Category Archives: digital stuff

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So, this Sunday before past, I came down with the lung infection that everyone in Montreal is coming down with.  I have never hacked so much in my life – and what’s more, my partner got sick at exactly the same time.

I’m one of those people that turns into an enormous baby when sick, but I did manage to take some pictures of my armbands which I sent off to Boston last Wednesday.  Unfortunately, my sneezing and coughing buddy managed to delete them by accident, so the post I was banking on sharing with you isn’t entirely feasible.  I feel kind of silly; I even got a ravelry message from mmeadow reminding me to post them on my ravelry projects page, and I can’t.

I did get an awesome email from the 146+ crew today telling me that they not only received but really liked my armbands, so hopefully I’ll be able to link to some of the pics on their reBlog once it’s updated.

I’m very nearly done all the knitting on my knitted neckerchief, and my friend Maddy is letting me borrow Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ book, 2-at-a-time Socks which is awesome!  I’m pretty excited about the cables in that book.  I’m really excited to get the neckerchief off of my superlong 2.5 mm needle so I can try this out.

And, because it’s kind of lame to have a post without pictures…

International Women’s Day

Happy 100th International Women’s Day!

The first International Women’s Day was organized 100 years ago.  Less than a week later, (on March 25th) the Triangle Waist Factory fire happened in New York City.  146 women died in the manufacture of cheap textiles.

This December past, at least 30 people died in textile factory fire in Bangladesh – most of them women.

microRevolt is calling out for commemorative armbands so they can acknowledge those who were lost in these tragedies – and acknowledge the lack of progress we’ve made in the past century.  As microRevolt says on their website,

One hundred years after the Triangle fire, we find an insecure economy, a high unemployment rate and most of garment manufacturing outsourced to the developing world. Workers making products for American consumers are still victim to unfair labor policies and factory fires. We continue to struggle at home and abroad for the rights that galvanized the labor movement a century ago.

from microRevolt

Those of us that labour to make our own textiles I think can understand how much work goes into producing cloth.  It’s incredible how even my blog has gotten some responses about readers moving on to make their own armbands!  That’s amazing.  And Ariadne even donated the buttons for my armbands!  I’m sorry about the lack of pictures today;  I’ll sew the buttons on tonight and take some snazzy pictures tomorrow.

The struggle continues.  But we still have to celebrate and make art, right?

Tea Cozy

Does anyone remember me talking about the wonderful housewarming gift we got when we moved into this apartment?  Long story short, an elderly woman who used to live in this neighborhood decided to take up spinning and dyeing yarn years ago.  The mother of the woman who used to rent here knew her, and when the old woman passed away, her estate gave her the old woman’s hand dyed, spun, and plied yarn.  The woman who received the yarn never knew what to do with it, so it sat in a bankers box for years.  She saw some stuff I knit when she was helping her daughter move out of this apartment, so I was given the yarn.

There were two marled skeins in the box.  One was  a pure black/white mix, and the other, chocolate/cream.  These skeins weren’t fully washed of lanolin, so they smell really strongly of sheep and they’re almost greasy.  I don’t think I want to make clothes out of them for that reason – the greasiness is useful for other things, and it’s unpleasant to wear rough, greasy cloth, waterproof though it may be.

But, in other news, we have recently acquired a tea pot chez nous, so I’m going to make a tea cozy.  But not just any tea cozy!  Nay, I will make a tea pot of epic proportions using a favourite website of mine.  Knit Pro 2.0 is just about the coolest website ever.

knitPro is a free web application that translates digital images into knit, crochet, needlepoint and cross-stitch patterns. Simply upload jpeg, gif or png images and knitPro will generate a graph sizable for any fiber project. knitPro digitally mimics the tradition of pre-industrial craft circles who freely shared patterns and passed them down from generation to generation.

from http://www.microrevolt.org/knitPro.htm

Isn’t that amazing?  Also, microRevolt is a really cool group.

microRevolt projects investigate the dawn of sweatshops in early industrial capitalism to inform the current crisis of global expansion and the feminization of labor.

microRevolt since 2003.

from http://www.microrevolt.org/mission.htm

I think they’re awesome, and have used their website on a number of occasions.  I have also signed up to participate in their 146+ campaign;  I’ll be knitting the 149th armband, in honor of Ms. Tania Sultana.  She died in a factory fire in Bangladesh making clothes for Wal-Mart, H&M, and JC Penny.  I encourage others to knit armbands.

I made an image from a Julia Child quote by typing the words into Paintbrush (a program similar to Microsoft Paint) and saving the file as a .jpeg.  I then uploaded it onto the knit pro 2.0 website, and whammo! A chart! But the problem with trusting a computer program to make a knitting chart is that computers aren’t as crafty as most knitters out there (see what I did there?) so I spent some time last night going over the chart with a black pen.

The best part about being a person and not a machine is that I can make mistakes and then fix them.  See that second ‘o’ in ‘blowtorch’?  I made a note that it needed to be moved over one stitch.  But there it is; one half of my colour chart.  I’m getting a pretty big gauge with 5 mm needles so I’m going to have to try with 4.5 mm and see how everything fits – not that you want a particularly small tea cozy or anything.

An overview on how I’m making this tea cozy.

  • Step 1: Acquire a tea pot.  Tea as well, if possible.  Measure a loose circumference around said pot.
  • Step 2: Choose a charming image; perhaps a quote, perhaps a graphic.  Make sure it’s in .jpg, .png, or .gif format.  Upload it onto microRevolt’s knit pro app 2.0.  Have realistic expectations about how many colours you want and the definition of the image – after all, you’re smarter than any computer.  Then, print off the resulting .pdf!

  • Step 3: Knit a gauge swatch.  Make sure that the number of stitches provided makes sense for your project.  As you can imagine, having a 154 stitch round tea cozy with a gauge of 3.75 sts/inch is pretty silly, so I’m going to end up doing some math tonight.
  • Step 4: Highlight the chart you’ve printed off using a bright pen.  I used black to clear up my quote because the font was teal.
  • Step 5: Knit cozy, making sure to decrease at some point.  Is there any purpose for a tea pot sized cowl?
  • Step 6: Put kettle on.
  • Step 7: Drink tea.
  • Step 8: Knit an armband in commemoration of a fellow textile worker who has passed away because of the western world’s desire  for cheap clothes.

Any questions?

You’re more than welcome to use the chart I made as is, by the way.  Best of luck!

I broke my breakfast!

This morning, I had the deepest and darkest craving for a hard-boiled egg.  I wanted it to be eggy, and fatty, and salty.  And I wanted to have fun peeling it.  There’s a reason chocolate eggs are so magical.  They were inspired by hard-boiled eggs.

I, however, have a deep-seated fear of getting a steam burn.  I therefore tend to flinch and cower when faced with boiling water, and usually fling whatever I need to boil into the water from at least six inches away.  What can I say?  Steam burns look scary, and don’t heal super quickly.  So that’s what I did to my eggs this morning – and the shells cracked ever so slightly against the bottom of the pot.  I broke my much anticipated breakfast.

The best part of eggy deliciousness is that these eggs were still good!  I don’t know how eggs do it, but they get me every time.

On another note, I cast on for a new sweater last night.  I left too long of an end, so I’m going to express my persnickety nature and re-cast on until it’s perfect.  I’m knitting the Candy Stripe Noro raglan pullover in Mission Falls 136.  My main colour is Charcoal, and I’m going to do the stripes in one colour, Curry.  I love the combination.

I like the gold of the curry and the blue-green-grey of the charcoal.  It’s lovely, and sort of nautical.  And, as someone pointed out at knit night last night, matches colours I usually wear.

The rightmost ball is wound differently because Bazzy decided to show his true colours and rip the hell out of it.  I guess he wanted to be the only soft charcoal coloured thing around!

Sticktoitiveness

I’m having major issues concentrating today.

Every night, I do the same thing.  I lay in bed and berate myself for not doing all the things that I had intended to do, and forget that knitting is actually my job – and therefore, that knitting is not procrastinating.  I plan a relatively mundane list of things to do for the next day, and then, I avoid doing said things.  Sometimes it’s going to the grocery store and sometimes it’s making phone calls, but always, I don’t do whatever the things are.

Right now, I have to go get a shower and wash my hair.  Then I have to go get some bloodwork done.  I need to go to the grocery store and get some olive oil.  I need to knit some more so I can get to the next stage of my project and I need to do laundry.  But I don’t want to.  I will, but I don’t want to.

So here goes.  I’m going to hop in the shower, go to clinic and the grocery store, and go home.  But I won’t enjoy one second of it!  Damn.  I want to eat cookies and take a nap.

Now here’s a picture of my sweater.  11 inches down, 4 to go, and then the sleeves.  Huzzah!

And actually, here’s my ball.  I’m on my second ball of Lamb’s Pride Worsted Superwash, and I love how it’s crumbling in on itself.  It makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere, you know?

As a final note, my cats have met a compromise on the shoe box situation.

Mad Skills

I’m taking yet another sick day, but heck, it’s only because it feels like my sinuses are dripping liquid fire down my throat.  It could be worse.

I’m finding it hard to sit upright, so I’ve made very little progress on Greg’s mitten.  I also had to frog it a couple of times to get a size that I think it more reasonable.  My partner has helped me by trying it on.

I’m hoping the striping pattern is masculine enough.  I guess we’ll have to see.

The sky is dismal and grey today, and I feel like it’s almost making an apology for my illness.  “It’s okay to not do anything today;  look at how gross it is outside.”  I washed the dishes and cleaned the cat box in the meagre hope that my old-fashioned industrious guilt would be subsided, but it was all for nothing.  I’m awash in phlegm and shame.

Even the cats are looking at me with condemnation.  My partner (aka Knight in Shining Armor) brought me an enormous jug of orange juice yesterday (ain’t he a peach?) and the cats are just shocked and horrified at how I’ve been guzzling it down.  It’s a terrible catch-22:  I’m too weak to cook, and I’m also not hungry whatsoever, so what’s the incentive to eat?  Orange juice with pulp counts as food, right?

Although, the cats could be staring because I’ve lost the ability to keep from listing to one side or the other when I walk.  Patrick is beautiful in this light regardless.

In a completely unrelated note, I read an absolutely epic article from Esquire yesterday entitled The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master.  An aside:  all I could smell when I typed the title was Old Spice and Bud Light.  You try it and tell me what you smell.

I went through the 75 skills to find out how manly I am – you know, just in case this information proves valuable in the future.  I got a whopping 55 out of 75, which is mighty impressive for a petite vegetarian feminist who doesn’t have a drinking problem or a car.

I think my favourite aspect of the article is the portrait it paints of the uninitiated men.  You know, the men that can’t sew a button (number 20), remove a stain (number 48), or iron (number 71).  Or the men that can’t master the culinary art of eggs sunny side up (number 50) or bacon (number 61).  I have this image of Ordinary Joe, sporting velcro shoes, stained sweatpants, and a t-shirt endlessly smashing eggs and bacon into the sidewalk in an effort to have breakfast.  Tragic!

But where is this advice coming from?  What about giving succinct advice (number 1), taking a photo (number 3), delivering a eulogy (number 63), holding a baby (number 62), tying a knot (number 69) or understanding basic wilderness survival (numbers 51, 55, and 68) is masculine?  What about knowing car maintenance (number 35) or how to play a sport (numbers 4, 11, 33, 65, 66, and 67) is manly?  Brand loyalty (number 60) doesn’t seem very manly to me, nor does referring to someone as a son of an expletive (number 64) no matter how warranted the insult seems.  Neither is the heteronormativity inherent in numbers 19, 22, 46, and 73, although the Freudian slip in number 22 is pretty funny.

Basic survival skills aren’t manly, unless the author of the article is trying to imply that graciousness and humility are manly, and is working under the assumption that the majority of Esquire readers have someone else to make their beds (number 31) and tie their bow ties (number 16).  Nothing on the list is exclusively masculine, and it irritates me that things that I consider mandatory are “skills” according to the author.  Can you imagine a resume with this list on it?

Regardless, I’ll be telling jokes (number 38) and speaking respectfully to whomever I meet (numbers 12, 40, 41, and 42).

Pass the chamomile, please.


It Gets Better Project

I’m an avid listener of the Savage Lovecast, and have been since I was in about grade 11.  I just love Dan Savage’s perspective and sense of humour, and I really appreciate his political statements.  He’s this huge part of what I know about sex and sexuality, and I really appreciate his candor.

Recently he started the It Gets Better Project.  I think it’s fabulous.  It’s all about telling LGBTQ and other bullied youth that life gets better after high school, and it’s so good.  I honestly wish that this was around when I was in junior high, when I and my best friend who was bisexual were having rocks thrown at us for me not looking white enough and her not being straight enough.

It’s great, too, who has contributed a video to the message.  Obviously, Dan Savage’s video is inspirational, but the other videos just compound the message;  queer youth and being bullied, and it’s not fair.  Barack Obama, Sarah Silverman, city Councillor Joel Burns, Hilary Clinton, and Joe Biden have all contributed, along with a bunch of pop stars whose names I don’t recognize because I’m not in junior high anymore.  (I also have no idea how to pronounce a name that has a dollar sign right in the middle of it but I guess I’m just old.)  Queer staff at facebook have also contributed, which is really cool because it demonstrates that you can not only move on socially, but you can also work a job that you’ll enjoy.

So, whomever reads this, please look at this website and share it with your friends.  I’m thinking about contributing a video.  It got better for me.

And best wishes to all the friends and family of Justin Aeberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, and Tyler Clementi.  I’m so sorry for your loss.