What is that weird lumpy thing? Why it’s the Moldy Little Alien Bu*ts shawl. (I looked at my stats, and I was getting regular hits from people looking for “lit*tle bu*ts” and I was extrememly disturbed and hence my new censored name for the shawl.)

You’ll have to wait a few days for a shot of it in action, but it’s blocked and ready to go…and it’s truly beautiful. I’m still not convinced of shawls being fashionable, but some sort of knitting fumes overcame me and now I want an entire chest of shawls. If I can convert to shawls, I’m not sure what terrible paths I may wander down next. Fanny packs? Stonewashed jeans? I don’t know and I am scared.

Lekkercraft kindly tagged me with a “You Make My Day” award, which was very nice, especially because I sometimes worry that all of my readers are people who are searching for “li*tle but*s” and I have to say that they are not my preferred demographic.

I’m also glad this meme is going around, because as Lekkercraft pointed out, there seems to be a rash of babies and book deals or something going around, and there’s a dearth of frequently updated knit blogs. I read all the big ones, of course, and here’s another six that I like to read (not all knitting related). I’ll try to add another four or so over the next few posts.

1. Lickety Knit Rachel’s knit blog is fairly big, I think, but it is still one of the funniest. I wish she would update EVERY DAY, but apparently she has other things to do.

2. Knit The Hell Up I recently discovered this blog, and I think the writer’s voice is sarcastic and amusing.

3./4. Store blogs: The Loopy Ewe I’ve never ordered from this site, but I still read this blog all the time. I’ve said this before, but I think Sheri’s blog is really an asset to her business–I always WANT to order from her, but I don’t really have any need, so I’ll just stay an internet window shopper for now. The Purl Bee has beautiful projects and inspirations, and I’m still lusting after this nightgown that was featured on the blog a while ago.

5./6. Okay. I’m combining two here together. And let me say that I am well aware that reading about television is kind of weird and a short skip and a jump to a Large Print Reader’s Digest-reading lifestyle. Once, I read Proust, now I read about tv online. Anyway.

Moving on with shame: The first one is the insane Gossip Girl recapper for Television Without Pity. Written by some dude named Jacob, who lives in Austin, TX, let me quote from the previous episode’s recap:

Any system has rules, whether it’s gender roles or heterosexuality or rich-dad/poor-dad class structure, and your option is to learn those rules and perform them properly, in order to be rewarded by that system….But any system, social or otherwise, still operates in terms of game theory. Step out of the game altogether, reclaim your space, and you forfeit the right to those rewards, because you’re no longer in the running. So the deal that you’re actually making, when you agree to quit the team or come out of the closet or admit aloud or publicly that you’re a sexual being — a whore, by the rules of the game — is what shame was invented to contain and administrate. Shame exists in society for one reason only: to keep everybody playing the game.

Jacob is either the most off-topic / purple-prose recapper in TWOP history or some sort of idiot-savant genius–I can’t decide. His belief that Gossip Girl is art operating “at the top of its game” (his words, not mine) is fascinating, and I highly recommend his recaps.

Along these lines, Dalton Ross at Entertainment Weekly has this hilarious online column called The Glutton, where he randomly rambles about his pop culture obsessions every Wednesday. His wife loves Tim Riggins* from Friday Night Lights, and if you, like me and Dalton Ross’s wife (Christina Kelly, a fine editor and writer in her own right) are weirdly addicted to teen dramas, then The Glutton’s constant grumblings about his wife’s age-inappropriate crushes will be deeply amusing.

* Any right-thinking woman who has seen Friday Night Lights LOVES Tim Riggins, including me. To quote Davd Foster Wallace [about cruise ship captains, but this sentiment could be easily be applied to Tim Riggins] “women of all ages and estrogen-levels swooned, sighed, wobbled, lash-batted, growled, and hubba’d when one of [them]…went by.”

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Shawls, Uncategorized at January 30th, 2008.


Kevin Lam, of Kevin Lam Photography, gave me permission to use his photo on this blog. Miao [an ethnic minority in China] villagers, in Longde village, Guizhou province, China, 2006.

I was so inspired by the photos I found for my last blog post (including the one above) that I created a new Flickr group: Beautiful Photos of Knitters and Yarn. I’ve collected a small group of photos of people knitting around the world, and I love seeing their different techniques, including wrapping yarn around their neck while knitting and long DPNs to make a sweater. Let me know if you see any good photos I should add to the pool!

Posted in foreign knitting, Uncategorized at January 13th, 2008.

I started feeling bad after I published my last post. I thought, “Oh no, now all my readers think I am a conceited first-world visitor, looking down all snobbily at the village people in China.” I hope I didn’t come across that way. The small town where I lived was actually relatively prosperous. We were in a special economic zone which was freed from many of the economic controls that governed the rest of the country, and so there was a lot of entrepreneurship where I lived. Though, of course, many, if not most, of the residents had less disposable income than the average American, as evidenced by the fact that my Chinese friends only owned several outfits, versus my wasteful and large American wardrobe here in America. (I don’t think I actually have such a large wardrobe by American standards, but I do have a closetful of clothes, which after you’ve lived in China, you realize is truly unnecessary.) But I don’t think the all-pajama-all-the-time style in my town was driven by economic need, but rather by the casualness of small town life, not unlike a college campus.

I remember eating at a local restaurant once, and I was being high-maintence (as usual) about the choices of vegetable dishes they had on the menu, and the waitress, very nicely said, “Well, what do you want? The vegetable stall is just out the back door–we can buy whatever they have and make it for you.” Or, the post office manager lived in the back of the post office, so you could stroll by at midnight, poke your head into her apartment and ask to get some stamps. It was just a casual town, where most people knew each other, and so if you were going from your house to eat something or buy something, I don’t think people felt a need to get dressed. Most people lived behind or above their stores or restaurants, so there was a high possibility the person helping you might be in their pajamas too. I lived far enough from the main part of town that I never really felt comfortable wandering around in my pajamas, but I understood why people did it. As for my claim that I was “the best-dressed,” that was me and my flamboyant hyperbole. But I do feel that between the pajama-wearing townspeople, and the nouveau-riche factory-owners and their wives, who would only hang out in the ritzy part of town, wearing weird Versace knock-offs*, I was one of the more normally dressed people in my town.

*The townspeople and I were united in our dislike of these people–many of who were from Hong Kong, where my parents grew up, sorry Mom and Dad–in that they were always swanning around, demaning special treatment at local restaurants, and doing incredibly obnoxious things like throwing money at waitresses to pay their bill, instead of handing it over nicely, at the counter. If Mao had risen from his grave and come around to enlist me to join his campaign against the capitalist roaders, I probably would have joined up, even if my family was persecuted the first time around. (We were bourgeois back then. My paternal great-grandfather was a doctor, and a kung fu expert!)

Anyway, since I had a lot of free time at my job (teaching small children English at a private school) I knew my town rather well, from all of my exploring. And one day, I decided I should take up knitting. Here, I should pause to explain that the womenfolk of my town were crazy about knitting. Since many of townspeople owned their small businesses (bodegas, restaurants, hardware stores, tailors, stuff like that), they had a ton of free time. Service was very casual, and people watched their kids, television, or ate lunch, while hanging out in their stores. So, if you were into knitting, you basically could knit all day, while occasionally helping a customer. I’ve never been great about taking photos (and my China photos are neither digital nor here in New York) but I found some beautiful examples in Flickr of this phenomenon–do click through to see examples of women knitting in their village, next to their fruit stall,  and at the garden, (this photo is in Shanxi, one of the more beautiful towns in China that I visited–they’ve retained a lot of that old-fashioned architecture).

In fact, knitting was so popular, that our town had an entire alley of yarn. It was kind of like the farmer’s market here, but instead of stalls of vegetables, it was stalls of yarn. (You have to click through to this vivid photo of a yarn stall on flickr–this is in Guanxi, one province over from Guangdong, where I lived.) One of the yarn sellers taught me the basics, though due to my poor Mandarin skills, combined with her decision to teach me a knitted cast-on with fingerling-weight yarn on two very long size 1 or 2 DPNs, I didn’t immediately get it. (I had convinced her through some pantomime / rudimentary Mandarin to teach me in exchange for me buying some yarn.)

I then bought a book (in the book alley, of course) that helped me a bit more (it was diagrams and charts, so I figured it out, even though I am Chinese-illiterate. And now I’m kicking myself because it was actually a stitch dictionary, probably filled with rare stitches, that I gave away when I moved.) And I knit a bit of a cabled scarf, with help from random Chinese women all over the country, who would correct how I was holding the yarn when I knit on the train. (They’re very insistent on everyone knitting Continental.)

But I never really caught the knitting fever in China. I think this was because (a) I never really got HOW to knit–probably due to my decision to start with a cabled scarf, instead of practicing stockinette–and couldn’t figure out how to feed the yarn through my hand; (b) my ignorance of the huge knitting community on the Internet, which probably would have helped me a lot; and (c) I had no one to knit with. It wasn’t until my former job here in New York, which had a work knitting club, that I really got into the whole stitching thing.

Posted in foreign knitting, personal, Uncategorized at January 5th, 2008.

KnitLit came up with a great end of the year / beginning of the year meme, Best of 2007 (that’s her logo below in the first square).

2007 FOs

These photos are not the best of my finished objects in 2007, they’re ALL of my finished objects in 2007. Apparently, I am a very slow knitter and someone who only knits accessories. From left to right, top to bottom, they are: 1. KnitLit’s logo 2. Queens Center Mall Socks 3. Ugly/Spring socks 4. Trekking socks 5. Chevron gauntlets 6. Odessa hat for Adam 7. Hat/scarf for my sister 8. Dairy Queen hat.

The yarn for my Queens Center Mall Socks and Trekking socks were both gifts (from Adam and my former co-worker, respectively), so I am excluding their cost, but otherwise, the yarn cost for these projects was $64.50. I know I bought needles, stash yarn (and extra yarn that wasn’t used for some of these projects, like that hat/scarf thing), gadgets (including a swift!), and books and magazines, but that seems to be fairly reasonable. I know the gadgets and stuff add up, but I feel safe that I have not yet turned into an insane hoarder. Must. Knit. Stash.

Okay. On to the meme:

1. your best FO of the year

I would have to go with the gauntlets. I wear them all the time, they are stylish, they are my own pattern, and they are fun to knit.

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to

I would say Another Shopgirl’s Phildar Vest. It’s very chic!

3. best yarn you tried

Watermelon Slice, by LoveSticks

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007

I don’t know if they’re new, but I like the “little sister” versions of Interweave Knitting and Vogue Knitting, knitscene and knit.1. I think they have cuter, younger patterns. They’re kind of the Teen Vogue of the knitting magazine world.

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007
This is going to sound pretty basic, but realizing that a combination of increases and decreases, strategically placed could either make a spiral (Odessa hat and Dairy Queen hat) or chevrons (Queens Mall socks and chevron gauntlets). It’s one of those things you might read and understand, but until you see it in action, you don’t quite get it.
6. top 5 inspirations–what five things inspired you the most over the past year?

(i) Other knitters, many of whom I’ve discovered through the Crazy for Knitting group on Flickr or on Ravelry. I’m always clicking the “favorite” button!

(ii) The Satorialist. Everyone’s favorite fashion blogger.

(iii) Anna Wintour’s Vogue. Even though it’s as mainstream as it can be (and let’s face it, kind of ridiculous in a let’s-pose-a-white-model-in-front-of-the-natives way), I still think Anna Wintour is the last word on American Fashion, with a capital F.

(iv) New Yorkers! Especially people on the subway. Sometimes, it’s just a color combination or an unusual texture, but I think between the locals and the tourists, there are so many great inspirations in NYC. Also, though I rarely venture there, I have to bow before the hipster girls in Williamsburg. I know they’re a walking cliche, but I still admire their outfits every time I drink in their land, and their style puts any non-Billyburg girl to shame.

(v) New Yorkers, part II! In addition to being an inspiration, the fact that there are so many great dressers in the city makes you have to ante up your game if you want to stand out. Too often, I embrace my outer borough frump style, but it’s nice to have a whole city to compete with, if you want to dress up. I lived in a little town in China for a year, and I was far and away the best-dressed person there, because everyone wore pajamas and flip flops All The Time. Including outside. (It was like living in a college library.) The fact that I put on my regular pants to leave my apartment meant that I was more Dressed, not to mention better dressed, than a good 75% of the people in the town. It was kind of nice being the star in my town, but I have to give New York props for raising the bar.

(v) Uh, Gossip Girl? I don’t know about this one, but I just watched an episode, and I have to say it packed more about class and money into one evening’s plot than all of Atonement, which I also just finished. Ian McEwan, seriously, watch some WB. Anyway, I like the ridiculous UES high-school tart style they have going on in this show.

7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year

Fashion-wise, Prada, now and forever. Knitting-wise? I like this one Vogue Knitting designer who I never see mentioned on blogs: Vladimir Teriokhin. I haven’t made anything by him, but he has a sort of old-lady tailored UES thing going on with all of his designs that I always am drawn to. He always seems to be designing fierce capes.

8. knitting resolutions for 2008–what’s next for you and your blog?

I really like what Knitsane does on her blog, where she talks about the different connotations of fashion. I actually majored in history, with a focus on consumer culture (aka SHOPPING) in college, so I really should have more to say on this topic. (I once took a class called “The Semiotics of Bourgeois Fashion” and actually learned a lot from it, despite the easily mocked name.) I’m not sure I have the time to write thoughtful consumer culture critiques every week, or in fact ever. Because I have to watch Gossip Girl. Duh. But something to strive for.

Also. Fair Isle!

Here’s a look at Works In Progress…

WIP 2008

1. The never-ending Ella shawl 2. The Hot Pink Mittens 3. A new traveling sock (“The traveling sock is finished!” “Long live the traveling sock!”) 4. My friend Kim’s hat which I finished in 2006, but which she claims fits her like a yarmulke, and which I promised to lengthen, but never did…Kim! I will lengthen it! I promise!

Posted in Finished Objects 2007, Links, Uncategorized at January 3rd, 2008.