Archive for April, 2013

crafty kids

April 27, 2013

You know what I love about kids and crafts?  They just do it.  There’s no “why” or “what good is this for” or “what am I getting out of this?”  You give them something to make, and they tend to make it.  (My kids are pretty young, maybe that’s why this still works.)

Kids get the whole thing about “making something.”   H isn’t super interested in the doing of it, but he’s interested in the end product and wants me to make him stuff.  J is interested in making a stitch or two and then she’s done.  But she likes to watch and try on the things I’ve made (hats for virtually anybody, socks for her father, mitts for me).  It’s pretty funny.  We both enjoy it.

I don’t know what happens to us as we get older and many of us lose that understanding of “making something.”  I did.  And where storebought and the status quo becomes desired.  And now that I’m back to making stuff without some voice in my head asking “why,” I’m a bit sad.  Imagine how awesome my knitting/writing would have been had I focused on it years ago.

Still, I’m making something now, my kids get it, and I’m good with that.


not alice starmore

April 24, 2013

I just finished reading Adrienne Martini’s book, Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously.  Basically, the author knits a difficult sweater and talks a lot of people during the time she does it.   The author is interested in why people knit, what is the meaning behind really designing a sweater, the community of knitting.  It was a good fast read in a topic I’m obviously interested in.  I liked it, but I had some thoughts.  Further, she talks about the designer – Alice Starmore, who is a star in the knitting world.  (I have some of her books, and they are inspirational, but I probably won’t be knitting any patterns from them.)  Martini (or the persona she presents in this book) is someone who is seeking validation for her choices, trying to learn more about a person (or a way of thinking) who is, ultimately, not accessible.   It’s a bit unsatisfying in that way.

I think a central concept of the book – whether or not any changes made to an item designed by someone, even an item as particularly detailed as the sweater of the book by the designer in question – it doesn’t sit well with me.  Because things as perceived by the designer isn’t necessarily going to satisfy the knitter.  (I suppose Martini could be doing this intentionally to the reader, but she doesn’t seem to be that kind of writer, nor this that kind of book.)

I’m not quoting this right – but I think it’s Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that says what is closest to what my own opinion: any changes you make to a sweater makes it less theirs and more yours.  (Like making an Alice Starmore-designed stranded sweater in exactly her branded 100% wool specially dyed yarns and colors as opposed to fiddling with sizing and pattern and color and yarn content.)

My thinking is that this relationship between knitter and designer, between concept and execution, is a collaboration.

Honestly, by virtue of having made the sweater, it is yours.  The designer, most likely, doesn’t have a relationship with you, ordinary consumer knitter (except by a few small types of impersonal transactions – sales, Ravelry displays), and it is unlikely they will ever see your work of their design.  But you definitely have a relationship with them.  (There’s got to be a word for that kind of mostly one-sided relationship.)   Knitting something that was designed by someone else reveals a bit of the contours of the designer’s thought process – even simple phrasing like “Cast-on in your preferred method” versus “Cast-on tubular, exactly like this link, or else the fit will be wrong.”

It’s a bit like fandom, really.  Someone presents you with their work (“canon”) and you love it so much that you want to participate in it (“fandom”).  (The knitting thing is all about participation, but some people by their very nature are just participators, whatever their “craft” – fic, art, what have you.)  And Pearl-Mcphee also says something about being very surprised about some of the ways/places her patterns have ended up (“not her vision”) – and I imagine much similar can be said for the creators of almost any popular media.

It’s multiple levels of transformation, some more faithful than others. (The stories I have loved and have gone back to over time are often not exactly the way I remember them.)

Part of my feelings have to do with being a creator of sorts, of writing fic – that what I imagine as fabulous and amazing doesn’t necessarily come out to be the same as I imagine.  (Translation 1.)  And then there’s the weird thing where someone else seems to like it – but maybe not necessary for the reasons that I like it (or why I wrote it)  (Translation 2).  And if they do a riff on it, then it becomes something else entirely, in my opinion, even though they think they’re being faithful to some aspect of it (Translation 3).  It’s interesting, and I want the stuff to be done well because if it truly is a story I don’t like for whatever reason – what does it say about my own work?  (Which I recognize is stupid – because really, it should be bout the pride and happiness of the writer who did that story as opposed to self-centered me.)  But this is all hypothetical.  If and when that does happen, I will accept that and try to be happy I inspired somebody else’s creativity because, really, what else can I do if I put my stuff out there?  If it truly gets to be a problem, I will take my stuff down and be done with it.

Now, perhaps the creators of canon see my fic as some awful misshapen acrylic Red Heart Supersaver in neon colors when they imagine their own canon to be, well, an Alice Starmore.

pb choco treat

April 19, 2013

I’m putting this here because I can’t remember where I got this from (it is not mine), but I want to be able to go back to it and I’m never going to remember it.  Very good, but takes a while to get the chocolate to cool.  Kids loved it.


PB Choco Treat

3 cups crushed cereal (I used special K, but I imagine rice crispies or anything like that would be good)

1 cup peanut butter (I used regular pb.)

0.5 cup sugar

0.5 cup corn syrup

6 oz chocolate chips


PB, sugar, syrup warmed on stove.

Add cereal, mix it up.

Place in 8×8 container lined with parchment paper and smash to fit.

Melt chips and spread on top.  Wait to cool.

hiding in plain sight

April 18, 2013

I noticed something this morning.

I guess I should be careful about where I put my yarn because it could disappear into my clothes.


(My taste is very consistent, at least.)

love letter to yarn

April 15, 2013

Dear Yarn,

When I first saw your picture on ebay, I thought it was a bit grainy and underlit.  I had never used your brand before.  Still, the two balls of you were a great price and the seller promised fast shipping and had good reviews, so I clicked.  When you came, I liked you so much better.  First of all, you were real and not some yarn scam.  Second, your colors were bright – maybe too bright for your original purchaser, but perfect for me.  Third, the dye lots matched.  I stashed you away for a good project because I was still working on something else.  And there you lay for the better part of a season.

On a whim, I plucked you from the depths of the big plastic bin and pulled you from the clear zippered bag your seller had sent you in.   You see, I had finished my last project and I was just thinking casually about something new.  Maybe socks.  I had been saving you, but what the hell.  It’s not like you were busy being something else.  And you looked marginally more promising than some of that other stuff I had in there.  (What was I thinking when I bought those?)

The pattern said use small needles, size 1 or 2 to get 7 stitches per inch.  Having been burned on size 1 needles with yarn of your size previously, I went to size 2.  I didn’t swatch.  F* that.  You were going to be toe-up socks and that was just the way it was.  I was sick of compromising for the sake of fussy yarns.  You weren’t quite at 7 stitches, but I could fudge it.  I worked with you, and you just accommodated me and all my ways.  And I began to love you.  Red, orange, yellow, and is that a hint of purple?  or is it brick?  stranded together shouldn’t work, but you were so good and so right, so soft, so easy to see and work with – it almost didn’t seem right.  The fact that you’re just a simple yarn, not even self-striping or a jacquard, didn’t matter.  Several inches just appeared, like magic.   I said something to W and he agreed.  You are a beautiful yarn and you make beautiful socks, even in this simple pattern, even for a beginner knitter like me.

I began to worry.  Maybe, maybe I should have used smaller needles, so the socks you make would last longer.  But I was afraid I would hate the process, and in turn, hate you.  I could see us together for a long, long, long time.  (I have even tried you on a bunch of times, unnecessarily so, as you turned from toe to sock.)

Darling, don’t be hurt if I stop right now and cast on the other sock in the size 1 needles – just to see if I feel the same way.  Maybe I was wrong to have started this – because the sooner I end, the sooner I stop touching and seeing and thinking about you.  It’s because I love you so much that I’m doing this.  I swear to you I will return when I figure out if I like you just as much in a tighter knit.  Maybe I will unravel you, but I will knit you again, I swear.  It’s only because I love you so much, and I want the experience to last so much longer, I’m scheming to find ways to extend the process.   This has never happened to me before.  I’m a complete product knitter – sure, I enjoy knitting, but I love, love, love finishing.  It is completely different with you.  I never want this to end.  Please be like this all the way to the final cast-off, which, I’m afraid, will come too soon.



p.s.  If you catch me surfing ebay to find more yarn just like you even before I’m at the gusset of the first sock – it’s because I love you just that much.


April 10, 2013

Working on dishcloths is great.  You’re done so quickly, and the designs can be anything and can be a useful opportunity to learn a new technique or two, and it’s machine-washed and dried, and even if you mess up, you’ll still end up with something useful.  It’s amazingly freeing.

It reminds me a bit about old ASCII art – where you’re trying to make something out of letters and numbers that doesn’t look like letters and numbers.  (Remember looking at 5318008 on old calculators  (Read that backwards and upside down.  (Yes, I am a mental fifth grader, thank you very much.))  Sort of like that, but a little more sophisticated.  Some a lot more sophisticated.

W is of the opinion that I should only send about 4 of the 8 I’ve made – partly because he doesn’t think some of the designs show off as well as the others, partly because he’s afraid that it’s just too much to give somebody (if he thinks of all the time I’ve spent sweating over some of the patterns – that investment seems a lot to somebody – something an artist would have an idea about).  I’m happy to give it, because the materials didn’t cost me very much, I’ve learned a bunch of stuff in the process, and I could make more now that I know how, and it’s a wedding.  If you can’t give a couple a surplus of goofy-ass handknit dishcloths to a couple at this stage in their lives, when can you do it?  I ask you.   (I’ll grant you babies are also an opportunity.  But besides that I mean.)

Here they are:  Beetle, Spider, Bee, Butterfly, Feather and Fan, Grasshoppers, Trilobite and Dragonfly..knitinsect2 knitinsect3 knitinsect1 knitinsect4

Yarn: 100% cotton.  Lily’s sugar and cream, various colors.

Note:  I took the photos prematurely.  I washed and ironed the butterfly and scorched it a little, so I’m keeping that one.

mystery solved

April 7, 2013

So the socks were given to me by T, who works with me.  She can’t wear wool, so it seemed reasonable to give them to me.  Nice.  (They were a gift from somebody who had purchased them at a craft fair, so this chain of gift-giving made sense, but without some of the burden of it being hand-made by someone who really cared that the giftee wore them.)

W mentioned how nice they were, and A (whom I had given the Collette hat and cowl) remarked and it was such a shame that the socks weren’t going to fit me – hint, hint.  (Meaning, she thought they would fit her better.)

April Fools Day on them.  I’m keeping them.

(And speaking of giveaways – anastasiamw is having an April giveaway– she’s got a copy of Reversible Scarves, by Andrey Knight for a lucky person.  Hop right on over there and get in on the action!)

And in other news – I cast on for a shawl – but I wasn’t feeling it.  Something about the brioche stitch (which, I learned may actually just be half-brioche) hat just sort of burned me out about the fancy.  The shawl was going to be a gift, but it still seems crazy early to be working on things for Christmas.  Besides, the yarn wasn’t making me as happy as it  should.  I tried making it socks with it at one point, but somehow, it wasn’t working either.  Something about this yarn needs some thought.

So now, I’m working on a dishcloth.  A fancy dishcloth – it’s got a bumblebee on it.  It feels a little 1950’s Home Ec project, but all to a purpose.  A friend of W’s, an entomologist by trade, is getting married.  I don’t know the bride, but I hear she’s an artist.  So I figure they’re probably a nice couple to receive some knitted stuff.  At least, I will be making stuff and throwing it at them and hopefully, they will receive it in good humor.

let’s get busytown!*

April 1, 2013

There’s a mystery here.

I came into work this morning and found these in my mailbox.


I can’t figure out who gave these to me.  I’ve asked around – knitting friends and all, but nobody has any idea (or admitted) where these came from.  They’re really nicely done – reinforced heels, the toes done like the top of a mitten (I mean, decreased down and pulled into circle – I don’t know what those are called), washed and sweet-smelling.

Well.  I don’t know what to think.  This is so nice.  What have I done to deserve this?

*If you haven’t seen Richard Scarry’s Busytown Mysteries, you haven’t lived.  (With small children, that is.)

EDIT: I just realized this is April Fool’s Day.  I hope I don’t have to return them.  (That would be the joke on that person if they want them back, I guess.)