Sunday, February 25, 2007

Unphotogenic Knitbits

This morning, at a bright and cheery (no, this is Seattle: grey and damp) 11:30AM, my preambulation to a cafe to meet with a few friends took a desperate turn as I passed within two blocks of something, something, somewhere, being deep-fried. It could have been anything: french fries, onion rings, candy bars (improbable in Seattle, for which, frankly, I'm sort of grateful), tempura... and yet my mind immediately went: veggie pakora!

I have a bad affair with Indian food. When I'm sick, depressed, angry, annoyed, happy, busy, traveling, slightly peckish... I get myself the spiciest possible chicken dish I can. This would be irrelevent, except that after I left the cafe, I went to the grocery store, which is kitty-corner to a wonderful Indian food place. And, since I'm broke, I have to avoid that at all costs. So I ran and hid in the knitting shop a block south of that.

Right. Yeah. Like that saves money.

Actually, it did, but only because I couldn't rationalize paying for tofu sock yarn when I'm still working through Pomatomus on some crazy varigated yarn, and because they didn't have knitting pins. This disappointed me tremendously: the Weaving Works has silk cocoons, but no knitting pins? Since wee knits made a bit of an internet splash awhile ago, I've had a dire urge to collaborate with my sister (who does tiny cutesy-macabre sculpture) by doing some tiny cutesy-macabre knits to wrap around her sculptures. I could have justified the purchase if it was something I "accidentally" stumbled upon and couldn't pass up; but alas, it seems I may have to get my pins online, which means my plans will be put on hold indefinitely since internet purchases involve premeditation and deliberate searching for goods.

But more about knitting! I did an impromptu photo shoot using a friend's camera and a couple friends, as well as a doorway, and it led to an equally impromptu commission! My cowl/hat design has been vindicated, and I'm thrilled-- I love it when people are knitting-time-and-effort conscious enough to ask not only "Will you knit me...?" but "If I get you the yarn, how much else would you want for the time it takes to...?" It's a small project, so I'm overjoyed to do it.

Last week, I bought a knit blouse at Urban Outfitters.* It has a unique construction, and I've wasted tons of scratch paper coming up with a zillion difference twists on it. And now I'm googling yarn. So much for knitting from my stash.

*I've heard before that UO is a Republican donor, but I've shied away from researching this myself because I really, truly, deeply enjoy their sales racks. I should really look this up.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Of Noses and Lunch Bags

I had a hell of a time getting my camera working this week. I bought new batteries, figuring that would solve my problems-- but no. My laptop no longer recognizes it. First I thought the camera was dead, then I thought it was the cord... but it turned out that the archaic dell at school could upload the pictures, although it nearly had a seizure in the process. However! The pictures did not turn out well. They were sickeningly greenish, and the swatches I'd knitted up with plans of submitting to Knitty were nigh upon unrecognizable. So I had no intentions of uploading anything, until a long-distance friend was foolish enough to admit that my nose piercing made her squeamish.

"Well," thought I, "I might as well milk that for what it's worth. Oh, yes, I will catch her off-guard and post the pictures in my knitting blog." Then, after some evil cackling, sporadic swearing, and too much effort, the crappy computer let me upload files. To the left: me, in my bestudded glory. You can't tell that it's paua shell in the setting from the angle. Below and to the right: the yet-unfelted lunch bag.

Honestly, in person, my coloration does not bear quite that strong a resemblance to Reynolds Lopi forest green.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Book Review: “Knitting Beyond the Edge,” by Nicky Epstein.

Out of everything, you can’t say I’m not pretentious. Book review? From some girl on the intarweb who not only doesn’t have a fanclub, but knows –this is a careful differentiation that must be made- she doesn’t?

But I’ve internally justified this pretension (justification: just checked the book out from the library! Nothing else to do on a Friday night!), so it doesn’t much matter to me what people think about it.

I find Epstein’s knitting interesting. Her “Knitting on the Edge” books were useful, categorized in a way that’s pretty handy for people who don’t quite know what they’re looking for, and the bright illustrations are a nice change from the dirty white yarn that cropped up in most of the stitch collections I’ve looked through (yeah, yeah, I know why old collections are like that, but it reminds me of mildew nonetheless, and mildew and yarn shouldn't mix).

Keep in mind, “interesting” is a double-edged sword of opinion. I loved the sections on closures and necklines in “Knitting Beyond the Edge”: I’ve done little of either, and she provided a great scope on the two, which get, in my (humble!) opinion, too little attention among the gazillion and one books on cables/lace/knit-and-purl stitches. Bring on those I-cord imitation knot closures and boat-neck collars. Even if I didn’t like the particular treatment, the variety and the appendix on neck openings was an eye-opener, and gave me no few awesome ideas which will lie dormant in my sketchbook for years, if not decades, due to the glut of ideas I have inflicted on a dearth of yarn.

But if you draw out the word “interesting” in the right way, with a little grimace on your face, it’s no longer a compliment. And looking through the “cuffs & collars,” iinnnterestinng because my pronunciation of choice. What’s with all the faux pearls, the I-cord pretzels, the repetitive dangly flaps, the ruffles meant to drape so far over the hands you can barely hold your damn sticks and yarn, and –especially- the high, elaborate collars apparently designed for a jester in some merciless and backwards medieval court?

If this were a book of patterns, I’d contextualize these as haute couture, like dresses made from strips of coke cans or with ruffs that spill over the arms to the elbow. But… this is a collection of stitch patterns meant to be used as references . . . for knitters. The book doesn’t package itself towards a demographic of people who will wear clothing with I-cord pretzels all over. Possibly it’s marketing for a group of people who will knit these designs up and then realize they couldn’t possibly wear them. But still. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

I was faintly surprised to find patterns at the end of this. And a little pleased: I’m a fan of both the Belle Epoque jacket and the Cardigan with Cabled Points. If I ever knit up the jacket, I’d swap out the colorwork panels with something a little more in sync with my style, and shorten the sleeve panels, but I love the cut of the collar, the faux layering, and the stitch pattern worked over the body.

Despite my critiques, I enjoyed the book. My beefs are with the predilection towards esoteric fashion, not the layout, the information, or the inspirations.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Lunchsack

After squirreling away change off and on for almost a year, I had my nose pierced in mid-January at Apocalypse Tattoo & Piercing (on Capitol Hill). I wish I had the name of the guy who did it, because the job he did was fantastic and I thus feel obligated to spread goodwill to all knitters who stick needles into things other than yarn. The piercing was painless and the hole healed (well, got past the oozy phase) in, literally, a week.

Yeah, I know that sounds pretty non-knitting related. The whole nose bit is superfluous. The point is what I did while bent over, soaking my nose in a cup of warm salt water to keep it clean and infection-free: I knit up Frances Sweicki’s “lunch bag.”

And I was going to post awesome photos of it, all felted and rigged up with a strap, clasps, and similar awesome doodads.

But that’s going to have to wait for another day. Having never felted before, I got optimistic and decided to hand-felt it, in my sink, with just my bare hands, the giant knitted beauty of the pre-felted bag, and a few gallons of scalding water.

Wool is itchy. Really damn itchy. And rubbing it furiously with soft hands results in itchy red spots. I gave up after half an hour and went to lotion my wounds. The thing is not yet felted. Into the machine, it’ll have to go. Damn it. I felt so ambitious this week.