Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I have many thoughts. Some are more coherent than others. I've been wanting to post about my Meniere's in general and my hearing loss specifically. I also want to post about having been a social outcast in the past and how it impacts my relationships and reactions to day to day living, since I've had some serious trouble with that of late. I end up coming here and thinking, though, why bother, and I post some pretty knitting photos or pictures of the cat or some yarn that I've spun and I'm done with it.

Is it laziness? Maybe. Is it not wanting to put too much of myself out there? Maybe. I'm not terribly concerned with being all private-like, I'm pretty much an open book. I think part of it is I'm still not used to this computer and typing on it can be a pain in the ass. But it makes up for it in other ways, like the ability to take it into my craft room and watch videos while I spin.

So in the meantime, some pictures.

I'm making a sweater, called Warriston. I have a lot more than this done but this is the most recent photo. The pattern is pretty brilliant. It has pockets!
I'm actually almost ten inches into the 17 inches of body I need to knit before dividing for the sleeves so it's going pretty fast.

I'm spinning too.
Photo on 2-19-12 at 5.15 PM
This is a lovely gradient BFL/Silk blend from Corgi Hill farm that is going to be a Tuscan Sunflower Shawl.

Biscuit and Biddy are kinda getting along better. Biddy loves the heater vent in the bathroom and so does Biscuit, so it leads to the occasional uneasy truce.

I have a new doggie sister, Daisy, a four year old terrier mix.
She seems pretty sweet.

And I got a new spindle. It was sparkly. It isn't a high precision instrument, but it is very pretty. It spins fast, but not long.P2181456

When we redid the craft room, we decided to use the old shoe caddy (which did not work for my shoes because my feet are too big) for miscellaneous storage. It ended up holding all the spindles easily, and some other stuff besides.

And this is the last pair of socks I made for myself, a month or so ago. I really like them, but the yarn seems to be fading fast. Shame. I loved the colors.

And today is my lovely daughter Lena's 28th birthday. Holy cow. Where does the time go?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Morning post

So, with this shiny new crafting space, I've been spinning a bit every day.

This one was a bit of a disappointment. There were some unexpected colors hidden inside the batt, and they combined in some unexpected ways.

I have had similar things happen in the past and oddly, most of the time I end up liking the object that the yarn is made of in the end just fine. So I will remain optimistic. 517 yards of a lace weight two ply.

This one is fiber made from Feistywoman Designs sock batts. Her fiber is a joy to spin, always. It ended up a little short on yardage but it's a sport weight yarn so it should work out fine for thicker socks. 325 yards of sport weight three ply.


Here's the room, by the way.


It's easy to go in there with my laptop and a couple of DVDs and spin and enjoy the bright daylight and clean surroundings. I could use a more comfortable spinning chair but it is good in a way because it keeps me from sitting in one place too long.


I did get better photos of the rainbow shawl and they're on the flickr feed if you want to see more. I'm rather fond of this one.

In other news, Biscuit now has his own Facebook page. What is this world coming to?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

I love rainbows


Ever since I saw this on Ravelry, I have wanted to knit it. I found the perfect yarn in Aade Long, a rustic yet vibrant yarn from Estonia. The pattern scared me. It was a written out, not charted pattern and I prefer working from charts. It was a lot of pages and no pictures. There was grafting. Many of the projects on the pattern page were listed as "ZZZ" meaning they'd been asleep with no progress for a long time. Many others were listed as "frogged", which meant the knitters had given up. But there were many more that were finished and man, some of them were impressive.

So, when the first of the year rolled around, I thought "why not?" I caked the yarn and cast on. And less than a month later, it's done.

Nice yarn cake, isn't it?

It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. First, the center circle and the two wings are knitted.
The pattern is fairly straightforward once you get the beginning done. It's intuitive and I don't' think a chart would have been especially helpful. The hardest part was attaching the border to the top of the circle section. It took me hours and about five times tinking it back and starting over to wrap my head around the process. But eventually, it clicked.

The wings are then grafted on to the center, the bottom of it is "leveled" by adding the triangular sections and several rows, then the border begins.

The border was pretty tedious, there are 86 of the "feathers" and each one is 23-26 stitches, ten rows. That took about a week.


I was determined to see it through and I stayed project-monogamous so the whole thing took 30 days. Much less than I thought it would, considering I have a couple of projects that have been lingering for a year and more.

It's my favorite knitted thing so far. I can't stop picking the faults apart but I still love it.

I wore it twice this week and I got many comments, some from total strangers in the street. Kind of embarrassing. But neat.

I tried to take more photos of it but it's snowing just enough to distract the camera. And too cold out there to stay long. I'm sure more will turn up on my flickr sooner or later.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Saying goodbye to a Pittsburgh icon.

The Civic Arena in Pittsburgh opened for business the same year I was born. My contemporary, it was a wonder of technology, a marvel of architecture, and an iconic midcentury monument. Atomic Age style at its best.

When the Civic Arena was built, it was controversial. The Hill District in Pittsburgh was a vibrant community, the only neighborhood directly linked to Downtown Pittsburgh. The Arena cut off that connection, a neat excision of one of Pittsburgh’s largest African American populations. I was too young to be aware of the impact of this excision. Already suffering the long term effects of Pittsburgh’s slowing economy, the Hill neighborhood suffered a great deal, both monetarily and emotionally. 1500 families and 400 businesses were dislocated. It never really recovered. One need only see the early 50s photos by Teenie Harris and compare them with the Hill in the 70s, 80s, and today. Not all attributable to the Arena, of course, but it had a huge negative impact. And the conflict is not over-Hill residents are being largely ignored in the redevelopment talks.

But still. What a building it is.

Designed by the architectural firm of Mitchell and Ritchey, the design was overseen by modernist architect William H Sippel, who died in 2007, living long enough to plead for the preservation of the building. The shape alone was breathtaking. Enormous yet graceful, the concept of the moveable cantilevered dome was inspired by Dahlen Ritchey’s (Of Mitchell and Richey) visits to Fallingwater during construction. Edgar Kaufmann, the owner of Fallingwater, had Ritchey come out and check up on Frank Lloyd Wright’s design, as he had concerns about the design. Edgar Kaufmann went on to donate the money to build the arena, originally for Pittsburgh’s Civil Light Opera.

It wasn’t a great venue for acoustic music. The cavernous dome ate up sound. It turned out to be great for amplified concerts, though, as well as large sporting events, political rallies, Hollywood films, and religious revivals.

There are tons of lists of events, but I want to talk about some of the ones that I went to. My first rock concert, Grand Funk Railroad in 1974. The Ice Capades, more than once. The circus. The Pittsburgh Folk Festival, with endless ethnic variety of food, display, and performance. Parliament Funkadelic with Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder with opening act Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1979, Marley’s final tour. Pittsburgh Penguins games, mostly in the bad years. The filming of The Fish Who Saved Pittsburgh, where we had to move from one side of the arena to the other for crowd scenes because there weren’t enough people there. So many good memories. The sight of the arena glinting in the evening sun, or a sunrise seen from the Hill behind the arena, goosebumps come up just thinking about it. And behind it, all the way to the top of the Hill, all the way to Oakland, decline. Sadness, grief, a weary desolation I was too young, too white, too privileged to really understand.

The Civic Arena stopped meeting the needs of the Penguins, the primary occupant, in the mid-2000’s. The die was cast and it was only a matter of time. There’s been some debate the last few years, a few determined allies wanting to preserve this historic example of modernist architecture, all for naught. Too big a space to stay vacant, too much to maintain to keep as is. It had seen better days, the amazing roof last opened in 1993, a lack of maintenance on the mechanism and the age and expense of keeping it running was too much.

So we say goodbye. The building is stubborn. The demolition teams are having some pretty serious difficulties. Like me, it was made to last. I will miss it, and it will always be part of what made me who I am, but it will be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does with those 94 acres at the edge of downtown. I can only hope they use it to heal.

(This video contains dated information but some great images. The sense of hope kind of makes me sad.)