Issue #9: Yarn + Time + Faith

“With your eyes. Smile with your eyes.”

Hi! I’m Brittanie Shey, and this is Eat Your Makeup, a newsletter about art, food and culture on the Third Coast. I’m glad you’re here!

Photo by Tara Evans on Unsplash

A friend recently opined that knitting sometimes feels like an act of faith. You take a single strand of fiber and endeavor to turn it into something that is greater than the sum of its parts — yarn plus labor plus time becomes a sweater, or a baby blanket, or a scarf for winter, even though right now it’s still July and nothing about the future is certain. When you start a project there is no guaranteeing that it’ll turn out how you want it to, that it’ll or fit or that you’ll even like it. But knitting is also about finishing what you’ve started, and when you do, you have something beautiful no matter how ugly it is. You have a tangible object made only from yarn plus labor plus time as proof of the love and faith you put into it.

Maybe that’s why lately knitting has been a refuge for me. A way to turn off my brain, to focus on something other than the internet, to have something to show for all this time at home. Since the pandemic began I’ve already knitted two baby blankets, numerous washcloths, and am now working on an adult-sized afghan. (More info on that below). It’s still work, but at least it’s soothing work.

Below, some things I’ve enjoyed since the last time we talked.


Black Lives Matter

In Southwest Houston, a Vietnamese American businessman received death threats and a boycott when he put up a bilingual Black Lives Matter billboard.

After Floyd’s death, Le saw an ad from the 1970s with Black Civil Rights leaders calling on the government to help Vietnamese refugees, like himself.
“That was the beginning of ’78,” Le said. “And then I realized, ‘holy crap’ — later that year I was an 8-year-old boy languishing in a refugee camp.”

Protest Dogs

During this time of protest, I know we could all use an uplifting story. So I want to tell you about El Negro Matapacos, the heroic Chilean protest dog who hated the police.

The thread includes links to other famous protest good boys.

I Went to Disney World During the Pandemic

“Smile,” she commanded, and before I could ask her how she could tell through my mask whether I was smiling, she added, “With your eyes. Smile with your eyes.” She was referring to the “Duchenne smile,” named for the 19th-century French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne, who discovered that if you electrocute someone’s face just right, you can jolt him into smiling, but you can still tell the smile is a fake because a real one makes crow’s feet beside your eyes.

The Look Book Goes to the Jamaica Post Office

This is old, but The Cut’s lookbook has been going to every day places to capture life during the pandemic. I specifically liked this one because postal workers are hustling their asses off to get goods to the public while shopping in-person feels unsafe. Did you know that being a postal worker is one of the most dangerous jobs in the US? More dangerous than say being a cop, just as a totally random example.

Houston’s LGBT History

I’ve loved reading through this extensive but very Web 1.0 site documenting Houston’s gay history. It’s chock full of old flyers, articles from gay publications of years’ past, and more essential history, including sections on the AIDS pandemic and Black LGBT life. Here’s the entry for Robert Lafitte’s, one of the oldest gay bars in Galveston; and here’s the one for Chances, one of Houston’s few dedicated lesbian bars, which closed in 2010.

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WIP

Since I’ve rediscovered fiber arts, I’ve been thinking for a while about sharing some of my WIPs (works in progress) in this newsletter. If you like seeing them here, please let me know! You can also follow me on Ravelry.

Right now I’m working on the Hue Shift Afghan from Knit Picks, in the rainbow colorway. The pattern is a series of striped mitered squares, knit in a way clever way so that the dominant color in each row shifts as the blanket progresses. I started last Sunday and have knit 10 out of one hundred squares. It’s going much faster than I expected!


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