Thursday, November 30, 2006

Disaster strikes again!

In the past few days the typography studio has run into some trouble. The t's were the firs o go, and the e's wr clos bhind. The fw h's and o's won' las for long. W ar running ou of lowrcas lrs. Yiks.

So far we have dealt with the problem by substituting letters. A lowercase r, for example, is about the same width as a lowercase t. We've been setting the r's upside down, with the bottom facing up, so we can find them later. It would have been easier to deal with the problem if one person were setting the entire story, start to finish, or if everyone were done (or nearly done) with their section. At this point, however, there are huge sections of the story for which the line breaks haven't been determined. We don't even know how many pages long the story will be. If we knew any of this information, we'd be able to figure out which pages will be printed from the same sheet, print those pages, and then redistribute the type.

As Barry said, we gambled and lost. Or rahr, gambld and ls.

At first Barry didn't notice that the letters were running out. He was sitting at his desk when I told him, and he clutched at his chest suddenly. That's never a good sign. Then this morning he came into the studio with a brand new, half empty box of Tums.

Fortunately for our project (and Barry's health), the typecaster is overnighting us enough letters to finish the story. I think Barry was reluctant to ask for favors, but there really was no other way we could deal with the problem.

We'll still be working against the clock: the semester ends December 14th, and nobody wants to spend finals period in the studio. In the next few days I'll try to take a few pictures of setting type, but I can't make any promises.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fresh eggs

It was a full house for Thanksgiving, with 18 adults, one 3 year old, and a set of 7 month old twins, so most of us slept at one of the local bed and breakfasts. The couple whose house we stayed at kept six chickens, and the fresh eggs were put to good use. I'll be honest and tell you that I couldn't taste a difference without having a normal egg for comparison, but they were quite tasty. On Saturday my mom and I went to help collect eggs.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Last post about the sweater. I swear.

Poor little Z. was overheating when I finally got her into the sweater. In addition to wearing a shirt and sweater underneath, she had to deal with a fire in the fireplace, so I don't blame her for feeling all floppy.

It's unraveling a bit, but this is my first swatch ever:

Awww. We've come a long way, baby. I'm a bit frustrated with the extra yarn. I found four untouched skeins I had forgotten about lurking in my knitting, and two of them are even in the same color. Pink, if you must know. I know this could have something to do with using Rowan instead of Debbie Bliss, but it still makes me suspicious. I wouldn't care as much if I hadn't unraveled my final swatch because I was afraid I would run out of pink. Oh well.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sweater finished!

It took two nights of late night assembly, but the sweater has been finished, wrapped, and gifted. Monday night I attached one of the arms and sewed the seam along the arm. Tuesday night I realized I should have used mattress stitch, and taking out that seam was definitely the best decision I made while making this sweater.

I love paper, but I have a really hard time wrapping presents. I think this came out rather well, though.

This is the sweater hiding in my carry on luggage.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Out of the stash...

I've had an idea for a scarf pattern kicking around for a while. I decided that knitting up a prototype would be a good reward for sewing in the million and a half ends on Z's sweater. For a variety of reasons (1. being tired of knitting in cotton, 2. not wanting to knit in the gross feeling yarn of unknown-but-scratchy composition I used for this, and 3. looking for any excuse to use my new Addi Turbos) I decided to knit up this sock yarn:

We will ignore the ridiculousness of using a sock yarn to start this prototype when my vision is to eventually knit up this scarf in a bulky grey color, and instead focus on my personal journey regarding variegated yarn.

Call me unimaginative, but I have a hard time visualizing exactly what the stripe pattern will look like on a sock, especially when the colors are all mixed together like on the skein above. Additionally, having never seen a full sized hand-knit sock in person, I know that I undervalue the beauty of variegated yarn. I love looking at pictures of socks people have made, but I know it's not the same as seeing it in person.

My attitude when starting the mini-prototype was strictly business: stitch counts, angles, number of rows between repeats. Suddenly I looked down and realized that the gradual fade between colors was interesting, and that they were lining up nicely across the width of the swatch.

It's amazing! And you know what the best part is? No ends. When you're done with this puppy, you're done. I have been transformed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tree warming party

I started (and finished) this scarf in August, which is no time to be dragging around wool items. Now that it has returned to being properly cold again, I have an action shot of the finished product. This tree looked a bit too chilly:

I haven't blocked the scarf, but I'm not sure that it's something I want to do. I'll admit that I was impressed with the before and after shots on Lauren's blog knitting @ lunch, and the purl bee recently put up a handy blocking tutorial, so we'll see how long this resolve lasts. I'm sure the experience would be good for me, eat your vegetables, put on sunscreen, etc. etc.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gigantic Mums!

Don't these last two look like they're from Sesame Street?

There's also a room overflowing with normal sized mums, but by now they're fairly wilted and sad looking. It's surprising how much flowers will be past their prime in less than a week.

This is Mo hard at work pinching back mums over the summer:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The collar

I have a new love.

In normal circumstances, I am not one to add my voice to the chorus of product promotions. I stopped scrapbooking when it began to feel all about acquiring the newest paper or the most innovative cutting device. However, everything I have ever heard about Addi Turbo needles is true. I will spare you the many, many details and instead give you two short points:

1. The needles are quiet enough that I can knit in a group setting without feeling like a jerk.

2. My gauge is much more consistent than on the needles with which I started the sweater. I had to concentrate on my tension in order to get the ribbing along the bottom, and you can see that there are still some random wonky stitches. The collar isn't exactly perfect, but it is much better and it didn't require my attention. In fact, I think most of the weird stitches happened after I noticed how much better the Turbo needles were and I got afraid of messing things up.

I'm glad to have discovered this brand early on. I haven't had too much experience on different types of needles, but it turns out that I do, in fact, have a favorite.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I've never been a huge fan of having icons, but there's a story behind this one.

At the beginning of the year, my house had a week long Big Sib-Little Sib project. All of the first years and transfers were secretly given a Big Sib, who would leave little presents outside their door, or make a chalking outside, or generally do something nice for them without revealing the identity of the Big Sib. I ended up being a Big Sib almost by accident, and I'm glad I did because planning secret little presents to leave was a lot of fun.

We were supposed to leave little clues with each present, and I wrote mine on the backs of postcards I got this summer. Towards the end of the week I realized that all of my clues had been very tricky, so I decided that some photobooth action was necessary. I happened to know that my little sib is a huge fan of Amelie (as am I, please forgive the lack of accent), so I headed down to the photobooth in town with some requisite disguises.

It's hard to read, but the sign says "Can you guess?"

I love how the glasses start falling off my face from trying to change hats too quickly.

I actually had another layer of disguise which never quite got pictured. I cut out a Zorro mask, but then I forgot about taking off the sunglasses.

Coming soon: The Annual Mum Show, in which plants pretend they were drawn by Dr. Seuss.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We have a winner! (and some serious sweater progress)

This, my friends, is an Italian Cauliflower. Weird, huh? Our anonymous winner is, in fact, my mom, so I will be bringing the aforementioned Prize home with me for Thanksgiving.

While I have been cleverly distracting you with Contests and Disasters, I have been feverishly working on the sweater behind your backs. Oh, right, remember the sweater?

I have finished the front, which I was stuck on the last time I posted about it. I have finished the sleeves. I have even, you will note, sewn together my first pieces of knitting ever. And I have started working on the collar. Not bad!

I really like the collar on this sweater. See that circular knitting needle? I started with a pair of regular needles and I got about halfway around the neck before I decided that it most definitely would not work.

One unfortunate aspect of starting this project was that it required buying a lot of yarn. I could have made a sweater for me with the yarn I bought for this project. Granted, it would have had crazy proportions of colors, but it would still be a wearable garment. On the upside, I now have enough yarn to start thinking about trying a simple intarsia project. Here are the leftovers, pictured without the full skein of white for the collar:

P.S. Firefox should learn how to spell intarsia. Seriously.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Contest, continued

Such a pretty green color! Send more guesses my way.
First post about the contest here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Disaster averted

This is the case of type before:

This sheet acts as a helpful reminder about where everything actually belongs.

And four hours later, with everything in its place:

On the upside, I will never need to use that sheet again. Ever.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another book

This is one of the other books I made last summer. I found the fabric in a thrift store in the basement of a church. They were only open for three hours a week, and somehow I managed to show up when an entire grocery bag of stuff sold for less than $3. Quite the find.

As soon as I saw the square of this fabric it reminded me of my friend from school. She has a fantastic wardrobe, full of vintage clothes from her grandparents, and she has quite a few dresses and skirts which remind me of illustrations in children's books.

I recycle a stack of paper from high school, so I'm always running across advice on creating a biblio-
graphy or getting into college. I started using this book to write down vocabulary for my German class, but it's the perfect size to fit in a purse or carry around, so I ended up taking a lot of miscellaneous notes down inside.

I didn't want the writable side of the paper to reverse in the middle, so that meant doing without a fold. I used the board from an empty box of airmail stationary for the back. It's held up well, even though it isn't protected by anything, and I love the map. One of my favorite things about this book is that the front and the back are so different.

The next project we're working on in my typo-
graphy class is setting and then binding a story that Ann Patchett wrote when she was 19. Yes, that Ann Patchett, the Ann Patchett who wrote The Magician's Assistant; The Patron Saint of Liars; Taft; Truth and Beauty; and Bel Canto. Yesterday in class we decided on the size of the margins around the text. The dimensions of the page are predetermined by the paper we're using, so that was one less thing to worry about.

Friday, November 10, 2006


What follows is a picture of a Weird Thing.

If you can identify said Weird Thing, please leave a comment. Extra brownie points awarded for mentioning mathematical concepts related to this Weird Thing or for Totally Crazy Guesses. If you've seen this Thing in person, please leave only Totally Crazy Guesses. The Winner shall receive a Prize.

In a few days I will post a second picture which is less blurry and shows the entire Weird Thing. As they used to say in Chicago, "Vote early! Vote often!"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Book binding

Last summer I decided that I wanted to bind books. Immediately. Lucky for me I found a great book in the library which explained the entire process. Over about two days I made three bound books. A lot of the materials I used are either recycled or things I found in our "art cabinet", which at that point had a fairly high proportion of junk (but which has since been cleaned out and re-stocked).

I wanted to make a journal with lines, so I ended up taking apart one of those composition notebooks everyone uses in elementary school to get paper. I did a good job with the binding on this one. The cover is smooth, the bookcloth is cut well and lines up. I took a long time to decide what I would use for the endpapers, and I'm very satisfied with the result.

The only thing I should have done differently are the stitches which attach the signature of paper to the cover. Somehow they got loose enough while I was tying the knot for the signature to move by an eighth of an inch vertically.

Today in class Barry told us a horror story about a press which had printed a limited edition book on handmade paper and then sent it out to a commercial bindery. The bindery misread the order form, and so instead of sewing signatures together they bound the book like a cheap paperback. Yikes.

I started to write something in here once but I ended up tearing in out. I guess the elegance of the cover papers is intimidating. My favorite of the three books I made is the one with the most imperfections. I'll be posting about that one shortly.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bicycle card

One of the students in my typography class set the poem "The Emperor of Ice Cream" by Wallace Stevens. For the facing page in the French fold she made a carving on an ice cream cone out of some plastic/rubbery material from the art store. I think I may follow suit with this bicycle. Bicycles certainly deserve as much respect as an ice cream cone. Stencils are fun to cut out, but it's time consuming to print more than once, especially when there are so many small fussy bits that need to be taped down.

I've also been spurred on by this typewriter (scroll down a bit) made by abbytrysagain, it's very much the type of look I was going for with these. The brown cover and the stamp go so well together.

I finally got a picture while I'm wearing the earrings:

You don't want to know how many pictures I deleted before deciding on this one. Thank goodness for digital cameras! This green is currently one of my favorite colors. As much as I hate to say it, blue tones may have been completely overthrown. If you take a glimpse behind the wispy hairs on my neck you can even see a hint of green from my walls. I bought three large sheets of green paper with a white magnolia and chrysanthemum pattern, and it makes such a huge difference having a large block of color on my wall.

Disaster number one

Every bit of free wall space in the typography studio is lined with cabinets. They each have about 25 shallow drawers, the cases of type. Each case is like a huge drawer for dinner utensils, or one of those beading boxes with the tiny squares. The only difference is that type is composed of lead and antimony, which is quite a bit heavier than your average bead material. The emptier cases, which have been around for a while and are missing lots of letters, aren't terribly heavy; neither are the cases which only have a set of capitals for book titles and the like. The 14 and 16 pt Centaur cases in the studio were cast within the last two years, so they are full and heavy.

When you want to pull out a case of type, you give it support by extending the drawer underneath. That allows you to get a good grip and lift it properly onto the top of the cabinet, which has a banked edge. When you plan on setting type for a long time, it makes sense to take the drawer out. Lifting it is better than standing in front of a half open case for three hours, never quite able to reach k or the numbers. Frequently, however, one does not anticipate setting type for three hours. One must replace a single letter, or add a single word. In this situation, the hassle of getting out the case just doesn't seem worth it.

And now for the disaster.

One of the projects we are working on right now is printing a French fold with a title page, a poem on the inside, and a colophon on the back. I've finished setting my poem ("First Love" by Wislawa Szymborska) and the colophon, and the last thing I had to set for my title page was Apiary Press 2006. In my estimation, this falls squarely into the category of "It's not worth it to pull out the case". So I was working in front of the case, and I had nearly finished when a classmate came over to look for a hyphen.

I can't remember the entire sequence of events clearly, but I do know that with one hand holding my composing stick, I pulled out the case far enough to check for a hyphen without pulling out the drawer underneath. Hyphens are stored in the very back row, right in there with the numbers and k. The right side got to the edge of the track and started to fall, while the left side was still caught in the cabinet. At this point I was still in a position to pull the case forward, and the law of gravity was still far from my mind when the case began to tip over and slip out of my grasp.

As dozens of letters fell out of the case L. and I managed to catch the right corner. Not too many pieces fell on the floor, but the entire case got jumbled around. Hundreds and hundreds of pieces of type. The worst thing about it is that this is a new case of type, where there haven't been as many chances for people to accidentally put a u in the n slot, or an s in the i slot, or even an i in the i slot for a different font. Barry heard the ruckus from across the room and asked loudly, "Did somebody pie the type?" He didn't get angry, and he said not to deal with it right then. He put the jumbled case on the top shelf in the cabinet, and pushed it to the very back so that everyone is less likely to see it and pull it out, and then started talking with L. about the hyphen problem. The worst part was that my composing stick was right there between them, and I hadn't finished setting Apiary Press 2006, so I had to stand there when the only thing I really wanted to do was disappear. I have a long weekend of sorting type ahead of me.

And what do we learn from this? Apparently the newly cast Centaur does not have a hyphen.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

No longer an etsy virgin

The trip to San Antonio was good. We performed well, and all of the conductors had positive things to say. The river walk reminded me of lazy rivers in water parks. I'm excited about our trip to Italy at the end of the year; as my dad would say, "It's a good group. It seems like a good group of kids."

So a small secret about me is that I don't check my mail very frequently. This is due in part to my living on the other side of campus, and partly to my disinterest in walking around in the cold after dinner any farther than necessary. However, we have had some bizarrely warm weather around these parts for the past few days, so when we got back from San Antonio on Sunday I was willing to trek across campus in the dark. I was prepared for an empty mailbox (besides the usual letters from the college about registration) because I thought that the earrings couldn't possibly have arrived, but there they were! It was quite the welcome back. My first etsy purchase!

The earrings are such a great color of orange. I don't have that many earrings with me up at school, and most of the earrings I do have lean towards the cooler blue-green side of the spectrum. I think my favorite thing about them is how the color varies slightly throughout. They are the perfect length for my face, and they make me want to wear my hair down, which is highly unusual. More earrings by sulu (as well as a more artful and appealing shot of this pair) can be found online, and Susan writes about forthcoming designs here.

Disaster number one will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Voy a Tejas!

If I finish my exam and get packed, that is...

The chamber choir I sing in has been invited to some inaugural collegiate choral convention conference whoosie whatsit, which is in San Antonio. The hotel we're staying in is right on the river walk, which I've heard is the coolest thing in the whole city (town? I clearly know nothing about Texas). We're singing a set of Dvorjak and Rachmaninoff pieces and it's pretty exciting seeing how far we've come with them. At the beginning of the semester it was tough just getting through them; today during sectionals we paid attention to all of the dynamic markings even though our conductor wasn't there.

Unfortunately I have an exam to take tonight, for which I must write up some notes. Adieu!