I’m back! I didn’t mean to take a break. Life just really got in the way. I guess the Blood Moon is really throwing me for a loop because April has been crazy! Thanks for hanging around.
If you use that calculator, the one that adds how much time you’ve spent watching your favorite TV shows, you’ll know that if you’ve watched every episode of Seasons 1-14 of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (as I have), you’ve watched TV for 13 days, 8 hours, and 8 minutes. If you add in all of the re-runs, the episodes caught after school or the daytime ones I’d play when I worked at the student lounge, the countless weekend marathons, I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up watching every episode twice (three times at least for the episode where Martin Short plays a psychic, the story arc where Olivia goes undercover with eco terrorists, and when Alexandra Cabot gets shot). While I will gladly admit that the show is full of cheap thrills, melodrama, and, unfortunately, as of late, a little tasteless, I’ll still always have a big place in my heart for this show. The “dun dun” will always be a pavlovian bell to me.
To make a long story short (too late), SVU has always been my go-to TV knitting show. When I was in school, we had a lot of classes dedicated to just watching films (and discussing them, obviously). I did a lot of knitting in dark, cramped movie theaters. For education. It didn’t stop there, though. I’m still a binge-watcher but I feel less guilt about spending the day on the couch since I can make a sock during a marathon. I’ve never met a knitter that didn’t feel productive during a three season sprint.
I started watching SVU from the beginning in college when it was streaming on Netflix. I would sit cross-legged at my desk in a big chair with a big bag of yarn beside me and knit and knit and knit. Sometimes, when things got stressful, I’d skip class and sit with the window open and a mug of coffee, having my own personal Law and Order: SVU marathon. I’d crank out hats and scarves and so many fingerless gloves. Sometimes I’d sell things to my friends, other times I would offer a certain piece to someone and end up keeping it for myself. I made a lot of movies when I was in school, I travelled quite a bit. I stayed up late and worked long hours and I ate more sterno-tray baked ziti than I’d care to admit. But some of my fondest memories are sitting in the comfy chair in my pink bedroom in my first apartment, knitting with Detectives Benson and Stabler.
Now it seems like it might be over. It doesn’t look like the show will be renewed. Perhaps it’s for the best. I didn’t finish this last season because it didn’t feel like the SVU I loved that was empowering and thoughtful. It’s certainly grown clumsier and even outlandish to me over the past few seasons. I could give you all of my complicated feelings about the recent years of the show but I’m not really trying to review here. There have definitely shows that went downhill that were worse off for staying on as long as they did (did you guys watch that last episode of Dexter? Christ.) but this feels different. Maybe it’s a sentimental thing but there’s always been a kind of comforting feeling knowing that there would always be SVU. It always seemed like I could work on my needles and click “Next Episode” for all eternity.
What is your favorite show to watch while you knit? Do you mix things up or do you have an old stand by?
Just before the holidays, I went out for fancy drinks with some friends. I had a great time and then something happened that happens to many New Yorkers. I left my hat in the back of a cab. Or maybe I left it on my stool at the bar. Or perhaps it’s floating around in the place where Tina rolled under the bed in my favorite episode of the Twilight Zone also known as the place where adventurous socks disappear to.
Now that wouldn’t be so terrible since that’s how life goes except for the fact that I had been wearing my Olivia sample every day of the season and now I’d lost something I designed and knit myself. I’d never lost something that I knit before, not that I can remember at least. I still have FOs that I made back in high school that don’t fit properly and itch like the dickens but I can’t bear to part with them. I searched all around and came up with nothing. I felt like a real schmuck.
I figured that one day I’d replace it. Maybe in the mean time I’d make something different just to switch things up. Until then, I had some other hats buried in the closet that would be good enough.
But then I got a great surprise. In the mail one day was my hat! Well, not my hat. Even better than that! My mom had knit me a brand new one! It was so perfect, even better than mine. I was so happy, I’ve been wearing it ever since (and being super careful about it). Of course, I always appreciate getting something handmade but it feels really exciting and special that my mom made something for me that I designed. And she’s a pretty great sample knitter to boot!
I definitely don’t knit for my mom enough. She knits for everybody. I really admire how much work she puts into a toy that’s going to a coworker’s baby. Knowing that she stressed over perfecting each stitch for me warms my heart as much as my head! I think she deserves a special knit, too.
This has been a long time in the making but I have a really exciting announcement today! After months of work, I’m ready to introduce to you to Bridge and Tunnel Yarns!
Inspired by the subways of New York City, this yarn is spun from 100% American angora rat fur. Angora rats are incredibly friendly and clean. They are terribly smart! I think they’re going to be the next big thing in knitting. Super soft and durable, our first base is a lofty fingering weight perfect for socks and shawls.
When I first met some happy angora rats and pet their luxurious fur, I was captivated by the idea of making yarn! I’ve partnered with Moonflower Ranch, a sustainable angora rat farm located in western Pennsylvania, as well as the 100-year-old, family-owned Quickspring Mills in New Hampshire.
Hayleigh, owner of Moonflower Ranch, has told me all about the tradition of rat shearing. This almost-forgotten domestic art is gaining a new following with the homesteader movement. While the numbers of angora rat shearers and spinners has grown, it’s always been a very homemade operation. It’s never been done on a scale like this but the yarns will still be more “small batch” as we grow.
In case you haven’t caught on already, April Fools! That’s actually Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud Lace Yarn. I wouldn’t really ask you to knit with rat fur.
I mean, would you?
I’m obsessing over this video by artists Lernert & Sander of designer sweaters being unraveled. I’ve read some people describe it as maddening and unsettling but to me it is incredibly delicious and meditative. Frogging a piece can be just awful but watching stitches come undone can be just as fascinating as it is to see them created.
>> Everyone’s been sharing this article so I guess I ought to as well. In case you were unaware, knitting is good for you. It’s meditative and relaxing. Imagine that!
>> I’m not even sure what to say about this Captions for Models in Knitting Catalogues. So weird. Definitely funny.
>> Franklin Habit’s piece about his first encounter with needlecraft brought me to tears. Really beautiful. Please send tissues.
>> I have my eye on Stashbot this week. I might wait for the ebook version so I can carry it around on my phone for impulse yarn purchases. I am definitely afraid of how it will help to enhance my stash. Not that that’s every stopped me.
>> Here is my high school’s Handicraft and Knitting Club, class of 1942. (Thanks, Dad!)
What are you knitting up this weekend? How do you like that unravelling video?
Let me be honest with you. When I wrote about how I wanted to bring Timberline on vacation with me and have this really complicated project to focus on, I was lying. I didn’t know it at the time because I was lying to myself and I ended up lying to you, too. (Please forgive me.) Every time I’ve thought about working up a swatch for that sweater since my first attempt, I get a little dizzy. Maybe I was hoping someone would talk me out of it.
I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t confident enough to move ahead with that cardigan. I think it’s more of a commitment issue than an actual fear of the pattern. I’ve knit aran sweaters before. Now just isn’t the right time. I’m just not excited about it and I can’t get started unless I’m really psyched out of my mind. I’m ok with that. All in good time.
Of course, that means that I had to admit to Jon that he wasn’t going to get a Timberline any time in the near future. I think he was a little bummed. This boy loves cardigans. But I have something else up my sleeve.
While I was browsing the Brooklyn Tweed site a few weeks ago, Jon caught a glimpse of Grettir over my shoulder and made me show him all of the photos. Then he forgot that he’d pointed it out to me. But I remembered and I decided that he should have this sweater in his wardrobe. I love colorwork and I haven’t knit that many circular-yoke sweaters so this will be fun. Besides, it’ll look really handsome on him and it’s very different from the rest of his clothing.
I stuck pretty close to the sample pallet. I decided to go with Cascade 220 instead of Brooklyn Tweed for some budgetary reasons but also because my LYS didn’t have all of the grey shades of Shelter in stock. Really, I fell for this blue-grey for the main color. It’s really a pewter which is one of my favorite colors.
Jon did seem a little disappointed that the main color yarn isn’t heathered the way that Shelter is. (He asked, “How will you get those dots in it?” to which I answered, “Uh…it won’t.”) But I’m confident it’ll still be a beautiful sweater. He’s pretty easy to knit for, not afraid of color or being bold. He’s a pretty stylish guy.
What do you think? Am I chickening out? Do you prefer colorwork or cables?
I have always been really obsessed at peeking into other people’s sketchbooks. I love to see how artists think and how their process evolves. I even like looking at my old sketchbooks just to have the memory of the challenge and the excitement. I don’t do much drawing anymore but I do have a journal that’s filled with ideas for knitwear.
When I started working on The Crash, the furry loop stitch concept was fresh in my mind. I was feeling really inspired by what I was seeing people wear on the street. I started drawing out some ideas for how to make that real. A lot of it was absurd capelets that would be impossible to wear let alone knit but I just kept drawing it over and over again, tweaking it here and there and ended up with this.
This was the first real incarnation of the sweater in my mind. I like to write lots of notes to myself. Everything is pretty specific even when I don’t know what I want. The loopy shoulders were so vivid in my mind. There are lots of shoulder drawings in there, just trying to figure out how it all should fit together.
I remember thinking about doing a simple moss stitch sweater under the shoulder pads. I also played around with the idea of a cabled aran sweater. In the end, I kind of split the difference with the masculine diamond motif.
As you can see, it stayed pretty true to itself from beginning to end. Once I know what I want, I have a hard time moving away from that, even when I know that there are other options that will work just as well. While that sounds lovely, it was a real challenge since this piece is so wild. I really wasn’t sure how to make the shoulders work and fit but I had a picture in my mind of that final product.
I’m still filling up my notebook with sweaters. Sometimes it drives me crazy! I wish I had time to take them off the page! It’s way easier to scribble out a hat than it is to sit down and make it real. But, for me, putting pen to paper is the best way to make an idea grow.
Do you sketch your knitting? How do you plan designs?
You’ll never forget your first.
I started knitting ten years ago. I jumped right in making things for my friends. I like to think that I was a quick study. Probably because, before that, I learned the very basics when I was eight years old. My mom taught me garter stitch when I was in fourth grade. She did all of the casting on and binding off but she taught me the knit stitch and I made this.
It’s not very impressive. I believe it ended up being a blanket for my favorite stuffed animal. It certainly grew in places, probably due to the yarn overs placed arbitrarily throughout. It’s made from some leftover Red Heart Super Saver so it doesn’t feel particularly nice. It was something to keep me occupied when I could draw, another way to make things. It is what it is.
I’ve taught countless people to knit since this unfortunate blob happened. “You should see the first thing I ever made,” I’ve told each and every one of them with the memory of this piece still fresh in my mind. When I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom over the weekend, I found it. I knew it was still in my parents’ house somewhere. (We have a hard time parting with things.) And I’m so glad it still exists.
If I had a studio, I’d hang it on the wall. Look at how far I’ve come! Look at how much there is to learn! Look at how satisfying it is to make things with your hands!
What’s the first thing you ever knit? How did it turn out?
Have you seen this knit stop motion animation of Muybridge’s iconic Horse in Motion? If the last four years of my life could be distilled into a single, simple thing, I would present you with this and you would understand. Knitting and filmmaking as one! (Although last night someone told me about knitting on screwdrivers. I’d say that’s a close second.) I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend exploring Sam Meech’s projects!
>> What would a description of my life be without hambrugers!? You can buy a crocheted hamburger-shaped turtle cozy here. BECAUSE WHY NOT. I’ll take a turtle cozy over a penguin sweater every day. Sorry, penguins. I just don’t want to hear about your sweaters anymore.
>> The L train was yarnbombed by artist London Kaye last month. I’ve always dreamed about yarnbombing a train but I’ve always been afraid to try it out. It’s a daunting amount of work!
>> I may be biased but I really love this Brooklyn Cloth sweatshirt with its knitted details! It’s for men but I’ve been known to wear boys’ Brooklyn Cloth tops before.
>> I know one particular knitter that loves Legos. Why not bring the love of crafting and knitting together with a Nanoblock sheep!
What are you knitting on this weekend?
When we last saw our hero, she was going through a rough patch with a swatch. Can you believe it’s been over six months since I made my first attempt at Timberline? I have good excuses for not getting back to it (see here and here) but to be completely honest, I was intimidated and frustrated and I gave up a little bit.
It seems like Jon has asked me every day this year when his sweater would be coming. What about a nice raglan or an Icelandic yoke sweater? I even tried to tide him over with a pair of socks. No, this boy will not forget about the 2000 yards of Shelter that’s hiding under the bed.
I think it’s time that I give this sweater a second chance.
I’m going on a short vacation next month and I’m super excited about it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll be a good time to start working on any new designs (though I have ideas coming out my ears right now). Now, the crazy part of me thinks that this is a perfect opportunity to knock out some big chunks of this sweater. Why not? I know it sounds totally crazy to schlep an intensely cabled sweater piece on vacation but I feel like it’ll be a great time to just focus on knitting and not worry about getting laundry done or waking up for work in the morning. At least it’ll give me something to focus on while I’m in the air (I hate the whole flying experience from definitely probably getting cancer in those full-body scanners to everyone in the airport hating you to the roller coaster feeling of take offs and landings). I’ll have some unadulterated time with my needles and no one can tell me otherwise when I’m on my own vacation thankyouverymuch.
Now, the rational part of me thinks that I’ll become terribly claustrophobic and frustrated when I mess up a cable six times on the plane. I won’t be able to get up and take a lap or lie on the floor as I like to do when knitting isn’t working out so I’ll end up stabbing my boyfriend with a knitting needle. Then I will be arrested and probably put on the no fly list (not really a loss there) and maybe a pair of socks would be nicer?
OF COURSE, I could always bring a sleeve AND a sock. Why not both?
Anyway, I have about a month to plan but if I’m taking this show on the road, there is yarn to be wound and some SERIOUS swatching that needs to happen.
What do you think? Do you pack small projects or go all in? Also, somewhat related, any book suggestions for the beach? (I like mysteries, cults, pirates, and young adult dystopias.)
I like to think that I’m a pretty expert knitter. But my great-grandmother’s work was something I can’t even describe. I never met her but I have always admired her skills.
The family story goes that Grandma Lena would knit sweaters for the soldiers during the war. She’d take whatever was given to her in the kit from the Red Cross or wherever and throw it aside in favor of smaller needles and thinner yarn. She’d make them entirely on tiny needles claiming that this would keep them much warmer than that cheap stuff. Then she’d go about making beautiful sweaters that everyone agrees probably never ended up with any privates but went straight to some lucky officer.
My parents still have a few pieces that she made for various family members and they’re absolutely gorgeous. You have to take a look. I can’t imagine this was knit on anything bigger than a size 1 needle. My wrists ache just thinking about knitting a whole vest at such a fine gauge. I’m obsessed with the way the cables decrease at the shoulders for a gorgeous neckline shaping. Isn’t that fantastic?
Here’s a detail from another sweater vest. Do you see how tiny these stitches are? I can’t even believe this was made by a human being. I’m not sure about whether she worked from a pattern. I have a sneaking suspicion that she wasn’t, though.
The cable running up the center (which you can see on the bottom of this detail) is actually one of my favorite cables. (I’ve used it on these socks.) It’s nice to know we have similar tastes.
It’s so inspiring for me to know that I come from a family of talented knitters! I’m not sure I could ever attempt a piece as detailed as Lena’s work. I’m just not patient and, frankly, I’m a little sore. But it definitely makes me want to challenge myself!
I know it’s tough to tell from my crappy iPhone photos but any guesses to what size needles she was using? Who keeps challenging you when it comes to craft?