Women’s March 2018

THANK YOU to all the women and men who marched today for those of us who aren’t quite up to it just yet. I promise I will join you next year and march my little heart out. In the meantime, I will keep churning out pussy hats for the revolution. Vive la chatte!

And I also pledge to pass on my fighting spirit to the next generation, starting with my two amazing, feisty, talented, unstoppable nieces.

Ella and Lolo Wearing Pussy Hats (February 2017)
This is why, why we march, why we lie awake/This is why, why we march/ Come hell.

 

 

Introducing the Twist Ending Cowl!!

Twist Ending Cowl
Spoiler Alert: it’s my new pattern!

Announcing my latest pattern–the Twist Ending Cowl! It’s available now for free (yes, free!) on the Knit Picks website as part of their Twelve Gifts of Christmas series. Here is the Ravelry link. I really love this pattern–it’s simple but it’s got a kick to it. And I can imagine it looking great in all kinds of color combinations, although I confess a special fondness for the grey and yellow combo. It was designed to show off the pop of color in the Latvian braid edging, so it would look great with any neutral paired with a bright contrasting color. White with black or red or navy, perhaps? Or maybe black with a hot pink?

Worked in Knit Picks Mighty Stitch Super Bulky yarn on size 15 circular needles, the pattern calls for about 130 yards of the main color and 30 yards of the contrast color. It knits up super fast and would make a great Christmas gift (or twelve). And, keeping in mind my recent posts, it would be the perfect pattern to knit during a movie; the pattern is simple and easy to memorize but the result looks a lot more complicated than it really is.

Here are some more equally gorgeous photos from the Knit Picks site:

Thank you to Knit Picks and their Independent Designer Partnership Program (IDP), and especially Stacey Winklepleck. And gratitude also to my good friend, Deborah Gormley, who originally suggested the twist pattern and is just generally a good egg all around.

I hope you all like this pattern, and I’d love to hear from any of you knitters out there who have knitted it up. Show me your finished cowls — I can’t wait to see what all of you come up with! Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!!

Drawn Thread We Give Thanks
Drawn Thread, “We Give Thanks” (stitched in 2000, framing by yours truly) — apologies for the fuzzy photography!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers out there! And a very happy Thursday to the rest of the world! Wherever you are, it’s good to remember to be grateful every once and a while, and to thank out loud the people, places and things that make our lives worth living.

So if you’ll pardon me getting personal for a moment–thank you to my brother, Bill, and my sister-in-law, Karen, and two the world’s most talented, beautiful, amazing, fun, intelligent, feisty, and joyous nieces in the world (not that I’m biased), Ella and Lauren (Lolo). And to my friend, Deborah, and all my friends and family all over the country. You’ve really come through for me these past few months, and I am truly grateful.

Since this is a knitting and needlework blog, here are some of the things I am grateful for in that world–the continued popularity of knitting which has made so many resources available to all of us, and especially the superheroes behind Ravelry who make the knitting world hum. If you’re not already on Ravelry, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am especially thankful to the helpful and supportive people of Knit Picks, who have published three of my knitting patterns this year: Tree of Life socks, Kitty Mitties, and another which is coming out next week (stay tuned!). Their Independent Designer Program (IDP) is a great way for beginning designers to get their first break, as it were.

I am also grateful for the new DMC colors and the continued success of my favorite needlework designers.

I am also thankful for my best blog friend, Stitch Bitch, who is not only an inspiring and prolific cross-stitcher, but is also wicked smart and funny.

And thank you for my handful of readers! Without you, I’m just shouting in the dark.

“A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear”: A Brief Meditation on Unconscious Sexism

See this photo? Notice anything?

Hygge Sweater
Hygge Sweater by Verena Cohrs

How about this one?

Kiuru Sweater by Sari Nordlund
Kiuru Sweater by Sari Nordlund

And, finally, how about this one?

Hay Sweater by Clare Mountain
Hay Sweater by Clare Mountain

These are three new beautiful sweater patterns from the most recent issue of Laine Magazine which describes itself as “a high-quality Nordic knit & lifestyle magazine for knit folks.” They emphasize natural fibers, neutral colors, and simple but compelling designs specifically suited for Nordic tastes and northern climes. As someone who used to write patterns for a Swedish knitwear designer and whose yarn is stored almost entirely in IKEA Expedit bookcases (now replaced by the Kallax), I appreciate the simplicity and clean lines of Scandinavian tastes and I’m glad my attention has been drawn to this magazine.

But did you notice it? The “it” that many knitters seem to have not just noticed but commented upon (if my Twitter feed is anything to go by) is the fact that the model isn’t smiling. In fact, in the first photo, she looks downright grumpy, and in the second two she looks a little anxious and unhappy. And apparently, Laine Magazine has taken a lot of flak for showing models who aren’t smiling or razor-thin, who look a little kerfustillated (my own made-up word), and are even slouching a little. Coming to their defense are Kate Heppell, Ysolda Teague, and Kate of A Playful Day, amongst others. Brooklyn Tweed, makers of Shelter (the yarn the sweater model is knit with), also received some negative comments on their Instagram account (although their Twitter feed seems free of nastiness–maybe they scrubbed it?) but have–rightfully so–stood by Laine’s editorial choices.

When I saw the Hygge Sweater photo cross my Twitter feed, my initial and almost instantaneous reaction was something like “Boy, she looks like she’s in a bad mood!” Then I noticed the moody, cloudy atmosphere, and only then did I notice the sweater. While it’s probably true that we are trained almost from birth to focus on faces, it’s equally true that we judge those faces based on our cultural expectations and that, in particular, we judge facial expressions based on our gender biases. For instance, we seem to expect women–and by extension, female knitting models–to be cheerful, upbeat, and, most of all, smiling. After all, there’s no male equivalent for “resting bitch face” and there’s a reason “Don’t Tell Me to Smile” T-shirts are so popular.

Change begins with self-awareness. I was honest enough to admit my unconscious sexism (my momentary lapse in feminism) to Kate Heppell in a tweet, and she was generous enough to give me a “like.” Sisterhood is powerful.

Heppell justifiably pointed out that male models are not only allowed to be grumpy, it seems to be their default mode of expression. Here are two representative samples of the many she posted to her Twitter feed, McQueen and Thorpe by Rowan:

Take a moment to look through your patterns or your queue on Ravelry and you’ll probably notice the same phenomenon. Women are expected to look happy, or at the very least blissfully contemplative or waiting hopefully (I saw a lot of gazing off into the distance when I did my own brief survey). Male knitting models, on the other hand, may not have all looked grumpy, but many did, and the vast majority certainly seemed… um…tense. And while knitting models in general are more diverse in terms of body shape than runway models, racism and ableism still seem to be big factors in choosing models. Sadly, I’d bet that what diversity there is has more to do with budget (indie designers certainly can’t afford professional models) than a sincere effort to expand our cultural definitions of beauty.

A brief aside: Heppell also reports that while the Hygge sweater photo got many unsavory, sexist, and even transphobic comments, the Kiuru sweater photo did not. Same model, similar expression–what gives? Any theories why that might be?

For a detailed analysis of the male gaze and knitting photography, you should read this smart and sophisticated series by Kristen Hanley Cardozo, a.k.a. KnittingKninja, of the Dainty Beast blog (and she’s a Victorianist like me!).

And in case you’re interested, the title for this post comes from one of the most popular results when I searched Google for quotes containing the word “smile.” Fitting, eh?

 

It’s the Sexy Setting Goals Song: NaBloWriMo November 2017

Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and Coffee--what else does a gal need?
Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and coffee–what else does a gal need?

First, let me start by saying that I know that National Blog Writing Month (NaBloWriMo) was last month, but in late September I experienced a close family loss which understandably threw all my lofty plans into the proverbial crapper. Two days before this loss, I had recommitted to my stitching and knitting, to my two design “companies” (Wordsmith Designs cross stitch and Moon & Sixpence Knits), to this blog, and to my moribund writing career.

So, rather than scuttle the whole idea, I’ve decided to move my writing and crafting goals forward to this month.

My writing goals are simple: a blog post every day, 1000 words a day on another project I won’t go into detail about here, and a letter a day (and yes, I know that National Letter Writing Month is April).

My knitting goals are likewise simple: to complete the test-knitting (already underway) and pattern-writing (nearly complete) for my fingerless glove and baby cardigan patterns; and to complete the Thora sweater for my Aunt Janet who has been patiently waiting for it for more years than I care to admit. Anything else is gravy.

The Craftsman title pageAnd my stitching goals are even simpler: to complete the pattern and test-stitching for a chessboard design I’ve been working on intermittently for more years than I care to admit; and to complete the finishing for some Dawn Lewis Christmas ornaments I stitched more years ago than I care to admit. It’s time to stitch or cut floss. Anything else is, as they say, gravy.

These goals are simple but time-consuming and I’ve probably bit off more than I can chew, but a stitcher’s reach should exceed her grasp or what’s a heaven for, right?

And as a “thank you” for anyone who has made it to the end of this list: it’s the “Sexy Getting Ready Song” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the best female-driven musical comedy series about an emotionally troubled lawyer in West Covina airing on television today (warning: NSFW).

 

 

 

It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherknitters!

Pumpkins have long been one of my favorite things to recreate in fabric, fiber, floss, paper, wood, crayon, papier maché, goo, interpretive dance… whatever. And every year I have plans to knit up a bunch of pumpkins to display at this time of year. But the closest I’ve ever come is making pumpkin hats for my nieces and the babies of some of my friends:

You’ll have to take my word for it that the Jack o’ Lantern hat is a lot less creepy in real life.  Jinkies!

Anyway… in the meantime, here are five pumpkin patterns on my wish list of knitting  patterns (and the first three on the list are free!). Someday, I will knit these up and they will be mine. Oh yes, they will.

Pumpkins by Jordana Paige

  • I also really like this variation on the standard pumpkin pattern. “Fall Pumpkin” by Sarah Hawkins of Lavenderlime Knits calls for variegated, chenille,  and novelty yarns, and then you add actual cut-off stick as the stem. Finally a way to combine gardening and knitting–I know we’ve all been waiting for that! Lots of possibilities here, and a great way to use up that oddball yarn (or odd ball of yarn) you can’t figure out what to do with.

Pumpkins Fall

Pumpkin Pie Amigurumi

  • This “Pumpkins on a Vine” stranded colorwork cowl by Thea Eschliman is gorgeous and I love the variegated orange yarn. The pattern calls for an inside sleeve which you can do in any contrasting color you want, which is like having a reversible cowl. For sale on Ravelry.Pumpkin Cowl
  • And, finally, a twofer from Erin Black: Chevron Pumpkins and Cable Knit Pumpkins (for sale on Ravelry and Etsy). These are my absolute favorites.

Tomorrow, I will bring you part II of my two-part series: It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch — Part Fourteen

Sorry I haven’t been posting a lot lately. The semester began and I got so busy correcting my five-thousandth “its/it’s” error that I have neglected this blog. I can’t believe this month is already over and I haven’t updated you all on my Christmas craftiness or on my New Year’s goals (preview: 2014 was a mixed success). I can tell you that I have made the pledge to continue the monthly Smalls SAL in 2015.

2015 Smalls SAL
New year, new logo!

I have not been remiss, however, in collecting lots of links just for you. Please to enjoy the following:

  • A small Canadian hand-knit sweater company makes a pretty compelling case that Forever 21 is ripping off its designs. An interesting commentary on the differences between hand-knit (20-25 hours, 100% wool, approximately $400) and machine-knit sweaters (? hours, acrylic, $39.95). Bonus — Wyatt Cenac makes a cameo appearance!
  • These knitted Chuck Taylors are adorable. And, if those aren’t to your taste, how about these?
  • Looking for something a little different to knit? Look no further.
  • Some beautiful yarn bombing photos (these last two links thanks to martinimade)
  • And even more beauty with “Chilean ‘yarn bombers’ plot large-scale knitting attack.” Amazing. Granny count: two. (“Granny count” courtesy of my friend, StitchBitch)
  • Chickens wearing sweaters. Yes, you read that correctly. Chickens wearing sweaters. But don’t knit any more sweaters for penguins, please.
  • Is Buzz Feed obsessed with knitting? If so, just keep it coming. And coming.
  • A cheeky article from the HuffPo blog called “Bros and Rows” about the history of men knitting. Sadly, knitting seems to have followed the same gendered trajectory as every other skilled profession: when men do it, it’s a respected, well-paid craft; when women do it, it’s an oft-dismissed, underpaid hobby. Granny count: one.
  • Along the same lines, the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) is hosting an exhibit of works by male quilters. Granny count: one.
  • It’s raining men! I don’t know quite how I feel about this, but I do know that the comments are disturbing on so many levels. At least they’re not wearing these. I mean, I want to support all things Etsy, but no. Just, no.
  • A great 7Up ad featuring yarn-bombing.
  • Looking for a scarf that’s a little out of the ordinary?

I promise to post more in February so I hope you will all hang in with me.

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch: a not-at-all-Dirty Dozen

  • The best of Game of Thrones knitting. Winter is coming. So you’d better start knitting.
  • Dude, where’s my yarn? Ashton Kutcher knits mutant onesie in latest Lenovo television ad.
  • The unlikely resurgence of pixel art. Can a cross stitch renaissance be far behind?
  • And speaking of a cross stitch resurgence, I love the Red Gate Stitchery Etsy shop because it’s doing something different with cross stitch. These little necklace, cuff, and earring kits would make wonderful introductions to cross stitch for beginners — big stitches, quick results, and a tangible, wearable reward at the end. The designer’s home page even has a “Resources” link with a cross stitch tutorial for beginners and downloadable templates so you can chart your own designs.
Cross Stitch Leather Cuff by Red Gate Stitchery
Cross Stitch Leather Cuff by Red Gate Stitchery
  • This Etsy shop, stedi,  is also doing some colorful and unusual things with cross stitch and wood, and even copper (see below). On a personal note, I have this some copper pot. My mother brought it back with us from Germany where my father was stationed in the 1970s. I have to admit it never would have occurred to me to decorate it with delft blue cross stitch but I admire the kind of “thinking outside the box” that this crafter promotes. It’s hard to think of new ways to display cross stitch.
Copper Pot with Cross Stitch by stedi
Copper Pot with Cross Stitch by stedi
  • And I just stumbled upon another Etsy shop, eWood Story, that’s selling some very unusual and beautiful Art Nouveau-style necklace kits featuring a combination of woodwork and crochet. More photos are available on Websta.
Art Nouveau Crochet and Wood Necklace Kit by eWood Story
Art Nouveau Crochet and Wood Necklace Kit by eWood Story

And in my own stitching universe… I have started my October project for the 2014 Smalls SAL (icon in the right-hand column). I chose “Not Forgotted” by Plum Street Samplers, from the 2012 Just Cross Stitch Special Halloween Issue. Actually, interesting side note — the chart is actually not available in the Just Cross Stitch issue because it was somehow accidentally left out. Just Cross Stitch used to have a special page on their site where you could download the missing pattern, but that page seems to have disappeared. I happened to have downloaded the pattern just in time. If anyone out there knows where to find it, let me know and I will pass the information along. Thanks!

That’s it for now — I hope you enjoy the new spooky look. Happy stitching to everyone!

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch: “These go to eleven.”

I don’t know if it’s the whisperings of autumn in the air, or the fact that schools are back in session, but, whatever the reason, things in the world of knitting are starting to liven up lately. I’ve been collecting these links from around the knittingverse, and I’m ready to unleash them now. Please enjoy the following:

September Update — Finishes, Starts, and WIPs

Where does all the time go? I can’t believe it’s September already, which means I’m two months behind in my half-year update, although I suppose that’s really right on schedule since I didn’t even post my year’s goals until the beginning of April. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I’m great about meeting goals in other parts of my life. I’m really very organized. Seriously. Anyway…

Update on Knitting WIPs and Goals for 2014

So, let’s see what I’ve gotten done since April’s reckoning. The progress bars in the right-hand sidebar will let you know how far along I am with my current projects. Here’s the list of knitting projects, some finished, some still in progress:

  • Baby Bobbi Bear and assorted outfits (a belated gift for my niece’s second birthday)   update: Baby Bobbi Bear was completed on 4/5/14 and the sweaters were completed on 6/29/14. Pictures and more details are below this bulleted list.
  • Winter Lace Afghan (a belated wedding gift — are you sensing a theme here?)  update: completed 5/16/14!
  • Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf (seriously, all this needs is some kitchenering. Is that a verb?)
  • Felted Sashiko Cover (this is a little something I’m working on as a freebie pattern to accompany the sashiko-style cross stitch I’m designing for Wordsmith Designs — see below)
  • Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts (you know, because it’s so cold here in Los Angeles in springtime) update: completed 5/22/14!
  • Swedish Thora (a belated gift for my beautiful and patient Aunt Janet — there’s a point where gifts become so belated, there’s no point in rushing anymore. Sigh.)

And here’s Baby Bobbi Bear in all his glory:

And here are his fabulous sweaters:

There’s more info about all the yarns I used and the various crochet patterns on my Ravelry site (it would take too long to list them all here). The scarf is a simple 10-stitch 2 X 2 rib knitted with self-striping Adriafil Knitcol (color 46) on size 5 needles. Pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

Last April, I also stated “plans to make some Easter knits for the girls, including the Fiesta Tea Set by Annie Modesitt (knitted with Tahki Cotton Classic in yummy Fiestaware colors like lemongrass, peacock, plum, scarlet, shamrock, sunflower and tangerine).” Update: Done and done! Finished sometime in late June or early July. Here are some photos:

And here’s a picture of my niece Ella playing with her new tea set:

Ella Playing with Fiesta Tea Set
Ella Playing with Fiesta Tea Set

These were not part of my goals, but I also started a pair of the “The Wallpaper Had It Coming (Again)” mittens as part of a Sherlock-related challenge with the West Hollywood (WeHo) Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group, and the Spring Kerchief by Sachiko Uemura. I’m about halfway through the first glove, but I’ve only just cast on for the kerchief.

Needlework WIPs and Goals for 2014

As of April my current cross stitch WIPs were as follows (oldest to newest):

  • “Ewe and Eye Needlecase” by Maureen Appleton/Heart’s Content
  • “Celtic Band Samplar” by Homespun Samplar
  • “Union Jack,” an original design of the Union Jack flag which I will be “releasing” as a Wordsmith Designs freebie soon update: completed 04/06/14!

Since I’m being brutally honest, I will admit that I haven’t completed a single stitch on the Needlecase or the “Celtic Band Samplar.” They’ve been on hiatus for a few years now.

I had four other cross stitch goals for 2014:

  1. A set of four Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Stockings for my brother, sister-in-law and The Two Most Adorable Nieces in the World.™ Update: I’m happy to say I’m making terrific progress with these, and will have photos soon.
  2. The Mirabilia “In a Garden” series. Update: I’ve barely started the “Summer” version. Seriously, only a few stitches completed, and it’s “due” September 21st. My stitching time lately has gone to the Christmas stockings; I’d like to have those completed by the beginning of October so they can be finished professionally before Christmas.
  3. The 2014 Smalls Stitch-Along (the handy-dandy icon is in the right-hand sidebar). Update: I completed my smalls for April, May, June, and August, and I’m still working on July. Here’s the gallery so far:

Goals for Wordsmith Designs

For Wordsmith Designs, my first three design priorities for release are (in this order):

  1.  A sashiko-based design that I don’t want to go into too much detail about right now
  2.  A Celtic alphabet design that’s already designed and stitched but still needs some “polishing”
  3.  A design called “Memento Mori” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now
  4.  A design called “A Rose is a Rose” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now

Update: I haven’t met any of my designing goals for Wordsmith Designs. I’ve done some work on the sashiko design, but it still needs a lot more work. 

Goals for Moon & Sixpence Knits

For Moon & Sixpence, I am working on three free patterns:

  • an update of my (very basic) Michael Nesmith hat pattern, one that is more historically accurate and includes the four-button variation Nesmith wore sometimes
  • a scarf and cowl with a breast cancer ribbon-style cable pattern (I’m debating whether to charge a nominal fee so the proceeds could go to breast cancer research)
  • a small cabled heart design based on a Christmas ornament that IKEA was selling a couple years ago

Update: Apparently, design-work is not my top priority, which is sad because it’s a way of generating at least some income. As I stated in April: “I would love to have the breast cancer ribbon-style scarf completed by October, which the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” That seems like a goal that could still be met. Stay tuned.

Check back on December 31st! And wish me good luck and good motivation!