Astounding Knits

For those of us who love seeing daredevil knitting projects that go way beyond sweaters, Lela Nargi’s new book is a new favorite!

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Astounding Knits by Lela Nargi is a kind of record book for knitted art, unusual projects, and general yarn craziness. And I am honored that Luvgun is included!

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You can find him featured in the “Knits of War (and Peace)” section, along with Marianne Jorgensen’s tank covering, Seann McKeel’s knitted origami cranes, and more.

There are a few patterns in the back, but this is mainly a coffee table book that even people who aren’t ready to pick up the needles can enjoy. You can find it on Amazon and in other bookstores, hopefully including many local yarn stores.

Lela has also started a blog for updates about the people involved with the book.

And the Pursuit of Happiness

I admit, I don’t usually do much in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But I recently read a great book that seems appropriate for today: my boss gave me And The Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman for Christmas, and I loved it. I didn’t really know much about Maira Kalman, but I should have! She is an Israeli-born New York artist and author of children’s books.

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And the Pursuit of Happiness is like a picture book for adults about democracy in the United States. Kalman reflects on her favorite people who helped shape the nation with beautiful language, photographs, and of course, artwork. (MLK isn’t featured at length, but he is celebrated alongside Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.) She also intermittently includes an awesome illustration of food.

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It seems a bit rare these days for art and patriotism to go together so harmoniously. I found this book very inspiring!

Summer Reading

My July 4th weekend consisted largely of reading and sleeping in the grass. How appropriate that I was reading this book.

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I loved it. It’s been a long time since I got excited about a book, so I feel the need to spread the word. As you can see, it’s The Accidental by Ali Smith. It came out a few years ago.

While I’m talking of new favorite things, the best movie I saw recently was Please Give (not spectacular, but unexpectedly good), and in the music category I’ve been enjoying The National’s Boxer (admittedly late to this one too).

2009 “Best of”s

How about some “best-of” lists for 2009? I don’t keep up with all the latest in any media, but here’s what I enjoyed this year anyway.

Best new movies
In the Loop
Up in the Air

Best new-to-me movies
Paris, Texas (1984)
Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Best new album
Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion

Best new-to-me albums
The Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat (2004)
Parenthetical Girls’ Entanglements (2008)
John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (1964)

Best new TV
Mad Men
Friday Night Lights
Parks and Recreation
Community
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best new-to-me TV
Friday Night Lights (The first 3 seasons)

Best new book
Turns out I didn’t read any 2009 books this year! But I read a lot of new short fiction, particularly from Tin House.
Oh, I forgot The Believers by Zoe Heller!

Best new-to-me book
Beloved by Toni Morrison (1998)

Best new game
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure

Best new-to-me games
LEGO Batman (2008)
Rock Band 2 (2008)

Best new cats
Soupy and Nipsey!

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Robot Dreams

My friend Calista, who works at First Second, a publisher of graphic novels, was nice enough to recently give me a copy of Robot Dreams, the wordless book by Sara Varon. I loved it!

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Apparently Robot Dreams is meant for younger readers, but it was perfect for me. Reading it felt kind of like watching a silent movie. The story is about a dog and his robot friend who get separated—it’s sad in parts, but very touching, and the artwork is great.

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Reading this made me want to pick up more graphic novels, which seem just right for weekend reading. Thanks Calista!

Knitted Toilet Paper is Catching on

My free pattern for Toilet Paper from October last year has recently enjoyed a little surge of attention, thanks, perhaps, to its inclusion in Whipup’s recent Ultimate Guide to Knitting (and Crochet) for Halloween post. How nice of them!

The funny thing to me is how so many people like to take the intentions of this pattern very literally. It was originally meant to be a silly gag, or perhaps a scarf, but I suppose if you knit it, you can do whatever you want with it…

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As a Halloween pattern, I suggest hanging it in your tree, or using it to dress up as said toilet-papered tree.