Friday, September 29, 2006

La SKB, C'est Fini

... and she is way too big. But I think I still like her.
Pattern: Simple Knitted Bodice, by Stefanie Japel (size small)
Yarn: 4 skeins Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, color # 24 (I had one yard leftover)
Needles: Sizes 7 Knit Picks circulars and size 4 Susan Bates circular needles
Thoughts: Yep, it's bigger than I wanted, even after washing, blocking, and judicious machine drying. I did get gauge in this yarn, and the finished bust measurement was actually a little smaller than that in the schematic for this size. I just chose the wrong size, plain and simple.

On my yarn substitution, Silky Wool is a nice yarn for this pattern. The lace panels really look great. But I would recommend knitting it to a smaller gauge -- I knit this to gauge for the pattern, but at a looser than recommended gauge for the yarn. The result is that the sweater is very, very drapey. Nice, but if you are looking for something fitted, as I was, you should probably choose a heavier yarn or do the maths necessary to convert the pattern.

EDITED TO ADD: I also meant to say that, while the pattern suggests blocking is optional, I felt it was essential, at least with this yarn. When I first took this off the needles, it looked like a dog's dinner. But a bath and a block seriously improved the evenness of the stitches and the hang of the sweater.

The one thing I don't like about the pattern is the neckline finishing. I don't love the way the purl ridges lie, and if I knit this sweater again, I might replace them with an attached i-cord edging.

Three pictures is a little much. But I really liked this one with the cool shoes.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pottery Yarn?

Is it just me, or does the new Lion Brand catalog remind you of a well-known housewares and furniture retailer?

I'd offer the well-known adage about lipstick and a pig (you're missed, Governor), but that would hardly be fair. At least, not to the Cashmere Blend.

This Yarn Rocks with All Due Hardness... Bill in Lakewood would say. Borrowing his helpful (and hilarious) guide to rock superlatives, I can definitively say that this yarn rocks my socks off. Indeed, I think it rocks my lame a**. I'm not sure I deserve yarn that rocks like this.

Yes, now I know why sock knitters the world over are raving about Socks That Rock. I received these two skeins in the colorways Scottish Highlands and Jasper from Carola, as a very sweet gift for offering to accept delivery of some items and then ship them to her in Iceland. (Carola, your box is going to the post office today! Thanks so much!) Let's have a close-up, shall we?

I haven't even knit with it yet, but I am in loooove. The colors are truly amazing and it is THE softest sock yarn I have ever felt. I know how Cara feels about the perfect synergy between Socks That Rock and the Jaywalker pattern, but I'd like to find really special and different patterns for this yarn. Ideas will be warmly received.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hope for the Best, But Plan for the Worst

I don't think I've ever knit a sweater so quickly. I just have the sleeves and the neck finishing to do. Here's a side view ...

I love this sweater -- the deep v-neck is flattering, the lace panel hits in just the right place, the hip shaping is perfect. The only problem is that it's just a bit bigger than I would prefer. Furthermore, I think it may grow once it has been washed. Can any of you confirm this, my darkest fear, about Silky Wool?

Other questions: Is there anything I can do to make it a bit smaller after it is finished? Blocking tricks? Controlled shrinking? Magic spells?

I implore you, do not suggest that I rip and knit a smaller size. I can always wear a blouse under it. Also, if I had to knit the top portion again, before it is joined in the round, I think I might weep with frustration. The endless purling. It gets to me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


After days of nearly unending gloom, it's finally a nice day to take pictures.

Voici, the progress on the Simple Knitted Bodice. I really am enjoying this pattern; it's fun to knit garments from the top down. I love seeing the sweater come together as a whole as I knit. I love the fact that I will have precious little finishing to do once I knit the sleeves. But, most of all, after my last disaster, I love that I know what it will look like before I'm done. I've tried it on twice and, while it could be a tiny bit smaller, I think it will look great. The deep v-neck will require a cami or similar underneath anyhow. And I should have no problem finishing it before seeing Colin.

The yarn is lovely ... Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. Other than that strange silk smell and rather a lot of vegetable matter, nothing detracts from its rustic beauty. It looks fabulous on the lace panel. In fact, I am already dreaming of a shawl (maybe Swallowtail?) in Silky Wool.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oops, I Did It Again

Forgive me, knitters, for I have sinned.

Once again, I have knit a poorly designed sweater in bulky weight yarn, with predictably disastrous results. I saw that the pattern included no sizing ("fits 34 to 39 inch bust"), suspected that it might fit poorly, but still I knit it. I could see after the making the first half of the front that the shoulders wouldn't hang properly, but still I knit on. I knew that a seamed sweater in bulky yarn could be yucky in the armsyces, but I knit away. I know that these sweaters don't flatter me, but still I made it.

In my defense, it was not the promise of a quick finished object that tempted me. It was the fact that I had yarn that would work in my stash. I was lured into this ill-advised endeavor by the virtuous feeling of converting dust-collecting stash yarn to a garment. Never mind that the garment will suck.

Affiknitty, for your knitting penance, you must knit approximately 6,843 miles of stockinette on small needles.

Pattern: Magnolia sweater from the Fall 2006 Knitscene
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, about 4 skeins
Needles: Um, I don't remember. I think they were size 11 circulars.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Pattern: Sophie Bag, from MagKnits
Yarn: One skein of Cascade 220 worsted wool in charcoal
Needles: Addi Turbo circulars, size 9
Thoughts: This is a fabulous pattern. It knits up quickly, it can be easily memorized, it would make a nice little gift, it is highly economical. Felting is almost, but not quite, as good as blocking lace.

I put my bag in a zippered pillow cover, put it in the washer with two pairs of old jeans, set the load size to small, the water temperature to hot, added regular laundry detergent, and after about ten minutes, I had a felted bag. It needs a closure, but I haven't decided what kind I want.

And look! Sophie has a sister! Sophie II was made with leftover Cascade 220 from this sweater and these mittens. I knit this bag on size 10.5 Knit Picks circulars, so it's a little larger. I felted it for about the same amount of time. My sister has requested a Sophie in chocolate brown for her birthday and the blue hand-dyed Cascade 220 will likely become felted bags as well. An obsession may have been born.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Paris Comes to Cleveland

You know like when you're in love and you hurt a little bit? I always hurt for Paris. -- Suzy Parker

Recently, Philippa of Interknitter had the good fortune to spend a couple of weeks in Paris. (Go here to see some beautiful pictures and hear all about her trip.) When she posted that she was going, I commented that I could use a little Paris right now. Couldn't we all? She kindly offered to send some Paris to Ohio, and today, c'est ici!

She sent me some lovely buttons from Le Bon Marche.
The red buttons are the most beautiful shade of deep, dark red, a color with which I am currently having a torrid affair. (Speaking of torrid affairs and beautiful reds, have you seen Brooklyn Tweed's Shetland Triangle? Go look.) I have never been to Le Bon Marche, if you can believe it. That's okay. It's good to have unfinished business in Paris.

She also sent a lovely note on a beautiful postcard and a CD that a bespectacled, ponytailed, chainsmoking Frenchman in the record store assured her would make me feel as though I were in the City of Light.

A funny thing ... the record store where she got the disc is located on the rue des Ecoles, which is the street on which I stayed two of the three times I was in Paris. I likely have been in that very store and certainly have walked right past it.

Some places you go just resonate with you. Maybe, while you are there, you get to know not just a city, but also yourself. Perhaps geography, emotion, personal circumstance, and aesthetics combine to lodge the memory of a certain place deep in your heart, where it stays. And you can return to that place again and again, in good times and bad, even if you never make it back there in person. That's what Paris is to me. This is what I think of when I hear the famous Gertrude Stein quote, "America is my country, but Paris is my hometown." So, thank you, Philippa, for sending me a little something from home.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pretty Is the New Pretty

I could also say "pretty is the new Knitty."

If Knitty were a Project Runway contestant, and forgive me for the extended analogy, it would be Santino or maybe Jeffrey. Interesting designs, not boring, but not always the most wearable. Or, as Michael Kors so aptly described Jeffrey's designs, they're ugly beautiful. On the other hand, if I could pick a Project Runway designer to make all my clothes, I would choose Michael, or Laura, or maybe Emmett from last season. I like classic, feminine, flattering, pretty. So I'm not generally dashing off to the LYS to pick up yarn for the latest Knitty sweater pattern. But, heaven help me, this issue is full of temptation. It is practically 100% WTF?-free!

Granted, some of the patterns are a little basic, like Viveka. But Ivy! And Serrano! So lovely. The sock patterns are really nice and that girl's backpack is too cute. Sherwood is exactly the pattern I have been wanting for my boys ... a non-fussy pullover that is also not boring to knit.

Now, I know that I may be in a distinct minority here, but I think that Intolerable Cruelty is absolutely beyond hot. I want that skirt. I want it very, very badly. I want to wear it with my plum suede peep-toe pumps and be glam glam glam. Fabulous Laura, the one who really only lives in my head, cannot exist for one more moment without this skirt. I could totally see making it both with and without the corset laces. Or, without the ruffle, as a straightforward pencil skirt in black or charcoal, though it's the ruffle that gives it such a sexy 1940s-dangerous- woman-in-a-noir-film vibe. Simply. Must. Have. It!

Coming up ... a book meme, Sophie bags, socks that linger on the needles, and the Simple Knitted Bodice is begun.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

All for a Good Cause

It's wonderful how the internets brings people together. Just last night, I had a lovely phone conversation with Olga in Texas. (Go Buckeyes! Woot! Woot! Sorry for the momentary gloating.) We discussed felting bags, yarn shopping and various other temptations, multi-directional scarves, the perils of living in a football-crazed college town, salsa bands, etc., etc. This morning I came across a fine example of knitters coming together from across the country to use their powers for good!

Karen lives in Connecticut, is married to her wonderful Pea, is a freelance designer of website banners and buttons, knits like a fiend, and unfortunately suffers from diabetes. She is going to be participating in the Walk for Diabetes on October 15 and is raising money for diabetes research. If you visit her blog, you'll see that she's giving away some amazing prizes -- just make a donation to enter. She has already met her initial goal of $500 ... let's help her double it! Or more!

Chrissy is an Oregon mom of two cuties, a lactivist, a sock-KAL hostess extraordinaire, and an up-and-coming knitwear designer. She has designed a beautiful pattern for cabled cashmere socks which she plans to offer for sale on her soon-to-be-unveiled website. But you can buy the pattern here now and all of the proceeds will go to support Karen's fundraising for the diabetes walk. Everyone who buys the pattern will be entered into a drawing for three balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, the yarn recommended for the project.

Karen and Chrissy are two very special people and I feel lucky to have met them through this amazing community. It's my pleasure to plug their fundraising and I hope I can help their efforts. So, scoot! Run over there right now, leave a little of your money with them, and pick up a sock pattern while you're at it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

How Did I Fail to Mention ...

... that on November 9th, I will be in the same room with my rock and roll boyfriend?

That's right, folks. I have tickets to see the Decemberists in concert. Someone pass me a paper bag. I need to breathe into it.

Because I clearly don't have enough to do, I thought about knitting a cute sweater to wear that night. I just bought the pattern for the Simple Knitted Bodice. Any other ideas? I like v-necks and square necks, just so you know.

Edited: to correct an egregious typo which I just noticed. Lord, how embarrassing. Sorry about the needless ping on bloglines.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Further Adventures with Kool-Aid

Madrugada (mah-drew-GAH-duh): Portuguese and Spanish feminine noun meaning early morning, daybreak; in French known as l'heure bleue or in English, the blue hour.

I have embraced the challenge of dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid and achieving colors that do not recall a box of Lucky Charms. My goal was a deep, dark blue. While this skein turned out a little bit purpler than I intended, it's lovely and I'm a happy dyer. It really does look like the very early morning sky. This skein of natural Cascade 220 worsted weight Peruvian highland wool was dyed on the stove, with 9 packets of ice blue raspberry lemonade, 5 packets of berry blue, and 4 packets of grape. The picture is a little dark, here's a picture of both skeins which is truer.

Here's my first effort. This skein, also Cascade 220 worsted weight, was dyed in the microwave. I used the same method I did for the red and purple yarns I dyed, pouring the dye bath directly on the yarn. The result was much more variegated than those skeins. But I still likey.

I used 4 packets of ice blue raspberry lemonade, 4 berry blue, 2 changin' cherry, and 3 grape. I'm calling this one "Blue Bell Knoll" after one of my very favorite albums, recorded by the Cocteau Twins. Here's a video of the best song on the album, "Carolyn's Fingers."

Monday, September 04, 2006

So Close, and Yet...

A sweater that needs seaming ...

... a purse that needs felting.

See, I have been knitting. Just not finishing.