Tuesday, November 06, 2007

this blog is closed

i'm no longer updating this knitting blog. instead you can find my very sporadic knitting adventures at my new blog, life off balance.

if you are only interested in knitting, select the "crafts" category from the archives page to view only my posts about knitting and other craftiness.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


i made travis an apron today. he asked for an apron for his birthday (2/24) and i just got around to sewing it now. i got the fabric from the thrift store, i think it was an old futon cover or something. i made up the pattern myself, designed especially to fit travis.

i have to say, this is by far the best thing i've ever made. it's really good. almost perfect. i'm too surprised that i can sew things to bother to be modest about it!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

soft trees

i made these using glittery felt, and old unwanted shirt for the bottoms, and little bird's pattern.

i didn't do a very good job adjusting the pattern to make the taller, skinnier one, but you can't really tell when it's on the mantle.

yay for christmas trees!

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

shopping bag set

i'm ready for christmas!

i finished the shopping bag set! i'm pretty happy with the way it came out. the first picture shows all the components of the set and the second picture is the bags tucked inside their stuff sack. note the little pocket with a pad for a shopping list.

this only cost a few dollars to make. the fabric is from three old sheets i got at the thrift store. other than that i only spent a couple of dollars total on thread, the pad of paper, and the black elastic cord and plastic dohickey for the drawstring.

after i wrap this last gift i'm 100% ready for christmas! woo hoo! i may even make those stuffed trees after all. i found really cool felt at the fabric store to make them with. it's green felt with glitter.

or maybe not. maybe i'll just go enjoy our new xbox and relax until christmas. i hope everyone has a merry christmas, happy hanukah and a very wonderful and creative new year!

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

christmas crafts

here are some of the catnip cat treats i made. i'm giving them to all the cats i know.

i'm feeling less stressed. travis and i put up the christmas decorations last week. all my christmas cards are written, all my shopping is done, and most of my presents are wrapped. i made a great mix cd of my favorite christmas songs and made several copies with jewel case inserts to give out. all i have left to do is finish the reusable grocery bags for travis' sister and wrap the set.

i decided that the stuffed trees can wait until next year. it looks plenty christmasy in here in the meantime.

here's the playlist for "jen's super duper christmas mix" in case you want to put it together yourself. it's really good, if i do say so myself. (make sure you keep the songs in this order.)

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year / Andy Williams
(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays / Perry Como
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus / Jackson 5
Jingle Bell Rock / Neil Diamond
I'll Be Home for Christmas / Carpenters
Winter Wonderland / Aimee Mann
We Three Kings / Dolly Parton
Christmas Canon / Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas / Sarah McLachlan
Sleigh Ride / Ella Fitzgerald
Baby, It's Cold Outside / Dean Martin & Martina McBride
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing / Amy Grant
Auld Lang Syne/ The Pipes And Drums Of The Queen's Own High

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

local knitting celebrity

i was mentioned in a front page article in the gazette, a weekly local paper! this is the part about me:

And as part of a practice Anderson calls "so Takoma Park," even those worried about shearing sheep or reeling fibers from silkworms have outlets at their disposal. Jen M., a Takoma Park resident and longtime vegan, said the hats and scarves she’s made from less expensive acrylics still make her friends and family "ooh and ah."

"I like that you end up finding these environmentally sound, less wasteful solutions to things," said [me], whose favorite fibers are lion jiffy acrylics and recycled vegan silk yarn, of which she recently knit a bag for a Compassion Over Killing-sponsored auction.


all of a sudden i want to make a million things for christmas and now i'm totally stressed out about when i'm going to do all of this.

i started the grocery bag set i'm making trav's older sister for christmas. it will be three tote bags and a drawstring stuff sack to keep them in (so you can toss the whole set in the car when you go to the store). it's mostly all cut. then i had to clean and oil the machine. now i've finally started sewing. i keep making more work for myself though - now i've decided to add a pocket to the outer stuff sack for holding a grocery list. i might have to figure out how to sew a button hole - i've never done that. i don't even know if my sewing machine does that. (advice anyone?) and to make matters worse, i'm figuring out all this sewing stuff as i go along. after cutting everything out, i just realized that i should have made a pattern to trace rather than measure everything out. duh. i hope the tote bags don't come out looking like a three year old made them.

so let's see, i also decided to make catnip cat toys for all the cats i know. i was going to make plain "stick" shaped toys, which would have been really quick and easy to make, but now i'm thinking about making them candy cane-shaped. again, more work for myself. and now i want to make some stuffed trees like vania's because i don't think we have enough christmas decorations. except i want to put tiny pom poms on mine as decorations, but i have to go buy them first. speaking of which, that's another thing i have to do -- put up the christmas decorations. travis put up the lights on the porch, but i still have to put up our little fake tree. oh yeah, but first i have to make a tree skirt. ugh! i was just at the fabric store yesterday, but i forgot about the tree skirt, so i need to go back unless i can scrounge up something in the house. but i have to get those tiny pom poms anyway.

i also have to get a gift for my hairdresser, wrap presents, and help travis write the christmas cards. i delegated making the cards and getting a present for the letter carrier to travis.

next year i have to actually plan for christmas early so that i don't get so stressed like this again. i'm always in denial that i'm going to do stuff for christmas so then i end up all discombobulated when christmas is approaching and i'm scrambling around to get things done when i realize all the stuff i actually want to do. but it would have been so much easier to plan it all out ahead of time and actually go to the fabric store with a list of ALL the fabric i need rather than make two trips, come up with actual patterns for things i want to make rather than measure out twelve of the same thing, and so on.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

finished bag

i finished the bag for the auction, as you can see. i found an emerald green placemat at the thrift store (2 for 95 cents) to use for the lining. everything used in the bag is recycled or reclaimed, except the bamboo handles.

the auction is next saturday, we'll see how much it goes for...

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

so much to do!

i still have to finish the bag for the auction. i decided not to use the tee shirt for the lining, too stretchy. i'm going to get some fabric from the thrift store so it will still be all recycled. i found a little asian-style metal charm that came as a tag on a yoga shirt i bought that i will use for the charm. all of that has to get done this weekend because the party and auction is next saturday.

then, contrary to my declaration (on vania's blog) that i would not be making any gifts this christmas, i need to get working on a christmas present for trav's sister. every year we pick one name out of a hat for the gift exchange, saving us from having to buy a gift for everyone in the family. last year i got travis' cousin, and after much drama ended up knitting her a matching hat and keyhole scarf. this year, i got travis' older sister. i tried and tried to think of something to buy her but i couldn't think of anything that i wouldn't be buying just for the sake of buying. so i decided to sew her a set of grocery totes to reduce the number of plastic and paper bags she has to use. i'm going to make three totes and a pouch to keep them in, all out of thrift store fabric. i came up with an easy (and hopefully strong and durable) pattern, now i have to go find the fabric and get sewing. fortunately, i've already done the rest of my christmas shopping.

when i finish all of that, i'll worry about the gift for my yoga instructor.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

present for my yoga teacher?

i think i'm going to make her a tote bag. i figure if she wants a yoga mat bag, she probably already has one. yesterday in class she was using a canvas bag from whole foods to carry her notebook and stuff. i thought a tote bag is something that everyone can use.

i'm trying to decide if i should knit it or sew it. i'm leaning towards knitting (with a fabric lining) because i think with my skills it will come out better, and i also prefer knitting. but i'm not sure which she'd prefer. suggestions?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

enjoying a handknit hat

noah (star of liza was here) seems to like the umbilical cord hat i knit for him.

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finished the bag for cok

it knit up very fast. i just have to do the seam, lining, and sew on the handles. i haven't decided whether i'm going to put on a little charm like i did on the last one. maybe i'll peruse the bead store and see if anything looks good.

i think my next project will be a yoga mat bag for my yoga teacher. she's leaving soon to move to santa monica and i want to give her a going-away present.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

a knitting post!

fall has officially begun: i started knitting again! and not only knitting, but knitting in style with my first pair of addi turbos...

my friend erica asked me to knit something to donate to the silent auction at the compassion over killing holiday party this year. so i finally had the motivation i needed to get off my butt and start knitting again. i decided to make another bag from stitch 'n bitch like the one i made for myself. it comes out really impressive-looking (if i do say so myself), particularly for the amount of work that goes into it.

the first thing i did was take an inventory of my yarn stash and my unfinished projects. i ripped apart the tank girl tank i had been working on. i'm just not into it any more. i decided that, to save time and money on the cok bag, i will knit it on size 13 circulars with a strand of recycled sari yarn and a strand of the plum reclaimed yarn (ripped from tank girl) held together. that should knit up really fast and be a lot less expensive than using just the recycled sari yarn. i knitted up a swatch and it looked great.

but my thriftiness was then thwarted, because i discovered that i needed a 24" size 13 needle and all i had was 16". i went to my lys and the only metal needles they sell are addi turbos. so i splurged. i had previously poo-poohed spending over $20 on a pair of knitting needles, figuring "how much better can they really be?" duh. they are SO much better. they weigh nothing and feel perfectly balanced in my hands. and the yarn glides over the slick metal more effortlessly than any other metal needles i've used. so now i'm addicted to very expensive knitting needles -- great. (i did refrain from buying anything from the very tempting sale yarn bin, though!)

but i'd rather splurge on knitting needles for myself than on yarn that's going to be auctioned off. and it actually looks really good with the plum recycled yarn. i think the bag will have a broader appeal this way, which is obviously good for an auction item.

so i had a great idea for the lining, i hope it works. i volunteer at cok twice a week, and one of the things i end up doing for them is folding the tee shirts that they get printed up with their designs and then sell. well, they got this defective batch of their "dog on a plate shirt" that they have to send back and i snatched one (with erica's permission). i'm going to try to make the bag lining out of the tee shirt. won't that be super cool and unique? i just hope it works because the tee is made out of that really stretchy "baby doll tee" material. it seems a lot harder to work with for a novice seamstress like myself. but i'll give it a shot. if it works, the entire bag will be made out of recycled materials: recycled rayon sari yarn, reclaimed cotton from a thrift store sweater, and re-purposed fabric from a defective tee shirt. cool huh?

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

renovated skirt

i haven't been knitting at all, but i was somewhat crafty today. i bought this formerly ankle-length skirt at the thrift store yesterday, but it was too small. so i cut about a foot off the top and sewed a new waistband, creating a shorter but wider skirt.

for the tie, i used the tie from a pair of strawberry shortcake pyjama bottoms i bought during the same thrifting expedition. the pyjamas have a good elastic waistband and don't need the tie.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

hand knit sweaters for penguins!

how badly do i wish i had a photo of this!

apparently do-gooder knitters make sweaters for rescued penguins in australia. i think it's great that knitters knit hats for cancer patients or afghans for afghans and contribute to all kinds of great causes, but oh my god knitting a sweater for a penguin is just too adorable.

maybe it's a good thing there aren't any pictures -- i feel woozy just thinking about the pure adorableness.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

pink is the new awesome

ok, let's try this again and hope blogger doesn't eat this post too. for some reason, it appears that both blogger and george bush have something against unicorns!

anyhoo, i got a double treat yesterday when the unicorn pendant i ordered from rat girl goodies came in the mail and i discovered that krissy added these adorable stitch markers to my package! she's so sweet. i love them, and of course i love my unicorn pendant too. if pink is the new awesome, then pink + unicorn = super awesomeness.

speaking of awesomeness, tonight i'm having my second serving of the awesome vegan "macaroni hates cheese" (from the post punk kitchen) that trav made last night. i am officially declaring it to be the best vegan mac and cheese i've tasted. i'm so impressed with the recipe i think i'm going to make it for my book club potluck next week. oh, and the fact that it is really easy to make probably factors in somewhat. i just hope it tastes as good when i make it.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

me me me

vania tagged me to post 6 unusual or little known things about myself.

1. reading vania's post, i realized that i had no idea how many things she and i have in common. i wrote a comment to her about one such commonality and realized that i don't think most people online know this about me. so for my first "thing about myself" i'm plagarizing myself from my comment to vania:

like vania, it is also my greatest dream in life to learn to surf. when i say "i love surfing", i don't mean it like other people say "i love chocolate" -- i mean it like "i love surfing so much that the worst day surfing to me is better than the best day doing any other possible activity". i love surfing so much that one of the greatest moments i had in 2005 was the one and only time i ever caught a wave on my own. i love surfing so much that it hurts my heart to watch others surfing on tv or in the movies, because my opportunities to surf are relatively few, not living near the ocean. also, i am going to get a surfing-related tattoo in the next couple of months, a pin-up style surfer girl riding a wave on my right calf.

i know i've written about some of my adventures in skateboarding, but i don't think i've ever mentioned online that i started skateboarding largely as a replacement for not being able to surf. it didn't really work. i like skateboarding, but it doesn't fill my heart with joy the way surfing does. plus, like vania, i'm much more afraid of skateboarding than i am of surfing. travis, on the other hand, is more afraid of surfing than of skateboarding. (crazy boy must not realize that cement is a lot harder than water.) but for me, i just love the ocean and i feel so comfortable there. it's not that i am unaware of the dangers of surfing, or that i don't have a healthy level of respect and fear for the ocean. but i feel so at home in the ocean that my fear is a constructive and manageable sense of caution, as opposed to the panic and anxiety that i often feel on my skateboard. of course, it's self-perpetuating, because my anxiety on a skateboard makes it harder for me to skate and therefore makes me more likely to get injured. my experience trying to learn to drop in on a ramp last summer is a perfect example of that.

so anyway, that's the first thing about me that y'all might not know.

2. even before i discovered surfing, i've always loved the ocean. i miss it living here. i also love sailing, snorkeling, scuba-diving, and just sitting and watching the waves roll in for hours on end. i'm even not above motorboating, although i feel guilty about how bad it is for the environment.

one of the happiest moments of my life was a particular afternoon of sailing in cancun with my friend landon, who i had met there at club med. we took two sails on two different small sunfish-type boats. first we took a mellow sail on a boat that was stable and easy to sail. it was wonderful and peaceful and we just hung out being at one with the ocean. i remember feeling more contented than i had ever felt in my life. then, landon thought he was an expert enough sailor that we should take out a small racing boat that was designed for speed and manuverability. well, he wasn't quite as expert at it as he had claimed, and it was a wild ride. i thought we were going to crash into the reef or else i'd be pitched overboard as the boat heeled dramatically. i spent the whole sail simultaneously laughing my ass off and screaming in genuine fear for my life. i had never felt more alive and yes, stoked, in my life.

afterwards, we sat and drank beers and watched the sunset and rehashed the afternoon's events. the contrast between our two sails made it plain to me -- there are two kinds of joy to be had in life, and life is about finding and appreciating them both wherever and whenever you can. and that's what my life has been about ever since.

landon and i only spent a few days together in total, and now we've fallen out of touch. he changed my life in so many ways, and i can confidently say that i would not have the happiness i now have in my life if not for him. i am grateful to him for that. but most of all i will always remember him for that afternoon, which was the first time in my life when i can remember ever being so completely, deliriously, joyfully happy. but definitely not the last time.

3. when i was a child, i really wanted to be a fighter pilot. i used to get that same heart-hurty feeling when i'd watch top gun that i now get watching surfing movies. seriously. this weekend we watched an imax movie about fighter pilots and it reminded me of this childhood dream. i still understand why i was so drawn to it. in a different world, i would be a fighter pilot. that probably suprises people, because in this world i became such a pacifist. but the differences between this world and that alternate world are really not so large; it really comes down to the vagaries of history and politics. and of course, there is my little problem with authority. sure, in hollywood, having a problem with authority only makes you a better fighter pilot, see, e.g., starbuck on battlestar galactica or maverick from top gun, but i suspect that in reality the armed forces don't look quite so kindly on loose cannon types.

4. i'm an only child, and i've always been happy about it. i think being an only child helped foster many of my positive qualities and did not contribute significantly to my negative qualities. i think that only children face a surprising amount of prejudice (people assume that we are spoiled, don't get along with others, etc.) and are often misunderstood (people assume that we were lonely as children, that we wish we had siblings, etc.), and it upsets me when people spread stereotypes and myths about us. for instance, i have heard people say that they are determined to have at least two children because they think it's unfair to a child to let him be an only child, and they don't want their child to grow up to be a self-centered loner. even when people aren't this upfront about it, it's clear that there is a pervasive cultural bias against only children considering how uncommon it is. i can't fathom any logical reason why only children are as rare as they are.

both my parents were only children as well. i have never heard of any other family in which both parents and their child were all only children.

5. most people think i'm a lot nicer than i really am. a few people think i'm a lot meaner than i really am. in actuality, for the most part i'm too lazy to bother being nice or mean. basically, i am a self-centered loner. if i'm this way because i'm an only child, that's fine with me, because i like being a self-centered loner. contrary to the only child stereotype, however, i can get along with people just fine when i want to. obviously i'm not that bad at getting along with people, because hardly anyone ever believes me that i'm a self-centered loner. most of you reading this right now aren't believing it. so see, potential parents, i'm living proof: you aren't condemning your child to the lonely life of a hermit by not providing her with the civilizing influence of siblings.

6. travis and i wear matching rings on our left "ring" fingers. they are platinum and titanium bands and each one has an inscription on the inside written by the other person. i never take mine off and i never wear any other rings. this is the only marriage-related tradition (including marriage itself) that we have adopted. for me, the primary significance is having a sentimental momento of travis and our bond that i carry with me all the time. i don't like getting sentimental gifts like jewelry and i don't like a lot of sentimental stuff cluttering the house. i'd rather just have my simple ring and that's it. also, in my view, the fact that we wear matching rings is a symbol of our commitment.

i hadn't thought of this when we bought the rings, but since then i've come to hope that the ring has a secondary benefit of helping to ward off come-ons from strange men when i'm out with my friends. i don't personally subscribe to the traditional concept that i'm "taken" or any such thing, but i'm not above exploiting that traditional notion to avoid the "meet market." similarly, i often tell men that "i can't" accept drinks or flowers from them, because of my boyfriend. which is actually bullshit and completely goes against my true beliefs on relationships. but i don't have anything to prove about how enlightened i am; if saying "i'm taken" gets me back to dancing with my friends faster, i'm all for it. indeed, this is just one example of my general technique of "having a policy" as a method of dealing with uncomfortable social situations. but since i've already listed 6 things about myself, the theory behind my brilliant "having a policy" method will have to wait for another day.

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