Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Unbridled Consumerism

Let nobody say I'm not doing my best to live simply. Paring down one's belongings is suddenly fashionable in the United States, as we all prepare to move into cardboard boxes and wait out the looming recession. (At least that's what they said on the "Today" show.)

Over the past five months I've engaged in a massive apartment purge. Fourteen huge bags of shredded paper have gone down the trash chute, a new wing has been added to the local charity shop to accommodate the former contents of my closets, and I purged my bookshelves of all superfluous volumes.*

However, as good as it sometimes feels to let go, I won't pretend for a minute that the arrival of new goodies ain't a thrill for me. Please, I'm only human. And a knitter. Apparently some of you are, too, judging from questions in the comments.

So today I'm going to light candles in front of the statue of Mammon and lead the congregation in Hymn #42, "In Heaven Be There No Credit Limits and the Good Yarn Is Always on Sale."

Shut Up and Knit Shirt

Elizabeth (no blog) asked where to get the "Shut Up and Knit" shirt worn by Lilith in her portrait for the 1,ooo Knitters Project.

Monkey Shirt

As it happens, Lilith herself designed the shirt, and it's available through a friend's online shop. Clever woman, that Lilith. I wish I'd thought of this one, myself.

Dragonfly Dishes

A whole bunch of you expressed interest in the dragonfly dish that inspired the dragonflies on Abigail's Kimono. I got mine from Cost Plus/World Market, which has a Web site but doesn't appear to sell them online.

Honestly, although I love how they look, they're disappointingly fragile. I'm not one to fling crockery across the room (unless the president is on television), but almost all of my dragonflies are already chipped from nothing more than normal, occasional use. I won't be buying earthenware from World Market again.

Dragon Stash Guardian Shirts and Mug

You asked for a dragon on black/dark shirts. You got it. You asked for a dragon mug. You got it.

Stash Guardian

It's all here.

People were speculating as to whether it's supposed to be Smaug (from The Hobbit) or Fafnir (from The Ring of the Nibelungs). Neither. Her name is Mary Alice and she's from Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Pattern Tamers

I saw these at Yarn Con, but was so busy making portraits that I never got a chance to look closely at them. But the maker, Kelly Black, was kind enough to provide me with a set to try out. In brief, they're ribbon-covered magnetic markers that can be used to mark lines or charts in your knitting books (or cookbooks, or any other kind of book).

Here's my set in use.

Pattern Tamers

When I plan on toting a complicated project around, I usually make a personal-use photocopy of the chart and keep it in a Knitpicks chart keeper. But when I just want to just try out a motif–for example, a pattern out of one of the Barbara Walker treasuries–that can be a lot of bother. Kelly's Pattern Tamers mark your place–and hold the page down–without harming the book. Yes, please.

She sells them via her Etsy shop and also through six or so Chicagoland yarn shops.

Pre-Orders of 2008's Most Eagerly-Awaited** Knitting Book

An encouraging number of you have asked about pre-ordering my book. So many of you, in fact, that my panic attacks have decreased to no more than one per hour.

I checked with the nice people at Interweave Press and they anticipate Amazon pre-orders will be possible in or near May (the book itself is to appear in the fall of 2008). However, pre-orders through Interweave's own site should be available sooner than that. I'll let y'all know when that happens.

So keep your pants on, Ma. It's coming, it's coming.

My Dream Knitting Bag

For ages I'd been carrying my knitting around in a Chinese military surplus bag. I tried to pretend this was hip and cool, but in fact the thing was so bedraggled and filthy that when I walked around with it over my shoulder it encouraged passers-by to offer me spare change and sympathetic looks.

I knew I needed a new knitting bag, but...I'm a guy. For guys, picking out a new knitting bag is like beating your head against a wall, except that beating your head against a wall at least burns calories.

It's unlikely that your local yarn shop carries anything suitable. The saleswoman may insist that all the metrosexuals are carrying batik totes with bamboo handles this year, but you will know in your heart it's not so.

An Internet search on "men's knitting bag" pulls up no useful results, unless you want to follow Stephen's example and knit your own. But I don't want to knit my knitting bag. I just want to put my knitting in it.

Women who are allergic to the traditional "pink brocade kitties" styles can go to a host of smaller, slicker designers; a big name like Jordana Paige; or even Knitpicks. Alas for men, in re-inventing the knitting bag these folks have basically re-invented the purse.

Well, at last I found my bag. Or rather Tom, a non-knitter, found it and presented it to me at Christmas.

Tom doesn't knit, but he pays attention. He took mental notes as I jabbered about what I needed and the pitfalls of so many would-be knitting bags. He knew it had to be tough, top-opening, subdivided on the inside, and not too deep. He knew it had to be free of Velcro, the natural enemy of yarn.

This is what he came up with. It's from Victorinox Swiss Army (how butch can you get?) and I adore it.

Bag Exterior

Guys, it's fantastic. It comfortably holds two small (or one large) projects, the odd book or two, my sketch book, pencils, notions and spare needles (in interior zippered compartments), my chart keeper, and my collapsible umbrella.

Bag Interior

The shoulder strap is comfortable and sturdy. There's an exterior zipper pocket so you can get at your day planner, your pen, your subway pass or whatever without opening the whole thing. It has no Velcro, no batik and no pink kitties. It in no way resembles a purse. GI Joe could carry this thing into battle and nobody would bat an eye.

And that, if you ask me, is the only reason you've never seen GI Joe knitting. He couldn't find the perfect bag to match the boots.

*Ten. A new record!
**By my mother.


Sarah said...

I very nearly bought that bag myself, although I'm not particularly butch.

Rachel H said...

We likes this Tom of yours.

Jackie said...

Go Tom!

Cheri said...

I like that bag, and I'm sure that my friends and family would not describe me as butch (actually I think the word they most use is "practical").

I have 4 kids (3 at home), so I'm always trying to purge the house faster than they bring...stuff...into it.

Nancy said...

That bag is so much better than 99% of the knitting bags (or purses) I've seen. Yes, I'm 'allergic' to pink kitty-cutesy fabric. As soon as you tell us when we can preorder your missive, there will be a rush on all available sites. They won't know what hit them!

catmum said...

There is also the awesome Tom Bihn company, who recently came out with knitter specific bags. I love them, and their ethic. Their bag cured my lifelong bad purse shoulder

Pixiepurls said...

I've heard knitch in Atlanta is going to carry some sort of nice knitting bag that men would be more agreeable too, as in Atlanta we have lots of male knitters! I love that book knitting around, I just finished reading all of the digressions. EZ is the best.

The Mad Crocheter said...

That looks niiiiiice... I like my "pirate hooker" messenger bag that I got from Craftster's CafePress site, but it's starting to look kind of rough. Note to self: Yellow does not hide dirt.

However, I would probably tote a Hello Kitty bag around quite happily.

Ruth in snowy Ottawa, Canada said...

A purse by any other name...it looks like a great bag, though!

Emy said...

Ooh, that's a good bag! I've been using the Timbuk2 bag that I designed, and the only thing I don't like about it is that darn Velcro. Useful in a regular messenger bag, but annoying for the knitter. :P

M-H said...

There's a couple of knitting lesbians down here that are eyeing up that bag too.

Angel said...

My knitting bag is a sturdy commuter bag made for ebag's own in house label. It has a big main zippered compartment with a side compartment for holding stuff like patterns or magazine (designed originally for newspapers). It can, however, fit a mess of projects so I tend to use it when traveling for a while when one project just won't suffice-- but I am happy for you... it always feels good to finally find "your" bag.

Alwen said...

What a weird coincidence. I recently gave away on my local Freecycle a Swiss Gear SLR camera bag. The guy who took it is on disability and planned to use it for his diabetes meds.

I judged it too small for my knitting. How strange to see that logo again so soon.

FiberQat said...

Well, when G.I. Joe was out, camouflage wasn't chic. Now you're stylin', my friend.

Mine's on wheels. Because some days require industrial knitting.

Bex said...

thats a kick-a$$ bag!

Celia said...

That Dragonfly stoneware...I have a teacup and saucer that is, sadly, chipped, and another chipped Froggy cup and saucer - both from Cost Plus/World Market. Love the styling, but I won't buy stoneware from them again either.

quinn said...

This provides new insight into Rancho Cucamonga.

Stephania said...

You are too funny. Good taste.

If you need the hyper masculine look I'd go for a toolbox with a tool belt. You could stick knitting needles and scissors in the tool belt.

Maybe don't add the tool belt.

Kristen said...

"So today I'm going to light candles in front of the statue of Mammon and lead the congregation in Hymn #42, 'In Heaven Be There No Credit Limits and the Good Yarn Is Always on Sale.'" BWAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, I've got a stitch in my side again! You are too much!

BTW, I've got a Swiss Army computer bag that I love. And some luggage. Soldier on our dear butch knitter!

Bobbi said...

I tell ya, that Tom has good taste! (and good ears, and good...oh, we won't go into here!)

PICAdrienne said...

The bag is very nice. I am going to go a slightly different route to get away from the patterned fabric I do not care for in a bag, and make my own...to my specifications!

I have to say, I like the dragon (being a Dragon and all,) but I never saw her as Smaug. Smaug would probably eat yarn, rather than protect it.

MonicaPDX said...

I keep noting that is one of the smuggest-looking dragons I've seen lately.

And now I have bag lust. Although I do have a bag that's great for hardcore lugging of knitting projects. It's rugged and protective; the main compartment zips; it has a zipped compartment on one outer side; on the other side a pocket big enough to safely hold a pattern or a book; and an adjustable shoulder strap. It's an old TWA carry-on bag.

The only problem with it is that it's an old TWA carry-on bag. Bright red with a large white logo. Doesn't stop me using it, but I tend to feel hit by lightning every time I look at it and all that red smacks me in the eyes!

Anonymous said...

My knitting boys call theirs a "man sack".

Very butch examples can be found up here (Toronto) at Mountain Equipment Co-op. But be careful if you ever go there, the place is a black hole of awesome hunting-gathering gadgets that you know you would never use - but somehow, mysteriously, have a deep and sudden need.

Leslie - knitting therapist

Trillian42 said...

My hubby's got one of the Swiss Army bags for his laptop (Although his is the backpack version). He's been carrying it to work every day for months now, and it's still in fantastic shape. Bodes well for your new awesome knitting bag!

Anonymous said...

"Fourteen huge bags of shredded paper have gone down the trash chute..." (cough, cough) Surely you mean the recycle bin??

If you have a thing for draons and you're ever in Dallas, check out Richard Larson's Quilting Design Studio. He has an awesome dragon quilt. You might even be able to talk him out of it... or trade... or some such [wink].

Good on Tom. He sounds like a keeper.

Sue said...

awesome bags. And as well all know, you can never have enough cool bags.

~Donna~ said...

My knitting bag is a small AMPACK messenger bag I picked up in Chinatown in San Francisco. No velcro whatsoever and only one zipper on the front of the flap. I loves it lots and it's coming with me to the UK for vacation.

Danielle White said...

We've heard about this "Tom" before, haven't we???

I believe he has struck again.

Sunflowerfairy said...

Lilith looks beautiful in that shirt!!


Thanks for the shout-out.

Buzz said...

oh and he didnt buy it from me? damn!

bywatercyn said...

made myself the hermione bag from "charmed knits". felting did not exactly turn out as planned, but for a quickie knit and fun looking, especially not turning out exactly as planned, fabulous!!!! major help in our recent move, too! mine is red and black. much more red in the wardrobe- oops- different author!

Sock Knitter said...

I think I love this Tom of yours :)

It's so nice when someone PAYS ATTENTION and gets you the perfect gift, isn't it? Didn't he do something similarly thoughtful with something else, too?

Yep, a keeper!

Rachael said...

OMG- I just read your "did you learn to knit in prison?" post this morning.
I had a good laugh and then was off to a Dr. appointment. On the way home , I suddenly thought about it again and started to giggle so hard I almost had to pull my car over. Maybe people like this were put on the planet for comic relief.

Anonymous said...

"Ten." Hah, I knew you wouldn't let me down, Franklin. The mere suggestion that books can be purged had me mighty worried.

Anonymous said...

Love that dragon! I think he's saying (ominously) "step away from the stash, people..."

MaryjoO said...

great post as usual.

But I think the t-shirt should say:

Get off the internet. Knit more!
(my problem)

and the Swiss army bag is great, but other colors? the other company that would make a great bag is ... I can't remember now. It has a oval swirly logo, and I think you can "custom" fit some of the straps or pockets, but the bags are durable, and come in unisex colors.

MaryjoO said...

sorry, found the name now and someone jogged my memory: the Timbuk2 bag.

But velcro is NOT a good thing when you are carrying yarn around, so you really do have the best one in the Swiss army model. MaryjoO

Meredith said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't get rid of books; my recent purge resulted in about 6 books being declared superfluous.

And I like your bag. You wouldn't even know it was a knitting bag unless you looked inside. Very different from my bag - a boat and tote bag from LLBean that's black with teal handles and has 'knit' embroidered on the side in teal.

Anonymous said...

I have several knitting bags. For take-along knitting, I use a black leather laptop bag which features a divided interior - project goes on one side and wallet, umbrella, other stuff goes on the other side. Outside pockets hold other stuff I need to get to quickly such as phone, tokens, sunglasses, keys & reading matter. I found that the best solution for me, as I prefer to carry only one bag rather than purse + knitting bag. I do like yours, though!


Seanna Lea said...

I love my Namaste bag even though it is admittedly purse-like and feminine. I never would look at the Namaste or Jordana Paige, etc. and think they were bags for guys. If I were a guy (or just a woman looking for something sturdy and genderless), I would probably find a messenger bag or a good camera bag and start from there.

The Bubbeh in WI said...

My usual opening: I lurves you, Franklin. {ahem} Having said that - you know how Jews answer every question with a question? You know how I'm Jewish? Could that question thing be true? and "do you know anything about Yarn Con 2008? Was that the one sharing space with a Comic Book Convention? If so, why didn't my daughter look for you there? Did she? Is it cold there? Am I being ridiculous now? Should I go away? (did I mention that I lurve you?)

dale-harriet said...

ps Could you guess I misunderstood that whole "nickname" thing? Will you accept my apology? {chertle}

Gretchen said...

This gal has been using a nylon gym bag (bought for five euros at JC Penneys in Sligo, Ireland!) as a knitting bag for five years now. It's big, but that's a plus. Butch, too-- all black.

Deborah C. said...

I know this is going to sound truly strange, but my favorite all-time knitting bag was the "Do-It-All Diaper Bag" from Lands End. It does NOT look like a diaper bag, but a large-ish duffle. It came with 2 useful bags inside, one I used for circular needles and the other for knitting tools. It has an insane number of inside and outside pockets, comes in colors like black and light red, and can be cleaned. The only reason I stopped carrying it was that I crammed too much stuff into it and threw out my back!

Thanks for listening and making the shirt in black!

Annabella said...

Sadly it's my understanding that Cost Plus stopped carrying the dragonfly design. Though perhaps I'm only remembering that about the purple ones....

Irene said...

I think you are wise to fling the crockery. I think I tend to gnash my teeth whenever I hear dubya, which I fear is going to cost me dearly in dental work down the line. Much cheaper to sacrifice cost plus pottery -- and probably more cathartic as well.

Kat said...

It is nice to know that I am not the only one who throws things when the President is on the television - although I have been know to toss things whilst listening to him make a buffoon of himself on the radio as well.

See you Saturday in Lansing!!

Cara said...

Commercial Earthenware is always a poor idea for dinnerware or anything that will have much use and washing, it is generally brittle, porous, and the more it is washed the more it will chip. Stoneware and true porcelain (fired in the 2100 degree and up range) are a much better choice than earthenware, which is low-fire. Too bad, those dragon-fly dishes are very lovely.

The bag is nice, but to me it looks too much like a laptop computer bag. I have the disagreeable problem of having one bag which must do duty as a purse, diaper bag, and knitting bag. And I hate anything which 'looks' like a diaper bag. So I carry a minivan.

Anonymous said...

Mary Alice in Cucamonga???? why that is my name and I am in Huntingdon Valley. Must be some mistake...have met about a dozen other Mary Alice's in my life so it couldn't be them!!

Yarnsnob said...

I have one of those bowl/plates left from a set of four. I rarely use it so if you need to complete your set, it's yours.

Terri said...

Way to go, Tom! Good job on the bag, and he's not even a knitter! Have you mentioned the title of your book yet so I can look for it?

Also, how about writing and selling the pattern for that darling snow man hat - since you panic attacks are down to just one an hour now...

mkh727 said...

Happy Birthday Franklin!

Thinking of you and hoping you're doing well.

kgirl said...

that is one great knitting bag, lucky you! and Tom, you're a STAR!

Malin said...

Those pattern tamers look really nifty, I have to check them out!

I have given you an award! Here it is: http://malinkan.blogspot.com/2008/01/you-make-my-day-award.html

Malin said...

Argh, link too long, try this one instead:


David said...

thank you thank you thank you for a post about men's knitting bags.
i have carried the swiss army bag for about three years now.
you rock.

Tina said...

The new knitting bag looks awesome. I have been looking for a new knitting bag myself, although I am partial to pink kitties. I guess I could always add my own special touch.

JoVE said...

being a female who HATES purses, I think that bag would go down with folks of my persuasion, too. Butch is definitely a plus. (Someone ought to tell cheri (commenter) that "practical" is a euphemism for "butch".)

And those magnetic pattern thingies could also come in handy on a real book that you might want to read while knitting. So you don't lose your place while looking down to see whether you just dropped a stitch or whatever.

DeanB said...

Thanks for that link to the bag. I've been using a gym bag that I made from a Timberline kit or some such, but it has velcro in it which does get to be a problem.

Cat said...

Oh I love those magnets what a great idea. That bag is awesome!!! The book looks like one of the German pattern books Bauerliches. I love that set!


Anonymous said...

That Swiss Army bag would go great with my Swiss Army knife (and I'm not butch either).

You had me worried about that book purge - I was relieved to see only 10 volumes walked. I have five I'm trying to find homes for, and after that I had to go lie down.

matt said...

Mary Alice freakin' rocks Rancho Cucamonga, and tres butch on the bag. Go Joe!

Tracey In Michigan said...

My Chart keepers arrived yesterday- mid stranded mitten project..(Bird in Hand-Kate Gilbert) PERFECT! Great recommndation- ;)

Kyle Kunnecke said...

love the bag - i just bought a bag from a military surplus store - a "messenger" bag - military green - super butch - i'm gonna add my little twist to it though - in a few weeks, I'll be posting about it on my blog... :)

La Cabeza Grande said...

I adore Tom's manly knit bag solution for you. Methinks somebody loves you enough to listen...

My Victorinox traveled to Amsterdam with me, easily carrying one large and two small projects plus assorted accouterments.

Jennie said...

I know *exactly* the earthenware you're talking about. I got my sister several pieces, including the teapot, and my dog jumped up when I came in the door and... teapot in a zillion pieces. (God forbid they'd actually wrap it securely for me; no, no, two thin plastic bags will do. Hmph.) They replaced it at my urging, but my sister has been hard pressed to keep the rest in good shape.

Oh and btw, looking forward to your book! Congrats on the great knitting bag!

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