4.11.2017

somebody somewhere somewhat somehow sometime...

i finished that blanket for somebody's baby, and it is currently sitting in a post office somewhere in Brooklyn. i hope mom likes it, and that the lady she intends to gift it to likes it even more.



this is the Daisy Garden Baby Blanket by Stephanie Boozer. the yarn is a light clayish-beigey-taupelike color, as mom instructed requested that it be gender-neutral, but non-white, in case the recipient wanted to use it for future babies. i could have made a sweater in the time i spent working on this thing. that being said, it is rather lovely (she says modestly).



the alternating solid and textured blocks separated by bands of seed stitch create a patchwork effect. i opted to go for seven blocks across and seven blocks high, because it is the most awesome of all the numbers. i was not willing to risk my life on a ladder to prove that there are in fact forty-nine blocks, so you will just have to trust me on that one.



there were a few balls of yarn remaining, so i picked up stitches all around, and extended the seed stitch border. said border could have been wider still, but i had to tap out before i completely lost the will to live, so there are a couple balls of this yarn floating around in the stash.



a quick flip of the corner reveals the ridge created by the picked-up stitches.



the blanket is lovely and squishy, thanks to a round yarn that allows the textured stitches to pop.



it feels like you are running your fingers over teeny tiny bubble wrap.



i wanted that dimensional element to carry through to the bound-off edge, so i opted to finish with an applied i-cord. the i-cord was only two stitches wide, but it was enough to provide the desired definition along the edge.



there is somewhat of a picture-frame effect with the added border and the i-cord edge. i like it!



this is a lovely design for a blanket (for a baby, or otherwise), and i would recommend it to anyone looking for the same. [i mentioned in my last post that i had trouble finding the free pattern in the location linked on Ravelry, so i contacted the designer who sent me a copy. the link has since disappeared from the pattern page, so it may take a bit more effort to track it down in future.]

i was absolutely drained by the time this was done, so i needed an instant-gratification project to recharge the crafting spirit. i purchased some lavender last summer, a tiny portion of which was used in my soap-making adventure. [aside: that soap with all the nubbly bits of oatmeal is a-maz-ing if you, like me, enjoy serious exfoliation when you bathe]. this seemed like a good time to (finally) put the rest of the lavender to the original intended purpose. note three containers, each one a different variety of lavender.



what was the point of buying three varieties if they were going to end up mixed together, you ask? because i do so love a blend, i reply.



i had an assortment of those little bags people use for handing out favors at cheerful events. keeping moths away from my fiber stash seems plenty cheerful to me.



the next part is a bit tricky. grab a bag...



shove a bit of lavender in there somehow...



and tie it all up. repeat until you run out of bags or lavender... or both.



i made about thirty moth-repelling sachets in total, most of which have since been tucked away inside bags of yarn. i may toss a few into my clothes drawers. sometimes you want a bit of floral freshness, even when you are just searching for socks.


4.04.2017

(wo)man-listening and other attempts at tying up loose ends...

i am working on a baby blanket, and i may have to disown my own mother before it is done. now, let me just take a moment to clarify (for anyone who may be jumping to so-not-ever gonna-happen conclusions) that this blanket has less-than-nothing to do with me.

mom: one of the ladies who works downstairs from me is having a baby.
me: uh huh... [but mostly wondering why she is telling this to me].
mom: i have to get her a gift before she goes on leave.
me: uh huh... [i think i see where this is going].
mom: i was wondering if you could knit a blanket for the baby.
me: uh huh... [just as i suspected].

i do not usually take special requests, but mom is extra-special, so knit a blanket i did! the pattern is the Daisy Garden Baby Blanket by Stephanie Boozer. it is a free pattern, but i could not find it where it was supposed to be posted. i contacted the designer, and she emailed me a copy. thank you, Stephanie! there is technically enough blanket to call it quits at this point, but i really want to get every last inch centimeter of this yarn out of my home, so i am going round and round the edges to use up as much of it as i can before giving it a quick wash and tossing it in the mail. hopefully i will remember to take a few quick pics when it is done. till then, it will remain a scrunched-up mass that i carry from room-to-room like my very own ball-and-chain. thanks, mom.



there is also the never-ending project i like to call the "slow burn", parts of which are currently housed in a box that once contained a pair of men's snow boots (sized US11, if you really need all the details), but i will soon have to find it some more spacious digs.



open the top to reveal... a colorful square.



it is actually a whole stack of colorful squares.



i mentioned, somewhere back in August last year, that i had unearthed some yarn from deep-stash that i planned to use for a long-term project.



that project is the Bright Star blanket by... you guess it... Norah Gaughan. you probably already know how i feel about Norah, but i was genuinely obsessed with this blanket for at least a few years before i found the courage (and the yarn) to give it a go. the blanket consist of large mitered squares that will be joined together to magically form the overall design. i am almost done making the first set of squares (all sixteen of them) before moving on to the next motif. for the record, these are not dainty little squares. oh, no no no! note Altoids tin for comparison. the people over at Altoids are gonna owe me big time when this becomes a universally-recognized unit of measurement.



this is a paid-for pattern, so i will not go into any specifics of the design, other than to say that it employs a whole lot of intarsia, which involves using different yarns to create blocks of color within a piece. an eponymous technique is commonly used in woodworking to create end products that are pieced together almost like a jigsaw puzzle. in knitting, this requires the juggling of more than one ball of yarn within the same row. for this project, i am using four balls at a time to create most of the square before switching over to the lilac section.

this is the setup at the start of a new square. note the use of four balls of yarn at this point.



for the sake of sanity, i keep the active balls in a plastic bowl. yep... not gonna touch that one. moving on.



to make things even more joyous, i am using the yarn doubled (as it was too thin for the project), which means twice as many ends to weave in when it is done. yep... definitely gonna be taking my time with this one.



in other news, the seedlings are coming along just fine. i added a light over the table to give them a bit of nocturnal encouragement. it is not a regulation grow-lamp, but i figure every little bit helps.



the kitties have had already had a go or two at the cat grass, so it looks a bit mangled. i would like to say that it is a reward for good behavior, but there are no words for that concept in their language.



as expected, the zukes were the first thing out of the soil, and they are already outgrowing the container. if you look closely, you just might spot a cat.



seems she has found a new fave place to nap.



then there was that minor epiphany while washing shampoo out of my eye. [random aside: do not ever try to make sense of life while soap suds are sliding down your face]. i had just finished a long conversation with mom before hopping in the shower, and i was replaying the conversation in my head. well... i was replaying my behavior during most of the conversation inside my head, when it hit me. that must be what man-listening feels like.

she said something, and i responded with "uh huh". she even paused a few times to ask if i was listening, which is when i switched briefly to, "yep... still here", before going back to the standard "uh huh". i could not wait to share this new revelation with my favorite animator.

me: i have to talk about this in my next post.
him: you know your mom will kill you if she sees that, right?
me: she doesn't read my blog.
him: you told her about it.
me: i may have mentioned it once or twice... but i doubt she was really listening. 

4.03.2017

polite demands for love and other forms of domestic hostility...

my cats are jerks. if you have a cat, you might agree. sure, they are cute, and playful, and even (sometimes) sweet, but that is how they bribe us into putting up with the moments of domestic hostility. do not be fooled by the cuteness. that is a viscous, spiteful beast.



the crazy part of life with cats is that they make you feel guilty for doing the most innocent things. i removed the contents of this box, and walked down the hall to put them away.



i returned to flatten the box for recycling, but it was already occupied. so, that box sat in the middle of the living room for the next week. it is more than a month later, and if she stands in that spot and looks in my general direction, i still feel guilty for throwing it away.



then there are the parts of life with cats that leave you questioning why you let them into your home in the first place. my two girls have decided that it is my job to keep them fed, because he... well, he is far too busy being their favorite deity.

me: [stumbling sleepily into the studio where my favorite animator is already working] uhm... do you realize the dry food bowl is totally empty?
him: oh... really? 
me: seriously... didn't you hear them crying?

at which point i look down at the two cats by my feet, one of whom is chomping at my exposed calves, while the other one delivers a loud, vocal assessment of my performance as a human being. it is never positive.

him: there was no crying. they've been fast asleep on the couch since i got out of bed. 
me: when did you get out of bed?

then comes the moment that leaves me wanting to scream.

him: i don't know... maybe a couple hours ago.
me: [speechless... and utterly defeated]!

then he looks down at the cats (one of whom is by now attempting to take a chunk out of the back of my thigh, while the other one holds me in a gaze composed of equal parts disappointment and disdain). he looks back up at me and breaks into a gigantic, smug grin, and i am left to (once again) accept the fact that my cats are sexist (and—just possibly—racist) jerks... and he is their willing accomplice before, during, and after the fact.

still, there are those awesome moments, like when i am in my quiet corner and Mama Kitty shows up and plops down next to me. she does not meow (or bite, like the little one) when she wants affection. instead, a white paw reaches out and just barely makes contact with your person. it is what we have termed "a polite demand for love".



i really hope she is using this time to reassess my performance as a human being.



4.02.2017

obsession and other symptoms of fangirl behavior...

hi, my name is n----, and i am a drama-holic! it pains me to say it out loud, but i have started binge-watching K-dramas... and i like it. i am mostly drawn to the "historic" ones (there is even a special category for that), where they dress in old-timey clothes and blush profusely if anyone catches a glimpse of a woman's leg. it is like reading an extra-long historical romance novel—minus all the bodice ripping. plus, there are the occasional fight scenes. yep... i really like it!

this is a new obsession, so i will refrain from passing criticism on specific titles. however, i have to say that i really really really enjoyed Sungkyunkwan Scandal, which served as my gateway drug. i have seen quite a few Korean period films (and by "quite a few", i mean like maybe ten or twelve), but this was my first foray into the world of Korean serial dramas. i am currently working on the third serial in this newfound obsession, though there is already a list of like thirty more titles i hope to eventually get to, and i definitely plan on watching that first one again.

the one thing i must say about K-dramas—all two and a half of them that i have watched thus far—is that they really know how to write a bad guy. it is amazing how easily you find yourself spending twenty episodes with the phrase "i seriously hope that guy takes and arrow to the face" floating around inside your head. i do have to pause every now and then to try to figure out what is happening, but there are tons of websites for  that sort of thing. yes, it is really hard to suddenly go from viewing the world through a prism of near-nihilistic pointlessness to being obsessed with television that seems to have been tailor-made for cheery fifteen year old girls, but i am willing to give it a try.
____________________________

so, as i am already in the dangerous realm of fangirl behavior, it seems appropriate to (finally) elaborate on my fondness for knitwear designer Norah Gaughan (pronounced "gone'). i pulled out the cable book again to talk a bit more about what draws me to her work. and, yes... that is the tail end of my calico cat.



a bit of background: Norah is a veteran of the knitwear industry, and one of those people who can convincingy break all the rules, because she has already mastered them. she has a degree in Biology and Art, and her background influences her work. she is partial to fractals and other naturally-occurring shapes, and they tend to surface frequently in her designs. Norah is the genius behind the Sunflower Tam i mentioned some months ago, which is part of her book Knitting Nature, a collection that was inspired by... well...  patterns in nature.



as the title suggests, the Knitted Cable Sourcebook is focused on the design and use of knitted cables. shocking, i know.



she starts you out with simple cables...



... and tempts you further down the path to something a bit more challenging (these samples are "a bit more challenging" by Norah standards)...



then, as you are trying to get your eyes (and your mind) readjusted back to normal space, she throws something totally bonkers in your path, and you are left standing there, torn between intense curiosity and the very real fear that the universe just might collapse in on itself if you dare get too near. go on. be brave!



if you have hung around this far, you are probably thinking, "they look lovely and complicated, but what am i supposed to make with such things"? the short answer is, "you make things". the book is an invaluable reference if you are looking to incorporate cables into a design (maybe add a bit of complexity to a boring item), but it also includes fifteen patterns by the woman herself... using her own crazy cables!

that cable that looks like two strands of DNA caught in some sort of compromising position...?



it makes for a lovely focal panel in a skirt that echoes the vertical ribbing in the overall design. i can see my mom in this skirt.



and the totally bonkers cable that looks like something from a remake of The Fly...?



it is somewhere between lovely and divine on the front of this otherwise-unremarkable sweater. i feel like you are allowed to pop a bottle of champagne in celebration after you get through knitting this thing.



the first two items i plan to make from this collection are the Sideways Pullover, which is covered in relatively-tame cables...



... and (my absolute favorite design from this book) the Chunky Cardigan. i want to make it a bit longer to double as a light coat in the not-quite-Winter parts of the year.



check out the view from the back. i will need to clear all my chakras before tackling this one.



despite my constant assertion that Norah is my favorite designer, it should be noted that i do not necessarily love (or even like) every single thing she creates. there are a few knitwear designers whose entire body of work fit more comfortably into what i would call my style, but the sameness of their patterns offers neither the imagination nor the challenge that comes from looking at a collection of Norah's designs. some of it jumps out as garments i need to make and wear right away, while others fall into the category of  "interesting... for someone else's body" or (even better) "interesting... and with a few adjustments, i can bring this more in line with my style". that is when the imagination starts racing.

for example, she recently (as in, just a few days ago) released a collection of Summer patterns for fiber company Quince & Co called Framework. it should be noted that this release prompted me to (finally) sit down and try to put into words why it is that i so admire Norah's work. i instantly started a mental inventory of my stash in search of yarn to make the Walkway top, and i am deeply fascinated by the structural lines on Arris.

the collection includes some items that i like... in theory. the gentle waist-shaping and shoulder design on Gambrel create a flattering line. however, i would first have to overcome my continued avoidance of anything that reminds me of shoulder pads or football gear before attempting that one. similarly, i really love the look of Annex. however, the lovely, structural features that give this design the "wow factor" would be like walking around with spotlights pointed at my hips. still, i seriously want to make that top.

similarly, the Cable Sourcebook, contains a Batwing sweater that i would really like to make ... just as soon as i figure out how to get it de-batwingified. then there is the Flared Pullover, which screams "cozy sweater" in my mind. unfortunately, the back section would look like a collapsed tent draped across my railroad-caboose of a behind. still, i really want that sweater... once i figure out how to get it de-tentified. that is where the challenge comes in.

overall, this little obsession of mine allows me to set goals for myself while doing something i genuinely enjoy, and to push myself to occasionally live up to even a small part of that challenge. and, if i occasionally come across someone like Norah who inspires me to grow a little more each day at something i love, then that is a wonderful thing.