Archive of ‘sticks&strings’ category

It’s That Time Of Year Again

IMG_8820It’s the time of year where I ignore all of my obligations, ignore even the activities I enjoy, really, and devote my entire being to knitting all the things. I don’t know why I don’t get this frantic urge in the winter months, when it’s cold and the chill calls for cozy time activities; I mean that would make the most sense. But no, I feel the irresistible call of the clicking wooden needles and the silken and squishy yarns and all of the lovely patterns I’ve had my eye on…in the spring months. When the tiny green buds are unfurling and the birds are twittering, and somewhere someone’s sidewalk is overrun with weekend morning rabbits (I know this happens elsewhere, though I’ve never seen them in Florida) and the breeze is still cool but it’s warmed by the promise of fiery July sunsets and the sweet, narcotic dream of tiny white jasmine blossoms. All of these things are very nice indeed, but no, they’re not the thing waking my itchy fingers, my craving for creating and corralling little loops and links, knits and knots, bound with needles, and if I’m being honest, a hair or two from my own head (sometimes it’s even an accident!)

I think it must the the light. The days have gotten longer and the afternoon sunlight through the dusty windows at the back of my house is yellow and soft and peaceful, and–lord knows I am generally no fan of sunlight– but in March I can’t simply can’t resist a 6pm beam of light across a crumpled sofa cushion, and I find myself compelled to bask in its golden glow. And there can be no basking without knitting.

I guess my point is, that’s why my interest (and instagram feeds) turns into 24/7 knitting nonsense this time every year. My books gather dust for a few months, and the oven grows cold and new recipes go untried; my other hobbies and passions, which I usually try to portion out in equal amounts, just get ignored for a bit, while I amass a pile of finished knits, woolen socks and warming shawls–just in time for summer’s heat.

(Featured knit is Evelyn Clark’s Swallowtail Shawl, which was all the rage with knitting bloggers a year or so after I started knitting–2006ish?–and which at that time I thought was too complicated to even attempt! More than a decade later, I am pleased to report that it’s a lovely pattern and is quite simple.)

crime & punishment


…tfw you are found guilty of premeditated dumbness in the extreme and your punishment is knowing that you were so close to being done with your project but now you must account for the crime of having obliterated a pair of knitpicks needles and dropping over 300 stitches in the process, derailing weeks and weeks worth of progress on the most complicated shawl you have ever attempted…

“If I may direct you to exhibit A., an artist’s rendering of the diabolical perpetrator involved in the events of last night.”

*Addresses jury of peers*

“Yes, I can swear to it! This vampire bat ring totally came to life and ate my knitting needles. You can even see the bite marks from his pointy fangs! I absolutely did NOT have over one thousand stitches jammed on a  flimsy 8-inch circular needle with known defects. No, ladies and gentleman of the jury, only a madwoman would have attempted such incredibly stupid and dangerous folly.”

*adjusts collar,sweats nervously*

All Of The Things I Knit In 2017


Yes, we are halfway through the month of January in the new year, and here I am still talking about what I accomplished in the last year, like that high school quarterback whose glory days you have to hear about every time you go to get your car serviced, because there’s that guy who peaked in his senior year and now he’s changing the oil in your Toyota Matrix. I mean, I don’t personally know that guy. I don’t have any friends who played sports. And I didn’t have any friends in high school. And I quite frequently forget to get my oil changed!

But because I am a busy lady with stuff and things to do and who is living her best life and every day is a glory day (right? right!) I am just now getting around to gathering up all of the projects I finished last year. It makes me feel like I have been productive, like I have been industrious, like all the time I spent watching things like Broadchurch and Jordskott weren’t hours totally wasted, because I was also creating something beautiful! Just let me have this, ok?



These are the Froot Loop socks by Kristi Geraci from the Spring Issue of Knitty, 2008. I have knit them up several times now, and they are one of my favorite sock patterns. I think the yarn is from knitpicks. I believe they now reside with a Russian poet.



The Blue Dahlia shawl by Andrea Jurgrau, which you can find in her book New Vintage Lace: Knits Inspired By the Past. I thought this was going to be a major challenge, but nce I got the hang of the pattern, I daresay I enjoyed it; I ran into a snag and panicked, but rejoiced when I realized there is some errata, and it was not, actually, my fault. Yarn is a steely grey from knitpicks, and the shawl now lives with a creator of jewels and magic.


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I guess it took me three months to knit up these socks? They are the Rib and Cable Socks by Nancy Bush from Interweave Knits, Fall 2005. I didn’t really love the heel and the toes in this pattern so I just used the instructions from Charade, instead. There may be some tiny differences, between the two–one of the cuffs is slightly longer, one of the toes is shorter. I’ve nicknamed them the wabi-sabi socks, because for whatever little flaws they have, I still think they are perfect, and they currently warm the tootsies of a dear friend of mine, a jeweler and artisan who has elevated jewelry–and friendship–to an art form.



In August I went through a phase where I wanted to do something with my funky-colored sock yarns other than make socks. Reyna by Noora Laivola was an excellent pattern for this! A pattern designed specifically to work with the variegation of colors, instead of getting obscured underneath the color changes, it is supposed to work with a single skein of sock yarn, but due to some miscalculations on my part, it took a bit of a second skein of the same color way that I just happened to have on hand. Reyna flew off to sweet friend who is a sculptor of curious critters and is one of the most generous souls that I know. (Top photo by said friend.)


In August I also knit another pair of socks, using the Charade pattern, by Sandra Park. I have knit this pattern countless times, it is one of my favorites, and my go-to for whenever I get new sock yarn without a specific idea in mind. These were gifted, along with the shawl immediately above, to the same person.


The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn was a lovely, mindless knit and I have quite forgotten who I sent it to! I hope they are enjoying it, where ever it ended up.


This is…an unfortunate photo of the second version of the Reyna shawl that I knit. I finished it in a hotel room, and gave it a bit of a soak and lay it on a towel to dry. I shared a photo and someone pointed out that it looks like a slightly rounded bottom, wearing a pair of undies! I’ve nicknames this version the “secret butts shawl”. It was knit up in some old hand painted lace in lovely earthy tones, and gifted to a perfumer who already owns the sister shawl–a piece I knit ages ago, with the same yarn. It was my first ever fancy shawl! I am so pleased that this wonderful person now owns both.


Elle Eir 21436061_131225074166337_4353030224435216384_n_medium2

Eir by Caitlin Ffrench was among the hurricane knits I busied myself with while we were waiting out a violent storm in late summer of this year. It was a lovely, mindless triangle shawl project, with an interesting border that I really love. Knit up in knitpicks city tweed, it now lives in TX with lovely friend who makes gorgeous jeweled creations. (The top photo is hers.)


Siren’s Song by Caitlin Ffrench (you’ll notice that a Caitlin Ffrench obsession has begun) was knit up in Knitting Fever Painted Desert yarn and was another really nice pattern that kept my interest but also allowed me to watch a lot of teevee at the same time. I gave this to a wild, wise, bohemian spirit out west who shared some poignant insight with me several years ago when my mother died and I have never forgotten her words or their impact on me at the time.

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It’s strange how sometimes you will make something and already have someone in mind to be on the receiving end for it. And in extra-special sometimes, you were right to think so! I completed the Elk Tooth shawl by Caitlin Ffrench and upon sharing it on instagram, a friend immediately commented upon it. The funny thing is, the pattern, the name, the yarn–it all had me thinking of her as I was knitting it! And so of course it had to go home to this person, a far away friend that I would love to spend time with in real life because I think we would get on splendidly.  The bottom photo was taken by this very friend.



Sometimes people ask me if I sell my knits. I do not. I knit because I enjoy knitting, and I give my finished knits away because I enjoy giving. Selling the product of an activity I enjoy lessens the enjoyment of it for me, somehow. Also, I do not write my own patterns–everything I knit is from a pattern that someone else’s work and creativity has gone into–and I am not sure of the ethics or legalities involved in that. However! I do trade my work! This particular knit, Mabon, by Caitlin Ffrench, was traded away and you may very well see the other side of the trade showing up on Unquiet Things here soon!


These two altar cloths were each knit up in the span of a day, another wonderfully satisfying little pattern by Caitlin Ffrench. I sent these to a longtime friend and purveyor of enchanted & esoteric perfumes, and hopefully they are sitting around in her laboratory, witnessing all kinds of sorcerous stinkery!


23421421_1017087681764733_8898084446649974784_n_medium2 Darla Ostara

Ostara by Caitlin Ffrench called for a much bulkier yarn and larger needles, but I knit it up with lace weight and sizes twos, just to see how it would come out. It doesn’t work for my purposes, but it’s beautiful, nonetheless, and a fairly simple, engaging pattern. In the meantime, I am knitting up several different version of this pattern–different yarn, needles, pattern modifications–so I’ll get the perfect shawl eventually! Subsequent versions of this shawl are all headed off to the same very special version, for a very special event, and I am hoping one will work. If not, that’s okay. I kind of foisted the idea on them anyway, and they don’t have to use it for this express purpose! They can use it for whatever. I just wanted to make something special for someone dear to me. This first test version, however, lives with an artist and photographer and amazingly creative mind who I admire tremendously. She snapped this bottom photo of the shawl for me– and this, too, is a small piece of art that blows my mind.



I closed out the year by knitting up another version of that Steam and Brass kerchief, simple stitches whilst watching Dark on netflix (which was excellent and you should watch it now if you have not already!) This was a trade with an incredible artist for which I received a most exquisite photo in exchange.

And that’s it! If you’re curious though, here are some things I plan on tackling in 2018:




The Magic Of Earth And Thread: Caitlin Ffrench


Textile artist and knitwear designer Caitlin Ffrench is an incredible inspiration for me and such a lovely human, as well. I am thrilled that our interview is up over at Haute Macabre this week, and I can’t wait for you to read it (You don’t even have to be a knitter to fall under her spell!)

Bonus material and behind the scenes peeks: In preparation for this piece I did a great deal of research…in the form of knitting up several of Caitlin’s patterns. What! That’s totally research, and I won’t hear differently. Each one of them worked up simply and smoothly, with no issues, but with enough detail to keep me interested and engaged. I can recommend her patterns without hesitation (and as I matter of fact, I am knitting another one right now!) I have included links to each of the ravelry pages if you are interested in creating any of these gorgeous knits yourself.

Currently {1.20.16}


Doing: attending birthday parties in public places –the idea of which which will never fail to freak me out because: people & conversation. However, I always forget that in this particular group there are also people like me who are similarly freaked out, which is great because misery (and anxious weirdos) love company. We always seem to find each other, and a corner to cozy into, cringing away from the crowd.  Look at this guy! It’s a Mexican Salamander, or Axolotyl. He is a cold-blooded, live-in friend of my corner-companion and her husband. These are the kinds of things we talk about.



Reading: Beautiful Darkness, a thoroughly charmingly illustrated graphic novel that is savage and unsettling and not at all what I expected.  Although I kind of figured out what I was in for by the second or third page.  Beauty, also illustrated by Kerascoet and is supposedly an “immersive”, “dark, feminist parable”; I’ll know more tonight, after I’ve settled in with it!  And lastly (well, not really lastly, I’ve got stacks and stacks of unread books) is Wylding Hall, by Elisabeth Hand.  Here’s the synopsis–doesn’t it sound dreamy?

“After the tragic and mysterious death of one of their founding members, the young musicians in a British acid-folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient country house with its own dark secrets. There they record the classic album that will make their reputation but at a terrifying cost, when Julian Blake, their lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again. Now, years later, each of the surviving musicians, their friends and lovers (including a psychic, a photographer, and the band s manager) meets with a young documentary filmmaker to tell his or her own version of what happened during that summer but whose story is the true one?”



Knitting: Terpsichore Street, by Romi Hill.  This pattern gave me extreme agita around this time last year, and I eventually called it quits and felt like a failure and moped about it for the next year. Well, this year I am attempting it again, and I am seeing that a great many of my issues are directly related to misreading the pattern, misinterpreting the instructions, and making assumptions that aren’t accurate.  So far progress is slow–we’re talking a glacial pace– but I am reading and re-reading and correcting myself every time I go astray. Except for a potentially huge mistake that I made at the beginning…but I think that’s only going to affect the size of the finished shawl, and I’m over that.  I’ll just give it to one of my tinier friends.  Problem solved!

Oh, and what’s that, you ask? Another book?  Yes, you caught me.  This one is Death’s Summer Coat by Brandy Schillace and touches on a subject close to my heart: death awareness and death acceptance.

“Death is something we all confront―it touches our families, our homes, our hearts. And yet we have grown used to denying its existence, treating it as an enemy to be beaten back with medical advances.

We are living at a unique point in human history. People are living longer than ever, yet the longer we live, the more taboo and alien our mortality becomes. Yet we, and our loved ones, still remain mortal. People today still struggle with this fact, as we have done throughout our entire history. What led us to this point? What drove us to sanitize death and make it foreign and unfamiliar?

Schillace shows how talking about death, and the rituals associated with it, can help provide answers. It also brings us closer together―conversation and community are just as important for living as for dying. Some of the stories are strikingly unfamiliar; others are far more familiar than you might suppose. But all reveal much about the present―and about ourselves.”


Listening: Daughter, Not To Disappear. I am happy to report that Daughter’s second album sounds very much like the first, which is to say: lush, beautiful sadness. Hushed, desolate dream-pop. Heartbreak and doom and gentle glooms.  Perfection.



Wearing: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Mother Ghost, from their Crimson Peak line {a cold, sheer white musk gleaming with black orchid, benzoin, labdanum, and blackened amber, and embraced by white rose, tea leaf, and vanilla flower.} This is a pearly, translucent delicate scent that reminds me very much of my lost (discontinued) love, the delicate, gauzy, Antique Lace.



Anticipating: The release of our Occult Activity Book! Co-conspirator Becky Munich and I have been working with several splendid several artists and writers to conjure forth this wicked little book …and for true believers we have concocted a Deluxe pack which includes the 24-page Occult Activity book, two 5×7 color prints and a sticker by contributing artist Casket Glass Studio .

We should have them available for purchase sometime in the beginning of February, but be forewarned! Only 250 of these marvels will be printed, so you’ll want to nab them while they are available on this plane of existence!


Bonus! Another one from the cutting room floor, from How To Wear A Séance over at Dirge. That dress is utterly killing me.



Shapeshifter shawl available from Morph Knitwear

Today over at Dirge Magazine I discuss my own personal “yarnomancy”, and the ritual connectedness of crafting by hand with Morph Knitwear’s Angela Thornton.

Bad-Ass Knitting Magic: Angela Thornton of Morph Knitwear

One of my favorite pieces from Morph Knitwear is the huge, open knit Shapeshifter shawl. (And come to think of it, I probably should add that to my winter uniform!) Curious as to how one might style this wooly behemoth?  I’ve a few suggestions for you, below. As always, click on the image to find more details on the items within each ensemble.




Bad-Ass Knitting Magic: Angela Thornton of Morph Knitwear


When I began knitting in the winter of 2005 as a means of keeping both warm and sane during a weird and terrible time in my life, I never dreamed I would come into contact with and eventually become part of such a diverse community. As I knit and purled away the hours, and eventually the years–in what I now refer to as “the shitty black abyss of Central New Jersey”–I was soothed by the slow magic of softly slipping each stitch from one needle to the next.

I came to think of this wooly sorcery, this stitchy witchcraft, as “yarnomancy.”  It provided a connectedness, sometimes quite literally, that I was sorely lacking in my life at that time. As I gave form to each new knit I crafted–connecting each stitch, one at a time–I tapped into a creative drive I didn’t know existed within me, and in my growing confidence, I connected with a community of like-minded people. These knitters, along with their craft, saved me.

One such knitter who believes in this ritual connectedness is Portland, Oregon-based designer Angela Thornton, of Morph Knitwear.

Designed for individuals who want to feel “powerful, mystical, and like a total bad ass,” Angela Thornton’s Morph Knitwear is an intensely personal endeavor melding artistry and utilitarianism to create handmade garments that challenge the traditional perception of knitwear, while retaining classic virtues of durability and timeless elegance. Her pieces are fashioned from a single strand of fiber, the process of creation “giving a unique connectedness to the fabric of each piece, a connectedness which allows the knit to give form to the emotional processes and explorations of its maker. “

We recently caught up with Angela after her completion of Morph Knitwear’s Sand and Storm collection and its corresponding editorial. Read on to learn more of this bad ass knitter’s unique vision and the magic that she weaves into each of her creations.

Angela Thornton. Photographer: Courtney Brooke Hall

Angela Thornton. Photographer: Courtney Brooke Hall

As a fellow knitter, I can’t help but to be immediately interested in how you came to knit in the first place. I think I read somewhere that you began knitting in 2010 or so, is that correct? And what prompted the desire to learn?

Angela Thornton: I actually began knitting as a little kid. I can’t recall who it was who taught me, but all of my grandmothers knit, as well as my mother, so it’s safe to say it was one of them. My earliest solid recollection of knitting a real project is with my grandmother–we would visit her in Minnesota in the summers and she would set us kids up with a ball of cotton each and some old plastic needles to have us knit dishcloths for her kitchen. I loved that kind of project when I was younger: fast, and satisfying. I casually knit through high school (especially after I had seen Rodarte’s knit tights from their F/W ’08 collection), but then didn’t touch a pair of needles again until I was living in Germany in the summer of 2010. Through that summer and fall I re-learned the basics and then that winter I got bored with what everyone else was knitting and began designing my own patterns.


What was the catalyst behind launching Morph knitwear? What was/is your vision for the brand? How would you describe your brand, the essence of Morph Knitwear?

The catalyst behind launching Morph Knitwear was really experimental, and a direct result of beginning to design my own patterns. I decided as a personal challenge to try to create pieces that were cohesive, and as I did so I also thought, “hey, fuck it, why don’t I try to sell this online?” I was actually really surprised when things sold! I took that, coupled with my immense creative satisfaction as signs to keep at it, and I think I’ve essentially kept it very true to me, and to what I see the brand to be–evolutionary, textural, and created with integrity of design, method of production, and ethics. My vision for Morph Knitwear is and has been essentially the same since my experimental launch: to create clothing that I want to wear, made using ancestral techniques in a non-exploitative manner. Morph Knitwear has definitely become more refined as I have honed in on my own personal style and simultaneously grown in my technical ability, but essentially it is born of the same concept-to create because I cannot fathom not creating, and in doing so, bringing awareness back to mindless material consumption.


I have read your remark that the things you make are really just an extension of yourself. How would you describe your personal style? How does that inspire and influence the designs you create? As a further to that, tell me about the type of people that you envision wearing your pieces.

They really are! Not only because I make each piece by hand, so while in the process the pieces are physically extending from my body, but in a more liminal sense as well. Everything I make comes from somewhere in my head, from the need of somehow being able to express myself. I’ve always used what I wear as a direct method of self-expression, so naturally I feel the need to create things that can be worn as such. My own personal style has evolved and solidified over the years, and at this point is basically an armor of black. I value tactile quality and timeless shape in the clothing I wear, as well as integrity in its method of creation. I envision people who are self defined, strong willed, tender, and unique as the wearers of my creations.

Do you wear your own knits? What are some key pieces that you can’t live without?

I do wear my own pieces, though not as many as one would expect! That being said I absolutely can’t go without my merino wool vest or the newer pieces I’ve designed for Sisters of the Black Moon (the Haze sweater in particular) once the temperatures drop. I also wear a lot of my lighter weight dresses in summer, so perhaps upon reflection I do wear more of my work than I think!


How long does it take you to design a knit? And how often is one of your creations knit by hand, as opposed to a knitting machine? I’m assuming that there is an entirely different kind of pattern for hand-knit vs. machine knit? Do you have a team, or are you a one-woman operation?

The length of time it takes to design something is completely arbitrary. Sometimes I won’t even make a sketch of a piece, I’ll have such a clear vision of what I want it to be that I just get working and bust it out. Sometimes, though, a piece can take me weeks to make and remake in order for it to be right. That process holds true for both machine and hand knitting, though the actual pattern writing process is different between the two. For each collection I usually do about 60% of the pieces on the machines, and 40% handknit, though it really just depends on the end product I want to make–handknitting is ideal for some, and machine knitting for others. At this moment I have one amazing intern who helps with production, but other than that Morph Knitwear is a one-woman operation!


That brings me to my next question; I know you have made a few of your patterns available for intrepid knitters who may want to bring one of your creations to life for themselves, with their own hands. How do you choose which patterns to release for this purpose? Many knitwear designers eventually release a book of patterns–is this something that interests you at all?

The patterns I’ve chosen to release are generally archived pieces that I am no longer producing, though honestly several of them have been popular designs that I just got sick of knitting myself! (Re)writing patterns to be readable to the general public is such a time-consuming job for me that I don’t see myself releasing a book of them anytime soon, but I think if I ever have the spare moments I will try to release several more of my archived pieces to Ravelry. And who knows the future? A book might happen sometime!


Your previous collections–Infinite Abyss; Behemoth; Blood, Ash and Bone–these all conjure wonderfully dark, gritty, fierce, primal imagery. Can you talk a bit about the inspirations for these collections, and what we might expect from future collections?

I think the inspiration for the collection names (as well as the collections themselves) all come from a place of wanting to imbue my creations with those aspects. I want to create pieces that express a deep, dark, primal ferocity, a connection to the old while being a clean slate for the new. I want the people who wear my pieces to feel the fierce, animal beauty and power of natural fibers, the human magic and intent woven into each piece. I want the clothing I create to simultaneously be a shield and a proclamation of self. The places I find myself most shielded and most myself are in shadows and mystery and the cycle of light from darkness. I simply try to create worlds reflective of these feelings through each of my collections.

Find Morph Knitwear: Website | Instagram | Facebook Twitter

(This interview was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

15 things I knit in 2015


Photo credit: Annie Stephens (not actually knit in 2015)

2015 was, I’m afraid, the year of several knitting failures.  At the tail end of 2014 I finished my most ambitious project to date, and for whatever reason, it’s been downhill ever since then.  Fearing I would never be able to surpass that glorious achievement, I should have begun ramping up my skill levels by practicing and mastering new techniques; instead, I slowed down and went back to basics. Back to the beginning. 2015 was the year of a lot of socks and scarves, with the occasional simple shawl or cowl thrown in to keep things interesting.


Pattern: Spiral Cowl. Mostly knit in Portland and the picot edging was a pain…but it was so lovely when finished.  Unfortunately this was lost in the mail and never reached it’s intended recipient.  Major sad face.



Bitteroot.  This pattern is an old friend, which I return to visit and re-work every few years. Sent to a lady who assures me she wears it as a personal talisman.



A basic entrelac scarf.  My first foray into entrelac knitting, which, as it turns out, is not so difficult.  Sent to a brilliant lady in the midwest who shares my intense love of perfumes.



Pattern: Boneyard shawl. Knit up with the remnants of some rustic yarn from Finland. Gifted to a generous, thoughtful woman who is also a cemetery ghost.



The pattern is Rose Red, but I’ve been calling it Strawberry Gothcake, because it looks like a little beret that Strawberry Shortcake’s gothiest gang member would wear.  Sent away to a witchy friend on the other side of the world.



I also forget the name of the pattern for this blurry cowl. (Edit: it’s Ilean)  Send away to the aforementioned perfumed lady.



Pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks. Sent away to a friend whose lovely hair reminded me of these mermaid colors.



Entrelac scarf, take two. Knitted for BGF, who was so taken with the first version and the plummy violet of the yarn.



Froot Loop socks in the most technicolor shade. Given away to an exquisite harpy who is half woman, half hair, all awesome.



I knit several pairs of these Dashing Mitts this year. One was lost in the black void along with the cowl above, one now keeps a friend up North safe and warm, and I have no idea wear the last pair ended up. Maybe I only knit two. Hm.



The Iris wrap, knit for a sweet lady whom I would love to join for tea and cocktails and foggy strolls one day.



The Lonely Tree shawl, which is now keeping my favorite deathly librarian warm.



The Steinerscarf, an actual requested knit, and a joy to make.


A simple lace wrap, Shine; the first thing I’ve made for myself in a very long time and the last thing I knit in 2015 – with two minutes to spare.

this, that, and the other thing (xiv)

A small list of amusements and delights and wonders from around the internet over the past few weeks.

How To Grow A Black Garden over at The Live Box Magazine.


Future travels include transporting myself into every one of Didier Massard’s photographs.


Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place is now on Hulu!  I heard about this weirdness a few months back and never bothered to look into it, but now it’s just too easy.


Ukraine-based designer Anna Mo creates super chunky cozy knit blankets, hats, scarves and other accessories that you can find in her Etsy shop called Ohhio. Each piece is handmade using 100% Australian merino wool. Beautiful!

An interview with one of my favorite artists and talented friend, Carisa Swenson over at Rooms Magazine, about her work and process.


Dream-land (ca. 1883), an etching by S.J. Ferris after a painting by C.D. Weldon

The Art of Dreams, via The Public Domain Review



I’m a little bit addicted to this tee shirt app

Here’s to giving up, by Alice Lee “Here’s to celebrating the work that was done instead of constantly worrying about what is to come. I am really bad at that and I would like to get better, if only because thinking the things you spend your life working on lose value ten minutes after they are released is also no way to live.” <—Amen to that!

In Praise of Darkness: Henry Beston on How the Beauty of Night Nourishes the Human Spirit, over at Brain Pickings.

How To Be A Lady In The Streets And A Haunted Clock Tower In The Sheets
“Your bed is nothing if it’s not buzzing with high-pitched screeches that seem to be coming from NOWHERE … yet also from EVERYWHERE. Bonus points if you can open up a mysterious time portal and get some screams from the past in there, too! SpOoOoOoky!” (h/t to Jack, Jennifer, my beardo and everyone else to shared this with me!)

My favorite thing right now is Nihilist Arbys on twitter

Purify Your System With The Seven Day Chili Dog Cleanse over at McSweeney’s




Post cards from the Abyss

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.

Earlier this year I wrapped up my most ambitious knitting project to date.  Unfortunately, since that time everything I have touched has been an absolute disaster.  I have scrapped not just one or two, but three projects because I either could not understand the pattern (which I find incredibly humiliating) or because I have stalled due to some mistake and no matter how many times I rework it, something is still wrong.  It’s all been very disheartening and discouraging.  I am not someone who has to deal with depression issues (though my counselor sister would tell me I’ve had some sort of low-grade depression my entire life), but this situation has really thrown me for a loop and it’s about as close to depression as I get.  I sort of feel like that  shawl was the best I was capable of and it is all downhill from there. What’s the point? &Etc.

I can almost hear people rolling their eyes about this “problem”, but knitting is the one thing I am good at.  And I feel good, knowing that I am good at it.  And lately, well, I’ve not been good at it at all, which makes me feel like a giant loser and kind of like I’ve got nothing to offer the world and I might as well give up on everything, lock myself in my house, crawl into bed and do nothing but eat honey mustard & onion pretzels and sleep for the rest of my life.

Is that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard?  I bet it’s close.

I’m not sure what other folks do when they feel as though they are failing at everything they attempt, but I’ve found that going back to the beginning, starting over with the simplest steps – that’s a good place to be when you are feeling you are the lousiest at things.  And even if you don’t wind up with ground breaking results, you’ve gotten yourself back into the rhythm of an activity you enjoy and you remember all of the reasons you love it in the first place.

I know it might sound a little silly, but those tiny stitches combined with that intricate pattern really takes a toll on a body – both physical and mental. After finishing it, I had been looking for more and more complex patterns to tackle, and maybe what I should have done after completing such a challenging venture was uncramp my knotted fingers, unhunch my twisted back, and relax into the mindless slide and slip of stitches between the needles – something simple, and quick, and that hardly requires a pattern.

In taking my own advice (for once) and doing just that, I bound off the last stitch on the Boneyard shawl yesterday.  Just a simple triangle shawl with some ridges for visual interest, knit up in a lovely rustic yarn that a dear friend brought back from Finland a few years ago – and it’s flawed, don’t get me wrong…  I was three-quarters of the way through before I realized I missed a crucial bit of the instructions and had to start all over again, and then on top of that I didn’t have very much of the yarn left to begin with, so it’s made a rather dainty sized shawl.

But honestly, I don’t care about any of that.  I finally finished something again. I didn’t stop.  I didn’t give up.  Well, I guess I did give up on those other three patterns but I imagine I will revisit them in time. But I didn’t give up on the concept of knitting as a whole, as something I fill my time with, and something that I enjoy immensely. And it’s made me realize the reason that I love knitting so much, and why I might just actually be good at it.  It is the one thing I always go back to, that for whatever reason, I have found that even if I fail over and over and over again, I don’t want to give it up.  I can’t.

I love it because it is something that I can’t not do.  (And coming from one of the most apathetic people on the planet, there is a great deal of importance in that statement.)  I deeply treasure this ability which I cultivated – on my own with no help at all – and it has become so much a part of who I am that it’s little wonder I was so upset a few weeks ago when I was failing endlessly.  I wasn’t just screwing up a knitting pattern, I was having an identity crisis!

This is all very rambling, and probably not at all interesting to people who don’t knit (and barely, I’m sure, to even those who do).  I suppose I was feeling down and wanted to write about it and share and ask for feedback.  What do you do to get back on track with your crafty endeavors when you have a setback?  How do you keep yourself motivated when your results are less than you’d hoped for?  And what are you all working on right now, anyhow?  Talk to me about your successes and failures and how you move forward to do more.


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