Links!

Check it out—I finally have a links page. The “Links Link” is just below the header, next to “Home” and “About.”

Of course, I couldn’t limit myself to knitting links. You’ll also find reproduction quilting links, early music links, left-wing links, and more. Enjoy!

Too Darn Hot!

I’m in my office and I should be sorting the last of my students’ work into piles and alphabetizing it, so I can evaluate it as efficiently as possible, but instead I am image surfing on Google looking for pictures of poor desperate souls dragging themselves across desert dunes without an oasis in sight. Why? Because it is 87ºF here and I am a wimp. Not just a wimp; I am the Wimp. I am the Wimpmeister. La Wimpa di tutti Wimpi. Because I am trying to find a pic that reflects my wretched, non-hottie (as in nothing sexy about it, basting-in-my-own-juices) hotness—as if that will somehow bring me relief. Because all I can think of is how in another gabillion years when I can finally retire I am heading north up the coast and not stopping until I get somewhere with 200 days of rain a year and blessed, blessed cloud cover. Perhaps Oregon or Washington will satisfy me. Perhaps I’ll keep going until I reach Canada. Perhaps I’ll drag myself clear across the Arctic Circle and south down into Scandinavia.

Despite the heat, I expect I will manage to knit a few more rows on my Origami Cardi tonight. After all, one must suffer for one’s art.

Here’s a picture of its status as of yesterday morning:
My first sweater!

Archy is curious
Archy apparently suspects this piece of harboring nefarious motives of one sort or another. If it turns into a giant, heat-induced, radioactive mutant, he will be ready to save the world.

P.S. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the new Knitty is up. My favorite? The Chapeau Marnier. Pretty and functional, with interesting detail. There’s also an article, “Socks for Diabetic Feet,” with some worthwhile yarn and pattern recommendations.

And the Answer Is…

Well that was fast. I emailed Interweave Knits last night with my question about the Origami Cardi and received this reply today.

Hi Sarah-Hope,

We will eliminate the “Purl 1 WS row.” sentence; then continue as written. The web team will post the correction at the next update.

Please let me know if you have any further questions, and thank you for contacting us about this pattern!

Best wishes,

Katie Himmelberg
Assistant Editor
Interweave Knits
Style Editor

Hip-hip-hooray for good customer service! I can knit again!

And now, pictures:

I’ve finished the Easy Triangular Shawl in Noro Blossom, so Melissa and I took it along for a stroll at Middle Harbor Park by the Oakland shipyards and had a photo shoot.

The shawl on a bench.
Here it is draped across a bench beside the observation tower.

The shawl over a railing.
And here it is draped over a railing.

A family of geese on the waterfront.
The park was full of families of geese with their gangly, teenaged-looking offspring.

This park contains the old terminus of the trans-continental railway. If your goods needed to go further west, they’d have to go by ship—and that’s still the case today.
The Port of Oakland.
The cranes that load the ships look oddly furturistic and ancient at the same time, like the skeletons of a whole herd of Trojan horses. (To give you a sense of scale, that small green-and-stone building to the left of the cranes is the three-story observation tower.)

My thanks again to catbookmom for introducing me to this pattern. I’m looking forward to wrapping this shawl around me when the ocean winds begin to blow.

Origami Cardi SOS!

I am stuck on the Origami Cardi. I need help.

If you have the summer 2007 Interweave Knits, please open it to p. 86 and follow along with me. I am knitting the back of the cardigan. I have done the “Row 1” bit. I have done the “Row 2″ bit. I have continued working until piece measures 4 1/2” from CO, ending on Row 5 of the pattern stitch. I understand the next bit of instructions that reads “Next Row: (WS) Sl 2… x sts remain.” But immediately after that I’m told “Purl 1 WS row.”

How can I purl a wrong side row if I’ve just finished working a wrong side row? Does this involve some aspect of the knitting mysteries into which I have not yet been initiated? If you can make more sense of this than I can, please, strap the answer around a St. Bernard’s neck along with a (large-ish) flask of brandy and send the creature my way immediately.

Thank you.

P.S. I have sent an email to Interweave Knits and am about to post on Knitter’s Review. I’ll ley you all know if I get an answer.

P.P.S. The situation is desperate, as I’m visiting my parents and have been unable to knit since hitting this roadblock at approximately 7:30p.m. last night. I’m going through serious withdrawl.

3,501

Earlier this week, we passed the 3,500 mark for U.S. military deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi civilian death toll is currently estimated at somewhere between 65,000 and 71,000. These numbers haunt me, not least because I know I’m incapable of grasping what they really mean—to parents, partners, children, friends, communities.

When the U.S. death toll passed 1,000, back in 2004, Melissa attended a vigil to honor the war dead. In an effort to understand the scale of the loss at that time, she began this painting, which took over a year to finish. The full piece is enormous, measuring 4’8″ x 8’7″, yet the individual soldiers measure only 2″ each.
Last Judgment: Bush and 1,000 Dead.

Here’s her artist’s statement for this piece:

Last Judgment: Bush and 1,000 Dead
Ink and acrylic on paper, 2005
55″ x 103″

I started this painting on September 10, 2004. The night before, I had attended a local vigil honoring the 1,000 US dead in Iraq. We had just reached that tragic milestone, and it was an important event to mark.

While at the vigil, I felt helpless. I live in a liberal area, and while the hand-waves and horn-toots were supportive and affirming, it felt like we were preaching to the converted. Yes, we were helping to raise local awareness, but ultimately, did it make any difference? Would the Bush administration listen to the voices raised in these nation-wide vigils? Of course not.

I started thinking of two things. First, what could I do? How could I best express, and share, my outrage? As an artist, the answer seemed simple: I needed to create a piece that reflected my anger while remembering those who had died.

The second thought I had was, exactly what is 1,000? What does it look like? We live in an age where huge numbers are tossed about carelessly: 40 gigabye hard drives, $7 trillion national debt. These days 1,000 sounds small. Is it really so?

My solution was a painting depicting each and every one of the 1,000 US casualties. I chose the shape of a medieval tympanum, the arched carving located over the entrance to a cathedral. Tympanums traditionally show scenes of the Last Judgment, which seemed appropriate both for depicting the dead and for the concept that those responsible would, ultimately, be judged for what they have brought about. Also, we seem (sadly) to be living in times that echo the medieval: crusades against the infidel, a narrow-minded view of the world coupled with willful ignorance of fact and science, a self-righteous and self-aggrandizing religiosity.

In the center of it all are George Bush and his cohorts: Condeleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft, bearing the (twisted) symbols of their appointments. (Since the painting was begun in Bush’s first term, the characters are from that era. Their replacements could fit these depictions equally well.) Instead of a benediction, Bush shows us the crossed fingers of the inveterate liar.

Across the bottom of the painting is a frieze of dead Iraqis. I didn’t want to imply that the only deaths that mattered, that were tragically wrong, were those of US troops. There is no accounting of how many Iraqi civilians have been killed in this military escapade; conservative counts are in the tens of thousands.

I finished the painting on October 6, 2005. At that point, we were rapidly approaching the next milestone in the war: 2,000 US dead.
—Melissa West

I’m not an artist like Melissa, but I thought I could follow her lead in a small way. Below is my attempt to understand what 3,501 looks like. Each X is an individual: relationships, dreams, fears; a baby once held by a mother; hopes for a better life and a better world; high spirits and heartache; the recklesness of youth; first words of love, spoken with mixed uncertainty and exhilaration.

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I will do my best to carry these in my heart, to mourn, and to remember.

Whooooo-Hooooo

Melissa snapped this shot on BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.
BART sign thanks knitters.
Do you suppose this is the start of something big? Will politicians be courting us next? Will advertisers want us for focus groups? Will we bump Paris Hilton off the front page?

I just finished up my last classes of this academic year. Four student conferences today and six tomorrow, then I’m done (except for reading about 150 essays, determining grades, and writing narrative evaluations).

When I leave my office today, I’m heading downtown to pick up that pile of mystery novels I requested from the local library last week. Melissa has also made me a set of audio CDs of Bill Moyers’ Faith and Reason series, so I’ve got those to listen to while knitting.

The three major knitting projects I’ve been working on are all near completion, so look for pics of FOs next week. Meanwhile, I’m doing some major dreaming about “what next?” I think my first new cast-on will be for something similar to this shrug (on the left) from Knit 2 Together by Tracy Ullman and Mel Clark.
Mel's Patterns photo only.
The pattern comes in S/M and M/L sizes, and I’m thinking I’ll make it a bit larger to be sure it’s nice and loose and good for wrapping up in. The eyelet pattern is pretty, but I’ll substitute a different eyelet stitch that’s less fussy to knit. Last night as I thought about this project, my logic went something like this: “Well, if I’m changing the body stitch and changing the measurements, maybe I should just change the ribbing too and make up something completely new that’s my own pattern.” I really do like the ribbing on this pattern, though; it’s got a small increse worked in that allows the collar to fold back easily and makes the wrists roomier—and since it’s reversible the folded-back bits don’t look incongruous.

I’ll have time to decide. I’m going to knit the body out of the bag of black/grey Inca Print I bought last weekend, but the yardage won’t be sufficient for the ribbing too, so I’ll be looking for a black alpaca or alpaca blend to knit that. While I work on the body and decide on the second yarn, I can try swatching some different rib possibilities.

And now… my summer has begun!

If I Were Twenty-Five Years Younger…

… and I’m-not-even-going-to-say-how-many pounds lighter, I would love wearing this dress from the latest issue of Knit.1.
Lovely 60s-hippie brown knit dress.
Look at it—all loose and roomy where you want it to be, but nipping in at the right spots to show off a girlish figure. Wearing it would be like walking around all day wrapped up in a cozy afghan, while still projecting a confident, I-am-chic vibe.

For the most part Knit.1 and its parent magazine, Vogue Knitting, don’t do much for me. (They do sometimes have great technique articles, like last year’s series on knitting lace.) It may be that my general lack of enthusiasm is a “coast thing.” Both magazines seem geared toward what I think of as “East-Coast women,” women who dress for career and socializing. Out here in Santa Cruz, formal means black socks with your Birkenstocks.

But I love this dress. I bought Knit.1 for this dress, even though there wasn’t a single additional item in the magazine that caught my interest, even though there is absolutely zero chance that I will ever knit this dress. I just enjoy looking at it.

Can You Smell It?

That’s the question my friend and her husband ask each other across the dinner table when it’s been a particularly rough day. The kids think the “it” is bedtime, but actually “it” is the gin they’ll be getting out to mix up some gin and tonics after the kids are in bed. Right now, I’ve got two teaching days left in this academic year—and boy can I smell “it.”

I have a whole set of to-do lists lined up: knitting projects, book lists, household chores, baseball dates. I may even engage in a quilting or embroidery dalliance or two—just don’t tell the stash! In the week before summer break starts, all things seem possible.

If you are in the Santa Cruz or Oakland areas, here are some yarn alerts:
The Golden Fleece has a new shipment of Malabrigo in and a buy ten, get one free deal.
Article Pract is having a big sale with lots of yarns at 25% off and many wonderful full bags at 50% off. I used part of my Big Read pay to pick up one bag each of Classic Elite Miracle (color 3385) and Classic Elite Inca Print (color 4675). That’s twenty balls of yarn for about $85. I’m thinking shawl for the Miracle and am desperately hoping to find a cardigan pattern with 3/4-length sleeves that will work for the Inca Print. If need be, I suppose I could pair it with some trim in solid black wool to make the yarn go further. (Does it strike anyone else that it’s hideously unfair that one can’t knit any pattern whatsoever out of a full bag of yarn? A bag! You’d think it would be enough for anything.)

Last week, Melissa met a friend and her just-about-to-turn-one-year-old daughter for lunch. Baby Natalie looked very cute in the roll-brim soy wool stripes hat I’d made for Melissa.
Natalie looking sharp!

I wonder how this flower tastes?

And if you want more baby cuteness, be sure to check out my Child’s Sandia Sun Hat on the new MagKnits.

New on MagKnits: Sandia!

My little friend Boaz is modeling my newest pattern on MagKnits.
Boaz is too cute
It’s called Sandia: a sun hat for kids knit out of cotton-modal with a brim to keep little noses from burning.

Melissa and I had the pleasure of babysitting for him last night while his moms were off seeing Lily Tomlin. Boaz is in a bus phase, so we spent two hours riding the shulttle all over campus, getting off to ramble and poke about. When we lay down with him at bed time, he prattled on about buses for a while, until I started singing him a quiet series of off-the-top-of-my-head bus songs. At one point I thought he’d fallen asleep and let my singing trail off—when suddenly he popped right up and announced “Headlights! Engine! Door! Bus Driver!” So I went back to my singing until he really was asleep.

Filatura Di Crosa Fall 2006

(Once again, I’m a season behind. Oh, well.)

I found this magazine at The Swift Stitch, one of my LYSs, while I was looking for something interesting to use for the crocheted edging on my Easy Triangular Shawl (I settled on a skein of Berroco Quest in Obsidian). I had a shoulder-dislocating sack of student essays over my left arm that I would be taking into the bakery next door to mark over some chai, so I was moving through the yarn shop rather slowly to delay the inevitable.

I decided to browse through the various manufacturer magazines that filled one rack. You know the kind I mean—they usually feature all sort of ridiculousness that no rational human would ever wear (wool mini-dresses with open mesh-work stomach panels and the like), and I was delightfully suprised by the Fall 2006 Filature di Crosa magazine . Page after page of designs, many of which were lovely and all of which were sane.

Here’s a sampling of my favorites:
Lavendar cardigan.
Gray cardigan.
Maroon jacket.
Gray bolero.
Suffice it to say, this magazine is now sitting near my bed and already starting to show signs of wear from all my thumbing-through. I’m thinking about knitting the first sweater out of Noro Transitions color 1, which would result in some not-too-flashy (I hope) vertical striping. I’m also considering knitting the second sweater (minus the wrist bobbles) out of Malabrigo in the the Red Java colorway, which is a mix of dusty coral with a touch of pea-soup green (I know it sounds hideous, but scroll down to the kettle-dyed solids and look at the pic—it’s really quite lovely). I don’t know that I’ll knit either of my other two favorites from the book, as I think I’d get less day-to-day wear out of them, but they’re still completely gorgeous.