Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Window on a Window

This is the last post here on tattingmydoilies.blogspot.com.  But here through the miracle of the iframe element you can see what happened after I moved to WordPress!  If this makes you dizzy, here's a link to the blog's new digs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take it.

Where there was one there will be two.

I'm moving this blog over to Wordpress, and it feels like it's time to split things up a little bit.  I started Tatting my Doilies back in the spring of 2007 as a place to talk about all of my creative adventures.  I gardened, sewed, cooked, godparented, built bicycles, rode them really far, covered our back fence with clothespins, and, much to the chagrin of the lacemakers who've stumbled on to my posts over the years, still haven't learned to tat.  "Tatting My Doilies" used to be my self-deprecating shorthand for my creativity and artmaking, and part of my intention when I started this blog was to flip that within myself by sharing my creativity with the universe.

Through the crafting blogosphere (doesn't that word already sound so dated?), I started to find an audience, and my knitting really took off.  Ariadne dared me to start writing down my patterns, and I did.  I started submitting my designs to Knitty.  I got inspired by pre-Ravelry etsy sellers like CraftyHedgehog and HansiGurumi to start selling my patterns as pdfs instead of giving them away, and started obsessively reading CraftBoom.

For a couple weeks after I published my squid pattern I tried selling patterns straight from the blog, but that felt tacky so I built my own site.  Tattingmydoilies.com - A totally hard name to remember unless you already know what tatting is, and if you do know what tatting is, you're probably hoping tattingmydoilies sells patterns for, oh, I don't know .... tatted .... doilies?  Knitted squids?  Uh, not so much.
So two summers ago I stuck "tatting my doilies" into an anagram server, and out popped "Molting Yeti."  I thought the name had a very New York Times crossword puzzle feel to it - 11 down:  "The abominable snowman with its hair falling out?"  MoltingYeti is where I teach people how to make things out of hair - that's way closer!  Plus it felt really fun and goofy, and my designs are all about making knitting fun.

So here I am a few years later.  My designs have been published in Knitty, Interweave, Creative Knitting, Yarnforward, and a couple of books.  I started showing my work as art and teaching at yarn festivals.  I launched KnitsyBitsy last fall to connect woolly critters directly with loving adoptive homes, and spent just about every free moment of December selling hand-knit stuffed animals at craft fairs.  I cut back the hours of my day job so I could devote more time to my creative endeavors, and started trying super hard to figure out how to make my creativity support me.  As I've gotten better at this, more and more folks are tuning in, and this is starting to feel like a professional, "Hey!  Look what I made!" blog where most of the time I talk about my knitting designs, and festivals and craft shows and fiber art.

But I still want to talk about lots of other things, too, things that don't always fit with a knitting blog.  Like Helen Adam and countertenors and Tycho Brahe and ancient greeks using trigonometry to figure out the distance from the moon to the bottom of a well and smashed watermelons on the subway platform and how people still assume I'm a woman on the phone .  So I'm moving things around.

If you're just here for the knitting, moltingyeti.wordpress.com is the spot for you.  

If you're here for the everything else factor, and tune out every time I start talking in secret knitters code, tattingmydoilies.wordpress.com is the new place to be.

And by all means, read me both places!

I've divided things up and imported a bunch of the old posts into Wordpress, but this site will stay up as an archive, too.  If you've been following along  in a blog reader, the RSS feed is now pointed to moltingyeti.wordpress.com.  Here's the moltingyeti feed link, just in case.  The RSS for the new Tatting My Doilies is over here.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mirabilis Spirals in Nature

This is mostly a pretty pictures post, but first a word from our sponsor:  If you'll be anywhere near Pittsburgh this weekend, come to the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Show.  I'll be teaching four classes - the Lace and Loop ScarfMirabilis, Brain Coral, and Pinwheel Blankets.  Besides my four classes, there'll be demonstrations and classes galore, including a bunch by cable maven Melissa Leapman, and even an art show highlighting other folks like me who use math in their fiber arts.  My big silver spiral - robot ice cream cone? - will be on display.  And of course, there'll be more yarn and fiber than you can ever hope to shake your sticks at.  If any of my readers out there in blog-land have been following along since the wonderful Bedford Springs retreat last fall, I look forward to seeing you again!

Now the pictures!  I found all of these spirals when I was putting together my handouts for Mirabilis class.  I've been saying for a long time that the spirals I'm so obsessed with occur all over the place in nature - here are a few:  

The Milky Way

Nautilus Shell

Airplane Wake

Fiddlehead Fern

Wikipedia also tells me that hawks follow the same spiral paths when they're zooming in on their prey, and moths do the same thing around a candle or light bulb.  You'll just have to imagine those ones.  And of course, here's the Mirabilis blanket I'll be teaching everyone to make:


And mostly 'cause I love neck ruffles so much, 
here's the mathematician who gave Mirabilis its name:

Jakob Bernoulli

(Fiddlehead photo:  Forest and Kim Starr.  
All images not by me from WikiMedia Commons)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blobfish Facing Extinction

Caution:  This post contains pictures of blobfish.  Lots and lots of blobfish.

Last week, Google Analytics told me my post about the knitted blobfish I made for my friend Tamara was getting lots of hits.  First I thought I'd been linked to by somebody famous, but no - everybody was coming in from search engines.  So I googled it up myself and found out the blobfish may be going extinct.

Apparently, the inedible, gloppy, poor little buggers swim at the same level as crabs and lobsters, so they're getting trawled up in the same nets.  You can read the whole news story here from the Telegraph in the UK.

Here's a picture of my knitted blobfish:

And my new favorite, here's a screenshot of Google Images when you look for blobfish pictures:

... which of these creatures is not like the other?

Now I have that old Shonen Knife song about the Bison stuck in my head - who else could write a bubblegum pop song about animals going extinct? - except now it's about he blobfish.  I couldn't find the whole song online, but you can hear half of it here on Amazon:  here.

               We're only making plans for / Da da dirty dirty [blobfish]
               We don't like him so much / 'Cos he's very very ug ug ugly
               We're only making plans for/ Da da dark brown [blobfish]
               He has a right to live / though he's Ill ill ill ill-shaped

               He's on the way to extinction
               We only want what's best for hi-i-i-im

               Bear up [blobfish] never say die! [x4]
Buck up, Blobfish!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Do You Draw a Tutu?

Found poetry from wikianswers.com:
Q: How do you draw a tutu?
A: You make a circle then put a circle in it, then draw lines.

Who are you, tutu drawer, asking the internet for help? And who are you, internet answering back?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Have Been Circling for Thousands of Years

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God,
around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
And I still don’t know:
am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?

Rilke – 1909

This is the piece I did for the YarnTheory show at the PS122 gallery, and it'll be on display along with some new work at the confluence of artistry and math exhibit at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Show this February.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Smashed Watermelon

Thursday night

on the Church Avenue subway platform.

It's January.

Smashed Watermelon, what is your story?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Some Stuff I Didn't Take Pictures Of, and a Few Things I Did

I flew to San Francisco the weekend before Christmas to sell my knitted squids at the Renegade Craft Fair. I'd been up all night the night before I left, packing, boxing up last-minute orders and getting my house into a catsitter-worthy shape. In addition to stuffed animals and patterns, I've also been selling yarn and kapok stuffing on etsy, so Friday i headed to work with a huge clear plastic tub full of squids (exactly the size I could take on JetBlue without getting charged extra), two boxes of critters headed to folks before Christmas, seven lumpy Tyvek envelopes of kapok headed to various destinations, and a messenger bag with my camera, ipod, and two weeks worth of clothes, books, and knitting.

I had to go to my day job before the flight, and it was all too much to carry, so I loaded up the big red dolly I've been using to transport all my craft-fair set-up around town, strapped everything on, and walked 10 blocks to the nearest accessible subway stop. Since I started doing the craft fair thing I've started realizing how impossible it is to get around NYC without climbing a whole mess of stairs. For example, to get from my house to the Artisan Market just a couple miles away without lugging everything up and down subway staircases, I have to walk 10 blocks in the wrong direction to get to the nearest subway stop with an elevator, take the train to my stop, then take three more elevators to get out of the Atlantic Avenue subway stop. I've been taking to lugging my loaded dolly up and down the stairs, but my back really wishes I'd change my mind.

Anyway, I made it through my workday pasty-mouthed and un-slept, and dropped my packages off at the post office. My friend Wikipedia told me about microsleeps, where you fall asleep for a sliver of time even though you think you're awake. It happens all the time when people are driving. I often feel like it happens to me when I get off the elevator at work. Grey windowless hallway, grey windowless doors, ten minutes late, trudge trudge.

On the plane, I made it through the safety announcements before conking out. I even slept through takeoff. When I was a kid going back and forth between the US and Japan, I used to stay up all night whenever I flew on purpose, 'cause then I could sleep on the plane and jetlag would be less bad. Now that I'm older, this strategy fails me.
In San Francisco, the cabbie switched the radio back and forth between bubblegum pop and
death metal. It was like my own Ipod on shuffle, except without all the falsetto crooning and harpsichord numbers. I checked into the Fort Mason hostel and went for a little walk.

Fort Mason is right by the water - you can see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the hill there. It was really quiet and dark, and raining a little bit like it does in the winters in Portland - like fog that's falling, just enough wetness to make you blink a lot. I hadn't walked very far when there was a skunk in the road.

I stood there for a minute or two, soaking up the quiet and staring at the skunk. I had this bonkers impulse to send a text message to my sweetheart right then, "hey, I'm staring at a skunk," or even to Twitter it to my 98 adoring squid fans. Which made me think of a year or so ago when Facebook statuses used to be all in the third person and one night I came out of my bedroom and stepped in cat barf and instantly imagined myself typing "just stepped in cat barf" into Facebook. I'll admit it was mostly my fear that the skunk might notice me beeping away on my cell phone that stayed my thumb.

I had a similar run-in with wildlife a few years ago, when I went on a bike trip for my 31st birthday and saw a bear ambling down the road towards me near the Delaware River Gap as I sat on the guardrail eating my lunch. I was scared that time, and I forgot what you're supposed to do if you see a bear - is it make a lot of noise, or stay deathly still? Tromp tromp tromp comes the bear down the road in no particular hurry. Finally it notices me and freaks out its own self and goes crashing into the bushes. Yikes. A month later I read on the BOB list about a cyclist bombing downhill in a triathlon and crashing into a bear. The cyclist went flying, her bike skidded down the road, and the bear scampered off.

Anyway, I looked at the skunk for a while and tried not to think about text messages or New York City or the internet or my squid empire and just be still for a second, and finally I thought maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be hanging out ten feet away from needing to take a bath in tomato juice, so I turned around and went home.

The next morning I headed down the hill to Renegade, conveniently located 100 yards downhill from the hostel on the piers. I met Monica and Elizabeth from Applesauce, who I split booth space with. They make super-rad kids clothes out of upcycled vintage fabrics that you should totally check out. I set up my table just the way I liked it, and took a couple pictures for posterity, but when I hit review, the screen said "no card in camera". Ugh! I did take this one from my phone, but that's all I've got.

The show went pretty well. On day one I sold all the pillbugs I had with me (there's only two left that aren't yet in private collections), and the second day was better. Lots of smiles and goodwill, and sales too, and I really liked the laid back, spacious, happy, San Francisco vibe of Renegade as compared to the NYC Bust Craftacular two weeks prior, where lots of folks had a glazed, museum-fatigue look from all that crafty goodness in one place by the time they made it to my table. Of course it also helped that it was a gorgeous, sunny, 50-something degree day in San Francisco, and the space opened to the outdoors and had tons of natural light flooding in.

After two days of craft-fair, I brought what was left of my stock back up the hill to the hostel and walked up and down some more hills to North Beach. In the poetry room at City Lights I found a copy of Helen Adam's San Francisco's Burning that had probably been on the shelf since it came out in '83. And I got some of the most delicious almond croissants anywhere at Mara's. I stopped in a mostly empty bar for a drink and read my book over a beer, thinking about Jack Spicer sipping brandy with cream in his busted pants. Some friendly folks from Arkansas came in, and we talked until last call about I forget what, but it was really nice.

by erikgibb on flickr

The next day I wandered the streets a bit - I'd thought I would head to the not-quite-the-Castro neighborhood I used to live in (a crush called it "Taco Bell Heights") and stroll down the memory lane of my rather disastrous attempt to live in San Francisco in 1996, but I felt like walking instead, so I wandered up and down the sidewalks that turn into staircases in Russian Hill. I stopped for coffee and read in the SF Tribune about the Toilet Torcher. Somebody's lit 30 porta-potties on fire in the middle of the night over the past year, and the article had a sidebar listing the details of each one.

Also: doughnuts and barber shops. My sweetie and I have been talking about that wild, untended feeling streets get sometimes, not abandonment but a certain kind of settled, unlooked-at calmness. It's harder and harder to find that on my usual route in NYC - the Lower East Side used to have it before it filled up with bankers, Ditmas Park did before it got self-conscious and gentrified. It's like all the gaps are being filled in with shiny cold things that say "no sleep."

Calmness, stumbling home on empty streets. Potted plants. By the time I got off the Greyhound bus in Ashland, it felt like forever had gone by, even though it was only a couple of days.