Vegi Patch is a compost of thoughts on graphic design, life and knitting from an american graphic design teacher in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I've enabled comments for everyone or you can Email me kate at kcarlyle dot com.

Friday, October 27, 2006

on knitting and Hedgehogs II

I've been back in Jeddah for a month now. We just finished Ramadan, Eid Mubarak yawl. things go back to "normal" on Saturday.

I spent the 2 week break working on knitting. getting it out of my system so to speak. If you read my blog because I'm a graphic artist, all this knitting stuff may seem a little off topic. It's not. Check out my web site: most of the posted projects from my BFA/MFA involve knitting. I thought Wallace and Grommet rocked right from the beginning cuz Grommet knits. and there are knitting gags every where.

I get some rather bewildered responses from my CG friends. particularly the guys who are working in the gaming and special effects industries. I spend hours and hours and hours in front of a computer killing my eyes making stuff that has no real substance. I also knit, sew and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It's all process to me and heads up, I am a girl; despite what my feminist friends where ranting at me during the eighties doing "women's" work will not drag me down into some pit of male domination. I think it's really sweet that all these twenty somethings have discovered knitting. But I will slug the next one who sits down next to me and tells me all about the garter stitch scarf she just made for her boyfriend.

I don't crack on people for spending hours in front of "games" blowing up stuff, and killing the person they're "playing" with. well not very often anyways, no one can explain desktop solitaire to my satisfaction. So I'm not sure why the fact that I knit stirs up such a reaction. I guess I don't LOOK like a knitter. I have had more than one yarn shop employee/owner ignore me until I got to the register and then "see" the sweater I was wearing. "YOU made that?" Maybe I shouldn't head directly for the markdown bin.

Knitting is endlessly fascinating and if you think it's all about ipod covers and eyelash scarves, well you're only partly right. The two books I've had the most fun with in the last year are: Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature by Norah Gaughan and Unexpected Knitting by Debbie New, both of which came back to Jeddah with me. So there they sit on my coffee table, one of my associates from school came over one day and leafed through Unexpected Knitting. "What IS this stuff?" um. what's the title?

I knit. sort of a lot. I finished my Level I Master Knitters [ TKGA ] 3 years ago, with one swatch to resubmit in order to pass. Of course the reknit swatch and the rest of my "Level I" is in a box that I didn't manage to find over the summer. I decided to go ahead and start my "Level II" and tear the storage unit apart next time I get to Raleigh. I seriously doubt I'll be done with the "Level II" by then. (why has it been 3 years? two job changes, I got redirected. I had to quit participating in knitting exchanges when I realized the other participants expected a timely response - most people aren't on the 5 year plan.)

w/e as Alicia would say. The link to the continuing adventures of the Hedgehogs II: Going Home is here,

Hedgehogs I: Francis and Rozis is here,

Again, the pattern for the hedgies is by Debbie Radtke, for Fiber Trends - Hand Knit Designs. and I purchased it (online) from Two Swans Yarns.

More illustrations when school is back in session.

peace, kate

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Post Modern Texas

Knitting away on a double knit scarf for my daughter and she the most generous child in the world asks: "can you make one just like it for Megan". "Sure" says the most magnanimous mom in the world.

"only do a texas theme kind of thing." Hereby embarking on a rather typical mother daughter discovery of what "just like" REALLY means. First, all of this is discussed via Gmail chat, not exactly a visual medium. Second, we have a history of this sort of project not exactly working out to everyones satisfaction.

Texas, my favorite state in the union, most of the time.

mom: "Red, White and Blue?"
kid: "well she mostly wears black." "but she needs to mix it up a little."

mom: "I see, so toned down texas?"
kid: "right, but maybe the state of texas?"

mom: "uh huh." [I hate intarsia knitting.]

couple of days pass - I venture out to the only needle work store I've found in Jeddah, nothing speaks Texas to me.

me: "I'm stumped on Megan's scarf. the yarn shop has a pretty limited supply of yarn. nothing screams texas" "there is some very pretty mohair in BRIGHT red. and BLUE, and WHITE." "there is also a very nice grey wool that I could knit shapes into?" "not color blocks - but texture changes."

kid: "well, she wouldn't wear anything bright anyway" "like i told you... so i dunno, just do something normal in black/white/grey"

me: "thats what I was thinking. but black yarn sucks. and grey would be very pretty." (um, in case you're getting all hot about black yarn sucking, I'm getting blinder all the time - can't see what I'm knitting with black yarn.)
kid: "k"

me: "I was thinking a repeating star motif + the state of texas + a steer skull"
kid: "steer."
me: "dead cow. long horns."
kid: "dead is beef. steer is longhorn" "i think, i dunno, w/e"

me: "kay"

kid: "i'd just do stars" "or maybe like,"
me: "even better."

kid: "the tips would be a block with one big star, and the length would be two stripes somehow?" "like, with opposing rows or something?" "perpendicular rows to create two stripes, only in grey."
me: "I can do that."

kid: "like the flag, i should've said"
me: "so it's the freaking texas flag but in grey."
kid: "right"
me: "no problem'oh"

kid: "ok well i'm going to go take a shower"
me: "and fast and easy and it might get done."

So some serious searching found no decent star pattern charts on the internet, or any way not in the scale I was looking for. Knitting figures with texture is a little trickier than it sounds, so I charted it out and um, edited the chart after knitting it twice to get the results I was looking for. It's hard to see in the photos - but there are horizontal stripes on the left and vertical stripes on the right.

And so the perfect post-modern adaptation of the Texas flag. in a scarf no less. Which I made up from some stash yarn I brought back from Raleigh (purchased at a yarn store in Mount Vernon, WA - 16 years ago).

The pattern is here: Megan's Post Modern Texas Scarf in pdf format. If you have any problems with it email me. It is only the second pattern I've written down.


Friday, October 06, 2006


I'm home in Jeddah, fooling around with my new Wacom tablet - one of the things I missed over the break was the water fountain at the pool. which runs quietly attracting birds, growing moss and some rough bougainvillea. the pump will stop after a sand storm. Sometimes it takes several days to get it up and running bringing a silence which is different from the quiet murrmur of water and the chirping of the birds. I missed the Illustration Friday deadline, but I got most of my syllabie finished.


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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Alicia's CTA story

"In a city increasingly characterized by class and ethnic distinctions, the trip in by train was arguably the one significant personal experience that more Chicagoans had in common than any other." – Carl Smith. Professor of English and American Studies and professor of history at Northwestern University Common-Place, Chicago

The Illustration Friday topic was “phobia” and what popped into my head was the basic human phobia of other human beings different or “foreign” to them; Xenophobia. Shortly afterwards my daughter emailed me this little essay:

I got onto the last car of the train (always a mistake) and since it was completely packed ended up standing in the car. Which is fine blah blah happens all the time. Weird muscley hooded guy stared at me. Not unusual (I'm super hot, I'll remind you). Later, the crowd has thinned out a very little bit and drunken-seeming guy stumbles onto train and stands next to me. Fine. Crowd thins out more, I get a seat next to late-90s man. Cool. Somebody stinks. Standard. Middle aged black guy with 80s hair sits down on the other side of me. Whatever. Seemingly drunk guy starts telling everyone on the train he is "all drugged up" because he just got out of the hospital and "somebody stabbed me!" THE FUN BEGINS!

80s hair: Where were you [when you got stabbed]?
Stabee: uptown.
80s hair: mm.

time passes. Stabee strikes up a conversation with man sitting near him, repeating same information he has already given the whole car: he was stabbed, he is drugged up, he just got out of the hospital, etc etc. A girl gets up and Stabbe sits next to the man, continues to discuss his woes.

Later I accidentally make eye contact with Stabee, and he asks me if I'm ok.
Me: Yeah... I'm fine.
Stabee: You don't gotta be afraid!
Me: Afraid of what? You? Psh.
80s Hair: AHAHAHA... that was funny!
Stabee: You ain't gotta be afraid of me.
Me: I'm really not.
80s Hair: Haha!
Stabee: Bein' afraid's how I got stabbed! When you afraid, stuff happens.
Me: Very true.

time passes.

80s hair: I really like those... those new converse, what are they, sewn up inside?
Me: Yeah, they're laceless, so they're just sewn together and the tongue is elastic-y.
80s hair: I like those! They're very cool, very cool, very very cool.
Me: Thank you!
80s hair: Mmmhmm. I remember when I got my first pair of converse, I was bought 11 years old.
Stabee: Hehe, we're talkin' YEARS back now eh!
80s hair: Mmhm. Yeah, I remember that first pair of converse *looks wistful*.
Me: What color were they?
80s hair: Red.
Stabee: Mine were white!
Me: I've got a pair of white ones.
Stabee smiles.

Then they both got off and I was kind of sad. Luckily, a woman got on right after them, sat next to me, and promptly started talking to herself/anyone who would listen about her phone needing to be charged, her missing wallet, and how she's all shook up because her boyfriend tried to kill her last week and she had him arrested, only to find out that he had been booked for attempted murder before.

The next stop was mine, so as I got up I recommended she stay away from her ex-boyfriend.

"Oh, honey I don't need men anymore. I'm a free woman! I'm gonna find me a rich guy. I'm dating my dentist, have been for a while. An older rich man, that's what I like."

(the photos are both taken by Alicia. the train pic is from her bedroom window. she lives in chicago and rides the CTA every day.)