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.