits sort of like Lorna’s Laces. It’s hanging out with my new textbooks right now. I should quit blogging and attend to both…

Have a great week and sorry for the sporadic and massive posting habit I’ve gotten into =)


SYNERGY! Saturday, Jan 27 2007 

Wow–so the whole world wants me to be a sewist. At least that’s the pep talk I’m giving myself.

As I’ve said in my recent post, my yarn diet has mutated into a sewing notion, fabric buying monster. It’s ugly, but awesomely fun. The notions live here:

And the fabric lives in these:

At the helm is wonderful Wendy Mullin and her book Sew U. I’m treating it as an old fashioned ‘home correspondence course’ and working my way through the book. I’m still in the ‘getting all my gear’ phase but soon I’ll be tearing into my 15 yard bolt of muslin (one of the items on the gear list) to test out my new and fantastic retro looking machine. Did I mention that while trolling Wendy’s past collections I’ve come across amazing ‘models’ like Amy Sedaris, David Cross and Amy Pohler? Well, I have, and this is proof that I’m chosen the perfect mentor.

Anyhow, I’ve been making a pest of myself at my local Jo-Anns (they did not appreciate it when I giggled after asking where I could find a dressmaker’s ham) and I purchased one of Wendy’s Built by You patterns. Later on, as I inspected my receipt, I realized that it was only 1.99!!! This had to be a mistake. I returned, learned that it wasn’t and promptly got almost all of them, for less than 1/2 the price of just ONE at full price!

I am sending some to my favorite knitwear designer Stefanie, who is also feeling a bit of bobbin lust, a thank you gift of sorts. I needed to hear advice from an academic who is having a hardcore affair with crafts and she was just the lady to ask. Thanks again, Glampyre =) Oh, and in a show of solidarity at being photographed for knitterly purposes:

“I have to take like 50 photos and then go back through and throw out the badhair ones and the fatface ones, and all of the crazyeye ones…it’s so hard. I hate it.”

The latest Webs catalog is hitting mailboxes soon. The sweaters are awesome again, especially Kirsten Hipsky–I don’t understand why her fingers aren’t bloody bones by now. Sorry, too gruesome? She manages to whip up sweater after sweater, all of them ingeniously constructed and truly unique in some way. In between amazing top-down gansey creations she creates gorgeous, gorgeous lace as if bewitched. I’m serious. She is one to watch people (though sadly, blogless).

I’ll refrain from harping about my lazy eye and…Rubenesque face…and more questionable expressions. Let’s just say I’m thrilled to be wearing such stunning, eye-catching sweaters. Heh.

Back to Built by Wendy–I’m reading my favorite magazine and I come across a piece on Kansas City. I saw a girl who looked familiar–Jenny Gordy, who entered the Sew U contest and is apparently another awesome Kansan designer/crafter/blogger. Inspiring? Yes.

That is all! I’m off to Mass MOCA free day! And it’s snowing, finally!


Neophyte Thursday, Jan 18 2007 

Um. I may have…purchased another sewing machine? It seemed like a really good deal at the time…which was 4 a.m. I’ve had a raging case of bronchitis, and I’m not getting a whole lot of oxygen to the old brain. It still seems like a good deal to me 24 hours after the purchase, it has a metal frame and button hole function which are really the only two things I wanted that my awesome Hello Kitty machine doesn’t have (also a Janome). I will work up the courage to get my 1940s Singer up and running…one day. Ambika over at the Fray is also working up the sewing nerve.

My knit from the stash vow has actually morphed into a glut of sewing purchases. I should really just stop going to Emily’s blog so often, it always ends in monetary bloodshed, this time on a formidible (for me) Reprodepot haul and a nice selection of cheap New Look Simplicity Patterns to supplement the Sew U and Vogue Sewing I got for Christmas. I’ve read a lot of the Sew U book and I’m really digging the way it’s written. Very reassuring.

A lot of cute freebies in the package! Maybe because I’m sort of their neighbor? They’re based in Easthampton in Eastworks, same building at Lexie Barnes. I’ve been dying to make an order since I walked by their mini-warehouse during the photoshoot, drooling.

Details on all of this on my Flickr page.

This one is yet to arrive, and there is a mini-saga surrounding it:

I went on a cloth-y vision quest to score this beauty. After seeing an amazingly cute 21 wale corduroy Robert Kaufman print crop up on several Northwest blogs, I went on a copycat rampage hunting for it. A British site was selling it for double it’s ordinary price, and I didn’t feel up for paying that in addition to international shipping rates. I found some on JCaroline, but I really just wanted this plummy colorway.

I started to write a pleady email to Mariko begging for a one-time Super Buzzy “special” order then it occurred to me to just call the Fabric Depot where all these ladies bought the fabric. It isn’t listed on their website but after many calls back and forth, they found it for me and are sending me yardage in my #1 color choice! They were short staffed because of the huge storm they’re dealing with but they were great. I know first hand how hard it is to deal with a crazed crafter on a hunt and they were awesome. I’ll be using it to make this very cute dress.

Anyhow. Clearly, I can’t wait to get sewing. Next post, I promise to knock your SOCKS off (wink) with a couple of very clever things…