Monday, August 31

data mining -olive juice

Sis emailed about this American children's clothier Olive Juice. Some nice stuff.

john deere day -circa 1965

Having a few truck/tractor mad young boys, you become a connoisseur of the kids movies. You know, the "I love trains" variety. Recently the kid was given How a Combine is Made, a fairly indepth look at the John Deere manufacturing plant (thx grandma). A little slow for him, but the bonus features had some classic short reels advertising the new (1965) Deere models. Self propelled. Air conditioned. Bigger, faster, stronger etc. Anyway, some great images from the promos as various farmers interviewed (using that pretty loosely here) about the NEW! 95! COMBINE!...

Had recently watched King Corn so was well up on bushels per acre, combine delivery speeds, the machinations (no pun intended) of corn planting/spraying/growing. King Corn is a look at corn growing in the USA, but mellow... following and learning along w/ 2 guys as they grow an acre of commercial corn. Worth watching if you are from the coasts and have not seen a large grain/corn operation.

Sunday, August 30

grape nut bread

We do this recipe every few months pretty much. Good rainy day activity.

Friday, August 28


"So put down the controller, kick back, crack open a Tab, and tune in to Montevideo featuring the likes of Brett Butcher, Gabe Taylor, Brendan Hayes, Nick Visconti, Kyle Miller, Taylor Carlton, Pat Lynch, and more!" via Autumn Line.

I don't know these guys atall, but like this. Winter 2010 has started.

Thursday, August 27

file under marketing -gimme cap

Foam lined for fall. Cut and sewn in USA.

barn score -three worlds

The Worlds of Play, Learning and Growth. A very neat toy village set M picked up at a sale. Can't find anything online about it or the maker or even a date, but looks slightly modernist so thinking 60's but not sure. Anyone?

Wednesday, August 26

aran sweaters

I have mentioned my textile designer/weaver/Irish-Am cousin Kristin Crane before on 10engines... after searching about Fair Isle a while back (to clarify, a few googles is not researching... that is searching) I figured she would be a good source to guest-present on Aran sweaters. Thanks KC.

The Clancy Brothers got their irish on for the Ed Sullivan show, 1961.
When James asked me to do a guest post on Aran knitting, I was excited and figured it would be easy, since I assumed I knew a lot about Aran knitting. Now that I’ve done some research, I realize that a lot of what I "knew" about Aran knitting was mostly just myth and an example of classic good Irish storytelling.

The commonly held belief is that these sweaters were knit by the women of the Aran Islands for their fishermen husbands and sons. The intricate patterns and stitches were never written down, but passed down through generations. Each family supposedly had particular patterns that were specific to their family, so that if a fisherman’s body washed ashore, the town could identify the body based on the sweater. I was disappointed to learn that the only truth in that story is pretty much that middle part about the women not writing down their patterns. [Ha, so all that clan patterns stuff is hogwash... love it. -ed.]

First things first, the Aran Islands lie about 6 miles off the western coast of Ireland, across the mouth of Galway Bay. There are three islands making up Aran: Inisheer, Inishmaan, and Inishmore. [Sounds like the start of a Monty Python skit -ed. Big note here, the knitting style has nothing to do with the Isle of Aran off the west coast of Scotland... still with us??]

Knitting came to the Aran Islands in the latter half of the 19th century, when women in rural communities were encouraged to take up weaving, knitting and spinning as a way to generate income. On the Aran Islands though, they only embraced knitting socks for use in their communities, not to be sold. For women, knitting was a communal activity where they got together to share their stitches, teach the younger girls, and I’m sure (like today) to drink tea and gossip. It wasn’t until the 1920’s and 30’s that they started to make sweaters instead of socks. It’s speculated that they were inspired to make the sweaters by the Scots who came to live on their islands. (It always seems to come back around to the Scots on this blog.)

In the 1930’s, a shop in Dublin, committed to selling Irish country crafts was put in touch with Aran knitters and started to buy sweaters from them. The first Aran knitting pattern was published in the 1940s and by the 1950s demand was high enough for companies to start supplying the women on the islands with needles, wool and a small income. It was around then that the fisherman on Aran started regularly wearing these sweaters.

The name “Aran” isn’t trademarked and is sometimes used generically to describe anything white, knit, and heavily patterned. So, if you’re looking for a traditional Aran knit, there are two important things to look for. First is the yarn. Traditional Aran knits are made from a rough, cream-colored wool, known as bainin (pronounced bawneen). The yarn is undyed and comes from sheep with tough coats from exposure to the rugged weather. The natural oil on the wool (lanolin) is left on to maximize its water-resistant and insulating properties.

The next important thing is the stitches. The stitches used are intentionally bulky to add thickness and insulation to the sweater. The stitches also have special significance and meaning, often associated with good luck, safety, and inspiration from the fisherman lifestyle and landscape. Whether these were originally designed with these meanings in mind, or have become a good story for the Irish to tell buyers is unclear. I would guess it’s probably a combination of both. Either way, I’ve bought 2 sweaters in my life and both came with a cute directory of the stitches and what they mean and does make for a good story.

For example, the highly recognized cable stitches are symbolic of the fisherman’s ropes and are considered to bring good luck and safety to the wearer. Similarly, the basket stitch represents the basket for an abundant catch. The trellis stitch is inspired by the rough stone walls found all over the Aran Islands and the moss stitch is inspired by the plentiful Irish moss. The honeycomb stitch is a tribute to the bee and its hard work and the diamond stitch signifies wealth. The zig zag stitch, also known as marriage lines, symbolizes the ups and downs of married life and the tree of life is for good luck, promising a long life and sturdy sons to become fisherman. The classic trinity stitch, which makes three stitches out of one and then one out of three, is said to grant the wearer the power of the holy spirit, and also to give the knitter a chance to say some prayers while knitting.

Look for "hand knit" on the label, as opposed to "hand crafted" which sometimes means knit on a knitting machine. I bought a sweater in 1998 in Donegal and the tag has the name of the knitter written on it. Knowing that Mary Sweeney made my sweater makes me smile.

Some technical info for the knitters out there, Aran knitting is not done in the round, but on two straight needles. A sweater is knit in 4 panels with relatively minimal shaping. These look harder than they actually are. If you can knit and purl and follow a pattern, then learning these stitches isn’t hard. The only extra tool you’ll need is a simple cable needle. A lot of these stitches are fun to do and can be used in all kinds of projects. My favorite book is the Harmony Guide to Aran Knitting, clear directions and tons of different stitches.

Finally; care. If you have an Aran sweater (or any wool sweater, actually) take good care of it and it’ll last for years. You don’t need to wash it after every wearing, just gently handwash as needed, pat dry and then lay flat to dry. This will help it get softer with each washing and keep its shape. Whatever you do, don’t dry clean it. Dry cleaning will only dry out the lanolin leaving it brittle. Don’t even put it in your washing machine, even on the gentle cycle. Wool shrinks with agitation, as well as heat, so even the gentle cycle will still cause it to shrink and lose its shape.

Monday, August 24

oliver jeffers

Wrote about this artist/ children's book author/ illustrator once before, but a few updates... Oma went to see Oliver Jeffers at the Edinburgh Book Festival last week where he drew figures and spoke non-stop for 90 minutes about his work, what is-coming next, influences (striped shirt on his hero is a nod to striped sweater monster in WTWTA, nice) and much more. Anyway, major thumbs up from Oma and she obtained a signed copy of a Jeffers book we missed The Incredible Book-Eating Boy. (Great "book chomp" styling on these covers.)

We also missed this one earlier in the year, The Great Paper Chase. Lumberjacky images right in our wheelhouse. This is for the kids you understand... These are tougher to find in the States than in the UK but will have to search this one out.

Friday, August 21

big river man

Big River Man is an envirodoc about the larger-than-life Slovenian extreme swimmer Martin Strel. In February 2007 Strel began an attempt to be the first person to swim the entire length of the Amazon.

"The Fish Man, as he was called by the local tribes, almost died in the process several times. Towards the end of his marathon ordeal his blood pressure was at heart attack level, his entire body full of subcutaneous larvae and besieged by dehydration and exhaustion.

Martin is an endurance swimmer who swims rivers – the Mississippi, the Danube, Paraná and the Yangtze prior to the Amazon – to highlight their pollution to the world. During this epic journey he suffered from blisters, sunburn, exotic stomach illnesses, all the while trying to avoid piranhas, anacondas, crocodiles, alligators, river sharks, and a small parasitic fish known as the candiru. Martin is also a rather overweight horse-burger loving Slovenian in his fifties, who drinks bottles of red wine to get extra power...even when swimming." -via AmazonSwim

Found via Caught by the River.

that 28th annual peru fair look

28th Annual Peru Fair. Peru VT; September 26, 2009.
Location: Main Street, Peru, Vermont.

"The homespun Peru Fair steps off with a 9:45 a.m. parade, followed by a pig roast, live music, dancing, hay rides and other entertainment. Dozens of local artisans and food vendors. Parking available at nearly Bromley Mountain, with shuttle buses provided to and from the village." -via Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

You can see my coverage of the 2008 Fair here, no doubt will post about it again this year. If you are in the area (southern Vermont) it is a solid must in my book. Tons of crafts, hayride, magic show guy, cloggers... and a good pig roast. It gets pretty busy for the small town.

The rig above could be a good apple-picking getup too...

The VT scenes from Baby Boom were filmed in/around Peru so if you want a primer on the town give it a look. (Our cow made it into one scene, did she get a credit? Have to check that.)

Shirt: blue OCBD type with vest. It is often 10degrees colder in Peru than down in the valley of Manchester so layer up.

Watch: Hamilton Khaki Frogman, for all the autumn swimming you might do... Dorset Quarry??

Jeans: Mine. Carhartt Western (Not boot cut. Western.) Don't see them much in the US anymore, but a straight legged type. I was getting them at HN Williams store in Dorset, VT nearby.

Boots: Red Wings x Concepts. Missed these earlier in the year, but a nice collab done with waxed cotton panels. (Is there anything waxed cotton doesn't go with?? Socks or boxers maybe...)

Pocket knife: handy to cut through crackling etc. Keep your eyes peeled and you may spot the owner of that knife, local Perkins is CEO for Orvis.

Thursday, August 20

eventually -ge monitor top

"Christian Steenstrup (1873-1955) of General Electric (GE) was responsible for the widespread introduction of domestic refrigeration when, in 1927, he designed the first all-steel refrigerator with a hermetically-sealed compressor mounted in a circular unit on top. The 14 cubic-foot refrigerator sold for 525 dollars in the United States, half the price of its competitors..." -via The Science Museum, London.

"Many of the Monitor Top cabinets were fitted with a foot pedal that would let you open the door with a touch of the foot. This came in really handy when you had just come from the hen house with your arms loaded with fresh eggs! Just a touch of your foot and the door popped open (usually busting your knee in the process)." -via Antique Appliances

A bunch of places refurb these fridges, some by disconnecting the top and adding a refrigeration unit on the back, others restore the top unit as well. They even have their own flickr group. Just rewatched The 39 Steps (1935). Interior of Mr. Hannay's flat below, Portland Place.

data mining -fishs eddy

"One fortuitous buying trip landed us in an old barn that had been in a fire. The charred building was filled with endless stacks of bowls, plates, cups and saucers that had survived the blaze... As we scrubbed we discovered something extraordinary. These were not just run of the mill dishes; these were dishes from roadside diners, railroads, hotels and country clubs. They were dishes with a past; and a history. We poured coffee into two of the mugs as we shared the same thought. We were on to something special... and customers agreed." via Fishs Eddy.

bookshelf -watching rainbows

Watching Rainbows is a quick read (doubles as a counting/reading primer) that seems to be written to the rhythm of I Saw Three Ships. This may look like a softball pick as the book gratuitiously features Nantucket but honestly both our boys love it. Plus it is cleverly tied in to a set of matching sailboats you can collect (v $mart).

Wednesday, August 19


Found these guys while looking around... Impactist. A wife and husband design/film making/creative team. Can you throw a rock in Portland OR and not hit a media type? Amazing.

"...Kelly Meador and Daniel Elwing; married, independent directors that collaborate under the alias of Impactist. We are not a studio or facility that hires employees or freelancers. Impactist is just us two individuals." -via their about us.

A couple of great clips below. Tunes remind me of µ-ziq a bit. Works for me.

They have a whole other series called Field Trip described as "...a series of motion and sound compositions relating to and exploring first and second hand experiences in regards to contextual learning. This series is an autobiographical account of the grade school activities of Impactist." Those six clips and lots more music at Field Trip or their vimeo channel.

In case you hadn't heard of him before, key-lassic cut from µ-ziq here.

file under marketing -2

Practice jersey uses TSS Graphics.