Monday, June 28, 2010

Mountain Oak

This weekend I went camping in Angeles National Forest. And when nightfall quickly came after setting up camp I realized I had forgotten my pants! I think I laughed for five minutes straight before I was able to ask Terri if she had an extra pair.

I've been writing this blog for about a month now and I think it is time to introduce Terri. She is the most awesome girlfriend ever. We have been dating for a year and half and are currently looking for an apartment to live together. Very exciting!

Terri and I play Scrabble a lot and this weekend Terri amazed me with her ability to play Scrabble while driving in traffic towards the mountains. While I really enjoy playing the game, I'm not the best speller. I do try, but my brain just thinks spelling is really stupid and so I'm not very good at it. This makes Scrabble interesting because Terri has to make sure I don't do things like spell taxs. I know taxes is spelled with the -es on the end, but I get excited about adding -s onto the ends of words and forget.

Even though this was Terri's first time camping you wouldn't have known it because, among other things, she brought extra pants. I still can't believe I had no pants. Just shorts. No pants. Ha! That first night Terri roasted corn over the fire and I finally realized why people like corn. It can be yummy!

Some friends joined us on Saturday and we went hiking across the road from base camp. First we went around a small nearby lake. It was really pleasant with people on the lake relaxing and fishing. Then we found a wide trail and headed up into the mountains. It was really just my friends and I up on the mountain side.

I didn't realize it at the time, but it was nice to get away. When we drove back into the city I remembered all of the things I needed to do. It was then that I realized that my brain had really taken a vacation from thinking about all that stuff. It was as if my brain waves slowed down and let me just be there, camping.

My friends, who only came up for one night, have already said they would like to go again. A sign of a successful trip. I would like to go again too. I have always wanted to go camping in Joshua Tree when it is wildflower season. I think that is next on the list for sure.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Not to brag or anything, but I just finished the best thing ever. I am so proud of this bag. It is what I dreamed it would be. Here's the story.

Three years ago I was far away from my knitting friends and living in New Zealand. I missed them and was, of course, planning Christmas gifts in July. Melissa asked for the Bob Dobb's face in the book Domiknitrix by Jennifer Stafford on a messenger style bag. Since she had no color preference, I decided to get creative and use up some leftover colors from other things.

The chart for the face uses three colors in one row, two for the face and one for the background. Having recently read some of Kaffe's books I decided to jump on in and use a combination of stranded and intarsia techniques. It took a while to knit Bob's face, but I admit managing all the little yarn balls in the back was fun. The rest of the bag was completed using random striping. When I returned home and gave Melissa the bag she was very excited. She loved how the face looked in knitting.

I didn't know it at the time, but I had made the object of which I would become most proud. I would talk about this bag whenever people would ask, "What is the best/coolest/most awesome thing you have ever made?" While I was happy that my hard work had gone to another knitter, I found that I was sad that I didn't have the thing I was most proud of knitting. I think this sadness came from a desire to show people the awesome that I had made myself and not being able to.

At the beginning of this year I decided to make another bag using three colors in one row. A bag that I could be proud of. But what to put on the front? I wasn't really into Bob Dobbs and I had already done that chart. My participation in a Harry Potter group on Ravelry (I'm a big dork) got me thinking seriously about a dragon motif. I've always adored dragons and having one to parade around sounded like so much fun. The chart would need to be in three colors, of course and so I set about looking for a dragon pattern that I liked. Not finding anything suitable I decided to design my own.

The bag itself is a simple messenger style. I knit the dragon first and then continued striping for the body. In an effort to chip away at my stash I used yarn I had on hand. A few days ago I finished sewing the lining and then sewing it into the bag. This means that it is officially done!

I love it. Even though it doesn't really go with anything in my wardrobe. I wear it proudly anyway.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Philosophy of Knitting

Several years ago I discovered a button on someone's blog that led me to Cast-On, a podcast about knitting. This opened my eyes to the world that is podcasting. In case you don't already know, a podcast is just someone with a microphone who produces a show and then puts it on the internet for other people. It is often kind of like a radio show. Podcasts are especially accessible through the apple software iTunes, but most podcasts are also accessible through other means. There are podcasts out there about every imaginable topic, and of course the ones that interest me the most are the ones about knitting. I thought I would write podcast reviews here in my blog on occasion to help spread the word and start conversation.

When I discovered Brenda Dayne's podcast Cast-On I started at the beginning and listened all the way through. Every episode. I liked this podcast from the first listen. It is a structured podcast with different segments such as Today's Sweater and usually an Essay which is sectioned off with music that Brenda picks from the podsafe music network (music that artists put out there that podcasters can freely use with due credit).

The reason, though, that I think I like this podcast so much is because Brenda explores the philosophical side of knitting, the why and the wonderings of the stitches. Indeed, she has said a couple of times that the podcast is actually in the iTunes category of philosophy and not in the arts and crafts category because that is where she feels Cast-On belongs. I enjoy the creativity of the podcast, of how she structures the different elements and of how she fits each podcast into her current theme. And she gives me something to listen to as I knit.

If you are interested in listening to Cast-On I wouldn't start at the beginning, simply because there she is finding her voice, and in the meantime does some complaining. I would urge you to start instead with her series on the muses or to work backwards as some people do.

I'm always interested in discovering new, great podcasts, so if you listen to one you think is just darn tootin' awesome drop me a line, k?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lost Art

Drawing courtesy of SaraSchool from DeviantArt

I am one of those people who knits in public. While a professor drones on unintelligible things which I don't need to write down I knit. In moments before and after classes where I need to write I knit. Riding the bus or sitting on a park bench I often have knitting with me.

A few weeks ago I was riding the bus to school. I do this from time to time as it is free for uni students to ride. I get a little exercise walking to the stop, save money, and increase my knitting time. People like to talk to you when you're knitting on the bus. Many people have their own opinions about knitting and want to tell you them. As a young woman I don't fit the prejudiced image of what a knitter should look like and therefore, I think, I confuse people. I become intriguing. Often I listen to my mp3 player which often discourages the public from talking to me. However, I've lost my headphones and so, on this particular day, I was knitting and my ears were available for comment.

I've ridden the public transit system for many years. In my city there is quite the variety of interesting characters. I don't mind the bus riding experience itself so much as I mind the creepy people. I have developed quite the radar for these people in an effort to keep my interactions with them to a minimum and to protect myself. I'm a city girl and I'm not stupid about these things. Most of the people that ride the bus are nice folk, but I've still had enough encounters with creep to be wary.

On this day a few weeks ago I got on the bus and made my usual scan. No one too out of the ordinary and no one who seemed like I should keep the pointy objects out of sight. I sit near the front where there is a better view as the bus drives past the ocean, put my backpack on my lap, unzip the top and start knitting. I keep my knitting in the bag as then all I have to do is rezip and get up to exit.

Near the university a man who has been riding since before I got on gets up to walk off the bus. As he passes me he says, "That's a lost art," and walks off the bus.

As my dark navy knitting was sort of buried in my bag I am doubtful he could have seen the cable work. But perhaps he had. I am sure he meant his comment as a sort of compliment, as a way of saying, "Wow I'm amazed anyone still knows how to do what my mother did."

I wanted to show this man all that is not lost about the art of knitting. About the thousands of people making beautiful things out of knitting. Ugly artful things. Useful things. Boring things. Meditative things. Funny things. Gifts of love and tenderness. Color work that takes my breath away. If knitting is a lost art, then why are people inventing new techniques, new ways to bind off, new ways to knit a sock? I wanted to go online to Ravelry and show him the vibrant communities of people together forging a language of knitting for today. I wanted to prove to him that it's not just me, that I and my art are not lost.

I do have to say that I am profoundly grateful for the internet and for my ability to access it. Without it I too might have the opinion that knitting was a lost art, that I was one of only a handful of people left who knit. But through the internet I have come to connect with a vast network of knitters whose everyday practice of the craft proves unequivocally that knitting is anything but a lost art.