Back in June, I stumbled on an exciting Olek yarnbomb in my own neighborhood! I’m obviously a big fan of her work and I’d always dreamed of happening upon some of it but I hadn’t expected to see anything so close to home since she’s always bouncing around the globe. But here it was! And there she was, walking down the street, wearing a crocheted skirt and embellished bag. I thought about running after her but I totally chickened out. Regrets, guys, regrets.
I took a few photos (including the one above which I’ve been using as a background on my phone). I was pretty psyched that I was up close and personal with one of her pieces.
But I am SO envious of everyone that’s gotten to see Olek’s newest creation: this yarnbombed train!
The train is located in Lodz, Poland. I can hardly imagine how many hours and yards were involved in this insane piece of art. It’s fantastic. I have no words, just so much respect!
Olek is quoted as saying “If the natural progression is to make bigger better pieces, what should I make next? Can someone give me a plane? Or should I go to the moon?” It reminds me of the Pendragon magicians (I was obsessed with becoming a magician in elementary school) who once disappeared a space shuttle (I was also obsessed with becoming an astronaut). Yarnbombed space shuttle, please!
What should Olek bomb next?
train photos via HuffPost
I wasn’t expecting much when I heard about Jenji Kohan’s new show for Netflix Orange is the New Black. I loved Weeds (up until season 4, at least) but the premise of Orange seemed a little too similar (white ladies + drugs = surprise!). The posters also seemed a little too sit com-y and the trailer made me scared that it might be uncomfortably racist. But Jon loved Weeds, and we have a really hard time agreeing on what to watch. So we decided to give the first episode a try to see if we liked it.
We watched the whole first season in 24 hours. And in the same weekend, Jon had finished the first three chapters of Kerman’s memoir.
Since then, I can’t stop thinking about the show. I’m so excited to have a good excuse to write about it here.
Inspired by Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, OITNB would have you believe it is about artisenal-soap-making Park Slope blonde Piper Chapman. She is sent to prison for smuggling drug money during an ‘adventurous, post-college, lesbian’ phase. But the story is much more than the fish-out-of-water it’s billed to be. It takes a lot of time to really explore all of the characters with incredible empathy.
While I can’t speak to how accurate the show is, it is certainly moving. And it has to be commended for a diverse range of characters and fantastically off-beat female actors. I’ve never seen an ensemble drama spend so much time developing characters that were all so complex and real. It’s refreshing to see so many talented female actors carrying a series and I certainly hope it’s the first of many like it. Long story short, Jenji is my new hero.
I don’t want to get into any spoilers here so I’ll stick to the topic at hand: crafts. Having limited resources, these women are very creative. DIY isn’t just for recreation but is often a necessity of prison life. According to Kerman’s book (which I look forward to reading in full), crochet became the craft of choice for many of her fellow inmates. The show has done a great job portraying this from bedspreads, pillows, scarves, and hats, to rec rooms full of women hooking away while others play cards and Scrabble.
Badass prison chef/mother hen Red even wears her glasses on i-cord croakies. Ahem!
I did a little bit of Google-ing about prison knitting. (Apparently crochet hooks are considered less dangerous so it’s more common amongst inmates.) I came across a program in Maryland that has gotten a lot of press called Knitting Behind Bars. They teach knitting to male inmates as a form of recreational therapy. I think it’s amazing that these crafts can bring some catharsis and rehabilitation to them! (Does anyone have information on more programs like these?)
Have you been watching Orange is the New Black? Are you already looking forward to the next season? Does anybody want to talk about the show with me? I can probably go on for hours!
ps. Tomorrow is the drawing for the Metropolitan Knits giveaway! It’s not too late to enter!
So I just finished two big projects that I’ve been working intensively on for the past two and a half months! I can’t really talk details but stay tuned! It’s been a long two months. I’ve really obsessed over these pieces like nothing before so meeting my deadlines feels like I’ve really accomplished something big. (Go me!)
I have nothing on the needles right now. While I thought I’d feel sad saying that, I actually feel good. I feel like I’m reorganizing myself, figuring out the priorities going forward. It feels good!
Of course, I can’t sit still so I’m working on some other projects. The cross stitch, specifically. And, since I don’t have knitting projects distracting me, I’ve been able to get a big chunk of it finished. It’s hard to tell but for me, it looks like it’s on it’s way to being a real completed thing.
For some reason, I got really carried away on the rocks at the bottom. I was avoiding them for a while. I moved on the letters because those are much more glamorous. But when I got into the insanity of the bottom, it was hypnotic. I’m probably going cross eyed and slightly insane from it all but I’d love to have this thing done before Christmas.
That being said, I have no idea how I thought I’d be able to finish this in one month. I’m an idiot.
I feel kind of guilty working on a project that isn’t knitting but I think I deserve a break every now and then. Knitting will always be my number one.
What projects do you work on when you’re not knitting?
ps. Have you entered the Metropolitan Knits giveaway? There’s still time!
A lot of people are dissing the gown Maggie Gyllenhaal wore to the White House Down premiere. They are wrong. THIS IS THE BEST DRESS I’VE EVER SEEN!
Gyllenhaal wore this Christian Dior dress to the New York premiere. It’s got a cabled skirt with a crocheted peplum. It’s chic and crazy and I don’t think that anyone else could ever pull it off. In fact, Maggie looks psyched about it. High five, girl! Black and white knits are so in. It’s a great piece of knitwear that showcases a lot of different stitches and shows the versatility of knitted fabric
Here it is on the runway for the Fall 2013 collection.
I’m pretty sure the bottom is navy while the top and peplum are black. I’m not sure how I feel about that but I just can’t hate anything about it. This is a thing that I wish I’d made. It’s outrageous in the best way possible. What have I been doing with my life? I quit knitting forever.
What do you think? Do you love it or hate it?
photos via Tom and Lorenzo
Remember how Kate Middleton was looking for knitting tips when she picked up her new hobby? Perhaps she can look down under for some advice! Australia’s MP Julia Gillard is an avid knitter who is reportedly making a little stuffed kangaroo for the royal baby that’s due any day now!
Gillard, the first female Prime Minister, was photographed for The Australian Women’s Weekly with needles in her hands, surrounded by yarn! She says that she likes to knit for babies since she doesn’t have much time to complete big projects. It’s hard enough for me to squeeze in a few hours of stitching after work, I can’t imagine doing the same while running a country!
I’ve read some criticism of the spread, some speculate that the photographs were meant to draw in female voters while others go so far as to blame them for the results of last month’s election. There seems to be a lot of opinions on this and it makes me sad that there is controversy here. I won’t pretend that I’m up on Australian politics (I read her Wikipedia page) so I can’t say whether or not I could support Gillard (I mean, there’s definitely points for knitting. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t sway me). But I think it’s absolutely great that she is knitting and that she is open about that.
You have to be kind of a badass lady to help found Emily’s List Australia, lead the Labor Party and become the first female Prime Minister while being an unmarried, childless atheist. Showing that she is a yarnsmith makes her even more courageous. Because a lot of people saw those photos and balked at the idea of a woman knitting baby sweaters being their Prime Minister. The domestic arts have such a stigma, it’s really frustrating. Why should knitting be anything less than fishing or playing football or drinking beer? I doubt there would be so much criticism if she said she liked to take time off and play a few rounds of golf. Maybe the photos did cost her the election but I’m glad she wasn’t afraid to be herself or challenge stereotypes about women in so many ways.
Women can lean in and wear pant suits and run the world. But I think it’s important that while doing these things, we aren’t ashamed or afraid of being women. So we knit and we sew and we cook? In the western world, those things are considered feminine and things that are feminine are silly and undervalued and down-right disrespected. It’s time the world saw that some ass kicking and being a lady goes hand in hand.
Enjoy that stuffed animal, royal baby! It’s truly a special gift!
Would you do a knitting photo shoot if you were running for office? But seriously, what would you knit for the royal baby?
If you were raised on British television as a certain blogger was, then you were surely familiar with the antics of Wallace and Gromit before Nick Park’s feature film Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Maybe you didn’t have HBO but you wanted HBO because you wanted to watch Clueless because you LOVE Clueless even though you’ve never seen it before. So instead you tuned in to channel thriteen to catch broadcasts of BBC shows like Keeping up Appearances.
After hanging out with my Aunt Sherry last weekend and then watching 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death last night (as grown ups do, right?), I was reminded of the many times I visited her and asked to watch The Wrong Trousers with me after making me a blueberry soda. But while the toy train chase scene will always be one of the top ten moments in film history (don’t even, it won an Oscar!), the real best when it comes to W&G is A Close Shave.
Oh, Gromit! Oh, lawn gnome! Oh, PBS fundraiser marathons!
Now, if you are a knitter (or just a regular human being) and you have not seen this short film, you need to correct this situation and do so immediately. Gather up your children or your neighbors children or just a pet (it really makes no difference to me) and watch it.
Here are a few reasons that A Close Shave is amazing: It stars a sheep named Shaun who is adorable. In fact, it stars many sheep. It stars a dog that knits. He knits, guys! It’s a thrilling mystery that revolves almost entirely around yarn! And it’s stop motion animation. If you don’t love stop motion animation, you might as well hate Christmas or ice cream or blowing bubbles and listening to toddlers giggle. Stop motion animation is magical and require patience beyond any reasonable imagination and that is why you should love it.
I demand that you watch this movie! While you’re at it, you ought to be brushing up on Creature Comforts, too. What are you waiting for?
ps. Enjoy your 4th of July! I’m taking the rest of the week off to make friendship bracelets and eat guacamole but I’ll be back next week!
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!
You caught me guys. This column is really just an excuse to talk about my favorite movies and television shows. I admit it. But I think you’ll allow it once again since Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is one of the best films ever made. I have a degree in Film and Video so I think I’m more than qualified to be handing out such judgements (speaking of film school, imagine four years of me reciting the lines “I’VE BEEN READY SINCE FIRST CALL. ROLL!” whenever someone asked if we were ready for a take).
Seriously, I can watch this movie over and over again and it still makes me cry with laughter. I couldn’t tell you my favorite line or scene but I know basically every word of the script. (Apologies to anyone who’s had to watch it with me.) Okay, maybe the part where the pancakes say, “Can I have the Mr. T cereal?” is my favorite. Or, “Yes, that’s me. I am Chuck.” And I challenge you to offer a more important moment in cinematic history than the Tequila dance.
But today I’m here to talk to you about a piece of knitwear. Because I haven’t forgotten that there’s a point to this. Let’s talk about this disguise Pee Wee puts on to fool the law. (THE LAW!) This crazy house coat/jacket thing is AMAZING. Rendered in seafoam green mohair (I can only imagine), with a big moss stitch pattern and even bigger bobbles and that Peter Pan collar. I love it.
Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer! Not sure I’d add this to my fangirl knits list because it’s pretty hideous and I mean that in the best way possible. I am a big fan, though. So is that cop. Big ups to costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers for this fantastic piece.
Do you love Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? I know you are, but what am I?
ps. Don’t forget to check out my Michelle collar KAL!
I just starting to watch Doctor Who recently. I know it’s hard to believe that someone nerdy enough to totally rock these pants (if she had $85 to spend on leggings, that is) isn’t already a Whovian. But it’s true. But I’m catching up, guys! So please indulge me as I talk about fish fingers and custard as if they were something brand new.
But, seriously, guys. I know those of you that like Doctor Who will always be willing to talk about it. Same goes for knitting. So this is a double whammy because we’re going to talk about Doctor Who and knitting. Right now.
Let’s talk about little Amelia Pond wearing the best cardigan slash rain boot ensemble ever. I always get super excited when I see a really great piece of knitwear on screen. This was certainly no exception. I love the lace details. Love them! And the cream ribbing paired with the too-short sleeves make it look like a great ’60s or ’70s hand-me-down. Aw, poor Amelia Pond!
I’m about to go out and buy some yarn for this cardi! I checked on Ravelry but I could only find one Amy Pond sweater that was a pullover. Adding this to my nerdy knits queue (which is a thing that I actually have) right now. Somebody get me some red wellies!
I’m so excited to start my own journey with the Doctor. I’m a little late to the game but I’m certainly already obsessed.
Anybody else coveting this red sweater?
ps. Don’t forget to enter the Craftsy giveaway if you haven’t already!
pps. Somewhat unrelated but: a clip from the film Jon and I shot (was that two years ago, now? Time flies!) was featured on Eater last week!
I’m not really one for celebrity gossip. I love some Jennifer Lawrence but I don’t buy into the tabloids. I don’t really care about who’s dating who. When it comes to the Royals, I’m generally not interested. But when my amazingly talented friend Kelly posted this article about Kate Middleton’s new hobby, I was giddy! The Duchess of Cambridge has taken up knitting while waiting for the next Royal to arrive. Obviously she and I are automatic best friends now. I wonder what adorable little things she is making for the baby. Now, lots of celebrities knit but I thought that it was really sweet that Kate said she could use some tips for improvement. I wish I could go give her a lesson over tea and biscuits!
In honor of Kate’s new hobby, I put together a few yarns that were born in the UK.
And how could this collection be complete without the Knit Your Own Royal Wedding book by Fiona Goble?!
I wonder if we can send Kate some knitting advice. My favorite thing to tell beginners is this: There are only two stitches. Once you know them both you can make ANYTHING so there’s no reason to be intimidated!
What’s your advice for new knitters? Are you listening, Kate? We’re here to help!
ps. Check out Francesca’s test knit of my Olivia pattern. I love the color she chose!