Monster Knit Rally

Monday, January 14, 2008


I'm just peeking out briefly to say that this blog is retired (in case you couldn't guess from the lack of recent posts). I am continuing to knit and play with other craft mediums, but I've moved on to other projects as well. I will leave this blog up for now, but will not be continuing to post. You can still find me on Flickr, and I have plans for a new blog project soon (I'll link to it from Flickr when I do).

Many thanks to all who have read and commented here. It meant a lot to me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Japanese Craft Books: (The Long Awaited) Post 4

This book of button crafts is the last of the four Japanese craft books I got at Kinokuniya Bookstore in NYC. The title is all in Japanese and the ISBN is 4-579-11063-3. The majority of the projects in the book are jewelry, but there are also some embellished bags, scarves and wall decorations.
I would wear these earrings in a heartbeat. Even if they were too big and made my head look small and funny.

This bag is made entirely of buttons... I don't think I have the patience for a project like that.
This bag seem more reasonable, just using buttons as an embellishment.

As I found with the other books, although the majority of the instructions are in Japanese, the diagrams are remarkably clear. The English text in this book includes project and page numbers (so you can easily tell which diagram and instructions goes with which pretty picture) and measurements (in mm) along with each diagram.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is all the amazing buttons. They run the gamut from kitschy and cute to delicately lovely, and I want to have them all myself so I can sort and re-sort them into little piles by color, theme, size, shape and so on. Does anyone else do this or is it just me?

See my other Japanese craft books in posts 1, 2 and 3.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A day of relaxation

Today was a rare, coveted day of no work, no obligations, no chores... nothing but sleeping in, a lovely hike and picnic lunch with my sweetie, a simple home-cooked dinner, and a little vegging out with TV and computer before bed.
The view from the rim of the canyon we hiked into.
Looks more like the Caribbean than Arizona. The shallower water was not this color, but many of the pools in the canyon had this amazing hue to them (partly due to algae I think).
An elk carcass, picked clean. If you look closely, you can see the clumps of hair scattered around on the ground. I also thought it was neat that the head is split open, and the brain presumably eaten, along with all the other edible parts.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Corners of my home and mail goodies

This is a spot I look at a lot - right on the counter next to the sink. I love the Japanese cat soap dish and the handmade lavender soap (both from my mom). The black bowl is filled with very strong ginger candies and some dried, salty plums (I think they are plums) which I have not been brave enough to try yet.
This is another spot in my apartment that I see a lot, though I rarely stop and look at it. The peephole has a tiny hinged door with a little latch to keep it closed. I think I opened and closed it about a dozen times when we first moved in to this apartment, then forgot about it.

Just as I was struggling to get over the flu a week or two ago, I received this wonderful package from my (formerly) Secret Pal. The swap was already over, and she had sent me several packages already, so I am thinking of this one as a bonus.
This lovely little Pea Pod Cardigan is from the book Knit 2 Together by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark, that was part of the package above. I am tempted to make it, but it's hard to tell if it would be as cute on someone more busty than the model. Why are knitwear models always so lacking in curves?

Overall, I like this book a lot. There are several patterns that I would never make, several that are pretty similar to patterns I've seen elsewhere, and most importantly, several unique patterns that I would consider making, including knit bloomers (I know, I'm silly) and a neat carpetbag.

I think this was my favorite item that my Secret Pal sent - some Malabrigo yarn in a lovely pink and almost earth tone colorway. I immediately started making a cable and rib hat with it, which I finished a couple of days ago... just in time for some 60 and 70 degree sunshiney days. At least it's done for next winter.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Peeking out, work-in-progress: my life

It's been over 2 months since I last posted. I think I let this blog fall by the wayside because it doesn't seem to have a consistent voice - I don't have a consistent voice on it - and thus I don't have much of a consistent readership to interact with. (Though if you've been reading consistently, thank you for your support!). When I started the blog, I didn't really care who read it or if anyone at all did. Now, I feel that I'd like more interaction if I'm going to continue.

I've been rethinking both the subject focus (and title) of this blog recently. Knitting and crafts are definitely important to me, but having so little free time, my attention often goes elsewhere. Some of my favorite posts to write and to see on the blog were food related. I really enjoy posting recipes and food photos, but I don't want this to be a food blog. I also like reviewing or showing books that I'm enjoying... I'd like to do more of this, and perhaps include some fiction.

I've also been reconsidering part of the subtitle(?) of my blog: "Wherein I ramble about knitting, crafting, food, books, and wanting to retire by the time I turn 30." Most readers have probably seen knitting, crafting, food and books mentioned more than once here. The part that I feel I've neglected is "wanting to retire by the time I turn 30." I don't talk about that at all really. I thought about removing that part of the sentence, but while it is partially a joke, it is also something that I feel strongly about. Part of the reason I haven't touched on the subject is because I don't want to reveal too much personal information here, which for me includes information about my work. However, I think that I've been mistaken in leaving out the subject altogether; it is possible to discuss the nature of work and careers without talking too specifically about mine.

I would like to share that up until very recently, I held two part time jobs which when added together gave me (almost) full time employment. Although I was working full time hours, neither of my jobs provided any of the benefits that many full time jobs do - paid vacation, sick or personal time, medical insurance, etc - so that any of those things come out of my own pocket. I'm not grousing about this; working two part time jobs was a deliberate choice on my part - it enabled me to work doing things that were more enjoyable to me than most other options. It also gave me a more flexible schedule, and sense that I wasn't having my soul sucked out in order to support myself (which I have felt before).

Fast forward to the present day: I am still working one of the two jobs I mentioned before; the other didn't work out for various reasons. But now this leaves me with a dilemna: The job I still have I enjoy immensely and really want to continue, but it will not support me alone. It also happens to be related to a field in which I might like to work in the future. The other job I had, while generally enjoyable, is not necessarily the type of work I want to be doing in the long run, but the working environment was good, and I was paid significantly more to do it. That job made it possible for me to support myself and work the job I really like.

So now I'm feeling stuck. I've taken a (hopefully short-term) second part time job to make ends meet. I am working for a major retail corporation, and it has only reinforced all of my negative beliefs about the American job system: that laziness and selfishness are rewarded, and hard work is usually taken advantage of.

With both current jobs, I am just able to pay my bills. There is no possibility of saving money for things I enjoy: eating out semi-regularly, travel, crafting, rock climbing, backpacking, etc.
I have looked for another part time job, but haven't seen anything that pays significantly better and/or that is any less soul-crushing than the present job. Finding a full-time job might mean better pay and benefits, but it would also mean giving up the first part-time job that I really enjoy.

So the questions I keep coming back to are these: How do you support yourself while still being yourself? How do you support yourself and still be able to live the life you want? Is the price you sell your time, your energy, your creativity for worth it? What other alternatives are there? Is it possible to live a truly good life in this country (No debt, all needs fully met, enough leisure time to enjoy the things we do have)? For what percentage of the population?

How do you reconcile these issues in your life? Or are you still struggling with them too?