Saturday, November 28, 2009

FO: Egyptian Sash

Aren't I smug.

And deep in thought about something over there.

Naturally, these things make me a Serious Artiste.

Finished object, at long last.

Project: Egyptian Sash
Pattern: My own, cobbled together from Richard Rutt's A History of Handknitting
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, one hank gold, two hanks burgundy (probably could have done it with one hank, but wanted to be safe)
Needles: Size 7 US

Notes: Okay, so I'm really, really proud of this. The edging turned out exactly the way I wanted; it allowed me to beautifully finish the back by tucking the cut steek into the hem, and the sewing made it look really polished. I'm sort of tempted to go buy more yarn and make another one, perhaps in violet and gold, or teal and copper. It's the first thing I've ever made from scratch (save the chart) that I have been really, truly, completely happy with.


winter has descended

Yesterday I went for a long run to the arboretum, then grabbed some lunch at the local bar, which also functions as the best burger and sandwich place around. It was really cold in the afternoon, and it had snowed in the early morning, but it was nice for running in. I was wearing a thermal shirt, a polar fleece vest, and yoga pants, which was great while I was in motion, but by the time I started walking home I was completely frozen. So, how better to combat the cold than by taking a hot shower, then putting on a cotton dress with tights, wool long underwear, a spring sweater, and a shawl as layers? Um. Well, pants might have been a good idea instead. I'm afraid it's hard to let go of the dresses for the season, but unfortunately, I think it might be time to let go of the delusion and drag out the real winter layers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

In progress: Egyptian Sash

On the home stretch! I finally ripped and re-knit the hem, after deciding that the decreases were too sudden on the mitered edges. They're still a little rounder than I would have liked, but there's a much lovelier mixture of curve and angle now. And actually, the wrong side looks sort of beautiful. I'm really hoping to make this piece finished-looking on both sides, and so far it's working out pretty slick.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Not wearing tights to Thanksgiving dinner when it's spitting snow? Bad idea, guys. However, this is the second Thanksgiving in a row that I have worn this dress/sweater combo, and I think it's pretty effective. Although you can't see how amazing this dress is, there's a lovely, nipped waist, boatneck, and elbow-length sleeves under there. I love having versatile pieces in my wardrobe - this dress can be worn with a sweater over it, on its own, with a belt or sash, with tights in the winter, dressy or pretty casual.

I picked up the trail of a beautiful blue silk brocade 50s style cocktail dress the other day, for something like $15. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the clothes dork strikes again

White and jeans: a most awesome combination.

Monday, November 23, 2009

in the details

So I splurged the other day, and bought four beautiful tops. Each of them is relatively simple in design, but has amazing little details that are neither overwhelming nor trivial.

print and flutter


color and construction

drape, lace, and texture.

As we get into the last few weeks of the semester, things are getting crazy. I'm keeping sane by going to the gym, trying to work a little on big projects every day, sleeping, and breathing. I won't say it's easy because it's not, but I guess it's in keeping with my Semester of Big Changes. I'm really looking forward to going home, and then hopefully the new year will bring smaller, perhaps more happy changes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

sort of a bad week

Yesterday the curmudgeon and I decided to break up for a while. It was mutual and will probably be good for us in the end, but for now it sucks. We've been together for two years.

In other ways, today was good - I had some bonding time with my housemates and friends, I went to the gym and ran some serious uphill on the elliptical, got my homework done, and did not cry in public*. Overall, though, I am terribly sad about losing the best partner in crime I've ever had.

Times like these it's nice to be wrapped up in woolies. The weather has just turned cold, and that along with my current slightly ragged state has made appreciate warm things a little more. This morning I dragged out a Malabrigo scarf I made about two years ago. It's not perfect - it rolls, and it's a little too long - but the color is spectacular and it's warm as hell. It was perfect for today.

*bonus points to anyone who gets the Radiohead reference. Because nerdiness must be cultivated and maintained at all times.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

in a fit of impatience

I cast on for something new. I know, I know. After many months of being relatively monogamous, I have slowly drifted back into polyamorous knitting. I have... seven projects going right now? It's enough to make me tear my hair out. But one of the perks of having lots of yarn boyfriends is that I get to have lots of wildly inappropriate flings with that weird color of Knitpicks Dancing that I got for free in a yarn swap last winter.

The jury was still out on this colorway today around 5 pm. However, the vote came back unanimously "awesome" by 6:30. Simply put, this yarn has knit up into a surprisingly beautiful sock. There's no pooling, and the color combination is reminiscent of an orange grove. I cast on 64 stitches and did a 2x2 rib for a while, then switched to stockinette, but left a cute little 2-stitch cable at the back of the leg. I've seen several socks that are plain except for a detail extending down to the ankle, and I think it's just beautiful. Simple yet elegant.

Now, it would be really great if I could tear myself away from it long enough to work on my schoolwork.

Unrelated (except that it has to do with yarn), but this store sample came into Smith's about a week back and I fell in love with the idea of knitting a full sweater out of Ella Rae Merino Lace. This duster marked the first time I've tried on a garment and Chuck (the owner at Smith's, who is awesome and somewhat gruff at times) has complimented the way it looked on me.

I have been lusting after the ruffle edged cardigans that have gotten so popular in the knitting world as well as the Muggle fashion world as of late, and there is a cute pattern called Elka in one of the Ella Rae pattern booklets for a sharp interpretation of the ruffle-edged cardigan. There is only one project on Ravelry, but it's reeeeally cute. Seeing this duster knit up makes me more inclined to invest in enough yarn for such a cardigan - it's nice to see how the colors work together in a garment, and I still have nothing but love for the hand and drape of the fabric.

Sigh. Now if only my papers would write themselves.

Monday, November 16, 2009

vest approaching realization

It's a crappy picture, but you get the idea.

I ended up using some intarsia and some stranding on the colorwork portions of this vest. The little brown triangles were easier to do using intarsia; they didn't ever get wider than 9 stitches, and each skein of Sulka is only 55 yards, so I skipped winding bobbins and just used two separate balls of brown and stranded the white across. The colorwork was inspired by a "flying geese" motif that I saw in a book about Salish weaving. I decided to let the v of the geese fall on the two fronts and let it be a plain brown stripe in the back. However, because of the white buttonband and the white interruption in the brown stripe, I had to do a little fudging and carry the white all across the back of the brown, as you saw yesterday in my (even crappier) iPhoto picture. I'm not super happy about my tension in the intarsia and I should have gone up a needle size for the stripe, but I have gotten a lot of questions and compliments on it so far, many from non-knitters.

As far as shaping... I decided to do some waist shaping, since this is such a bulky yarn and my body type really needs a little waist shaping for a flattering fit. I did it by doing a double decrease at the sides every 3 rows until the piece measured 9", then increased two stitches at each side (again, every 3 rows). With a gauge of 4 st/inch, that turned into a lovely nip at the waist, since I decreased from 40" down to 32". I'm on my second to last increase for a final circumference of 37", for just about zero ease.

I haven't decided yet how I'm going to close it. I'm thinking either toggle-and-loop (since I'm not knitting in any buttonholes) or zipper. Any thoughts?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Work in progress: Cowichan-inspired vest

Not bad for the back, huh? Maybe it's silly, but I sort of like the effect of the stranding... if I learn to do it more regularly I'd think about using it as an accent on the right side of a garment. Hmmmm.

FO: Zetorina

Zetorina has been done for a while, but it's taken me a while to get pictures due to one simple fact:

she is gorgeous and pink and frilly, but she is also freakin' huge. That being so, I have absolutely no idea how to wear her.

Scarf-style? Her points are super long and tend to get in my coffee/stuck under the strap of my bag. But currently it's a little too cold to wear her alone. I'm thinking that she'll get more wear in the spring, when I can wear her as a light cover-up over a sundress. Until then, she might get worn as an extremely voluminous scarf.

Pattern: Zetor Scarf, by Jatta Sauko
Yarn: The Alpaca Yarn Company Suri Elegance, color Rosebud
Yardage: almost all of an 875-yard skein
Modifications: I added a bunch of repeats, but then I got a little nervous about how much I was going to have left, so I skimped on edging repeats. The edges are pretty curly, so in hindsight I would skip a repeat to make a nice, full edge.

Also, this photoshoot happened to produce the most hipster-y photo of me ever.

Seriously. Stick a clove cigarette and a pretentious music reference in there and I'd be set.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stash Appreciation Wednesday: Two Days Late Edition

Well hi. I'm late with the stash appreciation this week, for no particular reason except that I fell asleep on Wednesday far before I intended to. Like, say, 10:30 pm when my normal bedtime is 12-1 am. This week has actually been really productive; I've been further photographing and cataloging my stash into Ravelry, which is pretty fun.

I've also cast on for a Cowichan-inspired vest. I've done the ribbing and a little less than an inch of stockinette, and, as with most of my made-up patterns thus far, I'm relying on little more than an idea of "hey that would be neat" and confidence in my knitting aptitude. I'm going to basically lock myself in Smith's tomorrow and try to get as much done as possible, then I will share some pictures. As a side note: intarsia is terrifying.

One thing that all of this pattern-making makes me appreciate even more than usual is an innovative, well-executed design. I love it when the numbers add up symmetrically and when corners turn crisply, and when pattern and yarn skip happily down the road together holding hands while singing. Which is where the blue Araucania Azapa above comes in: it's an experiment in yarn-pattern matchmaking. One of my favorite patterns from Jared Flood's CEY pattern booklet is this jaunty little cap called Quincy. It looks like an interesting construction and I love the little twist at the side; it kinda reminds me of a sailor hat. One of these days (which is to say, when the commissioned, for-school, and for Smith's knitting is finished, which will be in approximately 4 million years) I'm going to cast on. And it will be so exciting.

But for now, I can't really think of anything wrong with working with copious amounts of Mirasol Sulka.

Hee hee.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Work in progress: Egyptian sash

How terrifying - exhilarating, even - to have nothing but some zig-zags between you and cold, hard, silky death.

I knit the first part of this project over fall break. It's part of my private reading in historically inspired knitted design, and although I haven't hit any serious roadblocks so far, at this point I'm holding my breath with every stitch I knit.

Chart? Hand-copied on borrowed graph paper. Math? Totally fudged and yet somehow perfect. Mitered corners? Improvised. Sewn steek? Improvised, with the help of a terrific quilter and knitter from the Ginko Gallery. Knitting mojo? Please, gods of silk, Addi turbos, and insanity: let me have a full tank of the stuff.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


These are pictures of my sock yarn stash taken about two years ago, right before I went to college.
Out of all of the yarn pictured, only 6 sock amounts are left. Considering that this was 16 pairs worth of yarn, that's pretty incredible. Some of the yarn is sentimental, but some of it just hasn't told me what it wants to be yet. And then there's the stuff that has told me what it wants to be, but I haven't gotten around to knitting it yet.

One of the things that's come along with my change of major is a radical shift in goals. I've always known that I want to live in Japan, or take a fellowship in Indonesia or India if the opportunity presents itself, but now I also know that I want to pursue a career in textiles. I think that there's a way to combine the two, but it will take a little finagling and a lot of patience.

Part of getting to where I want to be involves getting organized. I'm a pretty cluttered person in general, but it drives me crazy when I can't find my yarn or needles because I don't have a real place to put them. A few weeks ago, I caved in and went to Wal-Mart to buy a set of shelves for my sock yarn, and I gotta say it's really nice to be able to walk in and see all of it sitting there, just waiting to be turned into something beautiful.

I think another really helpful part of getting organize will be to document my entire stash. I've started with the Stash Appreciation Wednesdays, and it's been surprisingly helpful - my Ravelry stash has gotten significantly bigger and prettier in the last week or so. It's nice to have it all written down so that even when I move and my boxes get pushed around and I can't even find the cord to my rice cooker (still haven't found that one) I still know that I have 6 skeins of Malabrigo worsted, not 5.

So what's next?

1) Get my butt in gear for my private reading. I'm planning to knit an Egyptian stranded belt/scarf (sounds weird, but it's awesome so far), a Cowichan-inspired sweater, and a Norwegian stranded pair of socks or hat, depending on my time frame. It's been a struggle finding books, but I've landed on a pretty intriguing topic: historical stranded knitting traditions. Although I realize that I can't create a genuine Cowichan - because it is a knitting tradition embedded not only in materials and construction, but in culture and place - I would like to try to knit a garment that is inspired by it.

2) Organize, document, and start to knit down some of the stash. Right now it feels a little bogged down, and although I'll have to get a bit more yarn for the private reading, I'd like to reduce my sock yarn stash. I don't tend to buy sweater amounts because they are so expensive, but I think that at this point I actually need more sweaters than I have the yarn for. I just need to learn that getting a sweater's amount is ok rather than just buying sock yarn.

3) Start applying for programs abroad - there's an intriguing intensive language scholarship in Japan sponsored by the State Department next summer. Next year I also want to apply for the Watson and Shansi fellowships, as well as the JET program. And, eventually, FIT in New York City for textile conservation.

4) Start playing with yarn and making up garments. Even when it's hard, even if it's just for fun.

5) Learn to weave, spin, and sew. These are biggies - if I really want to be a textile conservator, I want (and probably need, let's be serious) to understand the construction of all types of fabrics, not just knitted ones.

That's a lot of list, there. Here's some pretties for reading until this point:

Mal sock... how I love thee.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stash Appreciation Wednesday: Casbah Edition

This week's stash appreciation is directed towards this beautiful little skein of Handmaiden Casbah, a nylon/merino/cashmere blend. I got this at River Colors, a great yarn store in Lakewood, Ohio, while on a yarn adventure with a couple of friends from Smith's in Oberlin. I saw this skein hiding below a shelf full of Smooshy and was totally taken by the color. When I was little, my best friend's mom had these amazing cobalt blue glass cups, and ever since then I love that deep, electric blue.

The only thing that makes absolutely no sense about this yarn (besides how mind-blowingly awesome it is) is the name:

Periwinkle. When I think Periwinkle, I think delicate and non-eye punching. This skein definitely has its boxing gloves on.

Anyhow, this yarn is so, so soft and the color so incredible that I almost don't want to make it into socks just to have them wear out. Anybody have project suggestions for a single skein of Casbah?

Also as a quick little note, I maybe knew in the back of my brain that Addi Turbos and Addi Lace have differing mm measurements of US size 1s... but apparently not well enough. In Chicago, I picked up a set of Addi Lace needles to finish the silk shirt I cast on in June, but stalled out on because of the blunt regular Addis I was using. I had knit about 5 rows and thought I was just rowing out really bad, and then I looked at the marking on the cable. Duuuuuh. Below is where I'm picking up the row where I last used the real US 1.

Addi, I love you, but we need to talk.

It always amazes me how different my gauge is for 2.25 mm versus 2.50 mm. Seriously. Knitting is an exact science.

But you all knew that already.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's good today

Sundara Sport Silk in colorway Green Tea. I don't usually go for yellow-greens, but this one is absolutely luminous. (Photograph copyright Sundara Yarn)

And just the name reminds me of Japan, in particular, a long ride on the shinkansen to Osaka a few days after we arrived. I was sixteen, I was wearing unfortunate slacks and a polo and eating sweet, bitter green tea ice cream from the food cart with a splintery little wooden stick, and I was feeling really, really overwhelmed and scared. Then the train went around a corner and out the window I saw this huge mountain of bright green bamboo and kuzu, speckled with bright white cranes, and suddenly everything felt like it might be ok.

So there are positive associations.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Knotty or nice?

I figure since I never post things in progress, I might as well start. These are the Knotty gloves I've been working on for the last couple of days. The graduation cessation of the purls gave me some trouble (and about 3 hours of fixing, cursing, and re-fixing, finally ending in Total Rippage) but it's been smooth sailing since then. I just can't get over how well they fit, and how this experience opens up the big world of gloves. I like mittens, but I find that I prefer a more fitted garment to cover up my hands during the winter. Plus, at small gauge gloves like these could even fit under mittens - ingenious layering, indeed!

I'm also partially excited because, during my travels through vintage stores, I've found a number of insanely pretty dress gloves, but they're always too small for my hands. Understanding the structure of knitted gloves could be very useful for this. Can't find elbow-length white silk gloves? No problem - grab some US 0s and knit those suckers. Now, what I would wear elbow-length silk gloves to I can't really say... but the idea is pretty intriguing nonetheless.

In closing, here is my absolute favorite part of this project:

Look, ma! No holes!