Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fancy stitch markers -- Now on Etsy

Besides knitting, I've been doing bead jewelry for some time, and while I'm revamping my website, I've started putting some of my stuff up on Etsy. I dearly love the beautiful stitch markers I've been seeing -- jewelry for the knitting needles -- and I've listed some heirloom-quality sterling silver markers on Etsy. I fashioned these to be dual markers: one small solid sterling ring and one large one, so they can be used with various size needles and give double the service, double the value.

Here's a "silver oddments" set, made with various single Bali beads that had been accumulating in my collection:

A set of six gemstone and sterling markers: amethyst, white jade, and smoky topaz:

And another set of six gemstone, sterling, and Bali silver markers, in rose quartz, green jade, and moonstone:

I just got a shipment in of some adorable glass beads, so coming soon are rubber ducky, bunny hop, and fruit salad stitch markers. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The A4A sweater: knitting accomplished

The knitting for the Afghans for Afghans Youth Campaign sweater is done. Here 'tis yesterday before the neck was knit up, but all the other parts were done. The shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind-off, then I washed and blocked the front and back. The sleeves I washed and blocked on the needles after completing them, and knit off the sleeves onto the body using a technique illustrated in Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters: Give Your Knitting that Professional Look by Sharon Brant.

The original pattern was a Boy's Fair Isle Sweater on the Caron International site. Instead of the Fair Isle pattern, I made stripes of variegated yarn that I had left from an earlier project.

Last night, after I took the picture, I picked up and knit the stitches around the neck, and all there is left to do is the side seams.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A UFO becomes an FO: the Fuzzy Scarf

Some time last year I fished two balls of a Red Heart's Cupid yarn out of a "discontinued" bin at the variety store where we get groceries. While I'm not a fan of Red Heart, especially the scratch acrylic worsted that people used to crochet granny square skirts and toilet tissue covers out of, this particular yarn is soft and I liked the pastel pink-violet-green-white colorway. Over on the You Grow Girl forums, Gayla Trail has been collecting knitted stuff every year from folks to give to a women's shelter in Toronto, and I've knitted some hats for her drive. This yarn seemed like a good pick: fuzzy, warm, washable, but with a luxuriant softness. I started a simple scarf in moss stitch, but set it aside and hadn't worked on it in quite a while.

It seems that the knitting group I joined is going to collect for our own women's shelter in a couple of weeks, so that was good impetus to finish this scarf. It's amazing what charity knitting does to one's knitting speed, what with deadlines and all. The scarf is about 5 feet long, knit from two balls of Cupid yarn, seven stitches across on size eight needles, moss stitch all the way. Easy-peasy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Okay, this is a little late for Talk Like a Pirate Day...

... but I only just discovered it:

My pirate name is:

Dirty Mary Flint

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network
Now go and get YOUR pirate name! http://www.piratequiz.com/

Stash enhancement again -- and really, this must slow down!

Did y'all see the new issue of Knitty? The one with this gorgeous creation on the opening page?

That's Twist and Shout, a most flattering cardigan with some interesting cabling and whatnot that looks so absolutely gorgeous I knew I had to have it. Go and look at it. Do. There are more pictures on the Knitty page. I'll wait...

Okay? So it calls for something called Rooster Almerino Aran, which seems to be a UK yarn, and I couldn't get a good source for. Now watch, since this pattern appeared, every shop in the US is going to carry it by next week. How-some-ever, I shopped around and decided on this -- please pardon the yellowish picture, it was taken under an incandescent bulb because I was too impatient to wait for morning, but imagine it nearly as plummy as the cardigan above:

It's silk and alpaca in a heavy worsted weight. It'll take a little calculation and needle adjustment to get gauge -- or me, I tend to go in reverse, and if I'm not getting gauge, I get out the calculator and figure out how many stitches wide I need it to be, then see which size calls for that many stitches and knit that size. I ordered enough from Knit Picks to make the cardigan when I finally get to it. Very good they were, too, and shipped all dozen-and-a-half balls from the same dye lot. ::Wild applause::

And really, now, that must be enough for a while. My stash box under the bed is so full I can barely close it. While yes, I do have some stash and UFOs in a copper wash boiler, and some leftover skeins in a closet, the stash box is "live" stash, stash that is meant to be something, and I must, must, MUST get it knitted up before I go and buy some more. Must.

But then I did go out and buy some more, but just ONE skein of speckled blue (yes, it's blue, sorry about the yellow light) DK for baby booties that must be ready mid-October for a surprise shower for a different baby, more to come on that:

Because one skein for booties for a shower in a couple of weeks doesn't really count, does it?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Discovering the pleasures of social knitting

I've been knitting now for, well, since before dirt was invented, I think. It's only recently that I discovered the concept of knitting groups, mainly by reading The Yarn Harlot, and more recently still that I went in search of such a group. To my disappointment, the one yarn shop in my town doesn't have a regular group like you read about in books like Debbie Macomber's The Shop on Blossom Street. Last year some folks at the university where I work started a knitting club, but they meet in the evenings at a time inconvenient for me to drive home, feed the cats, get some dinner, and drive back, as I live 30 minutes away and I don't fancy eating dinner away from home and family just to go knit with others. I'd also discovered there was a knitting guild in town, and found out where and when they meet, but the last few months there was always something up on the same mornings when the guild met.

Finally, finally I took up an invitation I received some time ago to join Ravelry, and through their forums, discovered a knitting group in my own home town. This afternoon I made time to go and join them at the coffee shop where they meet. Aren't knitters a lovely bunch? This bunch was, too, and I can see I'm among experienced knitters and spinners. What fun! Pictures to come, I'm sure, as I get settled into the group some more. I have an invitation to the next knitting guild meeting, too. We talked knitting, cats, more knitting, babies, more cats, more knitting... a good time was had by all.

As for Ravelry itself, here's my profile.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More stash enhancement in Bend

I had to dash over the mountains to Bend for an evening meeting, and return home the next day, so I made time to visit Juniper Fiberworks, a yarn store I didn't get to on my last trip to Bend.

They've recently moved into new quarters and the storefront, on a small side street off of a main drag, still bears the sign of its former occupants. I wasn't sure I was in the right place, but as usual, the wool fumes led me to the right location.

There I found the best selection I've seen in a modest-sized yarn shop. It took me a bit to get used to the arrangement, as the yarn was sorted not by fiber and weight like most stores, but by color. Convenient when one is looking for a specific color, but I would have liked to have seen the yarn sorted by fiber and weight within the colors.

Nevertheless, it wasn't hard to walk out with something nice in hand. In this case it was an assortment of Mission Cotton, a nubby DK weight cotton yarn, in various colors. Why? I have something in mind. A colleague just found out his wife is expecting their second child, and I have something in mind...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why it would be fabulous to be Myrna Loy

Why? Because she got to wear scads of glamorous, elegant fashions like this:

And like this:

And better still, she got to dress up with accessories like this (the "accessory" on the right of the picture, I mean):

And like this (the "accessory" on the left):

And even the cute little "accessory" in the middle here:

Pity about the hats, though:

Sigh sigh... if only elegance like hers would come back into fashion. I do so tire of "fashions" on the runway that look like a head-on collision between a Vandal horde and a traveling circus.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Afghans for Afghans needs kid knits

This is the start of a child's size 8 sweater in Lion Brand Wool, Cadet blue, with two stripes of Lion Brand Prints, Mountain colorway, which I had left from another project. This little gem is going to the Afghans for Afghans Youth Campaign, so I have until October 14 to have it finished and shipped to the collection center in San Francisco.

The current campaign is asking for kids sweaters, socks, mittens, and hats -- though the website says that the organization asking for items gets a lot more hats than anything else, and they really need sweaters. Items need to be 100% wool or other animal fiber (like llama wool, which, being a hollow hair, is even warmer than sheep wool). The clothing is for kids who have next to nothing, and are outdoors a great deal in the Afghan winter.

I knitted two baby afghans for earlier campaigns this year, so I think I can whip out a worsted-weight sweater in time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kimono Vest is done!

It's not easy trying to get your own photo in the bathroom mirror, especially when the Princess Belle wants in on the act. And the contortions one goes through to try to get one's own picture with a digital camera.

Yes, I suppose I could wait until someone is home to take the picture, but I'm being all impatient. The Kimono Vest is done!

Kimono vest flat on the deck. Front band came out a little wobbly on the bottom. Blocking only goes so far with cotton/rayon yarn.

Self-portrait in purple kimono. Tres chic, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kimono vest: Knitting phase is done

The actual knitting phase for the Kimono Vest is done, which means we now move from the charming Knitting of Garment phase on to the less charming Weaving In of Ends Phase, followed by the Sewing Up of Seams phase, to finally Putting On of Garment phase, that latter of which is the whole point for a product-oriented knitter like me. (If you're a process knitter, this is probably the point where you start thinking, "Hey, where's that lovely mohair I bought the other day? Why isn't that on the needles yet? And oh, check out that new pattern! I think I have something in the stash for that... no? I don't? Where's my credit card?")

We shall not discuss the Discovering Armband is Too Short phase, followed by the Knit And Weave In Patch phase. The Souffle yarn is nubby enough to hide such oddments. Fortunately. The error was at the front, of course.

I laid this out on the grass because I wanted more color in the pictures. The white cutting table I've been using for a background is so... well... white.

We shall also not discuss the Stepping in Something Soft in One's Stocking Feet While Photographing incident, which produced the cry of, "Oh, crap!" which is exactly what the Something Soft was. Oh, crap.

The things people say...

Oh, those irritating things non-knitters say when they see you knitting. Or see someone else knitting, crocheting, making lace, whatever.

The top of my list is this conversation:
Irritant: "What are you making?"
Me (holding up three rows of ribbing in a fine gauge yarn): "I've just started a new sweater."
Irritant (squinting at the three rows of tiny stitches): "Kind of small, isn't it?"

What do you say in response to that?
"Gee, you're right! I'll cast on a larger size and then it'll be done."
"No, really, I'm that skinny."
"It'll stretch when I wash it."
"So is your I.Q. and an unmentionable body part."

Okay, so I'd never actually say the last one aloud. But I've thought it a time or two.

Most crafters have had to field some pretty dumb comments from the time they first started crafting. Sometimes you have to wonder why people can't just say, "Oh, so you knit/crochet/sew/quilt/bead. That's cool." and just let it go at that. It's one thing when people speak out of total ignorance, when someone who just doesn't know looks at the intricate Fair Isle sweater you're working on and says, "So that's crochet, right?" Or sees you with hook in hand working on a lace stole and asks, "What are you knitting?" Those who barely know that craft stores exist can be forgiven for believing that everything involving a pointy metal thing and yarn is "knitting." Or "crocheting." Whichever they use as the generic.

It's the defensive comments that irritate me the most. Why must the prickles go up when a non-crafter encounters a crafter? Things like:

I don't have the patience: I was watching lacemakers at the state fair and admiring some work done in extremely fine threads when this chick in tight jeans and a scowl strutted by and hissed to her guy, "I don't have the patience for that kind of stuff!" Um... so? What's to be angry about? Needlecrafts teach patience, but perhaps that was a lesson the darlin' didn't want to learn.

How can you stand to do that? Wow, because I have a masochist complex? No, I think it's because I enjoy it. No, really.

I don't have the time: Okay, so you don't have the time for knitting. I don't have the time for television, rock climbing, hang gliding, stamp collecting, or playing the flugelhorn. Why? Because those aren't thing I'm interested in doing, so I don't make the time. Flugelhorn players are interested in playing the flugelhorn (obviously), so they make the time. I make the time for knitting. Fair enough?

I don't get how you do that: This I heard from an amateur magician. I don't think I can add anything funnier to that. Except that I told him this, "This is my magic trick. I wave these wands around for a very long time, and I transform this string into a sweater. Taa daaa!"

Oh, I could never do that: Unless the person suffers paralysis, Parkinson's, or is missing both arms, this doesn't wash. And even then, I've seen some armless people do some pretty incredible things with their feet that make me say, "I could never do that!" Except, of course, I do have feet and probably could do those things if I really worked at it. And there's the difference between those who do and those who don't: it's not about what you can or can't do, but what you're willing to put some effort into.

You're knitting? There's not much to say in response to this expression of disgusted incredullity, except, "You have a flair for the obvious." Or maybe, "Omigawsh, you're right! Aaaaaah!"

But the real answer to any of these, of course, is, "So you don't want to knit? Fine -- more yarn for me!"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fab knitwear and textiles in the Kit Kittredge movie

If you haven't seen Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, the movie based on one of the American Girl dolls, it may be out of the theaters now, but it's still showing at the second-run theater pub in our town (I waited to see it there 'cause it seemed like such a good dinner-and-movie kind of film), or wait for it to come out on DVD.

Set in the Great Depression, the movie has themes in it that are startlingly relevant today. Sure, they do paint a rather rosy picture of hobo life, but the persecution of hobos as "people not like us and clearly criminal" echoes sentiments directed against Hispanic immigants, legal and illegal, today. Foreclosure signs springing up around neighborhoods like toadstools -- all too familiar. The film doesn't shy away from the darkness that went with the Depression, but as you'd expect from a film aimed primarily at kids, it does have a happy ending.

But oh, that knitwear! Kit lives in the golden age of knitting, when practically every woman knit or crocheted or tatted or embroidered or did it all. Kit first appears in her trademark crocheted cloche and pink sweater that appear on the cover of her first book. It's almost enough to make one wish cloches would come back into style.

Sweaters are ubiquitous throughout the movie, since it's fall and there's a nip in the air. Check out Ruthie's highly-textured cardigan in a delicious plum:

Someone spent a whole lot of time getting the colors and textiles right in this film. I'm rather hoping the movie inspires a demand for 30's fabrics and styles. I've got a few vintage patterns I'm just itching to use if I can find the right fabric for them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free sewing patterns!

Really, truly. Real sewing patterns with real instructions, no catches, gimmicks, or contests to enter, most of them free and a few at low cost. All you have to do is download them and print them from your own computer.

Check out BurdaStyle

I've not been a big fan of Burda in the past. When I'd go to the fabric store and page through the pattern books, Burda was always the one with the strangest, most outre looks. I did, however, find a couple of nice patterns, like this skirt and this vest (but I think I'll make it without the revers).

For folks who like to design their own, there's a means of uploading your own patterns. You can also post pictures of your creations.

Last weekend's progress

Yep, that's it. Just that. The undercollar padding-stitched to its wool interfacing. What I should have taken photos of was the stepwise process.

See the slight, curved fold? That's the roll line of the collar. The bit above that was padding-stitched first, then I had to fold the collar at the roll line, pin-baste it, and then do the padding stitch on the rest of the collar. That provides the structure and the shaping that it will need to keep the collar lying flat.

It's a long process, this business of doing things right.

The Kimono Vest is coming along. Both front pieces are done and I did up the shoulder seams using a crochet hook to give the shoulders extra support. I'm doing up the front band now. Actually, I already did the front band once, but I realized I hadn't knit on enough stitches and it was much too short. Nothing like a vest where the front band puckers the front to about half their length.

Ah, if only life allowed us to rip back and do things over.

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