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 🙂

catching up

it’s been too long since i last wrote here. so long, in fact, that i couldn’t get myself to post again until something totally epic was going on to make up for the time gap. more time went on, nothing really interesting happened– i moved, i knit, i yelped… and then i realized that nothing was as big as i would have wanted to resuscitate my hardly-breathing blog. instead, so much has built up in notes, pictures, and half-finished projects and i don’t have my handy archive to organize my mind. so here i go, attempting to restart it, but full well knowing that i don’t have the time to blog as much as i used to in canada.

1. hemlock ring

is almost done. i’m past the original doily pattern and into the feather and fan as written by jared flood. i have no idea how big it’ll be, but i’m just about out of yarn (11 balls of debbie bliss cashmerino chunky goes quick!). i have no clue where i’m going to block it. the photo above is from last week– i’m too lazy to get a new progress shot.

2. flame lace scarf

still workin’ on it. blah. love it, hate the repetition.

3. herringbone mitts

this one is a new project. mike and i were going to the US open on labor day and i realized i didn’t have a project that was well-suited to watching a ball go back and forth and back and forth in front of me. the hemlock was wayy too big and the flame lace i was afraid my dear turbo lace needles would be confiscated. so i grabbed two colors of sirdar snuggly (from the naked sheep summer sale) and ran a pattern search through ravelry. i really like them so far but they’re gonna be HUGE. i don’t have all my needles unpacked yet so i had to use the recommended size for the project– flashback to the first three times i cast on the endpaper mitts. anyway, this has become my transit knitting, i’m about halfway through the first mitt and done w/ the cuff on the 2nd. this will take awhile though because they’re not top priority.

4. koigu cashmere armwarmers

just cast on these today. did you even KNOW there was a koigu cashmere? mmmmmmm…. i’m worried that my entire stash will seem worthless once i begin working with cash but it’s looking sort of inevitable. i can’t resist!

5. moving

i am not moving again anytime in the near future. this time i mean it. 15 times in 5 years, and we’re back in new york. i love the neighborhood and the apartment, and the fact that our grocery store stocks more than two brands of each item (*cough dominion sucks cough*). unfortunately, one thing i don’t love is our furniture. because we have none. between flaky delivery guys, confused woodworkers, and a lack of car we have not been able to buy one new item of furniture. not like we’re not used to living out of boxes or anything. our absolute last choice was ikea, and mike is going today with my father. i hate their aesthetic and their quality, but it looks like this may be the only way to actually get a bookshelf successfully into our apartment.

6. working

it has always been my dream to own a yarn store. part of that dream has been to gain experience so that my future awesome store doesn’t go belly-up due to my never having worked at a yarn store. so when we moved back i got a job at one! its an adorable store on 82nd and lex called string and the people are all really nice. did i mention that “checking inventory”=rolling around in cashmere? gotta love it. i’m also working out three brand new winter patterns for the store. the koigu cash mitts will be one. and it’ll be free with purchase of yarn from our store (which can be bought online for any non-new yorkers). more on that later.

for now, i think that’s enough catching up. i wont be posting here as often as i used to, but i’ll at least try to update when there’s a FO or two or when i have a new pattern. happy knitting!

i can’t stop myself

what have i been doing in the final days before my big move? packing? no. knitting? not so much. i’ve been yelping, and i can’t make it stop. it began innocently enough, i was just checking up on some of my favourite old places– to see if they have gone downhill or closed down, or if anything else has opened in the ‘hood that i need to check out. then i started rating things. eating in new york is a really personal thing– a health department closure can feel like a breakup. a landlord raising rent can grow horns. when my husband first heard that dtut, his coffee shop/lounge had been closed and replaced with a wine bar, he was depressed for weeks. when i first heard that the 2nd avenue deli would be replaced by a bank, i almost switched banks.

what happens when a native new yorker is passionate and nostalgic?

she becomes the #3 most prolific yelper of the month. over 100 reviews in 30 days. there are still about 50 boxes to be packed, including the WIP that should have been finished by now. i have ten more days

watch what happens, shall we?

ps. i don’t want to give away my WIP, but i’ll just say that it’s dinosaurrific. cryptic, eh?

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…

home! part 1– agenda

boy do i love new york. i’ve been feeling so crappy in toronto that i figured i was just becoming a melodramatic manic depressive, but everything i remembered about the city (and assumed was nostalgia) is even better than i expected.

i ended my last post on the brink of tears, making statements about how the universe was somehow out to get me and that i was going to be stuck in ontario for the rest of my life. rereading it, i am put back into that mindset, and can only say that i am so glad for porter air. no, the flight was not perfect. a lot went wrong, and at times i was worried about everything from being stuck in toronto to drowning in a turboprop plane. but we DID get off the ground and landed only 4 and a half hours late in newark. my history with airlines could be seven hundred blog posts, but i’ll hold back and just say that it is extraordinarily rare for a plane i’m on to actually take off. this time, i figured if i’m going to end up back at home at the end of the night, i wanted to fly out of the downtown airport (walking distance from my apartment)– and porter just added a route to NY

it wasn’t exactly enticing when the intercom in the airport lounge announced that a plane from ottawa had “missed the runway”, but it was even worse when it came on an hour later stating that the plane from montreal was going to “try to land”. egh. it did, and we got to newark at around 1am saturday morning. we were hungry, scared, cold, and tired, but we were finally home a mere hour later.

DH and i stayed at my parent’s apartment in midtown, and even though i spent the first seventeen years of my life here, it feels strangely unfamiliar.

view from 40th st

tudor park

there’s something both comforting and disconcerting about a place that is constantly evolving, and i’m not sure which feeling comes through more. there is also a static undertone that exists in “old new york”– my breakfast at tal bagel was exactly the same as my breakfasts there ten years ago. delicious. even though my starbucks across the street had closed (and nearly given me a heart attack), i walked about two blocks and found another one, where my latte had exactly the right combination of ingredients. i met up with DH and the in-laws, and we stopped by emack and bolio’s which was delicious as always– even though jarod (the owner) was doing his best to convince mike and i not to move to new hampshire. i couldn’t stay mad while eating a free ice cream cone, so no harm done.

emack and bolio's

for dinner, i just wanted plain old americanized chinese food. not fancy like shun lee, or glorified like lili’s. just some hole in the wall with a menu written in engrish and some sweet, sticky brown sauce. we just wandered into a random place and, of course, it hit the spot. grand sichuan was absolutely the best chinese food i’ve had in at least a year. it’s probably not the best in new york or anything like that, but considering it was just a random walk-in, it was infinitely better than the most highly rated chinese food in toronto. (mike got a bubble tea, and it was actually extremely good, even though their ad campaign baffles me)

bubble tea?

after dinner, i looked down at my totally busted rainboots. i’ve been wearing them for almost two years, and of course the rubber has given out and been replaced by duct tape. i had only ever seen these boots at one store, so we took a quick trip to 8th street and macdougal (don’t know the name of the store but it’s next to underground tattoo) and sure enough they still had the boots! i even got 10% off because the owner was either tickled or embarrassed by the fact that i was still wearing these destroyed boots years later.

frog boots

kitty boots

sunday night was magnificent– it was warm with a light breeze, and so clear that the lights off the city just barely reflected off the clouds, making the black, starless sky look more like a computer background than reality. we walked for miles and sat in quiet tudor park until we couldn’t stay awake any longer.

the flight home monday afternoon was all i could ask for– we took off on time and arrived early. having the customs inspection in the TCCA is incredibly quick and simple. the shuttle bus took us right to the subway which got us home in a matter of ten minutes. i couldn’t have planned a better weekend.

next up– part 2– yarn purchases, FO’s, and toys!

pattern: double knit earflap hats


sorry i’ve been so lame lately. it’s now officially spring, but since its snowing out i thought i might be able to squeeze the term “winter” until it actually begins staying above freezing. the three patterns are all available for purchase now here (on the right side “patterns” tab of this blog)

i am willing to consider making custom charts if anyone is interested (your own city, for example) for a small fee (maybe $2.50?) so contact me if you’d like to set that up.

the pattern link is also up on ravelry

and, not to be a sap, but i can’t stop thanking all of you for making my dreams really come into fruition. i can’t wait to keep designing new patterns, and your support has made it such an incredible experience so far. i’d love to hear feedback of what else you’d like to see.

FO: i love ny dk earflap hat

yes, yes. another double knit earflap hat. i’m still ironing out the pattern, but i think it might just be done. this one (as i hope you can tell) is the manhattan skyline with the iconic “i ❤ ny” hearts on the earflaps. i love it, i hope you do too. click to enlarge

i <3 ny dk earflap hat

i <3 ny dk earflap hat

it’s caron simply soft in gray and bernat satin in black. and in case you were wondering (i doubt you were), i just bought a new camera so as of march, no more silly camera-phone photos. hooray– 10.2 megapixels, here i come!

i hope you like. DH and i are leaving for new hampshire tomorrow so i’ll post yarn store findings and any road trip FO’s on monday or tuesday when we get back. happy easter ya’ll