New source for knitting motifs?
No. Yes. Maybe? This graphic of a cellular automata rule is from a real smarty-pants . The rule below is actually called Knitting, and was created by Tomoaki Suzudo in June 2000.
View other potentially knittable rules at the Cellular Automata Rules Lexicon.
Wednesday! We're off to an all-day class in Photoshop :-)
The finished green ones, in Fortissima Colori, knitted on two circs at the same time:
The new ones, in some old Regia Ringel, also two at a time:
Isn't that the weirdest color combination? I really like it!
Working two at a time has revived my interest in making socks...I hope it lasts, because I need some new socks :-)
Not-Local Socks! The other socks, 150 or so pair of them, I've been enjoying are the socks being blogged along with Alison's Sockapalooza. Nearly all the socks have been finished and exchanged. I hope someone puts up a gallery of all these beauties!
Blogged by the always well-informed Cynthia, the new thang in fiber arts: The ShiRRéT™. From the front page: "You can make chic little carpets and fashion magic from fabric scraps!" All-righty then! Line for the bandwagon forms to the left!
The pups have had a very boring couple of days because I'm having a few problems with my knees. So not only did I have to miss the Boggy Creek strawberries at the local Farmer's Market with Susan, but the pups haven't been walked. Everyone furry is rather grumpy and all I get is the sad-eye.
At least it's Tuesday. Cheers!
I was over at Ellen's yesterday catching up with her blog and she has a link to The Daily Knitter, a new online zine that I didn't know about. I've only skimmed the site, but it certainly provides further evidence of knitting's current popularityas an art/craft/hobby/status symbol :-)
Ellen also has a link to the persistently-funny Kevin F. Sherry's 80s Sweater Project, which seems comical every time I see it. I guess I'm easily entertained. So I went to see it again! Looking at those sweaters reminded me of my all-time favorite "sweet smelling sweater salad" by artist/musician Leslie Hall. No matter how many times I see "Gem Sweater," it makes me laugh. I'm sure you've seen it. But it's always a happy trip to take another look at the gold pants and those deathless disco-era sweaters and Leslie Hall herself.
I have new patterns from Fiddlesticks, and so I have new projects to compulsively cast on! We wish you a peaceful weekend.
There is a lot of gorgeous spinning and dyeing and knitting and crocheting going on here and there, with Leigh's watercolored mittens and these completely on fire gloves being my current must-see items. Beautiful! And on the mathematical front, Sarah recently sent me a link to the mathematical knitting page that is updated to include knitted braids, and Swatchy has found directions for crocheting the Lorenz Manifold. And finally, from the Great Spinner in the Sky, supernova remnants that resemble drafted fibers. Coincidence?
Thursday! We wish you a happy one.
Your comments on yesterday's entry were much appreciated; I'm very glad to be associated with such a group of strong, intelligent, beautiful women. Thank you all for taking the time to leave such thoughtful and revealing comments. In correspondence from another country, one knitter questioned whether bad blog behavior was an American phenomenon; an outgrowth of the right-wing times we are living through. This is a fascinating idea to which I want to devote some thinking-time that I don't possess this week, but it's definitely on my agenda. Thanks, dearies.
In a renewed spirit of embracing the local while engaging the global, the pups and I spent the late afternoon in our tiny garden. I am not a gardener. I wish I were! I adore seed catalogs and such, but when it comes to actualizing full-grown plants, time has shown that I have the opposite of a green thumb. So to move into a place with an established garden that fits perfectly within my own aesthetic of what a garden should be has been a wonderful thing. I have a tiny rake with a telescoping handle and on which the fanned tines adjust from about 7 inches to about 30 inches, and I gain a lot of quiet joy standing in the garden with my good dogs, raking pebbles as if they were zen koans. The wisteria has not only suddenly leafed out, but has buds ready to pop, and the crepe myrtle secretly put on leaves sometime earlier this week. I mention these things because so many of you mentioned perspective in your comments yesterday. Right-perspective is a wonderful thing, and deserves quiet celebration; yesterday, I wanted a quiet celebration of my thoughtful readers. At the pebble level, or at the level of Kerstin's blog, perspective calms the mind and directs toward right-action. Sometimes the best and most celebratory action for me is raking the pebbles.
We have a couple of links for you today; the first is a few images of artist Mary-Clare Buckle's digital-and-felted piece "It's Raining Men." Look in the far right column. Awesome idea! Photos plus felt. The second link is one that Sister found and that I have enjoyably wasted a lot of time on lately: The Montage-a-Google. Whatever you google comes back in tiled images; I only wish there was a way to save the individual creations besides PrtScrn. When I google the pups' names, it comes back wall-to-wall Mike, Jack, and Della. When I checked it using "Wendy's cat Lucy," it's wall-to-wall intensely blue crossed-eyes and ragdoll fluffiness. I like it! Google your name! Your pets! Your friends! Your favorite dish! It all comes back like art :-)
Wednesday! We wish you a happy outlook. Rake those pebbles.
Aside to Beadslut: Snap! Woof! Goes to 11!
Being able to knit two socks on two needles has made me pleased with myself to a ridiculous extent. I love handknit socks and sock yarn, but my big weakness is that by the time I finish one sock, I am bored with the yarn and the process. Yep. The old Second Sock Syndrome. Being able to finish a pair at a time has reignited my delight in socknitting. These are nearly finished, as they only need a bit more knitting and some ribbing:
Yes! That is an eye-of-the-partridge heel; my first. I like it as a change from a standard heel flap. The Mighty Kim has been doing some wonderful exegesis on heel flaps and gusset heels. Go. Read. You'll enjoy and learn something too.
Humorless, Overly Earnest, and Irony-free Content
(Feel free to skip down to today's pup photo.)
I did something this weekend I'd not done before--I left a deliberately negative comment in the comments section of a knitting blog. While it was a spur-of-the-moment, knee-jerk reaction to the content of the blog author's entry, once you hit POST, you know, it's too late to take it back. Since I couldn't revoke my comment and didn't want to apologize, I started thinking about negative comments in general and veiled criticisms of other knitblogs in particular. Discourse is always a healthy, positive thing. Constructive criticism, helpful suggestions and hints are usually welcome. Criticizing other knitters in our knit blogs seems simply provocative and malicious. At least it seems so to me. Do you have a different perception on knitblog critiques? Is knitblog-on-knitblog violence legitimate blog-entertainment?
With over 600 knitting blogs in the knitting-blog ring and countless other knitting-related rings, we essentially have a microcosm of a world. We have teachers and thinkers and clerks and crusaders and physicians and designers and blind followers and philosophers and humorists and tragedians and do-gooders and the transpersonal and the deeply personal, all connected through skeins and needles and hooks. Is it simply a fact of the size of us that we also have skirmishes with or over other bloggers?
As with some of the more contentious knitting yahoogroups, it's impossible to please everyone while offending no one. But at the same time, why bash each other? With so many issues in the country and the world that need focused attention and activism, why sit down and bash another knitter, especially in the name of humor? A letter to the editor, a phone call to your representative in Washington DC, an email to your Senator...all of these things are suitable activities for venting and expressing feelings of discontent or anxiety. And, of course, there are many other activities, not the least of which is to tend to your knitting.
I remind myself that knitters do extraordinary things when we come together: witness Afghans for Afghans, the Dulaan Project, Heifer International, and any number of less high-profile acts of kindness and courage. So I am filled with admiration when knitters put their money, or their yarn, where their mouths are. And I'm dismayed when knitters take it upon themselves to point out the flaws of other knitters. However, since I did that myself this weekend, I realize I'm not immune, and I thought I was. What's the solution? Should we simply ignore acts of (knitblog) war, or should we engage? As in life, we choose our battles in order to avoid uselessly scattering energy, but in a virtual sense, knit blogs compose a world now, and we are its citizens. What do you do when you run across knitblog hostility in our small knit-oriented world? This issue comes up periodically; have you changed the way you respond to knitblogs? Your thoughts will be appreciated.
Jack is slowly getting stronger and stronger with the addition of the thyroid meds; many thanks to all of you who suggested ways to pill pups. He's enjoying taking walks again, and we're all happy about that.
Tuesday! Movie reference: Smell the glove.
But, of course, make ponchos, not war. Cheers!
Pardon me, international readers, while I address local knitters today. We thank you.
US Knitbloggers: We've all pretty much heard and seen enough hoopla about Martha's poncho, culminating, perhaps, in the No Poncho Pledge. And we are completely puzzled here over the buzzle the poncho raised...if you google it, you'll see that not only Lion Brand has jumped on the knitwagon to accomodate the outcry for the poncho pattern, but a number of other yarn outlets have too. The 8000+ member KnitList has been full of the poncho, and likewise, Martha's Poncho-lust has appeared in our blogging community. Lion Brand, in fact, reports that their free crochet pattern has been downloaded at the rate of 25,000 to 30,000 copies per hour.
Knitters and crocheters! While we (25,000-30,000 an hour!!) are representing ourselves to the world as slaves to the fashions of Martha's crocheting gal-pal and co-inmate, individual rights are being imperiled in this country to perhaps the most dangerous degree yet since the rollback began with the election of the present administration. If we could bring the same passion and press coverage to domestic politics as has been brought by the poncho, there would be no danger, as there is today, of courts being stacked by people who are not going to allow you to choose what is in your personal best interest.
Heads-up! It's the "nuclear option" and it can hurt you.
The so-called nuclear option being considered right now in the Senate is a way to prevent filibusters over judicial nominees. Instead of making sure federal judges have broad support in the Senate, the nuclear option will ensure that the most extreme nominees face no opposition on their way toward the bench. Consult your favorite local news source or read about it here.
If the nuclear option goes forward, the Supreme Court can be packed with up to four new Justices who will make sure that your only concern as a woman is something as non-threatening as whether to use acrylic or wool yarn for your poncho.
In less time than it takes to download a poncho pattern, you can request that your senator oppose the nuclear option and assist in requiring judicial nominees to have broad support in the Senate.
Make sense, not ponchos, m'dears, or we'll have only ourselves to blame.
Before we hit the high road of tackling our scandalously high stack of WIPs, we share a final wacky textile adventure with you: Knitting with Polar Fleece.
But first, this message from our soapbox. A fiber/textile guild is a terrific source of information and ideas. I miss my guild in New Jersey enormously. Practically the first thing I did upon arrival here was look for a guild—there are several very active ones in Austin, and I joined a couple. I'm rarely able to attend, but I'm always glad when I can be there and hear what others are envisioning and see what they are working on. A guild is sort of like a church in a sense, because like a church, a guild is actually the people who gather together in one place with a broad yet singlular purpose. A guild is different than S'n'B because there is a more formal structure. There's a newsletter, a monthly topic, stuff like that. Dues are usually minimal, but collectively, they allow famous knitters to be flown in for workshops--for example, Maureen Jamieson will be giving a weekend workshop here soon, courtesy of the Austin Knitters and Crocheters Guild. I like guilds. Your experience may vary, but I like them. A guild is as good as the people who are in it, and you are very very good, so please think about checking in with your local guilds. Thank you.
Anyway. At my meeting last Saturday, while we were rabidly needle felting and discussing specs for machine knitting purses to felt, someone mentioned knitting with Polar Fleece. Now that's the kind of creative tangent I live for. Polar Fleece!!! "How would you do it?" I panted. And someone replied "Like when you knit with plastic bags."
Well! That's all we needed to hear.
Observe a single yard of flaming neon Polar Fleece (and the ever-helpful Mikey):
I used a rotary cutter, which is like a pizza cutter but more expensive and much sharper, to cut the Polar Fleece into approximately 1/2 inch strips.
Ow! Rotary cutters are every bit as sharp as those felting needles we discussed previously. Be careful! Especially if, like me, you always run with scissors.
Is it yarn yet? Yes, and within a half-hour or so.
We knit merrily along on US17 Addi circulars, because that's the biggest set of needles we own. I cast on a dozen stitches, kept two on each side in garter stitch, and did the rest in stockinette stitch.
The resulting fabric is curiously appealing, stiff yet comfy, not drape-y but stretchy. At first I thought I preferred the original yard of uncut flaming neon, but the more I squished it about the more I began to think how much more comfortable it would be to walk on than a regular cotton rag rug (of which I have many).
A Polar Fleece bathmat would be a machine-washable and low-cost luxury, I think, but a Polar Fleece knitted scarf would have to be knit on much larger needles than US17, because at this gauge, it's really too stiff to think about wearing. On the other hand, it would make a fabulous Bucket O' Chic. Or, you could think of it as the PoorKnitter's Point Five --just cut the stuff in thinner strips or bump up the needle size :-)
Wednesday. Della thought we could have used our time more productively.
Polar Fleece is a cosy medium, just waiting to be further explored. We wish you happy spelunking in your hobby/passion today. Cheers!
I forgot to tell you yesterday about some fun I had at a guild demonstration over the weekend, so let me go on and on and on about it for you today!
Needle Felting (Be Careful! You'll Put Your Eye Out!)
Jabjabjabjabjab-ing with felt-making needles is an amazing craft and a tension reliever at the same time. My workshop leader demonstrated how to create shapes from jabbed roving by using cookie cutters...a flower-shape, for example, filled with yellow roving and then jabbed innumerable times, becomes, with the jabbed-repeatedly addition of a tiny brown circle, a Black-eyed Susan to decorate a felted bag. (Or in the case of this black and white photo taken by P. Tittizer, a Gray-eyed Susan.)
Cool. The bags, by the way, were machine-knitted, then felted, making this a project that took only a few hours. Smart! The needle-felted object, in this case the flowers, is needle-felted directly onto the surface of the felted purse, where the little fibers bond irrevocably and nearly instantly. Sweet!
The technique is extremely interesting. Because I had mostly seen little grotesques made by needle-felting, I wasn't that interested in the concept, and while I thoroughly enjoyed jabbing maniacally on felt flowers, I couldn't quite see myself making stuff like that for any reason. Being an inquisitive type, though, I came home and began looking for needle-felted creations that were more than, and I found three enviably splendid examples to send you off to.
First are the elegant felted hats made by Constance Willems. Form plus beautiful function.
Second are the whimsical items felted by Birgitte Krag Hansen. Very light-hearted objects that include wigs and a large bird puppet (plus the ubiquitous trolls).
Materials required for needle felting are simple and portable: the very sharp and slightly dangerous needles, some roving, and a foam block of some type to prevent you jabbing the needles into your thighs (don's ask me how I know this part). It's an excellent skill to have in your fiber-tool kit, not only for embellishment, but for all types of creative expression, as evidenced in the three urls above.
You can buy a kit, or you can see what you have in your fiber closet and then just get to jabbing :-) Cute, right? Personally, so far we adore the jabbing part, but have not matured enough artistically to make anything to show you. Are you needle-felting? Send me a link to your felt-fotos!
Another nice day in the garden, made even nicer by being able to harass the neighbors by barking at them non-stop. Dachsunds. Wonderful to live with, but you probably wouldn't want to live next door to them.
Tuesday already . . . imagine! What are you working on? If needle-felting, please confess and show us your stuff. Even if it is trolls.
Have a happy day! Cheers!
There are a scandalous number of WIPs around here! We used to confine ourselves to one big work-in-progress and a single pair of socks, but now, there are projects that have been lingering in the sidebar for months. We are going to have ourselves tied to the WIPping post and get busy with the fa knizzle (we are also enjoying musical mashups lately...have you heard this one? 9.6 MB MP3). So why hasn't anyone made a mashup featuring the Allman Brothers Band and Snoop? We need new software around here.
It's Spring Break week in Austin. Everyone is ready to par-tay and I'm happy that I only have to go to work this week :-) I don't have any classes to attend so I hope very much I am able to make a dent in the shockingly high stack of abandoned WIPs.
So what are the chances that a knitter would walk up, sit down beside us, and say (in a rather dismissive tone of voice, we are sad to report): "I always knit two pairs of toe-up socks at a time on two circulars." Well! Why didn't we think of that? We have a new quest! Two pair at a time...who knew? As soon as we finish these green ones, right after Chery tells us how to deal with the heels, then we are so on that project! Of course, we will also be finishing up the Starmore vest and winding the wool for the "Knitted Stitch Pullover"-that-will-be-a-cardigan by Meg Swansen. Peg? Start your engines for our knitalong.
Speaking of socks, I've been meaning to mention Sandi Rosner's nice book Not Just Socks (ISBN: 1-893063-10-0). Just today I found my copy (and yours, too, Emma), so I'd like to commend it to you if you find yourself surfeited with self-patterning sock yarn. There are over 20 cute ways to use up self-patterning sock yarn, and only a couple of the projects are socks. I like this little book and its creative spirit. Cute projects, and plenty of room for further interpretation of Rosner's ideas.
We had some lovely weather over the weekend; it was the first weekend in six weeks that it hadn't rained throughout the weekend. The pups and I took some short walks and fooled around in our garden. Della and Mikey are wondering when the wisteria will leaf out. And Little Jack is practicing his invisibility skills. Look closely. Can you spot the miniature longhaired dachshund in the ferns?
(Please don't let on that you see him.)
Monday! Have a very happy one!
The Opinionated Knitter arrived yesterday, and I immediately sat down in a heap with the pups in the late afternoon sunlight to leaf through the pages. As I turned the last few pages over, I found I had tears running down my face. The indefinably fatigued weltschmerz of the past few months, of worry about the war, the world, the environment, committments, of getting older, has lifted through a vehicle I couldn't have imagined: the journal entries and newsletters of Elizabeth Zimmermann.
Many of us are too young or too geographically remote to have known EZ in person; we merely adored her through her work in Knitter's Almanac, Knitting Without Tears, Knitting Around, Knitting Workshop, and, of course, the biannual Wool Gathering. I freely admit to being an EZ-idolator—her EPS, her common sense, her ingeniously engineered designs, her writing style—but even I was unprepared for how moving and sweet and funny and lovely this new posthumous book is. For one thing, readers hear the history of the (pre-Wool Gathering) newsletters, the collecting of the schoolhouses that became Schoolhouse Press, her thoughts on design and hundreds of other things in her voice, and her personality seems to rise right up off of the pages. The affectiveness of this book is such that The Great Knitter sits down right beside you, casually chatting philosophy and knitting, and being as dear a friend and mentor as we never met. What a polite and generous woman, and what an intense pleasure to meet her through these notes and newsletters. Her public persona in the newsletter seems very much the same as her private persona in the journal entries. I think we won't see the likes of Elizabeth Zimmermann again in our knitting lives.
About the book, you've read, no doubt, that it contains 42 designs and the newsletters. These are wonderful additions to anyone's knitting library. The unique and embracing bits are the "new" articles and stories from EZ's notebooks. We're living in a knitting-revival that has produced hundreds of new books and a few zines that all announce how hip knitting is, as if our time invented knitting with a little help from Deb Stoller. But for a motorcycle-riding, schoolhouse-collecting, fishing, rambling, painting, outdoor-loving, true Romanticist (in the early 19th century sense), we really need look no further than the author of these newsletters and "digressions" from 1958-1968. She wasn't a Beat Poet, but of the era—it's easy to imagine her hanging out with Kerouac, with her knitting as her slam-poetry. This is a collection of a body of work by a sensitive, thoughtful, creative, imaginative woman, gathered lovingly together by a daughter. It's a lovely book, moving and kind, in a time that very often feels out of control to me. We needed this book. I'm happy to have it. Woofs! and a big SNAP.
In other news, I've ripped back Violets by the River to begin again, this time working only from the charts. I don't know what made me think I could keep up with line-by-line directions at this point in my life! Thank heavens for knitting charts and symbols. The pups are happy because we had some sunshine yesterday, and Little Jack seems to be thriving on his thyroid meds.
So! We wish you a merry Tuesday. And we wish you the opportunity to study The Opinionated Knitter in person. It's as much a primer on how to live a creative, satisfying life as it is a book about knitting.
* We pinched the title of this blog entry from James Agee's book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a masterpiece on social justice written during the Depression Era in the US.
(Tapping foot; waiting for you to return.) Isn't it lovely?
Now, on to the mundane. I've been working on some small items this week; some mittens, some cool socks a'la Chery, and a small shawl, Violets by the River, by Hazel Carter. While I have the silk that's called for in this shawl, I'm using some Artisan Lace by Margaret Stove in a beautiful colorway called "Wedgewood." Call me easy to entertain, but I love seeing those dainty violets emerge. They make me think of my favorite Mark Twain quote about forgiveness: "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." So corny! But (sniffle) so sweet.
I'm going to a party tonight for the new Fall 2005 cohort at my college. I'm planning on wearing my new bogus-lace Bellini Shawl (in "Saffron") as a sort of secret handshake. It's obviously handknit, and so I'm hoping there will be a knitter within the group of incoming PhDs and we'll recognize one another immediately because of my shawl. That sounds rather dramatic, doesn't it? I don't get out as much as I used to anymore.
Thank you for your suggestions and good wishes for Little Jack and his little thyroid. We'll try everything to avoid him spitting his pills out. He's surprisingly adept at swallowing the tidbit while spitting out the pill. Meanwhile, he's feeling frisky as all get-out. He and Mike took the opportunity yesterday between cloudbursts to bark at all the neighbors.
Happy Friday! Have a good day and a great weekend. Don't forget to bark at your neighbors!
While perusing London's online Crafts Council's latest exhibition, Knit 2 Together, we noticed a phrase new to us: "French-knitted." What can it mean? Does it typically use human hair? The picture on the exhibit page is too small for us to determine. Someone please enlighten us to the work of Françoise Dupré! And do take a look at the Knit 2 Together page; there is one machine-knit piece called Knit Chatlines that we love. And Janet Morton's "Domestic Interior" makes our hearts race. Dear Lord We Love Knitters!
A bit of an explanation about yesterday's bit of unpleasantness...
We didn't mean to upset you with the piece by Fiona the Knitting-Hater and aspiring Ladette (what a word! what a concept!). We were merely trying to point out that while this chick who hates sticks in Scotland was writing this piece, the US was making sure that the Cairo Agreement was not about "human rights" for women, particularly where the right to choose to bear a child was involved. That's all. That's all, my smart dearies. We thank you as ever, though, for your thoughtful, intelligent, and passionate remarks.
Just A Triangle
It's just a triangle knit from Morehouse Merino laceweight in the colorway Saffron, but we love it! We wore it not-blocked yesterday because we love it so much! The colors delight our wintry spirits.
Today we will dress it out to open up the stitches, but wot larks, Pip!
After extensive expensive testing, our trusted vet has determined that Little Jack has a Little Problem with his thyroid. Imagine! We are all thrilled (NOT) at the idea of pilling our dachshund twice a day. Mike and Della are being tested now. Won't that be something? Six pills? Three dachshunds? How lucky we are that we adore our little mutts. Here is Jack, thinking dramatically about his condition.
We wish you a not-very-dramatic day; in fact, we send serenity vibes toward your knitting. Now, somebody get with Google and tell me what "French-knitting" is. I thank you.
We're drooling uncontrollably here. First, we heard that our pre-ordered copy of The Opinionated Knitter was on its way to our mailbox. Then, we saw the photo from the latest Wool Gathering, which is also in the mail.
Trees are beginning to leaf out here and, if it's springtime in Texas, that means the season of air conditioned knitting is nearly upon us. A lap full of wool in summertime isn't so bad when the a/c is cranked to the "Polar" setting.
Mike and Jack join me in slavering. Della is too ladylike.
And now for a bit of unpleasantness
Speaking of ladylike, didja see that amazingly acerbic article in The Scotsman about knitting being a giant step backwards for women? Then, within the same time frame, there is this story about the obstructionist attitude of the US at the current meeting for the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Knitting bad; your right to choose, good. Or is that knitting good, your right to choose bad? Oh, the ironic times we are living in...