16 July 2011

this is a thing that happened

I just got home from the grocery store. I had a short list of 'stuff' to get & remembered a few other things while I was there (as happens) & was texting my brother as I did my shopping. At one point, I stopped near the newsstand/ book area to respond to his most recent text--I try to stand out of 'traffic' areas when I'm futzing with my phone.

As I was tapping out my message, I heard something that sounded like maybe my name. I didn't hear it clearly; maybe because I wasn't really paying attention, maybe the speaker wasn't clear, I don't know. I looked up & in the direction of the sound & there were a couple of guys looking at me expectantly. Maybe 20-ish feet away? I didn't recognise either of them. I figured I must have mis-heard whatever was said (even though it seemed clear they were talking to me) & went back to what I was doing. Did they just call me 'homo'? Is that what I heard, is that what I thought sounded like my name? There's a word for that cognitive process where you understand something perfectly right after you say, "what?", but I can't think of it now. It's not important. As I returned to the text, I mulled over what I may have heard. click clicka click clika on my phone as I worked on finishing my thought, while thinking about what just happened.

I noticed that the guys were coming towards me. The smaller one was pushing their shopping cart, leaning on it the way guys his age do when they'd rather do anything but shop for groceries. The other walked right in front of me. In my personal space. He looked right into my face and sneered as he walked past. Details are muddy; I didn't respond because I was busy & didn't feel like engaging with either of these guys. I noticed he had stopped after he passed me. Maybe 8 feet to my right & he was looking at me with an expectant smirk. The other one was to my left, just a bit further away than his mate was to my right. "Do I know you?" I asked with my best "back the fuck up" tone, before I returned to what I was doing. I heard him say something that included the word "fag". I didn't react. The two of them went back to their business, making a point to circle back & walk past me again as they left the area.

What the fuck? I thought to myself. What do I do now? What else do I need to get? I checked my mental shopping list & headed for the next thing on my list. 

As I rounded the corner to head down the next aisle, I caught the two guys in my peripheral vision, coming towards me, headed away from the direction I'd be headed. I didn't want to give them the impression that I felt like I needed to keep an eye on them, but I totally did. I saw them (or at least the one who approached me) watching me intently--the same sneer.

How am I going to get out of the store safely? I wondered. How do I get myself home? I was suddenly aware of how vulnerable I'd be walking across a not-terribly-well-lit parking lot after dark, then waiting for the bus alone. 

I updated my status on Facebook with my location & a brief description of what just happened. In case something happens, people will know where I was...

Surely they have store security, but... could they walk me to the bus? They couldn't wait with me, could they? Does the store sell mace? Why don't I already have mace? Can they even sell mace here? I wondered. 

I found myself thinking of how absurd it is that I lived at the edge of Bed-Stuy for a year & never particularly unsafe, not like this--not like I felt I was definitely the target of someone's misguided rage. I thought of options. Go for the throat. Go for the eyes. I told myself. You need to trim your nails; you can use that. Don't forget. I thought of Bellatrix jeering at Harry, "you've got to mean it, Potter!" [yes, I actually think things like this]. 

What if they have a knife? There are two of them & they look like they're not new to one-to-one violence. What if they have worse than a knife? What if I die tonight? Go for the eyes. Go for the throat. Claws. You have claws.

I thought of that asshole on the internet who tried to say that cultural appropriation is really okay & that it's a compliment & that you shouldn't get upset. I thought of all the rage I have for people who act as though they have more rights to be 'here' than they think I do. I very nearly got myself to "I wish a motherfucker would" status. I was very nearly to the point where I would mean it.

I paid for my groceries. I looked through the sliding doors at the darker-than-I-wanted-it-to-be parking lot. People getting into a truck. Not them. I pressed the numbers 9-1-1 on my phone, held it in my hand in my pocket, my thumb on the 'dial' button. Why did I leave my wand at home today, of all days? I walked out to the parking lot, scanned it, didn't see them. Thought of how fucked it is that people used to act like my neighborhood in Brooklyn was sketchy, but it's here in "beautiful", "friendly" Portland, Oregon where I'm thinking, "If  I can just make it onto the bus, then I'll be safe."

I got to the bus stop safely, but not without taking an extra glance at every pedestrian headed in my general direction. Who's sitting in that truck by the bus stop? Why are they there?

I made it to the bus. I made it home. I haven't cried yet.

11 July 2011

Sewing for Blythe Dolls

I made this skirt & top for Banessa a couple of weeks ago. They're both super simple & I like how they turned out. I hope to refine the idea of the skirt, at least, & make a few more.

Tonight, I tried to make a dress for Olive. It’s not what I had in mind & I’m suddenly really pretty annoyed about it.

The fit is wonky (it’s supposed to be able to go over her shoulders), I wanted the sleeves to be puffy, & on seeing it now, I think the sleeves & body of the dress should be the same fabric. Probably they should both be same fabric as the body of the dress. I made little darts for her boobs, & I think that helped the fit some, I guess.

Blerg. I guess I'll have to try again another time. Now, I should probably sleep.

14 June 2011

Fun With Sewing Machines & the Very First TricotChico Gourmet Recipe!

I've been enjoying getting to know my new sewing machine. All it took was a few free patterns from various parts of the netterwebs, some old t-shirts that (valiantly) sacrificed themselves for the advancement of my creative endeavours & some fabric I had on hand for other projects that I no longer want to work on.

I made Kanani's dress from a Pleasant Co. pattern (Molly's Party Dress--sans sleeve ruffles) that is a free PDF download & Josefina's tee shirt is from the Liberty Jane "Trendy Tee" pattern. I didn't originally download the pattern for Kanani's dress from Liberty Jane, but I believe the "Historical Character" patterns they have for free on the site are the same ones I downloaded.

So I made Kanani's dress from some fabric I bought back in 2009, intending to make some blue gingham dresses like what Dorothy wears in the quintessential Wizard of Oz movie. The lighting in the tiny shop was pretty bad, though, so what I thought was cornflower blue gingham turned out to be the blue-green business you see here. I held onto it, though (clearly) & when I got my machine off layaway, I realised this fabric would be great for making 'practice' projects.

Practice is key, too. Josefina's tee shirt was one of the first things I made--I think it was the first, in fact. You can see an example of what I call "decorative stitching" that I created inadvertently in a few places. All in time, though; I can see my technique getting better w/each piece I make, & I'm learning how to manipulate fabric to get it to do what I want it to, so it's all a win, I think.

Now, for the special BONUS recipe! It's not fancy & it's kinda tacky actually, but it's pretty tasty. ...well, I mean, I enjoy it.  ;o)

1 box of your favorite Macaroni & Cheez dinner (& whatever you need to make that)
4 little tubs of Papa John's nacho cheese sauce (I think you could probably use nacho cheese dip, too. Like I said, not fancy, kinda tacky.)

Make the Mac'n Cheez according to package directions. Add the nacho cheese sauce after you've mixed in all the usual cheese sauce flavoring food product. And look! It turns into food!

Ok you should probably eat this very rarely & I make no claims as to the nutritional value of this tomfoolery, but y'know... file under "things you never knew you never knew", eh?  ;o)

03 May 2011

Yay for healthy kitties! Also, I made daffodils!

Kallisto is feeling much better, if not very much in the mood for a photo shoot. :o)  Last Tuesday morning, I noticed that she didn't seem to have been grooming herself; I'm sure she was feeling poopy enough that it wasn't much of a priority--we've all felt that way once or twice, right? I decided that I'd give her a "sponge bath" with a warm towel when I got home. I had done it before when she was recovering from her spay surgery & I was sure she'd appreciate feeling clean without all the effort. 

I got home to find that not only had she cleaned herself up, she had cleaned out her food bowl! Few things say "I'm feeling much better!" more than a hearty appetite, no matter who you are, am I right!? We still have a week of twice daily oral antibiotics to get through. As you can see, Kallisto is super excited about these:

In other good news, the bulbs I finally potted up in late January have started to bloom. The crocuses have actually come & gone, but somehow I wasn't as excited about them as I hoped I would be. It happens. The "Dutch Master" daffodils are going strong, though.

"Salome" opened her last bud this week, & the first to open have aged to that lovely peachy-pink that I like so much. The trumpets on these are bright yellow, as you can see on some of the flowers toward the back. After about a week (depending on temperature & light, I'm sure), the yellow changes to this gorgeous color:

It worked out pretty well, really; most of the daffodils that were growing in the ground have started to fade. This way, I get a few more weeks of daffodil goodness!

26 April 2011

Pet Parenting

This is Kallisto. She is a Russian Blue, or a blue Russian Shorthair, depending who you ask. Her birthday is October 30, 1998 & she came to live with me when she was 12 weeks old.
Together, we have lived in three states, four cities, & more apartments & houses than I can think of right now.
When I’m hanging out in my room, she lays on the bed close to where I’m sitting. When I take a shower, I often find her sitting outside the bathroom door. Sometimes I’ll find her sitting on the kitchen windowsill (where these pictures were taken).
If I’m in the other part of the apartment for ‘too long’, she comes to find me. When she finds me, she looks at me & meows, like she’s asking where I’ve been. Then she usually sits near my feet. Or she keeps looking at me until I pick her up.
When I start getting ready to go to sleep, she sits near my pillow & watches me until I lay down. Usually, she’s purring before my head hits the pillow.
She makes sure my ears are nice & clean before she settles in to sleep, herself. Sometimes she’ll clean my forehead or groom my hair, too.
If she looks at me when I’m eating, it’s because she wants to sit in my lap. She has never been interested in ‘people food’ (except canned tuna, but that’s a whole nother level).
This weekend, we had our first "health scare". Early in the weekend, I noticed she seemed to be sneezing a bit more than usual. She has allergies & mine have been acting up, so I figured it was just "that time of year" for everyone. On Sunday I noticed that she just kind of looked miserable. She was sitting sort of hunched over & when she'd lay down into a kittyloaf, she held her head tilted forward at an unusual angle. Her breathing seemed labored & her sneezes were productive of scads (SCADS!) of yellow snot!
I figured it could be extra-bad allergies. Or it could be pneumonia. Or something. I've had a few friends who have dealt with pets' lingering illnesses & I was kind of terrified of what it would mean if she had feline tuberculosis or something (is that a thing?). She was able to purr emphatically despite the breathing issues she was having, so I figured that was a sign that it wasn't all that bad. I took the approach that many a proletariat does with our own illnesses: wait & see.
When I woke up today, she seemed unusually lethargic & didn't seem as eager to purr when I picked her up (which she usually does, even a little bit). I called work & told them I'd be late, then called the vet to see if they could see her soon. Indeed they could & I got her there as soon as I could. The vet said that her heart & lungs sounded good (not pneumonia or tuberculosis FUCK YEAH!) and that she has a bacterial uppper-respiratory infection.
I felt a strange sort of relief once I knew that it was a simple, localised bacterial infection that should clear up with antibiotics. The vet gave her an antibiotic injection at the office & I have a 7-day run to (hopefully) give her 2x a day. Also, there are some saline nose drops--which she dealt with pretty well, thankfully! Over the past 40 or so hours, I definitely realised how important she is to me--though I had a pretty good idea before that. I mean, people who talk shit about her (or cats in general) have been asked/told to leave my house, yeah. It really occurred to me, though, that for going on 13 years, she has been a constant in my life. As I mentioned before, we've lived kind of all over the place. She has always been a place in my life where I could find comfort, snuggles, an ear-cleaner, & purrs that won't quit.
Her activity level & breathing are already improved. I'm waiting for her to have a bite to eat so I can give her the first of the oral antibiotics & then, a few more years together.

23 March 2011

un-Commodifying Creativity

Lately, I've been having some feelings.
feeling distracted, feeling aimless, feeling like I'm not accomplishing "enough", feeling like I "should" be doing more of any given number of activities, and a lot of these feelings have been related to my creative life in one way or another.
This blog has been quieter than I initially hoped it would be. This isn't so much because I haven't been creative, but because my drive to make & do stuff has been taking me in a different direction lately. As I've mentioned before, I gain interest pretty easily.
At the same time, I've been thinking about the idea & act of Commodifying Creativity. You know what this is, even if you've never heard it said quite this way before (& by no means am I claiming to have invented this idea; I probably heard somewhere at some time, somehow). This is what it looks like, though--or, I should say, 'this is one way it might look': One is engaging in some creative endeavor. A friend or passerby sees this & immediately asks or tells how this can be turned into money. "You should open a shop!" "Do you sell on etsy?" "You need to have a booth at the street fair!"
There's nothing inherently wrong with any of these ideas. As a person who is not independently wealthy & who would very much like to have a bit more money, this might seem like a natural thought process. Also, I am by no means hating on people who produce to sell. I have simply realised that this is not a process that necessarily works well for me. So, rather than plan projects based on questions like "will knitters think this is cute & interesting to knit, but not too easy & not too hard?" or "is this too simple to be a pattern?" or "will this be too complicated to write a pattern for?", I am going to redirect to my original plan of making what I want to make & trusting that my ideas are more awesome than I think they are & that they will go in exactly the direction they are meant to go.

26 February 2011

Any day that allows you to expand the ways in which you can express your creativity is a good one.

It was a good week for me. I unexpectedly put a sewing machine on layaway. I was a bit worried that I'd been duped by the salesperson, or that he used some kind of Jedi Mind Trick on me, but after talking about it w/a couple of knowledgeable people, I'm convinced that I made an excellent decision, regardless of the salesperson's intent.

My previous machine (a basic model Singer...I forget the model name/number, etc) was acting wonky & kept jamming (very frustrating for a new-ish sewist!), so I took it to a local shop for service or a tune-up or whatever magick they might be able to work that would help me in my sartorial adventures. The guy I talked to asked the problem, what I was sewing, how & when the problem occurred. I told him I had been trying to sew doll t-shirts w/some jersey knit from old t-shirts of my own. The machine had a tendency to jam after stitching for an inch or two. He explained to me how the bobbin carriage in these machines is prone to jamming because it rocks back & forth. A rotary bobbin (I think that's what he called it) rotates in a full circle, doesn't need oiling, & doesn't jam. 

He showed me some of their machines, ranging in price from a couple hundred $USD to several thousand $USD (thousand!!!!). He showed me the guts of a few different machines & explained how quality machines have a solid metal frame inside & this makes them sturdier & that machines built this way last longer, in general. Then, he said the magic words: "...layaway. 10% down, 90 days to pay the balance."

So, I have a Janome MyStyle 100 on layaway. The machine comes with 6 hours of sewing instruction over three ongoing classes, which I can take as many times as I'd like, I'm told. Also, a 25 year parts & service warranty. I think I did pretty alright, really.  :o)

22 February 2011

Some Ideas are Good As-Is & Some Ideas Need Time to Simmer

I've been sitting on a couple of projects while I decide where to go with them. The first is a cabled hat that I actually am quite pleased with, but I feel like it needs a pom-pom--a big one--& I have yet to get to the making-the-pom-pom part of the process.

It needs a giant pom-pom, am I right? :o)  That said, I find cables oddly fascinating. I'm not one to wear cabled knits for the most part, as they tend to feel too "busy" for my personal aesthetics. The times I've knit cables, though, I'm almost always struck by how 3-dimensional they are. It's very rewarding to knit them & make this piece of fabric that has pieces that stand up like a piece of bas-relief sculpture. I'm tempted to take that idea in one direction or another... we'll see.

This piece is a testament to the value of swatching, really. I bought these three colors from KnitPicks (Charcoal Heather, Columbine, & Northern Green), as I thought they'd work really well for a project I had in mind. That idea has been scrapped, but I still feel like the Northern Green & Columbine would work together really well. I started swatching in an attempt to try out a couple of striping patterns I had in mind & to make sure the colors look as good together as I thought they did. Well... I'm not so thrilled with the way this looks at this point. I might switch out the grey for a paler heathered grey & leave out the green altogether. 

Sometimes, I'm convinced that I should teach Master Classes in Procrastination. This picture was taken 01.30.2011 of bulbs I bought in late October 2010. In the interim, they had been chilling in the crisper of my refrigerator, but I had yet to pot them up. They did get potted shortly after this picture was taken. I was pretty sure that they had been chilling for more than the minimum time the needed, so I set them out on the back porch. The crocuses, at least, have started poking their little noses up (yay!), and I believe I saw a nub from one of the irises, too. This is reassuring, as I know I didn't completely mess them up by waiting so long to plant. It's also not entirely surprising, since those two have the earliest bloom time & therefore need less "cooling". Hopefully the daffy-down-dillies will make a showing, too. We'll see.  

24 January 2011


This weekend was Portland Chocolate Fest and I had the very lovely surprise of being able to see my friends Aaron & Karl of Intrigue Chocolates, based in Seattle. In addition being able to see these guys in person (which hasn't happened in a few years, I just realised!), I was able to pick up a sampling of the yummy truffles that had available for the show.

Here's my little box of assorted colorful truffles. Aaron uses interesting spices and liqueurs in his truffles to create flavors that are (wait for it....) intriguingly subtle and ever so delightful.

This isn't a "you never know what you're gonna get" kind of box of chocolates. I was able to choose which flavors I wanted and how many of each. Naturally, I got at least one of each of the available flavors (I think they were out of the Orange You Glad truffles) and two of the ones I really liked. You can see from this color-coded legend that several of these flavors are unexpected, to say the least. Douglas Fir Brandy, anyone? Aaron has an amazing gift for choosing and balancing flavors, thankfully. The Tannenbaum truffle (flavored with brandy infused with douglas fir buds), for example, doesn't taste at all like you're chewing on pine needles--which is what a lot of people expected when they heard the flavor description! "It's not like you're eating pine-flavored chocolate; it's like you're eating chocolate under a pine tree," Aaron explained. It's very true; the flavor had only the tiniest hint of pine 'flavoring'. In fact, it was more like I was tasting yummy chocolate and happened to catch a faint whiff of pine--almost more of a fragrance than a flavor.

I think my favorite of this group would have to be the Tasmanian Pepperberry. The flavor is as delightful as anything you'd expect from Intrigue Chocoloates, & it's something that those of us who live outside of Australia aren't likely to be able to experience very often. The spice is from Southern Australia & isn't imported to the U.S. very often. Aaron found a source in Seattle and used it to create a really lovely truffle. The name "pepperberry" definitely fits the flavor. The peppercorn-esque warmth & lovely berry flavor are deliciously unassuming in this truffle, though not as understated as the flavor of Tannenbaum. This truffle still gives the sense that you're experiencing a flavor to revel in, as opposed to popping candy in your mouth.

Unfortunately, I was too saturated with chocolate (yes, it is possible!) after sampling chocolates at the festival to think to open one of these to enjoy tonight. I promise you can look forward to pics of the actual scrumptious truffles soon, though!

11 January 2011

The Intimate Nature of Handmade Goods

Earlier tonight, I was winding some yarn in order to start swatching for some projects I have in mind. I was struck by the gorgeousness of the colors in each skein of yarn that I wound. This is to be expected, since I personally chose each skein. Some of them didn't have a specific project in mind when I bought them, others did. I had a sudden thought that I wanted to make out with my yarn & decided it would probably be a better idea to just take pictures of the yarncakes and put them on the internet. So here ya go. :o)

Here is some lovely Socks That Rock lightweight yarn in colorway "Valkyrie". It's one of the Raven colorways, and I think the lovely variety of colors in this skein (not all of which are visible in this picture--my camera isn't fantastic and...well, I'm impatient) is definitely fitting for that line and definitely lives up to its name.

Another colorway from Socks That Rock, this yarncake is "Mustang Sally" in their heavyweight yarn--something like a heavy sport weight, I think. I love reds, I love semisolids, I love the subtle variegation in this yarn. The name inspires me to knit something saucy from it. We'll see how this goes.

This Malabrigo pure merino sock yarn in colorway "Alcaucil" is undoubtedly the most subtly hued of this group. The blues & greens remind me of water and call out to be knit into something cozy & subtle.

More Socks That Rock! This is "Puck's Mischeif" in their heavyweight yarn. I love the riot of colors here and I definitely feel like this calls to be knit into something bold and playful. Would Puck want anything less?

09 January 2011

Sweaters in all sizes!

Some knitters always have at least one pair of socks going. For me, the can't-stop-knitting projects are sweaters--you may have noticed. Lately, I've been all about knitting sweaters for some of my vinyl & resin "kids". I still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 or 4 sweaters for me in various states of completion, but doll sweaters are awesome because they're super portable compared man sweaters. Also, I just like knitting for my dolls.  :o)

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Universal Yarns Classic Worsted Holiday 
in 'Silver Bells' (white with a strand of silver plied in)
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in size US7

Here is my American Girl Dolls Josefina in a pullover I knit from a ball of yarn leftover from the Belacqua Cardigan. I wanted Josefina to have something warm & cozy to wear and who doesn't love a bit of sparkle in their wardrobe? I'm not super excited about the collar here. I was thinking of re-knitting it, but this is almost a year old & I haven't yet, so we'll see what happens. The idea for the collar 'looked' different in my head... maybe I'll take what I learned from this & make some changes on an upcoming design, who knows?

Here's Chico in a little Teddy Bear hoodie I've started for him. You can tell by the unwoven ends dangling about that it's really not quite finished yet, but the Malabrigo Sock Yarn is completely snuggable, still!

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in colorway 'Cordovan'
Needles: Hiya Hiya bamboo DPN's in size US0 
Addi Turbo Circular needles in size US00

He definitely likes the earthtones, and the earthtones like him! As I was working on this little pullover for him, I reminisced back to the days when I thought I'd never never ever knit with anything finer than worsted weight yarn and absolutely never would I knit on needles smaller than a US7! 

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Universal Yarns Pace in color 'Chocolate'
Needles: Addi Turbo Circular needles in sizes US0 and US00

Now, I find myself shopping for sock yarn, fantasizing about finding the perfect colors and building my own stash of fingering weight yarn that will never be knit into a sock. There could be worse fates, no?