Ravellenic Games Projects

1 Mar

Although I’m a big Ravelry user, I had never “competed” in the Ravellenic games before. For those who don’t know, in the Ravellenic games people try to finish as many projects as possible in the time frame of the Olympic games. There are teams, events, medals, etc. and I don’t even really understand the whole thing. The first time I heard of it was in relation to the controversy between the Ravelry and US Olympic Committee in which they sent a cease-and-desist for calling the games the “Ravelympics”. The controversy is pretty funny, although the amount of power that the USOC has is a little terrifying (they tried to sue Seattle when it built the Olympic sculpture park… which as a view of the Olympic mountains. Wonder if they have tried to rename the mountains yet).

This year I kinda-sorta competed although since I moved to Brazil during the Olympics I was a little preoccupied! But here are the projects I finished:

Aidez Collage

The first project I finished was Aidez by Cirilla Rose, one of my favorite designers (my project page here). It’s one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry (3,348 projects!) and I’ve wanted to make it for a long time. I couldn’t wait to start it so I actually started before the games, but I finished it in a record 10 days so I did get into the spirit of sprint knitting for the games. For this pattern I used a different gauge yarn (worsted instead of bulky) and I also improvised a lot of the sizing. I had read that the gauge on the pattern was messed up so instead of just knitting according to a larger size (to fit my thinner yarn) I based my stitch count off my own gauge and sizing. Luckily there isn’t much shaping in this pattern so it was pretty simple. The only problem I had was with the shoulders–definitely the thing I struggle with most in sweater design.

Besides sizing, I also switched out all the cables. I thought the ones on the original pattern were a little boring, especially on the back. For mine I chose 2 cable patterns from Stitchionary Vol. 2. For the back I staggered two columns of “Aztec”. Next to this I worked “Ring of Fire” which matched the seed stitch from Aztec and also had a cool name. On the sleeves and the fronts I worked just the zig-zag side cables from Aztec.

I’m really happy with how this turned out and I think it’s beautiful, the only thing is the yarn is a little scratchy! I chose a blend of wool, alpaca, and acrylic so I thought the acrylic and alpaca would counter the wool’s itchiness but not so… I just hope it gets softer with washing and I will probably have to wear it over long sleeve shirts.

My second project was from the pattern Turban(d) (my project page here). I’d wanted to make an ear warmer for a long time and had half a skein of soft Malabrigo Rios yarn left over that was perfect. This is so cute and I love the colors, I almost wish it were cold enough here for me to wear it (ha… actually I don’t miss the cold at all).

Hey Girl Sweater Collage

I didn’t get to finish my third project because of the move, but it’s one I’m really excited about. For Christmas I received 3 skeins of Madelinetosh DK and one of Malabrigo Arroyo and I was imagining a cardigan with stripes in reverse stockinette. At first I thought I would write a pattern myself, but then I thought since I would be doing a lot of plane knitting with this, it was best not to have to be doing a lot of math and note taking. I chose the pattern Hey Girl by Chic Knits (my pattern page here), who I think is one of my new favorite designers. I usually knit things to be form fitting but this will be a more slouchy, casual sweater. I am planning on doing the lower portion with more of the reverse stockinette stripes (I love how the interlocking purl stitches make the colors blend together), and I will do the cuffs of the body and sleeves in garter stitch. (I apologize for the poor quality photos, there’s no good place to shoot photos in my hotel room!).

New book: Japanese Cowichan-style Knits

14 Feb Japanese Cowichan Book

Granted Clothing

A few months ago I discovered Granted Clothing and fell in love with their sweaters, handmade in Vancouver BC! As a non-knitter, I would look at the $400 price tag and cry a little tear, but as a knitter I get to figure out how to make my own!

If you’re like me, you recognize this style of sweater–they’re bulky, usually with animal designs, and are vaguely Native American-looking–but don’t know much about it. I did some background research and the style is called Cowichan knitting, after the Cowichan people of Vancouver Island, BC, and was developed when the Cowichan were introduced to European settlers’ knitting methods. Like other styles of Native American/First Nations art, mainstream fashion decided these sweaters were something that could sell and now you can now find mass produced “Cowichan” aka “Big Lebowski” sweaters at Urban Outfitters (great blog post on this issue here).

I *think* I get to bypass these issues by making a sweater myself… and acknowledging that I’m remixing the original style into something of my own creation while still honoring its origins. I’d love to have something that incorporates more color and maybe has horses on the back?

Japanese Cowichan Book

In any case, the idea to design my own Cowichan-style sweater was on the back burner when last week I saw this book on sale from Fringe Association (a great store/blog I just discovered). It light heartedly (and obliviously?) combines traditional designs with Scandanavian motifs and other styles. It’s a total cultural mash up and it’s great.

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One of my favorite Granted sweater is the whale vest for kids, and this book has its own whale design. Perfect!

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I love this lion head too. Would be so cute on a little boy’s sweater.

If you’re wondering “wait… isn’t the book IN JAPANESE?” well yes, it is, but Japanese patterns have such detailed charts and diagrams that no reading is necessary (except numbers–at least those are the same). And if anyone finds this on Ravelry, please let me know!

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The past 6 months

12 Feb

I haven’t written in this blog in FOREVER but I’ve started reading blogs again and got the hankering to write some of my own. For now the old theme of the blog, which was more of a style blog, isn’t as relevant for me and I’m shifting the focus of this more towards knitting, which is what I’ve been really involved in recently.

I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands waiting for my visa to Brazil to be approved, so I’ve been on a real knitting kick. In the past few months I’ve accomplished some big goals for myself, professionally and creatively!

Etsy Shop Banner

First, I became a small business owner (!) and started selling my creations on Etsy! This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time but didn’t really have time for it until now. One challenging with selling knit items online is that you typically can’t sell items based on someone else’s design, so all the items in my shop were original designs. The shop was a huge success and sold better than I had expected. There is only one item left, if anyone is interested in some cute yellow gloves, click below!

Yellow Harvest Gloves

Next, because I was producing items based on my own patterns, I was able to organize the sketches and notes in my notebook into real knitting patterns. I’ve now published 4 patterns on Ravelry, 3 for free and one for sale, and I’ve had almost 2,000 downloads.

Ravelry patterns

I’ve learned a ton from writing these and receiving feedback from test knitters online. Personally, when I knit from a pattern I use it more as a starting point and make lots of adjustments for fit etc. In reality, lots of people follow patterns down to the letter so when you can’t leave any room for interpretation in published patterns! It’s really easy for me to overlook details or unclear instructions when I know how to do something in my head, so I’ve relied a lot on the feedback to figure out what’s confusing or what I need to explain more. Professional pattern writers have tech editors who pick apart the finished item and check the pattern for accuracy down to a single stitch. I wish I had someone like that to proofread my work! Maybe someday…

 

The biggest surprise this year is that my paid pattern (and my personal favorite), the Snowbunny Hat, reached #3 on Ravelry’s “Hot right now” list. For those that aren’t familiar with the site, Ravelry is like Facebook for knitters. It has 3.9 million users and a database of almost 300,000 patterns. Basically everything is on this site.

The “hot right now” list changes based on what patterns are receiving the most attention that day. This list is usually dominated by established designers but when I used to look through it I wondered if I would ever have a design in the top list (bearing in mind that to be a professional knitwear designer is actually not my goal in life).

Ravelry Hot Right Now Screen Shot

One of the popular activities on Ravelry is to knit items along with the Olympics (they call it the “Ravellenic Games”) I’ve never been a part of this, but I found a forum where people were posting promotions on patterns or yarn in conjunction with the games, so I posted my pattern there with a free download code to try to drive some traffic to my page. Suddenly my email inbox was EXPLODING with download notifications; they were coming in by the minute. I had no idea what was going on but apparently people had re-posted my promotion to various other blogs and tons of people were downloading my pattern. It’s hard to explain how shocked I was to see my pattern climbing to the top spot on the main pattern page, and it maxed out at #3–not bad at all, and way better than I ever thought my first paid pattern would do!

In all, I’ve been really happy with all this success but I am REALLY missing the social and intellectual stimulation of college. At the same time, all the snow and ice outside is making me feel trapped at home. One problem with knitting is that you have to be sitting down to do it (with the exception of this guy) which makes me feel like a bum, and there are only so many Netflix movies and podcast episodes one can sit through. Everyone says I’ll miss the free time when I start working but I’m VERY ready to start working and have a daily schedule and co-workers to talk to (in Portuguese!).

 

some inspiration from my friends back home.

12 Oct

Ok don’t get me wrong, I’m super stoked to be in Brazil. But I’m missing out on some seriously amazing activism back home. First, the Occupy Wall Street protests in NY and tons of other cities? Thank goodness the left is showing signs of life. I was getting pretty depressed that the Tea Party was able to rally so much energy and passion while we were seemingly doing nothing. I would love to hear your opinions on it as I’ve basically only heard I have seen on Facebook, the Daily Show, and this editorial from the NY Times (both worth watching/reading).

But next came one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard from some of my best friends in Pittsburgh, Eva, Seth, Nikki, and the rest of Free the Planet. I’ll let Eva tell it from her blog post that appeared on tarsandsaction.org, wearepowershift.org, and good ole’ pittsburghsec.org (and has since racked up over 250 “likes” on Facebook). I’m so proud and WISH I could have been there.

This past Friday, the only thing I was worried about was coming up with a good presentation for the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference. While relaxing on my porch after a strenuous week of midterms, our student government president happened to walk by and inform us that the White House had just contacted her about President Obama coming to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. We had been planning to confront the Organizing for America office the following Friday to tell Obama to stop the pipeline, but if Obama was in town, we had to send the message to him directly. I, however, had a midterm during the exact hour that Obama would be coming and resolved to recruit a few friends to greet him.

On Sunday at the AASHE conference, we grabbed Bill McKibben right before his speech and let him know we planned to greet Obama on Tuesday. At the end of his speech to a national conference of hundreds of climate leaders, he said the best thing they could do was attend the rally to meet Obama with a strong message to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline at 11AM, Tuesday at 313 Oakland Ave. My heart skipped a beat- Bill McKibben, one of my idols, had just announced my house address to a national conference. What’s more- he then told us to stand up so everybody knew who to find. I hesitantly stood up with two of my friends, Nikki Luke and Seth Bush, who looked around nervously.

What happened after was chaos. Within five minutes we were interviewed by the City Paper, the Tribune Review, and asked by dozens more what our plans were. The problem was—we didn’t have a plan. And I had a midterm when Obama was coming. Here’s the thing: if Bill McKibben calls you out at a national conference to organize a rally, you are going to organize a rally, whether you have a midterm or not.

…read more

leaving on a jet plane…

31 Aug

Wow it’s been a long time since I last posted. In the mean time I wrote a 46-page final paper for my summer research project (on the symbolism in natural gas industry media), got my visa (at the last minute!) and filled out about 1,532 pieces of paperwork. Now I’m sitting in DC waiting for my plane to Brazil!

I’m making a new blog for my trip to Brazil. Please check it out at aventurasnosol.wordpress.com.

we heart RIVKA.

11 Aug

Can super awesomeness and future fame be absorbed via cohabitation? I hope so because my housemates are totally amazing and on the brink of fame. They’re known on the blogosphere as RIVKA but in real life they’re Reggie and Becky (get it? Rivka is the hebrew version of Rebecca). They make chill/trance/dance/wonderland music that transports you to another world. They’ve gained a lot of popularity through blogs and word of mouth… someone even made this music video for their song “Kid Animal” without even telling them!

On Tuesday they’re releasing a new single through a label. We got a sneak peek of it last night and I think you’ll really like it! Stay tuned via Facebook and dowload their album on Bandcamp (only $3).

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PS It’s my 101st post! Yay!

why white men deny climate change.

4 Aug

It’s a sad reality of the conservative party that most of their most vocal media figures are stubborn, grumpy, intolerant, chauvinist, white men. At least that’s the impression I’ve always had. But I always figured it was my liberal bias; I mean, most conservatives seem crabby to me, especially when they’re arguing against my beliefs. But now two sociologists have taken a stab (a real, scholarly stab) at explaining why conservative white males (CWMs) are like this, particularly in the context of climate change. Yes, it has been experimentally shown that white men are more likely to deny climate change than any other group. Here are some explanations for why, put forth in the paper and paraphrased by David Roberts at Grist:

  • First there’s the “white male effect” — generally speaking, white males are less concerned with a variety of risks. This probably has to do with the fact that they are less exposed to risk than other demographics, what with running things and all.
  • Then, as Chris Mooney notes, there’s the “social dominance orientation” of conservatives, who see social life as following the law of the jungle. One’s choice is to dominate or be dominated; that is the natural order of things. Such folk are leery of climate change solutions premised on fairness or egalitarianism.
  • Then there are the well-understood “system-justifying tendencies” of conservatives. The authors explain that conservatives strongly display tendencies to justify and defend the current social and economic system. Conservatives dislike change and uncertainty and attempt to simplify complexity. Further, conservative white males have disproportionately occupied positions of power within our economic system. Given the expansive challenge that climate change poses to the industrial capitalist economic system, it should not be surprising that conservative white males’ strong system-justifying attitudes would be triggered to deny climate change.
  • Finally, there’s “identity-protective cognition,” a notion borrowed from Dan Kahan at Yale. (See this PDF.) Here’s how Kahan and colleagues sum it up:

    We propose that variance in risk perceptions — across persons generally, and across race and gender in particular — reflects a form of motivated cognition through which people seek to deflect threats to identities they hold, and roles they occupy, by virtue of contested cultural norms.

    “Motivated cognition” refers to reasoning done in service of justifying an already held belief or goal. It helps explain why the CWM who know the most about climate science are the most likely to reject it; they learn about it in order to reject it. See Chris Mooney’s great piece on that. Point being: when facts (or the implications of those facts) threaten people’s social identities, they tend to dismiss the facts rather than the identity.

In short, CWMs have historically sat at the highest rung of the social ladder which gives them an incentive to uphold the status quo and their conservative views only reinforced that fear of change. Conservative ideology also holds a “dog-eat-dog” view of the world so they reject movements promoting equality. The last point means that people, particularly individualistic white males will not perceive something as risky if that behavior is critical to their way of life, in this case they cannot perceive the danger of global warming because then they would have to perceive that consumption, capitalism, and social inequality are contributors, and this would be an attack on the forces that keep white men at the top.

we heart climate hero Tim DeChristopher.

29 Jul

Tim DeChristopher is a climate activist who was arrested for thwarting a BLM auction of 130,000 acres of pristine Utah lands to the oil and gas industry. That was three years ago, and DeChristopher was merely an economics student. Now he has become a folk hero for the environmental movement. He was recently sentenced to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, much lighter than the original 10 years and $750,000 that the prosecution was pushing for.

As a native of West Virginia, he saw the horrors of the coal industry, especially mountain top removal, which fueled his activist spirit. He has spoken around the country, and I saw him give an extraordinarily motivating speech at Powershift this spring (in the above image).

You can read much more about DeChristopher around the blogs, but I had to post some of his statement to the court here. It’s long, but well-written and powerful. See the full statement on Grist.

Continue reading

physics + nature = a mystifying beauty

25 Jul

Images of sand formations, top from NJ and bottom from CA. Via Wired.

 

 

it all ends tonight.

14 Jul

I’ve talked before about how much I love the Harry Potter series. When something has been part of your life over 10 years (over half my life), it moves from the role of “really good book” to something totally different… and as the movie posters have been trumpeting, “it all ends” tonight. While I have been pretty disappointed with some of the movies I thought the last one was really really good so I’m excited for this one.

In celebration of the premiere we made butterbeer cupcakes, a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a while after I saw it on amybites. I’m forgoing posting the recipe/steps because she did such a nice job in her post.

I would definitely recommend this recipe, it’s delicious and tastes just like the drink at the theme park (not that needs to be the official standard of taste, but I thought they did a great job). The only change I made was making the frosting with 1/3 cup cream soda in place of the 1/3 cup butterscotch the recipe calls for and I used vanilla bean instead of extract. Also I made only half the amount of ganache and still had a lot left over so I would cut the proportions of that. Otherwise it’s a very well written recipe, the cakes is light yet moist and not too sweet which is good because the filling and frosting is very sweet. Check out the butterscotch filling below!

I’ll get back to you with what I think of this movie (and whether it makes me cry like the last one did…). Let me know what you think too!

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