Friday, October 23, 2009

another year

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Jared and I got together to do a photo shoot for my new batch of Best Friend Beanies. It's the same friend from last Fall's shoot, for three reasons:
1) he actually is my best friend
2) the beanies are unisex, so I like showing them on both a guy and a girl, and
3) Jared takes good pictures.

I've known Jared for...probably close to 8 years now. When you're that close to a person for so long, you obviously don't notice them aging, but looking back at photos from when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore always make us laugh and say "we look like babies." So clearly there is some boundary there, some quantifiable period of time that changes you from younger-than-you-are to as-old-as-you-are. What is that boundary? Does anyone know? Does it change the older you get?

Here we are at almost this exact time last year:

And here we are now:

With the rather obvious exception of one of us growing copious facial hair, do we look different? Is there another year in our faces? It's hard for me to tell.

Not that it matters. We're know. Us.
It took us I think five takes to keep straight faces for this shot, we kept cracking up. But I think it was worth it. This picture obviously has "we are awesome" written all over it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ayn Rand, a summary

I feel like this blog post was a little disorganized and clearly written as a kneejerk reaction instead of well-thought-out. So I want to write a summary, and here it is:

I don't believe that life is a zero-sum game among people. And even if it is I don't believe that that is any way to live.
and also Ayn Rand is a terrible, terrible writer

There. End of all discussion of Ayn Rand for all time.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I try not to rant about things, both because it's usually pointless and also because I don't want to offend anybody by coming down on the opposite side of a controversial issue, but I just read this article on the Daily Beast about how Ayn Rand is "in" and fashion designers are so inspired by her writing and/or philosophy that they are designing whole collections "inspired" by her. So I feel I really must comment, and my comment is this:

I hate Ayn Rand.

I mean, HATE. Really really.

Maybe not as a person, I mean after all I never met the lady. But if she was anything like her characters, she was probably a complete a*hole as well.

First of all, she is a bad writer. Has no one realized this yet? She is terrible. I think I've even read direct quotes from her along the lines of "fiction is not my strong suit." No kidding. The characters, the "heroes" that everyone quotes/looks up to/wants to dress like (?) are two-dimensional and absurd, to say the least; the dialogue is stilted or non-existent; the exposition is predictable or non-existent...everything that you might hope for in a novel is either completely butchered or completely missing. I'm basing this on my struggle to read The Fountainhead. To be fair, I only made it halfway through before giving up entirely, but really once you've read about 650 pages, it's probably not going to get any better from there.

Side note: in that article, Ralph Lauren is quoted as saying that Ayn Rand is his favorite author, "along with Ernest Hemingway." Aaron pointed out that this is like saying Bryan Adams is your favorite musician, along with the Rolling Stones. hahaha (apologies to any hard-core Bryan Adams fans out there.)

And of course, the main character ("hero") of any Ayn Rand novel is a Rugged Individual, a Person Who Does Not Let Society Dictate, and also A Complete Jerk. That's what it boils down to, which gets down to the larger problem I have with Ayn Rand, which is that I completely disagree with her philosophy. And that's all her (awful, terrible) novels are, just (extremely long) novelizations of her one-note, self-absorbed philosophy.

I do understand the context from which this philosophy developed. I understand that spending your childhood oppressed under a Communist regime might give you a different perspective on society than the one that I currently have. But.

I have never encountered someone who espoused such a selfish, bitter, grasping worldview, who wasn't himself or herself selfish, bitter, isolated and discontent. The wise people of the world and of history (see: Dalai Lama, for one) have always said "we are dependent upon each other. To believe or act otherwise is ignorance." I cannot think of a single faith tradition that does not teach this. I cannot think of an example where "peace" and "cooperation" don't go hand-in-hand.

Of course I believe that we should be free to pursue happiness, that we should be able to express ourselves, that we should develop ourselves as individuals. But the Rand philosophy, especially as developed and lauded by later followers I think, has a serious flaw: by trying to diametrically oppose oppression and stagnation, it has brought into its scope a complete opposition to altruism, compassion, empathy, short, all of the things that, I believe at least, make us human. Or at least, make being a human worth anything at all.

I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist church. "So, what exactly do you believe?" is a question that always follows this statement. It can be hard to explain, sometimes, and to some people. But there are 7 Core Beliefs which the UU church espouses, and one that always sticks with me is this: "I believe in the interconnected web of all being."

So it bothers me that in this time where we struggle, when we need each other most, that we look to heroes who believe the opposite.

I probably shouldn't let an article on "Sexy Beast" get me so worked up, but there it is.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What a day to forget my camera.

My job doesn't pay very well. But it does come with some perks. The professors I work for/with are brilliant and most of them are also kind and encouraging. I learn something new about religion and/or academia everyday. I get book recommendations and frequent book loans. I'm getting to take a class in ancient Greek even though I'm not in school.

And then, yesterday, one of the professors had a meeting she had to go to, so she couldn't go to the afternoon session of a conference that was in town, so she gave me her ticket. To go see this guy:
Um yes that is the Dalai Lama. (The 14th Dalai Lama, to be exact.)

The Mind and Life Institute was having its annual conference in DC at a Hall about four blocks from my office. So I just, you know, took a long lunch and went to hear several leading neuroscientists and developmental psychologists chat with the Dalai Lama about education.

That's...a pretty big perk.

(and goshdarnit if I hadn't taken my camera out of my purse and left it at home...dangit)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crafty Boy

For my birthday this year Aaron gave me a new carry-on bag, and inside the bag was a new swimsuit and a note to pack accordingly. He was whisking me off for a week in...?? It was a surprise. I'm not sure if I was more excited or frustrated. I almost convinced him to tell me where we were going, but at the last minute I decided I would regret it so I just let it be a surprise. I had to wait three whole weeks to find out. He kept telling me that I would find out whenever we got to the airport...he failed to mention that we had a connecting flight, so I went to the DC airport all excited and ready to find out where we were going and he hands me a boarding pass foooooor ...Charlotte, NC. Um. My frustration mounted.

Anyway, the point is, another flight and a few hours later, we ended up here:

In case that huge Red Stripe advertisement and the insanely turquoise sea didn't tip you off, that's Jamaica.

Jamaica! And entire week in Jamaica! Oh yes, it was amazing. Our hotel was on the cliffs, so every morning we would come downstairs and get some fresh Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee,

and then take a dip in our gorgeous private swimming hole.

The place we were staying was called Blue Cave Castle (for reals!)

and when we were coming back from snorkeling our boat was followed by dolphins (for reals!)

And there was seaside/seagoing horseback riding (did you know horses can swim with their riders clinging to them??)
And unbelievable food and gorgeous sunsets.

And cocktails and rum cream and Red Stripe. Lots of Red Stripe (yes I took several pictures of my many Red Stripe bottles. I'll spare you.)

And then, on the next-to-the-last day, this happened:

Do you see that ring? At first I couldn't tell if he meant it because it wasn't a diamond and also because I was 100% surprised, and I kept saying "Really?!? Are you sure???!"
And then I started breathing again and I managed to say yes :)
So yes, the ring, ah, the ring. Isn't it lovely? It's handmade by this couple who lives in the forest in Canada; Aaron had it custom-designed so no one in the world has anything like it. There's this very thin inlay of lighter wood around the band, do you see it? I have no idea how human hands can make something like it. But, it's perfect.

So, what we have learned is that Aaron* is extremely good at plotting and secret-keeping (he later said he'd been planning this trip since March or April). And also that he is pretty romantic. And crafty.
And also I'm about to become that girl that can only ever talk about wedding things. Yippee!

*my future husband! Holy cow!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Free wedding garter patterns!

One of my dear friends at Stitch 'n' Bitch is Juli. She is simultaneously a mom, a small business owner, and one of the most stylish people I've ever known. Her business is selling fabulous, unique, 100% handmade wedding garters. How cute is that??

Recently Juli decided to offer free garter patterns on her website; she designed her own knit garter, and then we worked together to design a crochet version. Both versions are super-simple, super-cheap, and, I think, pretty adorable as well. We had looked around for the right yarn together but in the end Juli came up with the idea to use ribbon, which really sells it for me.
What do you think? (check out the knitted one too, the ribbon is precious)

If you don't have any imminent need for a handmade wedding garter, be sure to check out Juli's blog anyway; she's starting to offer a weekly style column which I'm really excited about.

I'm making some changes to this blog, did you notice? I'm still working some things out but I hope you like it. I feel like I'm in a season of big changes/improvements...more on that soon ;)

Friday, September 4, 2009

We knit because we love it.

You know how they say there's a difference between a "process knitter/crocheter" and a "project knitter/crocheter"? I'm almost 100% project-oriented.

That's not to say that I don't enjoy the feeling of the stitches, or having something to do with my hands, or seeing the piece come together as I'm working on it. I love and adore those things. It's just that I only ever pick projects that I want to have. I don't pick things to work on to learn new techniques or stitch patterns; if I learn those in the process of making something beautiful, that's fine. But I'm always oriented towards the end product.
(This is true of everything in my life actually. I'd be much happier if I were more Zen about things. But I digress.)

This has the tendency to make me a very impatient crafter. I have a very low tolerance for a large swath of boring repetitive stitches to slog through. And, since my goal is to have a beautiful end-product, I have very, very little patience with myself when it comes to making mistakes or executing new things imperfectly.

On the other side of the personality spectrum is my knitter/crocheter/yogi friend Elspeth. She taught herself to knit...left-handed. And working side-to-side instead of turning the work. Basically she made it up as she went along and worked it out and she makes beautiful things, but more importantly she loves doing it.
This makes her a patient, happy, fearless crafter.
(This is also pretty much true of everything in her life. Is knitting always a microcosm of personality?)

One night at Stitch 'n' Bitch a fellow knitter was having one of those familiar breakdowns, frustrated and aggravated and ready to throw the darn thing against the wall and snap the needles over her leg (surely we can all relate). Elspeth looked up from her (patient, happy) stitching and said, calmly and cheerfully, "Remember! We knit because we love it!"

I am officially attempting to adopt this as my crafting motto. Or mantra, more appropriately.

A few weeks ago Elspeth moved to Boston to start grad school. (I think we're all a little or a lot heartbroken. But obviously also excited and happy for her.) In SnB DC tradition we all secretly made squares to put together a blanket for her as a farewell gift.
Traditionally when these things get made, what happens is everybody knits squares, and since I, up until recently, was a pure crocheter (pure non-knitter), I would crochet the border and that's all I would contribute. I was always happy to have some little piece I could contribute. But this time I could really knit! I was told that others would be crocheting their squares, so I could "just crochet some too", but I was determined.

I am not a skilled knitter; I knew that everyone else's would be a lot fancier, a lot more interesting, a lot, well, better. But I wanted to show what I could do, even if it wasn't much.
So I made these:

(apologies for the cruddy pictures, I only managed to get them when they were blocking in my dark basement)

The one on the left is eyelet lace. I do realize this is the easiest lace pattern on the planet, but man when I figured out how to do it I was so stinking proud of myself. Seriously. I e-mailed people to brag. So I know it's not that fancy. But Elspeth is the one who told me that lace was hard but I should do it. She's never considered anything too difficult not to try, including joining the Peace Corps (which I admit would scare me quite a bit) and teaching herself to knit on dpns (which terrifies me). So in honor of her I tried something new, just to see if I could.

And it turns out I can.

We miss you Elspeth. Happy first week of grad school!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

to have and to hold

A few weeks ago, one of my oldest and very best friends got married.

As most crafters I'm sure can agree, this kind of major event can cause one to go a little bananas. The day she told me she got engaged I started searching for patterns (I finally picked this one); I started ordering yarn that week. I wanted something beautiful, unique, slightly ambitious, luxurious. I wanted something that could become an heirloom. As my dismayed boyfriend watched the yarn pile up around me and the blanket squares multiply, all I could say to him was, "You're lucky none of my friends have gotten pregnant yet. Then you're in real trouble."

I have to say I was a little worried that what I was making just wasn't quite good enough, not quite special enough. How can I accurately reflect all the years we've had together, all the nights talking and the trips and the parties and the tears and [yes this is a very sentimental blog post] in one single little gift?
I've known Anne since we lived across the hall from each other as freshmen in college.
Since then we've criss-crossed the globe, sometimes together and sometimes only in parallel. We had crushes on boys (sometimes the same ones.) We went to school. We graduated and got jobs. We grew up (although somedays I feel like I, for one, have a lot more to do in that department.)

So I worked my little fingers to the bone, hoping to create something perfect. The squares were coming out all weird and warped and I was worried. The yarn (a wool/bamboo blend) felt a little too...fibery, in some parts. The color was listed as "polar white" which is exactly what I wanted, but when it arrived I discovered it was more of an ecru color...I panicked about that too.

Then I started blocking all of the squares and oh. my. god.

I have blocked things before, but never before this project have I experienced just what a transformation it could be. The squares turned into...squares. The flowers looked like flowers. The yarn turned into this unbelievably soft, exquisitely silky material. The color looked exactly like champagne, with an added bit of sheen from the bamboo. I love you, blocking.

I was so excited about the project at this point that I spent seven, yes, seven total hours seaming the thing over the course of two days, because I was so excited to give it to her.

She took pictures when she got the blanket home:

I am so, so happy with that. Those pictures make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That blanket laying across that warm yellow comforter is how I imagine Anne and Ben's guest room looking someday, the place where I will stay when I come to visit, wherever they are, wherever I've been.
I really hope Anne and Ben love it.

I love you girls.

Happy wedding Anne!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Letting go of project guilt

I have a confession to make. I hate "finishing". I hate doing anything to my projects other than stitching them. That's the fun part. Sewing on buttons, seaming, weaving in ends, etc., all those little "finishing" details, drive me nuts and make me seek out seamless, buttonless patterns. The moment I hit a button-sewing obstacle I become the world's laziest crafter.

Ravelry is doing a lot to show me just how incredibly lazy I can really be. I have a skirt that I made from the CrochetMe book.
"in progress" shot...ha

I vaguely remember working on it...once...long ago. I remember crocheting it, I remember it being all-but-finished. Ends woven in and everything, just needs some buttons. It's been sitting in my Ravelry projects at 95%, just waiting for buttons. I've been pointedly ignoring it. It was actually sitting in a box hidden away behind my couch. Last week I decided to look through my projects and Ravelry tells me that that poor skirt has been waiting for a button since March 2008. Oh Jesus. Yes I am that bad.

It was then that I realized, "oh wait I hate this skirt". That's why it's been so long. That's why it's hiding. I would have sewn on a button by now (surely, right?) if I had liked it at all. But as soon as I was done with the crocheting I suddenly had this insight: "Why on earth would I have ever thought that a thick, shapeless mini-skirt crocheted in acrylic be at all flattering on me?" Seriously? Crafter, know thyself! Wrapping a pound of heavy-duty Red Heart around my, let's say "generous", thighsection is probably the worst possible clothing choice I could make.

I want to be clear, I have no problem with the design itself. It worked up fast, it was cheap, it looks fine, it's a perfect beginner project, and it turned out exactly as the designer intended: a cheap, durable skirt for someone adorably petite to wear while bike-riding. I was lured into making it for myself because it looks so damn cute on the model in the book; the problem is, it looks so damn cute on the model in the book because she's the model in the book.

So for over a year I've had this project sitting there, making me feel guilty every time I take up another project, ruining my crafty self-esteem and threatening to wreak havoc (again) on my body image.

This is Knit(or Crochet) for Yourself June (per declaration of Katie), so in the spirit of that, I am officially tossing this project! Frogged! Ripped! (Thrown away!) I believe this is in the spirit of the month.
I am now an un-project-burdened girl.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Congratulate me! I did not poke my eyes out!

I've been meaning to learn to knit for many many moons. This year I resolved to actually do it. I probably wouldn't have stuck with it very well except my friend Katie dared me to give up not-knitting at Stitch and Bitch for Lent. I'm not sure that's the kind of thing Jesus or the Catholic Church would have in mind, but I stuck with it. And just as Easter Sunday was winding down:
Yayayay! I did it!

To be fair, that shrug is just...awful. I mean, the pattern is cute as hell, and I actually ended up really liking the yarn I used for it. But. There are all kinds of uneven stitches, yarn overs in the wrong places or extra yarn overs or shifted yarn overs, increases and decreases randomly (and all accidentally) placed, etc etc. As one might expect from one's very very first knitted project.

But I'm really proud that I finished it! I'm also really proud that I did not, as I had threatened so frequently, poke my eyes out with my size 11 needles.

This project, if nothing else, will always be a souvenir of SnB to me. Like a patchwork quilt. Gwen taught me the long-tail cast-on, Katie taught me how to actually make a knit stitch (I was doing it wrong), Elspeth taught me how to tink back, Kelly (who I barely knew at the time) taught me how to yarnover, Tanya (who I also barely knew at the time) donated stitch markers, Beth helped me learn how to bind off. Those are just the specific examples. Basically every person in this group that I love so much is somewhere in that (tiny, misshapen) shrug of mine, so for that reason alone I will always treasure it.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Oh, praises be, she is done.

This is the blanket I have been working on since January 2008, got terribly behind on, and spent the first part of 2009 dreading. I finally buckled down and worked through it, and it's done. D.O.N.E.

And yes, it was exactly as much of a pain in the butt to join as I was dreading it would be. Many, many hours of joining.
If you are considering doing a similar CAL or KAL or some such, here is a piece of advice I wish I had been given: the number of stitches along a side is WAY more important than the rough size of the square. Meaning, for every month I made squares and was careful to add or subtract rows so that they would be about 12" across. And then when I got to the joining, I ran into this nightmare: one square would be 47 stitches across, and the one I was joining it to would be 36. And the next one would be 42. And so on. So it wasn't even mindless crocheting, because I had to count each time and do careful math so that I would space out the joining stitches evenly, in order to avoid wonky seaming. It was quite the headache.
Also, squares in this gauge are pliable and will stretch a little to fit into the right size. So really, if you are making an afghan with different types of squares, please heed my warning and try to make the stitches the same, and worry less about the exact size.

This is just a simple sc join, first joining the squares width-wise and then going back length-wise, if that makes sense. It was the fastest method I could think of (hah) and also used the least amount of yarn, considering I was very much running out of the white. There's a simple sc edging around. I was thinking about adding more edging, in another color, to give it a bolder border, at which point my harried boyfriend gestured wildly and said STOP and so I did.

It's done it's done it's done!!
Now I have a beeeeautiful and warm and heavy and huge afghan, and I can make other projects with no UFO guilt!
Oh I can't wait to have my first house guest. I'm going to insist they sleep under this blanket, no matter how warm it might be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beth's comment + design notes

My friend Beth is one of the most organized and level-headed people I know. Read this:

"when I have to cast-on (or chain) so many stitches for a project, I often place stitch markers every 25 or 50 stitches so that I don't have to keep re-counting those beginning sections more than two or three times."

That was in response to the Madness Note at the end of the pattern in this post. I swear to you this strategy had never occurred to me. I usually just grit my teeth and try to power through and pray no one interrupts me. So um please use Beth's method, not mine, if you want further sanity preservation.

Beth also asked if crocheted scarves are usually done length-wise as opposed to width-wise. I want to say that I don't think this is the case; most of the patterns I've worked with have been width-wise. But for the both of the scarves that I've designed here, I knew that the length was more important than the width; I wanted length to be a prominent design element of each. Also, the seed stitch, which I used for Snow Angel, and its variant which I used for Frosty, are very stretchy heightwise, and less so widthwise. I wanted my scarves to be flexible and soft when wrapping around your neck, but I also knew that if they stretch lengthwise they would have a tendency to thin out in the middle, right where you need the most warmth; so for those two reasons I chose to design both of them oriented the way they are.

That's a long-winded answer, hope you like it :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Allow me to introduce Frosty, a new scarf design!

I am wearing this scarf right now. No, it's not that cold, but I love this scarf. It's the length that really sells it for me. It feels very stylish, and the yarn is so soft. It's the same yarn as my Snow Angel scarf, so the same yarn notes apply.

For those of you on ravelry, I hope to have both of these scarves available as free pdf downloads in the next couple of days.

A big, HUGE thanks to my wonderful pattern testers, Erin, Suzen, and Ann-Marie!

I hope you enjoy!

Frosty” Scarf

The color of this warm winter scarf reminded me of the coal eyes of a child’s snowman. The subtle texture emphasizes the softness of the yarn and makes the scarf thick and cozy, without being too heavy.

Materials: I Love This Yarn! (distributed by Hobby Lobby) 100% acrylic, 355 yds/198

grams: 1 skein, Black. (or 350 yds other soft, bulkier-weight worsted)

M hook

N hook

yarn needle

Gauge: not really important

Finished size: about 4” x 104”

Special stitches:

Seed stitch

Seed Spike stitch (sdsp): in seed stitch pattern, dc into ch-1 sp two rows below,

overlapping sc immediately below.(note: in .pdf version, charts will be included to explain this stitch)

With M hook, ch 252 LOOSELY (see notes below). Switch to N hook.

Row 1: Sc into second ch from hook; sc into remaining ch; 251 sc.

Row 2: Ch 1 (count as 1st sc now & throughout), sc in next 2 sc, * ch 1, sk next sc, sc into next sc*, repeat from * to * until 2 sc remain, sc into each of last 2 sc. (123 ch-1 sp).

Row 3: Ch 1, sc in next sc, *ch 1, sk next sc, sc into next ch-1 sp*, repeat from * to * until 3 sc remain, ch 1, sk next sc, sc into each of last 2 sc.

Row 4: Ch 1, sc into each of next 2 sc, *dc into Row 2 ch-1 sp (sdsp made), sc into next ch-1 sp*, repeat from * to * until 2 sc remain, sc into each of next 2 sc.

Rows 5-13: Repeat Rows 2-4 three times.

Row 14: With M hook, sc in each st across. Fasten off.

Sizing note: The pattern as written will produce an extra-extra-long scarf, which is part of what I love about it. If you want to re-size it, just calculate any odd number + 5 for the base chain.

Madness note: I understand that chaining 252 without losing count can be insanity-inducing. Trust me, I know. I strongly recommend going into a room where you can shut the door (especially a sound-proof room) before attempting this. I think it’s worth the effort! And everything after this is a piece of cake in comparison.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

that being said...

It's not like I haven't been doing other things, despite the massive amounts of afghan homework I have to do.

After finishing up my beautiful sweater which I love so much, I immediately ordered yarn for another project from Everyday Crochet. Really once you get the hang of the construction, it's SO addictive. So speedy and satisfying. So I decided to do the "Eve's Rib Tunic", for three reasons:
1) it's been my favorite pattern since the first time I browsed through the book,
2) Winter is showing no signs of retreating and I'm really, really tired of wearing the same 3 sweaters over and over again, and
3) my friend Gwen is constantly producing lovely little knitted tops and tees and tunics and wearing them over long-sleeve shirts and I decided to shamelessly copy her look.
And here is the result:

I made a few small modifications. For one thing, since I wanted this to be a cozy cold-weather garment, I changed the shell pattern from the stated (dc, ch 2, dc, ch 2, dc) to (2dc, ch 1, dc, ch 1, 2dc), just to add a little more fabric. This had the effect of give the shells a slightly raised texture, which was unintended but I actually like it. It adds to the coziness.
(it's hard to tell in the pictures)

Also, I not only added the bust short rows, but I then tapered 2 shells (from 18 repeats to 16, if I remember correctly) to give it some waist shaping, and then followed the hip shaping as written.
I was debating about the arm ribbing, but I am really glad I added it, it gives it a nice finished feel.

The yarn I used was Superwash "Chunky", which I assumed meant it would be sorta worsted-y and I was right. C'est la All the same, this yarn in this stitch and at this gauge makes for a lovely, huggy, squishy garment, exactly what I was looking for.
If you're wondering, this is I guess my attempt at looking cool. Obviously that is not my strong suit. My face says ennui, but in my heart is nothing but love love love for the vest.

Thank you, as always, Ms. Chan.

Monday, March 2, 2009

no fun

Last year in January I joined up with the 12" Blanket Square crochet-along run simultaneously through Craftster and Ravelry. The theory is that you make 1 of these squares a month and you'll end up with a 3' x 4' blanket, or if you're more ambitious/foolhardy and want a full-size afghan, you make two.
At first it was so much fun! A new square to look forward to every month! Plus, since you're working as you go, you don't end up with a million ends to weave in when it's time to assemble everything! Plus, how long could it take you to make two blanket squares? Honestly?
Unfortunately in the summer I got really really tied up with making Fall inventory for Etsy and building up stock for my Eastern Market booth, so the July squares got done in August. And then the August squares got done in...maybe October. And then Christmas gift-making happened and oy...
So I started 2009 with 1/3 of a blanket to complete that was supposed to have been completed already. And now it is just no fun at all. It takes a lot of discipline on my part to work on those. And then there's the assembling, and one of my squares is all funny-shaped so I may have to do it again...And it is March. Of the following year. Blargh.

So even though I don't have a lot of Etsy things to do and I have finally finished with a couple of design submissions and I have all the time in the world finally to make fun things, I have this task that I have to accomplish. And I don't want to. But hell I've put so much work into it already.

In college if I was supposed to have finished a paper but instead went out with my friends I would feel a faint haze of guilt in the background of every quesadilla/beer. That's kinda what this feels like (yes, I have issues.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Guess what this is??

It's my very first design submission!

Okay technically I sent in another design last week but it was all electronic so it didn't feel as real as this lovely, tangible thing. With swatches and proposal pages and sketches and photos, all sealed up and carefully hand-carried to the post office. It is thrilling.

I was really stressed this past week trying to get it done, and was really stressed right up until the point when I put the whole package together, and now I'm just SO happy. The project itself came together really beautifully and I'm enormously proud. Hopefully the editors of [name of publication redacted] will be as excited as I am!

Oh and to my Tuesday night ladies (and gent), I hope you'll be proud too: it's a felted project. :)

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fish in water

Right now I know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, and that is a crochet-designing professor living with a hot architect.

I am so driven by my desire to be an academic that I managed to convince one of the professors in my department to make me his grader for the semester. Usually grad students fill this role but I tricked/persuaded him into agreeing that there was no way those kids were more qualified than me (there might have been something bordering on begging in there too) and I got the job.
Also, this past week I have tracked down some submission guidelines for some magazine-type things, and I actually have (what I think are) good ideas, so I think I'm really going to for real submit some designs.

So yesterday on our day off from work, I found myself sitting in a chair drinking coffee, alternating between grading book reports and working on a design idea, and Aaron was at his drafting desk working on his own design competition, and we were listening to a great album we just rediscovered, and the sun was shining through the window, and it was one of those this is it moments. I was happy as a clam.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Shannon coat: extensive project notes

So, this is probably my favorite thing I've ever made. It's from Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan (I'll do a book review of this soon, there are a lot of things to say about it...) For this project I kept actually day-by-day notes of my work, for once, and instead of taking up all the space on my Ravelry projects page I moved all of the notes over to here.

Just a few comments: I would agree with the "experienced" rating this pattern has. There are some initial frustrations, but after you "get" the pattern, it is SO speedy and SO satisfying. And lovely. And squishy and cozy. Etc etc.

January 3-4: Started this late Saturday night, by the end of Sunday had already gotten through the yoke and underarm joining and a bit of the body. So, it seems to be a rather quick pattern (it is a pretty huge gauge after all), even though it takes sooo much extra time trying to decipher patterns/hunt down other pages in the book. That part was giving me fits. But otherwise I’m really pleased. I LOVE the Sierra yarn, especially for this pattern right now.

January 5-6: The cuff in the picture made the sleeve look a little bulky in my opinion so I’m omitting the cuff altogether; I decided to do the sleeves before the body to make sure I had enough yarn to get the length I want.
I’m done with right sleeve and started on left. Sleeve length in pattern is supposed to be 25 rows, I ended up making mine 36, due to a combination of my gauge is slightly short, my sleeve needs to be longer, and I apparently have what my boyfriend affectionately dubbed “gorilla arms”.

January 7-11: Scratch that. Arm rows = 39. Gorilla arms being what they are. (Note: after blocking, the arms stretched enough for me to be able to fold them up into a different kind of "cuff")

I apparently also have gorilla torso because the hip shaping is supposed to start at 8”, but mine don’t start increasing until about 9.5”. So I’ve lengthened smaller part of the body. I’m at about hip-level right now but I’ve only got 1.5 balls of yarn left. Yikes. It’s not going to be coat length at this point. I’ll just keep working on it until I’m out of yarn and decide if I need more or if it’s okay.

January 12-13: Yarn ran out when “coat” was about 18” from underarm, instead of the prescribed 25”; after staring at it for a long time I decided I kinda like it. It’s a bulky jacket and if it were any longer it would accentuate my, erm, bulkier parts, but at this length it’s actually very flattering I think. So! Body done, ends woven in, need to start swatching for collar.

January 14: The stated gauge for the collar section is bananas. Granted, the Superwash Worsted is on the very fine end of “Worsted”; I had to go all the way up to an L hook to get anywhere near the gauge, which made the fabric look totally unrecognizable and very flimsy, so I am just going with the J hook and being careful to work evenly up the edge.

January 21: Finally finished the collar, which, after the speediness of the body, seems to take forever and ever. But I tried it on, and, wow. It’s, wow. I love the collar. I love love love the whole thing. Now I just have to make the sash and block the whole thing. Oh, how I love it.

January 26: Spent the whole weekend trying to power through the “Sash-A” that’s supposed to go with it, and finally gave up. That thing is surprisingly difficult, and slow, and will make your hands curl up and cry. So I scrapped the whole thing and started over, made a sash that is just like the stitching on the collar and the exact width of the narrowest section of the collar. Also attached little belt loops with what little Sierra yarn I had left over.

Blocked the whole thing. Tried it on. Did a little dance. <--I love you, sweater.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

for something completely different

I have started a new blog:

I've been planning on starting this up for a while now; I wanted a place for one of my other loves/obsessions, namely travel (and living in DC). I'm hoping this will be a way for me both to practice travel writing and to document my time here on the East Coast, and maybe, just maybe, improve my photography skills in the process.

I hope you like it!


I'm realizing that my previously-shot pictures don't really do justice to the lovely texture of the Snow Angel design (and the yarn used for it) so I took advantage of the lovely winter scenery around here and got some better photos.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Angel

In honor of the glorious, picture-perfect snowy day we are having here in DC, I decided it was time to finally publish my first pattern!

A big thanks yet again to my tester Celeste for her help editing this pattern. I'm hoping to have this available as a Ravelry download in the next couple of days.

Please enjoy!
“Snow Angel” Scarf

With a fresh blanket of snow, the world looks clean and soft, and we get to indulge in our warmest, snuggliest clothes. I wanted to capture all of these elements of winter into one simple but luxurious scarf. The stitch pattern is warm without being dense, and the light frilling on the edges remind me of a dusting of snowflakes.

I Love This Yarn! (distributed by Hobby Lobby) 100% acrylic, 355 yds/198
1 skein, White. (or 350 yds other soft, bulkier-weight worsted; see yarn notes below)

L hook

M hook

yarn needle

not really important for this patter
Finished size: about 6” x 74”

Special stitch:
Seed stitch (sc, ch1, sk next st, sc in following, repeat)

With L hook, chain 206 LOOSELY.*
Switch to M hook.
Row 1:
Sc into second ch from hook, sc in next 2 sts, *ch 1, sk next st, sc in next st*, repeat from * to * until 2 sts r
emain, sc into each of last sts (100 ch-1 spaces). Turn.
Row 2:
Ch 1, sc in first two sts, *ch 1, sk next st, sc in next ch-1 sp*, repeat from * to * until 3 sts remain, ch 1, sk next st, sc into each of last 2 sts (101 ch-1 spaces). Turn.

Row 3:
Ch 1, sc in first st, *ch 1, sk next st, sc in next ch-1 sp*, repeat from * to * until 2 sts remain, sc into each of last sts. Turn.

Rows 4-18:
Repeat rows 2 and 3.
Switch to L hook.
Edging: Top and bottom edges (long sides): Sc in each st. (205 sc) Ch 1 at corner, turn piece. Side edges: Sc again into corner st. (Sc, ch 1, sc) in each st along side edge (18 ch-1 sp). Ch 1 at corner, turn piece. At fourth corner, fasten off.
This pattern
can be made longer or shorter, depending on your preference; ch any multiple of 2 and follow pattern as directed.
**Yarn note: The I Love This Yarn is actually quite a nice acrylic; very soft and definitely on the bulkier side of worsted, although it doesn't feel "heavy." Feel free to substitute your own favorite yarn that is lofty and squishy without being weighty; the texture of the pattern definitely benefits from the wider gauge of the yarn.


Today I am wearing my brand-new Doris Chan jacket/cardi (of which I have yet to take pictures). I love, love, love this sweater. So much so that I was sitting at breakfast with some faculty members, and I got really tired of waiting for them to ask me about the sweater, so I just flat out said HEY I MADE THIS.
This started a whole discussion about whether or not it was "feminist" of me to spend my time sitting at home crocheting. The old (male) farts seemed to think that it is a bit old-fashioned, which might be true, but my argument to them was that I find it very empowering, not to mention the fact that I feel so privileged to get to take part in a tradition that women throughout time have carefully cultivated. I realized that the bra-burning feminists would have eschewed any kind of handicraft or domesticity, but I think that this generation's feminism (are we third- or fourth-wave??) has come around to a more thoughtful and appreciative mode. Then again, I don't know that much about feminism I guess. I just like what I like.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where I was

On Tuesday the boy and I found a spot on the hill of the Washington Monument. Close enough to (sorta) see a couple of Jumbotrons; if we had been willing to get to the mall at 5am we might have gotten closer. As it was, standing in the 10 degree windchill for several hours was enough to make me terribly, knock-out sick yesterday. I'm better now. And of course it was worth it.

The family standing in front of us was amazing; four sweet red-headed kids, ages maybe 7 through 12, freezing their poor little ears off but so excited to be there, asking questions about the role of the vice president and term limits for senators and if reelected presidents get sworn in all over again and similar questions that would make any junior high Civics teacher well up with tears of joy and pride.
The crowd became disproportionately elated when Biden was sworn in; I think it was that moment when everyone realized a) those guys are really leaving and b) these new guys are really staying.
There was absolutely nothing mundane about that day.