Books and Reading

Though my sewing skills are extremely limited, I have managed a few small projects since I got my sewing machine last Christmas. They have been few and far between, usually because I convince myself that getting out the sewing machine is a big ordeal and I don’t have enough time or energy to deal with it. There’s also the prep work, like cutting fabric, that I don’t enjoy as much as the actual sewing. Knitting and crocheting, on the other hand, are easily picked up from the baskets next to my favorite chair. There’s no large equipment, and no big cleanup when I’m done. My little embroidery experimentation a few weeks ago had some of those same small, portable benefits and I really enjoyed that new medium. I like branching out beyond my comfort zone and building my skills in other areas. I suppose I risk stretching myself too thin over too many crafts, but for me, the bottom line is that I’m enjoying what I’m doing. My unquenchable thirst for knowledge and expertise means I’ll always be going in a zillion different directions.

I got an email from Stitch Lounge about their second book. I went to add it to my Amazon wish list and I started clicking around to some other newish sewing books that I hope might motivate me to go beyond my knitting needles.

(click on pictures to link to Amazon)

I think that right now my sewing, etc. goals are for small projects that help me master different techniques. I don’t have a huge interest in making full garments at this point, but I am interested in altering/refashioning (hence, Subversive Seamster). I have a few too-big tshirts laying around that I want to fit me. Mainly, though, I want to do little projects that a) won’t take a lot of time to complete (one or two sittings), and b) will make awesome little gifts for the upcoming holidays and other occasions. I also don’t really like knitting small fiddly things like stuffed animals, but I think sewing them would be much more enjoyable.

If anyone has other suggestions for good books or patterns, feel free to send them along! Hopefully I won’t be all talk and no action on this.


I was in the city on Saturday and we went to Japantown to get ice cream crepes. I got vanilla ice cream with Nutella and cinnamon.  We also made the requisite trip into the bookstore and I finally bought a Japanese craft book. I always almost buy one and then convince myself I “don’t need it”. But this one just had too much cute stuff.

It’s filled with pretty little crocheted things for the home. I’m not sure about the yarn weights (since everything except the page numbers are in Japanese), but most of it looks like sport or fingering. And so I find myself coveting any and all lightweight cotton and linen in sophisticated colors.

So many pretty things. Now I think I can feel justified buying a ball or two of Habu that I otherwise wouldn’t know what to do with. Lately when I buy yarn I feel guilty getting only a skein or two if I don’t know what I’ll use it for – unless it’s sock yarn. It would be nice to buy other kinds of yarn too. I’m always need more more small simple projects.

The charts should be pretty easy to follow. There are a few things that look a little confusing, but figuring it all out is the challenge (and hence the fun). I really wanted to get one of these amazing stitch dictionaries they had (with big gorgeous pictures and clear charts), but I’ll save one of those for next time. I guess it’s a good thing there are no yarn stores in Japantown. Crepes, books, AND yarn in the same place? I would be lost forever.

P.S. The ISBN on this book is 4529040941.

The past week was full of ups and downs.  These were mostly related to my job/financial situation.  I didn’t work all last week, and all my calls with the temp agency were disappointing.  So I took matters into my own hands and slogged through Craigslist job postings.  I didn’t have must hope of hearing back, but I felt a little productive anyway.  I guess I must have become good at writing cover letters at some point in the past few months, because I got not one, but two responses!  I set both interviews for Monday.  They went fairly well, but I won’t hear about them until next week.

So I was feeling heartened, but still extremely stressed out about my financial situation, and not knowing when I would next have money coming in.   On Tuesday, though, my temp agency called me with a job at UC Berkeley…starting Wednesday!  I’m working in the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research.  Sounds fancy, huh?  It’s only for 13 days, but it’s money.  And if I do happen to get one of the jobs I interviewed for, I can start right after this one ends.

It’s fun being here at UCB.  It’s making me think seriously again about Grad school and what I should study.  Lots of interesting things here, especially if I want to go on the Ph.D track.  In leiu of my renewed enthusiasm in academia, I’ve finally started reading Edward Said’s Orientalism.  It’s pretty much required reading for myself, and I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to get around to it.  And, in my extreme nerd-dom, I’m planning on writing it up on a sister blog.  We’ll see if that actually happens.

my trip down south was really good. maybe i’ll put up a few pictures later. my mom gave me an early birthday present, so i would have something to open, because apparently the rest is coming from internet orders. i tried to wait until tomorrow, but after we got home from the airport and i started unpacking, i couldn’t wait anymore. the goods:

fitted knits by stefanie japel.
i hadn’t had the chance to look inside this book before i added it to my wishlist, but i am loving it. it’s got a ton of great patterns, and the best part is that a lot of them are made with less-expensive yarns, like cascade 220 and cascade pima tencel, which i really want to get my hands on after seeing the projects in this book.

sensational knitted socks by charlene schurch.
i hadn’t ever looked through this either, but i’ve heard such good things about it. this book is awesome, it gives you all the tools you need to create hundreds of socks out of any kind of yarn, for any size foot. it’s a mini stitch dictionary, and a complete technique book. i’ve already started a pair for my mom (after she told me how much she’d like knitted socks of her own). i’m using the corded rib stitch. i might use this opportunity to do a short row heel, or at least another kind of toe. i think i might make some houndstooth ones for my dad for father’s day, because my mom also said he really likes the ones i made him for xmas. i haven’t been that into knitting socks as of yet, but such enthusiam on the part of my recipients may change my attitude.

scarf style by pam allen
i have been lusting after this book for awhile, especially since seeing some gorgeous versions of the “backyard leaves scarf”. there are some real gems in here, and also some i would never knit. lots of good ideas though, and definitely worth it.

i am very happy with all my new books. my cascade 220 from WEBS also came in the mail while i was gone. i still want to use it for purlbee’s treeline stripied cardigan. i want to go to artfibers in san francisco and look at their tsuki yarn to use instead of kidsilk haze. however, i am also toying with the idea of just leaving the mohair strand out, in the interest of saving money. but an excuse to go to artfibers should be exploited, methinks.

last night i made it back to my wonderful alameda apartment, after exactly eight weeks of foreign adventures. the trip was absolutely amazing, but part of me was definitely ready to come home. i slept in my own bed last night. it was amazing.

as for knitting, i did my fair share on this journey. i brought three skeins of noro silk garden lite with me to work on cozy for my mom. i’m about halfway through that third skein. i knitted madly for the beginning and then took a break for a few months to catch up on some reading. the one downfall to knitting is that i don’t read nearly as much as i would like to, so i am going to be trying to balance these two things. maybe i will even turn this into a knitting and reading blog. that would be something.

i also finished my own pair of knucks, just AFTER we left iceland, where they would have been quite nice to have. i bought yarn in a few places. i found some for really cheap at a giant flea markent in dresden, and then i bought some irish wool. in iceland i meant to buy a few skeins and then i never got around to it. i’ll look for it on the internet. i also didn’t happen upon a norweigian yarn store, but if i get some of that i can knit it with the irish yarn to represent my ancestry. ironically enough, icelanders are descended from a mixture of norweigian vikings and celts that they enslaved. so essentially, i’m icelandic. i just don’t live there. and there’s a few other things thrown into muddy it up.

i did get inspired by those icelandic sweaters, which i would have loved to buy. but on a budget trip, $100+ for a sweater was not going to happen. i did decide that i will knit myself one. it’s going to be beautiful.

now is the time to get in gear for knitting xmas presents. mom’s cozy is about halfway done. also on the list:

-socks for dad
-armwarmers for kristen
-‘we call them pirates’ hat for katie (j’s sister)

maybe something for keriann, though she is a little difficult because i want her to actually LIKE the thing i make for her.

also jon mentioned something on this blog about needing clothes for colder weather (he’s in salem, oregon). his birthday was a few days ago. i thought maybe i’ll knit him a hat or a scarf and send it to him as a surprise.

now, i just need the time for all this. i started reading ulysses, which isn’t going to be done anytime soon. next on the book list are said’s orientalism, don quixote, and marquez’s one hunndred years of solitude. the books don’t need to be done by xmas, but all this ambition is going to take some discipline.