Archive for August, 2008

The cold is coming

August 25, 2008

and I’m ready.

This has been an unusually mild August here in DC, which may be a good thing to most…but for this lover of heat and humidity has been a little irritating.

The fall is always a little scary for me.  It’s a time where I am living under a constant cloud of the impending frigidity of winter.  And this August has felt like everything is just coming a little too fast…

Knitting has actually made this condition of fear and anxiety better by at least giving me something to look forward to — wearing all the lovely, warm sweaters I’ve knit.

So I’m ready.

with a nice sweater coat ready for fall.

It’s pattern #43 from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2007, the Diagonal Stitch Coat by Wenlan Chia.

My green goal for the year doesn’t allow me to use the Twinkle Soft Chunky that this pattern called for, so I doubled stranded Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Organic Cotton instead.  And I definitely like it better.  First, the BSA Organic Cotton (100% organic cotton) is amazingly soft and has a shine to it that is really beautiful.  So while it created a fabric that is slightly heavier than using the Twinkle wool, it’s not as fluffy and as…huge.  It’s also quite warm without being suffocating, which I often feel in some of the pieces I’ve made with the Twinkle yarn.  And lastly, while the cotton does pill, it’s not nearly as bad as the Soft Chunky, which I really hate about that yarn (it’s so lovely until I wear it a few times and then…less beautiful).  So, in conclusion, I loved the yarn and highly recommend it as a good Twinkle substitute.  Though definitely welcome suggestions for green bulky-weight yarn.

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sew sew sew…skirt.

August 24, 2008

I finally got it together and consummated my relationship with my new sewing machine. I decided I would try and sew something “for real” this time. In the past I’ve always kind of winged it…sometimes with relative success, but usually…not so much. I never really knew the right way to make a piece of clothing (like what’s this thing called interfacing??), so I would just kind of cut according to a piece of ready-made clothing I had on hand with some non-fabric, blunt-ish scissors, and then just kind of put it all together with whatever stitch seemed to look nice. Needless to say, the outcome would look quite home-sewn, which I don’t think anyone ever strives to accomplish.

So I used my first pattern! I have to say I was kind of nervous, since I had seen some before and the dozens of different lines made me think it was way more complicated than it actually is. But — it was totally easy and worked so well!! I printed this skirt pattern out (for free!) from Burdastyle, which is an open source sewing site, sort of like Ravelry for knitters, taped it together, cut out the pieces and a couple of hours later had this lovely skirt made of a gorgeous navy cotton lawn (not organic, sadly).

I even used interfacing for the first time to make a real waistband. Burdastyle is a great resource for sewers, with tutorials on various projects and general techniques, and a decent library of free (or at least cheap) great patterns. I’ve already bookmarked quite a few that are definitely worth attempting.

I’ve also come across some other great resources for sewing techniques, since I know practically nothing except what I’ve invented (the art brut approach, if you will, until now). You may be able to notice the currently screwy hem on the skirt. Since the skirt tapers at the end, the hem was pretty much a nightmare. I redid it several times, until I came to an intermediate solution of just sewing down a few points of the hem — I sewed a couple of inches, left a couple of inches unsewn, and continued as such to leave space for where the fabric has to bunch. But now I’ve found this: the faced hem. When I have the patience, I plan on doing this with some leftover scraps of some printed cotton lawn. I’m still discovering all the resources that are out there. It’s amazing how much easier sewing can be when you learn techniques that people have already figured out for you. I guess that’s not amazing at all really…but what is actually kind of amazing is that seemingly complicated garments are actually far more doable than I had thought before.

So, like I said, the fabric I used was not “green” in any way. I haven’t found too many resources for green sewers yet, but Amy Karol at Angry Chicken (a blog I have been really loving lately for amazing things like homemade deodorant — that I have made and can attest to its wondrous efficacy) has mentioned an online resource for eco-friendly fabrics, yarns and sewing supplies: NearSea Naturals. They have organic cotton thread, natural elastic and the like, and also fabrics like hemp silk charmeuse. I will be partaking soon. When I have convinced myself that I am indeed in control of my spending habits and therefore do not need therapy to uncondition myself from the feeling that spending money does in fact make me feel better…sigh.

A biker’s list of complaints.

August 14, 2008

I open with the caveat that I understand that pedestrians and drivers have their own complaints about bikers not obeying laws. However, I have noticed that there is often a rush to blame the cyclist in an accident even though when a big truck/car/something motorized is involved I think greater responsibility falls with the operator of the 2 ton (possible) killing machine. In any event, I recognize that I myself ride through stop signs and red lights (after making sure it’s clear) and that some folks may call that dangerous despite my feeling that I am very alert about my surroundings.

With that being said, I have stated before that I am an angry biker and it’s because I feel there generally isn’t enough awareness of the many other people using the city’s services and infrastructure. So here are my specific complaints. I start the list off short and think I may add to it every now and then when the mood strikes me…

  • When pedestrians cross illegally without looking and almost run into me (probably sending me flying into traffic)
  • Cars that race to the red light seemingly in an effort to get away from the bike, which scares them since they clearly don’t trust themselves to drive and SHARE the road, thus wasting lots of gas, emitting more pollutants that probably get into my lungs more than anyone else’s since my bike lane puts me right next to their exhaust.
  • Scooters that park at bike racks (and fall over and spill diesel fuel all over my bicycle). Scooters are by law not treated the same as bicycles. They’re pretty much motorcycles (you need a motorcycle license to operate one). For that matter, people that drive their scooters up onto the sidewalks to park them or what not are completely breaking the law (just learned that on the local news).
  • Scooters that use bike lanes. Bike lanes are for non-motorized bicycles. It is therefore a slow lane. Using this lane with a fast motor-powered vehicle can be really dangerous — especially when motorcycles and the like weave in and out of them, which I see in Capitol Hill all the time.
  • When cars make right turns without signaling or even looking even when there’s a bike lane to the right. This creates what can be a deadly and tragic situation.
  • When cars honk at me for riding in traffic when that’s what I’m supposed to do.
  • Bicyclists that don’t wear helmets. It just makes me nervous for them since we don’t live in a country where other users of the transportation system are aware enough about cyclists…like in the Netherlands where most people don’t even wear helmets because of the level of awareness (and maybe slow city traffic).
  • Bicyclists that ride on the sidewalk really fast.
  • Pedestrians that don’t know how to share paved trails (walk in the opposite direction that the cyclists are supposed to be going in).
  • Runners that use the bike lanes. Cyclists shouldn’t have to go really slow in a bike lane and shouldn’t have to swerve into traffic to avoid runners (who often have earbuds plugging up their hearing and thus can’t hear me when I yell that I’m coming up behind them).
  • Cars and trucks that use bike lanes as shoulders — they are not for temporary parking!!

I needed to get some of this out. I know I make mistakes all the time, but often it seems like people don’t realize they shouldn’t be doing certain things…and so I see the same people in my neighborhood doing the same annoying and dangerous things…

Lastly, I have a basic complaint in that I wish there were no cars in the city. While I have a lot of complaints about pedestrians and scooters, they just don’t carry the same weight with me as when car drivers operate their vehicles dangerously — or oblivious to cyclists, which may be worse.

EDIT:  I just found the perfect knitting project to compliment my angry bikerness.  (the machine-knit sweaters are amazing as well —  thanks to Lekkercraft for introducing them to me).

iknit

August 13, 2008

it’s the marriage between the iphone and knitting!  The StitchMinder.

I’ve been wondering if, in November when my cell phone contract is finally up, I should get an iphone.

I think knowing about these crazy applications seals the deal for me.

I mean not just for the row counter.  I’m not buying a $200 row counter…I swear.  But I like the idea that my iphone can slowly replace everything else in my life.  Maybe it can start going to work for me–because, well, I’m over it people.

Incidentally my birthday falls in November.  I think this will be a nice gift to moi.