The New York Times ran two obituaries, an official one and then a more profile-y one of Estelle Bennett, one of the Ronettes, earlier this month when she died, and they were both sad. I love the look of the girl groups from that era, especially their hair. Every now and then for parties, I’ll try to do big beehive hair, but unfortunately, I just don’t have the hair for that kind of volume (plus, I think it requires a good half a day under those old-fashioned hair dryers to get those beehives into place. I was, however, lured by some product on television I saw the other day that was a plastic bump that promised this volume for modern hair). Anyway, I’ve always loved “Be My Baby,” which I remember learning in junior high music theory class* that it had the same bass line as Pachelbel’s Cannon. I also fact-checked a story about the backup musicians from this era a couple of years ago, (favorite quote from a source, “It was the ’60s, honey, it was one big blur”), and I got oddly fascinated with Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and his relationship with Ronnie Spector. In fact, I was so into it, I was confused when my friend and then-co-worker said something about going to see Regina Spektor, and I was like, “Phil Spector’s wife?” and she was like, “No! Your brain has been addled by talking to all these old  musicians!”

*Yes, I was a nerd.


Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized at February 26th, 2009.

Sweater Sleeve

I have a work project and I’ve been sucked into reading a couple of mysteries that a friend gave me so my blogging has suffered this week. I had to stop reading tonight because I don’t want the book’s images to be the last thing I read before I go to sleep. (Also, interestingly, the mystery–Grotesque, by Natsuo Kirino–it’s kind of a mix of seedy pulp noir, Gossip Girl (it’s set at a girl’s school), and Notes from a Scandal, all set in Japan, is right at the point where they’re talking about this ugly scarf that this loser character has spent weeks knitting. Sigh. Maybe I am a loser knitter.)

Anyway, I’ve moved to the sleeve part of the sweater (above). Voila!

Posted in Sweaters, Uncategorized at February 25th, 2009.

Oops–I’m getting this post in a wee bit late for Monday, but I think y’all can live.

Adam's knitting

I stole this picture from Adam’s Flickr…he’s known how to knit since before we started dating, and he’s made a hat for himself and a couple baby hats, but he wanted a ribbed scarf, so I taught him how to purl. He’s coming along well–look at how much he’s knit in just a few days! Read his own blog post about it.

Posted in Scarves, Uncategorized at February 23rd, 2009.


I made these in 2008, but it took me a while to blog about them because I wanted to put a pattern together. They’re super-duper easy. I came up with them on CalTrain on the way back from Purlescence. You can follow the more traditional  instructions that are in the PDF (link at the bottom of this post) or just make up your own–knit a bit of ribbing in chunky yarn, throw together a cable (I just knit the easiest one I could think of), make a thumb gusset, picot edging off and ta-da! You’re done. These literally took me three days.

Oh, and they’re called MittSF because they were designed and knitted in San Francisco and also because it sounds like mitzvah, a charitable act, which it certainly would be if you made a pair for a friend.

Download the pattern here.

Also available on Ravelry here.

Posted in Mittens, Uncategorized at February 20th, 2009.


From this week’s New York magazine’s Look Book feature. Here’s a nice variegated hat (Missoni, natch) worn with an all-black outfit. Yay for those of us who like the often-ugly variegated yarns.

Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized at February 19th, 2009.

hat 001

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. [thunk thunk]<–That’s the Law and Order scene change sound, duh.

And this is my story, of being an extra on Law and Order. To sum it up, it was a lot like jury duty, where I went in thinking it would be super exciting and I would get to change the world (well, maybe not in the case of being an extra, but anyway), and by the end, was totally bored and unable to knit. But still, interesting nonetheless.

First, we were put into a “holding” area in a church, where we sat around for a long time. I read an entire article in this week’s New Yorker about Ian McEwan, which was very uninteresting. Much like Ian McEwan’s books. Anyway, I also knit a stripe and a half on Adam’s sock (above), and listened to the insane conversations of my fellow extras. They must have tried to cast primarily Asians because we were going to be gallery-goers for Chinese Communist propaganda art show (amusingly for me, something I actually know about, and thus, might have potentially attended in real life) and I thought this was a little unusual. I was like “Asians! There are only two acceptable professions for our kind! Lawyers and doctors!” I never realized that there were so many Asian extras. So many disappointed parents. Anyway, moving on, there were also many older extras with thespian dreams (reading material of my fellow extras: scripts, the trade newspaper Backstage, a biography of director Eliza Kazan, etc.), and not to be a dream-crusher, but if you’re in your 40s or 50s, you are probably not going to Make It.

Pause: As I mentioned, normally, I work in magazines, and though sometimes magazine writers can be wacky, they’re generally pretty professional. The extras reminded me of a totally different deluded group: wannabe novelists. My first job in publishing was reading the slush pile, or unsolicited manuscripts, for a publishing house and the amount of totally insane manuscripts written by deluded writers that I read made me realize that there is a whole group of people with unrealized but hopeless dreams. I harbor novel-writing dreams myself, so I get it, but really, if your book involves a clown who lives in cranberry bog, it’s probably not going to be published.

Anyway. Here are my two favorite overheard conversations. The first one was between a 50-something man wearing more eye makeup than Jenny Humphrey and a 40-something woman.

Man: Well, I’ve been working on a play.

Woman: Um hum.

Man: I gave it to Andrew Lloyd Weber, and he wrote me back. Do you want to see the letter?

Woman: (Reading letter) Wow, the ink has faded on your letter. Um, so have you sent your play to other directors to be produced?

Man: Oh sure, I sent it to 10 other directors, but I don’t need to, because Andrew Lloyd Weber is going to do it.

Woman: How do you know?

Man: Because Jesus told me.

Woman: Oh?

Man: Yes, well he’s currently working on a sequel to Phantom of the Opera, but Jesus told me that he’s not going to do that, instead he’s going to score and direct my play instead. [Gives confusing synopsis of his play–something involving monks.] Oh, [here the man leans in close to the woman, who he clearly knows from before] and of course, I’m going to give all of my friends first shot at some of the supporting roles.

Woman: Really?

Man: [mistaking her query for actual excitement] Oh yes, there are going to be a lot of supporting roles–I think one would be great for you. Like maybe being a household maid. You’re Asian, so you would know a lot about the culture.

Woman: You should have your mother try to be in it.

Man: [Faux bashfully] Well, I was really hoping she would try out for the lead, but it’s going to be a musical–Andrew Lloyd Weber, you know. You do know who he is, right? Anyway, of course Andrew will be writing it as a libretto, and I’m not sure my mother has the singing chops to take it on, but I hope so.

[the two talk more about other ridiculous topics before this great gem]

Man: You know who I hate? Bob Wong. [not the actual name. But he said a name of someone I had never heard of.] I mean, he is the worst, he has a big mouth and no talent. It’s one thing if you have a big mouth, but a lot of talent, like me, but no talent, ugh.

Woman: Well, you can say what you want about Bob, but he put himself out there and he’s really well known.

Man: Well, you know how he got ahead?

Woman: By working?

Man: No, Satan.


Second conversation between two 20-somethings, a man and a woman. Anyway, they somehow started talking about books and I overheard the man say:

“You know they teach too much tragedy in school. Like Macbeth. So much tragedy you know? I think they should really teach more positive things. Like I read this great book recently [here, he takes out HIS NOTES on the book to show to the girl], The Power of Positive Thinking? They should teach that instead.”

So anyway, at this point I began to despair a little bit for humanity, but wardrobe came around to approve our clothing. I was disproportionately pleased because the wardrobe head liked my (own) dress a lot, and deemed it “very sophisticated,” whereas other extras were sent back to the wardrobe truck for new clothes. Then, we had to go to the set and film a minute-long scene for hours. Seriously, I have both a new respect and disdain for television, because there are so many people (staff, extras, sound people, etc.) for each minute of television, combined with hours of rehearsals. On one hand I was sort of impressed, on the other, I was like really? Can’t you make this quicker? Do we really need to check the lighting on these people for THREE hours?!? The entire scene was seriously less than a minute.

Due to my “very sophisticated” dress (<–small victories in life, people, this is what gets us through the day) I was chosen to actually walk in front of the camera. So if they don’t cut my scene, you might see my face or more likely, my back, walking in front of two dubious dudes arguing about a money deal, in front of a giant propaganda poster of Mao and some happy communists.  I walked like thirty times in front of these dudes, and at some point, I spilled some grape juice on my beige dress. Sigh, the spastic extra who will never be used again. But wardrobe magically appeared with baby wipes, and fixed the situation, though I still dropped off my dress at the dry cleaners last night. (I do actually like the dress, not just for my weird new past time as an extra.) I also drove my fellow extras crazy, by muttering “thunk thunk” between scenes, which no one seemed to appreciate. Also, all the extras decided to be Method extras. Like the extra who was walking with me actually said to me, “So, what’s our back story? Are we friends? Have we just met? Do we hate each other?” She also told me to walk slower, which I am incapable, as a New Yorker, of doing, but she slowed down (to get more camera time) and got called out by some director about this. (She said, “Oh, I’m lagging a beat?” I was like, lady, just walk faster.)  Another extra refused to talk to us, because she was too busy being “in character.”

At the end of day, when I was summing it up for Adam, I said, “You know, journalism may be a cruel and low-paying mistress, but at least it’s a mistress I know. Whereas being an extra is like working for a cruel and low-paying mistress that I don’t know, and I hung out with insane people.”

I’m reserving the right to do more extra work (especially if Gossip Girl ever needs extras!), but I have to say that in general, I was happy to cross “being an extra” off of my to-do list, and move on.

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized, Weird Life Experiences at February 19th, 2009.

I have totally discovered a new blog post theme for every post. HAHAH.

After spending all morning trying to figure out my various health insurance options (OMG America, just put everyone on national health care already), I decided to cross the next item off on my to-do list: being a television extra.

I’ve been thinking up things I want to do with my new unemployed/freelance time, including working on lots of my own projects, and doing weird fun things, one of which involved being an extra. I figured I had a leg up on everyone in New York because I have zero thespian aspirations* and can entertain myself during the long hours by knitting. (Figuring that being an extra is like dating–as long as you don’t want it, people want you. Also accomplished today: Watching He’s Just Not That Into You. Yep. I saw it. Shut up, I like Jennifer Aniston.)  So I went to sign up for this and dude, it was totally like jury duty. A wide swath of New York’s most intense.

I was right–I was the only person without acting dreams. Everyone had brought their head shots and they were all VERY CONCERNED about getting their best head shots uploaded. I think I even overheard one person say, “But what about my stage name?” In my head, I was like “My stage name is Fabulosa,” but I refrained from saying this out loud. Then, I probably enraged all of my fellow “background actors” because while they were all being hustled out, the casting dude asked me to stay behind because he thought he might have a part for me. (I like to think this is because I was the most stylishly dressed–and in my own opinion, least crazy–applicant.)

So yes, if you are reading this on Wednesday, I will not be at my computer because I will be playing a blur (a wealthy art-appreciating blur!) on a very popular television show! (Hint: Police procedural.) Or, uh, knitting on a chair somewhere, waiting to play a blur. You might even see my sleeve on tv!

* Of course, when I heard I got the “part,” I was totally excited, and imagining how they might upgrade me to a regular character, and how soon, even my friend Sarah would stalk me in Starbucks. Like everyone in America, I am revealed to be a fame whore when given even an inch.

The rest of the day I was all cheerful–with this kind of luck, I should start buying lottery tickets and persuing my other schemes ASAP! Wait until the world hears about my awesome history book idea!** I walked by the fashion tents at Bryant Park–it’s Fashion Week here in New York–and everyone was standing on the steps, craning their necks to see which models/fashion editors/celebs would come out of the Town Cars. I was so heartened. This is New York, where everyone comes to have their ridiculous dreams squashed! Yay!

** I mean, history, the most exciting field ever, right?!

Posted in celebrity knitting, Uncategorized at February 18th, 2009.

knitting in the car

Knitting in the car on the way to Montauk.

Last night I tried to install a bunch of different new themes for this blog and I was getting super-frustrated. But then I remembered how all knitting books always have a paragraph that says something like, “You’re smart! You can knit socks!” or whatever, and I was like, “YES I CAN!” (<–I am sure President Obama will not mind me stealing his motto to use for  learning how to use CoreFTP.)

I mean, if I can knit a pair of socks, you would think I would be able to learn enough coding to modify my own blog, right? Well, I was doing okay, and even changing colors in templates and such, but then I realized that my new chosen theme was not accepting my Flickr WordPress widget to create thumbnails  and I had a little bit of a mind meltdown. So I went to bed. But I did have to give myself a pep talk. I realized that reading knitting directions are a kind of separate language, and I can read music and speak four human languages (badly, but enough to be able to buy food and find the bathroom, and that’s all that matters), so I should be able to understand PHP. And many many years ago, I did take deductive geometry, though there was a minute when I was scanning the “if…then” code that I was like, “Why can’t computer programmers use regular English!?!?!” But then I realized it would be like if knitters wrote out all of their instructions (“knit by creating loop and pulling through, repeat, purl by creating loop in front, repeat” instead of “*k1, p1* repeat until end of the row”), that it would take too long. Cascading style sheets, I will conquer you.

Also, I spent all morning trying to read legislation to figure out how to get the new COBRA subsidy. Dear President Obama, please create a legislation FAQ for dummies on your homepage. Thanks.

Posted in Admin, Uncategorized at February 17th, 2009.

grandmother's hat

Pattern: My own top-down helmet, following instructions in Barbara Walker’s Knitting From the Top. A similar free pattern for heavier (worsted-weight) yarn is here (or in Stitch and Bitch).

Yarn: One ball of Rowan Felted Tweed in camel, bought on sale when The Yarn Connection closed. I think it was about $5, after discount.

Needles: Size 5 DPNs, and one bamboo Clover 16″ circular in size 5.

Project started/ended: February 5 to February 12, so about a week.

grandmother's hat

Notes: This is pretty easy to make. I’m not giving a formal pattern because the average person should be able to figure it out, but here’s the basic recipe:

Cast on about seven stitches, increase (k1fb) in seven “slices” using DPNs (increase a round, knit a round plain, repeat for a while). Measure gauge. Calculate how many stitches you would need to fit around your head, by multiplying gauge by the circumference of your head. Keep knitting. Slip stitches onto 16″ circulars when wide enough. When you have knit for a while, slip stitches off onto a spare piece of yarn (something non-sticky, like cotton yarn) and try on. Stop knitting about an inch and a half before you want the hat to end. Knit in seed stitch (k1, p1) for about an 1″ to 1.5″ (knitter’s choice). Stop knitting.

Try on again by sliding stitches onto a spare piece of yarn. Using scraps of string, mark (tie string between stitches, but not around the needle) where you want your ear flaps to go. Put stitches back on needle. Bind off in pattern (k1, p1) in the bigger sections between the markers (aka the front brim and the back brim). When you get to the ear flap markers, slide those stitches onto a spare piece of yarn. Continue binding off, slide next ear flap stitches onto a piece of string. Put one set of ear flap stitches back onto the needles. Knit a flap. (Seed stitch one row, and then decrease at the sides–k2tog at beginning and end of the row. Repeat until flap is longer than ear. Decrease rapidly by k2tog two or three times, then k a couple of stitches, then k2 two or three times, repeat until you have two or three stitches. Bind off. You may want to throw in a couple of rows of plain seed stitch between the decrease rows to give a slower taper to the triangle.) Repeat for other flap.

Knit two lengths of i-cord. Weave in ends on hat. Sew i-cord to each point of each flap. Wash and block. WAA-LAA!*

* I used to work at a magazine whose readers would post recipes in their online forums, and they would always end their recipes with the phrase “waa-laa,” and I could never figure out whether they were joking or didn’t know how to spell “voilà.” But I kind of loved it and think it’s much more dramatic than just “voilà.”

Note: If you’re interested in the cowl I am wearing, it’s my Ithacowl, which is my own free pattern. You can download it from Ravelry or here.

But you don't look a day over five!

Photo shoot notes: Adam took me to Montauk for Valentine’s Day, which is on the tip of Long Island, and also where they filmed parts of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind**, a movie that inspired many people (including me) to go visit in the winter. It was beautiful, and in the back of these pictures, you can see the famous Montauk lighthouse.

On the way back, we stopped by a grocery store where I saw this funny bag of fruits (above). I would say that those banana chips don’t look a day over seventeen, wouldn’t you?

** An astoundingly beautiful movie despite the fact it stars Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, two of my least favorite actors ever.

Posted in Finished Objects 2009, Hats, patterns, Uncategorized at February 16th, 2009.


I went to Sunnyvale, CA, over the Christmas holiday for a work lunch and I, of course, had to sneak in a yarn store visit. This is Purlesence, which was a little hard to find because it was in this strip mall, which is not very Bay Area and I was lost in a sea of strip mallness. (The Bay Area does have strip malls, but they are not, I think, native to our land.) Anyway, the people in the store were nice and helpful, and it seriously was like the land of holy grail sock yarns. I always read on the internet about Socks That Rock and Dream in Color, etc., but they’re not commonly available here in New York. This store had every cult-y sock yarn you can imagine:


This is their rack of Lorna’s Laces and Colinette, and in the back you can see their Dream in Color. The stock is quite amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I didn’t buy any of it, because I was too overwhelmed with choices. (I did buy one skein of Rowan Cocoon, which I will show knitted up shortly.) They also have a big space in the middle for people to sit, knit, and chat.  It’s not the most stylish of stores (I still love Purl, here in New York, and Loop, in Philadelphia, best, for their color and style), but it had a really deep inventory of hard-to-find yarn. Definitely worth visiting. (For those of you who are car-challenged, like me, you can walk to it from the CalTrain stop.)


Address: 586 South Murphy Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Phone: (408) 735-YARN (9276)

Posted in Uncategorized, Yarn Stores at February 13th, 2009.