everything is going to be OK

here’s another obscure technique to add to the list: linoleum woodblock printing with a laser etching machine. as it turns out, with a little trial-and-error, technology actually may be a great companion to the ancient practice of printmaking. and while laser etching on to a piece of plexi and using it as an intaglio plate is very much possible, it involves a lot more machinery and expensive materials than the good old wood cut.

if you’ve done woodblock printing before, you know that you begin with a piece of material (wood, or in this case, linoleum) and carve away your design, with the non-carved areas (high points) being what will print. this works well for hand-drawn designs, but for precision, even a steady hand can sometimes cut away too much or make an uneven line. so last semester, i sent out some unmounted easy-cut lino and some very precise computer files to see what kind of detail was possible with the laser machine. i chose to keep with my OK Soda theme, since a big part of the aesthetic of the brand was the clean-cut, industrial text and the layering of multiple images (that is, it had to be exact but would be hard to do with a silkscreen unless i wanted to make a ton of different screens with the appearance of randomness).

so i digitally recreated a bunch of logos (each a few inches wide) and lines of small text (1/2 cm to 1cm in height) from the sides of various cans and sent them off. the laser machine will only etch so deep, and it’s not deep enough. it gets the detail lines really well (see the text on the lino– on some of them, it’s only 5 millimeters tall!), but for large gaps, the roller will dip into the open space and leave you a big mess. below are my final blocks, after being used about a million times (sorry about the grime). you’ll see that i had to go in with hand tools and x-acto knives on all of them to deepen the carvings. that being said, all the exact work was done for me. for contrast, the block of the hand holding a barcode was carved entirely by hand. printing was relatively easy, i just used the stamping method. to make sure every detail printed, i used the back of a wooden spoon to press over the whole stamp before removing it. i tested it on scrap white fabric and then moved on to my t-shirts and then, the symbol of the OK era, the flannel shirt.

text: (seriously. zoom in on this one. 11 megapixels of goodness– the thumbnail doesn’t do it justice)

logo block:


hand with barcode: (hand cut)

why OK Soda? the short story is that it was a fruity soda that Coke released and marketed toward Gen-X’ers (grunge kids) in the early 90’s. their marketing focused on being the indifferent choice and, as you could imagine, they failed miserably at marketing to the unmarketable. the failure of the soda was so epic that the soda never left its test markets and it was soon forgotten. but, nearly 20 years later, fan groups are popping up on the internet and vintage soda cans are selling on ebay. so now, the chronically overmarketed soda which is no longer in existence once again has demand because of its lack of availability. sounds like the paradox of an artist and his art, eh? (that is, that an artists work is never appreciated until he or she is dead).

oh, also i really like the art from the cans. i kind of just wanted merchandise of a brand that never made merchandise (but if it had, nobody would have worn it).

ok, enough typing! here are the final shirts (click to zoom):

inspired by the overlapping logo design here:
(printed on the side of a flannel shirt)

(and on the top and shoulder of a women’s t-shirt)

inspired by the OK-ness of plaid (just following the horizontal and vertical lines):
(on the front pockets of a flannel shirt)

(framing the “OK” logo on the bottom corner of a t-shirt)

(slightly harder to see– hand with barcode on the back of a flannel shirt, framed by plaid patterned text. the hand was taken from this can)

my printing got really sloppy toward the end (especially visible on the 2nd to last one). i was trying to make a deadline on very little sleep and just gave up wearing gloves– my ink-covered fingers were all over the shirts, as were the dirty edges of the blocks. i guess you’ll just have to trust me that printing these is a total dream.

that’s all for now. i promise sometime soon there will be a post about knitting! i’m finally making progress on a bunch of WIP’s and i have a few little FO’s to share. but in the mean time, here are a few of my photos of the 4th of july fireworks this past weekend in NYC. we had an amazing view from the roof. hope you like them 🙂

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!

home! part 2– yarn purchases and FO’s

holy god, it’s been awhile since i posted about knitting. well, hopefully this post will make up for it.

endpaper mitts

FO: baby’s first endpapers
Pattern: eunny jang’s endpaper mitts
Yarn: j. knits superwash me sock in providence and bristol yarn gallery buckingham in natural
Needles: US Size 0 and 1
Started: April 2, 2008
Finished: May 1, 2008

endpaper mitts

i mentioned that i’d finished these, and on saturday i finally got a chance to take some photos. i love the way these turned out, and it’s actually given me a new curiosity about small gauge knitting. it’s so much easier on your wrists and shoulders! i gave these mitts fingers because i couldn’t imagine a time that i’d want wool gloves without fingers (either it’s cold out or it isn’t… and in toronto it’s much more likely to be the former). i also cast on using TECHknitter’s genius provisional tail method of 1×1 tubular cast on. i made the wrist extremely small (about 5″ around, unstretched) and then increased more often during the thumb gusset so that it measures about 6″ around the palm. this way, they fit me “like a glove” (for lack of less lame expression). anyways, i love them, and i’m sure they’ll get a lot of use when (god forbid) the weather begins to cool off again.

endpaper mitts

my only complaint was the j. knits yarn. the colourway is absolutely gorgeous, but while i was knitting it made me sort of sneezy and itchy. DH, who’s more sensitive to wool than i am, had to leave the room while i skeined it. after i finished knitting, i washed them thoroughly before blocking and they didn’t give me any more trouble. i assume this is a personal allergy and not a flaw with the yarn, but i don’t think i’ll buy it again for this reason.

one hour camera cozy

FO: 1-hour camera cozy
Pattern: none
Yarn: berroco comfort
Needles: machine knit
Started: May 3, 2008
Finished: May 3, 2008

saturday morning i opened the new digital camera and used my endpaper mitt as a case. which worked fine, except that it was cold and i probably should have been wearing the gloves. when i got home, i noticed my old knitting machine and decided to play around with some of my new yarn. an hour later, i was seaming and adding buttons. i really like the case despite how basic it is, and i hope i get to play around with the machine again in the future (it was too big to take home on the plane)

one hour camera cozy

i absolutely loved working with this yarn. i took a total leap of faith making my first online yarn order with WEBS and berroco comfort was everything i was hoping for.

speaking of that WEBS order, here it is in full:

berroco comfort

berroco comfort. i LOVE this yarn– it’s my new favourite acrylic (sorry caron simply soft!). the gauge is slightly larger and it has a stretchiness and sheen that i haven’t seen before. i don’t even know what to make with this. i just want to wrap up in it. maybe a bainbridge scarf

swtc twize

SWTC twize. this yarn was also a leap of faith. i knew i loved the feel of bamboo but the fibre construction of this yarn is very different. it has a bunch of tiny ply’s in a bunch of different colours that are very loosely spun. from far away, it almost looks like a variegated yarn knit at a small gauge. again, this yarn is unbelievably soft, and has the shininess that you’d expect from a bamboo yarn. i did a swatch on size 5’s (smaller than recommended but they were the largest needles i had with me) and got 6 st/in. my only problem so far is that the first yarn i inspected had a big ol’ knot right on the outside of the skein. not a good sign. sigh. oh well.

classic elite inca print

classic elite inca print. yummy. nice, fluffy alpaca in gorgeous colours. nuff said.

i also had some yarn waiting for me from brooklyn handspun:

brooklyn handspun instant gratification

brooklyn handspun instant gratification

brooklyn handspun instant gratification

it’s instant gratification in “lazy day”. i’ll be honest here– i was speaking to marie about which type of yarn i should get and initially wanted soft spun. she explained that she only picks extremely soft yarn and reccomended instant gratification since it would knit at a larger gauge, and i agreed, even though i really didn’t believe her. let me tell you, marie is NOT a liar. this 100% merino is INCREDIBLE. it feels so close to the inca print 100% alpaca i couldn’t even tell the difference with my eyes closed. i will never doubt her again :). i swatched it on a pair of 4’s and got 7 st and 8 rows/in.

going home to NY also meant shopping! everything here in toronto is way too expensive, so things like wii games, books, and knitting supplies have been neglected up until now.

my first EZ book! i don’t know why i never bought one before, but i flipped through knitting without tears at B&N and no longer had an excuse not to buy it. such great tips! i also got drawn into victorian lace today which sounded kind of dorky and lame, but it turned out to be SO interesting. i guess that makes me dorky and lame. but i’ve been really interested in lace since i knit the swallowtail shawl and haven’t been able to find any lace that was “my style”– everything i see i can only imagine on my grandmother. some of the stuff here is sort of frumpy, but some is so amazingly intricate and modern. i think my first project from this book will be the curved shawl— love those lace circles.

i also made my way around to a bunch of yarn stores. we were only there for two days so i couldn’t get to all of them, but i tried to rate them in importance and convenience.

first in both categories was knitty city. since it opened a few years ago, it seems that this has been the premier yarn store to everyone in the city. i’d been there a few times but they were always very busy so i never felt welcome. i was surprised when i walked in that there were actually only a few other people shopping. the cashier welcomed me and we had a conversation while i searched their DPNs. the store owner came over and introduced herself to me, and after a quick but very friendly conversation she asked if i would be interested in having my i ❤ NY hat pattern in her store. i promptly freaked out, purchased my needles, and proceeded to call my entire direct family to brag. we haven’t finalized anything yet but hopefully within the next week or so i’ll be able to say i have a pattern in the best yarn store in the best city in the world.

after hearing a truckload of good reviews of yarntopia, i trekked all the way up there to check it out. the store was empty, aside from the cashier and her friend sitting and chatting with each other, and i wasn’t terribly impressed by the yarn selection or prices. i’d heard on the ravelry forums that they had addi’s for $13, but the prices had all been ticketed over with a new price of $16.99. i picked up a pack of susan bates DPN sock set and hightailed it outta there. don’t think i’ll be stopping in again.

i also managed to get to stitches east. i was perplexed that there was a store right in midtown that i must have walked by a billion times and never even noticed. when i got there, i realized why i never saw it before. it’s tucked away in a plaza on a side street with no signage at all. the store was empty. there are no prices on any of the yarns, and i felt like i would have been bothering the old lady behind the counter if i asked (she was on the phone and didn’t even say hi when i walked in). there were prices handwritten on a few of the needles and they were not impressive. i think the only way i’d go here again was if i desperately needed something and couldn’t get to the west side or to the yarn connection (again, not a good store– but closer to my parents’ apartment and at least they talk to you!– not to be confused with the yarn co. on the upper west side which i would not go to with a gun to my head.)

on my way to stitches east, i passed lee’s— which experience told me was an overpriced, stuffy art supply store, but curiosity convinced me to at least take a look in. sure enough, prices were still cheaper than curry’s or aboveground in toronto and they’ve expanded their craft section to include felt and yarn. yes, lee’s art store– that pretentious department-style art shop– now carries lion brand. i picked up some eucalan and a dry erase board in the form of a wallpaper roll. if i knew how awful stitches was going to be, i would have taken a closer look at the lion brand organic cotton.

geez, that’s a lot of blogging for one day. time to play with the fun new yarns…


from wikipedia: “Ama-gi is an ancient Sumerian word (AMA.GI) thought to mean “freedom”. It is believed to be the first instance of humans using writing to represent that concept.”

i wanted to knit this on my next hat (which i have so far deemed “the freedom hat”– i know– it’s just a working title) but didn’t want to have it reverse on one side as with regular double knitting because well… who knows what kind of bad karma would result from reversing the symbol for freedom? that’s nothing i want to tap into right now.

so i mocked up a chart…

and then bent my mind and made it reversible (i’ll explain below– it’s not as complicated as it looks. well, actually it sort of is)

and here’s my swatch! look, no bad karma!! fantastic. for the record this is a long-tail cast on that’s been knit in the front and purled in the back of each stitch, with a grafted top seam. i think i’m gonna put this on the nape of the hat… right in between the earflaps.

amagi double knit

once i finished, i realized that this was something NOBODY would notice. like, not even a knitter would imagine how complicated and annoying this chart is. but i still think its an amazing thing to be able to conceptualize so let me try to explain it…

a quick tutorial on charting for non-reversible double knitting: (click any photo to enlarge)

OK so here’s the thing about double knit charts. usually, with regular, reversible double knitting, the colours are worked in pairs– one stitch on the front (knit) side and one on the back (purl) side. these stitches are represented together on one square of the chart. in order to work a reversible design, these stitches will ALWAYS be opposite one another. so it’s not hard to imagine that by working a different colour pattern in the front and back, you can make a non-reversible pattern. great, concept: over. the hard part is actually charting it.

start with any colourwork chart. i’ll use my own as an example:

now, in order to have a different pattern in the front and back, add an extra stitch in between each column. now what’s below is just the stitches you will be making on the RS. the stitches in between are for the WS

copy and paste that image, mirror it, and invert the colours. these are the WS stitches.

then place it on top of the first image, shifted one cell to the right. confused? yeah.

at this point, i inverted the colours of the whole chart– this isn’t really necessary, but i wanted the dark and light yarns to correspond with the squares on the chart.

so when you’re ready to begin, instead of each square corresponding to two stitches, one in front and one in back, each stitch will now have its own. you will still switch off knitting and purling, ensuring that each side retains its stockinette appearance, but the colours will read more like a fair isle chart. when working, you will zigzag through the rows. i began at the top left and worked right, and then the next row down worked from the right to the left.

one major difference between a regular dk chart and this method is that on a regular chart, worked flat, the chart is only colour accurate every other row. in other words, since the RS and WS colours switch every row, the chart doesn’t correspond to which colour you are working, just when you will be working the MC or CC. with this chart, the colour on the chart will always represent the colour you are working.

basically, you’re knitting the same thing, but from two different ends of the chart, so that they will appear the same on both sides and not mirrored. you could do this with two completely different images as well– just place one chart every other column, and the other in the spaces in between. eventually you’ll get used to knitting this way and it actually doesn’t take as long as you’d think

well. i hope i helped at least someone grasp this concept. if anything is unclear, leave a comment or send me an email and i’ll gladly clarify. it’s something that’s really fascinating to me and i’ll probably have more on this subject in the weeks to come (i just finished my last class of the semester– summer break, woohoo!)

invisble double knit seams

(for info on the basics of double knitting, check out my blog post here)

once you get started double knitting, you’ll realize pretty quick that long tail cast offs and basic knit bind offs are extremely obtrusive to the rest of your beautiful knitting. and since few books and websites have been written on this subject, it is pretty hard to find alternatives to the basic dk cast on and bind off.

stitchdiva lists one alternative for each, basically suggesting that you cast on with one colour and then kfb each stitch to make the two sides of the work. i’ve seen this discussed (in the yahoo dk group mostly) as the way most people do each of these and i’m having a hard time using google to find anyone with a different way. this way does work fine but i keep thinking that there has to be a better technique.

what’s been floating ahead in my mind recently is doing a figure-8 or provisional cast on and then grafting the top seam. this way, the work would be fluid– top to bottom, side to side, without any overflow of the cc to make your cast on look messy on the mc side. so i just swatched it and… yeah! it works. it’s actually sort of beautiful (one colour floating into another effortlessly). even if someone has thought of this before, i’m pretty damn proud to have figured it out.

my happy little swatch (ok so the knitting part is sort of messy, we can’t all be perfect. the gauge is way off– i usually use a size 6 with simply soft and all i had in front of me were 8’s. i’m lazy.):

click photos to enlarge



figure 8 cast on:

kitchener stitch bind off:

i’m going to work another dk hat and try this as the bind off, and if it works (stretch-wise) i’ll add an errata note suggesting the use of this method over the one written in the pattern. i’m also going to write up a tutorial that shows how to apply this cast on and bind off to double knitting as soon as DH wants to play photographer.

double knitting resources

double knitting is an amazing technique with endless possibilities. once you practice it a bit, it isn’t any more difficult or time consuming than regular knitting (i promise!). so if you’ve ever wanted to knit something reversible or super warm, or impress your friends by knitting two socks in one, i urge you to give it a try. below is a compilation of dk resources, because i really believe that conceptualizing in double knitting is the hardest part. once you “get it” you’ll be addicted!


knittinghelp.com tutorial video videos are the easiest way for me to learn so i always suggest this video first. demonstrates a reversible potholder, which can be adapted to any reversible dk’ing project.

knitty.com extreme 2 socks in 1 article up to knitty’s well-written, well-photographed standards. these instructions are only for knitting two seperate pieces on one set of needles, and will not connect as a double-sided hat or scarf.

subversive knitting’s tutorial very very very basic. no colorwork, no magic socks. one color. tube. not really sure of a practical purpose but this will help even the most beginning knitter understand the concept.

lucy neatby’s double knitting dvd i’ve never seen this, but i’ve heard it’s a great resource that covers all the concepts within double knitting. if you can find it, let me know how it is 🙂

basic projects

itsbyerin’s om chart this chart is how i taught myself to double knit. the motif works beautifully applied to any garment.

crafty chick knit’s star scarf this was one of the first double knit projects i saw. the pattern is so simple but the finished scarf is so impressive and cute! UPDATED 1/4/2011: Thanks to Romy, this link will now send you to the actual pattern, even though Crafty Chick’s site has been down for a few years. Enjoy!

advanced projects/resources

fallingblox is a double knitter whose work really stands out as extremely advanced. even the stuff i do understand i would never dare try, but it seems to work for him.

ravelry’s double knitting group of course, moderated by fallingblox himself. projects contain some really nice pieces and the discussion is always nice too. there are also topics solving some of the more confusing dk problems you might encounter.

yahoo’s double knitting group has some other links and inspirational project.

my two cents

if you’re anything like me, you will need to go down 1-2 needle sizes to get your gauge the same in double knitting. otherwise your hand will be killing you after a few rows. even though it is seldom discussed in the knitting world, i have a feeling double knitting is going to be gaining popularity in the coming years, and i can’t wait to see what ya’ll do with it!

i’ll keep my eye out for more resources and keep this list updated.