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May 31, 2006

needling new neighbor


Along my way to work I saw that little otsu has moved and needles and pens is moving in. I'm excited, while Otsu is cool {even if it is vegan-oriented}, needles and pens is a do it yourself haven and full of handmade yummy stuff. Though I never made it inside their 14th street location, I'd heard lots about it and have admired the lovely red facade and fresh graphics while driving by. I'm looking forward to checking out the new digs and goods.

May 30, 2006

a fuzzy favorite


Most of my knit projects don't stand up to the test of time. Sure the fashions change (uh just wait for my poncho confession) and that accounts for some "I knit what?", others it just seems that it's my fickle nature or my harsh inner critic which makes me never wear them. I typically chalk it up to getting to know myself better. However, this old project is defiantly an anomaly. Somehow I still like it even though it' was knit with a double strand of ribbon and novelty yarn. I still wear it because I love the shimmery watery blue, the super long length (it wraps around 2-3 times) and the ultra softness of the synthetic fuzzy yarn. The pattern is a loose seed stitch and was knit with a size 13 needle.

May 29, 2006

snuggly snaggle tooth


I’m adding a few old projects from my pre bloggin' days. Given how many kitty and yarn photos I see in knit blogs, I couldn't resist taking one with my darling Miro. He's 13 years old, with lovely solid black thick fur, golden eyes, a stunningly long snaggle tooth, and will put up with any abuse from our toddler. He also eats spaghetti, begs like a dog, brings us prize rats and birds and weighs in at 19lbs. He's the purr-fect cat.

This striped scarf was knit in stockinet stitch with six different random colors; pink, burgundy, camel, army green, acid green, as well as baby and navy blues using a yarn made by art fibres. Looks like they don't sell this yarn anymore. I can't remember the needle size but I'm guessing it was about a size 8. Since the edges roll in I never sewed in the tails from each color change. What a cheater I am!

May 25, 2006

sew crewel


I recently read a posting on the Make blog about crewel embroidery. It caught my attention because the designs were quirky, retro and modern - especially for embroidery work. Wool and Hoop is selling little kits with original designs by artist Katherine Shaughnessy. She's also just put out a book called The New Crewel. If you read the reviews it sounds fabulous because it includes lots of up close shots and clear directions showing exactly how to do it. I really like the idea of learning this technique's stitches so I can do my own illustrations. Hmmm, another hobby?! !@#$%*^&!

Wiki's wise words explaining what crewel is: Crewel embroidery is an embroidery technique which is at least a thousand years old. It was used in the Bayeux Tapestry, in Jacobean embroidery and in the Quaker tapestry. The word crewel comes from an ancient word describing the curl in the staple, the single hair of the wool. Crewel wool has a long staple; it is fine and can be strongly twisted. The crewel technique is not a counted-thread embroidery (like canvas work), but a style of free embroidery.

May 24, 2006

itty bitty progress


Last night I ate early, didn't drink any wine, nor did I turn on the tv (all great feats mind you!) so that I could have the maximum amount of time to get my head back in the knitting game. I miss knitting. My sore wrist and shoulder from my work days spent mousing are really wearing on me, either that or it's old age, Uh, more likely bad posture. So I organized my tiny yarn stash, made a needle inventory check, and looked through my huge stack of project ideas and book patterns. My living room rug was in shambles. I decided to continue the beastie rather than start another new project. I psyched myself up to complete rows and rows - maybe even start designing the rest of the beastie pattern. [knitting the prototype with Blue Sky baby alpaca yarn in sport weight] Ha! the gods were against me. Three rows into the head (now at row 28- the center point) Max woke up screaming. Poor baby bunny had an "owie" tummy and couldn't sleep. Since hubbie was away, we ended up reading magazines together and falling asleep in my bed. Max slept pretty well, while I suffered from this impending cold and a flip flopping toddler taking over the entire bed.

stop & smell the flowers


Seeing Max run outside this morning, say hi to the bugs and then stop and smell the flowers...that made my way to work wednesday. xoxo Mr. Millian!

May 23, 2006

knitty kitty kate


Whoo hoosies!! By way of Louise makes stuff, I've come across another Jess Hutch pattern, kitten Kate. I'm sooooo excited. Last Sunday I stopped by my lys and chatted with my favorite knitting teacher, Maria. We suspect Jess is going to come out with a book probably published by Chronicle. You heard the news here first. Happy kitten knittin'.

p.s. Looks like Jess has captured the cover for the new Make magazine: Craft, it's slated to come out in Fall 2006. I am so looking forward to getting my hands on that robot pattern!

May 19, 2006

knit bunny & kitties


Check out these darling knit toys coming to you all the way from Scotland. Looks like the perfect size project for left over yarns and the pattern is free as well. Happy knitting. {Be sure to send a picture of your finished stuffie to the designer, Ysolda.}

May 18, 2006

you love you


Happy Birthday little bunny! We all had such a fun night gossiping and teasing each other. It's so nice to catch up and spend time with the ones you love. Last nights festivities centered around the sold out ABC concert at Red Devil Lounge. The lounge bouncer turned out to be a recognizable SF character named Vice (André Brazeau). Hubbie knew him from the band Heart Attack and that he'd written the music and conducted the band in the movie The Game - obscure trivia for sure. I enjoyed the Lounge's space cause it felt intimate and the sound was pretty ok. Then ABC came out and whoa do they need a hair stylist! It's really that bad so I hope someone will do it for free. Martin wasn't wearing his signature gold lame suit by the way, wah wah. They all look pretty old ('cause they are) and there were moments when I couldn't help feeling sad for the aging rockers. I tried to suspend judgment and just enjoy the music and hope they were truly having fun. I kept telling myself that age shouldn't matter, but then I couldn't help sliding right back into my critical thoughts when any one of them would sweep back their thinning Don Johnson meets Fabio hair do. So they did play Millionaire, Look of Love, Poison Arrow thank you but damn them for not playing my favorite Vanity Kills.

May 16, 2006

mommy battlefield


Being a newish mommy (once your kid is measured in years rather than months is when you are officially no longer a new mommy) I’m grappling quite a bit with the all changes motherhood has brought. I'm still coming to conclusions and trying to understand what kind of mother I am and want to be. I also have a loud internal struggle about being a working vs. stay at home mother, public vs. private schooling, and then those are complicating my unending me vs. you war. Unsurprisingly I am not alone with these thoughts and feeling. There are many mothers writing books, blogs, and starting political movements to create a dialogue and change. It's an interesting time to be a mother. I feel I have enough choice to keep me confounded. It seems that the 60s feminist movement's unresolved issues are butting up against the new opt-out revolution and revealing the difficult choices modern mothers are forced to face.

Great food for thought sources:
Washington Post column On Balance
Salon.com article: A Truce in the Mommy Wars
Homeward Bound by Linda Hirshman
A critic of Homeward Bound: Return of the Mommy Wars by Cathy Young
Mommmy Track'd
Moms Rising

May 15, 2006

sock elephant progress, part III


Just about done, only the right hand (really foot eh?) stitch details to go. The only extra bit I added is the pink stitching over the trunk's end. I'm ready to start the kitty and already have the orange socks ready to snip. I purchased a similar pair to the brown ones used above. I got a bit of shock from my mentions on how much I paid for the thorlo hiking -only to be cut into a toy- socks. I really wanted them to be soft, thick, and hold up to a lifetime of machine washing and toddler wear and tear. My next sock shopping adventure may well be more frugal and defiantly more funky. Having gone looking for mens tube socks (a dozen for $18 - ok, I paid too much!), more tube socks, vintage rainbow striped, another good wigwam selection, and finally the biggest sized socks on earth I see there's a decent amount of raw material to work with.

May 14, 2006

wabi sabi goes zakka


This is a bit of an addendum to the previous posting. I just finished reading a book on the japanese aesthetic wabi sabi and have a deeper appreciation for the overlooked beauty in the imperfect, broken and mundane. It's an interesting comparison to my new love of zakka which some consider japanese kitsch. I see an interesting cross over in that they can both be humble, flawed, and handmade. Someone could really sink their teeth into this and write a fabulous essay on the subject - please keep me posted if you go there. Maybe I'll circle back later. Anyway I hadn't remembered to visit wikipedia on my last zakka search but of course wiki has a great definition: zakka is the term for everything and anything that spruces up your home, life and outlook. On one level the zakka boom is just another in a series of consumer fads, but on another it's plugged into something spiritual. Cute, corny and kitsch is not enough. To qualify as a zakka, a product must be attractive, sensitive, laden with subtexts. And they link to this Tribune article discussing its elusive meaning and trend.


And now for dessert... see tasty zakka visuals from crafter extraordinaire Hilary at wee wonderfuls and then click here for good zakka & zakka mania portals, and the utterly adorable kita usagi.

May 11, 2006

zakka lakka


I'm still experiencing a crush on all these mercilessly adorable homemade japanese crafts — apparently called zakka. This may start to become a full blown love affair. I was just day dreaming of traveling to Japan to photograph and shop at all these funky little zakka stores. Maybe write a zakka guide? How fun would that be?! There are so many little darling handmade goodies out there to behold and have. Yummie.

I got to thinking... what exactly does zakka mean? I was off searching the web (as per usual) and haven't found much to explain. Best so far is from maki is not a nameless cat "zakka" - I don't know if there is any English equivalent to this word, but it means "miscellaneous item". There are loads of zakka-ten (zakka stores) in Japan, where one can buy anything from a bobbing head doll of a sushi chef to a set of handkerchiefs to...anything your imagination desires. In terms of variety, it may be equivalent to the old American five-and-dime, but in terms of sheer playfulness there is no comparison at all.

I've linked to lots of great crafters over there —> in my endless blogroll. But while surfing today I found these pretty japanese textiles & embroidery by mina perhonen and here's a zakka webshop with a fabulous links page blanche, and these sweet illustrations by miori, delicious!

May 10, 2006

knit your digestive system


This is definately the most interesting knit project and free pattern I've seen so far. It's even shockingly not that ugly. Plus while you're knitting away you learn exactly where each of these important organs is situated and how they are connected. Huh, sorta brilliant in it's own disgusting way. This is a great assignment for those cross discipline home economics meets biology classes, teachers take note.

Check out extreme knitters Theresa Honeywell's object cozies (the machine gun is the coolest and only truly knitted object) and Tom Savini's Dawn of Dead zombies for more unusual project ideas.

as seen in the daily rag


I made the front page of today's paper! Can you believe it? There was there nothing happening on the way to work today except that I saw my blog on the front page of the paper. It is true, I could not find a single interesting something to photograph along my route. Damn. I am waffling hard today about what is inspiring at all. Eeeeck gads, this is a serious crisis. I need to get out of this crappy cube and lay down on the grass and soak in some sunshine so I can start to remember that life is gorgeous and exciting. Help! Please send inspiration.

May 9, 2006

sock elephant progress, part II


I've made excellent strides toward completing my first sock toy. Woo hoo and isn't he a cutie! I only have to finishing sewing the back of his right ear then it’s on to the fun embroidery embellishments. I do love to decorate. I may add some color to the end of his trunk or add stripe rings around his hands and feet. I'm not too sure yet, but this seems like a good opportunity to experiment. Next time I make a sock animal I need to make sure that my symmetry is a little better. The legs, torso and head are a little left leaningly wonky — but I'm hoping that makes him that much more adorable and obviously hand made. I just need more practice sewing by hand but mostly I need to slow down and be more patient during the creative process. I just get sooooo excited to see the results.

May 8, 2006

buggie buggie & the puppa ball



After spending a beautiful sunny weekend in Healdsburg chasing Max around and ‘round Papa's house, I can't help but post a gushing entry on the ever fabulous little bean. We spent all of Saturday and Sunday tossing pebbles in the 'lil Monet fish pond, bowling with lemons on the front porch and digging for bugs with our special buggy sticks (and fishing the purple ball out of the pond). Hearing Max say "here buggy buggy" is so damn cute — I so wish we hadn't run out of video tape. Being a toddler and all, he would run back and forth countless times to see the fish, then back to say hi to the tractor, and turn off and on the light switches in the garage again and again and yet again. Repetition is the thing to do you know. He loved to point out al the cactus and say ouchie and then say otros (spanish for another) while pointing to all the other painful points. He still calls all cats "Maa-ggee-gaa" {Madeline} and would sqeal it loudly while death squeezing papa's cat Alex. This was followed by a little tail pulling but then also some endearing nose beeping too. Then he would trot over to the piano for some key tinkling, then strum a few chords on the ukulele and back out to the pond.

I know Max had a marvelous weekend and it's such a joy to see him free to run outside in any direction, to throw pebbles and sticks, to get his hands dirty, and scream loudly with delight and have all be ok. Getting out of the city is such an important thing to do. I have to remind myself of this often, or post it in public as is the case. I never want to sign up for weekend outings 'cause I know we'll have to sit in endless traffic and because driving on the road with other people well, it drives me crazy. I have serious irrational population issues, I can't believe there are really this many people in the city, in the bay area, California, America - the world, holy shit my brain just shut down. Ha ha, you're thinking? No it's pretty much sad and true, I think I'm borderline agoraphobic. Well, after looking it up, I'm not exactly a freak about open spaces. I actually like open spaces and a civil society too, yes civil is the operative word there. Apparently there is no fear of traffic, congestion, roadblock, not even an overpopulation phobia. What?! Am I really alone on this? Closest I can find is ochlophobia: a fear of crowds or mobs. Guess I'll self diagnose with that and submit traffikaphobia for the board of mental health's review. Anyway I digress. Guess I’m just telling myself, and you, that it’s important to take mini break holidays even if the heavy traffic makes you swear and sweat all the way there.

May 5, 2006

secret pal 8


Ohhhh this is so fun. Hi! Here's my questionnaire reply.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? No acrylics, nothing too scratchy or itchy or super chunky, and I'm not into the crazy novelty stuff either, and I’m not too fond of variable colored yarns unless they are subtle. Ok, I sound picky. I love natural fibers including silk, mohair, cotton and wool.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? Nothing, I’ve got them thrown in a bag and they are quite a disorganized mess.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? Three years, beginning intermediate I suppose. How does one measure this?

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I do, Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) I love ylang ylang, verbeena, lavender & gardenia

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Mmmm chocolate.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I draw a fair amount and sew a little. I love Japanese crafting and am currently making a sock elephant from my first eBay purchase. I don’t spin...yet. I don’t have enough time as it is, but I'm interested.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Yes MP3 ok. My musical taste varies, lots of dance, chill electronica, old 70s & 80s, reggae, world stuff like all the putumayo CDs.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer?Any colors you just can't stand? I adore orange it’s so damn happy. I also love most warm colors except yellow, and I like most earth tones, dark colors, greens and blues. Not so much with pastels or really bright and true color.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? Married for almost ten years, we have one son — Maximillian 18 months, and two cats Madeline & Miro.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? No ponchos.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Scarves, hats, gloves and toys

13. What are you knitting right now? A bunny that I’m trying to design myself and an UFO wide lacey scarf.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Love it!!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Circular addis

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? No

17. How did you learn to knit? Classes, I love group settings for learning and sadly I have no knitting mentors.

18. How old is your oldest UFO? Ohhhh six months I’d say. Yikes.

19. What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving for the love and joy — Easter for the bunnies and chocolate.

20. Is there anything that you collect? Art books & letterpress cards.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? No knitting magazine subscriptions, that’d be fun. I love most Rowan stuff— I have one of their magazines, No. 38.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Fair Isle.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Not yet. I have huge feet shoe size 10US {ok but I'm also tall so it's not too freaky}.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) August 7.

May 4, 2006

origami crane


Follow along with this kids site to make an origami crane or try here for simple pictures of how to make a crane. Read Sadako's story and listen to her song.

May 3, 2006

sock elephant progress, part I


Despite my ridiculously sore shoulder and wrist which should keep me from doing anything crafty or knitty (and yes dear I will call the dr.) I popped two advil and stayed up way too late hand sewing my first sock animal. I decided on the elephant — that long nose and those big ears — couldn't pass it up. I'm using a soft grey brown sock with dark chocolate embroidery thread. It seems to take forever to hand sew 'cause I'm first sewing it all with white thread and then embroidering the details, though compared to knitting it's going amazingly fast. See above, two legs and a body all done. The Japanese book is super easy to understand just from the line drawings. All the light grey shading means the fabric should be right sides facing, white means wrong sides facing - simple and brilliant. The rest is easy to copy from the pattern drawings and the darling pictures on the previous pages.

textile buzz


On my way today I popped into the San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design to see the show "Installation/Innovation". The work was widely diverse, as I would expect from a muesum show. But I'm not terribly interested in the intersection of technology and textile so half the show wasn't really my bag baby. There were two artists whose work I enjoyed, Jennifer Angus and Kyoto Nitta. The beautiful repeating wallpaper designs by Angus are lovely to gaze upon. She uses soft calming colors and what look like lovely repeating floral shapes, but as you get closer you realize the images are made up of bugs — very cool. The other artist has re-sewn 25 pairs of jeans, from people she knows and loves, using this gorgeous white gauze fabric and hung them high over head as though they are linens on a drying line in heaven. All of the pockets are connected through sewn fabric tubes stretching from one pocket to the next. The installation was eerily breath taking.

May 2, 2006

sock animal supplies



I just received my first eBay purchase in the mail and I couldn’t be happier! Ages ago I posted an entry about a Japanese craft book I saw but I was hesitant to buy it since I had recently splurged on two amigurumi books while in Japantown. Just a few days ago I was surfing around and ended up in that same eBay store, Meukin, and the book I wanted then was in the final few hours of bidding so I jumped and bought the last copy. I got the rush a winning bidder feels while at an auction. I went and bragged to my colleagues, and their faces revealed just how much they could give a rats ass. Ok perhaps I revealed too much about my crafting fetish, oopsie. While out for lunch today I went into a sporting goods store and picked up some juicy socks and then trotted off to Britex to get some beautiful threads so I can sew my first sock animal. I'm waffling between the kitty and the elephant. I’m so excited to start, hope I can stay awake tonight.

sock monkey instructions

May 1, 2006

peace industry



While wandering around Hayes Valley yesterday a friend and I went into a rug gallery shop on Octavia St. and were blown away by the amazing process of making these gorgeously thick felted rugs. The felt feels so much more dense and durable than an average rug, they all have these wonderfully organic edges, and are probably more than an inch thick which seems so luxurious. The touch of the rug reminds me of the way handmade paper is so textured and thick compared to a typical sheet of printer paper. The shop is called peace industry and features the designs of wife Melina and sales by husband Dodd. Dodd walked us through the whole felting and designing process which is traditionally simple (you can make felt easily by just wetting wool and rubbing your hands together) but of course it's quite labor intensive at this level of the craft. It turns out that felted wool is miraculously dirt resistant, repels stains (but for those indelible accidents it also reacts well to spot cleaning) and is totally flame retardant. I want one! I sure wish we had come across these before we broke down and got the plain wool rug from potterybarn.

Watch their 15 minute film showing the traditional Iranian felted rug making process.