The other day I said very loudly on the subway, “Wait, what does OPP mean?” Adam was like, “Shhhh!” Apparently I grew up during the ’80s in a bubble of innocence about Naughty By Nature lyrics.

Anyway, I was looking at the preview for the new Fall Interweave Knits and I noticed that two of the patterns in the issue were very similar to ideas that had been in my head. I did exactly nothing with these ideas, since I am strangely addicted to knitting socks, but this just goes to show how easy it is to have the same ideas as someone else. (Even though I kept these ideas in my brain, I was like “Hey! Interweave! You stole my thunder!” when of course, they did nothing of the sort.)

The first one was the Freyja hat, by Courtney Kelley :


I even have this exact yarn (Road to China) in my stash–I bought three skeins of it, and I had planned a very similar stranded zig-zag pattern in three different colors for a cowl or a hat.

The other was the Farmer’s Market Cardigan, by Connie Chang Chinchio:


I was like “Grr!” because I had this exact idea–a shawl collar that forms the border for a pocket. I have to say though that I was inspired by someone I saw on the subway wearing a sweater with this feature, so I was hardly original in thinking of it. But I hadn’t seen it in any knitting patterns so I felt a little special in thinking it up, but I guess I can’t really claim credit for it if I did nothing about it.

Random note: Other things I like to claim credit for include inventing the word “defriend” and the idea of high-end  street food for Western audiences (*cough* I’m looking at you Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Spice Market *cough*). There was a part in The Lost Father, by Mona Simpson (an all-around great book) about how the narrator is convinced she started the trend of leather backpacks, and I was very sympathetic. Sometimes you feel like you invented something, even if you probably didn’t.

Posted in patterns, Uncategorized at July 27th, 2009.

Medusa cowl

I had high hopes for this cowl. I knit it in a week and a half from my own design, and in my mind, I was like “I’m gong to submit it to Knitty! To Classic Elite! It’s going to be the next Clapotis! This is my big knitting break!!!”

Medusa cowl

Instantly give yourself a knitted turkey neck with this fabulous new product!

Then I put it on. All the cables scroonch down so it looks like Medusa neck, and knitted worms are wiggling around my neck. Blech.

Medusa cowl

It looks better from the side. Oh well, I’m still going to wear it in the fall, because it will be useful, but I am not offering a pattern, because let’s face it, this one is kind of a loser.

Pattern: My own–this is a couple of repeats of a really pretty dropped stitch cable pattern from The New Knitting Stitch Library, by Lesley Stansfield.

Yarn: This is Wool Bam Boo, from Classic Elite, in the color Sachet. It is a really nice yarn–I could see a nice spring sweater made from it, soft and smooth. Quite drape-y though. One ball, $11, from Knitty City.

Needles: Clover bamboo 9″ circular in size 5.

Project started/finished: Started July 8, 2009, finished July 19, 2009. Only a week and a half…until Gorgon neck.

Medusa cowl

Project notes: I didn’t swatch, and this project took the entire ball of yarn. What I learned is that if you want to make a cowl with cables, make it a little shorter and with less drapey yarn, so the cables don’t smush down into weird shapes. I kind of knew I should make it a little shorter, but I wanted the vertical repeats to be symmetrical, hence the extra length.

Posted in Finished Objects 2009, Scarves, Uncategorized at July 20th, 2009.

FO: Flamingo socks

Pattern: My own. They’re not really a pattern, just basic socks with a bit of ribbing. These are toe-up, with a short row heel. The body of the sock is *k2, p1, k4, p1,* repeat as necessary. Finish with k1, p1 rib. I used More Sensational Socks as a guide, but they’re pretty basic.

Yarn: Bonkers Sock Kit, color Flamingo. This yarn was a Christmas gift from Adam’s mom–I think she and Adam bought it at Yarn Barn, in Lawrence, Kansas.

Needles: Inox size 2 DPNs.

Project started/finished: Started December 3, 2008 or so, and finished July 13, 2009. I developed major second sock syndrome on these socks, but when I finally buckled down, I knit the second sock in two weeks.
FO: Flamingo socks

Project notes: I like these socks a lot–the colorway knit up nicely, I think. I have another pair of thicker, wooly socks (as opposed to the smoother superwash wool of some of my other socks), the Spiral Socks, that are super-cozy in the winter. I find that the non-superwash wool, knit on bigger needles, result in socks that a little less sturdy, but cozier, for socks.

Posted in Finished Objects 2009, Socks, Uncategorized at July 18th, 2009.


It has been a cool summer, though it has been hot this week. Anyway, last week, it was vaguely chilly enough to trot out the Noro shawlette. I have been finishing up some knitting, so I’ll have more pictures soon, but I have to answer some emails and get ready for another couple of terrifying hours of driving with my latest driving teacher who likes to tell me morbid stories of horrible car accidents and deaths, all because someone did not “ANTICIPATE!!”

Posted in Uncategorized at July 16th, 2009.

I have a driver’s license, but I never drove regularly, so I never really was comfortable driving a car, so I have been using my time off (*cough* funemployment *cough*)to take some intensive driving lessons in my neighborhood.

A bit of back story: When I learned to drive in my 20s*, here in New York’s Chinatown, I was taught by this man I called “The Driving Guru,” and who was the best driving teacher ever. His name was Steve, and he was actually a year or two younger than me, and he was the world’s calmest dude. He taught me completely in Chinese, and only spoke in Ye Olden Chinese Confucius-like epigrams–like if I didn’t slow down for pigeons, he would say, “Each life has its own worth, and we must respect the life of each living being,” and when I gave him grief about giving me different advice on different days, he said, “Each situation has its own solution, and we must honor the uniqueness of each,” etc. Once, I was freaking out on one of Chinatown’s narrow streets, and Steve assured me that nothing would ever happen while he was in the car, and I believed him. We almost never spoke about our personal lives–I can only remember one instance where he randomly asked me the English words for how to order different kinds of eggs (scrambled, sunny-side up, over medium, hard-boiled, etc.), which is hardly personal. Anyway, I knew he used to be a long-distance truck driver, and sadly, when it came time to relearn, Steve had moved to California to return the long-distance driving.

*I had a learner’s permit at 15, like a normal red-blooded American, but somehow I fell off the learning on-ramp and never got a license until my 20s.

(I have also found there is a small subset of people, namely neurotic New York women writers, who learn to drive as adults, and who tend form strange attachments to their driving teachers. I chalk it up to the intimacy of spending so much time in a small space with a man who has so much control over your life, and spending A LOT of time with him on a regular basis. See The Nation‘s Katha Pollitt’s essay “Learning to Drive,” Vanity Fair‘s Amy Fine Collins’s “Vroom at the Top,” and songwriter Suzanne Vega’s, “Street Legal, Finally.” As a neurotic New York woman writer myself, who was, um, driving-chellenged,  I was always especially aware of these articles, and kept a metal talley of the many famous non-drivers I would hear about, like Studs Terkel, who I would always trot out, when people rolled their eyes at my lack of driving skills.)

Anyway, I have two new driving teachers, neither of whom I love, but they are intense in their own ways. I have been going on the highway and Northern Boulevard (a hellish boulevard here in Queens, filled with what my California driver’s ed teacher would have called “The Final Factor”: unloading trucks, people talking on their cell phones, children dashing out into the street, Totally Insane Youth driving sports cars in terrible ways, aggressive people who like to yell at me, etc.) while listening to my driving teacher explain about (1) her first arranged marriage to an abusive drunkard; (2) her only child, who lives in India, and their tortured relationship, which is so complex that it’s like a Faulkner and V.S. Naipaul novel rolled into one, combining issues of class, family, immigration, emigration, and patriarchy; (3) her second marriage to a Pakistani man (I have a small personal interest in The Partition, based on my fondness for arranged marriage novels, and when she mentioned this Southeastern Asian Romeo-and-Juliet Indian-and-Pakistani pairing in her life, I was vaguely fascinated); (4) her plans to quit her driving teaching career of 16 years to work for the MTA (the NY transit authority); and (5) the differences between America and other countries.

I was a history major, I’m a writer, and I grew up in an immigrant family, so I am always at least a little interested in how immigrants view America and Americans, and especially how women perceive America. But I have to say that there were times in the past week that I have been like, “While I am fascinated by your complex immigrant story, I am also about to be killed by being smushed between a fruit truck and the M60 bus on Northern Boulevard! What should I do!?” I am not always sure that my personal StoryCorps experience has been beneficial to my driving skills. But I have finished my current stint with this teacher, and begin tomorrow with my other teacher, who is an old-school dude (read: mildly sexist and fond of saying things of his students like, “Well, she wore the pants in that family and he wore the dress if you know what I mean, haha,” which I would normally find kind of offensive, but have decided to accept to improve my driving skills) who has been teaching for 40 years. I will report back after I am done.

On a positive note, I think I’m actually a fairly decent beginning driver now. None of my driving teachers are believers in positive reinforcement. (I think “positive reinforcement” might be an American philosophy, and since all of my teachers have been immigrants, they believe in the tough love stance. Or as my current teacher said, “When we compliment students, then they think they are doing well, and then they stop learning!” I inwardly groaned, remembering my various aborted stints at Chinese school, where teachers are always quick to rank students and point out your failures.) But as an American who grew up in woo-woo San Francisco, I am big on positive reinforcement, so I have taken to saying things like, “Aren’t I doing so well? Did you notice how great I was on the highway?” which makes my teacher laugh. I told her that I needed to be complimented (who cares if I’m fishing?) and she was like, “um, I don’t do that, but okay.” The truth is that driving isn’t so difficult, and though I was kind of mentally stressed about it for a while, I finally was like, if I can knit an entire sweater, I think I can learn to drive.

Posted in personal, Uncategorized at July 13th, 2009.

Cyclones Knitting

Last week, a friend of mine who has season tickets to the Cyclones (the farm team for the New York Mets) out at Coney Island, invited us out to watch a game with her. I recently saw a game at the Mets’ new Citi Field (which replaced Shea Stadium) and I was surprised by how close we were to the field at the Cyclones–definitely a more intimate experience than at Citi Field, though I liked the new Citi Field as well. It’s a beautiful environment out at Coney though–you can see the Parachute Jump from the World’s Fair in the background of this photo, which adds a nice nostalgic touch to the game.

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized at July 9th, 2009.

traveling sock

I don’t know what it’s been like in the rest of the country, but this summer has been the year of non-stop summer rain in New York. Like EVERY DAY. I think we need to build an ark soon.

Here’s my latest second sock. I like knitting socks because they have definite stopping points…knittttttttttt and then the heel, turn the heel, and then knittttttttt the rest of the sock. Rinse and repeat. And you’re done! Whereas other projects sometimes seem a little endless. I knit lots of my socks of the subway, where people like to talk to each other about my sock knitting all of the time. Especially older women–they’re always telling their family members how they, too, can knit socks. I’m like living history on the subway. Maybe I should charge to watch me on the subway! Hah!

Posted in Socks, travelingproject, Uncategorized at July 2nd, 2009.