An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

September 6, 2010

Yarn!

Filed under: DIY — Tags: — Radical Scientist @ 8:24 pm

I just finished spinning and dying a few ounces of yarn for the first time. I even made the drop spindle myself, with a dowel and a circle-cut saw, because those things are always fucking overpriced. They dye, though, was all Kool Aid (Cherry with undertones of grape). Wanna know something creepy? When you put a big bundle of wool in a pot full of super-concentrated hot Kool Aid, it soaks up all the dye. As in, I put  mess of white yarn in a pot of opaque-red Kool Aid, turned on the stove, and pulled pomegranate red yarn out of crystal clear water. I tried rinsing it just to be on the safe side, so it wouldn’t bleed or stain later, but nothing came out.

I am, however, quite pleased with the end result. I hung up the skeins to dry in the shower, weighted down with cans of curry and vegetarian Abalone-substitute (which, FYI, is incredibly fucking tasty. I have no idea if actual abalones are anywhere near this good, but holy crap is the cheap, canned gluten based fake stuff delicious)


I have some Merino/Cashmere blend and baby Icelandic wool coming soon, thanks to the discount section on Etsy. Eventually I’ll stop posting pictures of it all.

ETA: Here’s the comprehensive how-to I used for the dying, courtesy of Knitty.

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August 24, 2010

Busy busy

Filed under: Blogging about Blogging,DIY — Tags: , , — Radical Scientist @ 3:31 pm

Remember that shared studio/collective craft and art thing I was talking about last week-ish? Well, it’s taking on a life of it’s own. We’d needed 5 members minimum to pay the rent, and we’ve got 7 so far. This past weekend we had a low-key build-out in the space–swept and mopped, set up some tables and chairs, brought in the all-important coffeepot, and so on–and now we’re up and running, even before the planned first of the month. One of the members has suggested we all throw in on a vendor space in the local holiday Sell Shit To Yuppies Craft Fair, which I think is an awesome idea. Hopefully that’ll give those of us who want in a goal to work toward between now and November. Obviously it’s waaay too early to tell how this will work out long-term, but I’m excited to see people so enthusiastic about trying this out.

The downside to this for you, dear readers, is that I’m spending less time sitting around my house being bored and blogging. I’m going to keep aiming for at least a couple posts a week, but it may be more like 2-3 instead of the 4-5 I’ve been managing. Not that y’all care or anything.

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August 11, 2010

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Filed under: DIY — Tags: — Radical Scientist @ 8:10 pm

Just FYI, this type of trap, (scroll down to ‘eradication’) baited with a banana peel, is eerily effective. Summer in the South combined with the delicious wares of less-than-reputable produce stands makes them a constant nuisance, even in a clean kitchen (which, let me just say, mine is not). My carnivorous plants can’t eat ‘em all, though  Sundews (Drosera spp)  and butterworts (Pinguicula spp) put up a good fight. Enough to where their leaves can essentially choke to death on the overabundance of little winged nutrient balls.

So last night I put a half an overripe banana in a jar, then stuck a paper funnel down inside. Within 20 minutes, I had caught 10 or so. By morning I had a writhing Molotov cocktail of Drosophila, ready to bwe thrown through the windows of my enemies.

I always have a hard time describing the trap. This illustration pretty much covers it–the paper funnel has a small opening that sits down in the jar, and you tape the juncture where the funnel meets the mouth of the jar. Fruit flies climb down the funnel to get to the bait, but when they try to leave, they inevitably fly up, getting stuck at the side of funnel/mouth of jar junction. Once you’ve hoovered them all up, either dump the contents into your compost or start a genetics lab.

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July 25, 2010

Happy Aniversary to Me! And Jac!

Filed under: DIY — Tags: , , — Ethan @ 11:15 pm

This week marks my second anniversary with my awsomefabulous partner. Rather than make you all unbearably jealous by bragging about my relationship, I’m gonna keep this fit for public consumption and brag about something else. I knitted this roughly anatomically correct heart as a gift for Jac our first valentine’s day together. Out of all the things I’ve ever made myself, it’s still one of the few I’m really proud of. Luckily, she liked it too. Or at least she’s nice enough to say so. Behold:

I can’t say I designed it myself, the pattern is available for free from Knitty. My biggest innovation was using a self-striping yarn, Noro’s Silk Garden, to get the color changes. It’s actually knit as a triangular funnel that you divide into two tubes. One tube is long and forks, the other is short and T shaped. You tie them together after you’re done (and in this photo, the knot is a little too loose for my taste). So it comes out like this:

So, happy anniversary to us. Go out and make yourself a stuffed heart; it looks like they’re good luck.

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July 19, 2010

Rainbow Cocktail

Filed under: DIY,media and pop culture — Tags: — Ethan @ 9:53 pm

The Craft Magazine blog shared this lovely mix drink–a simple enough mix drink poured over rainbow-colored ice cubes. This may be gayer than mint juleps. My summer drinking plans have just changed.

Also, this could go great with some lovely 6 layer rainbow cake

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April 25, 2010

Ummm, what’s wrong with this picture?

Filed under: DIY,gender — Tags: , , , , — Ethan @ 10:10 pm

I knit. A lot. I make gifts for people I care about, but mostly I knit for myself. Finding patterns I like, that will fit me well, is always a challenge. So I was excited to see Man Made DIY review Knits Men Want,  a whole book full of patterns I might potentially want, photographed by knitting heartthrob Jared Flood. To be clear, I haven’t read it yet; I’m about to go off on a tear on general principle, because the thing that bothers me about this is something that has happened over and over again: a perfectly good, useful craft book tries to sell itself with some gender-retrograde, Men-Are-From-Mars bullshit.

It is surprisingly hard to find good collection of knitting patterns for guy’s clothes– most general-purpose knitting books will be 3/4 to 7/8 women’s clothes, with a sweater or two and some sock recommendations tucked in for the dudes. I’m not very gender-policy about my clothes, but I find that patterns aimed more at women can’t be made to fit me well. So, another halfway-decent collection on patterns for guys clothes is a good thing; I don’t want to have to buy 10 books to get 10 patterns I’d want to make for myself.  Judging this book solely on it’s cover and the short review I linked, the technical content looks pretty great. The piece featured on the cover looks like something I’d wear, and the review suggest the patterns come with plenty of detail for adjusting them to fit across a broad range of sizes and style preferences. And anything Jared Flood does is probably pretty great.

But the book isn’t aimed at men. It’s aimed at women, with the subtitle “The Ten Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man.” I can’t stand the weird sexism & heterosexism here. Why should women be doing all the manly-sweater-making? I resent the implication that women should be hand-knitting sweaters for me. The women in my life have better things to do with their time, like having a life, being more successful than me, and making sweaters for themselves. Shouldn’t dudes make their own damn sweaters?

Like I said, I wouldn’t be so pissed if this were a one-off oddity, a book aimed at a specific niche, but it’s not. Based on my extensive survey of bookstores and  knitting specialty stores across the southeast, (ahem) there are only maybe 6 or so books in print that focus on knitting menswear. One is composed entirely of men’s sweaters with matching dog sweaters, so we’ll rule it right out. Out of the remaining 5-ish, at least one other (the otherwise handy Son of Stitch N’ Bitch) assumes a female reader, looking to make something nice for her husband/boyfriend. That book does a fair amount of what I’m accusing this of sight-unseen–gender-policing (don’t make your boyfriend something brightly colored, even if he goes to the store with you and picks out a multicolor Noro yarn!),disguising naratives that push women to cater to men as empowering ( like ‘those silly boys, if you don’t hand-knit them camelhair socks, they’ll never get themselves nice things’), and disguising  general-purpose, gender-neutral good advice as some deep insight into the mysteries of the Opposite Sex (for anyone wanting a big squishy sweater they can wear over other layers, it’s a good idea to measure a sweater they already like than to measure their body and guess where to add room)

To be clear, knitting is mostly a women’s hobby. I’m not arguing to the contrary; I get annoyed pretty quickly with guys who want the whole subculture to butch up just so they can feel comfortable. But most of the people I’ve met who really want whole books full of quality men’s patterns are queer men–we’re more likely to need the quantity of options, to have lots to chose from to make things for ourselves and still have new styles to use for the odd gift to partners, friends and family.  Given that audience, why posit such a Good Housekeeping-esque world where highly skilled crafters* need extra special help to make a series of tubes, just so they don’t injure their husband’s delicate masculinity with their lady-hobbies?

* I don’t know how difficult the patterns are in this book, but it does take much more skill and experience in general to take on a fitted women’s sweater than the looser, squarer cuts and simpler textures usually aimed at men.

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