Monday, July 11, 2011

Life-Transition Shawl: Home stretch

An update on Miralda the Life-Transition shawl:

She's been getting bursts of activity in between planning and scheduling housing appointments and figuring out all the myriad details that come with moving across the country.  It's been fitting to knit her center diamond chart, the meat an potatoes of the pattern, while plotting the meat and potatoes of the move. Today we are down South touring places to live and after we sign a lease we should be on the home-stretch...perfectly coinciding with the finishing all the complicated nupp charts on Miralda.  I kind of love it when knitting imitates life (but not in the 1000-yards-of-laceweight-jumbled-into-one-impossible-knot-and-half-eaten-by-the-cat type of way).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Parade of Socks

One of my goals this summer was to get everything sorted before moving.  This means sorting out what to keep, what to give away, and what needs fixing/finishing.  I am a big sock knitter.  They are the perfect travel project, easy to memorize and very useful, especially in the cold Oberlin winters.  As such, I had a lot of old socks that needed some TLC on the weak spots to prevent darning and just as many new socks that needed finishing touches, pictures, and their internet debut.  I'll be trotting them out in the upcoming weeks. I'm rather embarrassed how long it took me to get around to some of these, but here they are....ready just in time for me to move down sweltering South.   Oh well, my feet shall be very warm in the air conditioning.  : )

New socks pictured in the designated HandKnit Sock Bin; old ones still drying in the shower from their wool bath.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The concept of anonymous and the Internets

I am a journaler; during my more prolific times I would fill up a journal a month with my scribbles, thoughts, and fancies.  Nobody saw them but me, and I would traditionally open each book with a benevolent warning such as "GO AWAY AND DON'T READ THIS.  If you continue reading may you be cursed with stinky feet for the rest of your days."   Blogging is a natural extension of journaling.  What I like a lot less is that the ENTIRE INTERNETS can see my blog, forever preserved in internet archives.  Loved ones, employers, strangers, acquaintances.  All two million of those with internet access.  E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e.  Even if you don't identify yourself there is no anonymous anymore, especially when pictures are posted and there is software available that can identify faces.  Social media was invented for social purposes, but it is increasingly becoming important for business too.  Want to be an entrepreneur?  Make yourself and your personality into a brand and sell it.  Granted, it's a bit more complicated than that but it's where the major advice falls.

The people watcher in me loves this.  Blogging is one of my favorite aspects on the internet.  I enjoy listening to people's stories.  I enjoy personal brands.  The bloggers whose archives I re-read on a rainy day are the ones that tend to share the more intimate details of their life.  They are honest.  It follows that they inspire me to do the same, but there's the rub.  I'm a private person; it makes me nervous to share my life with the world wide web, and I am wary of sharing the life of my loved ones on the web.  I don't have anything to hide, I just don't like sharing with two million people all at once; there's a distinct difference.  And what about the professional repercussions?  The wisdom I have heard is to use common sense and make your own brand anyways--any company that doesn't like your brand, you wouldn't like working for and you wouldn't stay there long anyways.  You could debate this advice yay or nay.

So....why blog?  Why not just delete the whole thing, or make up an exciting pen name?  Because ultimately, I want to own my internet presence and my creations.  The community that surrounds blogging excites me, and when appropriate I want to participate as Ondrea and not an online handle (though I do enjoy creative online handles).  So what is my personal brand?  Practical, inquisitive, and thoughtful, for a start.  The aesthetics can be hashed out later, but after spending some time perfecting a SPLAT with my watercolors last night I've got a good idea of where they're going...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jettison beam ON: pew pew pew!

This year I am taking luxurious time packing for the big move down South.  There's four weeks until we travel down to house-hunt, and seven weeks until we move down for real.  In theory, I should be able to pack a few boxes a week and spend my last few nights in Oberlin spending time with my favorite people and places instead of my usual: cramming anything and everything into a box at 4 in the morning and muttering "I'll sort that when I unpack" as I wrap half a roll of duct tape around it to keep the box contained.

Anything and everything never got sorted, a consequence of tight schedules, laziness, pack-rattyness, and being a low-priority.  I drove to college with all I needed in a mini-van, and it would probably take 3 or 4 mini-vans to shift me today.   I've made an effort to be conscious of what I buy for reasons of space, money, planning for the future, but accumulated.

As I pack for the South, I am overcome with the desire to jettison anything and everything and halt all expenses that isn't rent, utilities, car expenses, or food.  I would like to be able to fit into a mini-van with my stuff once again (minus the pets and their large cages, of course).  Easier to transport!  Easier to clean!  More open space!  More mental space!*  Considering how materialistic I have been in the past, it's almost surprising how readily I can detatch myself from these things today.** On crankier days I've even considered the 100 Things Challenge but haven't quite reconciled possessing 100 things when as an artist I tend to keep quite a few art supplies and yarn around for inspiration and play; somewhere there is a happy medium yet to be discovered.

One of my colleagues mused the other day: "Sometimes I wonder if the economy going poorly is the universe telling us that money and material goods should not be the focus of our existence."

I have decided my animal guide on this quest to lighten my load is this little guy, who makes his home what he pleases and carries it wherever he goes:

Image from

The first week after graduation I sorted through the bedding (goodbye, twin long sheets!) and I trimmed my closet.   This week I took a critical look at my bookshelves and my yarn stash, and started going through papers; this feeling of freedom comes with the recognition I am a poor candidate for beginning an heirloom tradition.  Oh well.  Win some, loose some!

*When I accept a material good into my home, I devote a small part of my brain to it so I remember it is there and will use it.  Less things, more brain space available for other things.  Anybody else react this way?
** As long as it is my choice to detach; it's a lot harder when material goods are forcibly removed or lost.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Merrily we motor along

Miralda motors along as fast as any 300+ stitch lace project knit in my spare time can.  The first few rows kicked my butt there and back because I'd forgotten the concentration it takes to read charts and how out of practice I am; I improvise/wing so much of my knitting that I have an easier time reading the pattern on an actual finished shawl.  Also?  Counting to 3 multiple times in a row is harder than you'd think.

She's actually several inches longer than this at the time of posting, but my house has been ambushed by moving boxes and I'm not sure where my camera is.

Last night she grew quite a bit as I watched END:CIV, the documentary based on the book Endgame by Derrick Jensen.  My goal is to have her finished before the big move down South.  Life shawl.  Not that I'll need her in the sweltering southern heat, but it's more the idea anyways.  Now that graduation is over and everybody has scattered to the winds taking my social life with them, I should have some more time to work on her as well as some other yarn, art, and life projects that have been brewing.  Life transitions are easier when you can nuzzle yarn.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Swatching the Future

I am very much an Analyzer.  I will happily take any and all events in my life and research, ponder, debate, and in general wear the problem down until it's as worried and worn as a small, perfectly smooth pebble on the creek bed.   Sometimes this serves me well because when I make a decision it is carefully thought through, and sometimes I just get bogged down analyzing and over-analyzing some more with a bit of anxiety thrown in for good measure.

Right now there is a lot of transition in my life simply because that's where I'm at in my life: And after Graduation there came a time of great transition where her loved ones scattered to the winds and Ondrea had to decide what was Important, and how to take this Important and make it Reality.*  As per usual, I have analyzed and barked in circles until it feels like I've come out the other side even though really I never left my couch the entire time.

Since it was a beautiful day on Saturday, I did a smart thing and got myself out of the house for some social interaction.  I played some Calvinball (if you get hit by the pink ball, drop whatever you are carrying...if you pick up zee flip-flop, you talk een Russian accent), and then I went to Smith's for the monthly party of good friends, fine yarn, and tasty food.

Lily of the Valley and wee-gloves that Sparkle found on one of her excursions.

In anticipation and hope for the of the future and because I was sick and tired of analyzing everything (Geeze, at some point, you just have to stop and enjoy it all because there's no way you can figure everything out) I started my Christmas Knitting.  Yes, you heard me.  Christmas knitting.  In May.  Right now it looks like this:

Classic Elite Fresco: 60% wool, 30% alpaca, 10% angora
I'm excited!  I've already researched, doodled and swatched since I am designing these projects myself (and is one of the reasons I started so early).  I even did a big one adn washed and dried it, because I'm hopefully creating some heirlooms and I'd like to write up the pattern for other people to use when I'm done.  So far my swatch has told me I needed to swatch again in smaller needles--sizes 3 and 5.  So!  Another swatch before I jump in and cast these suckers on my needles.

Here's to the future, which might require a bit of swatching to get where I want but will come out how it's supposed to in the end.

*I re-read Lamb again.  You should too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Inspiration: Art in my Coffee

Because who doesn't like pretty, tasty things?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Inspiration: Ambulance

Found these nifty vehicles parked outside the Inn one sunny day.  It appears to be an old ambulance and some type of wee car for one person who doesn't mind tight spaces.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

scrabble scrabble scrabble

How to cast on the Miralda shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia 

  • Watch Cory knit several beautiful Miralda shawls in Jade Sapphire.  Decide there is no reason to mess up a good thing, join the Knit-A-Long she is hosting and snatch up two skeins of Jade Sapphire the day Smith's gets it in.  Rip proper needles out of sweater-in-progress that hasn't been touched for months.
  • Read Yarn Harlot's post about the perils of casting on for Miralda.  Chuckle nervously and hope that won't be me.
  • Cast on 331 stitches holding yarn double at the knit shop, so there is moral support of I mess up.  Place markers every 50 stitches, recount.  Knit first two rows.  Decide I should start on chart and get the pattern established before first knit-a-long class on Tuesday so it's far enough along I can knit in public and socialize at the same time.
  • Get to last 4 stitches of row 1 of the correct lace chart.  Realize I am on stitch short.  Decide problem was my not counting stitches correctly in previous step (even though I double and triple counted), but decide I can fake it and leave out last decrease.  Be smug because I have made it through the first charted row almost unscathed.
  • Get to last 30 stitches of row 3, realize I am off.  Be confused, because this is an odd place to come up short of stitches.  Eyeball chart, fail to see mistake.
  • Be driven slightly crazy when the thing living in my floorboards scrabbles while I re-count stitches.  Wonder what happens if it dies in my floorboards; how resistant to the smell of rotting flesh will my stash be?
  • After much deliberation and recounting (and stomping on the floorboads to get the creature to be quite/go away) Think I have found mistake in first chart row.  Rip.  Recount and make sure charts are correct.

Intermission: sleep

  • Begrudgingly begin to re-knit, sitting in the sunshine (yay spring!).
  • Go visit mama cat the Pirate and I are considering adopting.   Fall in love with her even though she might eat yarn.  Have her fuzzy kittens whose eyes are not open yet take the edge off.
  • Re-knit the last 30 stitches of row 1.  Come up short, just like last time.  Decide to fake it, just like last time even though this might not be the best plan because knitting doesn't like to be forced.
  • Come up short halfway through row 3, just like I expected but in a different place.  Re-consult chart.  Wonder why I thought it was a good idea to start a bottom-up shawl when I was getting bored with a top-down shawl.
  • Realize that for no reason whatsoever I have been only reading part of the chart and have completely left off 4 edge stitches on both sides of row 1.
  • Be baffled at how in the world leaving off 8 pattern stitches but apparently adding another 10 stitch repeat makes me come up one stitch short since I should have been at least two stitches over.  Twice.
  • Decide that the only thing to take the edge off the scrabbling floorboard creature and shawl is to adopt mama cat and ALL FOUR of her adorable fuzzy wee kittens.  Wonder if in addition to taking the edge off my knitting troubles I can also set mama cat on the creature that is still scrabbling in my the floorboards.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Warp and Weft

For those out there who weave, I found an excellent example of warp and weft on campus.

WARP: concrete columns
WEFT: ribbons twined around the columns

How do you think they wrapped it around the top? 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Carb clearinghouse

Since I will be moving to the South in a few months, I have decided it is time to clear my kitchen of all the food items that looked tasty in the store, but never quite made it onto the dinner plate.  It also means I need to clear out my stock of essentials.  In the next few months if you find yourself craving carbs, come to my place.  I shall be eating lots of cornbread, buckwheat pancakes, peanut butter and jelly, oatmeal, and mustard (there was this weird mustard phase).

Alternatively, if you have a recipie for 6 cups of brown rice flour please leave a comment!  About the only thing I could think of was gluten-free paper mache.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Inspiration: Flea Market Finds

I found some lovely steampunk, mad science, and Renaissance Faire accessories at the flea market.

The wooden clamp does not have a very good grip, but it will be a good prop and be
light to carry around on a belt.  If anyone could tell me what they do, I'd love to hear it.

"Elixer Tree of Life Since 1880" (front)
"Necater of The Golden Life of Health and Vitality" (back)

The requisite pocketwatch with gears showing (sadly, it does not work but it was pretty enough I snagged it anyways).


Monday, May 2, 2011

Blogging instead of knitting

Today is a rare day off, so of course it is filled with chores and other grown-up things that need to get done during the workday.  But since those adult tasks did not begin until 1 pm, I did stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching the final episodes of Six Feet Under, a show about a family-run funeral home.  The show is known for having one of the best finales, and I can vouch that it was So. Totally. Worth. It. to stay up until 4 a.m. to finish the last DVD.  Beautiful, and an interesting study of humanity to boot.  It has taken me a while to fully appreciate the TV show as an art form, but I think I finally get least in regards to this show.  Anybody else out there watched it?

All of that is a rather rambly lead-up to the fact that am just a wee bee goofy from lack of sleep and giddyness at the show's ending.  And right now I'm at the Toyota dealership so Flapper Fay can get her oil changed and her tires rotated (they have free coffee!) and I have just realized I have dropped a straight needle somewhere so I can't knit on the scarf I brought.  It is probably back at home since the plastic bag I carry the project in is poked full of holes, which is a hazard of working with straight needles.  So now I am blogging instead of knitting as time creeps by.

Oh hey, Fay is ready!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Inspiration: Steampunk

Tomorrow, weather permitting (Dear spring weather, Please stay! <3) the Pirate and I will go rummage around the flea market for steam punk costume accessories, small picture frames, and whatever else strikes our fancy.  I have been overcome with the urge to buy wee picture wooden frames and make small, colorful paintings to go in them.

In the spirit of all things steampunk, I love the house profiled at this blog.  Awesomeness:

And now I am off to go bother the knitshop for chocolate and yarn.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happiness is...

I learned to knit on a pair of size 11, Clover bamboo straights.

"If you are going to knit, you are going to knit with good tools," Knitting Teacher told me as she pulled the needles down off the top shelf at Joanne's.  "Bamboo warms in your hands and gets smoother as you use it."  I really liked the idea of a tool that became personalized as you used it, so I kept track of my needles and check how smooth they had gotten after every crooked scarf.  I wondered if I could knit so much that the letters carved into the middle of the needle could be rubbed off and vowed to try.

For the next several years I never even looked at other needles, with the exception of a pack of metal size 8 double-points that slipped out of my knitting if I sneezed too hard or lifted my project off the table at just the right angle.  It took me a while to realize bamboo was not the most prized needle among knitters, and that many knitters weren't thrilled with bamboo; it bent in the smaller sizes, it didn't have a sharp enough point, they dented, they broke too easy, the cat could eat them.  Addi Turbo was where it was at; every pair brought into Smith's (before Smith's had them in, that is) was passed around the table and fondled like a high priced skein of cashmere.  In fact, the only person who didn't like Addi Turbos that I knew of was Grumperina.  She didn't just dislike them, she called them names: Addi Stumpos for their blunt tips.  It felt like blasphemy.

So I tried other needles.  I bought myself some Knit Picks sock needles; they were very stabby, made my hands cramp, and tightened my gauge too much.  I inherited a whack of Susan Bates; colorful, but too easy to pull out mid-project. I borrowed some Addi Turbo for a weekend; too slick and indeed, too blunt.  I knit a few rounds with Signatures on Sparkle's socks; awesome grip, but too pointy (I push my needles a lot with my pointer finger).  I tried enough that I couldn't be accused of not trying.

And so I came back to bamboo (Clover, specifically) for all the reasons that people shied away from it: it was soft, it was warm, it bent, it had just the right amount of grab, and the points were Just Right.  (Since I have no cats, I was not concerned about my needles being edible.)

I suppose the ultimate moral of the story that can be applied outside knitting is "To each his/her own."  Really, who but you (or the people who buy you knitting supplies) cares what needles you use?  No one.  Not even the airports (see Yarn Harlot).  What tools you use don't matter, as long as you get the job done.  I just find it very interesting that for such a simple act, pulling loops of yarn through other loops of yarn, there are so many different tools to get that done and so many different people who have their own unique tastes.


Fortunately for me, Cory likes metal needles for all the reasons I don't and I like bamboo needles for all the reasons she doesn't.  ("I really want to get another pair of Signatures" she says randomly as I type this) Needle swap!

Metal needles not pictured.

Maybe now this sock will get done in a timely fashion, since I wasn't knitting on it because of the metal needles I was using.  Sometimes happiness is a bamboo needle.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Hoorays and Pre-destination

  • I am cat-sitting for Gary the Pinhead.  Hooray! Though our interactions consist of him hissing at me and my giving him food, I am having a grand time.  (Can you tell I am cat deprived)  Hopefully by the next week I will have figured out his favorite flavor of Friskies and he will let me pet his head.
  • Free laundry and freshly washed underthings.  Hooray!
  • Bright red tulips.  Hooray!
One day I will have a camera that can take a decent picture of bright red things in low light.
  • The new bearded dragon Stoneface was not dead, just very aptly named.  Hooray!
  • Stackable rings that come in multiple colors for exciting stacking action.  Hooray!
  • My hat has finally dried out from Monday's deluge, just in time to get soaked today.  Hooray!
  • I started looking for a job so I can pay rent when I move in a few months.  Hooray!  As part of the process I am mulling over what I do, what I want to do, and what I like to do.  Though I have caught several threads of my life that I want to keep, the rest is a jumbled mess because there are so many possibilities.   It's like a ball of yarn barfed up by a ballwinder that tangled everything when you weren't looking.  I keep pulling at different ends sticking out of the ball, hoping one path will obviously un-knot everything but nothing is coming loose.  I am, however, sensing a general theme emerging that is summed up quite nicely by this quote of Bill Watterson's commencement speech he gave to Kenyon:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you're doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you'll hear about them.

To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble.

Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it's going to come in handy all the time.

You can find the full speech here.  I've read it at least once a year for the past four years as preparation for teaching the ExCo course on Calvin and Hobbes but stumbled across it randomly today along with a Calvin and Hobbes strip about pre-desination.  Funny how those things happen.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happiness is....

You can see I'm knitting the swatch on the same needles I'm knitting a shawl on.  Pattern is the free Swallowtail Shawl, Yarn is 1 skein Madeline Tosh (profiled on this Stash Appreciation post by Cory)

This yarn was very similar to the discontinued King Tut cotton, but it was thinner.  Here I'm using a size 5 needle.

Sometimes happiness is a yarn tasting party sponsored by Smith's Knitshop where you get a few yards of free yarn to make a swatch.  I usually don't buy cotton or linen yarns because I don't know what to do with them.  Now I've had a chance to play with them, I have a better idea of guage/feel/drape.  Not that I'll be knitting with them anytime soon, but I won't be so quick to dismiss the yarns when brainstorming future projects.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inspiration: How to Steal Like an Artist

How to Steal Like an Artist (and 9 other things nobody told me) 
by Austin Kleon

I enjoy the entire article, but points  2, 5, 6, 8,  and 9 reverberated for me today.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Human Trampoline

Every year, I celebrate the return of the GREEN (even if I don't always blog about it).

This year it is indeed daffodils.
Though I enjoy bundling up, hot chocolate, and snowmen, the last few weeks of winter in Oberlin are a bummer for me.  The not my kind of weather.  From March 25th until April 12, the sky looked like this:

Though the daffodils were blooming, all blooms were pointed down towards the ground.

The hyacinth are blooming too!
Okay, I'll admit April 10th was sunny but I had to be inside all day so it doesn't count.

Three days ago the sun came out.  It was like waking up from a two and a half week nap.  Energy!  Creativity!  Enthusiasm!  Here is what the sky looks like today:


Helloooooooooo, Spring!  I have missed you.  <3

Blog title based on the song Graceland by Paul Simon, which has been floating through my head all day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Uploads to the website

I've just finished uploading a good sampling of art to the "Art" page.  I dug deep into the depths of old hard drives and found some projects I'd forgotten from high school.  Always pleasant when I find something that bring back good memories or isn't a crippling blow to the artistic self esteem.  Though they aren't a good example of the art I work on now, I thought they were worth posting so people could see what path I traveled.

Now I just need to bother to gather up more current art/sketches and upload them....

Monday, April 11, 2011


I'd like to expand this blog beyond knitting to include all of my artist endevours, plus my general thoughts on the world.  In accordance with my wishes, I have revamped the look, name, and title of the blog (though I am still Talonsofyarn on Ravelry).  

Ready, set, go!

"Art is an allergic reaction to reality."

--Marco Antonio Castillo Valdes

Tap tap tap

Sometimes there is nothing than a large computer screen and a keyboard that makes satisfying tap tap tapitty noises when you type.