Thursday, February 28


I'm a little behind with blogging. I've been working like mad on a set design - I need to hand in drawings on Monday - and so blogging (and knitting!) have fallen by the wayside. Interestingly, I don't miss either. I know that knitting fills a need to have my hands busy and mind active in a more creative way, and designing does that too. Designing does not calm me down, however. I think I need to find time for yoga or something to really settle my mind.

Last weekend I went down to visit my parents in Philadelphia. My mother and I spent most of the day on Saturday seeing my cousin's family in Maryland, and on the way back we stopped and saw my mother's art show. It was in its last days and was indeed "sublime," as described by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

We also went to a printer. Many moons ago, my mother began talking about stationary, and how it would be nice for me to have something with my name or initials on it. We are now taking steps to make that happen, working with an independent print maker, Liz. (She also printed our wedding invitations.)Liz has a really wonderful collection of vintage letterpress plates and fonts. We selected a botanical image for the front of the card and then looked at fonts for my initials. What she has is fairly hit or miss; there is some great stuff but sometimes it's only in one size, and often that size is very large.

Figuring out the colors was difficult. My mother and I had chosen light green cards from Paper Presentation. We settled almost immediately on a beige ink for the botanical image, but it took us hours to come up with just the right color for my initials. Unlike Photoshop, you can't just change the color with a click of a button. Each time we wanted to try something else, Liz had to mix it and then print it on our sample. And of course once the sample got full of little colored initials it was hard to see, so she had to print more samples. It was very cool, if time consuming, and I do wish that I had taken print making in college.

Friday, February 22

a very late winter white

It finally snowed here in New York! I woke up this morning to the sounds of snowploughs and this:
It has of course now turned to rain. But it brought joy while it lasted.

Thursday, February 21

a dilemma

I have not yet mentioned this, but in a fit of cardigan lust I cast on Sweaterbabe's Cables and Lace Cardigan with some Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK. Great yarn, decent pattern (it has no charts, so I made some). Anyway, I've been working away on it since some point in January. Yesterday and today I had jury duty, and I brought along the pattern, a ball of yarn and my needles. I cast on and knit the second front panel of the cardigan. It was really great jury duty knitting, and by this afternoon the yarn was used up with only an inch or two left to finish. Which is interesting because the first front panel took less than a ball of yarn.

When I got home I steamed both sides and lined them up, and they don't line up. I was pretty careless when I did the decreases on the first panel (I think I was being overly social and not paying very close attention) whereas on jury duty I gave it my full attention. The question now is: how important is this? The neckline will get a knitted on ribbed border, which might make them seem more equal. And it's sort of a wrappy thing, not so precise. I'm feeling lazy about it, but I'd also like them to match more or less. Or look like they match.

Ideas? What do you all think?

Sunday, February 17

a birthday cake

Yesterday was my birthday, and Christopher baked me a cake.

Christopher doesn't cook. I mean, sometimes he boils pasta, and I've taught him how to make brown rice and quinoa, but he doesn't usually assemble ingredients in a complex way and then serve them to multitudes. But he wanted to impress me, and somehow he knew I'd be completely blown over by his courage to do something (on his own, and for the first time) that I have done before, and to make something that would be judged by our guests and myself in one bite.

The cake was initially meant to be a surprise, but since I kept mentioning the cake I was planning to bake, and showed no sign of leaving the apartment, he told me of his plans. Together we looked at some cake recipes, and we settled on a recipe for a coconut mace cake his aunt had brought to our wedding. She had also sent the recipe to my cousin, who had collected recipes into book for my bridal shower. The recipe as written is just a list of ingredients, in the order of adding them, along with an oven temperature and bake time. Since Christopher had never baked a cake, we decided to follow the instructions from a cookbook for a yellow layer cake, but use his aunt's ingredients. It worked rather well, I think!
The recipe calls for boiled frosting, which I've definitely heard of but did not know how to make. I pulled out the Joy of Cooking, and though there were cooked frostings, there was nothing specifically called "Boiled Frosting." My other standby cookbooks also offered no help, so we settled on a buttercream frosting, which involved cooking over a double boiler while mixing and measuring the temperature until it was exactly 160 degrees. I actually helped for that part, since it demanded more than one pair of hands.
Since we rarely make cakes, and definitely not iced ones, we didn't realize until it was too late that we didn't have an icing spatula. Christopher improvised rather well with the blunt side of a carving knife.
Not so bad, right? This is the finished cake, dusted with coconut flakes.
And here it is in action.
There aren't any more photos of the cake, or partial cake, since it was quickly devoured by our guests last night. It was incredibly delicious though, and my friend's boyfriend said that he was intimidated by the bar that Christopher had now set.

Christopher's reaction to baking the cake: he's not impressed by other people's baking anymore, since he had now done it and it didn't seem like such a big deal. Does this mean he'll bake regularly?

Friday, February 15

my yarn!

Well, here's a toast to my father. Just about two weeks ago I scanned and sent him plans for my missing spinning tools: a niddy-noddy, a bobbin holder and a special ruler to measure wraps per inch. He whipped them out and mailed them, but it took a week for the box to arrive. Here they are on unpacking. Dinah was really curious. I have been very busy with a set design, and haven't had time to use my new tools. Until tonight. I managed to finish plying my yarn, and then I couldn't contain myself and I pulled out the niddy-noddy.

It was a little tricky at first- the yarn kept slipping off- but once I got the hang of it the whole thing was rather simple, involving a twist of my wrist. I could see this wearing on my wrist after awhile; it's no wonder that everyone directs you to hold your right hand stable and then wind the yarn with your left hand. bah!
I quickly wound my yarn (120 times around, which means that I have roughly 180 yards), tied it in 4 places and then slid it off. It immediately twisted itself up, which (I think) means that I definitely need to wash it to help the fibers relax a bit.
(This photo is of the yarn after I twisted it into a skein.)
It's definitely a bit uneven, especially in the middle. (Plying two colors was really useful to a beginner like me, as I could see how well spun it was.)

Thursday, February 14

I nearly forgot

A Happy Valentine's Day to you!I made two of these, for different friends. They were very simple to knit up, though they're supposed to be felted. Maybe next year...

Pattern: Hearts by Anna Hrachovec
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, left over from my sweater that turned into a hat

(Anna Hrachovec's site is really worth checking out. She also has patterns for knitted toilet paper and Bob, whose "shape was inspired by the plastic thing that floats in your toilet tank." I kid you not. Bob is also very cute and I'd probably knit him in a jiffy if I had more time on my hands or a child who would enjoy Bob more than me.)

I've been overwhelmed with model making today; it's been an adventure to say the least. Remind me to write about it when it's over.

Monday, February 11

my elfish hat

As promised, I have photos of my ganomy. I've now worn it twice, and I'm happy to report that is very, very warm, but somehow it's not too warm that I sweat to death if I go into a store without taking it off. That probably has the yarn to credit, the lusciously soft Mirasol Yarn Miski. (Love that baby llama!)I love this pattern, and I should probably warn all of you family members that you may someday receive a hat with this shape as a gift. It's perfect at covering your ears and back of your neck and it also is extremely cute.
Pattern: Ganomy, by Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Mirasol Yarn Miski, purchased at So Much Yarn, Seattle, WA

Friday, February 8

a dear friend

One of my oldest, dearest friends has just published her first book! Manya and I were in kindergarten together; we've been good friends since. We were both sort of awkward, odd, arty kids growing up, and she's the one I call now when I am feeling down about my career or need some design advice. We're both trying to make this job-in-the-arts thing work, and she's well on her way! This is a photo of us at her house, in about fourth grade. I am wearing a dress that had belonged to one of my parents' friends when she was a girl.

Yuki's Ride Home is an illustrated story about a girl who spends a day with her grandmother and then must make the journey home on her own. It is a wonderfully illustrated first glimpse at Japanese life, as well as being a really sweet story. (Plus, Manya is my friend and am super proud of her!)Anyway, Monica Wellington did an interview with Manya, which I thought was really interesting. I am posting a link here.

Did I mention that you should buy the book??

Thursday, February 7


Somehow since coming back from Seattle we've become really busy. Maybe we were like that before, I dunno. It just seems like I'm always doing things and then I have to stop so I can go to bed.

Tuesday night Christopher and I anxiously watched the election returns. Since the TV is in my room-o-yarn, I took the opportunity to get Christopher to help me ply my spinning. I stuck my two bobbins on a dowel, ran the singles from the bobbins to the wheel, and had Christopher hold the dowel. It worked rather well, I must say. Perhaps Christopher has a future in dowel holding ahead of him.

The plying revealed something interesting about my spinning ability. First, you must imagine that I started spinning right before Christmas, filled 1/2 a bobbin and then moved on to my second bobbin. Simple enough, right? The thing is, the singles on the first bobbin are rather uneven and icky. As I went along, I got better at spinning, so the yarn on the second bobbin is much more even and well-spun. Plying it together put the better with the bad, so that the finished plied yarn is completely uneven when it gets to the very end. Likewise, my first try at plying is uneven, the middle is better, the end got sort of mucked up with the gross yarn.

(the stuff in the middle isn't so bad, right?)I'm not sure what to do-- perhaps I should cut out the horrible stuff and graft in some better yarn?? Christopher thought I should be true to my craft and just keep it in, as testament to what I completed. I'm not so sure.

Sunday, February 3

good news

I've found my #7 needles, which means I can continue my Forecast sweater. Strangely, they were sitting right next to the TV. Maybe they ended up there when we cleaned today; I can't imagine that they've been there for the past month. Bad news: I can't find the yarn for the sweater. Do you ever feel like you're chasing your tail?

In other news, I took the plunge on Friday night and jerry-rigged a bobbin holder so I could ply. It was not ideal-- I strung the bobbins on a dowl that was held in place by the arms of my office chair-- but I did manage to ply a little. The result reminds me of some horrible Harry Potter goes to Harvard nightmare (though Christopher tells me that Harvard's color is just crimson, there's no yellow). But it's yarn, and it doesn't look too bad. I'm sure I can find some use for it at some point. (The color in the photo isn't great. Sorry about that!)

Tonight I finished a ganomy hat, pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman in the Knitter's Almanac. I bought this book last summer, inspired by Jared Flood's February Baby Sweater. I had never heard of Elizabeth Zimmerman (was I living under a rock??) but the BSJ is so incredible that I wanted to know where this came from. The book is so much more than patterns. I have been carrying it around in my purse, reading it when I can't get a seat on the subway, and it's fabulous. Entertaining, educational, inspirational. She makes knitting seem so accessible and flexible, easy to understand. Anyway, when I got the book I fell in love with this hat and when I bought the Miski baby llama yarn in Seattle, I had this hat in mind.
There actually isn't much yardage in the Miski, so I had to use part of the second ball for it. I also ran into some trouble with the decreases; I did stop increasing earlier than I was supposed to, but somehow the decreases decreased into each other at the very end and I wasn't able to decrease fast enough.

I'll try to get some photos of the finished hat on my head. I'm rather pleased with it and hope that it will be warmer than my other hats. I also rather like that it makes me look like an elf. Since I'm tall I tend to feel more lumbering and clumsy so elfish is good.