Monday, October 22, 2007

Alouette progress

I'm nearly done with the first repeat of the stripe pattern, which means I'm done with a bit more than 1/10th of the sweater. It seems so much smaller when I think of it that way. So far there haven't been any major mistakes. Two rows into the first color change I realized that four rows earlier I skipped a yarn over right in the middle. I went back to fix it, and then I realized I had used the wrong color when I switched. It looks much better with the brown, the lavender was kind of blah.

I'm taking a class on Landscape Plants & Issues, and for my field guide I've been taking pictures of lots of the plants on campus. Here is one of my favorites:
This is a picture of Liriope spicata, which is used as a groundcover. It is a bulb, and remains green for most of the year. It gets ratty for a few weeks at the end of the winter, but when new growth begins it arches out from the center and covers old growth. It shouldn't be mowed and it is easy to rake. It spreads by lateral rhizomes and tolerates shade to sun as long as it isn't dry.

Knitting may be slow around these parts for a while, so there will probably be a few more plant updates.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Awaiting buttons

The pink cardigan is done (hooray!) and awaiting buttons. I will put off doing a final project evaluation until they have been found and fastened. I am intrigued by the technique Catherine Lowe uses to attach buttons: she doesn't. In the Spring/Summer Vogue Knitting this year there is a brief article on different closures, and Lowe describes making what are essentially cufflinks, with a fashion button for the outside and a smaller button that stays hidden. Definitely an interesting concept, although I'm not sure how well it will work for this particular garment.
I was definitely surprised by how pink this was once I put it on. Somehow the individual pieces didn't strike me with quite the same intensity while I was knitting. The first time I tried on the cardigan I wore a black shirt beneath it with a neutral skirt, but the difference was so stark that it seemed to highlight the color saturation. Instead of trying to "tone down" the pink with dark colors, I'm going to try wearing other colors that can compete. I don't know if that makes any sense from a color theory perspective, but it works for me.
On the tamer side of the color spectrum, my swatch is nearly done for Alouette. Using the stitch markers has been incredibly helpful, although I've still had to rip back quite a few times. I think I've reached a good stopping point, and now I have to decide exactly how to deal with the washing and pinning. I'm fairly certain that I will run out of this color when I'm actually knitting the sweater. I'm concerned that the process of knitting (and ripping and knitting again), washing, and pinning, only to rip out completely, might be too much stress for the yarn. I've noticed many places where the ply has begun to untwist, so I'm just not sure how well it will hold up. I considered buying a stray ball of Irish Cream from another dyelot. I've been trying to justify this by convincing myself that the stripes will be able to hide any color fluctuation, especially if I rotate the stray ball in randomly instead of saving it for one specific area. It would also be nice to have the swatch for keeps; I'm very close to starting a swatch binder.
The most genius plan, of course, would have been waiting to begin the swatch until arriving back at school, since Webs has just started carrying 4 ply soft. Not in any of the colors I need, but since when does the swatch have to be the right color? I hope that this will be enough of a hassle that I start buying an extra ball for swatching, because that really seems like the most sensible thing to do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Casting on

There are some yarns you either love or hate. And I think I have just made a mistake, the kind of mistake you make when $40 more will get you free shipping so you order 6 balls of yarn without knowing if you're a lover or a hater. This is the pattern photo that did it:
I can't explain why I thought I would want to knit this twice. I would be very excited to wear this scarf, and I picked great colors for matching my coat, but the pattern itself seems very simple. I just started working on the first version this afternoon, and so far, I'm a hater. Now that I've had a chance to collect myself, I realize that a more appropriate needle would have made the whole experience a lot smoother. At first I tried some generic and pointy aluminum needles, but they were way too heavy, so I cast on again using Addis (the regular ones, not the lace version). I'll give you a peek at how things went:
This is what Mo would call "a hot mess". This particular disaster is because I jumped up to grab the phone, but the experience as a whole was fairly unpleasant. I think it's still early enough to manage without resorting to scissors even though I've heard this yarn is a terror to take out. I may leave this until I can get my hands on some nice, pointy lace needles.

To avoid dealing with the magenta business above, I decided to start my swatch for Alouette. Sometimes, it turns out, I'm a lover. A lover who wants to do the gauge swatch right. A lover who doesn't mind having to cast on again and again and again. A lover who is willing to go back and fix mistakes.
I love how the pattern is turning out. I can't wait to see how the colors play off each other in the stitch pattern, but I'm attracted to the simplicity of a single color; it seems luxurious in person. This swatch is much wider than any I've done before. I just listened to the swatching episode of the Knit Science podcast, and she recommends doubling the suggested width and measuring from the center to avoid any weird tension changes near the edges. For a while I toyed with the idea of going all out and making a complete sleeve as a gauge swatch, but I worried that doing all of the stripes would leave me with unusable scraps of yarn if I ended up having to make changes and start over. The swatch is so large that it's likely I'll need to unravel it in order to finish the actual sweater. I'm not sure what the implications are for how I wash and block it before measuring. It would have been a much more rational purchase to spend some of that $40 on an extra ball dedicated to swatching and a back-up ball of Calmer.
I spent all of yesterday sewing up the pink cardigan, but I'm holding out for some sunny weather before taking pictures. smbelcas warned me this morning that the Blue Sky Organic Cotton stretches out. I was using the Dyed Cotton and not the organic version, but they seem as if they would behave in an identical manner. I'm hoping that the eyelet pattern will be enough to hold the stitches in somehow. Does that seem reasonable? And if I keep it buttoned, mightn't the negative horizontal ease keep the stitches from collapsing?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mission accomplished!

Finishing up this hat was intoxicating. I had worried about switching to dpn's, because I had trouble keeping a smooth join in my Norwegian Stockings (and that was using two circular needles). Fortunately, Calmer is very forgiving, and changing the position of the joins every row definitely helped. The obligatory view from the top:

Do you see the section where two cabled braids begin to merge and form arrows pointing to the top? While I was knitting that section they reminded me of flying buttresses on huge cathedrals. It's a bit hard to see, now that the whole pattern of the star is visible, but I really enjoyed that section. I quite enjoyed the whole thing, actually. Towards the end of the arrow-y bits I realized I'd been doing the centered decreases incorrectly, not slipping two stitches knitwise. Slipping them knitwise makes the decrease disappear, fading in as a regular knit stitch, and you might be able to see the difference between the two decreases in the bottom of the photo above, near the middle.

When you give someone a gift that you made, do you feel compelled to point out your mistakes? I fight the urge, but sometimes I cave. I know that they wouldn't see it otherwise, and it usually serves no purpose to tell them. But what if the person you give it to is a knitter? What if they are learning how to knit, and you're teaching them? Does it make a difference if it's your mother?

I showed her my mistakes. I think she likes it anyway, no? Goofball. Technically she isn't learning how to knit, as she has the knit and purl quite well covered. She knit me a sweater when I was born, as well as a striped blanket with some kind of zigzag eyelet pattern. She hasn't knit in a long time, though, and I'm trying to entice her back to the craft. I eased her into it, suggesting a felting project. "You could make coasters," I said, "for presents." She liked the idea; a lot of people have been checking in and making sure she's okay, and making small thank-you gifts seems appropriate. We got all the way through the felting process, but I must not have warned her to bind off loosely, because the whole thing is curved like a piece of Brio train track. (Brio trains are so much fun!). After felting that first piece, I could sense enthusiasm was on the wane (evidence: leaving the yarn behind while going to a doctor's appointment. Not good. What else is the waiting room for?) so I promptly suggested another project. A scarf! Even better: for me! And here's where I go in for the kill: in Manos del Uruguay!

Hah. She's besotted. For a while I worried that the My So-Called Scarf is too tricky, because the stitch pattern is hard to read, especially if you're just getting reaquainted and you're using handspun. Not having made it myself, there are definitely times where her stitch count is off and all I can contribute is a puzzled shrug. However, I think something that challenges you is a better hook than something that is beautiful but tedious. The only other scarf that I've had my eyes on is the striped Noro, and I worried that feet upon feet of 1x1 ribbing would be too much even for the most enthusiastic recruit. I tend to prefer variegated yarn that isn't all out craziness, and this has just enough zing.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Knitting goals.

I don't have very much practical experience as a knitter, and I know that when it comes to pattern and color choice I'm fairly unsophisticated. I'd like to say that I consider a pattern and yarn choice separately, but the truth of the matter is that if I'm not drawn to the color in a photo, I'm not likely to consider knitting a pattern. I'm also a bit wary of substituting yarns, having recently made the poor choice to knit a summer type of garment in a fall or winter weight yarn. The top is more than fairly ridiculous, but I'm waiting for proper fall weather before making a decision about frogging vs lengthening the arms (I have plenty of yarn left over).

Because of a general skittishness with changing yarns and colors, when I fell in love with Alouette (from Rowan's Vintage Knits) I decided to wait until I could find 4 ply soft. I think Webs started to carry it simply because I queried their search engine so many times. They don't have the colors I'm looking for, though, so I tried a local (and very upscale) knitting shop. It was an unsuccessful attempt, so they started suggesting substitutions. All of the substitutions seemed very, very expensive. The only price tag I can specifically remember was for a ball of cashmere, which was $25 for a tiny tiny ball of yarn. I'm talking in the neighborhood of 25 to 50 grams. Now, I know knitting is generally an expensive hobby, but I am not prepared to spend from $225 to $450 for a single sweater. For one thing, the pressure might crush me. I might even stop knitting altogether.

Okay, that won't happen, but can you imagine the guilt? Buying more than $200 worth of yarn and then not touching it? I know this is what people generally refer to as, quote, "stash", but I don't think I am constitutionally equipped to handle the inner drama.

In their defense, the women who worked at the local shop suggested many different yarns, not all of which would have doubled the cost of the sweater, but I was so shocked by the cashmere that I blocked everything else out. I think I murmured something of a vaguely negative nature before retreating to the section marked "SUMMER SALE" in large, yellow letters. Clearly I had found my corner, and switching to Blue Sky Cotton from another worsted weight yarn for the Vogue Short Sleeve Cardigan was much less scary than speculatively buying 1,700 yards of fingering weight.

I tend to wear lots of neutrals. Just the day before my mom said, "I have a question. How does someone who loves bright color so much [that's referring to me] end up wearing so many boring clothes?" That may not be an exact quote, but the gist was "Why do you always wear gray?" Besides all of the neutrals, I usually have one color dominating my wardrobe. I am sure this is entirely driven by the fashion industry, since everybody else seems to be wearing a lot of green lately too. I would not say that I am against wearing pink, I have just already gone through my pink phase. I hate to say it, but switching to a pink instead of a tan was very close to the boundary of my comfort zone. I bought the yarn mostly because my mom liked the color, and I felt bad for dragging her to a yarn store that didn't even have colors of Calmer to look through. It didn't help when I found out that the colorway is called Shrimp (not a fan). I wasn't sure about the color when I cast on the next day, and I wasn't sure about the color when I sat knitting for six hours while my mom had her first chemo treatment. That's a lot of not being sure about a color.

By now I think I'm convinced, if only because my love for the process of knitting this has worn off onto the product. As long as this fits it should be fantastic with my green skirt. I really need to get better about this separation of patterns, yarns, and colors, though. I feel like I am usually trying to make an exact replica of what I see in a picture, with only the occasional tweaking. It was a big shock to hear how many modifications Jenny and Nicole make during the most recent episode of Stash and Burn; even more shocking was the huge variety of modifications suggested for the Corset 9 on Knitting Daily (if you haven't signed up yet, you should consider it; for one thing, there isn't a ten thousand million person waiting list). I would like to cultivate that type of independence in my knitting, and I think the best way to push myself is to try designing something from the beginning. I am so impressed by Mandy at zigzag stitch, her first sweater design had steeks! And a zipper!

I might be up for a vest.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Great Reveal

I had a bizarre experience finding out that my mom had cancer. For one thing, biostatistics is all about cancer, that and heart disease, so almost all of the studies we’d looked at or been told about for the past four weeks had involved clinical trials of either a chemo treatment or a beta blocker. Makes me quite glad to be getting back to completing my math degree; I don’t think the risks associated are quite as dangerous.

“Rachel, I have to tell you something. I found a field.”
“Hmm, let’s have a picnic!”

“Rachel, I have a set.”
“Of dishes? That’s good.”

“Rachel, I found a ring.”
“Wow, that’s lucky! Is it pretty?”

“Rachel, there’s suddenly a river flowing through the backyard and we need to know the cumulative volume of water flowing through our property over a week.”
“We have equations.”

See? No problem. Terrible math jokes aside, it was pretty intense coming home two weeks later, because my mom had waited for a few weeks before telling my brother and me. This meant that she had already had surgery before I got home, and was in the midst of a flurry of doctor’s appointments before her first chemo treatment. That first week was pretty much all cancer, all the time.

Well, that’s not exactly true. There’s been quite a lot of knitting.

Yes, I know there’s a mistake in three quarters of a row of the first repeat. The cables are what I like to describe as a non-event. I think there may be a row of cables crossed in the wrong direction as well, but I couldn’t quite figure it out when I looked earlier. The real issue with the hat is that it isn’t quite a hat yet.

More of a bowl cozy. I realized somewhere around the beginning of the fourth repeat that I was running out of yarn. You know that point where the center pull ball is no longer a solid object and starts collapsing in on itself? Very scary for that to happen when you aren’t even close to starting the decreases. Especially if you are on a road trip taking your brother to visit colleges and you have no other suitable projects for car knitting. I knit tighter and tighter as the rows went by, but I couldn’t make up for the incredible looseness of those first repeats. Fortunately for all parties involved, there was another ball of Calmer left in Khaki from the same dyelot. In fact, there was only one, so it’s lucky that I got to it first.

(By the way, if anyone is looking to buy Rowan yarns, Richesse Online is having a sale to help clear out there warehouse for a move. Now that I have stocked up for several projects I can let you in on the secret.)

Besides the whole running out of yarn issue, I love this pattern. It’s interesting, each row is easy to remember (although I did clearly make a mistake, so just be careful when you pick it up again after putting it down), it changes frequently, and it keeps you on your toes. Grumperina’s excellent tutorial on ditching the cable needle has been invaluable (I thought that word was right and I checked); I don’t think I would have gotten half as far in twice as much time if I hadn’t finally taught myself the technique. For anyone starting the pattern I would suggest using a sticky note to underline the working row, and crossing out the row numbers as you complete them.

In sum, I’m very glad to have started this project. That yarn delivery had better hurry up, though, because hair is on its way out and the wig is on its way in.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Green Gables

This photo is terribly out of date. It was about at this point that I realized I had knit the first row in the wrong direction. Ridiculous, no? I guess I was just skimming the pattern instead of actually reading it, and I assumed that if you are going to knit something in the round you join it immediately after casting on. Lesson learned, I suppose.

This is the first thing that I have frogged completely. I definitely had a hard time with the idea of starting over, so it spent a few months just sitting around. I didn't really have time to be knitting anything, so it wasn't that I was intentionally neglecting it, but it helped me gain perspective.

Knitting this has taught me that the extra time it takes to remove stitches from needles and place them on scrap yarn is worth every precious second. It definitely makes it easier to try something on if you aren't worried about stitches falling off in the back, and isn't the ability to try something on the whole point of knitting from the top down?

I've finished all of the knitting and woven in the ends. One thing that puzzles me, though, is how to block something like this. I can't remember ever coming across information about blocking apiece knit in the round from the top down. I guess a trip to the library once I get home should provide some answers.

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to bring a camera with me and leave the cable connection at home, so I can't post a current picture for a few weeks.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I put knitting away for the first two weeks of the semester, but now I've picked up the Norwegian Stockings again and I've made significant progress on the second sock. I started out as a very tight knitter, and that tendency definitely came through on the first stocking. By the time I was half-way through the first one I was able to relax a bit, but the damage had been done. You can see here the difference between the first and second sock:
They look like they were knit for different sized feet! I eventually loosened up on the first sock, right about when I decided to pick up each yarn as I needed it instead of carrying one in each hand. So I haven't quite picked up all of the intricate details of this new technique, but I'm enjoying the process.

This should give you some idea of how tight my knitting was on the first sock. I'm wearing the first sock in this picture, with some very stressed out stitches:
And here are the stitches while I'm wearing the second sock:
Ah, much better. For a while I had a grand scheme which involved knitting an extra sock top, cutting and picking up live stitches in the first sock, and then grafting a new top half to the old bottom with the proper colors for each stitch. Danger. Excitement. This grand scheme has, however, been rejected. At this point I have decided to either (A) frog down to the point where my stitches loosened up, and then knit back to the top as if I had begun from the toe, or (B) frog all the way down and start over. The attractiveness of option (A) is not having to knit a sock from the complete beginning. The problem is that I'm not sure how well I will be able to line up the patterns between the rehabilitated first sock and the second sock. The attractiveness of option (B) is being able to fix all of the mistakes I made the first time around and ending with a nearly identical pair of socks.

Now that I've loosened up my stitches the stocking will fit around the circumference of my calf, and so these will officially become knee socks. Here's one last laugh for you.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Half of a pair of socks.

What can I say, opposites attract. Sure make a cute couple, though, don't they?
I love the way this toe shaping fits my foot. I love how the the checked pattern feels on the sole of my foot and makes it want to wiggle around. I love how I decided to graft the toe closed with only the black yarn, so the band of black continues all the way around the foot. I love how I have another stocking to knit, and I can make the second better than the first. I love how I have homework, and my homework is knitting.
A demure lady crosses her ankles, not her legs. And then takes a picture to post on the Internet and prove her virtue.
(Taking that last photo was extremely difficult)

Question: what am I supposed to do with the ends? I wove in the ones from the ribbing along the top, but once I'm into the stranded knitting it seems pretty difficult to get around all the floats. Any ideas? Do I just trim them short-ish and let them felt? Will that even work if half the wool is machine washable? Tie off the ends on a random float nearby?

Mathematical Knitting

Perhaps finishing the first stocking last night was overly ambitious. I've finished all the decreases until the toe so I'm hoping that the next bit goes faster. The sudden cold front has given me increased focus on cranking these out.
I forgot to mention that I'm taking a Mathematical Knitting course over J-term. sarah-marie belcastro is teaching the course, and a lot of the objects and specific patterns have never been knit by anyone besides her. Today we knit a mobius band, which is an object with only one side. You can make one out of a strip of paper: hold a strip of paper with one side facing you, twist one end so you see the back, and bring the two ends together as if you are making a circle. If you tape the ends together, you can trace one continuous line around the entire band, which demonstrates the one-sidedness of the object. During one of the classes we'll be knitting a torus, which is shaped like a donut. For homework I have to make a huge mobius band without binding off, so I think it may end up being transformed into some other strange mathematical object. Updates coming soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In which I become well acquainted with a seam ripper.

Apparently this is work-in-progress week. Here's a third project I'm working on: taking out this nearly invisible hand-sewn hem. Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?
Inspired by this gorgeous dress with a hand-sewn zipper at Pink Chalk Studio, I finally decided to finish this skirt, which I started almost exactly a year ago. I won't go into graphic detail about missteps along the way, but eventually I finished sewing in the lining and creating a hem along the top.

At this point I wasn't sure how to proceed, so I brought the skirt with me to Valley Fabrics. The owner was very helpful (she's just come out with a book about sewing skirts that seems less about strictly following a pattern than knowing what general shapes you should cut for different types of skirts) and made an offhand remark about how it would have made more sense to layer everything so that none of the edges would show from the inside. I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but now it will drive me crazy if I don't fix it.

In other news, it has finally snowed here (total accumulation: .0002 cm) and I have been feverishly working on the Norwegian Stockings. I'm hoping to finish the first and cast on for the second tonight. I had a moment of doubt in which I contemplated the relative merit of stockings vs. legwarmers (I'm not entirely sure that the finished stockings will fit in my only color-appropriate shoes) but I've decided to finish them following the pattern. I can keep them for inside wear if I have to, and now I will have plenty of red to use as an accent for a pair of legwarmers. I remember coming across a legwarmer KAL from a few years back, does anyone remember seeing this/know where to find it?

I've been on the cusp of making a case for my knitting needles, but I haven't been sure about how to deal with circulars. Lucky for me I found this tutorial about making a circulars case, which I am posting here both to share and make sure that I don't lose the link/forget about it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Working title: Taming of the Scarf

What fun! Mo and I are filming a movie. It involves repeatedly moving a herd of pins very slowly. We finished getting footage today (at least, I have my fingers crossed that we can use most of the shots) and sometime during the next week we'll be working on editing it into a movie. It's going to be shockingly short once everything is cut together. I'm guessing less than a full minute. Here's a sneak preview:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First (and second) proper socks

My first properly sized sock has so far been incredibly frustrating. The knitting has been fine, but I originally cast on a size too large (I was hoping to gift them, but didn't have a foot to measure while I was on the train). I was trying to keep them a secret, so I was quite far along before I realized my mistake. My second attempt has been much better, but I'd like the socks to stay snug all the way down the ankle, which won't be possible without decreasing the number of stitches along the way. Since I'd rather just follow a pattern all the way through for my first pair without messing around with the number of stitches, I've decided to skip my first pair entirely and work on the second.Ahh, much better. Nice and snug. I'm using the machine washable Dale Falk wool-or at least, that was my intention. Somehow I ended up with the black and red in Falk and the white from another line of their yarn, Hauk, which must be washed by hand. I didn't notice until I'd already started knitting, and I've decided to just wing it and hope for the best.
Bad stash knitter. The green is Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo, which I'm planning to use for the Green Gables pattern from zephyr style.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Walking to Webs...

I got a little distracted on my way to Webs.
Wouldn't this make the most amazing skirt?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Vegan Vietnamese Spring Rolls

This summer Mo and I craved these spring rolls and walked for two hours to get the rice paper. Unlike Thai spring rolls, which are fried, these are light and refreshing. They can take a while to prepare, but if you can cook the tofu ahead of time it goes much quicker. The only specialty food involved is rice paper, which I've found at both international food shops and Whole Foods. Rice noodles also might be a bit tricky, but I haven't usually had a problem finding them. The rice paper I use comes in a package like this:
Tofu (extra firm)
Vegetable oil
Fresh mint
Fresh cilantro
Rice noodles
Rice paper

For dipping sauce:
Natural peanut butter
Hoisin sauce

1. Place the tofu between a few layers of paper or cloth kitchen towels, and put a heavy-ish weight on top to squeeze out water. Once the tofu is no longer soaking wet, lay it face-down on the counter and cut through the middle, as if you are cutting a thick slice of bread into two pieces to make a sandwich. Saute/fry these tofu slices in the vegetable oil, and then cut into strips:
2. Cook the rice noodles, following the directions on the package (this should be very quick, don't let them overcook). When the noodles are done, you can save the water for the rice paper by pouring it into a separate bowl.
3. Wash the cilantro and mint, pick the leaves off of the stems, and allow to dry (or blot, if you're impatient).
4. Now you have all of the ingredients ready, and you can begin to assemble the spring rolls. If the water from the rice noodles is too hot to touch, pour some of it off and add cold water. Take a piece of rice paper, and dip it into the water, getting the entire surface wet. It can still be a little stiff when you pull it out and put it onto the dish you will use for rolling.
5. Place a small amount of noodles, a piece of tofu,
some cilantro, and some mint near the edge closest to you.6. Fold the edge up and over the insides,fold in the two sides, and roll tightly forward.
7. One down, 19 to go! If the spring roll seems like it is bulging out, try using less of the rice noodles in each roll. 8. Once you have a platter of spring rolls, it's time to make the sauce. Spoon about a third of a cup of peanut butter into a pan, add about two tablespoons of water, and turn on a low flame. Stir in hoisin to taste.

Essentially you can put anything you want in these spring rolls. I've had a version with basil, lettuce, and carrot strips, and my dad is itching to try shrimp instead of tofu. If you have little kiddos in the kitchen they can get the mint and cilantro ready, which is a big help. I find making the rolls a lot of fun, especially when I sample the wares.

New Knitting Magazine

I just found out yesterday from reading Just call me Ruby that there is a brand spanking new knitting magazine online, Knit on the Net. If I had a baby to knit clothes for, this sweater would definitely be under consideration. With only one issue published so far, the magazine doesn't have an archive of patterns that can compete with Knitty or Magknits-yet-but they do have an incredibly cool gadget on their site. A while ago I mentioned finding free blank knitting charts online, but Knit on the net has gone one better: customized free blank knitting charts online. I'm looking forward to seeing how this magazine develops, and I'm already looking forward to the next batch of patterns (there's a sneak preview of one here).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The enthusiastic but bewildered response.

You know that weird situation that happens where you spend an inordinate amount of time making a gift and the person you give it to just doesn't get it? They just have no conception of how much care and effort went into what you've given them? There's a funny version of that, too. I gave my friends the linen facecloths, and they were touched, and appreciative, and clearly impressed, and we spent a great deal of time talking about them. We talked about how to take care of them, details about how they were made, which one was my favorite, &c. &c. Then as I was leaving I realized they hadn't a clue how they were meant to be used. Absolutely no idea. This is the second time this has happened to me recently, too, which means I should stop being lazy and start making up cards to give along with presents.

"Dear so-and-so," they will read, "I know how much you ______, I hope you enjoy this _____/nod and smile/thank me and hide it away in a cupboard."

Oh well. I guess I could have been clearer, or mentioned earlier on what their purpose was, but it just didn't seem like there were any doubts.
At least what I finished today shouldn't have that trouble. Mo has already seen this in progress, but it got hidden under my bed and forgotten, so it should at least be mildly surprising.
I think Mo found this at a thrift store, but it came with a giant moth hole. Fortunately for Mo it was in a good place for an embroidered patch. This is the first thing I've embroidered following my own design. I hadn't planned on changing the color of the grass, but I couldn't find the same colors of thread that I used before, and I think it makes sense to have a lighter putting green anyway. I'm modeling it here so you can see placement a little better.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Decisions, decisions

For some reason the purple fabric looks really bizarre in the smaller format of this photo, but if you click on the picture it's much more true to life.
I brought the paisley fat quarter with me to purl patchwork, and the original plan was to use the paisley, blue, and pink polka dot to make an embroidered knitting needle case similar to the make up case my mom and I collaborated on last week. I was simply drawn to the swirling purple, and I got a half yard so that I would be able to use it in a larger project. Now I'm not sure though; I really like the combination of the three right-most fabrics as well. Better to hold off on the purple or use it now and regret it later?This was a total impulse purchase, and I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I quite like the patchwork combination at shim + sons which uses the red version.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A housewarming gift

What a lovely bow! The back of the ribbon even feels like suede! What could be in the package? Why is this package next to a birch tree?Oh, a present! Linen facecloths! Not for me, though. Two of my friends have been dating for several years, and they have just gotten engaged and moved into a new apartment. My first plan was to give them a picture I took last summer, but at this point I think their need for functional things outweighs their need for art. Besides, there's still a wedding that will need a gift.
It's allegedly the middle of winter, so the first yarn store I went to didn't have any linen in stock. My mom and I had been planning a trip into New York, however, so we stopped by purl and purl patchwork. Such cute stores! The storefronts are adorable bursts of color on the street, and that's before you've even gone inside. It must be something about being accustomed to New York apartments; those stores make the best use of every square foot I have ever seen.It's amazing what a little natural light will do, I confess to taking most of my pictures at the end of the day. The gold colored one in the middle is my first attempt at anything like lace. Without following it in chart form I couldn't memorize the entire pattern in the time it took to finish the face cloth, but I understood how the increases and decreases were functioning, which was exciting. I love that point when the pattern stops being a puzzle and starts making sense.

All three of these came from the book Knitter's Stash, edited by Barbara Albright. After finishing the first two (oatmeal and dark gray) I felt confident enough to try making up my own plan for the third. I wanted to try a basket weave stitch I found in Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, but I chickened out after two full repeats when I couldn't see how the pattern was going to show up. I'd like to try it again, in wool, and see how it turns out.

One thing I love about coming home on breaks is that the main library branch here has a fairly large and well rounded selection of knitting books. I've been able to sample so many books that otherwise I wouldn't have been able to look through. I also have spent far too many hours looking for patterns sitting on the floor in the stacks.