Ditch the Tech

Sometimes things are great and everything is awesome. Sometimes the world ends.

Sometimes the world ends and it’s kind of fun and surprisingly fashionable.

It will not have escaped your notice that I am a huge dork. Also, I love fantasy and science fiction and basically any kind of apocalypse story. The world is ending, you say? Bring it on.

Last year, Alex Tinsley of Dull Roar (have you seen her hats?) put out a call for the most important book of our tragically, prematurely shortened lifetimes. Doomsday Knits is all about knitting for the Apocalypse, and after, for the unfortunate few who survive.

I did some mental flipping through my catalogue of possible Apocalypses – did I want a Vampire Apocalypse, a la, the end of Angel? Or was this more of a Walking Dead type scenario? Nuclear Winter or Waterworld? While I didn’t go with Angel, I did go with Joss Whedon. Ditch the Tech is the Technology Apocalypse, from the end of Dollhouse.

As you know, the Rossum Corporation is working on a way to take your personality out of your head and replace it with a completely new one. For a while everything is fine and Capitalism Wins, but then, the technology is weaponized. That tends to happen. No one dares answer the phone or hang on to radios or walkie talkies for fear that the broad signal static will erase their brains and turn them into mindless killing machines.

The final episode sees our heroes holed up at their refuge in the desert. Adele is basically running a survivors camp, complete with problems with the well and a victory garden. Topher is in tiny little mental pieces, Tony has left to do what he thinks is the right thing, Echo and Paul are kicking asses and barely talking to each other, and Priya is raising her son, being kind, and listening to people. Ditch the Tech was loosely inspired by Priya’s dress from those scenes at their hideout.

Basically, I wanted something that didn’t look old-fashioned, but did look technologically-avoidant. I loved the shaping happening through the waist, loved the colors they have her in, and love, love, love, the extra long sleeves. And Priya is so lovely, so I wanted something feminine and beautiful, too. Long sleeves for those cold desert nights, but you can still move in it and strap your gun belt over your hips.

I’m pretty hyped up about the construction on this one as well. The collar is knit first, like knitting a very short scarf, and then stitches are picked up along one edge. The raglan shaping grows out of that, with those lovely lacey textured bits to divide sleeves and front. The yoke is mostly worked flat, until the bottom of the scoop neck meets, and then after that, everything is worked in the round.

The sleeves and hemline are extra long and have a bit of a flare before they end. I always want things to be practical, but if you can’t turn up the drama for the doomsday book, when can you, amirite? Also, the Cephalopod Yarns Bugga! may not be the height of practicality, but it is the height of perfect-freaking-awesome. So there’s that.

I hope you’ll take a look at the other patterns in the book- there are many Apocalypses represented therein that I didn’t even mention in this post. The book is coming out in a couple of weeks – Preorder Here! – and then you’ll be able to see everything in its amazing glory.

For reading more about the individual patterns, I strongly recommend checking out the 31 Days of Doomvember Schedule. All of the designers in the book have been writing posts about our individual projects and they’re really funny and fun to read. Also, GREAT photos (all by the lovely and talented Vivian Aubrey.)

Remember, after the Apocalypse, all this yarn and all these patterns are going to look like foresight, not obsession. That’s what I keep telling myself.

Crossbones Style

One of the greatest things about The Fiber Factor was seeing all of the amazing work my co-contestants did. Each challenge there were so many patterns that made me groan, “I want to knit that!” Not being overburdened of time and working on my own projects meant that I didn’t get to actually make any of the cool stuff the others designed.

Except for Crossbones Style.

She was made in the break between Challenge 4 and Challenge 5, and she is glorious. Steve got it 100% right in his video when he says that you cannot tell what a great pattern this is until you knit it! It’s all seed stitch and basket weave, but it’s knit in the round and the sections are all mathematically related . . . it’s terribly simple but terribly ingenious and I accidentally made mine taller than it’s supposed to be, just because I liked it so much.

My enthusiasm may seem disproportionate to the uninitiated.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to keep her. She is currently living in my Long Term Planning Bin (where the giftables live) but I may end up stealing her out if it ever gets cold in Texas. Or I may just knit another one. I have three unknit balls of Kenzie left and this one weighs 143 grams. Sounds perfect to me.

The Incrementalists

I saw that Scalzi, (author of Redshirts, (my review here) which I freaking (mostly) loved, blurbed a new book and when I looked it up I loved the plot. It seemed a little bit like that movie where Roger Sterling wears a fedora and keeps trying to break up Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, but they’re in love, so it doesn’t work.*

The Incrementalists is about a team of long-lived people who nudge the world in a slightly better direction. Well, they’re not exactly long-lived in and of themselves. Their bodies live a normal lifespan and then die. Whereupon, other members of the organization find a new recruit. The new recruit has things explained to him or her, and if they decide to join the Incrementalists to participate in Meddle Work (meddling in other people’s lives to make them slightly better) they agree to have the recently deceased person’s personality and memories “downloaded” into their bodies.

Sometimes the old personality (or personalities) is (or are) stronger than the personality that actually lived in that body. When that’s the case, the body-personality is subsumed, and the old one incorporates some new things, but mostly floats to the surface, effectively killing the body-donor. It’s all very complex.

The book begins as Phil works on recruiting Ren, (short for Renee) to take the personality and memories of Celeste, his lover for the past 200 or so years. They’ve kept up, body to body. Phil is one of the oldest surviving primaries (old personality) but something goes wrong when Ren agrees and it may throw the whole system out of balance.

It’s a good book, decent story, and Ren and Phil are great, though I don’t quite buy their insta-connection. The problem was that it didn’t seem like anything really happened. They have to hunt a traitor in their midst by going to what they call “The Garden,” which is a metaphysical realm reached by meditation where all of the memories of their many pasts are hidden. So they basically all just sit around, and then they wake up and talk a lot. Then they order pizza and talk some more. And while the Garden is a metaphor that is described physically, it still doesn’t exist, and it sort of feels like a book where nothing happens.

At one point there was some gunplay and I said to myself, “YES! Now we’re cookin’ with gas!” And then all kinds of nothing started happening again.

The thing is, there is something here. It’s such a cool idea, and if it’s the first book in a series, I would definitely stick with it. The reason I started reading though, was because I love the idea of Meddle Work – the tiny, influential changes that make a person’s life, that make the world, a better place. And there’s very little Meddle Work in the book.

I don’t know. I wouldn’t recommend it. A book where I look at the Audible App and think, “Gods. Another 45 minutes and then I can listen to the Exes again” is not going to get my ringing endorsement. If it’s a series though, and if the next one redeems the first . . . then I’ll come back and change my tag on this post.


*And yes, I know that movie was The Adjustment Bureau and yes, I know it was based on the story The Adjustment Team by Phillip K. Dick, and yes, I know I’m a bad nerd for not having read any Dick.


Hitch! And a Contest!

Helllllllllo, ladies and gentlemen!

First, off, it’s Halloween week, which always makes me giddy with excitement. If I was a better person I’d hunt up some photos of myself in Halloween costumes from my childhood – I always had the best costumes, especially the three years in a row I was Maid Marian (I always liked the 1938 movie best, although Olivia de Havilland had some seriously scary hats.)

And what better time than Halloween week to talk about Hitch!, the new collection from Cooperative Press . . . in which you will find my sweater, Not Your Gal Friday.

I was so excited when the call for submission for this book went up. Firstly; Hitchcock movies! Secondly; Fashion in Hitchcock movies!

Rebecca was one of the only movies my grandparents had at their house growing up and my cousins and I watched it over . . . and over . . . and over again, on a pretty steady rotation with their other movie, Charade. I’m sure we were too young for both of them, but they were the only options.

In fifth grade we lived in a tiny apartment briefly, and one night at about 1:00 in the morning my brother and I snuck out of our bunk beds and watched The Birds on cable. I have no idea if we were looking for it or if it was just on, all I remember is that we had the sound down so low (so we wouldn’t wake my parents) that we were kneeling about 18″ from the screen in order to hear. Watching that movie, crouched in the dark, was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. If you ask my brother about it, he will deny his own terror, but believe me; he is lying.

I didn’t end up seeing Rear Window until college, but I think it’s my favorite of all the Hitchcock I’ve seen. The set is just so amazingly beautiful, and by then I was taking classes in the costume department, so I fell hard for Grace Kelly . . . and her clothes. As much as I love the movie though, it aggravates me no end. Jimmy Stewart is such a misogynist jerk the whole time! He was basically my third grandfather growing up (we watched a lot of old movies) and I felt personally betrayed.

When the Call went out I knew I wanted to knit something for Laura. I love the scene when she climbs the fire escape and breaks into Perry Mason’s apartment wearing a tea-length dress and heels, but thought that it wasn’t really a practical outfit for burgling. When I break and enter, I’m much more comfortable in a nice sweater with elbow sleeves that won’t catch when I wrap a towel over my hand to smash a window, and maybe some pedal pushers and Converse for all of the traipsing up and down fire escapes.

And thus, Not Your Gal Friday was born. She is knit in Old Maiden Aunt Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, which is right up there with the nicest yarns in the world. One of the things I love about Cooperative Press is their dedication to providing directions for plus sizes, and Friday comes in 8 sizes, up to a 4X.

And because I’m like that, the pattern is written to hide the jogs for the stripes.

It’s a pretty great book. There are 29 patterns inside: hats, mitts, sweaters, shawls, and a very sexy pair of knee high socks. All of the designers added a few sentences about our introduction to Hitchcock or our individual inspiration, and that was probably my favorite part when we were reading through the proofs to check our patterns.

You can check out all of the patterns on Ravelry and join the group where we’re going to be running KALs.


Leave a comment on this post telling me either your favorite Hitch movie, or the pattern you most want to knit from this book by Friday, November 1st, at midnight, and I’ll draw a name out of a hat and some lucky knitter will win a free digital copy of the whole thing!

For more from the designers, you can check out the blog tour by following these links:

9/28/2013: Sunset Cat Designs
10/5/2013: Knitting Kninja
10/7/2013: Herrlichkeiten
10/8/2013: Knit and Travel
10/9/2013: Knit & Knag Designs
10/10/2013: Wooly Wonka Fibers
10/11/2013: Verdant Gryphon
10/15/2013: Impeccable Knits: Shifting Stitches
10/16/2013: Rewolluzza
10/21/2013: Knitwear Designs by Carolyn Noyes
10/22/2013: Peacefully Knitting
10/23/2013: Dark Matter Knits
10/24/2013: Turnknit: Dani Berg Designs
10/25/2013: SweetGeorgia Yarns
10/28/2013: doviejay knits
10/29/2013: Triona Designs
10/30/2013: Tactile Fiber Arts
11/4/2013: A Knitter’s Life
11/5/2013: Catchloops
11/6/2013: Yarn On The House
11/07/2013: Ramblings

Knit on!