Neruda, on Socks

Sorry about the long hiatus. Working 60 hours a week will do that to you ;)

Surface is finished. Pictures sometime when the light is good, it's been flooding for days now.

In the meantime, "Ode to My Socks" by Pablo Neruda.

Mara Mori brought me

a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
with threads of
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored
in this way
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
of that woven
of those glowing

I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
as learned men
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
in a golden
and each day give them
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
and then my shoes.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.


Blogedanken: Urban Living

I've been living in Atlanta for slightly less than two months now. It is the largest city I've lived in, at about one and a half times the size of Tampa and eighteen times larger than the city where I grew up. It's very much a car-driven (no pun intended) city, despite the presence of a perfectly workable transit system, or, as a friend of mine called it, “Perfectly Usable Public Transit System that is Largely Dismissed by its City’s Traffic-Jam-Sitting Inhabitants.”

When you live somewhere for a long time, you tend to accept its faults as The Way Things Are. It's been like that for years, obviously if something could be done, it would have been done already, right? Moving somewhere new doesn't give you that illusion--if you don't know the parameters, they might as well be anything.

Today I found an old post on Where (which is a decent city blog with actual content and not just a "cool aggregator" with the same photos and 100-word blurbs as every other "urban design" blog) called Blogedanken. It was intended as a thought experiment to get people interested in real solutions for our cities' problems. Obviously I am too late to enter the contest portion (ended in March last year), but I thought it would be interesting to play along anyway.

My raw list of ideas is as follows:

  • Incentive to use public transit
  • Integration of economic/social classes
  • (Safe, inexpensive) recreation/fitness opportunities
  • Promotion of local arts and music
  • Affordable fresh food in the city center
  • Connection between city and suburbs
  • Bike lanes on major roadways
  • Connection between colleges/universities and community
  • Street food
  • Incentives for small local businesses, higher taxes for "Everywhere America" chains
  • City-wide wireless internet (tax-funded or subscription)
  • Railroad connection to other cities, integrated w. city transit
  • Housing developments connected to public spaces
  • Trees between sidewalks and streets
  • Everyday businesses (basic groceries, pharmacies, pubs, delis, general stores) in walking distance of homes
  • Public play fountains for kids in summer
  • Accessible libraries
  • Free local festivals and events
  • Roof gardens
I'll be thinking it over and selecting my Top 15 over the next few days. Feel free to comment on mine, or come up with your own in the comments.


WIP Wednesday: Surface

I'm finally getting this one to a point where it's nearly wearable. As in, might be done by winter.

A few days ago I finished the button bands and wove in the ends. I decided to add more buttons because I didn't want it pulling at the chest, not a flattering look. Seven down the front, plus the one on the shoulder for a total of eight.

I got lucky and a friend had exactly eight of these fabulous silver flowers in her button bin. I promise modeled photos when I sew them on.


Fiber Friday: Singles

I finally finished my first spindle full of Sheep Shed Studio roving. It's the stuff I Kool-Aid dyed forever ago and never got around to spinning because I broke the hook off my spindle. Only took a little Super Glue to fix, but sometimes I get stubborn. And lazy.

That only used up half the roving, and I'd planned to make it a two-ply, but it's pretty balanced as is and might work well as a single. I like that it's thick/thin and rustic and think plying would even it out too much.

I have 238 yards so far, out of about 4 oz.

Next up is this fabulous green/yellow/black stuff that I got in a RAK. I don't know what the fiber or brand is, but it's some kind of wool. It's combed, so the resulting yarn is super-smooth. It's also really dense and needs a LOT of pre-drafting to get it spinnable. It's not felted, the fibers just seem like they're packed really close together and need a little encouragement to seperate. Maybe it sat in a tight braid for too long.

My cousins are in town from South Florida, and were really impressed that I can actually MAKE YARN. Dan goes to antique shows all the time (he's a military history nut) and promised to be on the lookout for an affordable wheel for me.



I'm moving to Georgia for a few months.

Here is my bag of clothing.

Here is my bag of yarn.

Guess which is bigger?

(It's the clothing, but just barely, and if I took the handknits out of the "clothing" bag it would be in trouble.)


Technique Tuesday: On Creativity

I've heard so many people say that they "aren't creative enough" to design things, or that they "don't have ideas".


If you've ever had a thought, if you're aware of your surroundings, and if your brain works even in the slightest you have ideas. They might not be good ideas, but they're ideas.

How do you come up with good ideas? You practice by coming up with bad ones! When I was a kid I read that we all have a million bad ideas inside of us, and the sooner we can get them all out the better. So even if something seems stupid, go for it. We learn by doing, and you'll soon find that working with one idea will cause you to come up with another.

For some reason, knitters suffer from the delusion that you have to be a capital-D Designer to come up with an idea or make an original garment.

Again, bullshit.

Designers (even the famous ones) are human just like the rest of us. They sketch, they write, they knit, and I'm sure they occasionally forget to put in a lifeline and have to rip back a lot farther than they should have. What seperates a designer from a garden-variety knitter is a willingness to try new things, to experiment, and even to fail. A designer looks at a simple idea and sees potential.

I'm going to help you learn to see potentail, starting with a simple concept.

This is my sketch, just a series of rectangles I doodled. As they get bigger, the space between them gets smaller.

You could have come up with that, right? Exactly! Ideas are everywhere, and sometimes the simple ones are the most effective.

When you look at your concept, think about what it could be. I could take this as it is and make a Modernist painting. I could line up appropriately-sized objects and create a still life composition to draw, paint, or photograph.

I started out with a simple, literal interpretation: I made it into a three-dimensional form, it could be an entranceway into a building. The empty spaces gradually get smaller, transitioning a person from "outside" to "inside".

As I was drawing that, the angles made me wonder what it would look like if I took two of my concept sketch and rotated one 90 degrees. I sketched it out quickly and got a pattern that reminded me of tartan.

To refine it a little more, I made a more finalized drawing in Photoshop. I could print this out as digital art, paint it (which might be interesting with some really texturized paint), turn it into a woven or knitted fabric, or use it as a layout grid for a graphic design.

As I was thinking about how I could knit that (I know nothing near enough about colorwork to puzzle that one out, but maybe something reminiscent of the Ball Band Dishcloth), I had another brainstorm: Lace!

This is just a quick, sketched chart I drew that alternates solid stockinette rectangles with rectangles of yarn-overs, the simplest type of lace. The rectangles change in size and frequency, just like the original concept sketch. The next step here would be to swatch this and see if the proportions work out, and to alter it if they don't.

Ideas are everywhere. And design is just a methodical approach to "playing" with ideas, moving them around and changing the color and seeing what concrete things you can make of an abstract concept.

A great way to get visual ideas into a workable format is to take a photo of something (a line of trees, spokes in a wheel, the shape of a building) and trace the important lines and forms. Then you can work with that and see what comes of it. It takes practice, but you'll find that the more you do, the easier things get.



I have been incredibly bad about blogging lately, and I know it.

I worked multiple gigs every weekend in May (thank God that's over), had Y in town for a week, and graduated from college. Not much time left for knitting, and to top it off I'm in the middle of mostly long-term projects that haven't been good for photographing or writing about. I'm sure you don't care that I completed another inch on the damn sweater.

Soon I'm going to have the button band placed on Surface, and there will be photos of that. I'm so glad I did the shaping because it fits perfectly. Now I just have to make sure I don't change sizes between now and winter.

Now back to my regularly scheduled not-posting-unless-there's-something-interesting-to-say.