Sheffy Stripes…

The knitting frenzy continues; Shef’s striped scarf was completed today, and it is master work! I told her I wanted her to knit me one!

Not only does this show excellent knitting skill for only a second scarf, there isn’t a single mistake in the whole thing, and it looks so hip.

By creating this adorable skinny scarf, Shef learned how to knit with more than one color, carry the unused yarn along the side of the work, created stripes through equal rows and combine knitting a purling to create stockinette stitch.

More snaps at the Flickr set for the Term III knitters.

Quite c(ap)able…

One of the more advanced knitters in my middle school class has learned to cable!

Her first attempt (a swatch of 20 stitches, with a 12 stitch cable) did not have a single mistake. Impressive, no?

The right and left cross, respectively, is a great place to start when learning to cable, and next week, we will work with a few other knitters who want to learn how to cable.

What’s more, I absolutely adore the photos snapped of her cabling perfection; there’s something so visually appealing about her bright yellow shirt against her beautiful choice of pink fiber and her hands look incredible–its as if you can see how much they’ve worked to knit, but they still look so youthful.

Berry successful…

There’s nothing better than hunkering down with a warmed oven on those unexpectedly freezing days; like yesterday in Boston, which saw drizzle, whipping winds, and an unseasonably chilled 39 degrees as evening struck.

So, I took to nodding through my fridge in search of something to bake. What to bake with some unsalted butter, buttermilk, and berries on hand?

Raspberry scones, of course!

I used the delicious recipe featured in this month’s Martha Stewart Everyday Food, which I recommend anyone who wants to cook fast, delicious dinners without a ton of exotic ingredients purchase. It’s brilliant really. And the recipes are well-written, inspiring, and really don’t require many more items than those you might have on hand.

This recipe is quick and is done entirely in the food processor, so minimal work and clean up! The dough is really sticky and tangy thanks to a generous amount of buttermilk. Plus, I’ve never rolled out and kneaded the berries into my dough as this recipe called for; it seemed scary just dumping the berries on top of the dough and workspace, but I went for it and only squished a couple of berries in the process.

While the dough is quite sticky and takes some getting used to, the best scones come out sort of oddly misshapen and gushy with the juice of the berries, solidified into some kind of sticky jam.

And that’s just how these came out.

Wasn’t talking ’bout me…

Another day, another book. Seriously; I have a problem. An obsession, of sorts.

I recently scooped up this pile, which includes two Deluxe Anniversary Editions of books I already own (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) which can’t be resisted thanks to their kitschy cover art.

What’s more, there’s Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist; my mum owned a hard copy when I was a child, and read me excerpts from the book when I was in the fourth grade and working on a project on the beloved Fossey. Eventually, our dog, the incredible black lab Shadow, ate up the book and that was that. Seeing it recently featured in a bookstore, I scooped it up, figuring this time around I’m not in fourth grade and can actually read it–cover to cover.

There’s also Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, even though I have her complete works in one volume; as well as Anne Sexton’s Transformations, T.S Elliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, Hansjorg Schertenleib’s A Happy Man, and Gene Wilder reading Gene Wilder’s Kiss Me Like a Stranger. There’s honestly nothing better than Gene Wilder on Gene Wilder, really.

File Under: What Steve Jobs? People don’t ready anymore?

Phases of design…

I find it incredibly intriguing how other knitters go about designing patterns; a knitter student bee of mine came into my office the other day and asked “how do you create stuff without a pattern?” and it prompted me to really think about how I create.

When I desire to knit up something that’s uniquely mine, it often starts with an image in my mind, then an imagination of how that would be achieved through knits and purls, binding offs, shaping, and any notions I might need. Then, I make a quick sketch on paper, with a few notes on sizing (all based on estimates from previous knitting experiences, all of which could be crap in the end), and that’s about it.

Knit design is as much the visualization in planning as it is the actual execution.

I feel its best to just get started with a general plan in mind; for instance, I wanted to knit something (to be displayed here in the future, just you wait) that’s base is, essentially, a cube. So my knitter bee and I started with a simple drawing of a cube, and I asked her: “How would you knit a cube?” Her reply: “I don’t know. Six blocks?”

A smart girl. And while six blocks would work, I wanted her to visualize her knits and purls. Would there be an easier way? Without so much seaming. How are cubes created? Eventually we got to the point that four blocks, craftily knitted together with a purled edge betwixt, would require less assembly, seaming, and would create uniformity. Block 1 would be seamed to Block 4, and all that would remain are two small side pieces.

Getting young knitters to visualize their knits and purls is difficult. And it certainly makes me think more about my own processes. Knitting is very spatial; I was shit in geometry, so its amazing how far I’ve come in being able to theoretically envision a pattern , a shape, in space, and the most effective way to execute.

File Under: How do you design knits? How do you teach others to design knits?

So, long…cry, and laugh, and cry about it all again…

There’s no reason in crying over spilled…spilled pulpy juice, is there? Well, as some of my readers already know, at the weekend Google officially closed my blogger account for the beloved Pulp and Circumstance, Juiced! blog.

Apparently, I repeatedly violated their terms of service with my non-compliance regarding the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by posting tracks from various bands I adore; I can count on my fingers several times in which P.R. agencies gave me approval to post various tunes and I still received cease and desist notices.

The entire issue is one of complex annoyance–one that involves an ever-changing audience of readers who no longer trust reviewers opinions as a reason to buy as we did when we picked up magazines a decade ago; and while I quietly sit in denial over the 4 years or so of hard work and writing, a little archive of my adoration for all things instrumental, I have yet to decide how I shall proceed. Will I continue P&C at its own domain? Likely.

For now, I’m taking a break from music blogging to clear my head and reach the anger and acceptance stages in all of this.

Thanks to all of you who read P&C faithfully, and in turn, support my endeavors in crafty here too. It means the world.

[Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne.]

So, ho, in love with Purl…

Purl Soho is amazing! Able to visit for the first time this past weekend–and during their grand opening at the new location no less–I scooped up some delicious skeins of Lorna and some lace weight which I can’t wait to use to create a new wave patterned shawl; I can see it in my head and coupling the bulk with the light will be amazing, methinks.

And as a thanks for my purchase, Purl gave me a glorious tote bag with a whole pile of notions: yarns, a matchbook of thread and needles and other sewing notions, a free Lorna pattern, and a bolt of fabric (which I gifted off Jessica for tagging along even though she doesn’t knit).

While I haven’t taken anything out of the tote because I love it so, I can’t wait to start working with these yarns (after a current project on the needles–the Ribbed Lace Bolero by Kelly Maher of 10 Feet High). The Lorna is so bulky and deliciously hand-dyed; the colorway is “Dusk”.

I think it will look really nice coupled with this natural lace-weight. What do you think?

In New York…Day Dos.

The greatest Salt bagel, ever. With uber-delicious tofu cream cheese. Who knew there were so many smears?

Jessica devouring her tofu smeared bagel and a giant Iced Coffee; the perfect start to a monumental day trek through the city that started in Gramercy, went on to Chelsea, moved into Soho, and ended with an epic line for the Sketch4Sketch with Alex Pardee and a severely drunk and severely entitled lady folk who screamed “Welcome to New York, bitches” at us in the East Village.

The loverly Jonathan Levine Gallery, where we saw the quite intriguing work of Eric White, Nicola Verlato and Fulvio Di Piazza, as well as the brand new “Smother Your Mother” exhibit from Date Farmers. One of the coolest things we did in NY, actually. Golf claps, Jessy. If you get the chance, head to this gallery; at 529 West 20th Street, betwixt 10th and 11th Avenues.

Some pretty unique bedazzled guiitars in a Soho shop window; Jessica wanted to take one home with her. Probably by stealing. She didn’t.

Excitement, squeals and all that hoo at the brand new location of Purl in Soho. Too bad it was the most crowded place in the entire world (celebrating their opening that week!) but I was absolutely inspired, bought some hanks of super bulky Lorna and some gorgeous lace-weight. The walls of Koigu were remarkable, but there was no room for snaps inside the shop what with the crowds, unfortch, but I met a fabulous gay couple in front of me, who marveled at the above pictured Cascade Magnum cowl made for Jess as we gushed about Purl Bee.

Jessica stickers up the city with Go Team Sweet stickers advertising her blog (and took the opportunity to model her Cons, to boot, too). Kraftworkin’ doesn’t have any stickers. Inspired me to get some.

A much needed glass of water at a drinking hole somewhere in Soho…

…followed up, quickly, by a much needed, much appreciated Chimay…Tripel…

…then, nachos, naturally…

And finally, drawing sketches for Sketch 4 Sketch with Alex Pardee & Dave Correia, something I knew zip about before Jess had me along; the entire concept is really cool. Alex and Dave sat at Zero Friends for a whopping 8 hours straight drawing– a fan brings in a sketch for them, and they each churn out their own interpretation of your sketch, like a swap. While the line was absolutely epic, who got to hang with some really cool people, like Saki Waki of IHeartCoolStuff, who pretty much knows everything about designer toys. Sorry I didn’t wear pants, that would have helped my violent shaking from cold and rain. I’ll remember the pants, next time.

In New York…Day Uno.

Coffee, knitting, and “A Happy Man” awaiting my train at South Station.

Jessica mesmerized by our amazingly painted room at the Carlton Arms; it was filled with wacky scenes of crazy animals– a perfect fit for us, naturally!

A squeal-worthy gift from Jessica; handmade mouse by an artist in North Carolina, and of course, the kitschy “Incomplete Book of Dog Names”. Amazing.

Our first beers in Greenwich Village; cheers to the chick who asked me where Bleecker Street was (and I knew!), these delicious hoppy bevvies,  and the jazz band who played throughout our meal; that upright bass player, deelish.

Moules Frites! The garlic broth was so amazing; and so was the goat cheese salad, too. Salivate, salivate.

Work is a pattern…

Yesterday, I taught one of my knitters how to “reserve stitches” on a scrap piece of yarn for use later in the project (the scrap yarn pictured above, as well as a few scribbles of math). This is just one of a few new techniques my knitters are working on; some others include carrying two skeins of yarn along the side of a scarf for striped colorwork, Fair Isle, advanced accessory making (bags that include handles, etc.), and for some, mitten making.

It’s quite difficult teaching the art of pattern reading; my students have trouble “trusting” a pattern, which I don’t really blame them for since some are written poorly. However, I find patterns that are clear and detailed for them, most of which I’ve tested myself. This way, they don’t have to do much math and erratas are non-existant.

Still, some take to reading a pattern much better than others; and I don’t mean its the precise students that enjoy patterns, and the free spirited ones who just like to go for it. Some of my most precise students have the most trouble reading the pattern and following it–they question every line!

“Just go with it,” I tell them, sometimes to no avail.

Unfortunately, I can’t recall whether, when I first learned pattern reading, if I was hesitant in the same ways.

Herd up…

For some reason, the corgi Sir Winston Churchill just loooves standing on my knitting…and, well, the coffee table, too.

So if you’ve ever been gifted something handmade by yours truly, its probably got a bit of a contribution from Winston too…

I think he’s attracted to all my yarns and projects because he can smell the sheep, the alpaca, and the like, and desires to flip the ball around the room in instinctual mayhem.  Certainly, I’ve tested it; thrown a bit of acrylic or cotton his way, some cheap yarn, he nary glances, steps, bats, flips…mostly, he just sighs. Oh, but introduce the baby alpaca, the lamb’s wool..the….goodbye project.

File Under: Hairy situation…for sure.