Saturday, December 23, 2006

How about for the next week, you catch up?

I think I'm gonna take the week off of the blogging and come back after the new year (maybe with some exceptions).

In the meantime, though, might I suggest you take this chance to go back and catch up on any past entries you might've missed? Or, re-read some of your favorites? Why not? You're just trying to make it through the hole-idays, aren't you? Well then.

(I think this kind of entry might be called a "link dump" in the blogging world, but doesn't that usually entail links to other places? Argh. Kids these days!)

Here are a couple of small suggestions for looking around Magathersville, USA (but don't be limited by these):

If you're interested in the saga of my queen-sized quilt named Quiltie, here are the entries: first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. In the interest of full disclosure, there is quite a bit of the "foul" language (i.e., the subject of Quiltie can provoke my inner sailor). So, if you don't like the f-bomb or me calling myself a "b," then maybe you should try a different review tour.

How about a tiny walking tour of my Los Angeles? Start at the carwash. End at the local corporate coffee spot. Like I said, it's a tiny tour. (Not because there isn't more to "my" Los Angeles, but because I've only been blogging for three and a half seconds.)

Or, if you want some gift ideas, I've got several posts on the topic. But I don't think any of them will help you if you're looking for something pronto, since I think they might mostly involve making things: t-shirts, coasters, stuffed animals, and stitch markers. Oh, but there are some other list-type entries that might help you here and here. Do your best. That's all you can do.

Wishing you and yours a lovely December's end,

Dr. B.

P.S. "December's end" could be dirty, right? (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Really cute (and free) gift tags

I heart the world wide web and the unbelievably talented and kind people who share their awesome things with others. And not just with any others. With The World! That includes You!

These gift tags? Teeth-hurtingly cute! Print them out on your handy-dandy color printer, cut 'em apart, stick 'em on your last-minute wrap jobs, and guess what? You're the king of the castle. Or the queen of the world. Or whatever! At a minimum, you've made something really cute, thanks to Camilla Engman.

Thank you, Camilla Engman, genius and sharer of beautiful and cute things (GASOBACT)!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Let's talk about socks

Well. For starters, one sock is lovely but not sufficient.

Second. When you knit a sock starting at the cuff and working your way toward the heel and toe in a tube-like formation ("top-down", as opposed to "toe-up"), you (I) just don't ever know how long to make the tube part. It's always a gamble. Am I going to run out of yarn before I get to the toes? Will the tube part be too short if I go conservative? I tend to err on the side of "no one wants a sock that's too short." Hence:

Oh. You can't see it? Let me help you.

Look. It's all well and good. We can call that one little stripe in the midst of all the big stripes a design feature. Who cares?

Well. Here's who cares: Me. Why?

Ostensibly, when you buy your run-of-the-mill sock yarn, you get one sock per ball. (Oh, it's been a long time since there's been something that could be dirty. But there you go!) So, Dr. B. buys 2 balls to make 2 socks. (You see where this is going.)

La la la, I'm knitting the first sock, I'm knitting, I'm knitting, I'm running out of yarn, but still knitting, hoping for some Chanukah-style miracle where -- despite the hard science to the contrary -- there's enough yarn to make it to the toes. La la. Fuck.

Well. I'd best dive into the second ball. (You're welcome.)

It doesn't take a genius to realize that if I was already short a set-of-toes'-worth of yarn on the first sock, the second sock will be short two sets-of-toes'-worth, turning what was a sock into a gauntlet for the foot, a.k.a. a useless tube.

"Just go buy another ball."

Yeah. You just go buy another ball.

Third. My throat still hurts. Unrelated to socks completely, but it's always good to have a set of items here on the old blog.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sore throat? Join the club.

It's not often that Dr. B. is reduced to tears because of physical pain. Really. There were probably two times when my back went out. And there was the time four years ago (right before I had to defend my dissertation) when my throat and ears started a revolution against my head and tried to burn it to ashes from the inside out. I'm pretty sure I cried then too. (In fact, I'm positive I cried just on principle: the ingratitude from the throat and ears! Revolt against me? Harumph. Had they not always been treated with the utmost respect? The betrayal!)

And then there was yesterday. And the day before that. Oh, and earlier today. Yes, that's right. I almost forgot. Earlier today.

"Boo hoo hoo. It hurts! Boo hoo hoooo." That's what it's like over here every 4-6 hours when the ibuprofen wears off. Wanna come over?

There was a tiny respite last night, thanks to the magical powers of Ambien, but other than that, the throat's running the show over here.

When the painkillaz are doing their job, I can do a little holiday crafting. Here's a little taste of one of the projects. (Ow! Taste? Thinking about tasting makes my throat hurt.)

Ignore the red threads. They're just the basting stitches - they'll get pulled out soon enough.

Oh. And be kind, won't you? Mama's throat is killing her.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Overheard between the socks-in-progress

Sock "Cuff"(on right) : You said what?
Sock Tube: What. EVER.
SC: No. No. Really. What did you say?
ST: Nothing.
SC: No. It wasn't nothing. I believe you called me a stubbit.
ST: That was days ago, man. Get over it.
SC: Um... No.
ST: Ugh. Dude. Really.
SC: I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that, not only am I not a stubbit, but I -- unlike some sock tubes I know -- do not have a nubbin right in the middle of my tube-part because my yarn was tied in a knot straight off the skein. Ha, ha. Right there. Right the middle of your tube--
ST: How did this become about me? You're the one who's too skinny and made of poo.
ST: Elephant poo.
SC: Oh my god, are you kidding me?
ST: Yep. Everyone knows you're made of poo.
SC: Just because your nubbin is hideous and you can no longer call me a "stubbit" with any veracity doesn't mean you get to now say I'm made of poo.
ST: Huh, really? Stubbit of poo.
SC: I give up.
ST: Poo stubbit.
SC: Jesus.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hours of LA-style, nonsense-based entertainment

Yesterday, my wasband and I went to lunch, like we do every Friday.

Who cares?!

Well. We went to lunch at a place where we've sometimes seen random famous people. It's not a fancy place or anything. It's just food, for crying out loud. But we've seen "news anchor" Anderson Cooper (who is short), Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines (tiny), Macaulay Culkin (shorter and tinier than anyone ever), and others. It's never really that big of a deal. Really.

Yesterday, however, Matthew Perry - star of the very popular situation comedy Friends and the not-so-popular hour-long television program Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - was having lunch there too. Huh! Looky there! It's Matthew Perry. A good actor. A rich man. A guy just having some lunch like all the rest of us.

But seeing him there in person got me wondering in a new way about just how wealthy that guy is. I also wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with someone that rich. My wasband speculated that you'd never know where you stood with that guy. "You'd always be asking him, 'So, what's going on with us?'" he said. I thought this was a strong point. My wasband is a genius.

Anyway, I got stuck on this idea of wealth and not understanding just how rich people in the entertainment business are. And I started wondering about relative wealth, as in:

"Who do you think is richer - Matthew Perry or Ted Danson?"

"Matthew Perry."

"But Ted Danson was the highest paid actor on television for a long time, and that show Cheers was in syndication forever."

"Yeah, but Ted Danson is old school. That was back in the day. It was different then. All the Friends were making a million dollars an episode there at the end."

"Good point. So, Matthew Perry or Jennifer Aniston? Aniston's got the movie career plus Friends."

"Mmm. Yes. Jennifer Aniston. She also kept herself in the papers for quite a while, what with the Brad Pitt thing."

"Right. So, Matthew Perry or Lisa Kudrow?"

It went on like this for a little bit, but then it just became who's richer - this TV star or this other TV star. (TV is where the big money is, people.)

We factored in whether someone was a producer of their show, if it ran in syndication, if they also had a movie career. (If you're a producer/writer or an actor, chances are you're still getting paid if your show is still alive somewhere.) It included speculation about Mark Harmon vs. the guy from Walker, Texas Ranger (also, strangely, the highest paid actor on TV at some point), Jerry Seinfeld vs. Larry David, George Clooney vs. Jerry Seinfeld.

I think we ultimately decided Jerry Seinfeld had to be the richest guy there is. I'm sure we're dead wrong, but we didn't do a real thorough-going analysis. And I'm sure there's an actual list somewhere like in some Entertainment Weekly-style publication that ranks these people. And I'm sure some of you could reach out with your left hand and grab that information.

But I just thought I'd share my celebrity sighting and our subsequent musings. Feel free to play my fancy "who's richer" game at home. Do it with your friends! It's a blast. It will provide you with plenty of entertainment while you're, I don't know, waiting in line to buy a Nintendo Wii or some such ridiculous thing.

Ladies and gentleman, I am a geek of massive proportions. That is all.

Edited to add: I've now added links to information about said "stars" or "shows". Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


SOCK TUBE #1: Ha ha. You're a stubbit.
SOCK CUFF: I'm more of an extended cuff.
ST: Stubbit.
SC: Look, I know what happened to you back at the airport last month. So, I'll forgive you for being mean.
ST: What happened to me at the airport?
SC: You know what happened.
ST: It wasn't my fault.
SC: Sure. Never is.
ST: Wasn't!
SC: Whatever. I haven't had to be ripped back about 30 rows like some tubes I know. I'd be upset too if I were you.
ST: Yeah, well. You're too skinny. You should eat a sandwich.
SC: You're not even my partner here, buddy.
ST: You so won't be done in time for Christmas.
SC: What gives, dude? Why are you all up in my business?
ST: You're a stubbit and you're not gonna be done, and I'll always be bigger than you, and... and... you're poking me in the side!
SC: Jeez. Sorry.
ST: (pause) Who am I kidding? I'm not gonna be done either.

There are worse things than the problems I've got going here with the socks-in-progress and their in-fighting. Sure. But, if you'd like, feel free to take a little pleasure in the socks' and my suffering. Someone's gotta win here. It might as well be you.

Hooray for holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2006


So sorry for the delay between posts. That's not how we like to do things over here at B. Magather, your friendly neighborhood crafting hole.

But, ever since we switched internet providers (and, let's be clear, it was more that our provider switched itself... we took no active part in this), we've been lucky if we have service for any stretch of time at all.

I don't want to name names exactly, but I will say our new provider rhymes with Slime Corner.

More crafty goodness ASAP. A-SAP, really. (Does anyone every say A-SAHP? You know, inserting "humanly" in there? I think the world would be a better place if people would just remember to insert the humanly.)

Insert the humanly, everyone!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

You used to be bi!

That's all she said to me, and I knew instantly what she meant.

I was hanging out with the WWNSMW (aka B-SNAK) last weekend, and at some point in the evening she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and blurted out, "You used to be bi! I read your blog all the time, and it's always 'knitting this' and 'sewing that' and I don't even know what else because I don't understand ANY OF IT! WHERE'S THE STAMPING?!"

Did I ever mention I have a giant collection of rubber stamps? Oh. I think I did, once in passing.

Yes, well, B-SNAK and I have a long-standing relationship with stamping that I think you should know about. So: The Story of B-SNAK and the Stamps. (This will also be the title of the blockbuster sequel to Akeelah and the Bee that I'm gonna write. Betcha! I'm gonna do it next. Right after this.)

Taking it back to 1998 {oodly oodly oodly oodly}:

She's having a little get-together, she says. Do I want to come? I won't have to buy anything, but it could be fun if I like rubber stamping. I think to myself, "I do like rubber stamping! I have a stamp of some old-timey shoes, and a bowler hat, and a pocket watch. I could take those with me! And I won't have to buy anything!"

I won't have to buy anything, the first one's free, and trail mix is good for me.

These are ways of thinking that are so, so dangerous. Case in point (and I think this is important): the Trader Joe's Salty, Sweet & Nutty Trek Mix. "It's healthy! It's a Trek Mix! It's got nuts!" Sure. Nutty! Ok. What they mean by "Nutty" is "Peanut Brittle". The nuts are, in some good proportion, housed in rocks and rocks of sugary brittle. (It should tell you something when its form is rock. Nothing good ever comes in the form of rock, in my humble opinion. Not music, not cocaine, not an oversized diamond that makes everyone at least a little uncomfortable -- if not downright small -- when near it.)

Point is: I shoulda known.

I'll never forget the moment that that Stampin' Up demonstrator stamped a teddy bear onto some cardstock, stuck it onto another piece of cardstock, folded it up, and... "OOOOOH!" We were floored that she'd made a greeting card - just like that! "We're gonna save hundreds and hundreds of dollars never having to buy a birthday card again!" "This is the greatest thing we've ever seen!" "How can I do this too?!" Suckers, all.

Present day: Between me, B-SNAK, and another couple of very good friends with very serious problems, we have thousands of stamps. Thousands. That would be bad enough. But, what's worse are the Inks. Papers. Stickers. Postage stamps. Tags. Collage sheets. Brads. Scissors. Eyelets. Markers. Pencils. Watercolor pencils. Adhesives. Ribbons. Rub-ons. Sponges. I could go on. I really could.

I used to be bi. She's right. Now? I'm a polygamous crafter. Straight up. My stamping may've taken a back seat to knitting and quilting, but it'll be making a comeback here pretty soon. You'll see.

I did have to buy some stuff, some of it was free, and for the most part it's all been quite good for me. Being a polygamous crafter may stretch you thin. But that mutherfuckin' Trek Mix? Now, that shit'll kill you.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Tis the season to [help yourself to a feeling]

Live consciously. Buy wisely. Make a difference.

That's the way they rock over at New American Dream.

These good folks have put together a brochure called Simplify the Holidays. And who wouldn't be interested in that? Just people who despise simplicity, I suppose. (Only tiny downside -- if you want to think of it that way -- is that you'll need to sign up with them to view that particular brochure.)

Below are links to specific, short articles of theirs that you can read without having to register or anything. These are sure to put you in the holiday spirit -- only you may not recognize it as that, because it will be a spirit where you aren't collapsing under the weight of your own chest pains and panic.

Holiday Tips and Resources

Good gifting: Spending time instead of money

Inexpensive, Creative and Eco-friendly Gift Ideas

Ho ho ho, it's the holidays!
(How come it's not pronounced hole-idays? Or is it?)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Who wants to see part of a thing that could be great but could also go very badly?

I can't show you the whole thing at this juncture since it is still in progress. But I can tell you that this will absolutely go one of two ways:
  • Way Number 1: "This is the cutest thing you ever made!"
  • Way Number 2: "Oh! Looky there! You made this? Huh! Yeah. Wow. (Awkward pause.) Well! What do you know!"
This undertaking is going to involve both techniques and materials that are new to me. I am, therefore, preparing for the rigorous wincing, face-scrunching, and on-the-fly (yet somehow still tedious) decision-making ahead.

But there's a win-win here: If it goes well, it goes well. Duh. If it goes badly -- and it may very well go quite badly-- you've got yourself an old-fashioned opportunity for hilarity (OOFH!)! Win and win.

Oh, and for the record, I've kept my grumbled word. While I had the iron out for the cutest thing/biggest mess project, I took my P-I-C's advice and blocked the hat. She advised that I use the damp towel method (I'm quite confident that's not what it's called): Hat - flat on ironing board. Damp towel - on hat. Iron - on towel.

The hat in question - before:

And - after:

Please turn to the side, sir.

How about that? Are you impressed?

Now. What if I told you it smelled quite like a wet animal during the damp towel process? How much would you pay then? Yup. Wettish. Kinda gross.

Not to worry - the odor is completely gone now. (Oh, does that change things for you? Well then. I don't know what to tell you. I suppose you can't please everyone.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Just short of a real finish

Crocheted edge?


Little extra doo-dad?


Blocking to make sure everything is all flat?

Ah, you kid. You're a kidder! You're hilarious if you thought this would be any different from this.

Nah. Just teasing. It's a gift, for the love of Pete. I'll finish it.

I'll finish it, I said! (grumble, grumble, christmas, grumble)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

That story about how I got the hat pattern

I'm on my cell phone, in the middle of Purl yarns in NYC. My Sidekick is in LA. It's real crowded in the Purl.

"Hey, sweetie. Could you do me a favor? I'm at Purl with my brother, and I need to get some yarn. Could you check that issue of Knitscene for some information for me?"


"The magazine with the flamenco lady on the front. The one I blogged about. You know, the one that pushed past security."

"Oh, yeah. Got it."

"Could you tell me the supplies I need for that hat? What yarn and needles do I need?"

"Well, let's see."

"I think it's on page 20 or 23 or something." (I have a weird mind that sometimes remembers strange facts.)

"Central Park Hoodie?"

"No, no. The hat. With the earflaps. With the dude holding that bag with the circles on it."

"Oh, yeah. I got it. (Pause.) I want that bag."

"Could you just tell me what the supplies are that I need?"

"It doesn't say."


"Oh! 'Instructions, page 60.' (Pause. Flip, flip, flip.) Here it is. 'Hear No Evil. By Katie. Himmelberg.'" (He reads this like he's about to read me a bedtime story.)

"Honey, I'm in the store. Could you --"

"Yes, yes. Ok. 'Size 19 inch circumference to fit head size 19 to...'"

My Sidekick kindly reads me the details of the kind of yarn I need, the gauge, and the tools. He tries to continue on with "terms used in this pattern", but I cut him off.

"That's all I need, sweetie. Thank you so much. I have to go now. I'm in the store."

"Ok. Hey! I think my cold is moving into my chest and turning into a cough."

"Ok. I'll call you later."

I'm realizing now that this is intended to be a story about how sweet my Sidekick is. But it may very well be a story about what a jerk I am. Huh. Well. Um.


My brother and I continue on with our business at the Purls, and I secure yarn and some lovely Crystal Palace extry-long needles (just for fun, not because the pattern required extry-long) so that I can start on the hat if I'm so inclined.

Oh. But wait. I still don't have the actual pattern. I don't know what I'm thinking.

Cut to: later that evening. I'm talking to my Sidekick on the phone. I'm at my brother and SIL's apartment.

"...So, then we came back, and we've just been hanging out. And I love the yarn my brother picked for that hat."

"What color is it?"

"It's lots of colors. And it's really, really soft. I'm sad."


"Because I was stupid and left the pattern at home. Dumb."

(Pause.) "I could read it to you."


"I could read it to you."

"Come on."

"Why not?"

"Because you're sick."

Ok. Important detail: My Sidekick was able to read to me from the magazine because he was at home sick from work. Like really sick. Like boogers and coughing and not-feeling-good sick. And the dude is all, "I could read it to you." Can you believe that?

Now, what kind of partner would I be if I didn't take him up on it? Right?! Who's with me?


"This is a new section?"

"Yep! It starts with 'Earflaps!'"

My Sidekick reads me this knitting pattern, line by line, not having any idea what he's saying even. I'm frantically writing it down on a little paper bag from the bead store. He's reading carefully and thoughtfully.

"Ok. 'Next Row. R. S. Big K two. Big K two togg.' Is that right? Two togg?"

"Yep. 2tog. It means knit two stitches together."

"Oh! Wait, wait, wait. They're mixing it up here. I don't know what they're doing, but now they've gone and put an asterisk in here. You know, like a star. Like BAM! There's a star! What are they doing?!"

Sorry ladies and gents. He's taken.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Glorious Haul from NYC: Part III

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo. Grab some tissues, my friend, because these fabrics are gonna make you cry. (Other possibilities: They might make your teeth hurt, make you want to sock someone, or make you want to rock and flap in the corner. Totally up to you.)

After reading Parts I and II, I hope you didn't think that I thought a ball of yarn and some beads constitute a "haul". Hardly. If that's all I'd gotten in New York, I might've called it "some great items" or "a few things I picked up". A ball of yarn and a few beads do not a glorious haul make. This much I know.

So, it's gonna get ugly up in here. The Haul is ON.

First stop, Purl fabrics. As you know, I can't say enough about how great the Purls are. The fabric folks were just as friendly and helpful as the ones over at the yarn store. So much so that when I asked for a recommendation for marking tools for quilts, the woman recommended a tool, and then even did a demonstration for me to answer my questions.

This is the Clover Hera marking tool. It makes a crease in your fabric that tells you where to sew. The crease stays there until you wash it.

On the plus side, there's no need for white pencils, pencil-pencils, or disappearing ink pens. Just use the sharper edge (it's not sharp really) to mark your line, and you're set.

On the not-so-plus side, it does require adequate lighting to be able to see the crease once you've made it. I think this is the beef some people have with it, though there may be others. I also am not sure what to do if you make a crease in the wrong place other than remember which crease is wrong and which one is right.

(By the way, I figure I've really outsmarted Quiltie this time. While I wouldn't put it past him to spitefully dim my lighting to make it harder to see the creases, at least he can't eat the creases.)

Anyway, at Purl I got the little fat quarter fabric bundles that are up at the top there, and these:

My P-I-C and I have been looking for small prints for our reverse applique projects, and these fit the bill nicely. Huge props to my brother for finding the tiny bundles in the back of the store. He's the most!

Then, my sister-in-law (SIL) suggested I go to B&J Fabrics in Manhattan. You should know that my SIL is half adorable, half trying to kill me. It was the latter half that sent me to B&J. I'm sure of it.

There's a huge and fantastic selection at B&J. At one point, my brother and I tried to find the most expensive fabric in the store just for kicks. We stopped looking after seeing a cashmere herringbone fabric from Italy that was $135 US/yard. That was plenty expensive, so we moved on.

So here, my dear friend, is the rest of the Glorious Haul. Please forgive the dim lighting. (Aaaargh! Quiltie! Got me already.)

Ouch! Cherries and daisies hurt Mommy! Too cute. Too hurty! Little kids playing with kittens? Meh. They'll do. They're pink and cream.

Three colorways of those apples and pears? Yummers. At $10.95/yard, I took a bit of them all. Also, how great do those dots look with that blue one? Sooo great!

Another print for the Small Print department.

Now this. This! This is the crowning achievement in fabric acquisition. My SIL and I really wanted to make ourselves pajamas out of this fabric, but we didn't have time to find a pattern. That would be adorable, right? Check out that duckie wearing a space helmet perched on that flying saucer thing. Ha! PJs, mister. That's what these are. Jealous?

So that, my friend, concludes the Glorious Haul of '06. It will be a good day when these turn into actual items. I think as long as I keep Quiltie away from them, they'll have a fighting chance.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Glorious Haul from NYC: Part II


Lucious, wonderful yarn. (I say this like I live in some remote area of the globe where yarn is impossible to come by or something. I live in Los Angeles, for frack's sake. What is my problem?)

Here's the point: Purl is great.

They have two little stores -- one yarn, one fabric -- a few doors apart from one another on Sullivan Street in Soho. Benefits of this include: if one store is packed with people (as the fabric store was when my brother and I went in), you can hop over to the other one with ease, and hop back once the pack has cleared.

This will be a tale of my hop over to the yarn store. The hop back to the fabric will come along in Part III. (And, funny enough, Hop Back to the Fabric is the name of the terrible hip-hop record I should've put out in 1987.)

Ok. So. You know who's rarely prepared? Dr. B. Not with all things, just with some. Packing for a trip? Always overpacked and super prepared. Leaving the house? Always so much stuff in my handbag that I'd surely win every prize on Let's Make a Deal if it were still on the air. Going to a yarn store? Rarely in possession of the pattern that would tell me what I'm doing at the yarn store anyway. I never really have any idea what to buy, how much to buy, or what the eff I'm doing.

This was no exception really. However, it helped that my fantastic brother was with me, and he is a man who needs ear coverage in the winter. This made it easy to focus on securing a yarn of his choosing to make the hat from that issue of Knitscene that forced its way into my home.

I didn't have the magazine/pattern with me, and the store didn't have it, but why let that stop me? I pointed my brother in a general direction, and he picked this super-soft yarn in the most beautiful colors (photo above).

Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was Lorna's Laces "watch-my-colors-pool-in-odd-blotches" yarn. But it really was one of the softest things I've ever felt, and the colors looked so good, we just went for it.

What's that you say? How did I figure out how much yarn to get without having the pattern? Who do I think I am, you ask? Well, more on that story another time. (It does not involve the internet or some secret mathematical skills. You'll see. I'll tell all in another post.)

A very important thing to say about Purl is this: the people who work there are honest and helpful. In a discussion about double-pointed needles (dpns), the woman who was helping me was very candid about her experience with the new Blue Sky ones in the fancy tin vs. the Latern Moon ebony ones. She said she preferred the latter for their speed, and she felt the Blue Sky ones were too expensive. (The website only shows the full set of fancy ones for $195 US. But I think if you buy them a la carte, they're $28 US.) Granted, the Lantern Moon ones were still pricey at $23 I think, but I really appreciated her candor.

Purl: You can't beat 'em for great yarn and great service.

Oh, here's the progress on the hat so far:

I don't mind the way the colors are pooling. I think it's good for this hat.

Still to go: seam up the back, crochet around it, and add the ties at the bottom.

As I've mentioned, blocking is not my strong suit. Desafortunadamente (my favorite word in Spanish), I think that's the next step in order to be able to sew up the back.

Wish me luck.

Part III will be all about the fabrics, baby.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Glorious Haul from NYC: Part I


I made some stitch markers while I was in New York. There. I said it. Now you know. So, whether this makes Hobby 99 or not is inconsequential. What's important here is that I told you, and now you won't be surprised or confused (surfused? conprised?) when I show you the photos. Angry, maybe. But not surfused.

(Non-knitters: In knitting, stitch markers are used to flag a particular place in your knitting. You slide them on to your knitting needle between stitches, and they serve as a signal for something or another. For example, you're knitting along, la la la, and when you get to the stitch marker, you might change to a different kind of stitch or realize you're at the end of a round of knitting or something. Anyhoo, the markers can be as simple as a small plastic circle, or as elaborate as a circle with things dangling off of it. You know. For fun!)

My lovely sister-in-law (SIL) and brother live right down the street from a bead store. Who cares, right? I don't bead. I don't even wear jewelry, so what does it matter to me?

Well. Here's what I think happened:
  1. The other day, Nora over at Black Dog Knits posted a photo of some stitch markers she'd made.
  2. This image snuck its way into a wrinkle in my brain.
  3. That wrinkle in my brain was activated the moment I arrived in NYC, causing me to blurt out to my SIL, "I want to make stitch markers while I'm here!" (This was just part of the blurt. The rest of it had to do with fabric and yarn and tasty Thanksgiving treats, but that's for another post.)
  4. My SIL shopped with me at the cute little bead store.
  5. Google sent me to Wormspit and Sheep in the City for detailed instructions.
  6. My SIL jumped in with her mad jewelry-making skills and tools, and then...
I made some stitch markers.

How about that sparkly donut bead there at the bottom? It's particularly cute and disco-like in person.

The bead store only had three toggles (those pre-made sturdy circle things that are on the top there). So for the second set of markers, I had to make my own circle things out of sterling silver wire. (I think it was 20 gauge, if that means anything to anyone.)

Sure. I could've wrapped the wire around something to form a true circle shape, but then I would've been giving in to Perfectionism and the idea that I should be more like a machine, and that's just tantamount to doing The Man's bidding, and who wants that?

(Ha HA! See what I did there? Crappy worksmanship = political resistance. Woo hoo!)

Anyway, if you look at the blue ones (not too closely), they don't really look handmade. Those there with the flowers? You can really see it: Hand. Made.

I haven't tested them out yet to make sure they don't snag or eat yarn while they're on knitting needles. At this juncture, I'm afraid to admit, their sole purpose may just be to juke the stats and make it seem like I really have 99 hobbies. (My favorite TV show The Wire has taught me many things. "Juking the stats" is but one of them.)

But, I kid. I may give them away as gifts. Or I may use them myself. After all, who doesn't need a cute little reminder every now and then that it's time to do something different?

This concludes Part I of The Glorious Haul from NYC. Parts II and III will include gleeful tales of fabrics and yarns. Here's a teaser:

I'm back!

Before I regale you with New York stories to make you smile, drool, and cry (because that's how I likes ya), you must go check out this Random Stripe Generator. I found it this morning and cannot stop playing with it.

OK, seriously. Think of all those nubblets of yarn/fabric/paper you have lying around. Think of how you wish you could figure out how to put them together into a blanket/scarf/lovely greeting card without it looking completely ugg.

Now, go use this easy-as-pie, magical piece of tech-mology, and then you tell me if you aren't inspired to use what you've got to make something really great. Go!

(I found this amazing thingie thanks to links from Quilters Buzz and Bella Dia.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Taking advice from Anonymous from the comments the other day, I am going to the East Coast for a few days. I think the time apart from Quiltie will do us some good. He'll miss me. I'll miss him. We'll be reunited with fonder hearts next week. (Who am I kidding? I'll be growing a fonder heart while he'll be eating everything he can get his...hands? on?)

I'm taking some of the yarns from the basket and hope to return with a completed item or two. I also plan on visiting the Purl stores while I'm away. Boy, oh, boy am I excited about getting my hands on those Purl fabrics. I shall return with a full report!

Have a wonderful few days, love one another, and pick up a few more hobbies while you're at it. I wouldn't want you to fall behind.


P.S. If I can figure out how to blog from afar, I'll do it! So, please keep checking in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The new Blogger and Sublime Stitching: mini-reviews

I just switched to the new version of Blogger, so this is mostly just a little test to see how it is.

For people wondering about the switch (Blogger geeks):
  • I was able to drag and drop that image up there. Easy.
  • I can select the image and then hyperlink it, rather than having to mess with the html. (Could you do that before, and I just couldn't?)
  • Making the switch over from the old version to the new version was really, really easy.
  • I haven't tested anything else out yet, but so far, so good.
For people who read my blog who couldn't care less about the switch:
  • This is the best part, as far as I'm concerned: If you're looking for something on my blog, it's gonna be easier for you to find it. Hopefully soon, I'll have an index over on the side with categories like "quilting" and "knitting" and "things that make my teeth hurt," and then you'll click on what you want, and all the relevant posts will pop right up. (I sound really confident about my ability to do that, huh? Yeah. We'll see about that.)
As for this book - Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart:
  • It's great. Really great.
  • Her writing and diagrams are very clear and easy-to-follow. She spells out how to do some traditional stitches and also a couple of really cool ones that she invented (the "twinkle stitch" and "scalloping chain").
  • The bulk of the book is a bazillion iron-on transfers. Really - a bazillion. And there are pockets in the book to store the sheets once you've taken them out of the book.
  • If you've ever thought about wanting to try embroidery, I'd say this is the book to get. She walks you through the necessary materials and ways to try it out on the cheap.
  • If you're already someone who embroiders, these transfers are a must.
More on the book another time. I'm feeling an overwhelming urge to start labeling things.

Let me know if anything seems out of whack. (Or, more out of whack than usual.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Quiltie's Revenge

Quiltie is coming along.

Those nice, straight quilted lines are brought to you courtesy of my aching back and three or four hours of careful measuring and marking of the quilt top.

Let me be clear: it took three or four hours (maybe more now that I think about it) of being on my hands and knees on my living room floor, hunched over a big ruler and a queen-sized quilt, measuring and drawing parallel and perpendicular lines, and feeling quite a bit of discomfort. (Though the pain might've been entirely caused by the 73 episodes of Last Comic Standing that were on the TV in the background. Man, that shit was bad.)

Non-quilters note: before you can start quilting/stitching this design, those concentric squares have to be measured and drawn on. Otherwise, there's no way to know where to stitch. (Sorry if that was straight from the Duh Files, but I'd rather insult your intelligence than leave somebody out. That way everyone wins. Some feel smart. Others feel included. Winners, all!)

I used a white Clover Chacopel Fine Pencil to mark the darker fabrics, and I used a plain ole mechanical pencil to draw my lines on the off-white fabric. The white pencil was real grabby with the fabric, so it wasn't the soothing experience I was hoping for. And drawing with a pencil-pencil on my light-colored fabric felt like it was making the quilt dirty. But, I forged ahead with great care. Great care. And my lines looked awesome.

Did I mention I did all this marking about four months ago?

(This is the part where expert quilters and all you other smarties sit back, take a sip of coffee, and quietly say, "Heh, heh. I see where this is going.")

(Go ahead. Sip your coffee. I'll wait.)

So, I picked Quiltie up this weekend to do a little quilting, la la la, and...

Quiltie -- that scheming, bitter mutherfucker -- ate my markings. The white pencil. The pencil-pencil. All of it.

I should've seen it coming. The signs were right there: his rage, his stomach pains, the history of mistreatment. But, I didn't. He was just right here, under my nose, with the best seat in the house, undermining my painstaking work.

Serves me right. Despite my apologies, I've been a little bitch to Quiltie. I know what I did.

So, I'm considering using a different pen for the re-markings, maybe the Dritz Disappearing Ink Marking Pen. But, I'll have to just do it one square at a time. Otherwise, I'm sure Quiltie will continue to devour it. And then no one wins. Just no one.

I wish I'd known quilting was such a vengeful hobby. I would've come prepared.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One down, seven to go

You're going to have to take me at my word, but this picture represents my progress thus far on this.

Using my amazing powers of transformation, I shall turn each of these skeins of yarn into a smiling, balding man with glasses by the end of December! You'd like that, wouldn't you? You like heads, and you like baskets. What's not to love about this whole thing becoming a basket of smiling heads? Nothing.

(Oh. Except for the part where there really are more like eleven -- not seven -- balls of yarn to go, and six weeks until the end of December. Yeah. Well. I wouldn't put money on any of this if I were you. And I wouldn't hold my breath. Or put all your eggs in this basket. [Get it? Basket?] You know what? You should just be grateful for any heads you get.)

Yes, yes. You're welcome.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Knitscene uses wily tactics

I've made a commitment recently, and it is this: no magazines. It's very simple. Magazines instantly become pillars of shame all around my home. And I don't like shame. Shame steenks.

I don't need piles of glossy papers taunting me for not reading them, not clipping them, not living by their guidelines. I've made the mistake before (in the not-too-distant past). And you know what? When I've got magazines in my house, people come over and ask what smells. And I have to say, "Oh that? Huh! I don't know! It can't be the smell of the shame emanating from those neglected magazines, can it? Because that would just be ridiculous." And then I covertly kick a magazine or two under a couch.

So, I've made a commitment to not renew, order, or let magazines into my home. No magazines past the velvet ropes, thank you very much.

But Knitscene somehow got past my guys at the door.

I'm sure when it sidled up, my guys looked right past it. And I imagine it was quite cocky at this point. "Come on. You're not gonna let me in? I'm a Special Issue. And, I've got a Latina on my cover."

And my guys were like, "Sorry. The doctor has given us strict orders not to allow any magazines in."

Then it probably changed tactics (because it's crafty) and was all, "You know what? You look like you could use a nice bag. Check out my page 20."

"And your ears must get cold out here sometimes." And then it pointed to the hat on that same dirty page 20.

I'm sure my guys then said, "Those are very nice, but you're going to need to step back. You're not getting in."

At this point, I imagine it kinda started losing its shit a little bit, flipping the page, "Doesn't the doctor need a cute cabled hoodie for just kicking around? Look! Page 23! She'll love it!"

My guys are good. They're really good. They stayed strong. "Yes, the doctor would like a hoodie, but not when its pattern comes in the form of a full-color, 105-page magazine."

But then -- and this is just my best guess -- I'm betting the magazine really went inward, thought carefully, and unleashed:

"You like flowers, don't you?"

The killer! That did them in. I just know it. As I said, my guys are good, but no one - NO ONE - can resist these flowers. Or their free online pattern.

I'm not letting any other issues in. I swear it. So Interweave Press, creators of Knitscene, can just suck it. Suck it, IP!

(Hey also, when you come by, don't mention the smell. It's rude.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Knit animals (and robots) hurt my teeth

If you also have sensitive teeth when it comes to adorable things, go get yourself some kind of tooth protector before you proceed here. (I don't know how Meg over at Cute Overload can stand it. Maybe she has dentures.)

I kinda want to make this:

For some reason, I thought it was crochet at first, and then I looked more closely at the free pattern, and saw it's just garter stitch. Knit, knit, knit. Simple!

And then there are all the Jess Hutch items, like this pink bunny, for example.
The also-free pattern is here. I'm so sad that her book of patterns is no longer available. She truly takes the cake when it comes to adorable creatures. When you're the mastermind behind adorable knitted robots, you are pretty much the most genius genuis of all times as far as I'm concerned.

Kate, the cat with britches from knitty - also tooth-achingly cute with her little striped sweater and solid pants:

Cute, right?

Bear, bunny, and kitty. Free knitting patterns. Awesome.

OK. So, what I'm gonna need you to do now is just relax. Just calm your mind. Take a deep breath. You might feel a little pain here. Just breathe.

Ouch. Ouch! OUCH! Look at that frackin' MONKEY! His name is Cedrich. And Winston and Radley? Equally cute! Those muther...AARGH! How did they make crochet so SO CUTE?! That pattern is gonna cost you a little money, but it's for all three of those. Where is someone so I can sock them in the arm with how cute these are?! DAMN IT!

Oh, in addition to my teeth hurting, I sometimes also feel the need to smash things when I see something cute. I don't actually smash things. I just feel the need. But, I have a frontal lobe that assists me in higher-order thinking, so I rethink the smashing and generally just lie down.

A final note: I don't recommend eating a chocolate croissant (a.k.a. a candy-bar sandwich) while viewing these items. It really kicked it over the top for me. Now I go night-night. (The fact that it's 10:45 in the morning may make it challenging, but I'll do it. I'll close my eyes and go to sleep and then you'll see. You'll all see.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


As I walk to my polling place each election, I always have this kind of amazing experience. A kind of profound, almost indescribable gratitude always comes over me on that walk. With each step, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for the people who came before me who who fought long and hard for me to be able to vote.
As a woman and as a member of a marginalized ethnic group, I am someone who has directly benefitted from thousands of people's unrelenting courage and work to make it possible for me to vote. I've been "allowed" access only because there were people who fought back against bigger forces to make it happen. They didn't have to do that. But they did. And I am forever indebted to them.

Flawed as our system may be (and it is flawed, let's not kid ourselves here), we're still on the side where the amount of time we (women, people of color) have been able to vote pales in comparison to the time that we were denied that right. And, frankly, since some people are still being denied in some form or another, I guess we really can't even start the clock. We're just not really out of the woods here with the parity, folks.

For those of you who are in places where voting is happening today, please go do it. People really stuck their necks out there. Let's do them proud.

I thank you.

Edited to add: Take your photo ID with you to vote, regardless of whether or not it's a requirement in your state. I just saw that there is evidence that people are being denied without it, even where it is not required. Sheesh.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In awe of artists

Althea Merback, Gloves, 2005. Wire-knitted silk. Collection Kentucky Gateway Museum Center.

Someday, I will use my brain and write about distinctions between and shared aspects of "art" and "craft". But, today is not that day. You're not feeling it. I'm not feeling it. We, collectively, are not feeling it.

Regardless (or "irregardless" as some insist), feel THIS!

Check out this link for the Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting exhibit, which will be at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, January 25 - June 17, 2007. There is some serious shit going on up in there. Serious.

Oh, and hey. By the way? Those gloves are wee.

(thanks to Qrious Crafter for posting this info to the SnB Los Angeles Yahoo group)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dr. B.'s First Bout of Intarsia: A Moose Hat review

If you were going to try knitting with two colors for the first time, you'd start with this, right? Of course you would. Everyone knows the moose is best known for its gentle temperament and easily-knitted shape, no?

For the Knitting Olympics earlier this year, I decided it would be a fun challenge to try intarsia. Or stranding. Or whatever it's called when you knit holding two different yarns at the same time. I'll spare you the technical details and just say that the challenge is, if you don't know what you're doing, it's very easy to turn the whole thing into a mess of puckers. Ergo, one should start with a small project like a headband.

I have a problem choosing first-time projects (see: very large crocheted afghan and baby quilt made of triangles). We know this much. But do we remember what we know? Well, no. And even though we employ the help of other people to help us remember what we know (because that's how the sane ones do it), sometimes other people also forget.

Case in point: I was sitting at my computer, looking at the Bea Ellis site.

ME (to my wasband): I want to learn intarsia for the Knitting Olympics, so I think I'm gonna make a headband. Do you think that'll be hard?
WASBAND (looking over my shoulder): What else is there?
ME: Well, there are headbands, (scrolling) and these hats, and--
WASBAND (enthusiastically, pointing): MAKE ME THAT MOOSE HAT! (then, more restrained but serious, puts his hand on my shoulder) You have to make me that Moose Hat.

Even though it looked complicated, I figured, "I might as well try. It is the Olympics. And, they don't call me 'How Hard Can It Be' Dr. B. for nothing." So, I ordered the kit.

(Note to self: To keep up appearances, get people to start calling you "How Hard Can It Be" Dr. B.)

What I've posted above is the photo of the Moose Hat from Bea Ellis's site. It is not a photo of my creation. Because, while it is true that (1) I finished in time to get the gold medal that you see in the sidebar, and (2) the moose does indeed have an easily-knittable shape, the resulting product was definitely a first-timer's hat. There's no need for a photo of that, really. It just shames us all. I think we can just leave it at "mess of puckers" and move on.

(There will always be opportunities to make things dirty here, won't there? Yes. Always.)

Anyway, the following may only be of interest to knitters. If you are not a knitter, feel free to keep reading. I'm not stopping you, just warning you. That's all.

Hello Yarn recommended the kits from Bea Ellis because the charts are really easy to read, and the yarn you need is great quality and the exact right amount you need. For those reasons, and because the Bea Ellis people were prompt and very helpful, I also highly recommend them for a first-time project of this kind.

There are only two very tiny things I'd say I wished were different:
(1) You have to order your yarn by color number; and, if you want to make the item using the same colorway shown, there's no way to know the corresponding yarn numbers. But, if you send an e-mail to them, they'll take care of that right away for you.

(2) The wool for the hats is itchy, so they include cotton yarn for a soft hem part that's hidden and keeps a person's widdle head from itching to high heaven. I'd never made a hem on a garment before, so I didn't really know what it was or how to do it. This was not their fault. But, there weren't clear instructions about the hem, so I had to do a little extra research to figure it out.

I will say those twisty things at the top were very fun to make. It took a little testing out to get the right number of strands of yarn for optimal thickness. But once I did, fun twisty times were had by all. And then I considered putting them on everything.

So, there you have it: my first intarsia experience. Will I go back? Only time (and my wasband's requests) will tell.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pretending it's winter

I just ordered this pattern from Lettuce Knit.

They've used Misti Chunky Baby Alpaca for the one pictured. The pattern is arriving via snail mail, which gives me enough time to figure out what color I should make mine in. That's right. MINE! I shall make it for myself.

Doesn't it just seem like a good staple to have to throw on over whatever? Or is there some other sweater that you prefer for that purpose?

Brenda on Six Feet Under always had these great sweater-jackets that she wore. I'd love one of those. (I looked on the internets for an image of Brenda in her sweater, but came up empty-handed. If you've never seen the show or if you don't remember it, imagine a really, really great sweater-jacket. That was it.)

Also, in this discussion of excellent sweaters, I implore my P-I-C to refrain from commenting on my two-year-old Rowan sweater-jacket parts that are shoved away in a bag somewhere here, unassembled. Refrain!

Those big hands look less creepy by comparison.

Why am I surprised? Why do I bother getting surprised about anything anymore? Why do I even get up in the morning?

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been known from time to time to be late to the party of various trends and happenings. I've also been known, at other times, to be ahead of the curve. However, I was aware of neither party nor curve with regard to this. I stumbled upon it quite by accident (via kottke). (FYI: It's not really suitable for children, for about seventy-three reasons.)

Please just tell me this isn't happening. Please. For the sake of all things holy (i.e., crap, mother of god, guacamole).

As far as crazy inventions go, give me the big hands any day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Some Brazilian embroidery resources

When my P-I-C and I took that embroidery class recently, the instructor generously shared some great websites for Brazilian embroidery stitches and threads. I've used both (stitches and threads) in my sampler, and I have to say, I'm a big fan of the Brazilian!

(I'm letting that one just sit there, folks. There are only so many Brazilian jokes a person can make before one's ladylike reputation is forever sullied. Ha HA! Ladylike reputation. I realize I may've crossed that line so long ago that this act of restraint is like putting lipstick on a shitpile. But I can try, right?)

(Wow! This just got so unnecessarily gross! I was just trying to share some embroidery resources and then I'm all lipstick and shitpiles. Please forgive me. My back still hurts a bit. Well, in all honesty, it hurts just enough to blame it for my impaired judgement, but not so much that I can't tell I'm out of line. Shitpile! My apologies.)

And... we're back.

So, I haven't done extensive research on this. But, one resource that is very appealing is Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery. It's got all kinds of glorious things on it from designs, to stitch guides, and tips for supplies and getting started.

Click on the image below or here for some free designs. Edited to add: This image below is from their site. I am quite confident that my skills are not yet up to this level. Oh, and I blame my back for my lack of clarity on this initially. Shitpile!

Pretty, right? I really like those branches with the little french knots on them.

Click here or on these bullions for a basic stitch guide:

Our instructor said that the best Brazilian thread can be difficult to locate, but she gave JDR a glowing review. For the link to their thread offerings, click here or on the wig of threads below:

This thread comparison chart is useful because the weights of the threads have names that do not describe their weight (names like Lola and Nova, for example). So this chart seems like it would help match your Brazilian threads to your Brazilian needs.

For what it's worth, I think there's something really great about this thread. (Real embroiderers, please forgive this lay person's description.) It's kind of shiny, but not too shiny, and it's a little slick, but not too slick. I've found it very fun to use as a result.

All that being said, my back and I continue to hold out hope that someday soon you too will be overtaken by every craft under the sun. And then you'll join me in ordering wigs and wigs of threads to make bullion after ever-loving bullion.