Wednesday, November 5, 2008

last night

was an amazing night to be in DC. Among other things.

I am so in love with my city and my country and my president-elect right now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Three years ago today, I went on a date with a boy.

I was so stomach-clenchingly nervous about this date that I had one beer, paid for it myself, and promptly fled the scene.

Fortunately for me, and for reasons I might never understand, that boy kept calling me even after that.

He is a lot of things that I could list here, but maybe some other time. Mostly he's just the best. I'm an undeserving and lucky, lucky girl.

Also, of course, it's election day. In case you didn't know.
I'm hoping that tonight those of us who have spent a lot of time in political frustration and desperation can finally sleep the dreamless sleep of the relieved and the victorious.

Happy electianniversary day to me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Zig, baby, Zig

My last design idea for fall is all done and photos are up and everything's listed on Etsy. I have to admit I'm outrageously proud of this one:
It was a pain in the neck to work out the math and the construction on this one, but I knew exactly what I wanted and this came out exactly like it was in my head. I'm in love with the yarn I used and the colors and the length and the way the zigzags look next to each other. I'm so pleased.

We took the photos a couple of weeks ago, which meant I again ran into the conundrum of shooting Fall things in what was clearly not even close to Fall weather or scenery. We found this spot right next to Rock Creek, under a stone bridge, and Aaron of course worked his photo magic, and I think everything looks great.

Now I'm working constantly and obsessively on my Winter things. I'm really excited to show those off too.

P.S. I'm about halfway through working up a pattern/tutorial for this scarf, so if you're a crocheter, stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Belle Isle

I finally got all of my pictures from England edited, resized, edited some more, and uploaded to Flickr. It only took me two months! I put up a LOT of pictures but it was honestly only a quarter of the pictures I took, which is quite an achievement. My pictures are like my babies; no matter how unremarkable they are I want everyone in the whole world to look at them and marvel. So it's pretty hard for me to exclude any.

Here is one of my favorites:
Aaron tried to convince me to cut out all of the "pictures of pretty houses" because he said they had nothing to do with our trip and didn't really tell a story. I told him to shove it, basically, because when I close my eyes and think "England" the image that almost invariably comes to mind is pretty white cottages with thatched roofs and flowers surrounded by impossible shades of green. I was so thrilled to find out that England really looks like that. So there. It's part of MY trip story at least.

England also looks like this:
(muddy, muddy music festival)

And this:
(off Brick Lane, London)

And this:
(Tate Modern, across the Thames)

I wouldn't want to live there maybe, but looking at the pictures sure makes me want to go back there immediately (or maybe when the weather warms up.)

Now I'm off to warm my hands around a hot mug of Earl Grey tea. Pippip. Cheerio.

(rest of pictures can be found here)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To market, to market

On Sunday I had my very first, real-life, honest-to-goodness selling day. I've never done a show or a fair before and I've been working for almost a year and a half making enough things to be able to have a little space in the flea market at Eastern Market. If you live in the DC area you've probably heard of this; it's the name for both a really beautiful neighborhood around Capitol Hill and the "market" itself, which happens every weekend and literally has sellers of everything you could possibly imagine: antiques, furniture, thrifted clothes, books, crafts, jewelry, African and Tibetan art imports, original paintings and photography, fruit and veggies, etc. etc. etc. And on Sunday, there was even this:

I was so insanely proud of my little booth. Aaron worked for hours the night before on that sign, and both of us stayed up way too late making price tags, packing everything up, etc. But it was so much fun.

I'm going to have two more days there: October 26 and November 2. If you live in the DC area, come by and say hi!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

a better Monday

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly realized that my weekends in Fall were almost totally booked, but I hadn't made time for camping in the mountains, which is an autumn must for me. So I ditched work one day and spent Sunday and Monday here:

with these guys:

We saw more deer than I could count:

We also ran into a full-grown black bear in the woods in the dark on the trail back to our tent:
{image unavailable due to I was walking too fast in the opposite direction and forget to take out my camera}

For breakfast we had sausages slow-roasted over charcoal and Graham crackers with apple butter I had bought for a little roadside stand on the way out (and homemade apple cider from the same stand):

(Aaron is so proud of the new camp sporks we bought just for the occasion.)

We hiked, just a teensy bit:

And took our sweet time getting back into the city. We stopped at a diner on the highway that we always see and I've always wanted to try:

(the Double Cheeseburger was good, the milkshake was okay, but Jared tells me the buffalo burger is definitely NOT worth the money.)

It's almost Fall in Shenandoah. Probably next weekend will be breathtaking:

It's not like I'm having a particularly bad Monday right now. It's just that, how can you beat that?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a small gift

One of my very favorite things about my job is that I get to work with so many interesting, kind, hilarious, brilliant people. I love my professors and wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

One of the people I've really gotten close to is a wonderful adjunct professor who also happens to be a Buddhist nun. She and I have worked on a couple of very big conferences together and she is such a patient, hardworking and longsuffering person (as you might expect), not to mention the fact that she is constantly in the process of translating some ancient Tibetan literature into English, which is mind-boggling/awesome to me. I had been wanting to give her a gift, something handmade, but kept running out of time or ideas, so I was a little bit embarassed as well as flattered when she asked me to make her a hat like my Parisienne caps, but in a color that she could wear (they're only allowed to wear Burgundy or Gold). It took a lot of searching but we finally found a suitable color and I ordered a lot just to make sure I had enough. I tried to give her the hat as a gift but she wouldn't hear of it. Fortunately though I had a whole skein of the yarn left over, so I found this pattern and thought it would be perfect.

The first step was easy enough; the pattern was clearly written and I worked it up in maybe two afternoons; no sweat. Then I arranged it on a mixing bowl for a mold to see what it would end up looking like:

(that cloth it's sitting on is a Nepali brocade that my friend gave me after our last conference as a thank you gift)

Looks great, right?
Then it needs to be starched; both because I was/am broke and because I don't know where to buy commercial fabric stiffener, I opted for the homemade formula listed with the pattern. Sugar and water, soak it, let it dry, three days and you have a bowl! What could be easier! Except:
It really looked like a kindergarten craft project that had been drizzled in Elmer's glue. It was um a little bit heartbreaking. There is something very, very wrong with the formula for that homemade stiffener. I'm assuming it has to do with the complete wrong proportion of sugar to water, but since I have not a clue how to fix that proportion or what would be the correct way to do this, the only thing I can recommend is to AVOID THE HOMEMADE STIFFENER. Bad. Bad bad.
I finally calmed down and decided to try to fix it instead of tossing it and starting all over again. It took three weeks of careful wiping with a damp washcloth, drying for two days, wiping the other side, drying for two days, and repeat, but I finally have something that looks like a gift a grownup might give to another grownup:

I'm really really happy with it and I can't wait to give it to her this afternoon!

So the moral of this story is, this pattern is wonderful, but PLEASE spring for the commercial stiffener, unless you're really looking forward to producing a big sticky crusty awful mess :)

By the way, when I gave Ani her hat, she said a quick blessing in Tibetan over it, which she said is traditional before putting on a new piece of clothing, to commemorate all the work that went into it. Which is hands-down the best thanks I've ever gotten for anything.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Best Friend

A few months ago, one of my best friends, who lives far away, sent me a picture of a ski cap she saw somewhere and asked if I could make something similar. Having learned (and fallen in love with) crocheted ribbing from Celeste's fabulous City Girl Cap pattern, I got really excited about designing something for a friend. And thus, the Best Friend Beanie was born.

A few weeks ago (still blazing summer weather in DC) my best guy friend and I did a photo shoot with all of the beanies I had made for my etsy store for Fall:

One nice thing about having Jared model is that, of course, he is a beautiful boy. He's just astoundingly photogenic. Which is almost a shame because inevitably 80% of the photos I take have me in the middle of talking or sneezing or sneering or looking dubious or are otherwise unusable, so I ruined a whole lot of good Jared pictures :)

Another nice thing is that Jared's head was made to wear beanies. I've never seen a beanie that didn't love Jared. He was actually known to some of my acquaintances as "your friend who always wears the hat." They're kind of his thing.
A few years ago I was living in St. Petersburg. I was cold and miserable and homesick as hell. I went to check my e-mail and there was a link to a video. On the video was Jared's face. "Hey Allison," he said, smiling his perma-smile, "guess what time it is?" He reached off camera, made an "are you ready??" face, and pulled on one of his ubiquitous beanies. He pointed at his head and did a dance and sang "beanieweathertimebeanieweathertime!" and laughed like he does.
That was how I knew that it was Fall back home, and also how I was reminded, yet again, how much I love my best friends.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Full Disclosure

The heat index was 98 degrees when we took these photos yesterday. And yes, I was miserable.

But I had bought a spot in the Etsy Fall Fashion Showcase so I needed some Fall things up. I was patient with DC weather for two weeks; the mercury was slowly dropping into the pleasant high 60's, and then...well, Summer hadn't finished tormenting us yet apparently.
(You'll notice that if it were actually as cold as that scarf would merit, my legs and feet would be frostbitten, but I refused to walk outside in knee-high boots in the 80% humidity...)

Just looking at these pictures makes me crave Fall. Please please please, have mercy on me, Climate!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I've been a busy girl

I promise.

I've been crocheting up a storm, not to mention my little 10-day jaunt to the UK (oh how fabulous). But I've somehow met all of my project goals, and over Labor Day weekend finished up everything I wanted to have finished up.

After learning is discontinuing the glittery-fab yarn I made scarves out of, I frantically bought up a couple of bags full and made a few more scarves; I'm saving the rest for something bigger later. Got photos of the new colors, and re-did the old color so everything would be uniform:

Those are up on etsy starting today.

I also finished a slew of hats for the fall, and did a photo shoot of those on Sunday with my best guy friend, I really can't wait to see how those come out.

AND, I finished up a prototype of a new scarf design for fall, which I'm really really excited about. In that way that one gets excited when an idea actually turns out as cool as it was meant to be, which I'm discovering only happens about 20% of the time with me so I'm really trying to savor it ;) So I'll be making a few scarves as soon as the yarn gets here. In the meantime, I'm enjoying a little bit of "fun" crocheting for the first time in...a while. And by fun I mean the afghan I started for my grandma for Christmas. A full-size afghan in three months on top of all of the other million projects I'm anticipating? No sweat (eeeek)

I found something really exciting this morning. In my etsy store I'd been getting a whole lot of un-looked-for hearts, and I didn't see myself in a treasury so I couldn't figure it out, until I saw this scroll across the bottom of the front page. Holy. Cow. I squealed, at work. Fortunately I was the only person in the office at the time. I am so so so flattered and excited. Geez. It's not on the front page any more, but STILL. Holy cow.

Monday, July 28, 2008

And Many More

Today is my birthday. I am a whole quarter-century old as of this afternoon.

In some ways I don’t feel like this day is different because it’s a Monday and I’m at work. But I figured I should take a pause to do some reflecting. My friend Gwen made a list of 34 goals for her 34th birthday, which I was considering doing, but instead I have made a list of my 24 happiest memories of my 24th year. Which would have been probably more appropriate to write last night, as sort of a farewell to that year, but…I was eating brownies last night. No time for blogging.

And so, in no particular order, are my top 24:

1. Visit to Colorado. Two weeks ago, as an early birthday present, I got whisked off to Colorado Springs to be with my girls. The first time in 5 years we’d all four been together, as a unit, which we are in spirit. Those 2 days probably had 24 happiest memories in themselves.

2. Anne moving to DC. I missed her. I love having her close.

3. Jan’s visit to DC. See above.

4. Andrew and his wife visiting/ASP Reunion. Getting to sit in the same place with Andrew and Colleen was amazing. Getting to have a beer with Andrew at my neighborhood bar was…perfect. I love my Harlan family.

5. Spending Thanksgiving with Robin & Co. Turned my perpetually least-favorite holiday into a fantastic and wonderful weekend. I don’t remember the last time I’ve spent so much time with complete strangers and felt so comfortable. And Robin’s futon and dachshund give me joy in equal measure.

6. Getting to spend time with my brother, both over Christmas and for his 22nd birthday. Those times will always make my top list.

7. Halloween. Which is really to say, any amount of time I spent at Tonic in general, but that one night was particularly memorable. Jared might argue that it was negatively memorable, but I sure had a good time J

8. Road trip to Vermont in the fall. For all of the reasons that trip would be awesome to anyone, but with the added bonus of Kevin and Chelsea (and their menagerie), road time with Aaron, and pumpkin pancakes with local maple syrup. When I think about that I feel the air temperature hit that perfect autumn-in-New-England note. Perfect perfect.

9. National Aquarium in Baltimore, for Aaron’s birthday present. We went to the Dolphin Show. No, you don’t have to be a small child to find it amazing.

10. Camping in Shenandoah. The first time was a near disaster that was actually really great. The second time was really great despite my near-death experience exploring the limits of my own hiking exhaustion. Camp food. Mountains. Bears. Dozens of deer.

11. Calling in sick to work and spending the whole day going to the movies with Aaron and playing in the city. (Shhhh don’t tell)

12. Letting Philadelphia grow on me. It does indeed have character. I’m finally learning to love it. (and trying Philly cheesesteaks, that’s a singular top memory)

13. Seeing the Tragically Hip. Twice. Year 25 promises to be even more stunning than 24 as far as concerts goes, but it really takes a lot to top the Hip.

14. Seeing R.E.M. Which got a boost from the presence of Johnny Marr. I was a complete fangirl wreck.

15. Finally working up the guts to get involved in my local Stitch ‘n’ Bitch. Turns out drinking beer and crocheting with interesting, funny, smart people my age is pretty much my number one way to spend a Tuesday.

16. Developing my own crochet designs. I’m inordinately proud.

17. Opening my own etsy store. (and making my second sale this morning for my birthday!)

18. Getting a new job. Loving my new job.

19. New job led to two other related happy memories: getting to organize, facilitate, and manage two Colloquia on Buddhism, and being invited to attend a farewell dinner party for a faculty member. There are smart people who work here who treat me with respect, and will actually have conversations with me. I’ve learned so much just by osmosis.

20. Kayaking on the Potomac after sneaking out of work early. No one’s out on the weekdays, except for the crews but they come later. Just me and the river. Saw two deer (!) gracefully walking to the edge of Roosevelt Island to get a drink of water. Became so entranced that I forgot what time it was and had to paddle so hard to get back to the boathouse on time that I wore blisters on both hands and my shoulders ached for days.

21. Learning to sail. Impressing my sailing certification test instructor. Talking to my dad about sailing.

22. Watching television shows with Aaron. Which is an ongoing activity and may or may not involve brownies, but it’s the couch time and Aaron time which I love.

23. Seeing a chipmunk at the zoo. No, the chipmunk was not in an exhibit. He just ran across our path as we were walking to the lizard house. I had never seen a chipmunk for real before and I got a little overexcited. Fortunately Aaron did too. We have pictures. (that memory is happy mostly because of Aaron, it really has very little to do with the chipmunk)

24. Rehoboth Beach. We went there on Saturday. This year started and ended with a beach. Last year Anne had come for our birthdays for a visit and we went to Ocean City, and I remember looking into the ocean at the end of the day and tearing up, because I knew she was going to leave soon. This year our beach evening ended with some Mexican beers with my DC Foursome (including Anne), and then a little skeeball, for which I won a stuffed sea turtle.

I think it’s a good sign that this blog post is so infernally long. I’m being brief too.

Thank you Year 24! You were so good to me!

Monday, July 21, 2008

a milestone!

Today I got my 100th Heart on Etsy!!

I feel loved. :) That's such a nice round number.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer time, and the living...

As my dear boyfriend keeps reminding me, 95degrees Fahrenheit is not what most people think of as "crochet weather".
But I have managed to come up with a couple of designs that I am really proud of for the summer!

This wrap is made in 100% linen, which is very much the fiber-of-the-season, and the colors are just gorgeous (I can brag because I didn't make the yarn, just used someone else's genius!)

This one actually got me on the front page of Etsy! I was so thrilled I called my parents to make them look!

My guest blog for Carnival is yet to post, but when it does I'll let you know, it's actually all about the challenge of designing crocheted things for summer, and the loveliness that is available in all seasons. I'm looking forward to my post!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

new store!

I have recently discovered DaWanda, which is a sort of Etsy-like enterprise but with a slightly different feel. It's smaller, and based in Europe, and seems to be a little more geared towards high-ticket items. It's a fun site to poke around, and on the recommendation of some other Etsy users, I decided to open a shop there too! Hey the more exposure the better, right?
Here it is:

In other news, I've been invited to be a guest blogger for a fellow Etsy seller, carnival!! I'm really excited to be chosen, and will give you more updates as the time for my column gets closer. Meanwhile, check out her eye-popping blog.

Friday, June 6, 2008

featured in a Treasury!!

I'm trying to minimize the use of exclamation points, which is hard because I'm really excited! (!!)

I just found myself featured in a Treasury on Etsy! Please click here to view (it's a gorgeous treasury based around a Eggplant/Plum/Maroon color scheme) and leave a comment.

Yay! (!!!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

of photo shoots and bright hats

Just got back from a trip back to ye olde country, aka Oklahoma. My goal now is to start promoting the heck out of my etsy shop!

Since my last post, I have added hats to my lineup. I've had these "in stock" for quite a while but finding a time to get the photos I wanted of them proved to be a major obstacle; but after almost a month of attempts, my best friend Anne and I managed to find the perfect afternoon in Dupont Circle to do a photo shoot. If I look way cooler than I am, it's because the wonderful Aaron is a very talented photographer (and took over 400 pictures just to make sure he got some decent ones.) I love how the hats look on Anne, with that thick long hair of hers, and her dark features. Here is a sample, more at the link above:

Oh, how I love the greens in this photo:

The photo shoot was way more fun with a friend helping.

Other than that, summer is in full swing, which means I'm still experimenting with ways to create crocheted items, typically reserved for chillier months, into fashionable designs for warm (if you're a DC resident, read: miserable) days. I think I've hit upon something I really like, so stay tuned :)