Good heavens! What are those lumpy masses? What lurks darkly in the Kninja home, waiting to strike? (Apart from Kninjas, that is.)

I’ve been leapt upon and savaged by the spinning bug. The mess of hideously misshapen artistically variable yarn you see here was spun by me on a CD drop spindle. And where would one get a CD spindle? Well, theoretically, one could make a CD drop spindle, or one could have gone to the Maker Faire in San Mateo and gotten a lesson in spinning from some very helpful folks in a booth there. I opted for the latter.

The Maker Faire was Mr. Kninja’s idea. Well, technically, it was the idea of someone over at Make magazine, but the Kninja family’s attendance was Mr. Kninja’s idea. He bought weekend passes for the lot of us. I, in my inimitable foolish fashion, was merely humoring him in going.  I didn’t think I’d be terribly interested.  Um, yeah.  I don’t know what I was thinking.

This is one of the first things that happened on Saturday.

We got there and met up with our friend Jon and the eldest of the Kninja children, Gabriel, decided to try some of the nifty experimental bicycles.   That’s Gabriel zooming along on the wooden vehicle on the right hand side of the picture.  On the left hand side of the picture is Steve Wozniak on a Segway.  That sort of covered all the awesome geekitude in one fell swoop.

The Faire was too large for us to see all of it, even with two days at our disposal, so I mostly stuck to the craft side, and Mr. Kninja and the boys spent a lot of time in the robot pavilion.  The first day we had the company of some really great friends and the second day we went on our own, but I ran into someone I knew in art school – Jenine of  She’s doing some of the most spectacular work with glass that I’ve ever seen.  (It has been strongly impressed upon Mr. Kninja that if he wishes to get me some jewelry, one these pretties wouldn’t be a bad place to start.)

The crafters were displaying some lovely wares, but the one disadvantage I saw was that in showing it to a crowd of people who like to make things the response was likely identical to my own:  Wow!  I bet I can make one of those!   I also, as with Stitches West, found the vision of a vast convention center floor filled with crafts to be overwhelming, which actually limited my buying a little.  Still, I picked up two hanks of organic, plant dyed wool (before I ran into the spinning folks) just because it was so beautiful.  I’ve butchered the first batch, but hopefully my technique will improve with time.

There was more to look at than I can adequately describe a week and some days later.  A life sized robotic giraffe,  a disgusting spectacle, a Neverwas, robot battles, rides, flames, a giant Tessla coil, art cars, artists, creatively anachronistic people, puppeteers, a solar powered George Bush robot pulling a chariot, catapults, popcorn, kids, 3-D printers, including one that printed in sugar, vehicles that looked like cupcakes, stereo speakers that hugged people in a creepy enclosing way, cameras that made me seasick, reporters, friends, cyclists…it was an amazing scene.  We’ll definitely be attending next year.


So you want to see some knitting, too?  Check it out.

That’s the beginning of Wenlan Chia’s Seaberry Shell from last year’s summer Interweave Knits, made in my Mother’s Day present – 100% silk tweed Muench Sir Galli.  I got a full bag because I am lucky like that.  The Seaberry Shell calls for Twinkle Cruise knit with four strands held together, but we at Casa de Kninja are not posh enough for Twinkle yarns.  The Cruise is DK weight while the Sir Galli is worsted, but I was able to make gauge with three strands held together.

I’m not sure if I’m going to love this garment or not, though it’s a spectacularly fast knit.  What you see there is about three days worth of work, mostly done during a two day viewing of Das Boot.   If it turns out to be unlovable (and I am concerned about a sleeveless garment this thick) I’ll unravel it and turn it into a skirt.  I think the silk would drape nicely and the tweedy aspect would make it satisfyingly nubby.  I love how the Seaberry Shell looks, though, so I’m willing to give it a chance.  I also like how the very thick stitches look like landscapes when you look at them up close.

Yummy, no?  The color is odd.  When I look at a single strand, it looks like a pale gold – really gold – but when it’s held together in multiple strands for the shell it takes on the look of a paper bag.  I’m not complaining about that.  I find it really beautiful and I love the idea of silk imitating grocery bag.  It’s just a very odd effect.

You can see the wonky way my SSKs turn out.  I’m not sure why this is, or if blocking will eliminate the problem, but no matter how careful I am, my SSKs turn out sort of lumpy and wiggly.

I added a little waist shaping to the shell.  Nothing too impressive, but I didn’t really like the idea of wearing a big blocky box made out of thick yarn, so I cut in by three stitches on each side.  That is the only alteration I’ve made so far, because the original looks pretty darn nifty as is.


Oh, yes.  I entered the Public Radio Talentquest.  I feel a little silly soliciting votes, but heck, it’s my blog.  If you’d like to hear what I sound like, you can do so here.  Henceforth you’ll be able to read and think, “Huh.  Her voice is deeper than I expected.  And man, she has got no recording equipment to speak of.  That’s too bad.”  I’d also add that this was recorded at six in the morning before the children got up, so I’m especially scratchy.  Yay.  I do sound better in studio.  I have a grand total of two (count ’em) radio editorials to my name, and good equipment is the awesome.

Nothing about knitting in my entry, but one of the other entrants is running as the Punk Knitter.


Lastly, since we’ve already gone down a pretty random road, here I am explaining to two of the children about the importance of the IT’S IT bar.   I believe the exact words used were, “It’s your heritage!” and “Are you listening to me?  This is important.”

Mmm.  IT’S IT.  I’d best go.


7 Responses to “Make”

  1. Irene Says:

    I went and listened to your NPR entry and found it EXCELLENT, which by the way, is what I rated it. Five stars! You have a beautiful, natural speaking voice and the story was perfect. Nice job!
    I’ll be keeping an eye on how the Seaberry Shell goes because I’ve been intrigued by it for a long time. Yours looks very promising.

  2. Ellen Says:

    I am insanely jealous of the Maker Faire. What a great weekend.

    Reading about your spinning made me think of the wool waulking table at the MN Scottish Fair. It’s a traditional way of shrinking and finishing wool cloth, accompanied by folk songs. I joined in at some point – the fabric was spun and woven by one of the hat-wearing ladies at the table.

  3. Sarah Says:

    Someone at the yarn store was just telling me how awesome the Maker Faire was – I’ll aspire to go sometime in the next couple of years! I can’t wait to hear your radio piece, but I’m at work right now. 😦

    Like Irene, I’ve been intrigued by Seaberry – if it turns out to be weird to have so much chunk in a sleeveless garment (and I’ll admit I take issue with many of Wenlan Chia’s designs for that reason, among others), I think it would look dandy worn as a vest over a crisp blouse for fall.

  4. Sabrina Says:

    How are you liking the spinning? I want to try it so bad. I’ve been considering buying one of those kits that comes with all the stuff you need to get started.

  5. Tracy Says:

    Spinning looks like so much fun! It will be really neat for you to start knitting with your own handspun.

  6. Kristen Says:

    Thanks, Irene! That was so very kind of you.

    Ellen, that looks really amazing! I always think that I won’t want to go to fairs, but there are certain kinds that just make me feel peaceful and happy. That Scottish Fair looks really cool.

    Sarah, I’ve stalled on Seaberry because of the thick fabric. It’s sort of frustrating to see how very thick it is in person knowing that the weather is getting hotter and hotter. I’ll try to finish it up in the next week or two, though, so I can weigh in with a verdict.

    Sabrina, I really like the spinning even though I’m lousy at it so far. I think I may buy a small drop spindle, though, and see if I get better results than on the CD spindle. I also think I probably need to comb the wool more.

    Tracy, I’m thinking the first few batches will have to be felted to cover up all the ugly, but I have hope that I can eventually make something decent. 😀

  7. Lynn in Tucson Says:

    An IT’S-IT BAR??? NO WAY! They still make those? I grew up in Northern California and LOVED those as a kid!

    Can I get a case FedEx’d to Tucson? Sometime in October, when the heat has passed?


    That made my day.

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