A Storybook Knit


I knitted this shawl because I wanted a basic wrap that is beautiful and functional. I chose a luscious alpaca silk yarn, Lorna’s Laces Honor, in a deep and subtle shade of purple-grey, and I named it after one of my favorite heroines of Colonial British children’s fiction, Susan Sowerby from The Secret Garden.

Here is the text from the pattern:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was the first novel I read, approximately five minutes after I figured out that whole reading business. It has remained a favorite for nearly three decades, and was much loved by many others for a good 75 years before I found it. One of my favorite characters is Susan Sowerby, Dickon and Martha’s mother, who kindly looks out for Mary and boldly (but gently) interferes when Archibald Craven needs it.
I chose a lovely yarn that drapes around the shoulders to keep you warm on a rainy night, in a color that reminds me of the way the moors looked when Mary Lenox first saw them—grey, but not quite lifeless after all.

It is on Ravelry if you are so inclined.

New logo! Another one!

After Lauren’s amazing work on my Sew Noir logo (see it here), I asked if she could make me a new Noir Knits logo, too. And she did! Actually she made like two dozen of them, because I gave her a terrible description of what I wanted and she was kind enough to go through several versions to fine tune it.

WORTH IT. (Uh, for me. She is probably going into hiding.)

Noir Knits Shadow Square small

How fucking gorgeous is that?! Of course, now I have to decide whether to redo my pattern template AGAIN. It doesn’t currently have a logo on it, so I might not. [/lazy]

Also I have to redo my website. I have forgotten all the coding I once knew, so that should be fun.

…I’ve made a huge mistake.

Silence = Death

I found out about AIDS thirty years ago. I was six years old.

Someone had written SILENCE = DEATH on the sidewalks of Soho, most likely using a handcut stencil and spraypaint.

It looked something like this:


At six, I did not recognize the equal sign, so I thought someone had written “silence death,” which I also did not understand.

My parents explained it to me.

It is astonishing to me that AIDS is still an epidemic, but it is equally astonishing to me that we’ve made such incredible strides forward.

Today I am thinking of everyone living with AIDS, affected by AIDS, and gone because of AIDS.

Fiction of Noirvember

noirvember reads

I wish I could pretend that two books in one month is a lousy accomplishment, but these days it’s pretty good for me. And for both books to be recent roman noir, written by ladies?


Kim Cooper is the driving force behind the 1947 Project, which turned into Esotouric, the crime bus tours that someday I will have both the time and money to go on. Mary McCoy is a friend of a friend, with whom I bonded over Code Name Verity–I mentioned that I’d recently read a historical novel in which the characters knew how to knit and it wasn’t a thing because everyone knew how to knit, and she asked if perhaps it was Verity, and we became blood sisters on the spot (not really). Mary is a librarian and was a writer for Kim’s project On Bunker Hill.

Basically, these ladies are who I want to be when I grow up. And they’ve both written outstanding novels. The Kept Girl features a 1920s Raymond Chandler following a trail of money and missing persons and uncovering a strange cult. Dead To Me (out in March), set in the late 40s, is about a teenage girl investigating the attempted murder of her older sister, whom she hasn’t seen or heard from in four years. Both capture the voice and setting of period noir perfectly, give a great peek into Los Angeles past, and utterly captivated me.

Buy My Wares, Part 2

I feel like a total shithead for publishing this in light of everything that’s happening across the country because of Ferguson and the unjustness of Darren Wilson going free without so much as an investigation. Please know that it is on my mind.

So, I also design knitting patterns. And it’s time for holiday knitting now, so I am offering discounts on some of my existing catalogue from now through the new year.

Screen shot 2014-11-14 at 9.09.16 AM

Click the photo or right here to get to the bundle on Ravelry, where there are codes for 20, 30, and 40% off your purchase.

Happy Thanksgiving!


O hai.

Sew Noir Gradients

So, I have this etsy shop. It has a new logo courtesy of Lauren, and I am currently stocking it with custom sewn items. Like, you can buy something and I will make it just for you.

Por example:


That’s Whoopsie Dog. I made her for Gracie. I will make one for you or your child, too! Whoopsie is from an adorable Retro Mama pattern. I have these three other patterns, which I intend to sell softies from, but I need prototypes. If you would like to buy one, I will sell the first one to you for $20 (which is less than I will be charging down the road) as thanks for the opportunity to use it for photos.


Send me a note if you’re into that. I’ll do one of each toy at that price, to people I know. ETA: elephant is spoken for!

Also in the shop so far are bandanna pants and a stuffed toy from your child’s drawing. (Or yours! I don’t care as long as it’s original.) I will be adding superhero capes and some adult accessories in the near future. Infinity scarves and rockabilly headbands for sure, and I have some other ideas that I’m working on.

Noirvember: L.A. Confidential

a.k.a. white dude problems

Oh man, this movie has a lot of Australian men in it. It’s practically just an accent contest.

It also has zero women in it doing anything other than moving the men’s stories along.

And zero people of color doing anything other than being criminals or victims.

(There is one woman of color! She is there for two scenes: one naked and bloody after being gang raped, and one clothed where she admits she lied about what time the rape occurred. Three cheers for diversity.)

Putting that aside, this is a pretty great story of corruption and betrayal. The performances are SO FUCKING GREAT. Even Kim Basinger, whose resemblance to Veronica Lake is not great. And I know that shouldn’t bother me as much as it does–and honestly, this time around I was able to see it more–but damn. That’s a pretty huge leap to ask an audience to make, seeing as a good portion of the movie is devoted to people talking about her resemblance to Veronica Lake.

The lighting, while mostly natural, is very bright in this picture, and the film is color. Overall, I’d say it’s shot more like an action thriller (which is kind of is?) than film noir. But the feeling is certainly noiry.

I found the voice-over and on-screen typing in the opening pretty distracting. I don’t remember minding it any of the other times I’ve seen it. But this time, I wondered why we were getting the Hush-Hush version of the story, when the rest of the movie is from the cops’ perspective.

For all of these complaints, I really love this movie. I’d love it more if I felt like it either treated women like people or was making a point about the way women are treated, but it’s a great story full of great performances.

Noirvember: Mildred Pierce


Mildred Pierce is an unusual film noir. It’s a woman’s story, entirely, in an era when women didn’t get to have their stories told. Made in 1945 and set in the early 30s, Mildred Pierce is about Mildred Pierce and nothing else. I can’t think of another film noir like it. Perhaps Gaslight?

The filmmaking styles are squarely noir, with the lighting and the shadows and the amazing camera work. Many of the tropes are present as well, most interesting of all the femme fatale in the form of her daughter, Veda. In most noir stories the femme fatale is met over the course of the story and turns everything upside down, so in that sense I suppose Beragon also fills the role. But Veda is the reason for everything and he is merely the catalyst. Ann Blythe is just wonderful as the least likeable character in a movie full of hateful jerks. (Shout out to Eve Arden, who plays the only likeable character, Ida. She is likeable enough for literally the entire rest of the cast.)

The director, Michael Curtiz, is also responsible for Casablanca, the Errol Flynn Robin Hood, and White Christmas, among many others. He’s practically Robert Wise.

I am rather desperate to watch the HBO version from 2011, which I believe follows the book more closely–this one is an amazing adaptation to film, and I have no objections to the way the story is told, but… Kate Winslet as Mildred? YES PLEASE. Joan Crawford is AMAZING but let’s be real; it’s hard to buy her as working class.