i wrote my first book! well, kinda

this semester, i’m taking a book binding class. so the omniscient art school question of “what is art?” is slightly augmented to “what is a book?” in this case, a book is an altoid tin. this is my second project for the class. i’ve bound quite a few books before, but nothing like this. i began with my “creature on my head” hat from last winter. i wrote out a (very quick) pattern, made a woodblock that was patterned to look like the front side stockinette stitch, hand-set a title page on the letterpress, and asked a friend to sketch me a cover. put this all together, and here’s what you get:

front cover:
front cover

back cover:
back cover

vellum sleeve:
vellum sleeve

first page:
first page

you get the idea. inside is a bunch of teeny tiny text.

i’m surprisingly pleased with the way this worked out. i wanted it to look the way you’d expect when you open up an altoid tin, so i stitched in that trifold vellum sheet. it also helps because when you pull up the edges it allows the whole book to kind of pop out of the tin so you can fully turn all the pages without bending them. i patterned the vellum by running it through an etching press on the woodblock, and then once it dried i put it through the letterpress with the title. the book was made in InDesign and pamphlet stitched with acrylic yarn and tied in a bow.

i think its cute! i’m thinking maybe if i clean up the pattern a bit (or find some test knitters) i can sell hard copies of the pattern like this instead of generic PDF’s. thoughts?


so busy!

wow, this semester has been so crazy busy. wordpress has implemented an entirely new interface since i last posted, that can’t be a good sign. aside from taking 5 classes, i’ve been busy with two jobs and a hungry hubby.

well, i left my fantastic dream yarn store job in the hopes of finally settling into this new place (it’s been almost a year! oops)… the school year is over (although summer classes aren’t)… and the hubby is still hungry. so now that i have a tiny bit of free time, i want to catch up the past 6 months’ projects and some brainstorming for the future. dunno if i’m still on anyone’s RSS but i sure hope everyone hasn’t forgotten me!

i’ll start with a fun project from mid-semester. i had an assignment for my 3D-printmaking class to somehow integrate a RP (rapid prototyping) machine in a project. if you don’t know what a RP machine is, it’s basically a printer with a big 3D printbed that prints 3D computer files from Maya or similar programs. it prints nearly flat layers of powder until it builds up into your form. the printer uses a light glue solution to get the layers to hold together, and then the forms are extrated sort of like an archeological dig. the final product is a brittle white (or lightly colored, depending on your computer file) powdery object which is usually “infiltrated” (hardened) with superglue or zap-a-gap.

for the class, our final product could be the RP model (it could be a scale model for something, an art piece, or it could be painted or changed in some way) or it could just be somehow related to the model. i remembered some gummi venus de milo replicas and decided i wanted to try my hand at mouldmaking. even better, i wanted to try mouldmaking with gelatin.
disclaimer: if you don’t want to read crazy details, just scroll through the pictures. they’re purrty. the reason for the huge amount of text is that when i was working on it, i could hardly find any information on mouldmaking with gelatin or mouldmaking with an RP model. hopefully this can help someone.

it was a really hard process, especially considering the learning curve with a really complicated computer program and all the issues that the RP machine can have (obviously, every form you complete on a computer screen can’t necessarily exist in real life). this was the first prototype. i printed out a handful of novelty diamond rings with small sprue cylinders at the top, then infiltrated it with plain superglue. the picture is pre-infiltration– you can see how powdery the texture is. i also included the ring i was wearing for size comparison.  i ordered a set of food-grade liquid silicone and a jar of release dit from cuilinart. the first try was a total disaster. i realized that making the whole object and not a half was going to make it really hard to get an exact 2-piece mould. because of the shape, the pieces had to be totally independent so that the ring could pop out at the end. i tried setting the model in modelling clay in a jewelry box but it was awful and lumpy and the mould stuck to the clay. ick.

the second time was a charm– i did all the hard precision work on Maya. i cut the ring down the middle and made it a little box to sit in. i changed it to have two conical sprues instead of the one that definitely turned out too small. and then i flipped the diamond part so, together, i would have one full ring. i infiltrated them, covered them in release dit, and made three moulds using the liquid silicone. the photo shows them infiltrated– you can see how they’re darker and shinier. you can also see the color issues i had– random parts came out white while others printed a gray color. not important for this project, but when you consider the expense of this it really is something they should have worked out. the second picture is the mould with the silicone poured in– perfect precision. i did a shallow coat first with a paintbrush to get the details and then poured the rest.

here are the final moulds. it made it really helpful to have multiples so that the gelatin didn’t cool off while the first ring was setting. i used pieces of balsa wood cut to size and some big rubber bands to hold the two pieces in place. i know i didn’t notch them to fit together but, honestly, that was beyond my 3D programming ability. in the end, i could just tell when they were matched up based off the top and bottom openings.

i didn’t take any photos of the actual process (mostly because i was covered in gelatin) but i used a recipe i found online for gummy bears with a little extra gelatin to make it really stiff (i was afraid the heavy “diamond” on top would sag if it was the consistency of gummy bears). i used only disposable tools that i had bought for the sole purpose of this project. even though it’s all food-based, it really doesn’t come off anything and could really make a big mess if it melted all over your silverware in the dishwasher. in order to get the gelatin into the moulds, i used a ketchup squirter bottle that i found at a hardware store. i put a plastic plate in the fridge and let each ring set in the mould for a few minutes. then i popped them out of the mould and let them set for a bit longer.

here is the final product. there were some rough edges that i had to cut off with an xacto knife. i used two different flavors of jello for coloring and mixed the two together for the third color. i also added powdered lemonade for flavoring, even though the addition of extra unflavored gelatin made the consistency inedible. but they actually did fit! they looked perfect and the diamonds stood up and didn’t sag.

this was how i presented it– each in an individual baggie, inside a vending machine acorn. the glass bowl was supposed to evoke the feeling of the top of a gumball machine, although it was a last minute purchase and i really wasn’t happy with it. turns out they sell plastic half-domes at canal plastics (on canal and mercer)– if only i knew. regardless of the silly pyrex bowl, the presentation went over really well. i gave out the rings and nearly everyone took one. some people even ate them after i warned them otherwise.

whew, that was a long first post back. and kind of dry too. it was just a really technical process and i figured people could probably use parts of it for their own projects. it ended up being a lot of fun and really gratifying.

coming up soon– lots of knit stuff, lots of sewn stuff, and some more printmaking. i promise! happy summer, everyone!

new pattern!

that’s right– the pattern kit for my new Helmet Hat is available exclusively through String Yarns. and the kit is 45% off right now so if its as cold where you are as it is here in nyc, now is the time to get yourself a new cashmere hat.

here’s the info:

materials: (the kit contains only pattern and yarn– not needles or accessories)

-4 skeins of rowan cashmere tweed (90% cashmere/10% silk, 60 yds, 25g)

-US size 9 16″ circular needle and  DPNs or size needed to obtain gauge

-four stitch markers in contrasting colors

-tapestry needle


16 sts/4″ in stockinette stitch

there have been requests for a baby version so that may very well be up next!

by the way, this pattern is available only with purchase of yarn from String. i won’t be selling it or distributing it independently of them.

oh. and while i’m here i might as well add some info from the last post.

-the first gloves/hat are a new set for the DH– the gloves say “live free” across the knuckles and have outlines of porcupines on the tops, a la the free state project. they’re knit in Prism Merino Mia on size US 1 and 2’s. the matching hat is made with Prism Symphony and has “ama-gi” embroidered on the back in sanskrit.

-the panta headband is knit in Trendsetter Handspun Cashmere in an alteration of the drops pattern.  i just went until i ran out of yarn, so it’s smaller than the original.

-the slouchy hat was just a quick top-down knit, to see how far a skein of Ella Rae Extrafine Heathers would go. turns out… not far enough to make a decently sized hat. so i added another color. it’s just a basic, roll-up brim slouchy hat.

that’s about it. i’ve got some more stuff in the works but at least for now… gotta run to class. sigh.

oh my god! how could you?

dean and creature

everyone, meet dean nomerus dinonurhead tynomosaurus hug the wraptor piggy back buddy II. dean nomerus for short. he was born just a week ago but has already found a love interest in his roommate. i’m not sure which one is the girl but i suppose it’s fine by me.

how could i say no to that face?

dean nomerus

he’s all caron simply soft, size 6 needles. his teeth and spikes are double knit. i wrote up a pattern as i was making him but i think it’s too complicated to actually release. he is freaking adorable though (if i do say so myself)

dean nomerus

FO: late to the bandwagon clapotis


Pattern: clapotis by kate gilbert
Source: knitty fall 2004
Yarn: sweet sheep superwash merino, appx. 800 yds
Needles: US Size 4
Started: May 12, 2008
Finished: July 21, 2008clapotis

the other day, i ordered some yarn from webs for the hemlock ring blanket. but i decided that before i can start it, i have to finish something else. i don’t really know how it happened, but within two days i had made so much progress on the clap that it is now 8 feet long. let me just say, an 8 foot long scarf on size 4 needles is something i never expected to accomplish. but it actually didn’t take that long– maybe 2 months total, including many weeks when i didn’t even look at it. the yarn is from the knitters’ frolic and was absolutely inspiring.it even softened up when i soaked it. i can’t get the colour accurate in the photos, just take my word for it– it’s beautiful.


yay. so, um, anyway… hemlock ring blanket… will be my first blanket, which i’m pretty excited about. but i won’t be getting the yarn until mid-august when we move back to NY, so until then i have to find something to keep my needles clicking.


last– “giftable” double knit earflap hat

Pattern: double knit earflap hats
Yarn: malabrigo worsted in VAA 51 and water green 83
Needles: US Size 4, 5
Started: July 1, 2008
Finished: July 14, 2008

i modified the gauge of the original pattern, i might write up a variation or something (any yarn, any gauge type of thing)– but for right now i’m totally burnt out on hats. this one is soo nice and smooshy though.

now– lace scarf

Pattern: easy flame lace scarf by wendy bernard
Source: knit and tonic
Yarn: malabrigo lace in burgundy 41
Needles: US Size 5
Started: July 14, 2008

i bought this malabrigo lace at the WEBS tent sale, thinking it would be for the curved shawl by jane sowerby. which is completely dumb of me because that shawl, and just about everything in that whole book, takes about 1000 yards. i spent a long time looking for something that only needed one hank of malabrigo lace (swallowtail was at the top of the list but i didn’t really feel like knitting that again, plus it’s not my style). eventually the other day i found this scarf. it’s perfect! very basic, but cute, and works really well with the yarn. i’ve done 7 repeats so far, and i’m hoping to finish it by the end of the week. if i can stop petting it enough to knit

next– hemlock ring
Pattern: hemlock ring blanket by jared flood
Source: brooklyn tweed
Yarn: ???

i reallllly want to make this, but i have SO much yarn and none of it is right. i packed it all yesterday– but first i photographed it and completely organized my ravelry stash (!!!)– but nothing fits the pattern. romni is having a pretty decent sale right now, but i know anything i buy here on sale will still be cheaper when we get back to NY next month, so i think i’m going to hold off. sighhhh

i’m selling some “got a light?” earrings on my etsy. check it out of you’re interested.