Monday, December 22, 2008

Buttons, buttons, who's got the buttons?

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I'm going to let the buttons speak for themselves. Aren't they great? My initial impulse is usually towards a bright contrasting color, but in this particular case I appreciate the subtlety.

In other news, the purple sweater I have been working on for a year and a half is thisclose to being finished. The front and back have been blocked and seamed together on one shoulder, I've picked up and knit the stitches for the neckband, the first sleeve is finished and I've started the decreases on the second. Everything (crossing fingers) seems pretty much on track. It will be nice to get Alouette out of the sidebar and into my wardrobe.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Day in Philly

Mo is flying home today for Christmas so last night we stayed up late finishing a book we have been making for my nieces and nephew. I'm not sure exactly how to bind it but I have a grace period for sending it because they won't be home until after New Years. It's funny, I haven't spent much time in Center City and the things we wrote about are practically the only things I know how to get to. If only there were an art supply store in the Reading Terminal Market...

PS If you want to read the words, click on the slideshow and then the button that appears in the lower right hand corner. Press Esc to exit the slideshow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
My apologies for the total silence over the last however-many days, I've been dealing with figuring out a new city, getting a job, and finding an apartment. As you can imagine, time for knitting (and blogging) has been virtually nonexistent. I've made significant progress on all three counts, but I expect updates to be fairly infrequent for a while.

One of the last things I did at home was help with a major installation of plants at my parents' house, following a design I submitted for class in the fall semester. This is a shot of one of the plantings, and I can't wait to see what it looks like when the hostas are established enough to be divided. Before this project I was never a fan of hostas, but once I started looking through the catalog at Bridgewood Gardens I was hooked. I love watering these guys, I felt like I could see them getting stronger every day. If the only thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "hosta" is a boring green plant next to somebody's driveway, take a look over at the Bridgewood Gardens website. You might be surprised.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Does she or doesn't she?

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
She does! Finish, that is, not run out of yarn, although it was certainly close towards the end. If I had an overflowing basket of these yarns (or even just another two yards of the khaki, white and the lightest blue) I probably would have done the last few stripes differently, but I'm still quite pleased with this tidy little jacket. My cousin has a great deal of experience in designing clothes, and I was sorely tempted to gift this as an amoeba without sewing up the sleeve seams, just so she could see how it looks before hand. I will admit that it makes a much better presentation with all parts properly attached.

I couldn't find a lot of information about the best way to seam together perpendicular pieces of garter stitch, so I ended up just trying a bunch of things until something worked. The first thing I tried was stitching right behind the cast on row on the back, but because the stitching resembles a knit stitch it appeared as if there were two rows in stockinette right at the transition. I was worried that the seam would get bulky if I hid a knit row with the cast on edge, but the yarn is small enough that it didn't make much of a difference. If I have something critical to add before I find buttons I may post a close up of the seam, because I am very proud of how they turned out. If you're impatient you can just poke around on my Flickr page (click on the picture above).

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
This is a common misperception, is it not? At this point, a few rows short of halfway, I had 3.5 ounces of knit fabric, and 4 ounces of yarn. I had to rip out project to even get that much, a neckerchief that I never would have worn. I'm pretty sure that I'll have enough to finish, but there is still the question of whether I'll be changing colors in the middle of rows. I also have two untouched skeins leftover from the same sweater as all of the yarn pictured, but as it is a pastel pink it may not be the best match.

With this small sweater I have connected to the Yankee within. Knitting down each tiny skein within an inch of its life and strategizing about when to switch colors has been a true pleasure. I don't think the sweater would have been half as fun if I were working with a bountiful excess of cotton. It feels cleansing to know that there is that much more space left in my showcase box of yarn, although I'm sure some quick rearranging will fill it.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
No matter how shocking the final construction of this garment, the real surprise is that I ever found the pattern again. Sometimes packing up can be a marvelous thing. I've been intending to get this Baby Surprise Jacket started since the end of last summer, and it feels good to be whittling down the yarn in my "use is imminent" box.

That's all for today!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Claudia hat03
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I can't remember exactly how I got this far on the Claudia hat because I haven't been knitting on it for days. I haven't forgotten it but I've definitely been stalling. I'm far enough along to start the decreases for the top, except that I bought my size 6 dpns in January while I was making a concerted effort to control my knitting expenses. My entire purchase that day was within my budget and I was the very embodiment of virtue. I've been paying for it ever since.

I got a set of Susan Bates dpns and they would be perfect except they came in a set of four needles instead of five. Knitting in the round with only four dpns feels awkward, and I have a hard time knitting a few extra stitches onto each needle to move the join. I started doing this when I made my first Odessa, and I've found that moving the join is key to avoiding tension problems in my knitting. I made my first socks on two circulars, and it's fairly clear where one circular ended and the next began. As it was my first attempt with fair-isle, the entirety of the first sock could be said to have some tension issues because I either hadn't heard or didn't take seriously the advise to space out your stitches before changing colors. However, I'm pretty sure that the tightest spots on the sock occur right at the joins because I was overcompensating for the stitches being pulled apart by the weight of the needles. I have one pairs worth of Koigu in my stash from Marylen, and I can guarantee that it will get worked up on five needles if I ever get to it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Packing up & moving out

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
Despite the fact that this looks exactly like the back we have come to know and love, this is the front. Mo and I had a crazy busy weekend--I finished my last college paper on Friday morning at 3 am, and three hours later a friend drove us to the Springfield train station for a trip to Philly. I would have accomplished more of the sweater on the way down, but I was understandably exhausted and didn't even get all the way through the ribbing. Packing at three in the morning is never a good idea, especially when there is unpleasant weather on the horizon. Neither of us remembered (or should I say, both remembered and packed) a rain jacket, so we were freezing and soggy on the first day of our visit. We did not find an apartment we liked, but spending time in the area gave us a much better idea of where to look.

I started packing up my things today. The first box is always the hardest for me, and I tend to start with something easy. When I left for college it was my favorite books, and today it was all the yarn I don't plan on using over the next five days. I found and tried on a second iteration of Green Gables which is much better than the first but still needs some tweaking with the sleeves. We'll have to see what I'm up for once I've finished with this purple beauty. The bursts of colder weather we keep having are taunting me, telling me that if I finished the sweater by Sunday I'd be able to wear it to graduation, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to spend my last week (almost half over already!) knitting on a deadline.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I woke up the first morning of reading period several hours before our alarm was set to go off, compulsively thinking about knitting. When I first saw the preview for the spring Interweave Knits, I was underwhelmed by the Drawstring Raglan. Something about the color striping bothered me, but I just decided the pattern wasn't for me. Then the gallery went up at Knitting Daily, and I realized it was the colors that were driving me crazy; the dark charcoal color seemed to fade into the purple stripe it surrounds, which makes a huge dark block. I would never knit something like that.

Overnight I must have dreamed about the drawstring raglan, because I certainly wasn't thinking about horticulture and the growing habit of green beans. The first thought that came to me when I woke up was the fact that I still have linen yarn left from making facecloths a while ago. The colors would be perfect.

It's all over. I don't have the rest of the yarn yet, but I've placed an order for two balls of Cotlin from Knitpicks, and they'll be auditioning shortly. I've decided to make the bottom half of the sweater be a combination of textures, much like Adrienne's blanket pictured above. I first saw the Colinette Absolutely Fabulous Blanket when we visited Marylen, and it was the first time I really understood why you would use such a large group of radically different yarns on the same project. It's beautiful! (Fairy Godmother moment number three) Hopefully the final sweater will be slightly more sedate, as I think there could be a strong tendency towards blanket-qualities if I go too nuts with the color and texture mixing. I still have about $30 left on a gift certificate to Webs, and so I'm currently considering all of their linens. I'm particularly drawn to Elsebeth Lavold's new yarn called Bamboucle, and even though I haven't seen it yet in person I'm pretty sure that at least one stripe will make it into the final garment.

Many thanks to Adrienne of Yarn for Brains for allowing me to use her picture. Her Ravelry page for this blanket is here, and she's blogged about this photo here. There are a lot of other gorgeous Ab Fab blankets on Ravelry, I recommend taking a look around.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

House T-shirt

House T-shirt
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
My camera continues to have difficulty shooting the color purple. In real life this is a royal purple, the purple you remember from kindergarten color wheels. I'm very pleased with how these turned out.

I realize that I never properly explained how the illustration relates to the house. According to the Smith website, Park House was originally built in 1880 and acquired by the college in 1923. At some point close to when the college purchased the building, there was an addition put onto the house. Common spaces are primarily located in the footprint of the original building, and private rooms are primarily located in the addition. For some reason, the addition isn't exactly plumb. There are reports of a few dressers whose drawers wouldn't stay shut, and when I first got to college Parkies would play a game called "Will it Roll?". This involved dropping things in the hallway to see how far they could go.

There are a number of art students in the house, and a common assignment for the first drawing course is a perspective drawing of a hallway. I thought it was interesting that in order to to fulfill the assignment a student might be tempted to ignore the reality of slightly off-kilter walls. After coming up with a vision for the illustration I played around with a few slogans before landing on this one.

(I should mention that Park Complex also has an annex, which is a smaller building across the street. We have the same set of keys and you know how sometimes couples say they have one heart in two bodies? Well, that's creepy. But we're one house in two buildings. The cubism is slightly less applicable to the annex.)

I finally had time to bind off the back of Alouette. You should be unsurprised when I tell you that it looks almost identical to the picture I posted a week ago.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Claudia hat

Claudia hat02
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I may or may not have started this hat because I wanted to take a picture of something besides Alouette. This is the Claudia hat by MJ Kim at exartstudent, and it turns out that the chart I was so excited about before is entirely unnecessary. I still think it's a pretty chart and amazing that something so professional looking can be made online, for free, but I digress. This pattern is destined for stardom. I feel it in my bones.

I'm using Malabrigo Merino Worsted, which I first saw in person when Mo's mom Lydia (hi!) gave Mo a gorgeous gray version of the My So Called Scarf. Now I understand why everyone goes nuts for the stuff. It truly is amazingly soft. The colors in the photo look a little more blue than the yarn is in real life, which is slightly more emphatic about being purple than I realized in the store (not that I mind, I'm on a purple kick as well). It's a bit tight doing all the cables on size 4 needles and if I were to start over again I might use a size 5 circular. Then again, I might not. We've probably figured out by now that I am highly attracted to knitting tightly even though I know it isn't good for me.

I just listened to the most recent episode of YKnit, which will be up in the sidebar as soon as I have a spare moment. It was a really interesting episode, they interviewed Lucy Neatby and I highly recommend taking a listen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Progress on Alouette

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
My goal was to finish the back before taking another picture, but it was suitably overcast this morning and I couldn't resist. Look! Armhole shaping!

Even though I have a long way to go, I'm looking forward to seaming this up. What I am not looking forward to is dealing with all of the ends. Working on the striped Kidsilk Haze scarf reminded me that I can keep some of the yarn running up the side instead of cutting after every color block. In the picture here it may be hard to tell exactly what's going on because the yarn is actually attached to the sweater outside of the frame, but I've just finished the first 2 rows of brown and started knitting with the cream. I've left the brown attached and when I've finished the back-and-forth with the cream I'll pick up the brown again and keep knitting. Besides a few accidental cuts, I've nearly been able to halve the number of ends I'll have to deal with later, which is a huge help.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An armful of yarny goodness.

Jordan's Whale02
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I have been dutifully working on Alouette, and I've managed to catch up to the length I had before recognizing my mistake with the stripes. I will be much happier finishing the sweater now that it has symmetric color striping, but there was something interesting about the not-quite-as-rigid color changing. I think my next experiment with stripes will be a little more spur of the moment.

In the meantime, here's what I have hiding in my closet (because really, how many pictures of that sweater can you stand in a row?). It's all Dale Baby Ull. I wasn't sure about the orange before I held them all up with the skein of white, but now I'm convinced that the colors will work. I'm still waiting for a circumference measurement on the intended recipient, and I don't mind the short repreive. Having already missed the birthday, any further delay that isn't my fault is fine by me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Revisiting the Tortoise and the Hare

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
It wasn't until I saw this picture sized down on Flickr that I realized I've been following the stripe pattern improperly. The second set of brown stripes is supposed to have a total of six oatmeal rows right below it, but right now there are only two. What a bummer. I don't really mind the ripping out, it's just that I now feel like I have thoroughly wasted all the time I spent knitting between taking the photo and actually looking at it.

I was just reveling in how much better I was doing this time around, too. If you ignore the frogging festivities about to take place, I've already caught up with where I was in the fall. The best part about this news is that I haven't been an obsessive maniac this time around. In the fall I was committed to cranking this out, and I spent such long stretches of time knitting that my hands started to hurt. Strangely enough, it wasn't actually the knitting motion that started giving me problems. I keep having to toss around the balls to let out some of the extra twist that gets introduced with every stitch, and all that flipping was making my wrists hurt. I don't know if this overtwisting is a common problem or particular to certain types of yarn, but I can't remember hearing anything about it before. Fortunately there have been no wrist problems so far.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Starting over

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I was all set to buy yarn this weekend, but Webs doesn't carry Dale Baby Ull in orange, which I really think would be ideal for the whale sweater. I found a ball via Ravelry and I'm waiting for that to show up, but I had to start something in the meantime. I have several sweaters'-worth of yarn, but I'm still trying to work out exactly which yarn belongs to which pattern. It seemed safest to return to Alouette, a long-neglected project which has been hiding in my closet for several months. I don't think I ever gave a proper explanation for why this sweater dropped out of view, but maybe the picture gives you a hint. I swear that I made a large swatch, which I even washed it before measuring. Somehow when I started the actual sweater it grew more than I expected. I was extremely reluctant to notice how large the back was, so I ended up knitting almost all of the way to the armpit before measuring. It's a full two inches wider than intended, which is far outside the range of fudging. I've now started over again in a smaller size, and I'm falling in love with this sweater (and yarn) all over again. I can't wait to wear it and I hope there are a few brisk spring days left by the time I'm done.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

House T-shirt Design (second draft)

Getting closer! Last night I scanned this into an editing program and Mo helped me finish it up. I didn't have too much to do (erasing the dots on the upper left side of the frame, replacing the inside of the frame with a cleaner version, drawing in a nail and wire) but it felt like it was taking forever. It would have been much faster to draw the entire thing by hand, but I didn't feel like I had enough room at the top.

Our house president is sending the file to the printers, so we should have a proof soon to check over for sizing. We didn't print it out, and I'm a little worried that the words will be out of scale for the size of a t-shirt. My vision for the colors are a deep burgundy or cranberry red shirt with goldenrod ink. I can't wait to be holding an actual shirt.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ta dah!

So now the shoulders will fit a swimmer, instead of a linebacker, which is a drastic improvement. I used fewer decrease rows than I did the first time, because I figured most young kids have enormous heads and it simply wouldn't do to squeeze the living daylights out of them. Unfortunately I don't know any local two year olds of the appropriate size, so there may not be any cute toddler-in-a-sweater pictures for a while.

Now that I've finished this I feel absolutely justified buying yarn to make the whale sweater, and I am really excited about getting that started. Web's is even having a sale on old standby yarns for the entire month of April, so I'm hoping to find a good match when I go this weekend.

I have to say that it feels weird to have finished this so quickly. Even though I started this before spring break, I feel like there should still be something left for me to do, but I've even woven in all the ends. The rugby sweater I made for Zanthe had a million color changes, which ate up a lot of time, besides being twice the size of the intended recipient.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fairy Godmother, part II

The second amazing thing that happened when I visited Marylen was that she let me borrow two of her Denise cables and her size 7 tips. I had finished the body and both sleeves of the sweater, but I was having the hardest time attaching the sleeves to start the yoke. My needles were simply too long and inflexible to go all the way around the diameter of the tiny, baby-sized sleeves. I tried using the two-circulars method, but that didn't work out either. Maybe I was just being impatient, but it was getting incredibly complicated, especially because the pattern has you graft together the underarm stitches at the very end, so there were 2 extra balls of yarn getting tangled in everything. These needles are both shorter and a little bendy, so the yoke is no longer a problem.

I actually already finished this on Friday, but because I'm figuring out the decreases and short rows as I go along, the first attempt came out looking like a linebacker. It was incredibly depressing. So far this attempt is looking much better (although if my monitor is any indication, flickr is having some issues and you can't tell what the sweater looks like at all. I will try to fix the picture issue later).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fairy Godmother

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
Were it not for the fact that I know for certain that Marylen has needed to have her hips replaced, I might mistake her for my fairy godmother. Not only does she have the most incredible stash I have ever seen, but she sent me away with more yarn than I can wrap my head around. These five skeins of heavy worsted yarn from Brown Sheep are only a fraction of what she gave me, but the colors were hard to pick out in the larger photo and I wanted to show them all together.

Grumperina's tutorial the other day about making continuous stripes (where they line up all the way around instead of having a "jog" when you switch to the next color at the end of a round) is tempting me to use a few of these to make a striped kid's sweater, but I'm also considering making a pullover with a fair isle yoke. Whichever sweater I end up making, the leftovers will definitely become a striped hat of some kind.

It would be fantastic if this yarn ended up being for a young relative. My brother and I are expecting to have 8 nieces, nephews, and second cousins under the age of five by the end of June, and so far only one niece has received a hand knit. I'm not sure about the scratchiness level, however. I know that Elizabeth Zimmerman would say that children need exposure to sturdy wool early and often, but I don't want to make something that won't be worn. Any thoughts? How bad is it to give someone else's child a scratchy sweater?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Do you remember seeing that Youtube video a while ago where the knitter was on a cliff, and she ran out of yarn so she started knitting from her sweater, and then she ran out of sweater so she started knitting her own hair? That's what I feel like while I'm working on the sleeve for the toddler-sized Cobblestone. Ordinarily I would have unwound and rinsed the yarn to relax the kinks out of it, but I followed a hunch that it would straighten out on its own, and it's been working better than I expected. I think it's because of the two levels of plying (each ply in the yarn is itself a two ply strand).

Mo and I are in St. Louis because Mo is writing a paper about the construction of the Arch, so I may have a traveling sleeve pic over the next few days. My goal is to completely finish this sweater by the time we get back to Northampton on Sunday, but there's a lot of church happening in the next few days so I'm not sure how much I'll get done before our flight.

After going to the Central Library today (which has an amazing reading room) we picked up Mo's mom Lydia and went to Knitorious, their local knitting shop. I was really impressed with their selection of yarns and I'd love to go back sometime when I don't have a million and six projects on needles. Tomorrow we're going to a bead shop so Lydia can pick out some beads to make Odessa, which should be exciting. I haven't gone looking for beads since elementary school, so this should be a new experience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Catching up with old friends

Green Gable 02
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
This was the first sweater/top that I made for myself, and I can't say that I count it entirely in the success column. It's true, it does look like a garment, but it doesn't fit me very well. The biggest problem is length. It isn't long enough to wear without a cardigan of some kind, but it is also quite warm on its own (even without long sleeves). I finished this in the middle of the summer and I was absolutely determined to wear it. I managed, but I can't say that it was an enjoyable experience. It felt much better wearing it in January, but that still doesn't take care of the length issue.

I used the Green Gable pattern by Zephyr Style, and knit it up in Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo. I used leftovers from this sweater to make the two Odessa hats, because the thought of putting this back on the needles was just too painful. Not that there is anything wrong with either the yarn or pattern, I just feel like I have given this sweater as much time and love as it is ever going to get.

(Many thanks to Julia for modeling)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bulbs again!

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
The knitting hasn't totally ceased, but it's small and it's a surprise, so this will have to do for now.

(study study study)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

House T-shirt Design

It's that time of year! At tea on Friday everyone with a submission for the house t-shirt brought a sketch so we could vote, and I won! Okay, really my design won. This is a close up, and underneath it will say "Park House: Making Cubism a Reality since 1890". My favorite part is the crazy shoulders on the radiator.

I don't know why I'm so excited about this, because really it just means I get to spend an ungodly number of hours at the computer lab making it look pretty in Adobe Illustrator. Someone in the house had a great addition to the design, drawing a fancy frame around it and then making it look like it's not hanging straight. She's an art student, though, so I may enlist her help with that part.

Midterms are this coming week and I am going to do my best to refrain from knitting (and obsessing about knitting) for the entire time. Studying has never made for good blog material, but fortunately for both of us I have a slight backlog of projects that I either failed to give a final report on or never posted about in the first place. I'll try to take photos of everything and post them throughout the week. If that doesn't work I can always show you more bulbs!

Friday, March 07, 2008


Jordan's Whale01
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I finished up the back of Jordan's sweater yesterday, and I am having second thoughts about several things. The first is sizing; 30" is way too big. This can be easily remedied.

The second is this combination of yarn and pattern. It has definitely been nice (and fast) knitting with worsted weight wool, and the stitches themselves look gorgeous. However, if I'm going to start over with this yarn in a smaller size, I will have fewer stitches, and I really don't want to loose any more detail with the whale on the front.

One thing I'm not having regrets about is this garter stitch border. In fact, I think it may be the only thing I will really miss when I start ripping this out. I started thinking about designs that incorporate an abundance of garter stitch. Everything by Elizabeth Zimmerman came to mind, especially the Baby Surprise Jacket and the Tomtom jacket, although I had a disturbingly difficult time finding anything she has written, despite my absolute certainty that 2 books and 1 pattern sheet are hidden in my bedroom. ("Disturbingly difficult" may be interpreted to mean that I did not actually find any of them) After this brief interlude I thought of Jared Flood's Cobblestone, clearly inspired by Zimmerman, and everything seems to have clicked into place.

I refuse to buy more yarn to make this sweater before I have used up the Zenith. Pangs of guilt will eat through me like Coke on a car bonnet if I take a trip to Webs before the final blocking. Conveniently enough for me, Jordan is a twin. The Zenith can remain designated as Jordan's yarn, re-purposed for a toddler sized Cobblestone, and his sister Isla will now be the lucky recipient of a whale sweater. Doubly lucky for me, because when I switch to a smaller yarn (I'm thinking Dale Falk or Baby Ull) I'll also be able to make a smaller sweater overall; Jordan is much taller than his sister. If I'm going to switch to a sport or even fingering weight yarn, though, I'm definitely going to take a less cavalier attitude about measurements before casting on. The last fingering weight sweater I cast on was Allouette, and the only appropriate description of its status is...languishing.

(Just a note--there is a fantastic example of a scaled-down Cobblestone here)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jordan's Whale

Jordan's Whale
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
How cute is this whale? You have no idea how excited I am about knitting this chart. I've been kicking around the idea of a blue sweater with an orange whale since my very first attempt at colorwork (it was this tiny scrap). The orange is an aggressive color, so I've inserted a purple "W" to help bridge the gap between the deep blue and the bright orange. I haven't brought this in to Webs yet, so I'm not sure if the shade will be right, but if it seems off I think I'll go for either a green or a light blue.

I've solicited through Ravelry and found a knitter willing to send me a scrap to use for the eye, which is fantastic because buying an entire ball of yarn for that single stitch would be absolutely ridiculous.

I've already knit the back of the sweater up past the bottom of the sleeve join, and I'm a little concerned that it will be gigantic when it's finished. I'm making the 30" circumference size, and Jordan is only turning two, but he's on the tall side. The family lives in a warm climate so he'll have quite a while before he needs a sweater again. Besides, 3 year olds can wear whales, right?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Smith College Bulb Show

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
The annual bulb show opened last Friday night, and one of my housemates arranged for us to have a sneak preview earlier in the afternoon. It's certainly a lot easier taking photographs when you aren't in a constant (though slow moving) stream of people. It was even possible to turn around and go against the flow of traffic. I know that somewhere in the bulb show are about a dozen pots that I planted myself, but I didn't take note of which species I was putting in, so the prospects of finding any are pretty slim.

I've been back a few times since, and it's amazing how much the flowers have opened in only a few short days. They're keeping the temperature on the chilly side so they bloom for as long as possible, but there's only so much you can do against the march of time. I'd like to go back and take more pictures, just to compare, but I'm worried about the traffic issue. Historically, during the two weeks the show is open between 20,000 and 25,000 people visit the Botanic Garden. It certainly hasn't felt as crowded as it sounds, but it takes maneuvering.

During Horticulture lab yesterday we spent a few minutes soaking up the colors and scents and I was right in front of a girl about 8 years old taking pictures of flowers. She turned to her mom and said something like the following: "I like taking pictures. I'm going to use these so I can decide what to put in my wedding bouquet." A number of older visitors thought this was charming, but her mother was not amused. I don't think I would be either.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Monette update

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
You may remember a disastrous attempt at casting on for this scarf several months ago. I, on the other hand, have blithely forgotten. It turns out that my blunt needles were indeed to blame. A switch to Addi lace needles has removed all frustration, which bodes well for the chances that this little half scarf will ever be finished. In order to get a lace edge at both ends, Monette is knit in two pieces towards the middle and then grafted together, which explains the bright white line along the edge in the picture. I was so scarred by the cast on process the first time around that I didn't have the guts to rip out even a measly four rows when I realized that my lace had somehow gotten shifted over, so I'm going to be extra attentive with the lace section when I get started again.

It turns out that I am short on needles, having lent Mo the pair I would use to get started on the Claudia hat, so that project may remain on hold for a while. Additionally I can't tell whether the yarn I was going to use smells like sheep or cigarettes. I find this disturbing. The only other worsted I have on hand is a cotton, which I can't justify knitting with in such cold weather.

I feel a bit like the proverbial kid in a candy store; I 'm ready to get started on so many projects that I am completely overwhelmed. I'm guessing that this only increases with stash growth. I have been trying to moderate my yarn acquisition and use up all of my leftovers, but at this point I need more drastic measures. I don't need a yarn diet, I need a cleansing fast. Bring on the carrot juice.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chart for Claudia

Chart for Claudia
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I have found my next hat pattern. It is the perfect knit-anytime pattern. With a short cabled section along the bottom it has visual interest, and with a long section of 2x2 ribbing I'm fairly confident I can work on it in low light. It has a growing gallery of finished objects on Ravelry and it comes in a free pdf. Truly the only thing this pattern was lacking was a chart. Until now! I found this (extremely free) charting software online which took all of 20 seconds to figure out, and now I have my very own Claudia chart. And so, it would seem, do you. The quick diagram I made doesn't go all the way around the hat (clearly), nor does it indicate where you have to do funny stuff at the end of the row like move the marker around, so the original instructions are still very necessary. I apologize for the extreme smallness of the image; if you're interested in working from it and would like a larger copy than the view you get from Flickr just leave a comment and I can try to figure something out.

Pattern here:
Ravelry gallery here:
Extremely cool free charting software by Jacquie here:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Odessa

Odessa again2
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I never actually showed you the first Odessa I made, but you'll have to trust me. I made one, and it looked remarkably like this one (same beads, same yarn, same pattern...). I was inspired by the many many iterations of this hat Teresa made, particularly the cream colored hat with contrasting wooden beads (Ravelry link for all six (!)). When I noticed that one of her hats had been made out of Wool Bam Boo, I decided it would be a great way to use up the scraps I had left from the Green Gable I finished this summer. Actually, that's a lie. First I inquired how much yarn it had taken, and then I decided it would be a great way to use up leftovers.

Both hats have been smooth sailing. When I made the first one I had severe problems locating size six needles. For one thing I hadn't yet gotten a set of size 6 dpn's, and for another I didn't realize that a 24" circular needle was A. the right size, and B. hidden in my closet, coincidentally attached to another as-yet-unfinished Green Gable. Since finishing the first hat I have realized both item A and B, so this time I've switched to 6's after finishing the brim, as instructed. I can't really tell the difference (besides the speed issue), although I no longer have the first hat in my possession.

I'm modifying the pattern slightly the second time around and I'm only putting 2 plain rows between each beaded row.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nearly finished tam

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
What a coy young mannequin! And what a stylish hat she wears! I'm not marking this complete, however, until it has been thoroughly felted and blocked. This is looking less tam and more toque at present. The disadvantage to using a bulky yarn where it isn't called for is that it tends to enlarge the final product (imagine that). I've already tried felting it once by hand in a bucket but this method was clearly met with limited success. I could have sworn that the stitches had begun to loose their definition and become a fuzzy blob of woolen love, and as soon as it dried out the tiniest bit I realized that the only change I had made was to create a slight halo effect. Into the washer it goes!

You can see along the cast on edge that the brim rolls out away from the face; I've now made the same mistake two projects in a row by knitting in the wrong direction after casting on all of my stitches. I noticed fairly early in both projects and decided just to roll with the punches. I'm not sure if one or both of the hats will be for me, so we'll have to see what bothers me more: wearing it myself, or sending it off as a gift knowing it isn't technically my best work.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fake Fair Isle Tam

B Tam02
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
I am loving these colors. The main color is Tahki Yarns Bunny in colorway 041, and the contrast colors are from Noro Kureyon colorway 92. These have both been sitting in my little box of stash for over a year. The Noro was one of the very first yarns I ever bought, but I never actually made bag I was planning. Even better than knitting out of the stash, though, is liberating myself from a soul sucking project. I originally bought 3 balls of the Bunny to design a scarf. I managed to knit a little more than a ball's worth of yarn, but the design had a major problem in addition to my whole I-can't-stand-to-knit-scarves attitude. I was trying to make a pattern stand out using just knitting and purling to create a texture. The repeat was just easy enough to make me zone out, but just difficult enough that I would mess up every time. No more!

Check out this and the other two tams in the Winter issue of Knitty.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First skirt

First skirt
Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
Over my winter break I saw these great episodes of a French documentary on Youtube about the making of a Chanel couture collection from start to finish (I posted the first episode below). I love how the focus is not on Karl Lagerfeld, but on the teams of women who actually create the garments. Their skills are incredible. It's interesting watching them trouble shoot as they try to transform a ten second sketch into a decadent piece of clothing.

I think the videos are a large part of why I started a few sewing projects over break. I have been trying to find an above the knee, office appropriate tweed skirt for a long time. I will try to post a picture when my camera is done charging, but I was specifically trying to match the feel of the skirt paired with the Tyrolean Cardigan by Sarah Dallas in Rowan Vintage Knits. One of my Christmas presents from my parents was the supplies for a sewing project, and at the last minute I decided to take a trip to Banksville Fabric in Norwalk, CT. If you are closer to Norwalk than NYC, it is definitely worth a trip. I have a feeling that there are probably a few similar places in the city, but they have a great selection of fabric. At first I was worried that there were too many colors in the fabric; it seemed very busy, but I realized that it goes with pretty much my entire wardrobe. Seriously.

The fabric was a little thick for my mom's sewing machine, so I ended up doing many of the seams by hand. This was my first invisible zipper, and while I didn't do a fantastic job of making it truly invisible, I think it looks pretty respectable. It was a lot less scary than it had been made out to be. It's funny but coming to sewing with the perspective of a knitter made everything seem really fast. For one thing, you don't have to make the fabric, and all you're thinking about is how to make the darn thing fit right.

For my pattern I used M3830, view D. I should have posted earlier when I still remembered how it was following the pattern. I don't have any books on sewing, and I didn't check any out from the library, so I just kind of made up how to put in a lining, but it ended up working out fine. One mistake that I did make was not following the grainlines for the lining; I had just been trying to put the pieces down in the most economical way possible. Since I ended up attaching the lining to the skirt inside the bottom hem I don't think it will be too much of a problem, it isn't like it's going to hang below the bottom if it stretches out unevenly.

I have a few more sewing projects in the wings, some finished and some waiting for me to spontaneously realize I know how to sew buttonholes. I know, that one could be a while.

Signe Chanel: Episode 1 Anticipation Part 1 of 4

I'm just warning you, these are addictive.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Koolhaas for Dad

Originally uploaded by runawaypenguin
It's funny, the day before I finished it I saw someone else walking around campus wearing one and I recognized it immediately. Also funny was when I showed my dad some pattern photos and he said, "What colors does it come in?" I guess the whole hand-made-present thing hadn't gotten across. Although it may have been the perfect question, because I didn't give him too many choices in the color department. Blue, or blue? Which would you rather?

I'm very pleased with how it came out. One of these days I will make a pretty hat and keep it for myself. This is a little large for me, but I think it will fit my dad perfectly, which makes it easier to send off.

Details (and a few more pics) on Ravelry as runawaypenguin.