Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's easier to say no than it is to say yes

What with airport security measures changing every two seconds, I decided to leave my knitting at home for my trip to San Francisco. Yes, yes, I know. Knitting needles are allowed on the plane, but I just didn't want to risk the possibility of dealing with:

(a) some rogue screener person on a mission, out to get the knitters;
(b) the rules changing on my way to the airport; or
(c) because of (a) and/or (b), someone taking away my beloved knitting supplies.

While I realize (a) and (b) are both not really plausible, there's always a chance of (c) as far as I'm concerned.

OK. Truth be told, after figuring out how to cram all my liquids into a quart-sized Ziploc bag, my grouchiness made it nearly impossible to think of anything being fun. Even knitting. So, I didn't pack a single knitting-related item. (And, by the way, if you haven't been asked already, do you know how many liquids you require for a trip? Do you think they all fit in a small Ziploc bag? You'd be surprised how much they kinda don't.)

I regretted leaving my knitting almost immediately. I tried to justify the decision with "It's a really short plane ride" and "When would I have time to knit anyway?" But the lack of sleep and the residual grouchiness from my involvement in the Ziploc-Liquids Experience the night before just didn't help matters. It wasn't the prettiest thing, but I shook it off. It was fine.

My sidekick and I went straight from the airport to our conference. We spent the whole day there, then went to check into our hotel around 5:00. We were both exhausted and thought we'd take a nap before going out to dinner. When we got into our room, I dropped my bags in the living room, and my sidekick went into the bedroom to put his things down.

SIDEKICK (from the bedroom): Hey! Come check out our view.
ME (from the living room): What do you want.
ME (tired): I'll be there in a second.
SIDEKICK: But it's a really good view!
ME: Okay. (still with traces of the grouchy)

With a little bit of foot-dragging, I went into the bedroom where my sidekick was standing next to the closed blinds.

ME: What.

He slowly opened the blinds to reveal a view of a tiny little street and a long stretch of apartment buildings. And one tiny storefront.

SIDEKICK: Look what's right there.

Right there, all small and unassuming, with the cutest things in the window, just sitting there almost smiling at me, was Greenwich Yarn and Stitchworks. Yarn? Does that say yarn? Is that yarn? Yarn! Right outside our window!

Is my sidekick not the cutest? And can you believe there was that knitting store right there? Like RIGHT there.

Nap? Postponed. Store? Adorable and open till 6! Sidekick? Treated me to these:

He is the soon-to-be proud owner of 100% Merino wool Koigu socks, solid charcoal color 2409 courtesy of Greenwich Yarn & Stitchworks.

Life is lovely sometimes.

(For the record, "soon-to-be" = "hopefully no later than Christmas.")

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Be right back

I'll be right back...just going off to a quick conference. Take this chance to really look around, and please come right back, won't you?

In the meantime, I can't wait for this Sublime Stitching book!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Here's how you know it's handmade

Like many people, I started knitting as a way to relax. I figured it would be a meditative, soothing, and calming thing in my life. And it is those things. Sometimes.

And other times, not so much.

Just ask the Yarn Harlot. She'll tell you that knitting can be anything but soothing, and it has a nasty tendency to fall more into the category of painful life experiences you'd rather not revisit.

But, as she will also tell you, knitting reminds (or teaches) us things like patience and humility. And how to stand up to Perfectionism even in the most challenging situations.

I really believe that when a handmade item isn't perfect, it's a lovely reminder that the item was made -- stitch by stitch -- by a person, and not by a machine. I didn't invent this idea. I'm just a believer in it.

But, what a hypocrite, me! The photo of the scarf above excludes the portion of the scarf where I repeated too soon and made an extra little cable where one should not have been.

So. In the interest of putting my money where my mouth is, I give you... a flawed scarf:

See it? It's just a little something extra built right in. That too-soon cable happened at the exact moment that I was laughing until I was crying with two of my closest friends. And so that little extra cable, I think, will be a permanent reminder of that specific moment in time. Right?

I'm not the only person this has ever happened to, but I'm now very taken with this idea. I think that rather than beat ourselves up about losing our place in a pattern, we should just start calling these foibles "Laughing Cables," and love them as little moments of real life built right into our items.

(We could also call them "Fuck It Cables", but that just seems so crass.)

The pattern, for anyone interested, is Laura Zimmerman's "40-Stitch Reversible Cable Scarf" for Knit Cafe. I bought it and the (alpaca?) yarn in the store in West Hollywood, CA.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hey, welcome!

To all you folks popping in from Grandmother Purl's Blanket, hi there! Please feel free to take a look around. Even if you don't care for the sewing (which, believe me, I didn't think I did either), if you do some poking around, you may find something that tickles your fancy. There are knitting-related items mixed in with the other things...

If you're looking for my Grandmother Purl squares, the links are in the sidebar ("Grandmother Purl's blanket" and "While I was at it"). Or click here and here. The second square really did look better in person, I promise. Frankly, I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't do a little more pre-camera work on her before taking the photo. But she was just so eager to get in the mail, I didn't want to fight her on it. You know how squares can be.

Anyhow, it's nice to have you here. Thanks for stopping by. Please visit again soon!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quiltie, Pile of Quilt

Quiltie is still giving me the cold shoulder, despite my having worked on it a little over the weekend. What do I expect? I'm still not really treating it right. If only I'd keep my word and fold the queen-sized guy. But, nope. I'm still wadding.

But, how about this? Let's take this opportunity to see how many different things the pile of quilt can resemble!

Today it looks like it's in a fetal position, no? It's kinda creepy if you look close. Kinda like a guy keeled over clutching his stomach and going, "Uuurrgggh. My aching stummick!" Right? (Because a guy who'd be wrapped up in a quilt, on my living room chair, keeling over wouldn't say "stomach." He'd say "stummick." Trust me.) Do you see it? See his nubby little knees there on the seat-part of the chair? Poor bastard.

Don't worry. If it starts rocking and flapping, I will take it in for immediate care.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Well, here's your problem

I never thought I'd be quilting, as I've mentioned. Kinda like when people can't believe they're doing heroin when all they meant to do was go party with some friends. One minute you're crocheting a flower with your granny, and next thing you know, you're Bubbs from The Wire.

I blame Stitch 'n' Bitch (the book).

Chain of events, circa Summer, 2004:

1. My partner-in-crime and I learn to knit.
2. We buy Stitch 'n' Bitch.
3. Our money magically shape-shifts into knitting needles. Lots of knitting needles.
4. We see hand-sewn needle cases being sold at our local yarn store (LYS).
4b. We see they're being sold for a bazillion dollars.
4c. We notice that all our money magically shape-shifted into knitting needles.
5. We remember Stitch 'n' Bitch has a sewing pattern for making your own needle case.
6. We think to ourselves, and out loud, "We could just make our own! How hard can it be?!"

Modifications were made to the pattern (I can't remember what they were now), and here's the one I made:

It's important to note that before this project, the last time I'd sewn anything was in the summer of 1977, and it was a brown bikini made from sand-colored Holly Hobbie fabric. I was 9. (Jealous?)

(Author's note: I found an image of Holly Hobbie just now, and pasted it here for a moment to remind you of her form. But, no offense to all you HH fans out there, *that* is a very special kind of ugg, and I just couldn't bear to keep it here. Click through to here if you must, but don't say I didn't warn you.)

Ahhhhh. Soothing colors. No ducks or bonnets. Where was I? Oh, yes.

So you'll see here that, when folded, the edges of things don't line up exactly. Turns out, the bikini-sewing didn't include the "lining up" skills I'd need 30 years later for this pattern. But it works just fine. I'm not trying to sell it for a bazillion dollars or anything.

I got a little big for my britches, did a bit of math, and made a crochet hook case, too. It is significantly smaller than the other case:

About six months after I made these, I was at my LYS and saw a needle case for sale that was made using the exact flowered fabric I'd used. Someone was biting my style! Strangely, it pleased me a great deal and just reinforced our crazy idea that we should just make stuff if we thought we could.

But then one thing led to another, sewing led to quilting, and the next thing I knew, the quilting was running my life. It's a slippery slope. You'll see.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wash up. Be well.

This squid soap looks awesome! From their site:

SquidSoap works by applying a small ink mark on a person's hand when they press the pump to dispense the soap. The ink is designed to wash off after the hands are washed for about 15-20 seconds, which is the time recommended by most doctors.

Wash 'em up, people!

(via, as always, boingboing)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Real quilters, avert your eyes

If the sight of a quilt-in-progress being mishandled makes you queasy, you might want to look away here. This is documentation of the current state of the Denyse Schmidt "What a Bunch of Squares" quilt. It's not pretty.

I doubt Denyse rolls her quilts, holds them in place with some bicycle clips, then kinda folds (wads) them up and puts them on a chair in the living room. With the needle just sticking out the top there.

Strange how it looks like a little creature is hiding in it. There isn't. It's just the poor quilt. Scrunched up. Maybe crying a little. Certainly wrinkling a great deal.

Here's a square that was suffocating in the earlier pictures:

Breathe, little guy, breathe. It'll be ok.

Maybe now, after really looking at these gruesome pictures, I'll try a different approach. Maybe unclip it? Fold it nicely? I was doing that before, but it seemed so, I don't know, labor intensive. (This from a person who is hand-quilting a queen-sized quilt.) Maybe I'll give it a hug and a sincere apology and call it a day.

Sorry, quiltie. I love you.

(Note: Quiltie has reacted to my apology with a shocking level of indifference.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Get out!

Cutest things you ever saw? Very likely. Look at the ones with the dots. LOOK AT THEM!

Now, make them.

Free pattern here. (via Quilters Buzz)

Those are all the demands I have for now. I thank you.

The more you know

Wondering where your U.S. income tax dollars are going exactly? These folks have a 2007 poster for you.

Peruse it online. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for Congress.

The more you know... (insert shooting star graphic and cheesy music: doo do doo DOOOOO). Seriously. Do.

via boingboing

While I was at it

I figured I'd make another square for Grandma Purl. You know, why not?

Same Lana Grossa yarn as before. Also on US size 10.5 needles. An 8" square.

This was the Tuck Stitch (also from Vogue Knitting). The pattern:

NOTE: Tuck stitch - Insert RH (right hand) needle through the center of stitch that is two rows below and knit this stitch.

Cast on a multiple of 4 + 3 extra. (I cast on 32 + 3 = 35).

Row 1 (RS): Purl.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): Knit.
Row 3: *P3, tuck st; repeat from *, end P3.
Row 4: Knit.
Row 5: Purl.
Row 6: Knit.
Row 7: *P1, tuck st, p2; repeat from *, end p1, tuck st, p1.
Row 8: Knit.
Repeat rows 1-8 to desired length.

This square wasn't as photogenic as the first, but it's quite nice in person.

As I was making it, my sidekick said in passing, "That's a nice stitch for a sweater." And I had to say, I was impressed with his Monday-morning-armchair-designing. A sweater, indeed!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Grandmother Purl's blanket

People can be really kind. Really thoughtful. And really kind.

This is a very sweet gesture spearheaded by a kindhearted fan of Crazy Aunt Purl's.

Here's my small contribution.

It's an 8" square, knit on US size 10.5 needles using *less than* one ball of Lana Grossa Bingo yarn (100% Marino Virgin Wool. 80 meters/50 grams -- It's soft and machine washable!).

The stitch is a Broken 2x2 Rib.

The recipe (or pattern, whatever) is from Vogue Knitting. And it is the following:

Cast on a multiple of 4 stitches. (I cast on 40.)

Row 1 (RS): *K2, P2; repeat from * until end.
Rows 2-6 (WS): Repeat Row 1.
Rows 7-12: *P2, K2; repeat from * until end.
Repeat rows 1-12.

I did this until it reached 8", bound off in pattern, and that was it!

If I'm feeling adventurous, I may try another new stitch for another square.

In the meantime, (not to be too earnest but...) I'll be appreciative of the kindness that people extend to one another. And I'll try to remember to do that more. (Yes, you-know-who-you-are. I said "extend".)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Little list of cool items to make

I'm not gonna say that you should get started on any winter-time holiday gift-making at this juncture, because that would just be ri-donk-ulous. But, these are v. awesome items worth considering when the time comes.

Leia buns. All the knitters out there have seen this by now, I'd imagine. But for those of you who haven't and love you some Star Wars, check it.

Subversive Cross Stitch. I made the one about cancer for my partner-in-crime. The bunnies make it extra adorable. Very quick to make. I'd never cross-stitched before, and this was super easy and fast. Great gift for friends who like it subversive-style.

Knitted Converse sneakers on Craftster. (via boingboing) Ok, you're not really gonna make these, but check them out!

Fingerless gloves. These are so great. You can embellish them any way you'd like. But those embroidered tree ones? Jeez! Those are beauties.

Giving handmade gifts just feels like a right thing to do (not "the" right thing. One of many possible right things.) Don't you think?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Small Denyse Schmidt projects

So I officially take back all of my pishing of the smaller projects. Turns out it's really, really satisfying to start and finish something all in one sitting. (I may be a doctor, but sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake.)

I gleefully made this "I Can See Clearly Now Eyeglasses Case" (from the Quilt It Kit) in around 2 hours. That included the time it took for fabric selection. I didn't realize this ahead of time, but it's a great scraps project, as those patterned pieces are quite tiny.

The heating pad cover you'll see below did not take one sitting, and that's my own damn fault. It's the (Frankensteinian) "Hold Me Close Heating Pad Cover." I was too lazy to take the actual pattern to be enlarged, so I cut out the batting and the back per Denyse's specs (let's pretend she and I are on a first-name basis). Then I just kinda eyeballed it. It's ok. Not great. I'd go to the trouble of using the pattern the next time, truth be told.

Back view:

Meh. You win some, you lose some. That's what you get for pishing.

Already with the meme

This is a lovely meme (definition of "meme" here) from back in the day that I always enjoyed seeing on the blogs.

Refresh your "Party Shuffle" on your iTunes, and list the first 10 songs that come up.

You could say sharing this information is a great way to let others know about music, broaden their horizons! But frankly, like the "overheard" notion (see yesterday's post), this meme is really just another way to draw all kinds of conclusions about someone else based on very little information. Diabolical!

So. Pencils ready? Let the drawing of conclusions begin.

My Party Shuffle exposes me thusly:

Channel 1 Suite (Four Tet Remix) : Cinematic Orchestra
Sweet Baby (with Erykah Badu) : Macy Gray
Turn Me On : Norah Jones
All or Nothing : O-Town
One Sweet Day : Mariah Carey
Save Me : Aimee Mann
SeƱorita : Justin Timberlake
Party Up (Up in Here) : DMX
Eat It Up : Representative Ball
Angel Eyes : Anita O’Day

This is how it came out. I didn't re-refresh. I didn't omit or add any songs. This is just what my iTunes wanted you to know about me today. I shall decline all invitations to defend my O-Town or look down my nose at you about my Anita O'Day. But I will say that Representative Ball is where it's at.

What are the first 10 songs on your Party Shuffle? I'd love for you to post a comment so I can get to know you better. (And by "better" I do mean more narrowly.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

None of my beeswax

Having read my fair share of blogs over the last few years, I've been ever-so pleased with the "Overheard" genre of blog entries.

Content of "Overheard"- style entry: Bits of dialogue or something you shouldn't have been privy to.
Why it's good: Usually a very brief bit, the content is often out of context.
Result: Leaves the listener/reader/eavesdropper in the delightful position of filling in the rest of the story.
Personal impact: It's fun to make things up about other people's lives! And sometimes, if you're lucky, you learn a little something along the way.

So this wasn't overheard really. It was just something I had no business seeing.

This morning. At the car wash. Sitting, waiting for my car, minding my own biznizz.

Young, trendy-looking woman in long, flowing skirt and high heels sits down across the way. She looks over at her fancy convertible. I look over at my car. I look back in her direction.

In the brief moment that I'd looked away, right there in front of god and everyone, the woman had pulled her long, flowing skirt up to about mid-thigh, and she was putting some kind of medicated cream on about six giant gashes on her knees and legs. Gashes! Giant. Gashes. When her skirt was down, it was all good. Skirt up? Quite unpleasant!

Were those dog bites? Did she take a spill on some rocks on her hike yesterday? Had she invented some kind of knee-hugging machine only to discover the prototype had a fatal flaw? What the...?

Puts skirt down. Crosses legs. Puts cream away. Looks around. Pulls skirt up. Inspects gashes closely. Taps them a little. Leaves skirt up to let gashes breathe. Puts skirt down. Stands up. Makes a cell phone call. Thinks about gashes.

Conclusion: I should start a list of all the things I can do while waiting at the car wash. And! I should invent the world's greatest knee-hugging machine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Put that coffee down

Need a coaster?

Listen up:

Purl really knows what they're doing.

They start by telling you they'll take care of the pesky chore of coordinating fabrics for you. "We know about your commitment to your craft, and we've got some amazing bundles of delicious fabrics that we just know you're gonna love. Looky here - just pick some bundles from our site, and we can send them right out to you. You can have them in a matter of days! Just give us your credit card number, and we'll...mmmm...yeah, we're only in town overnight and then we've gotta hop on a flight to Cleveland first thing in the morning. But, we'd hate for you to miss out on this amazing opportunity!"

Then, instead of actually getting on that flight, they casually mention on their adorable blog that there are these coasters that are so easy and quick that you could make them "the day of the party!!"

(I'm looking at you with a very dead-pan look right now. Some might call it a "slow burn.")

Let's say I were the kind of person who threw parties. Let's just say that. I'm fairly confident that, even if that were the case, I still wouldn't have the constitution for crafting "the day of." I might fall for a good pitch from some smooth-talking folks, but that doesn't make me a fool.

Be that as it may, these are some really fracking cute coasters. The pattern as written yields 12 coasters that are 3.5" square (or square-ish) when finished.

I chose not to do any quilting on them once I'd turned them right-side out and stitched them shut, and it did take me quite a while to make the set of 12. But it was an enjoyable while.

They're quite nifty, and I think the set also makes a darn cute gift. (Better than a set of steak knives.)

Now, will you go to lunch?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Who do you think I am over here?

This internets is amazing. There are so many things that now exist in my life because of someone's blog or some incredible website.

Like quilting.

Come on. Quilting? If you had told me that I would someday be making quilts, I would've been crushed at how much you didn't know me. Quilts, you weirdo?

But you would've known that Denyse Schmidt was just sitting there, waiting patiently for me to fall prey to her modern quilting ways. Waiting for me to buy her book. Waiting for me to say those five magic words that have led me into many a troubling adventure: "How hard can it be?"

Ha ha. Denyse Schmidt knows how hard.

I made her "Too Hot to Handle" oven mitt first. It was cute enough. Not really functional. Too thin to really protect one's hands from oven heat. But cute.

This was ample preparation, I figured, for a quilt. Small projects? Pish! Waste of time. Bring on the quilts! (I conveniently ignored the fact that it once took my partner-in-crime and me six hours to figure out how to put the bobbin in the machine.)

Here's what I was thinking (if you want to call it that): "I know a brand-new bebe who might like a quilt, and a crib-size quilt will be the best 'starter' quilt! I'll make the 'Flock of Triangles' quilt out of this book!"

Hey, why didn't you stop me? Why didn't you tell me what a fool I was to begin with triangles of this nature? Yes, You! The one who knew I'd be quilting someday! Ha-rumph.

I am making a promise to you and to myself right here and now. I shall never sew triangles (or "flying geese" as the fancy quilters like to call them) in this fashion again. I machine-pieced the triangles into rows, just like Denyse's book told me to. I lined up the rows so I could sew them together into a lovely rectangular quilt. And no less than five of these rows of triangles had to be ripped out and re-sewn because they varied in length by as much as two inches. (Ask my partner-in-crime. She'll tell you. She'll laugh a little while she does it, but she'll tell you.)

Oh yes, and I had to make a modification to the quilt-top design because of some fabric miscalculations, so the addition of the dotted fabric makes it kind of like "The Big Zig."

Any-ways, blah blah blah, my first quilt:

Closer view of the hand-quilting and the hand-sewn very tiny binding (edges):

The hand-embroidered label which is more balanced in real life (my name is embroidered to the right of the heart on the real label):

And a close-up of the note to the baby and the dogs regarding this quilt:

I'm now working on "What A Bunch of Squares" - a quilt made of squares and other square-like shapes. No triangles. Just squares and rectangles. Because I am nothing if not a woman of my word. Photos of this quilt-in-progress another time.

Quilting! Who knew?

(Oh, right. Yes. You did.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Look what I can do

I haven't yet figured out what exactly I want this blog to be. I don't know who I want to be writing to or what I want to be writing for. But, I do know I made this yesterday at a class with Amy Tan of Amy Tangerine:

The design is hers, and the class was at Sweetpeas and Snapshots in West LA.

We learned a reverse applique technique, chain stitch, and lazy daisy embroidery stitches. It's hard to see, but the bird's legs are particularly cute.

This took about three hours to make, with the learning of new stitches accounting for some of that time. A fear of accidently slicing my shirt accounted for the rest. Also, the t-shirts she provided were very soft, but are only available wholesale.

I really like the idea of handmaking gifts, and this is a great and relatively easy way to make a one-of-a-kind present for someone.

Oh yes. And welcome to my blog.