Thursday, June 30, 2005

after about a half-hour at today's stitch & bitch, i finally worked up to the last arm-warming ribbing at the end of the bianca shawl. only half an arm's length left to go! right now it's this humongous longish rectangle (table-runner, anyone?), but all that the finishing entails is sewing up the arm-warmers, c'est tout. okay, so where's the snow? i really want to bust out the woolen layers now!

although i still need to complete the charlotte sweater (it's been waiting patiently for me on my desk for a few days now), i did some swatching for this great pattern i found in a gedifra booklet for wintery goodness. i picked this sweater in particular because i would like to get more adept at fancier decorative stuff, like lace or interesting stitch manuevers, but they tend to be too lacy. my taste is usually more minimalistic and anti-frou-frou, but i liked the clean lines and geometry of this feminine sweater:

so pretty! but not too girly. girliness gives me a headache...

so the pattern calls for gedifra living (100% wool), on size 10 needles or thereabouts. however, i am substituting the living with schachenmayr merino stretch, a wool blend with some bouncybouncy. i tried doing it with size 10.5 at first, but the gauge was wayyy too tight. i was also wondering how i should go about knitting with stretchy yarn... i'm a tight knitter by nature, so do i knit as usual, or should i take into account the bend and stretch of the yarn as i pull each stitch through? i drastically switched to size 13 needles (whoa) and got a much more accurate gauge. ever the more ambitious, i rehearsed the lace pattern through all 24 rows. the fact that an actual open-weaved design emerged from a bunch of k2tog and ssk amazed beyond belief. another scare though... how would i ever figure it out if i made a mistake or did the wrong stitch where? does frogging become completely incoherent? ah, the questions that keep you up all night.

anyway, here's the evidence:

[� la goldilocks]
this one was too small...
this one was too big...
but this one was just right!

i love the color, and i think the stitches are pretty well-defined given the dark color and the soft yarn. i promise i won't start this one until charlotte is complete!

[and an oops as i begun another 'side' project, some basic socks from weekend knitting with highland wool from elann. however, it's sort of a satellite project that will stay put at niknak's place and will amuse me if i ever find a spare moment there :) ]

speaking of yummy, s.l. and i passed up wang's tonight to try this new chinese place in allston, shanghai gate. as soon as i saw the facade signage, i knew i would love the place (the font was this super-thin modern sans serif, simple black on white). the place was filled with a lot of people (of which a majority was chinese: good sign for authenticity) and a ton of tempting plates on every table. gets the liu approval for interior... sparse decor, light green walls, simple black painted mural on the back, exposed brick and air ducts, pristine square white plates. it was modern and neat without being pretentious in the least. the waitresses were unbelievably friendly, although two dishes we ordered (our favs! scallion pancake and stinky dofu) were not available as advertised. the place could have used some sound-absorbing interior pieces, only that the bare walls made the whole place a bit noisy, so you have to speak louder as you eat spectacular morsels of food. i have to say i must go back for the paradise mountain chicken--studded with black beans and smoked dried chilis--which was medium on the szechuan spicy scale but totally tasty. the salt + pepper mushrooms were cute little pingpong balls of deep fried savouriness... the breading reminded me of the type used for fried banana, but hey, give me salt and fat anytime. in lieu (liu!) of the stinky dofu (still sad), we got this thing called crispy tofu. they almost reminded me of a weird mutation of french fries... long rectagular logs of tofu that are steamed and silky inside, and crispy on the outside. an orangish-pink dressing (french? kinda bizarre) and a sour/hot/sweet red sauce did the accoutrement thing. the last entree was the lotus beef, boiled and steamed meat with lots of spices (more flavor than spice) within a lotus leaf. pretty good, although the chicken definitely won the gold starz of the night.

as i say again and again, allston and brookline is the land of yummy. somerville comes in a close second. mmm mmmmm.... *dreams of stinky dofu*...

after literally dining solely on cereal, fruit, popcorn, cheese, and crackers for the last several days (punctuated by unattended free food in the lab *pounce!* and the pathetic appearance of a food truck lunch), i am relieved to be going out for an actual meal tonight with fellow hpair comrade lipoff. he claims the cong you bing are unparalleled at wang's in somerville. in any case, i plan for many savoury homemade dumplings to meet their demise at the end of my chopsticks. yum.

curiously amusing moment today: my labmate dbdbking was a bit peckish this afternoon, so i offered him some microwave popcorn (wrapped, unpopped) that i had lying around. he looked at it curiously and confessed he had never made popcorn before. ever. it's either a cultural thing, or i just have a strange existence where i can't imagine life before microwave popcorn (the quickest! way to! buttery! salty!), but he either gets popcorn at the movie theater or has the sweet, caramelly kind. we went to the kitchen and got really good at listening to the popping. (of course i didnt want his first batch to be burned! how traumatic.) after digging his hands into the bag after the steam had subsided, he seemed to think the taste was satisfactory.

i think i made a new recruit into popcornism!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

an apology to two lovely knitters i may have upset.

the hedgehog, just because.

i feel like he's going to be a very rotund little hedgehog. the nose and the face are with DMC cotton perle on size 6 dpns, and the body fur is bernat boa on size 9 needles.

i've never used such fluffy novelty yarn... it's supersoft! only thing is that it's such a dense forest that goodness help me if i drop a stitch or catch a split with the tips. oh well, it's so furry that no one would probably notice, anyway. :)

i'll call him 'sonic.' and if i ever make a second one, she'll be 'ultra.'

secret knitpal revealed! hooray!

felicity soles of has been the sweetest secret pal any knitter could ask for.

there was a little drama regarding the 3rd and final package. i didnt hear much from her after the first bit of june (just an email teaser from her), and then weeks of silence. after conferring with the krsp admins, i got in touch with her... an anticlimactic but necessary disclosure of identity. felicity claimed she sent the package on june 5. but i haven't received anything since then! uh-oh... panic set in. i called the mailroom at my apartment and waited anxiously as they 'looked around' for the missing package. and luckily, it was languishing back there along with the other brown boxes. but oh! if only they knew that package was being received with so much anticipation! erg to mailroom people. another good reason (among many) why i am moving off-campus after this summer...

anyway, she sent the package with a critter theme! the lovely contents:

  • supercute jcrew coral corduroy summer hat with embroidered ducks
  • felted fish pattern
  • colorful balls of brown sheep wool for the fish
  • knitted hedgehog pattern
  • crazy fuzzy yarn for the hedgehog
  • felted flamingo pattern
  • set of 10.5 dpn
  • bucket of lemonheads (how'd you know i *love* sour things?)
  • a gazillion rolls of sweetarts (on occasion i drink pickle juice!)
  • an adorable miniature card, sweetly written

also, a round-up of the past packages:

  • a lovely card, with a chartreuse teapot!
  • three balls of cotton (in springy green, yellow, pink)
  • a tiny green tote bag
  • helpful knitting tools
  • polka-dot knitty notions bag
  • lots and lots of chocolate (which i still have some leftover!)
  • bathtub treats
  • the spring 2005 issue of interweave knits
  • weekend knitting by melanie falick
  • a lot of indispensible knitting helpers and doodads
  • gift certificate to adagio teas

big hug to felicity (and a pat on the head to lexi and cj), and thanks so much for a fantastic swap experience!

Monday, June 27, 2005

MBTA, how i hate thee... let me count the ways:

  1. it's an exact science: the ratio of trains passing in the opposite direction of where i want to go is infinity to zero one.
  2. why don't your trains and buses run on schedule? if you've gone through the fuss of republishing time tables and route maps, shouldn't you try to follow them? within a window of 10 minutes?
  3. is it that difficult to run a tracking system on your trains so riders could pinpoint the location of the train in real-time? mit has shuttletrack to keep tabs on their campus shuttle fleet. you can start small... slap tags on the vehicles and allow them to physically ping each station as they go through. posting this information online would be great. i'd pinch myself if this information were actually available on subway walls and bus stations. that way i could save time by walking the extra 15 minutes to the next station instead of waiting restlessly for a nonexistent train for an hour.
  4. when a train finally rolls into the station, there are a bazillion people on it, and it's hard convincing passengers who've waited for an interminable amount of time for their ride that "there's a car right behind this one" with more room. please. try convincing us you're a trustworthy transporation system in the first place. it's only a T-rider's survival tactic.
  5. please maintain the air-conditioning in your cars! i'd rather be barred entry from a car with faulty a/c than to enter a sweltering, suffocating haven with other miserably-minded passengers.
  6. when are the rechargable rider cards coming? the horrifying sensation of swiping a month pass on the 1st day of the next month, realising that you haven't yet picked up the new pass as your kidneys bruise on the turnstile, gets old really quickly.

okay, that's my whine for today. however, i am forced to love the T since i have no recourse other than my pedestrian duties. therein lies the simultaneous heartthrob and heartache of bostonianism...

**update** ooh! a community of whiny T riders at

Sunday, June 26, 2005

by christine liu

8" x 8"

Lily Sugar 'n Cream [100% Cotton; 120yd/109m per 70g skein]; color: Sunshine; 1 skein

1 set US #7/4.5mm straight needles
crochet hook

20 sts/26 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch

This washcloth is basically a fancy swatch. Feel free to stitch the MIT logo into your favorite knitting projects and gifts: hats, scarves, legwarmers, dog sweaters...

You can make the "MIT" a pattern of purls atop a knit background, or knit stitches atop a purl background. i'll give instructions for each.


start for both variations

CO 38 sts.
Knit all stitches for 4 rows (garter stitch).

variation one (as shown above; the logo blends subtly into the fabric): MIT as purls on knit background

RS: K all sts.
WS: K4, P30, K4.
RS: K all sts.
WS: K4, P30, K4.

(CHART INSTRUCTIONS: grey = K on RS, P on WS; red = P on RS, K on WS)

RS: K8, [follow chart from R to L], K8.
WS: K4, P4, [follow chart from L to R], P4, K4.
Repeat last two rows, following chart pattern, until chart is completed.

RS: K all sts.
WS: K4, P30, K4.
Repeat last two rows until piece measures 7.25". feel free to include any other design along the way; there's a heart in the above example.

variation two (as shown below; the logo is much easier to read): MIT as knits on purl background

RS: K4, P30, K4.
WS: K all sts.
RS: K4, P30, K4.
WS: K all sts.

(CHART INSTRUCTIONS: grey = P on RS, K on WS; red = K on RS, P on WS)

RS: K4, P4, [follow chart from R to L], P4, K4.
WS: K8, [follow chart from L to R], K8.
Repeat last two rows, following chart pattern, until chart is completed.

RS: K4, P30, K4.
WS: K all sts.
Repeat last two rows until piece measures 7.25". feel free to include any other design along the way. stars, kitties, and sushi silhouettes all welcome.

end for both variations

Knit all stitches for 4 rows (garter stitch).

BO all sts until one stitch remains. Knit that st, remove needle, insert crochet hook (ch 15, sl st to base st of ch) for loop. Fasten off.

Weave in ends and block with steam iron if desired. Ta-da!

knitting update:

i'm on my last balls of the jo sharp! i'm about halfway through the sleeves, and should be ready to seam the sweater and block by sometime next week (save for some horrible, horrible disaster). good thing i don't have a playful cat to impale some soon-to-be limp wool between its claws, but we can always dream. :) emily the strange has a kitty!

i feel i should do my duty as a craftster to be the crazy, bespectacled aunt who knits sweaters for little kids. my niece and nephew (they're twins) turned 4 a couple months ago, and i'm curious to poke my nose into the arena of kid designs. seems like a good entry into making gifts for other people... child clothes are relatively small items to construct, kids won't be offended if it's too large a size, and you get to play around with colorful yarn and patterns. plus, the models in the pattern books are just too darn cute. (check out tadpoles and tiddlers to see an unbelievable expanse of creamy-skinned, ruddy-cheeked lads and lassies, effortlessly exuding british charm; think salty grass and tweed and cables.)

femiknit loaned me her copy of junior knits by debbie bliss last week, and there are couple patterns that i think would work for my sis' kids. here's the proposed christmas/birthday gifts (haven't decided yet):

+ =

above, the theresa cardigan using knitpick's shine (cotton and modal) in a lovely vivid pink, blush. my niece is currently in the princess and hello kitty phase, so i think pink will be her thing. just a hunch, but yeah, when i was growing up my bedroom was pink (per my request) from head to toe. even the carpet was fuschia. ai-ya.

+ + =

a cute green + cream jacket

and here we have the max zip-up pullover. i plan to use the pakucho organic cotton from in forest and vanilla. i've heard a lot of great things about this yarn, so i'm excited to try it out. i'm hoping the cotton will look okay, since the pattern calls for merino. however, these kids live in the heart of the south, so warmth is definitely not an issue.

i hope they'll like them, and the little buggers won't grow out of them before i finish!

in the mail: loop-d-loop by teva durham. it's about time i ordered it, from the constant drool on myself whenever i view one of her designs. niknak is already eying a sweater in there... is this the beginning of the curse? maybe it can be reversed if i can convince him to knit me a sweater! heeheehee.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

niknak and i always kid around in the radio station, running our show battle-style (we alternate our choices for aired tracks) and finding some witty comment to one-up each other's music. the divide has gotten a little more pronounced recently, as he's been getting a little off the electronic vein and into more post-rock, and i've veered into the lounge + downtempo genre. check out the playlists and see + listen for yourself. to illustrate, on last week's show, fifths of seven ("somewhere between Erik Satie, folkloric Eastern European music and, of course, the Constellation 'post-rock' galaxy") snuggled closely to tosca ("The world of tosca is always connected to the city Vienna, sounds seen through a rain-drenched cab windscreen, a low world full of bluesy gentleness").

do you think our listeners noticed? :)

anyway, last night we went to the zeitgeist gallery in inman square (yay, my soon-to-be-in-the-near-future digs!) to see the montreal peeps perform! you know, the infinitely reinventing groups of godspeed you!black emperor, esmerine, triple burner, fifths of seven, harry newman, etc. it was my first time in the space, and not only was it a cozy little room of artsy comfort, we sat in the front row, not 3 feet from bruce cawdron and beckie foon. they all looked really laid back, in casual tshirts and pants that looked half-skater and half-hiker (in a good way). probably the canadian way. :)

it was an amazing evening on many fronts. probably the most impressive thing was the playing of a glockenspiel with doublebass bows. yep. you thought they were percussive instruments... ha! the sound was resonant with an ethereal purity, the movement akin to pulling threads of sugar or stroking the back of a horizontal tiger. unbelievable. they also pulled bows on a marimba, although the effect wasn't as dramatic on such a low resonance.

also, beckie really rocked out on the cello. harmonics, slapping, and pedal points galore. wouldn't it be awesome to jam with them on something like dvorak's american quartet? get ready to bust out the amp and crank it to 11...

next week bodes a conundrum on monday: brazilian girls at the paradise or keith fullerton whitman at zuzu? i believe we'll hit zuzu (i love both the artist and the venue), but one day i'll have to drag bring niknak to a night of entre rios, bebel gilberto, or jazzanova. heehee.

but before that, fourtet is coming to the MFA on july 6! ooh ooh. fourtet can render both of us into blissfulness. yummmmm....

wow, we're really on the radar now.

a really great article about the seamless fashion show was published in thursday's (june 23, 2005) edition of the boston globe, arts/living section, featured in THE LOOK column. yay for many reasons:

(1) there was obvious research by the reporter on the history and people of clothing technology at MIT and beyond. go maggie! go joey! go megan!

(2) the photograph spread was excellent! a definite relief after suffering the indignity of the horrid online slideshow in the business/technology section. lesson learned: never trust online media entirely.

(3) except for trivial errors (i.e. the FATJAB isn't a mask exactly), the voice and details of the article were right on to what we intended for the show. no gimmicky 'oooh, mit is trying to be fashionable!' or 'let's get cyborg!' slants at all. kudos to emily sweeney for intelligent writing within the proper context.

i'm very pleased.

Friday, June 24, 2005

i got a happy thing in the mail yesterday. :)

i won the weekly dig crossword contest yet again! it never ceases to amaze me that i have won multiple times on a trivial little mail-in competition that i'm sure a gazillion other people in boston could easily enter. i suppose it's just the enormous cost of puzzle-solving (which everyone does on their commute anyway; this is not the NYT sunday edition by any stretch of the imagination) and then sticking it in the mail. really. not that i'm complaining, but the dig-reading crossworders should get a little more organized around here. more energized. :) there's goods to be had!

and goods indeed. for a while the prize has been $20 of moolah good at el pelon, which stands as one of the best taquerias in town. and if you've ever been there, you should know that $20 buys a *lot* of edibles. thinking about the chips and guacamole makes me get a little excited. aah. however, the envelope yesterday contained something a little out of the ordinary.

the dig has shifted from gift certificates to el pelon to a $20 thingy for johnny d's uptown in davis square. good, good. and accompanying this was a little handwritten note from the crosslord herself! this was a first. she congratulated my winnings and also sent a little hello from michael brodeur (one of the music reviewers on staff), who believes he knows me. (i don't think i know him, but cool anyway. we'll meet one day.)

i don't know i get so excited about tiddly little things like this. maybe it helps to convince myself that i'm part of the scene (define as you may), and that boston really is such a cozy, small, communal beantown. then again, maybe it all boils down to free food. :) the graduate student mentality striking yet again...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

writing about everything that has elapsed in the waiting space seems so intimidating, therefore the persistent procrastination of resuming my blog. perhaps i should take it one step at a time--like timid deer--into the abyss of externalising the internal. or, basically, throwing my voice to the endless expanse of a polished-edged, echoing blogspace. hopefully there are those out there, eyes closed and mouth open, waiting to catch some icy flakes upon their tongue. a good shake of the clouds begets the twirling.

so the last week and a half was spent in a feverish hunt for the perfect apartment. i teamed up with ryan from lab and we hit the streets, surveying the high and low of cambridge rental properties with the high and low of cambridge rental agents. we saw everything from moldy lime carpet to gleaming granite countertops, sleazebag brokers who lied about residential addresses to throw other agents "off the trail" to friendly (to the point of incredulousness) folks who tried to show us stuff that wasn't half-bad and within our specifications. basically we wanted a 4-bedroom that wasn't a hike from the lab, something reasonably more affordable than our current situations (and with my living in sid-pac now, finding something cheaper wasn't terribly difficult), and (gasp) something roomy + attractive + conducive of a higher quality of domestic life. after a seemingly endless string of sweaty afternoons and scary number-crunching, we definitively chose a winner among the bunch. so that's settled, although now i'm already on the ikea / cb2 / westelm windowshopping sprees, dreaming up another rendition of the perfect bedroom. shades of green, modular furniture, and endless geometrics. mmm....

when the going gets tough, the touch gets knitting. i've pretty much sworn myself into the league of stitch 'n bitchers, now a proud member of the mit group and hopefully more into the cambridge knitting community. i guess i've done a bunch since the onset of christmas 2004, but now there's nothing as irresistible as swatching a luscious yarn and rubbing the softness (or furriness, or animal-transferrable-ness) against one's cheek. really, sheep are incredible. i'll try to get up to speed on my WIP/FO photo galleries, but for now i can try to evoke descriptives with words alone.

in my last elann order, i splurged for the denise interchangable needles. i suppose splurge is relative, since for $47 you probably could get about 5-7 pairs of nice circulars, whereas the kit has all the little parts for... heh, you do the combinatorics. (coming from a girl who got her applied math degree from harvard. go figure. ;) ) i've soon realised that the denise set is AMAZING. not only is the range of needle sizes super-convenient, i love the face that you can swap needle tips at will (nothing's more annoying than transferring an entire row of stitches from one needle size to another) but that you can modify the parts to make straight needles and stitch holders as well. as expected, modular systems are so wonderful to use when well-designed. another exciting tidbit: the plastic pieces (really lightweight and flexible, but strong) have a perfect press-fit mechanism. there's a most satisfying 'click' when the parts twist and snap together. after taking the fab class last fall, i know how ridiculously difficult good press-fit mechanical design can be. the range of tolerances between uber-loose and hernia-worthy tight can be unbelievably narrow.

my props to denise. mad props.

right now i'm on two projects... the first and most fervent is the charlotte sweater (scoop-neck version) from a season's tale by kim hargreaves (for rowan). the pattern calls for rowan kid classic, but i'm substituting with a wonderful yarn from jo sharp, the silkroad aran which is primarily wool with silk and cashmere for silky softness. the color is casket, a sort of burnt sienna (didn't that color always jump out at you from the crayola box with its exotic name?), reddish orangy brown. a lovely autumny shade, especially for those days when you're casket shopping. i got it from elann, and it looked a little more reddish on the website, but after getting the yarn i realised it was probably accurate enough. another bit of proof that a small thumbnail swatch on a crisply tabular webpage can look completely different when physically displayed in poofy fibrous pigmented objects. pixels over phixels.

i finished the back and the front, and now embarking on the sleeves. a pretty straightforward sweater, though it's my first! it's amazing how specific the shaping is formed with the increases and decreases... very much piquing my interest in designing my own knit patterns, though at the same time daunting in its complexity. however, the immense power in knowing how to fully create a garment that will fit one's curves perfectly will become the ultimate reward.

question: should i block the sweater pieces before seaming, or seam it all together and then block the entire thing at once? i have a feeling that although my sweater is knit to gauge and is basically in the right dimensions, i'd like it to be a little longer to hit my lower waist, which i think blocking will solve. however, all the articles on blocking technique seem to agree and disgree simultaneously, so i'd like to hear any personal advice on this.

teva durham of loop-d-loop campaigns for non-blocking, allowing the garment to show all the imperfections and irregularities of the knitted work, which i absolutely agree for a particular aethestic. why make something that looks like you could buy it when you really want to showcase your time and love and humanity within the uneven stitches and hand-hewn surface? it's professionalism versus individualism. i vow to choose the latter.

listen :: sigur ros :: star�lfur

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

the underground, surrounded by sliders and buttons and sounds. typing away on this shiny, tiny contraption in the basement of walker memorial, blogging my first post in months and hoping the hiatus wasn't too alarming. continuity has always been the goal (i've been told that i'm infinitely differentiable, lovingly), but this segue has suffered an indefinite fermata. the cellists stare in wait. suffice to say, a lot more than nothing transpired within the last three months. abridged details of the latest and greatest will be soon to come. yet another blitzblog, but no promises on avoiding a grand epic explosion. my mind + fingers know not what they do.

the written emptiness of bliu blog has probably caused me the most distress, dear readers, but i will do my best (don't i always say that? maybe i need to nudge my best into bester) to keep a more even keel on wishing and dishing.

and so she resurfaces. may the waters be all the more refreshing.