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Archive for November, 2008

Apologies!

Hi guys. I feel like I need to apologize for the blog sucking lately. I guess, in my defense, there are a few reasons:

1. Sick. Everyone at my work has had the same crud, and I caught it. Yuck! I’ve been watching West Wing.

2. Haven’t been knitting, mostly because it’s dry. I feel like I get really sensitive to dryness in knitting — I don’t want to touch wool! Does anyone else have that experience?

3. Working late-night shifts means I’m not really cooking a lot. I should be, both for being healthier and saving money, but I just can’t get motivated. Step back on the taking care of myself front.

Anyway. I’m hoping this week will bring some change. I’m planning on lots of fun veggies for Thanksgiving to try to persuade my family of how awesome veg/seasonal eating can be. I have also been doing lots of embroidery, but some of those are secret projects…

Any recipes you all are excited about for Thanksgiving? Bring the linkage!!

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Bananagrams!!! Review

I really hope to actually finish some knitting tomorrow so I’ll have something to show y’all. It appears that having a job has made me a little less inclined to blog. Anyway! For your entertainment, I present:

bananagramsBananagrams!

I’ve been eyeing this game for a while and finally bought it today from a local game store. It was only $15 (score!), and I had a chance to try it out.

Although I only played the 2-player version, Bananagrams was really fun. Each player starts with a certain amount of tiles and simultaneously makes their own crossword puzzle. When you run out of letters, you yell “Peel!” and take another letter from the remaining letters; all other players must take a letter as well. On it goes — with options for exchanging letters — until there are not enough letters for each player to take one more. The player who plays all their tiles first wins.

The nice thing about this game is that there’s no tedious waiting for other players. I love Scrabble, but it can get a little tiresome. Bananagrams is also a really good mind puzzle, because you’re free to change up your entire crossword if you’re having a hard time fitting letters in. It seems like almost any age could play this game and, if you like games like Boggle and Scrabble, you’ll probably enjoy it.

It’s also a good quality game, especially for the price. All it is is the letters (144), which feel nice and are not cheap; these come in a banana canvas bag perfect for carrying around. Gameplay is quick — good for when you have a few minutes to spare or hours to kill — and transport is easy. I’d guess this would be a great gift for camping.

Anyway. I guess as the holidays dawn upon us I’m thinking about gifts for people — the ones I’m not sure exactly what would be a good present, but I’m committed to not giving them something pointless just for the sake of gift-giving. Bananagrams is inexpensive but well-made, and something that pretty much any recipient will enjoy and actually use regularly. No kitsch here.

So! Receive my banana-word apology. There will be more Knits With Carrots soon, I swear.

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Twist Collective

Winter edition of Twist Collective is up, and it is crazy gorgeous. Check it out! Need another nudge? There’s a beautiful layout with watercolor animals wearing handknit gloves. Yeah, I thought that might inspire you. ;)

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Hi… so… I know it’s been a while… but I promise… I’m still knitting.

Witness:

february-lady-sweater-sleeve

The February/October/November? Lady Sweater now has a sleeve. I’m really languishing on the second one (ain’t that the way?) but I’m hoping that scoring some buttons soon will inspire me. Goal is to have this done for the boy’s performance, which approaches quickly.

Also, making things up:

moebius-cowl-silver

A cowl in this BEAUTIFUL silver yarn I found, inspired by Cat Bordhi’s musings on the current state of our political/social climate. I’m hoping this will be something I wear frequently under my favorite purple pea coat, as a kind of reminder to see things fully.

And in the slowly-but-surely-things-for-other-people category:

striped-scarf-orange

I’m really digging how the colors work together. Yarn is Berroco Jasper something or other — more info next time I post on this, which will hopefully be a victory “It’s Done!!!” post. Anyway. Super fun yarn to work with, as the stripes don’t follow a regular pattern.

While I’m at it, here’s how I’ve been getting stitchy lately:

embroider-tea-towel-apple

The embroidered tea towel love fest continues, this time with a whole slew of fruits and vegetables from Sublime Stitching. All that’s left to do is the black!

I’m also working on acquiring more scarves, in an effort to work on a “personal style.” I guess this is a sign I’ve been watching too much What Not to Wear. But in all seriousness, I love scarves, because they are frequently inexpensive and can take an outfit from blah to hooray. I’m proud of this last find, which is blue and white, but has sparkles (OMG!!) in it:

sparkly-scarf-blue-white

Yum. Sparkles.

I’ve also been working at keeping two adorable dogs out of trouble. And this is my parting gift to you:

cute-dog-picture-hat

Dogs like hats made out of pillows. It’s true. Especially when said hats accentuate a condition known as Cute Wrinkle Face.

Over and out.

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knitting-for-good

I’ve spent the past few days working through my copy of Knitting for Good, by Betsy Greer of Craftivism. (This is one of the benefits of working in a bookstore!) I’d like to fill you all in on what a great book this is, and some of the reasons why I think it’s a really important contribution to the growing canon of knitting writing.

Greer’s book focuses on the importance and significance of knitting. While I may be preaching to the choir on this one, I think that an emphasis on knitting as a productive practice is necessary, when many people see knitting as a non-essential hobby. Knitting for Good knocks down this assumption immediately, using its relationship to feminism — much to my delight — to illustrate the good that can come from picking up the needles. The common misconception is that knitting is an idle act, “women’s work” meant to pass time; Betsy Greer asserts that just the act of knitting itself is an act of healing, of meditation, and of self-love. I’m sure all of us who knit (or do any kind of craft) understand this: to sit down and make something is to assert my ability to shape my world, to create something as I want it, and to be present in what I’m doing.

I love that Knitting for Good links feminism and domestic arts like crafting. I know I went through my feminist crisis when I got super into things like nesting; Betsy Greer will have us understand that knitting or cooking or quilting is not an act of disobeying feminism, but rather celebrating its tenets:

This domestic reclamation can be celebrated with pride and heads held high… As a direct result of years of hard-working women who proved themselves just as capable as men of earning wages, we now have the freedom to make money for ourselves and then knit a sweater out of expensive cashmere bought with our own paycheck… When we don an apron and start to cook or take measurements for a garment, we can be empowered by the notion that we are self-sufficient and choosing this path instead of following society’s expectations… Feminism has given us the strength to explore our otions instead of being concerned about regressing or kowtowing to cultural standards.

Right on! That’s what I loved about this book — its continual insistence on the fact that the act of creation is important and productive and deserving of respect.

Knitting for Good is constructed to reflect an expanding of personal borders that happens with knitting. First, the emphasis on knitting as a healing act for the individual; from there, the empowered individual has new means with which to interact with family and community. I myself have benefited from this aspect of craft and knitting: the ability to connect with my grandmother and aunt through crochet and cross-stitch and quilts and how we make things for our living environment. It truly is a unique and special connection, and Knitting for Good will have us remember that.

Knitting and craft can be used, once connected with a community, to benefit that community — I especially like Betsy’s focus on the more forgotten members of society, like the homeless, elderly, and abandoned animals. Knitting for these people gets to be a way to connect with them and recognize their humanity, becoming a political act of insisting on the importance of each member of a community. I also appreciated that Knitting for Good includes why focusing on buying homemade is important — in a time of large chains, supporting your local independent store and artisan is an intensely political act that will ultimately benefit the community. Buying local, Greer points out, supports those local crafters who are enriching the community with their art.

In short (ok, not so short), this is a lovely book with many sturdy take-home messages, as well as personal reflections and patterns that will inspire you to pick up your needles for a good cause. I highly recommend it as a personal read — it will make you feel fantastic about your choice to be a crafter — and I really recommend it as a gift for that crafty person in your life*. This book is an act of love, for crafting and for the world at large.

*Hey, while you’re at it, keep with the message of Knitting for Good and make this an act of love and politics by getting your copy at your local independent bookstore instead of Amazon or Borders!

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Monarchs come around here to put up for the winter, specifically congregating in a eucalyptus grove nearby. I went with two of my favorite people to check it out today.

monarch-butterfly-cluster

They hang out in these clusters — the tannish spots are them with their wings closed — and are most active during warmer parts of the day. Estimates say there are about 3,000 of them there right now.

monarch-butterflies

The world’s pretty cool sometimes.

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So, we’ve already seen How to Crochet a Hamburger Bun. Now, I take you to Part II of this endeavor: How to Crochet Lettuce, and How to Crochet a Slice of Cheese. One is significantly easier than the other.

How to Crochet a Piece of Lettuce

crochet-lettuce-ruffle
Begin crocheting a circle, as in How to Crochet a Hamburger Bun.
– Perform increase rows until there are 4 sc between each increase st.
– Begin hyperbolic plane crochet: 2 sc into each st around
– Your circle will quickly begin to fold on itself. I wish I could tell you how many of these crazy increase rounds I worked, but I can’t — just keep on a-doin’ them until your lettuce is of sufficient size. 2sc in each st, around and around.
– For fun lettuce-y edging, you will do a crab stitch. To do this: everything is as in normal sc, EXCEPT that you will be moving left to right. So, you know how when you normally crochet you insert your hook into the st to the left of what you just completed? Instead, insert it into the st to the right of the one you just completed, and perform the st as normal. It’s funny and backwards (hence “crab st”), but will give you a little more texture on the outside of your lettuce. Work this all the way around.
– Fasten off. Admire your synthetic photosynthetic creation.

How to Crochet a Slice of Cheese

crochet-cheese-cheezburger
– Ch 17, plus one for turning st.
– Sc across. Perform turning ch if you wish. I rarely do.
– Sc back and forth until you have a square. Fasten off.
– This will curl at the edges, as sc is wont to do. That’s cool. It makes the cheese look melty.

Tomorrow, the cheezburger saga will conclude with Part III: How to Crochet a Cheezburger Patty and How to Crochet a Slice of Tomato. Some assembly required.

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Some less happy election follow-up. If you have an aversion to harsh language, I would recommend you not read my thoughts in this post.

Thanks. Let’s keep on keeping on, folks. We can’t afford not to.

(more…)

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Dear Dad,

I am astounded. Our country just elected Barack Obama!! This is the first election in which I’ve been able to vote where I can say, “Yes. That is my president.” I called swing state volunteers. I brought up the tough issues with Mom. I gave my sister that extra nudge to register to vote. I feel like this was very much my election.

But I sit here thinking how much this is even more so your election. You grew up in Chicago, amid racial tension I can only imagine — the grandson of an Irish immigrant family made you the member of a population pitted against the adjacent local black population, due to both of your being situated in low-income families with minimal access. It took me a long time to understand your discomfort with racial issues, especially since you gave me the benefit of living in an area where everyone was going okay.

I remember, at the beginning of my college career, interviewing you about growing up. You told me how much you wanted to get out of Chicago, because everyone was so angry, and your only experience of whites and blacks relating was of it as violent and impossible. I was impressed, though, at how you narrated to me that as you grew older you came to understand that this tension was a product of poverty and class, of the recent immigrant population with which you identified being pitted against a similarly disenfranchised population. I realized what a difficult understanding this must have been for you to come to; beyond that, I was filled with a new understanding of what it meant that you did not pass the racial tension you experienced on to your daughters.

So today, I can’t help but think of you as I watch tens of thousands of people gather in Chicago, where you grew up, to cheer in our first black president. You told me yourself that you never would have believed the possibility of this moment when you were my age — a multiplicity of races gathered in a public space to celebrate a black president, in the very city where you witnessed first-hand so much conflict. How things have changed.

I am so glad I got to share this night with you. To call you, excitedly, because the person we wanted had been elected. And, for the first time in history, he is not white. I’m excited because it’s Barack, I’m excited because of the symbolism of this moment. Maybe more than that, I’m excited because this is a sign of what can happen when people try. Desegregation happened in your generation because young people who believed in basic rights — people like me — refused to allow discrimination and hatred continue. Look where that got us. I have to say, I believe more than ever: Yes We Can.

There is so much more work to be done, and although this is one significant step, there are so many forms of inequality — racial and otherwise — that we must continue to work against. Thank you though, Dad, for raising me with not just the belief but the knowledge that inequality is unforgivable, and that I can be a part in moving towards a more equal and just society. I really believe today — for the first time in quite a while — that America can be a place in which I can once again put my faith, and that a better tomorrow is truly within my grasp, one day and one step at a time. It certainly appears that it was for you.

I love you.

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Ready? Set?

VOTE!!!

It is crucial that you get out and vote today.
But I bet you knew that already.

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