Archive for June, 2013
I’d planned a knitting post for today but yesterday was just so overwhelming with awesome that it’s going to have to wait. I couldn’t be happier and I just want to bask in that a little bit longer!
When I heard the news about DOMA yesterday, I wished I was in DC waving a rainbow flag on the steps of the Supreme Court. I’m sick of my “where were you when…” stories ending with “at my desk, I read it on Twitter.” So when my friend Max asked if I wanted to go to the Stonewall Inn with him after work, I was so excited.
I happen to work just a short stroll from Stonewall which is so bizarre to me. New York is weird like that. The city has changed so much since the riots happened 44 years ago and, aside a few recent news articles about hate crimes against gays in the village, it’s an incredibly diverse and welcoming place. It’s strange to think that a place I pass by on the way to grab a sandwich is the site of a catalyst for the pride movement.
When we arrived, Cher was blasting and all of Christopher Street from 7th to Waverly was blocked off. People were handing out flags and stickers and everyone was hugging and smiling. Edie Windsor gave a speech, saying how proud her late wife Thea would have been and my eyes just filled with tears. I was watching history. It felt like a long time coming but finally, it was here. It was hot and the speakers were too loud but I was just so happy to be there, celebrating with all of these other people. I was proud to be an ally and to have supported in the ways that I could. And I was just elated that my friends and family could be treated as they deserved and that justice was served as it so seldom is. It was really magical.
At the same time, I knew that there was more to be done. Chris Christie still vows to veto any gay marriage bills that may pass again in my home state of New Jersey (sounds like he could use a hug from Corey Booker). Some state constitutions define marriage as only heterosexual which may prevent same sex couples living in those states to receive these new benefits. There is still a long way to go. I was raised to be keenly aware that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And if you’ve been following the news this week, you’ll see that there is still a lot of injustice being doled out by the same people who made this decision. So we can’t give up fighting. There’s still a lot to fix in this world but I think we all deserve a break to dance in the street, to celebrate these victories!
It’s summer so it’s more than officially CSA season, guys! I’m obsessed with my CSA and I love hearing about new people joining up with ones in their neighborhoods so I just want to preach about it today. I like to relate everything back to knitting but I think that people who make things care about where things come from and in this case, we’re talking about food. Everybody cares about where food comes from. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a Food Network.
CSA means community supported agriculture. It’s a form of a food co-op (that’s how I present it to people without getting into the long explanation) but it’s not like a grocery store. Members of the CSA buy a share in a local farm before the season, an investment that allows the farmer to have some capital before there is produce to sell. Once the food is harvested it’s divided amongst the members evenly (or however the division is agreed upon) and you get a great return on your investment. There are CSAs for everything you might want to eat: vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, maple syrup, honey. (There’s even a yarn CSA!)
Long story short, it’s a great and impressively cheap way to get huge amounts local, fresh, organic produce to your home. I’ll be completely transparent: Jon and I pay about $40/week from May to Thanksgiving for pick ups every two weeks of veggies, fruit, and a whole chicken. And it’s a LOT of food. (Imagine spending $40/week in a New York City Whole Foods. You’d starve.)
I’m always bragging about my membership to anyone that will listen. Eating local and organic are trendy and I think a lot of people think I’m snobby or elitist or whatever (I live in Brooklyn so, surprise! those stereotypes are true and I’m ok with it) because I want to put things into my body that aren’t poison. I hate thinking of it in terms of what’s en vogue and what’s not. We should all want those things and we should all want them for as little money as possible. Foodies come in all shapes and sizes, you’d be surprised!
It’s important to me that I’m doing something good for my body and the environment and my community (my required volunteer work is baking a dessert from leftover fruits for a soup kitchen). I love the trust that I have in a farmer that is willing to put food directly into my hands instead of putting a big corporate label on it. I love that I can have fresh produce although I live in a huge city. I also love that I don’t have to make trips to the farmers’ market (we pick up all of the goods at a bar two blocks from our apartment) and that I am saving money because there is no middle man. Why should I not want to brag about that? And how could I stop myself from recruiting friends?
While I happen to think that it’s all too good to be true, lots of people I talk to have hang ups about joining CSAs. (Being honest again: I took a year off after the first season I did. My lifestyle wasn’t ready yet. I had roommates and a kitchen I didn’t like spending time in.) You get a lot of food so you either have to do a lot of cooking and canning or split your share with someone (this year we’re doing a half share, hence our every-other-week pick ups and it’s taken a lot of the burden off). It’s intimidating, yes. The first CSA we participated in left us drowning in plums and kale. The refrigerator we shared with a roommate was packed to the gils with leafy greens and purple beans. But I’ve learned that sometimes you have to pick around the moldy cherries and keep the good ones. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not saying that I’m a freegan eating out of dented cans (sorry, freegans! I know that’s a harsh stereotype that isn’t true at all). I just know how to produce less garbage.
Some people don’t like that you have to take home beets and radishes even if you don’t eat beets and radishes. But I’ve learned to eat weird vegetables that I’ve never heard of before. That’s valuable, too! I pride myself in the variety of foods that I now crave when I grew up eating hot dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, and Twizzlers. And, when all else fails, I’m more than happy to share with my family and friends. Besides, it gets them talking about the whole thing!
And, lastly, some people just don’t want to cook. This is something that I care about deeply because just a few years ago the only thing I knew how to cook were Totinos pizza rolls. I ate gummy bears for dinner with cups of coffee made light with artificially flavored creamers (and I didn’t even know how to make coffee until I was 20). I was broke and I was lucky enough to have roommates that knew how to take care of me and gigs that at least provided a disappointing pizza lunch. I hardly slept during college so I was lucky enough to not gain weight but I’m surprised I’m still alive. I wanted to eat food that was good for me but I didn’t know how to make any of it taste good nor did I take the time to do so. Fast forward a few years and I won’t say I’m Julia Child but I know how to put together a meal. I’ve taken a couple of classes to learn very basic things (knife skills, how to butcher a chicken, and how to mix cocktails because that’s important, too) and knowing those things has given me confidence. (It also doesn’t hurt to have a food documentarian boyfriend who is obsessed with molecular gastronomy but I think that I have more staple dinner recipes than he does.) That’s something that delights me. Just like making a sweater, I can make something that is good to eat.
And I feel about cooking much the way that I do about knitting: it can secretly be super simple. You don’t have to know cables or colorwork to put together a sweater that is warm and fashionable. People are still impressed that you made something that is, at it’s heart, just knit and purl stitches. It’s the same with cooking. It might look impressive because it’s wrapped in a parchment bag or roasted with herbs but the simplest techniques make delicious meals. I don’t need a fancy Michelin-starred plate. It isn’t always beautiful or complex (any vegetable roasted with olive oil is so delicious it feels like cheating) but it’s a home cooked meal.
So I say more of us should give this a try. It takes some getting used to but the amount of awesome you’ll feel when you’re sitting down to a meal you made yourself with produce that’s sustainable and organic, that didn’t break the bank, will make the craziness of offloading three pounds of peaches into a pie totally worth it.
To find a CSA near you, check out Just Food!
Have you participated in a CSA? Did you love it?
So I’m usually not so bad at getting photos of a FO. Most sweaters I finish and I immediately want to get them photographed. (Can I tell you a secret? I plan photo shoots long before my knits are finished! My neighborhood has so many spots that I can’t wait to use for backdrops.) This time I totally slacked off so I’ve had the Poolside test knit finished for a couple of months. I even wore it for my appearance on Nora Meets the Maker. But there are real legitimate photos now.
I’m actually glad that I waited to post photos. Since I’ve worn this garment a number of times since completing it, I’ve been able to get a feel for what I like and dislike. Especially since I was trying out something new by knitting with cotton. I now have a full report!
First off, this pattern is gorgeous. The lace is so beautiful. I still love looking at it and I get lots of compliments. Isabell Kraemer’s pattern was a breeze to knit up. It was great travel knitting even though a few times I lost track of my lace and messed up a some spots while I was trying to keep myself from having a panic attack on the plane but I can’t even tell where that happened anymore. I’d love to make another one in a different fiber just to see how it turns out.
I’m also really psyched about this color. It’s kind of purple but not really purple but also kind of grey. Not a color I’d normally choose for myself (really the only color I wear is blue and I’m trying to change that). I’m proud that I switched it up a lot with this project.
Now, to get onto the stuff that I’m not crazy about.
The cotton was a great challenge for me but I’m still not really sold. Sorry, cotton, I just don’t think that plant fibers are really my thing. (That being said, the Blue Sky Alpacas is probably the nicest cotton yarn I’ve felt.) I love that this garment is summery but it’s still heavy and feels like it’s slowly stretching out the more that I wear it. Also, the stitches are still super pronounced and I should definitely have followed the rules and joined new skeins at the beginnings of rows instead of right in the middle of the chest. I learned my lesson there.
I also thought that I was being smart and knit the sleeve edges in reverse stockinette stitch in the round (purling every row) instead of doing faux garter stitch in the round (alternating between knit and purl stitches) as the pattern called for. That was stupid. The reverse stockinette doesn’t look neat and flat like the bottom of the sweater, it is all rolled and bothers the crap out of me. You can really see it in the photo below. I could’ve gone back and ripped it out but I didn’t and probably never will because I tend to never look back. Call me lazy or stubborn, I will pretend it’s some kind of life philosophy.
All in all, I’m super happy with the garment as a comfy, loose spring piece. It’s feminine and cute but it lends itself to my anti-fussy, easy-to-wear wardrobe perfectly. Some of the fitting issues that I have with it, I think, are really in my head. Seeing photos of the garment, it looks nice and not baggy or stretched out. Does that ever happen to you?
So, what’s your verdict? Will you ever love knitting with cotton? What fiber would you use for this sweater?
How perfect is it that this video came out over Father’s Day weekend? My dad is a biker and a big fan of Steve McQueen so I’m obsessed with this animation by Ruth Herring and the Baker-bunch. The scene, re-creating the climactic moment of the film, was made in honor of the 50th anniversary of the film’s release. The bike chase scene was allegedly added to the film in order to appease Steve McQueen when when he refused to swap costumes with James Garner (you can read more about it in the video’s description).
Knitted stop motion animation is something that I’ve always wanted to try and what better way to do it than paying homage a classic cinematic moment. (As an aside, stop motion is the most tedious thing I’ve ever attempted. Big props to anyone who’s successfully animated anything without jumping off of a building!) I really love the great little set including plastic soldiers and great fair isle German signs.
I forgot how awesome Steve McQueen’s sweatshirt is in the film! (Another something I’d love to make for myself.) I highly recommend you check out this video! And, as I was preaching last week, make sure you like and subscribe to the K1P1 youtube channel!
And while we’re on the subject, Eddie Izzard on The Great Escape. Back to the cooler!
ps. Dad, I can’t knit you a motorcycle right now. I know you were thinking it!
Pour yourself a drink. This is a long one. Apologies in advance.
Most Saturday afternoons when Jon and I are visiting his parents, his dad will settle in front of the TV with a cold beer and flip the channels. Almost always he lands on the fishing channel and that’s what we watch all afternoon while Jon fixes something with someone’s iPhone and I click away with my needles. Jon’s dad loves to fish. He wakes up early on Sunday mornings and returns home with something to grill for lunch.
Most Saturday mornings when Jon and I are visiting my parents, my dad will settle in front of the TV with a coffee and flip the channels. Almost always he lands on the History Channel and that’s what we watch all afternoon while Jon fixes their printer and I click away with my needles. My dad loves history. He takes time off of work to drive to historic sites in other states and has room full of books he’s read about the Founding Fathers.
I love knitting. And when I curl up on the couch with my work, I like to watch TV. That’s no secret. I’ve gone through seasons of Mad Men, Big Love, Doctor Who (to mention a few) in the name of my knitting.
So when a friend sent me a picture of this ad in the subway, I was delighted.
Until I realized that it was just a joke. Thirteen has a series of ads that poke fun of contemporary television. “The fact you thought this was a real show says a lot about the state of TV. Support quality programming.” I see where they’re coming from. I’m kinda snobby. I don’t know how many iterations of Duck Dynasty or Long Island Medium the world needs. Those aren’t things I’m into. I wasn’t offended that PBS was making fun of knitting (though it’s such an over-used stereotype that old ladies knit, it’s not even that funny), I was mad that there wasn’t a show for me to watch.
There’s a channel for my dad full of shows about the American Revolution (spoiler alert: we won). There is a whole network dedicated to fishing which (no offense, fisherpeople) is kind of notoriously boring (or is that a stereotype just like the old ladies knitting? If so, sorry again.). Guys (and pretty ladies) fish in the ocean, in the Great Lakes, in the carribean. They talk about fish and boats and gear. But really, it’s a lot of fishing which is great if you’re into fish porn. I could see how a guy like Jon’s dad could get into that channel. I said aloud, after hour four of Saltwater Adventures, “I wish I could watch a knitting channel all day.”
So I want my Knit TV!
Where’s my channel? The DIY Network is entirely made of home improvement shows since Knitty Gritty’s end in 2007. The same can be said for HGTV. Martha Stewart’s show was cancelled last year and she’s not just a little lady with needles. Even if I were to be less specific craft-centric, the Food Network has been bastardized by reality and competition shows. Good Eats and Boy Meets Grill and Julia fucking Child have been relegated to the Cooking Channel where actual cooking instruction happens.
So, yeah, PBS, I can see what you mean. And I see what you’re trying to do with Create TV (a channel that a lot of us probably don’t get with whatever cable we have). But I’m not asking for something that’s dry and awkward, Bob Ross style. Why can’t we have an exciting network with cool shows? The fact that Project Runway has gotten 10+ seasons goes to show that people like things being made and it can be done in a glossy, sell-able way.
What about a yarn and fabric-centric travel show? Anthony Bourdain has made a career out of eating around the globe. Why not knitting around the globe? How about competition shows like Craft Wars? (As an aside, I can’t complete this post without saying that I LOVE CRAFT WARS! Please tell me they’re bringing it back for a second season!) There’s a cupcake competition show on Food Network that’s had multiple seasons, I’m sure we can do better. There are home improvement shows about upcycling a la This Old House, why not something fashion-oriented or just plain design-savvy? And if we want to take the reality show route, instead of Cake Boss, how about a LYS show? Ravelry has 2 million members, there’s an audience for this stuff. I’ve got plenty of ideas, DIY Network, so feel free to hit me up. (In this 2009 blog post by Vickie Howell blames the absence of craft television on sponsorship. Home improvement shows are buoyed by the giant home improvement stores. I’m sure she knows more about the subject than I do but I can’t believe there aren’t stores and products – outside of yarn companies – that couldn’t advertise to such a great market.)
Until then, I’m happy to say that we crafters are taking the internet by storm. If there’s one place that we can have whatever we want, it’s online. With the rise of craft YouTube channels (shameless self promotion here), our audience is getting what they want. Shows like Nora Meets the Maker sheds light on different makers and projects while being fun and trendy and The Fiber Factor is giving that competition excitement to budding designers. And I must mention that there are a myriad of video (and traditional) podcasters sharing tons of content. We might be doing them on shoestring (read: zero dollars) budgets but they’re out there!
In conclusion, maybe cable is over. Maybe, if I can’t get the shows that I’d really love to watch, my subscription will end. Of course, there’s plenty of non-craft shows that I love but online accessibility (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc) is making television obsolete. So maybe we should just wait for these big networks to die out and then we can take over for craft video world domination. A girl can dream. Until then, it’s important to support those shows that we love so much by clicking the like button, sharing with our friends, commenting, and subscribing. (Please don’t take this as a plea for subscriptions for my own channel which has been coming back to life after a long winter! I mean every kind of content that you like from any maker!) It’s important that people know they’re being appreciated so they keep putting in their hard work. And, you never know, online popularity leads to shows on those networks I just sentenced to death. I’d love for any of these crafters to break out into the mainstream!
What craft shows do you like? What would you love to see on tv? What are you watching online? Say it with me: I WANT MY KNIT TV!
ps. Happy Father’s Day to Jon’s dad and my own!(?)
Tags: ad, cable, craft wars, DIY Network, fishing channel, food network, knitting wars, long read, martha stewart, nora meets the maker, pbs, rant, reality tv, the fiber factor, thirteen, TV, vickie howell, video podcast
So much going on! I hardly have time to write. Summer is here and everything is happening. I feel like I haven’t sat still in weeks but there’s lots of fun stuff going on that I will be able to tell you about in the future. Until then, there are some cool things that I’m ready to report. So listen up!
I recently had the honor of appearing as a guest on Kollabora’s new web series Nora Meets the Maker. The series is great, featuring lots of different crafters and cool projects. I’m really excited for more episodes to come out! My episode features a cool i-cord headband that I designed. It’s a really cute and simple project with tons of options for embellishment. I hope I have time to make a few more of them, actually, because I really feel like the possibilities are endless.
It was tons of fun shooting with Nora and the rest of the ladies at Kollabora. They are always such a treat to work with! The green screen concept is so great to play around with. It’s very silly in a public access TV show kind of awesome. I’m awkward as all goddamn but you can see my Poolside top in action! Nora cracks me up.
Check out the free pattern for the Libby headband on Kollabora and take a look at the other episodes!
Are you following me on Kollabora yet? Let’s be friends!
Remember that time that I bought a sewing machine and tried to teach myself to sew? That was almost a year ago! I’ve really slacked off since my first two sewing projects. Like, I started sewing a tank top but then the weather turned cold and I had no motivation to finish it. I’ve promised myself that I will this summer, though! Since I’m not very experienced, I’m not afraid too tackle simple summer clothes like tank tops and dresses so sewing will be a seasonal thing for me, for now.
Although I haven’t touched my machine in a few months, I have been dreaming about stitching a few things. Especially since my big spiel about how I want to add more hand made pieces to my wardrobe due to my general distaste for the current state of the garment industry. There have been multiple occasions over the past few weeks when I’ve thought about buying a tee or a dress and I’ve assured myself that I could just make one instead and then put my wallet away. (Keeping myself from impulse purchases is a victory in and of itself!)
While I’m still learning to sew, I’ve decided that I should really only be making with cheaper fabrics. I treated myself to some Liberty fabric last summer for the yet-to-be-finished Wikstein tank top. But, as I work towards making more difficult garments, I don’t want to waste money in case something goes awry (as is often the case).
So I decided to do some browsing on JoAnn Fabric’s online sale section. I had a few extra dollars kicking around and the weather was just starting to warm up. Why not treat myself to the foundations of a fabric stash?
I’m still really learning about sewing. I’m like beyond a beginner class but I don’t know any lingo or fancy stuff. Not a girl, not yet a woman. I feel like an absolute idiot when it comes to buying fabric but (true to form) I’m just diving in without asking too many questions and I’ll fake it ’til I make it. Like, here’s a good question (that I actually did ask before I spent cash!), how much fabric do you buy to stash? I know I can buy one skein of sock yarn and throw it in my stash or maybe two skeins of worsted weight yarn to make a hat or something. How much fabric should I buy when I don’t have a project in mind? (The answer I crowdsourced was 2-4 yards depending on the width whatever that means – I know what that means, just kidding, kind of. I’ll report back when I have more information.)
I bought four yards of a green seersucker which I think would make an adorable sun dress. Not sure if I’m ready to tackle such a big project or if that’s way too much to get but I bought it. I also bought two or three yards of this yellow cotton fabric that I thought was plain but it actually has a stripey texture to it? I’m thinking a simple t-shirt or tank top with that. Maybe this Mathilde top? It looks intimidating but that’s how I roll! Finally, I bought this really pretty crepe(???)/silky (God, I have no idea what I’m talking about here) pink fabric and, surprise! it has little flowers cut into it. I thought it was printed with a pattern. Guys, dye cut means that there are holes cut in it. Online fabric shopping is just as hard as online yarn shopping. No worries because I don’t think I’m ready to work with slippery fabrics yet, anyway. There’s still time for me to find a pattern that involves sheer fabric with little decorative holes.
Every time I put my toe into the swimming pool of sewing, I’m afraid that sharks will bite me. I totally understand how newbies are so nervous when it comes to knitting. I’m not sure which one seems more complicated (I like to think knitting but mainly because I want to know that I’ve mastered something really difficult!) but there is certainly a lot to learn about both.
What are your tips for buying fabric? Am I doing this right? Do you sew all year long?
I’ve been seeing a lot of great little pouches out there in the world. I really want to buy them all and keep them but I don’t know what I’d do with them! Remember all of that junk in my notions bag? (Just as an FYI I’ve already typed the word “notion” so many times that it sounds weird in my head.) I love the crazy collage bag that I use to store all of my stitch markers and cable needles. It feels durable and it’s the perfect size. While I was in Chicago, I bought a little drawstring project bag (it’s got little embroidered sheep on it!) in the hopes of keeping myself organized.
If I were ever to retire my notion bag or invest in new project bags, I’d probably sew new ones for myself. Of course, I’m an advocate for handmade everything. I see pouches and all I can think of is organizing everything in my life into little decorative bags and mason jars. That would be wonderful. So I’ve been gathering inspiration for bags and here are my three favorites!
Do you keep lots of bags for your knitting stuff? What do you look for in a project bag?