Archive for June, 2007

YAY!! i get to blog today

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

can you tell i’m jonesin’? i miss my writing . . .

i have not allowed myself to even think about blogging this week til now. i’ve been buried deep in the pattern writing trenches. very deep.

that is, when i’m not doing my job, which has been hectic this week. i have these documetns i’ve been getting back where each of the, oh, 100 or so pages looks like a cy twombly drawing gone awry. i SO wish i could show you some of them—seriously, they are hiLARious—just one rat’s nest of markups after another (it’s my job to sort out what the proofers wrote, and then pick through the digital text and fix it. fun, huh? oh yeah, and make sure it all still fits on the page AND looks pretty).

but i’ve been very diligent and have finally gotten the first part of the bee pattern out to the test knitters. see?

i don’t even have a sock on my desk. in fact—and you might want to sit down for this—i have just one project on the needles right now, and it’s a sock.

the pattern writing part is good, though when i first saw the pattern notes that were exported from the charts, i almost passed out. well, heh, there’s a lot going on in the bee shawl.
not to worry; none of it is very difficult to knit, but the choreography and orchestration are somewhat challenging. and it’s always a big job to make something easier for the end user, which is sort of a thing with me.

patternmaking is a very interesting vocation. i’ve been doing it professionally now for a long time—about 25 years, first in the dress-and-costume trades, then in knitwear. and i’ve always worked with one-off, couture, or first patterns. that is, i have spent a lot of time translating ideas into hardcopy.

as a first-pattern cutter, you are given all sorts of descriptive material—sketches, swatches, verbal descriptions, photos of similar shapes—and little, if any, actual data or tangible model to work off of. you begin by draping fabric on a dress form, and sculpting it with scissors and pins into what you think the designer wants. then you go back and forth, stitching and honing it til it is either overworked and awful, or until it clicks and is wonderful. then you take it apart and make a pattern from that.

with knitting, it’s even better—you have to create the fabric AS you sculpt it.

in both cases, the wider, and more well-absorbed your experience, the more informed your choices are (i.e., you guess right more often). and in both cases, you will do a LOT of math; you will do a lot of redoing, too.
the work gets more and more concrete the closer you get to the end of the process.

it all starts out as a swirl of beautiful abstraction, and it all comes down to knowing the exact number of stitches you will have after repeating a 12-st pattern plus 3 nine times more plus the edge stitches and doubling that, then add 1 stitch. and you BETTER be right.

and the thing is, i love it. i love all that stuff. the idea that there is a process by which i can take the impressions of light, scent, sky, and sound, find a fiber that feels like that, knit it up into patterns that look like those things, and THEN turn it all into numbers and graphs on paper so that other people can do it too, just floors me.

i’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between mathematics, physics, and knitting, admittedly partly due to the job i was talking about earlier. i’m working on a book about how to teach high school students, and i’ve noticed, not for the first time, that when i work on the math and science parts, i literally have moments when my heart races from excitement (out of boredom, i often read the material i am formatting—i know—just think of it as a kind of multitasking . . . instead of what it really is). i mean it—my heart thumps from just rubbing elbows with math theory.

i have similar moments with knitting and designing, in case you were still in any doubt about the breadth of my nerdiness. social science, history, and business just don’t attract me in the same way, although visual art knocks my socks off too.

don’t get me wrong—i am far from being fluent or even literate in higher math and science. i just love the ideas and reactions they cause in my mind. i literally have visions of stuff i could make from reading about math and science.
check it out—at the end of the post, there’s a selection of book titles from a resource list in the book i’m working on; i’m thinking i might need to read some of them.

ok, i’ll stop being weird now, and show you a few more pictures. because there has, at least, been good food this week

mmmm—pizza. with the last of last year’s tomatoes and herbs from this year’s garden
and then, the other day, i came downstairs from a quick nap late in the afternoon, and this was in the hallway

hmmm.
in case you aren’t fully appreciating the size of this box, i took a picture of it dwarfing juxtaposed with my town bike

and from every angle we have a hint as to the contents. the light dawned so bright that i though my head would crack open.
david, is this the new printer?? (hey, i never said i was quick)
heh. (see, this is why he didn’t get to pick out my new camera last year.)

ok, i did remember that we discussed buying a much better printer, seeing as how i am printing almost constantly, and the old one was emitting streaky prints sometimes, for all it’s brilliantly turtlelike charm (translation, i was getting close to pitching it through a window . . . and we all know how that fax machine drawer got broken).


is it muhummed or the mountain?

well this thing is a wee bit bigger than i’d expected. but it prints lots of pages really fast and very crisply, which is a vast improvement over the old one. it replaces several of our ancient office machines (we are recycling those by selling them on ebay) and frees up a lot of surface area on our desktops.
so, it’s official—we are serious about the pattern printing business (we still prefer digital documents, but if we have to use paper, i’d rather it look great and use a minimum of supplies).

ok, that’s all for today. here’s the book list i promised—i just KNOW some of you are with me on this (oh shoot, just humor me so i don’t ever know i’m the only one) . . . and, ahem, i have full-length lists for anyone who wants them . . .

math books

Abbott, E. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.London: Seeley & Co., 1884. 1985.
tell me you’re not curious
Boles, M., and R. Newman. The Golden Relationship: Art, Math, and Nature—Book 1: Universal Patterns. 2nd ed. Bradford, MA: Pythagorean Press, 1992.
everyone needs a golden relationship
Burger, Dionys. Sphereland: A Fantasy about Curved Spaces and an Expanding Universe. Translated by Cornelie J. Rheinboldt. New York: Crowell, 1965.
are you with me yet?
Cromwell, P. Polyhedra. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
c’mon! polyhedra; who could resist?
Devlin, K. J. Mathematics, The Science of Patterns:The Search for Order in Life, Mind, and the Universe. New York: Scientific American Library, 1994.
ok, i think this one is my favorite and might move to the top of the list. if knitting isn’t the search fro order in life, mind, and the universe, then what the heck am i doing with my life?
Garland, T. H. Fascinating Fibonaccis: Mystery and Magic in Numbers. Palo Alto, CA: Dale Seymour Publications, 1987.
Grafton, C. B. Optical Designs in Motion with Moiré Overlays. New York: Dover Publications, 1976.
if this book isn’t chock full of knitting inspiration i’ll be really stunned
Huntley, H. E. The Divine Proportion: A Study in Mathematical Beauty. New York: Dover Publications, 1970.
anything that’s divine has to be on my bookshelf
Livio, M. The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, The World’s Most Astonishing Number. New York: Broadway Books, 2002.
hhmmm. the MOST astonishing number, eh . . . tell me you’re not wondering . . .
Locke, J. Isometric Perspective Designs and How to Create Them. New York: Dover Publications, 1981.
i want to create them—you betcha!
Mandelbrot, B. B. The Fractal Geometry of Nature. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1983.
Miyazaki, K. An Adventure in Multidimensional Space: The Art and Geometry of Polygons, Polyhedra and Polytopes. New York: Wiley, 1986.
Pearce, P. Structure in Nature Is a Strategy for Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1978.
Peitgen, H. O. The Beauty of Fractals: Images of Complex Dynamical Systems. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1986.
Stevens, P. S. Handbook of Regular Patterns: An Introduction to Symmetry in Two Dimensions.
Turner, H. Triad Optical Illusions and How to Design Them. New York: Dover Publications, 1978.

science books

Cole, K. C. The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything. Harvest Books, 2001.
ok, that’s the limit . . . i have GOT to see what’s beyond the edge of emptiness
Einstein, Albert. The World As I See It/Out of My Later Years. Quality Paperback Books, 1990.
Feynman, Richard. Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher. Perseus Books Group, 1996.
Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe. Vintage, 2003.
this is so simple, so beautiful, so-o-o . . . elegant a title; it’s a must-read
Macaulay, David. The New Way Things Work. Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 1998.
Teresi, Dick. Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya. Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Macaulay, David. Building Big. Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
This book discusses the building of dams, domes, skyscrapers, bridges, and tunnels.
Skurzynski, Gloria. Waves: Electromagnetic Universe. National Geographic Society, 1996.

seriously, i’m going to read some of these.

we have raffled

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

wow, what a drive to the finish. you guys awe me.
it’s not just the money . . . it’s the speed and the humor with which it is delivered.
claudia wants a few MORE bucks?? you respond with a few THOUSAND more.
it’s just. so. great.

thank you.

as a special treat for today, i told the just-off-the-needles-for-this-event tree scums they could MC the announcement of the raffle winners.

he-he. . . . you didn’t think i would ever really finish, did you?

one quick announcement though (sorry!)—i had a weird poltergeist in my email this weekend that i wasn’t aware of, and my junk mail filter somehow reset itself and starting marking everything as junk. i think i sorted it all out, but if you sent a pattern order yesterday or friday, or if you donated a prize but do not get an email saying who won it—please let me know.

if you think, from the list below, that you are a prize winner but did not get an email, check your junk mail folder first, and then email me to confirm.
(is it actually a law that these things have to go wrong just when i’m emailing all sorts of strangers??)

ok, ok, i got a tree scum is nudging me in the ribs here (but i can’t tell them apart, darn it); time for me to step away from the soapbox.

the 2 skeins of fearless fibers merino laceweight in colorway miracle AND a pattern for the just-released orchid lace scarf go to manise h. (blogless?).

a sock kit with 2 balls of panda cotton, needles, and some panda heel reinforcing yarn goes to
debbie s. (blogless, but in one of my classes).

a collection of 24 rebecca pattern booklets goes to gali b (blogless)

a beautiful skein of orangey-pink mosaic DK yarn—enough for mitts or a hat goes to dawn mcn.

four skeins of luscious lion and lamb yarn by lorna’s laces goes to rosanna y

four skeins of fingerlakes 2-ply wool in a wonderful denim-heather color—enough for a vest goes to sarah k

5 balls of rowan cashsoft, in a beautiful moth gray—is flying out to lynne e.

from kim at the woolen rabbit, a gorgeous skein of her hand-dyed merino sock yarn, which i have been know to rave about . . . and, since that color fairly screams corn!, we will add a teosinte pattern to this prize.
this wonderful package is going to gotham muse.

kristen has two sets of very pretty stitch markers from her etsy shop to go with all this yarn! and they will go out to
ann-marie m and rachel b

my friend lisa (of the blocking wires—thank you lisa!) has another sock package, including vesper, cherry tree hill, and all things heather yarns and it is going to theo!

meghann of radiant twist offers a good-enough-to-eat skein of her obsession sock yarn—mmmm-mmm—and lorajean will be partaking of it.

rosemary of designs by romi, has a shawl pin to send to mali j

natalie, of the yarn yard sends a one-of-a-kind skein of her lovely sock yarn in budgie colorway to lisa r in toronto.

our friend, karen has a beautiful skein of schaefer anne to send to flannery c.

and lilith has a super-special skein of her lovely handspun—little fish—it’s a 70% bluefaced leicester/30% silk blend, fine DK weight, 100 grams & 220 yards in a one-off dye lot. it’s going out to céline in france.

kyrie has 2 50g skeins of Filatura Multicolor to offer. this is a beautiful mohair blend yarn with about 200 yds per ball—enough for a scarf, and suzanne will now own it.

my buddy chris, at briar rose has three to-dye-for prizes she’s throwing into the ring, dyed by Herself:

a 2500-yard hank (you read that right!) of angel face laceweight alpaca—enough for a HUGE square heirloom lace shawl goes to kathryn b.

a 1200-yard hank of grandma’s blessing superwash—enough for a shawl! we will pair a knitspot shawl pattern of choice with this prize, which goes to kathleen r.

two hanks of wistful alpaca/merino/silk—enough for a morning glory wrap in everyone’s favorite colorway—and i will add a pattern! this prize goes to madeline k.

susan from ohio has two incredible gift boxes with some smashing sock yarn in them:
th first has Gypsy Knits BFL Superwash Fingering, Zen String Serendipity Sport in Blueberry Pie, 2 skeins of Artyarns Ultramerino4 color 143, and Posh Yarn’s Emily in Genteel. this box goes to danielle h.

and the second one has 2 skeins C*EYE*BER Fiber sock in Winter Tundra, Blue Moon Silkie in Tide Pool, and Handmaiden lace silk in Woodland. this one goes out to tamara g..

my dear friend anne, from wooly wonka fibers.com is offering a $25-dollar gift certificate to her online store for any item the winner, kathryn a-o desires.

the lovely erica (you MUST go to her site and peek at her kids—that baby cracks me up every time) has created a nice gift box of sock goodies, including Lorna’s Laces Shepard Sock in the Tahoe colorway, Regia Multi Effect color, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in the African Grey colorway, and an electronic 3 row-at-a-time counter plus (i have to admit i have no idea what this gadget does, but it looks snazzy!). this box goes out to alotta knittin

gail has two skeins of medium-weight STR to offer—ONE for each of two lucky winners! isn’t she a peach? the rooster rock colorway goes to anne b (left), and the sherbet goes to jen h.

maura, sadly blogless, is an old friend i “bumped” into recently through another blogging buddy. maura has five sets of beautiful stitch markers made from beads she’s collected in her travels. these are the five winners, and maura will choose who gets what!
theresa in italy, heather, susan c, debbie g, and laurie w.

judy will be sending a gift certificate for a skein of her luscious sock yarn (click to see all the options) to katinka.

debbie has 3 beautiful skeins that she would love to send out one prize. they include a skein of manos del uruguay, a skein of soft bartlett’s wool, along with a skein of tocahy’s farm handspun in the coral seas colorway. these will all go to risa p.

two skeins of sock hop yarn in colorway i got you babe fresh from crown mountain farms—enough for a generous pair of socks. these will go to beth d.

one skein of suri alpaca laceweight yarn in this soft colorway goes to kim p

two balls (plus part of another) of emu autumn leaves wool blend yarn in a rose tweed that knits up like handspun, and a pattern for the stocking cap for all sizes, goes out to crystal.

a hardcover copy of couture knits by jean moss is now gina’s

a copy of fitted knits by stefanie japel will now be owned by amanda

a lil granny felted bag, knit (by me) from my pattern was won by janny s..

a bigger jimi bagette, also knit from my pattern will find a hme with nancy i.

a retro chain bag will belong now to stephanie m.

and a lantern bag goes to helen, who is very excited about it.

oh . . . yawn

Friday, June 22nd, 2007


flower of the day: eggplant

i am SO tired these last few days.
i’m trying not to be a pill about it but man, something has whupped my a$$ good this week.

of course, it could be the hours i’m keeping . . .

but then, how can one waste time sleeping when there is so much to look at these days?

i don’t have these little cuties on just one plant—suddenly, all the tomato plants are sporting fruit.

not to be outdone, the lilies are piping right up with their chorus from the back fence

it’s a real distraction from the decrepit state of that fence . . .
here’s the one i sent to claudia this morning

to wish her great good luck on her ride for MS this weekend and on securing the number 1 for next year’s ride. and you know claudia—competitive is her middle name. just to make sure NO one beats her to that number, she offering a special raffle prize for donors who give between now and monday morning.

i’m SO proud and grateful of the knitting community this weekend—pulling together to raise lots of money for a good cause is a wonderful way for us all to say “we are here”. our knitspot community has represented over $8500 of the total she has raised—THAT is a lotta dough. can’t wait til sunday to do the drawing—it will be a fun way to close this celebration of generosity.

ok, and now back to my knitting . . . i have a fella here that is making noises about being ignored. tree scum has been very understanding but is a little sick and tired of getting a couple of rounds knit here and there. so i made a bargain with it and said i would post this handsome shot for you all to coo over

(just give it a lil’ sumpin, ok?)
by the way, i know a LOT of you have been loving this yarn, which is a handspun from a one-off dye lot, and so not readily available.
HOWEVER, teyani and klaus have the perfect substitution in the dicentra alpaca/merino sock yarn they carry. if that moss colorway is not the spit-and-image of tree scum, i’ll eat my hat. and it’s a luxurious yarn, to boot; i’m going to be knitting with it soon, in fact. in another colorway, though.
the only thing wrong with it is that name—it really should be tree scum . . .
i think that would sell.

oh YAWN. what else have i got for you.

OH yeah.

this morning i got up early and blocked the bee shawl . . .

and i know you happen to like blocking shots.

and i am an enabler of the highest order, whenever i can be of service

i have to confess that i almost ripped out the edging again—i had a half-hour or so of flagging faith in my second choice.

(c’mon—tell me you wouldn’t have considered it too, if THIS is what you were looking at)
but seriously, i just couldn’t. and you know what? i’m really happy with it after all.
calling debbieKnitter and talking about something else for a while righted my perspective (ha! you had no idea, did you debbie, that i was having the edge crisis of my life??).

and in the end, all is well with it—it IS the light, flipping, airy edge i had first envisioned to top off the wavy grass panels. sort-of flowerlike, but also looks like a swarm of no-seeums (remember, we’re in a summer field here, not my living room).

here’s a super-closeup of the join at the back neck (it’s just a few kichener stitches—not even as much as a sock toe)

and now we pull back for the long shot

i just never have a real sense beforehand of how affected i will be by this shot—i mean, EVERY time i see a just-blocked shawl, i just gasp. i was SO worried that the piece was way too busy, and not sure i had a grip on keeping it an organized chaos rather than just a mess, you know? i can hope, but it’s not the kind of thing i can really plan on every time. so when it looks right, i feel a bit faint from relief.

and wow, i am really happy with that part. to me, this piece is totally chaotic and busy, but all in a good way—looking at it really makes me feel like i’m standing in a rye field in new york state, in the hot sun, with all of micro-nature swirling about me.

and if i wasn’t worrying about the mess, i was fussing over the final size. i know from your feedback that you like a big shawl (he-he. you’ll be sorry you said that when the rows reach 500+ stitches . . .) (just kidding—i honestly don’t think the rows get much above 450 . . .)
pre-blocking it was a bit shrimpy

(this was the shawl at 4am—seriously, it was all i could do not to sit up and watch it soak). i succumbed to the urge to try it on and do a quick-and-dirty (not that kind of dirty) modeling shot, pushed it into a pan of lukewarm water, and then went to bed for a couple of hours.

it has grown quite a bit after soaking and stretching.

as someone once said, “it’s good to have done it”

fight or flight.

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

dear bee shawl,
you and i have become quite an intimate couple this month—so much so in fact, that i can totally understand your shameless, wanton advance on my man, and even forgive you. after all, i’m sure i’ve led you to believe that we can, indeed, share all things. i think you have a better awareness today about boundries and we can move on from that (i’m not one to hold a grudge, after all). so why, then are you sequestered to the time-out chair?

as i’ve knit you over the last few weeks, i have ESP’d you all my most personal thoughts and dreams, imbuing you with every flight of fancy and anxiety that passes through me over the quiet hours we spend together. your future has been foremost on my mind—with every stitch i have tried to build you in such a way that, once you are set off into the world, you can be confident that you are the lightest, prettiest, most flirty and fancy-free bee.

ok, we may have set the bar a tad high, but you know, why aim for just ordinary?

i have to tell you now that i have made an error in judgment pertaining to your bottom edge. sigh. no one regrets this more than me, my little bee. and that is why you are sitting this morning in the time-out chair (well, that, and i have a job).

though i have stayed up til 4am several nights this week for just the purpose of seeing how the edge came out, i just cannot let it stand as is. it’s . . . bottom-heavy. dowdy. i would show you pictures, but teenagers have enough problems, honey.
trust me when i say, i hate it.
i was rushing, i admit it. several nights when i was too tired to be knitting, i did it anyway.
and to add insult to injusry, even when i suspected disaster, i kept going. it’s entirely my fault. i was winging it.

but i’m going to make it up to you! after class this evening, i am running home to rip all that off. don’t be scared—it won’t hurt a bit. and you’ll have all afternoon to rest in the chair while you wait. don’t appeal to david for an escape strategy—i think it’s obvious that he is completely unaffected by your wiles.

we are going to take off those awful last 24 rows (which we had SUCH high hopes for), and replace them with a mere 8 or so rows of a light, flippy edge that is much more to our liking. we might even have you completely fixed up by this time tomorrow!

so i am going to trust you to sit right there and wait. i’ll put on a book, or the TV, and set a nice strong drink there next to you.

i’ll be thinking of you while i’m gone, and i know everyone else is sending good vibes for a perfect finish as well. don’t you worry.

and in case a little distraction helps at all, claudia exceeded her new goal yesterday by thousands—and knitspot readers have contributed over $8100 of her total. and she still has several days to go.

kinda takes your mind off of our minor troubles, doesn’t it? sweetie? doesn’t it?