Monday, December 22, 2008


Check it out y'all!

squirrel hat

*Note: Please pardon the photo-heavy post. We got a new camera, and it's a stud.

After knitting plain stockings for the past three months, I had a physical need to knit a fair isle hat. The VDB Christmas party was coming up so I figured I'd pull one out.

BTW, No new yarn was harmed in the making of this hat. It's knit in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (I love me some cheap wool) remnants from the stash whish always delivers on the practical front. It's inexpensive, easy to knit and soft after washing. But I digress.

The squirrel pattern is from Stephieface's Squirrel Chart, and I charted the acorns by my little ol' lonesome.

squirrel hat

Here's the inside for my fellow stranding nerds:

squirrel hat

This hat had to be washed, blocked, dried and wrapped by today, so I was up knitting this mofo 'til 5:30 yesterday morning. Everything looked good until I blocked it, then I realized my fatal mistake:
squirrel hat
The fair isle patterns get smooshed when they are too close to the crown decreases. Oh well, it looks fine in 3-D.

squirrel hat

Happy Holidays, my friends. Keep knitting, keep warm.

squirrel hat

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

*Note: I'd like to preface this post with the fact that this is my first Thanksgiving where I didn't see my family and I apologize if I wax nostalgicly. Also, as unbelievable as this story may seem, it is the honest to God truth, so that should give you some insight into how I became the person I am today.

While Thanksgiving is nice, my favorite late November Holiday is Black Friday. Ever since I was a young boy, my dad would wake me up at 3:30 AM the morning after Thanksgiving so that we could sneak out of the house without waking anybody and whisk ourselves away to the Winter wonderland that is the shopping mall. Now, my more obsessively organized father has always had the Christmas shopping done for the entire family in July, so shopping was the last thing on our minds this early in the morning. Our mission, and we accepted it with pride and humility, was to seriously fuck with the days of every other crazed shopper in the Metro Atlanta area.

The reason we got up so early was so that we could score one of the highly coveted parking spaces close to the doors of the mall. *Note: this information will be useful later.

Inside, we would stroll leisurely looking in windows and silently applauding the efforts of the few women in reindeer sweaters milling about over christmas ornament soup turines who had enough forsight to get to the mall before even God woke up in order to avoid the crowds that would come around 7:00. These women are virtuous and do not deserve our wrath.

7:00 am. All. Hell. Breaks. Loose. Thousands of people descend on the mall, raping and pillaging the sale tables in the doorways of every store. Every thirty feet is another door way into an alternate universe where moms in sweatpants and grandmas in Reeboks fight over artfully ripped polo shirts to the soundtrack of canned techno muzak (oonce-oonce-oonce o-o-oonce).

Once the carnage begins, Dad and I jump into action. I don't know if it comes from raising small kids or what, but my dad has an uncanny ability to read someone's mind and know exactly what they are going to reach for a split second later. While useful with children to keep them from grabbing hot or sharp objects, on Black Friday he uses this skill to grab anything and everything that anoher shopper has eyed and is reaching for. It doesn't matter what it is or how much of it there is, he will grab it and grab it all. T-shirt? He'll grab the whole stack out from under the nose of another shopper. Batman action figure? I've never seen a man balancing that much vacuu-formed plastic while running to the back of the store in order to price check each one.

Since retail staff is stretched so thinnly the day after Thanksgiving, we always do our best to step in when someone needs assistance. "Can you bring me this in another size?" Absolutely. "Is this a band my son would like?" Uh-huh. After we've expended our welcome, but not before we've liberally sampled the perfume testers, we move on to our most challenging feat.

The Parking Lot Game.

So, because we, unlike our fellow shoppers, had the forsight to arrive in plenty of time to snag a coveted parking space we are in a position of power. Cars circle the parking lot, looking for a space, any space. They see my father and I walking down the aisles to our car, past our car, back around and around until they lose interest. When we get back to our car, we start the motor, adjust the heat and radio then begin to pull out. At this point it is certain that another driver sees this and patiently waits for us to pull out. If this is the case, we pull back into the spot, get out of the car and go back into the mall.

Yes, I know that these are innocent humans minding their own business and that we are the kind of jerks that really take the fun out of the holidays. However, my most cherished memories of my Dad came to be at the expense of others, and I wouldn't trade that for all the good karma in the world.

Happy Holidays, y'all. I'm off to eat gravy in bed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Hey y'all! Long time no internet see. I've missed you all dearly. I have some things to show you guys.

So do you remember how I thought I could knit five pair of knee high stockings in six weeks? Yeah that didn't happen so much. It was more like half that. Five socks. Five performers. What is a resourcefull knitter to do? This would be a great time to show you a photo of five men, two wearing a pair of socks, me wearing one sock while furiously knitting the other. Unfortunately that photo doesn't exist s so we'll just have to look at the ones I do have.

The Body Parlor

The performance is called "The Body Parlor: Rudimentary rituals for biological self-production" and it's a collaboration between myself and Katrina Erickson. Why am I showing a bunch of knitters performance art you ask? Well, because it happens to be about sheep.

The Body Parlor

We've been working with the idea of sheep and humans as combined sacrificial bodies in religion and science, the products produced from their bodies turned into sacred objects and medicines.

These are the lamb masks Katrina made. They're cast foam felted with lambs wool.

The Body Parlor

Here the sheep's socks are removed and collected before his feet are washed in lamb fat soap and milk.
The Body Parlor

The milk was then syphoned from the basin and is now in being processed into cheese.
The Body Parlor

This sheep is being sheared and his fleece is collected as a relic.
The Body Parlor

So that's what I've been doing lately. Later on in the week I'll show you guys how I made the soap from butcher shop to bars, er... art. Yeah that's it.

Till then I need to get my ass knitting.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

How To Look Like You're Actually Working

There's always a constant struggle between feeling like you need to be working and the shear all-consuming hatred of whatever you're being forced to work on. I'm navigating this slippery slope by knitting stockings for an upcoming project. Now, I've always tried to keep my kniting and my art seperate, but this project is a strong culmination of the work I've been doing for the past six years and it just happens to require five pair of handknit men's wool knee high stockings It's working out perfectly because I can carry them around with me and work on them anytime I can. It's psychologically fulfilling because I'm constantly working on my project, but they don't require me to focus on the mind-n
umbing ins and outs of conceptual art while I knit.

Let's look at some, eh?

This is the first one finished.


Please excuse the blurry photo. Have you ever tried to take a picture of your leg in a knee high stocking? It sucks. Find a friend to do it for you.

This is the one I'm currently working on. It's going pretty fast, knit on size sevens with worsted weight wool

The astute among you may notice that these socks are knit from two very differnt colors of wool. This occured because I didn't order enough yarn for these black holes passing as socks. More yarn will arrive shortly so I can make actual pairs.

There's a fairly handsome cable running down the leg of the first sock, but it has been eschewed for the future generations of socks, as it is both a time suck and yarn eater.


It does look mighty fine though, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This One's for My Infants

I don't know if it's the unseasonably cool weather, the rush before the start of school or the coming apocalypse, but I'm finishing my knitting projects.
Check it:
Baby Srprise Jacket

I wish I had a closer photo of the collar because it's a bit wonky, not helped by the fact that I crocheted it four times. Apparently I'm going for the artfully handmade aesthetic. No worries. Wonky collars like this go for $75 in my 'hood. It will look smashing on the daughter of a militant reformist-feminist performance artist.

I left the jacket buttoned while it blocked, and I must say it made for some pretty sweet button holes. Look how nicely the buttons stand up, too! Sigh, it's the small things that keep us from being cool.

Baby Surprise Jacket

Okay, I'm wrapping this mofo and sending it on it's way, but first I'm going to go out today and do all of the things I said I was going to do this summer, but never got around to.

Baby Sweater

Keep it real y'all

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Something Finished

It's easy to get jaded in the land of internet knitting. We put ourselves under constant pressure to make something fancier ("maybe I should make it in lace with fair isle!") , more complicated ("so, if I start with a knit octagon which will eventually be the bottom of the foot, pick up stitches...") and with more exotic, hand-painted-ier than thou yarn. While all of these things are awesome and I do love a challenge, I've lost a little bit of perspective.

While I was knitting my latest pair of socks, I just saw them as a rookie stockinette project that took up space on the shelf in my studio. I can't tell you how many times I whined to my overly patient friends about my inability to make things while I knit round after round on these bastards. My colleagues, incredible painters and metal workers, would reply "How can you say that? Look at what you're making!"

While I was washing my new socks for the first time today I remembered my first pair. I had only been knitting for a few months and somehow decided that striped socks were the answer to all of my construction-induced anxiety. If I could knit a sock, I could make anything. I started with the most awesome red/white/orange and blue self-striping yarn (I love this color so much I have another ball of it for when my first pair wear out) and a photocopy of a pattern from the yarn shop. I knit my socks while I soldered, fiber-glassed, cast plastic, welded (this I really shouldn't do strictly for the safety of anyone within 15 feet of me). After four months I had a pile of mediocre sculpture and a pair of freaking striped socks!

The moral of the story is that at one time stockinette socks were the pinnacle of my engineering aspirations. Since then I have knit way more complicated things, made some really weird objects etc. but before all of the antibiotic marshmallows and leeching tables, there were the damn striped socks.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Let's Make One Out of You and Me

Today's post is based on assumptions. Shall we begin?

Assumption 1: James likes to knit.
Evidence: He has sixty pounds of wool and tons of knitting equipment (i.e. needles, swift, ball winder, row counters, special little scissors, tape measures etc.). Not to mention more patterns and books than a whole family of cold Swedes (I like to think they knit quickly and beautifully even in their sleep [yes I understand that this is ethnic profiling and completely unfounded in reality] ) could knit in a life time.

Assumption 2: James likes taking pictures of his knitting successes (few) and failures (many) in order to post them on the internet for the world to see.
Evidence: Scroll down a few months.

Why then, dear reader, have I not knit a stitch or blogged in three weeks before today? Where has the mojo gone? I could try to blame it on the muggy weather, but as any knit blogger will tell you, that is no excuse. Alas. Let's look at stuff.

Baby Surprise Jacket

Despite all of my efforts to not finish until the kid is able to drive, the Baby Surprise Jacket is coming along well. I will not let this baby face a Chicago winter without a sturdy wool/mohair casing.

I've been baking, and it's improved if I do say so myself.

Fish Braid

This is braided sweet pastry filled with apples and golden raisins. It tasted pretty awesome. Notice the distinctive fish-like shape? I think this occurred due to some inexperience on my part. Whatever it is, I'm into. I'm going to attempt to recreate it with challah filled with smoked salmon and chived cream cheese for an upcoming Yemaya Celebration in Chicago.

And look!


Tomatoes! Now with 35% less salmonella! (Brought to you by roof top gardners everywhere).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's up

I figured I should finish a project once in a while, so I picked up my sock and knit the toe. I was pleased that I would have such a snappy pair of striped socks and was already planning the charming photos I would take of the pair. That's until I noticed that I'm an idiot.

toe fuck up

This is the top of the sock. Looks ok, right? Well, this is the bottom:

toe fuck up

I forgot to redistribute the stitches so my decreases are really poorly placed. The top of the toe curls in and the decreases on the bottom of the toe will suck to walk on. Don't even get me started on the impossibility of grafting the mofo shut. I'll just rip the sucker back.

At least I have new yarn.


It's Valley Yarns Berkshire (obviously) in Navy. I've got ten more of its bretheren chilling in my office. Together they will join forces and become a sweater for little ol' me. Well, that is after I finish the three other sweaters I've started in the last year. I'll get around to it.

In other news, a local Chicago man made brioche while under the influence of alcohol.


And it was good.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

7 Things

My home boy in jersey tagged me for the 7 things meme. "The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago I was in 9th grade. I played the mellophone in marching band and got excused from gym everyday because of my chronic nosebleeds. I grew 12 inches and lost twenty pounds in about thirteen months and went from Jabba the Hut to spindley and awkward. I spent all of my free time in my room reading books on witchcraft and body piercing, listening to The Fugees, Bush and Eve 6, and talking on the phone for hours about boys.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
a. go to the grocery
b. read
c. knit the toe on my sock (it could happen)
d. go to a birthday party
e. draft proposal for exhibition

3) Snacks I enjoy:
- twizzlers
- cold chinese food
- pears

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I would open hospitals and a school in Haiti, fund my nephew's college career etc. After that I would buy the house on Sedwick that used to be a rectory, then open a botanica in one of the victorian gingerbread storefronts on Armitage where I could sell my work, santos, cloth and fresh herbs.

5) Places I have lived:
- Overland Park, Kansas
- Richmond, Virginia
- Dallas, Texas
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Athens, Georgia
- Chicago, Illinois

6) Jobs I have had:
- Regal Pets, an neighborhood pet shop that was open for 28 years before it sadly closed
- Apprentice then finally piercer at cool tattoo shop
- Piercer in a not so cool tattoo shop
- Assistant manager of now defunct bakery
- Piercer and manager of awesome tattoo/hair studio
- Line cook
- Collections assistant of a Video Art distributor

7) Friends I want to know more about (if you've done the meme, please disregard)

Hey there's more! So I've come across a minature internet phenomenon, Iyawo Blogs. Iyawos are newly initiated priests of Lukumi, Candomble and other Orisha traditions. The first year after their consecration they have to be dressed completely in white, observe dietary and social taboos such as no shaking of hands, they can't take or recieve anything from non-intiate's hands( i.e. money, purchases, flyers) no dirty jokes etc. They also have to observe a curfew of sundown for an entire year. Several iyawos have turned to blogging for their year in white in order to pass the time normally used for a social life, as well as to document their day to day experiences of navigating the modern world dressed entirely in white and observing West African spiritual traditions.

Here are some I've been reading. I'm spending all of my time trying to find more.
Candomble in the USA

Alafia, y'all

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Surely There's an Ointment for That

Life around these parts has been pretty docile as of late. There's been a lot of baking of bread. A Lot. I mean like everyday. I've gotten to the point where I'm really tired of eating bread but I just can't stop until I make a decent loaf. I'm getting there.

I also took advantage of summer by reading a non-school book, Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff", which is about a porn star's attempt to break the gang bang world record (hint: 600). Read it before Oprah's bookclub ruins it with a raving endorsement.

And look! Yarn!

noro sock

The reasons I'm excited about using the Noro sock yarn are the same reasons many people hate it. I love crunchy wool yarn and the fact that it's single-ply makes me swoon. As always, check back when I have blisters running along the tops of my fingers and the yarn has broken for the 300th time.

Keep knitting y'all!

noro sock

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I've decided that I need a new project to get the whole summer knitting thing started. When most people think of summer knitting, cotton, linen and hemp spring to mind.

I think wool. Light colored wool, but wool nonetheless.

I had two almost full skeins of Lambs Pride in "Oatmeal", a copy of the Oppionated Knitter and a friend who's getting fatter by the day. Enter the Baby Surprise Jacket:

baby jacket

For some reason, I thought I could cast on and knit a baby sweater in, like, twenty minutes. Not so much. But hey, it's garter stitch, and I just happen to think that garter stitch is super fun.

And look at the wrong side decreases!

baby jacket

I'm off to the ATL this weekend and I'm totally procuring more yarn I won't knit for about three years. Wish me luck

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Summer Vacation

The end of the semester is nigh. This means one of two things:
1. I spend the summer reading, baking bread, knitting, blogging etc. I could take up running, I could visit family and friends and tend to my garden. I could explore all of the botanicas in chi-town to see who has the best selection of candles, fresh herbs and livestock (sometimes a man needs a new rooster) or I could catch up on all of the theory readings I didn't understand this semester and produce a grand body of proposals for the upcoming school year. Any and all of this could be done while enjoying the beautiful Chicago summer.

2. I get a second job. I spend said glorious days in a kitchen making food for the million people enjoying the beautiful Chicago summer. I pay off some credit card debt, buy a new camera and restock my savings account during the absolute last summer vacation of my life.

We shall see.

Speaking of summer and school, I have produced some work that, while existing in the dark gloom of my studio, can be reproduced through the magic of photography fo you, my dear friends.



This project doubles as grad school studio work and my summer garden. Priceless.

I have been knitting, covertly. There's alot of pressure to be focused 'round these parts. I guess that has something to do with learning, credentials, etc. I, however, being the flightiest, most prone to daydream weeks away at a time, need to present the outward appearance that I'm avoiding distractions.

Imbetween these boughts of posturing, I knit this:


I have an eight hour departmental meeting on Saturday, so I plan to really blast through this sucker.
Well, that's the plan anyway.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Hey guys! I always said that I would never apologize for not blogging enough, because frankly, we all have lives and it makes for some seriously boring reading. So I won't do that. What I will do is take you all on the adventure that has been my life since my last (meager) post.

After searching my rat's nest of a house for my camera cord with no success, I resigned myself to buying a new one. I had to go to seven (7!) stores to find the correct cable. With this small success under my belt, I can show you photos.


So, this may or may not be the bread I wrote about in my last post. I'm not sure of the stigma and or ethics of posting photos taken a month ago and already blogged about. But look! Apparently I can bake now!


This is no small miracle, my friends. I managed a freakin' artisan bakery for two (2!) years, worked with some of the finest bakers in the south, and never made a desirable loaf of bread.

On to production:
So my knitting has been moving at the most zen-like pace for months now. For example, I sat down in my studio the other day after a really tough critique, picked up the sock (singular) that I have been working on since, oh, August, and turned the heel. So I'm averaging about 1.5 stitches a day. I'm okay with this. My production focus has been on other things as the end of the semester looms.

Take these for example:

antibiotic marshmallows

These are Num-Nums, The World's First Antibiotic Marshmallows. They're cute and kind of creepy.


This is what I do with my time. I create companies, factories, labs and stores that make and sell the world's most antagonistic products. And my parents are worried about the practical applications of a Master's degree in performance art. Pshaw.


At least I get to knit today while I wait for help de-installing this monstrocity.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Imagine the Bunny!

I had a wonderful Easter today, and I made sure to take pictures to share with my beloved internet friends. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my camera cable, so this post is pictureless.

Maybe if I describe the pictures I took, after reading the descriptions, y'all could close your eyes and imagine the photos in all of their digital glory. Let's try it.

I woke up this morning to bake bread for Easter. I made sure to position my kneading board where it would get the best diffused spring morning light. I arranged the dough (after shaping it into an even, yet rustic blob) on a lightly floured board. Snap! Picture one! See isn't this fun?

I joined the sleeves to my sweater and began knitting the raglan decreases. If you look closely, you can see that the ribbing is probably going to line up along the decreases just like in the book. Snap! Picture two! I swear to god this whole imagination thing is the technology of the future.

After returning from an afternoon at the theater, I made a pot of vegan jambalaya (I know, oxy-moron, but it's passable and I like having someone to sleep next to). I also made (vegan) fried cabbage and (so not vegan it hurts) macaroni and cheese. Arranged artfully with the rustic, yet perfect bread from this morning, embroidered napkins, buckets of cold beer and raspberry malt liquor and you have Snap! Picture three!

Wasn't that fun? Mental pictures are often richer and more saturated than the origional, anyway. (maybe while my head is hanging in shame my camera cord will pass into my field of vision.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008


This is the most useful hat I've ever knit for my self. Due to my large, stretched earlobes and their susceptablity to frostbite, I have very particular needs for my headgear. As many hats as I've knit in the past few months, I usually wear a hat bought at Target for my day to day adventures. That has all changed now.


It's Thorpe, Kirsten Kapur's ├╝ber hat. It's supa warm, it fits well and it looks cool enough for everyday wear. Knit from the top down, the construction is simple and intuitive. I did start this hat three times due to gauge issues and the difficulty of joining four stitches to work in the round on dpns, but I'm sure someone of average intellegence will have an easier time at it.

The yarn is the left over Unikat from my scarf, which coincedentaly, is finished as well. It's supposedly super-bulky, but I used #7 needles to achieve an appropriate fabric. I just added two more increase rounds and it fits like a head-shaped glove. It feels like having a very well behaved rabbit strapped to my head. I mean it's soft.


Oh, I've been silk screening some t-shirts for one of my installations. There are seven designs, but this one is the winner, hands down:

Here's the front:

Santa Barbara

And this is the back:

Santa Barbara

That's all I got.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Search of Spring

As much as I've enjoyed these last 3 months of winter, I can't wait for spring. Given that we have a good 2 more months of winter, Jill and I spent most of the morning doing this:

jill and seeds

We started the seeds for the culinary herb garden today. I specify culinary herb garden because there are many, many, seeds to be planted this year. Andrew and I have felt an incessant yearning for our homeland and have projected said feelings of homesickness into balcony agriculture. He plans on making a full vegetable container garden while I'm growing hundreds of specimens of southern medicinal root plants in my studio at school.

Even though we like fresh herbs in our food and we can always give extra plants to friends, I'm not sure what one does with 18 basil plants, 9 lemon balms, 9 rosemary bushes, or 9 thyme plants. Oh, and yes I did start 9 catnip plants and no, I'm not going to make any "jill insisted" jokes because I don't think I'd be able to recover from the amount of self-hatred that would cause.

I've also been knitting. School is really kicking my ass this semester so knitting has been very low key, straight foward stuff. I knit some more on Andrew's cardigan (no pictures), I knit a few more rows on the heel flap of my sock (can't slip stitches while I read). That leaves me to my go-to pattern, The Mistake Rib scarf.


I freaking love this scarf. I started it way back in the fall and put it down because I was mangling the yarn. Now that every molecule of moisture has left my skin and my hands resemble paper lanterns, it's coming along brilliantly. At 170 yds a ball, the unikat is rocking my face off. I think I might knit a hat with the second ball, then finish the scarf with whatever is left over.
And a close up:

Oh, and for this week's "Boy Makes Things. Sometimes Badly", I present:


Choclinics. Antibiotic chocolates.
Each one of these bad boys has 250mg of tetracyclene which can be used to clear up minor bacterial STDs and acne. I made them for a show on Valentines Day called "Unlucky at Love".

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Back to the Laboratory

It's official, my 18-month conceptual art hiatus is over. The past two weeks have been balls-to-the-wall in my little world. I'm not sure why I thought I would be able to knit sweater after sweater during my first year of grad school. Perhaps it was wishful thinking that I would be so organized and productive that the socks and sweaters and sculptures would just fall off my needles. I need not tell you, my faithful readers, that this has not been the case.

I have been knitting a little over the past few weeks. I knit the second sleeve for the zipped raglan and now everything is ready for the joining:


I'm nervous about this procedure because the body segment looks soooooo short. I knit it to the length of the XL size, but I'm terrified that it's going to hit just below my ribs. Unfortunatly, as soon as I join this sucker, there's no easy turn around. I may knit another inch to be safe.

I also allowed myself a 15 minute diversion the other day to knit the swatch for Scott (RYC Classic Winter).


The guage is a little loose for my taste, so I'm going to go down a needle size. I'm completely re-writing this pattern anyway, so gauge is no real issue. Most everyone on ravelry has said that steeking this bad boy ends up in disaster. I choose to cover my ears and say "lalalalalalala", 'cause there is no way on God's green earth that I'm knitting a fair isle raglan flat. Period. I will make it work. (be sure to tune in next time to see a young man, faced with adversity, learn from his mistakes and inflated sense of self confidence and become a better knitter for it).

I spent the day outside (in the balmy 1 degree F and -20 wind chill) building a snow retort. Before the age of the Frigidare, one method alchemists used to distill laboratory alcohol was by burying flasks of wine in the snow. Water and alcohol freeze at different temperatures so the flasks would be turned upside down and the alcohol would be drained and collected, leaving the frozen water behind in the flask.



The more you know