Plans A-Brewin’

It’s a foggy November day, the sky whited out with cloud cover and the leaves beginning to come off the trees in earnest. The perfect kind of afternoon to stay home and work on some sewing, now that our studio is in some semblance of working order. I’d been working on this Truffle dress pattern by Colette in this cotton lawn from Liberty of London.

The project had been had been put on hold for a couple of months after the move, because it took awhile to get all my supplies unpacked and clear out the floor space I needed to cut fabric. But now I’m back in action and hope to get this dress finished soon — I’m planning on wearing it a lot this holiday season. Art Nouveau is one of my favorite design movements, so I’m pretty in love with this print.

My knitting needles have been clicking up a storm too, of course, as the holidays approach. Most of the things I’ve been working on are supersecret gift-type things, but here are a few shots of a cowl I (sort of) recently finished.

For those who are interested, that’s the Chicken and Waffles Cowl pattern by Verdigris Knits, knit up using Schachenmayr SMC’s Silenzio yarn in white and the same company’s Juvel yarn in lime. Silenzio is an acrylic-wool-alpaca blend, but though I’ve been iffy about acrylic since learning it’s made from petroleum (ew), this yarn at least doesn’t feel like it’s made of acrylic, which is a plus. The alpaca makes it nice and soft and fuzzy. And it’s a bulky-weight single, which adds to the soft-factor. The Juvel, on the other hand, is 100% wool, and it’s plied, which makes it a bit more of a workhorse yarn. Not the softest yarn in the world, but I think it’d do for some nice Shetland or Nordic colorwork.

The cowl was done using a technique called brioche, which is way easier than it looks. You only use one color per row, with the effect created by wrapping stitches using yarnovers, then eventually knitting the stitches together with their yarnovers. The Italian cast-on method I used was way more difficult than the actual colorwork — wish I’d thought to get a picture of it before gifting the cowl.

And here is a pair of mitts I finished even more recently:

I really love this yarn, Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool, as the skeins are quite large and reasonably priced, and the wool comes undyed, in a range of natural colors. (Although I will warn that that the colorway I used, Birch Tweed, does have a small bit of acrylic and rayon content, for the tweedy effect.) Lanolin oil is added back to the wool during the spinning process to mimic the yarn that would have been used for the traditional Guernsey or Aran fisherman’s jumper. This adds a bit of water repellency, which makes it perfect for a tea cozy, like this one I knit last spring:

Tea cozy 12

And last but certainly not least, work on Bat Boy is beginning to gain steam again. The stress of the move put it on the shelf for a little while too, as I focused on getting the apartment in shape. But I think the break was just what I needed, because I find myself able to approach it again with more discipline, actually working in terms of chapters and overall narrative arc, figuring out how to fit together all the bits and scraps I’d been jotting down as errant bolts of inspiration struck, and filling out the connective webbing that I hope is going to hold this thing together.

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Bat Boy Takes a Late-Night Drive Down the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Bat Boy, my novel-in-progress, began two years ago, on a bus back to the city from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, with the first five-and-a-half lines here. I’d never heard of Bat Boy at that point, and he didn’t attach himself to these words until months later. The rest of the poem was written in a 24-hour laundromat in Prospect Lefferts Garden.

The project has moved over into prose now, but I’ll probably find a way to use or cannibalize these lines. They’re some of my favorites.

BAT BOY TAKES A LATE-NIGHT DRIVE
DOWN THE PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE

Your body, your traitor. She too turned
on you, leaving you shocked as graveyard
in full sun, as white poplars thrown hands
over heads against sky by the speed
of a running sedan. But was she
ever yours, and if so, what was she,
your joke? No, you’re the joke. Ears spiked
like gothic spires, ichthyology
for skin. Eyes two chasms, too-humid
nights. The stars’ keening bleeds into air
around your gun-metal Accura—
fenders whistling as they peel night’s skin
in two. You’ve seen your lineage writ
in the plump screaming of mosquitos
against your windshield, and seen hers too.
They think you don’t know the difference,
think you’ve seen nothing but gray ceiling
in all the puddles you’ve hung your head
over, waiting for someone to come.
But when in cave-close antechamber
you saw her, you couldn’t believe hair
could be that red. So many seasons
of albino trout, so many dawn
digs through office supply store Dumpsters,
aurora breaking over bald crown
in the moment of discovery:
three packs of undefective pencils.
You’d invested such faith in the hex
of your face, after a while you stopped
looking behind you. But someone did
track you home, plastic recorder bulging
in silk-lined pocket. You don’t recall
what you talked about, only the way
the dimness glinted on her white teeth.