Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why yes, it is 90 degrees out. Why do you ask?

One might question the prudence of putting on a sweater and hat and going outside in sweltering weather. And then taking pictures of it.

But if you had just finished a hat this cute, I think you would too.

Pattern: Connie Chang Chinchio's Blume Hat, from Knitscene Fall 2010
Yarn: 1 skein Colinette Jitterbug (320 yards) , colorway Whirly Fig
Needles: Size 3 US for body, size 2 US for picking up for brim
Modifications: I think I picked up an extra 4 or 5 stitches around the brim, because I sure wasn't going to count all over again. Other than that, none.

I love the '20s vibe I get from this one, which is totally not present in the magazine picture. With the Extreme Ruffleage, I was a little concerned that it looked too much like... well, a bonnet. (The pink did not help in this case.) But block it and slap a flower on it, and it says, "Hello my name is Cory and I am so cheeky that I might just explode" instead of "Hi, my name is Cowy, don't judge me, I can't quite pronounce my r's yet because I'm a giant toddler."

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FO: Issaquah Vest

Ohhhh, this vest.

I started it way back in October (or maybe November?) for my private reading in traditional knitted colorwork. I got a lot of help from Priscilla Gibson-Roberts's wonderful book, Knitting in the Old Way. I wanted a few key things from this project:

1. A fitted shape in a chunky yarn. My widest point is at the chest, and without shaping at the waist, anything chunky makes me look like a refrigerator.

2. Traditional shawl collar and motifs. I chose garter snakes and flying geese - the first for the little garter snakes my brother and I used to find in our front yard (and, okay, also for the not-so-subtle knitting reference), and the second for the Canada geese that hang out on Issaquah's Lake Sammamish, another favorite childhood destination.

I'm kicking myself for not writing up what I did. I do know that little to no intarsia was used in the making of it (because I find intarsia way too fiddly) and I learned quickly that yes, colorwork really does need to be on bigger needles than plain stockinette. The vest was languishing on my to-finish pile - with the zipper pinned on and everything! - because... well. Because I thought that sewing a zipper to a knit was rocket science.

And one of the many things I have learned from my internship at the Cleveland Museum of Art this summer is that hand-sewing is definitely not rocket science. It's difficult to execute perfectly since we are human beans and not machines, but the fundamental execution of it is pretty straightforward. Also, knitting totally taught me how to do ladder stitch: it's mattress stitch, only on woven fabric. Crazy, right?

Anyhoo, the moral of the story is that you don't actually get funny looks at Slow Train (plugplugplug) like you would expect when you're stabbing yourself with a needle, stabbing yourself with pins on the way to remove them, and slowly but surely, setting in the zipper of a truly badass knit vest.

Monday, July 19, 2010

pink corduroy

I got the newest issue of Knitscene the other day. I was flipping through and noticed that I really, really liked a couple of the designs, and they were small enough that I might even get around to knitting them. The one that caught my attention was Connie Chang Chinchio's Blume Hat and Gloves - but namely, the hat. Simple! Feminine! Ruffled! (I'm a sucker for ruffles.) For some reason, the yarn that I immediately thought of was this skein of Jitterbug that I got at Loopy while visiting my knitting buddy in Chicago last fall break, in the colorway Whirly Fig. It's basically the perfect pink: softly multi-tonal, quiet but firm, the color of a mouse's nose. It also happens to be the exact color of a pair of pink cords I had when I was about fifteen, and Jitterbug is so tightly twisted (hoorah! hoorah!) that the resulting fabric looks a little like corduroy, too.

I finished the body of the hat today. Actually: I was so productive today! Weaving and kanji chapters and sewing of zippers, oh my!

This message brought to you by iced coffee, Wyder's raspberry hard cider from Trader Joe's, and girltalking with my lovely friend/housemate Natalie while lying on the living room floor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

self aware and a couple of ballerinas

Ballerina scarf and bustled dress: a surprisingly good combination.

I found this scarf about a week ago at Ratsy's vintage store. It was about $5, like most of her scarfy offerings. It has the cutest little ballerinas dancing about the edges. I love the contrast of orange and white and there's also a deep blue in the skirts too. I was debating whether it was too cutesy, but my intense fondness for ballerinas won out. I didn't ever go through a horse phase as a child, but I did go through a period of wanting to be a ballerina. I adored the flouncy tutus, seeing the Nutcracker at the Pacific Northwest Ballet and changing from a fancy dress into pajamas at intermission, the Degas dancers that my mother hung on the wall of my Monet Water Lilies-themed room, the miniature Angelina Ballerina books that I read from cover to cover.

I've been thinking a lot about self-image lately. I realize that this blog is a bit of an exercise in narcissism, as many blogs are. I wonder with every image I upload, is this unnecessary? Does this tell a story? Do I look self-absorbed/pretentious/pretty/ugly/fat? With scrutiny of women's bodies touted as an appropriate element of television and internet media, I can't help but look at myself the same way. When it comes down to it, there aren't many women who look like me in the popular media. In fact, I don't see a representation of most of the women that I know, and many of the things that I find the most beautiful about my friends and me - tightly corkscrewed curls, small chests and big hips, big chests and small hips, hands that have seen work, curvy stomachs, strong noses - are ignored at the least and criticized at the worst.

Which is where blogs come in. Blogs were a big part of why I started knitting more, and why I got better at knitting. I pored over Grumperina, Brooklyntweed, and Cosmicpluto on breaks between writing sentences for a grammar workbook. (Find the preposition in this sentence: I would like to put that yarn on my face.) As the years passed, my list of oft-visited blogs got longer and longer. One thing that I really appreciated, and still appreciate, about these blogs, is that they're written by normal people who eat carbs, who have illnesses and dogs who shed and the same wonderful imperfections that we all have, who knit garments for themselves that fit well and look beautiful. After seeing so much whackadoodle body image garbage on television (for instance: Britney Spears is or ever was fat. Uhhh yeah, in Backasswards land...) it's so, so wonderful to see a diverse group of people with great senses of style, gobs of talent, and pointy needles to make the magic happen - all of whom are also gracious enough to share photographs and thoughts and projects with the internet.

In the end, I'm not sure where I fit into that blogging community that I find so beloved. And that's ok. But if y'all ever tire of seeing the same "Cory puts on a dress and stares out into space artistically lol" content, please do feel free to let me know.

Monday, July 12, 2010

approaching the end

I looked at my calender the other day and realized that there are only four more weeks until my job is finished. I can't believe how fast the summer has gone. Although there have been some long, hot days when the only reasonable thing to do is to trudge upstairs to the one air-conditioned room in the house to nap, for the most part I've been staying busy with knitting, cooking, cleaning, and working at the museum. I hadn't really thought about my visit to Seattle until a week or so, but I realized that I'm really looking forward to going home.

It's a nice change, after the years of building up my college life in Ohio, to return to the place that I still think of as home, although I haven't lived there since the year after high school. In many ways, I needed that break away from a watershed year that left me exhausted in all senses of the word and completely ready to go study my ass off at college. But still, almost four years later, it's that whole circle of life thing coming around again: after a period of distance, I'm excited to return to the places that molded my sense of humor, my taste in food, my appreciation for good old clothes and rainy days. And I'm really excited to hang out with my family and some very old friends.

Speaking of good old clothes: the outfit actually very much reflects both of my lives, which I sometimes think of as distinct but in fact are not. The skirt is silk chiffon that drapes crazily and makes me feel like a 6-year-old playing dress-up - a vintage find from Stella, my favorite boutique in the Northwest; the belt was on sale at a pricey off-the-rack store in the same town; the polka-dot shirt is silk, bought for $12 at Ratsy's vintage store in Oberlin; the socks, handknit by me, in Oberlin, out of Jitterbug bought in Santa Barbara while visiting a friend. The hair, now getting long enough as to be kind of ridiculous, is grown out according to a promise that I made to myself that I wouldn't cut my hair short again until I graduated from college. It's the sort of promise that a silly first-year girl in college would make, but, as with many of the things I've waxed poetic over (stop me, I'm getting maudlin here), it was appropriate at the time and so I'm keeping it.

Time flies.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

lazy Sunday

Cast on for something new - a sample for Smith's knit out of Manos del Uruguay Serena, a beautiful cotton/alpaca blend with an interesting hand and muted, cotton-y colors. The pattern is Lacy Baktus, a simple knit with eyelet and garter stitch, a nice palette cleanser after knitting a whole lot of charted lace. A water main broke in Oberlin yesterday, so we're on a boil advisory, but luckily I put a pitcher of fresh mint water in the fridge a few days ago, which has been nice to drink while watching movies and knitting on this incredibly lazy weekend.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

that's some spicy ramen you got there

Today we drove into Cleveland for dim sum and shopping for groceries at Tink Holl, an Asian market that has everything from mochi ice cream to mi goreng to possibly the most delicious fresh barbecued pork ever. I've been looking for any sort of Indonesian/Balinese food in supermarkets since I got back. For breakfast every morning, my host families all served me some variation of mi goreng (which is sort of like ramen, but spicier, without broth, and sprinkled in this amazing crunchy stuff), coffee-flavored Bali cakes, and coffee so thick with grounds and sugar that you had to strain it with your teeth. A lot of the kick-your-face-in-spicy stuff that was standard fare and so amazingly good isn't really obtainable except at a dusty warung with a mangy dog or two hanging out beneath the table, where the woman in the kitchen can bang out five orders of fried rice in as many minutes and you drink coca-cola made with real sugar through a straw because the lip of the can is rusted. While such places might exist somewhere in the US, I figure it's probably easier to go for the mi goreng. And Tink Holl... it has it.

I know what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow.

My various lace projects are making progress. While riding to Cleveland, I knit the last 12 rows of garter stitch of the center of Crown Prince. Apparently a few of the servers at the dim sum complimented my knitting, although my housemates do not view my lace-knitting as awesome and instead tease me that I am like a female Benjamin Button, and that I am secretly seventy-six and hiding a whole lot of cats in the house somewhere despite my outward appearance of twenty-somethingness.

To which I say, humph.

And dang those whippersnappers, 'cause they don't know what kind of "you're my friend and I like you well enough to knit you things out of cashmere/Malabrigo/endangered pygmy yak fleece" gifts they're missing out on.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

another one!

Like any true lace fiend, I've already cast on for another project. This one is the Lily of the Valley scarf from (what else?) Knitted Lace of Estonia in Jade Sapphire silk/cashmere. I think the yarn is a natural brown base, and is dyed a beautiful berry color. It's a shifty color - it glows bronze in the sunlight, dark lavender or brown in other lights. I'm knitting it as a gift. Oh shucks, gotta work with cashmere. I'm so sad.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Oh, Lilac. You make me swoon a little.

Pattern: Lilac Leaf Shawl by the genius Nancy Bush, from the inimitable Knitted Lace of Estonia
Yarn: 1.5 skeins (about 700 yards in total) of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace
Needles: Size 6 US Addi Turbo Lace
Notes: I did an extra 2 leaves of the center pattern, since I had enough yarn. I'm hoping that the shawl doesn't completely engulf the recipient, because I will douse the yarn in hot sauce and eat it before I rip out the graft and do it over again. (No offense to the yarn and all offense to grafting, thankyouverymuch.)

This scarf is going to be for some female-bodied member of my homestay family in Japan this fall. I hope that they like it.

Now, for the man scarf!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lillies and lilacs

A beautiful day in Oberland. I got some handwashing and ironing done. I'm scheming to do a little bit of silk painting tomorrow - I have a silk scarf that I found for $5 at Ratsy's a while back, and it's sort of a weird unflattering color, so I'm going to dye it.

Steady progress is being made on Lilac Leaf; just a couple more repeats of the leaf chart, then the edging and grafting and this baby's done! Just in time, too - I just got confirmation of my homestay placement (although I don't know anything about how many people are in the family or if there's kids), but either way I need to get started on a man's scarf.

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Epic vintage haul: Part III: yellow is the color of the day!

Hoo boy! Here's some more from last week's thrifting excursion. The first is a great little sweater I got for 99 cents at the Elyria Salvation Army. I wish I had a better picture of it, but unfortunately my camera crapped out right as I finished taking this one.

It's a size 42, the tag says Halle Brothers (which my friends told me was a chic department store back in the day), 100% wool (!!!!!), made in Hong Kong. When I picked this up, I thought for sure that it was acrylic, as there are more than enough little lace sweaters that look cute but feel like crap because... well. I guess I'm biased (and a snob) but I'm just not a fan of acrylic, even in vintage stuff. The sweater has a crocheted button band and collar, which is nice and sturdy.

And, because it's wool, it's been cool enough to wear even on slightly toasty days. And on slightly chillier days - which we've actually had for the last three days or so, which I'm in total love with - it's a nice layer. I wore it in the lab at CMA the other day because they keep the AC cranked up so high, and I wasn't cold at all. Oh wool. My one true love. (Shhhhh, Crown Prince. You're wooly, sort of.)

And then there's this dress, also from SA Elyria. (You'll have to forgive the dorky expression.) It's (suprise) a sheath from Anne Taylor that is (legitimate surprise) a size 4. It's linen and wrinkles like crazy, but damn if it doesn't look smashing when worn with the right attitude and heels. For actually wearing it out I nixed the matchy shoe and cardigan combo for no cardigan, but otherwise: perfection. It's such a great color yellow, and I got several compliments on it today.

Also adorable: buttons up the back. Nigh impossible to get myself into without help, but so worth the cute factor.


Now all I gotta do is throw my poke-your-eyes-out yellow Koigu socks at these pieces, and I'd have quite the outfit.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

FO: Ishbel

I finished this one a while ago, then dropped it off at Smith's to be used as a store sample. I have mixed feelings about this project - it's pretty, but I had to skip a few rows of edging because I didn't have enough yarn - something I should have forseen, but couldn't much combat because I was already making the small size and had limited (and expensive) yarn. However, it would look quite smashing with a black dress and heels, maybe at a night at the theater on a summer evening in Seattle.

You and me, Ishbel, we got a date.

Pattern: Ishbel, by Ysolda Teague, from Whimsical Little Knits I
Yarn: 2 skeins (330 yards total) of Artyarns Mohair Splash.
Needles: Addi Turbo size 10 US
Notes: I found several knots in the yarn, one of which I cut out and another that I didn't notice until it was already inches past. This yarn is beautiful, but sort of hard to work with because of the beads and sequins - mostly because it was difficult to maintain tension. That being said, the extra "stuff" in the yarn lends the shawl a lovely weight and sparkle. If I were to knit this particular project again, I would probably go down a needle size or two.

One little nitpick: because I wasn't able to maintain even tension, one line of yarnovers is noticeably looser than the other (also due in part to the difference between yarnovers before knit stitches and yarnovers before purl stitches). In general, I prefer a non-yarnover increase if they are to be worked at the beginning and end of every row, as a true lace knitting looks a little different than knitted lace with yarnovers only on one row for every two rows worked and the rest of this shawl uses knitted lace style yarnovers. I may be the only person in the world who thinks this, but I'm actually not a huge fan of lace knitting; I like the twists and sturdiness of knitted lace. Faggoting is gorgeous, but un-reinforced yarnovers just make me nervous. Snags are bound to happen, and that little extra twist is protection for delicate lace stitches.

However, all of those things are pretty small. Overall, a fun project with a beautiful result.