Friday, January 28, 2011

Vintage bracelet.


I bought this Japanese damascene panel bracelet about a year ago at my local bead shop, which also carries a lovely variety of clothing and some vintage jewelry.  Other bracelets like it seem to be from around the 1930s-40s.  This one in particular has 7 panels, with European-style motifs of roses and irises, as well as the more traditionally Japanese bamboo, temples and torii gates.

I like how Japanese interpretations of old-school European and American imagery are frozen in time, a relic of the importation of Western culture to Japan right before the Meiji Restoration.  In a way, the styles of the time - pasta, tea, English tea-garden patterned textiles - are better preserved in Japanese, Western-style customs and ideas than they are in contemporary Western cultures.  I think in America we tend to see tiny floral prints and tea cookies as a sort of quaint, dusty novelty, where in Japan they are quaint and novel, but treated with a distinct measure of joy.

Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to appreciate the ordinary and the old.


Also, the socks are coming along.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Translating eats my brains. Look, a sock!


Recently, my life is consumed with translating.  Luckily, the subject happens to be one of my favorite things in the world.


  糸 糸 糸 糸 糸 糸 糸 糸 糸。
Yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn.


I've also started a new sock project: Waving Lace with Pagewood Farms Yukon in colorway Rainbow, given to me by my mom for Christmas a couple of years ago.  I'm sorta confused by the pooling - is it puddling?  is it striping? - but so far am liking the combination of yarn and pattern.  It's nice to have a sock on the needles again, especially since I cast off Miraldette last night, after a zippy twelve days.  Let's see how long it takes me to get a pair of socks done after that, hah.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Outfit of the Day: January 25th. Now with more yarn!


I made a bunch of progress on Miraldette last night while watching a Will Smith flick called Seven Pounds.  Some of the critics didn't like it, and I have to say there were one or two gaping plot holes, but overall it was a beautifully acted and poignant story of a man's search for redemption in one of the most literal ways possible.  Expect tears if you check this one out.  By the end my movie-watching companion and I were both bawling like children.


I haven't been thinking about my outfits quite as much in the last couple of days, because, right on cue, Ohio dumped a bunch of snow on us.  Which means back to the snow boots that don't go with anything except jeans.  Today I'm wearing flats on the plowed walkways and praying that it doesn't start snowing again.  This time, laziness won out rather than necessity and I'm wearing jeans again.


This outfit is composed of some old stuff, but definitely good stuff!  I bought both the lacy grey undershirt and the flannel vest when I was in high school, and have worn them a ton, especially together.

Grey lace undershirt: Brass Plum at Nordstrom, circa uhhh... 2003?
Zip flannel vest made from vintage men's shirt: Brass Plum at Nordstrom, circa 2004
Belt: Petal wrap belt by Elizabeth Kelly on Etsy
Jeans: Levi's, borrowed

Eesh.  I definitely need to trim my bangs!


I'm also starting to brainstorm some new on-the-go projects.  I've made the Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks once before, and despite ruining the color (Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sock Solid in colorway Grape; thanks for being superwash, LL!) in a load of laundry that was done too hot, they've held up well and are super cute and comfortable.

Yesterday I was really proud of myself because I managed not only to do 5 hours of translating, but I also got a bunch of knitting and some blocking done!  It's been taking a while for my blocked knits to dry, but once they have I'll get some pictures up.  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blocking and watching


437 yards


of pure, unadulterated


cocaine heaven


Now blocking: Swallowtail, made with one skein of Ivory Handmaiden Sea Silk.  Made in Japan and put into the growing pile of knits to be blocked.  Right now there are 6 in the blocking queue.  Egads.

Now watching: 1st and 2nd seasons of Californication, about to start on the 3rd.  Smart, snappily written, and more than occasionally raunchy and borderline offensive.  Sad, infuriating, touching.  All the hallmarks of a good show.  David Duchovny as Hank Moody makes you forget his work on The X-Files for 20 whole minutes at a time, which is pretty impressive for a guy whom everybody recognizes as Fox Mulder.  Or, y'know, maybe whatever-the-hell-his-name-was from Evolution.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Miraldette in Progress


The last few days have not been so productive in terms of schoolwork, but they have been productive in knitting.  Miraldette is slowly and pleasantly plugging away.  I'm a few rows from the end of the nupped center motif, and just spliced the second ball on.  The splice was barely noticeable as it was, and then it conveniently fell on the inside of a nupp.  Perhaps the universe is sending me some karma to make up for losing the original Miralda.


Now, if only the siren call of cashmere and silk would quiet down a little so I could get some work done...


But that's not looking super likely.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One victory; many defeats


A pair of Hedera socks I had on display at my LYS out of Ella Rae Lace recently developed a hole in the foot.  My friend took them home to repair them, but found online darning tutorials a bit wanting - most recommend building what's essentially a woven structure on top of a knitted one.  Since the socks are in good condition otherwise, I decided to repair them so that the knit's appearance stays the same.  These particular socks had never been worn, so the yarn is still very smooth and pill-free.


The biggest problem?  The hole wasn't just a row - it was three full rows of stitches, two stitches in each row, that had been damaged.  Which means I couldn't just take the bottom two stitches and fasten them to the top; I had to rebuild the knit structure.  Although I've been able to repair two-row damage before with only one length of yarn, three is a little much, so instead, I cut three lengths of yarn and rebuilt each row individually.  Although when cut vertically, knit fabric tends not to unravel too quickly, the first stitches on the vertical edges of the hole were really unstable, so I started 2-3 stitches out from each.

Instead of creating a stabilizing weave, as with most darning, I created new knit stitches by sewing, following the line of the original yarn.  At any given time, there were 2-3 live stitches in midair, but I kept them pretty loose so they wouldn't pull out.  As I repaired the next stitches and stabilized the base row, I tightened them up to the appropriate gauge.

Above is the resulting fabric, which is a little wonky, but I think it will settle in after a washing.  The ends still need to be woven in, and it may be slightly bulkier than before, but I'm always really pleased with the end repair done in this method.  I've done it on socks, vintage sweaters, and cast-off contemporary sweaters (a Catherine Malandrino alpaca lace top in particular).  The original yarn is always good to use for handknits, but a single ply of a similarly colored sock yarn with a close-ish fiber content can also work on finely knit commercial sweaters.


The defeats?


While in Japan, I wore a really unfortunate pair of loafers that chewed up the back of five pairs of my handknit socks.  It was also really hot at the time, so the chewing not only ruined the backs, it also felted the stitches beyond recognition.  This might be a job for old-fashioned darning, but I think I may have lost the game on most of these, as many the feet and legs have also become pretty hopelessly felted.  Worst $50 I've ever spent on a pair of shoes, and I left the damn sock-killers in a free box in Hirakata.

Ah well - I guess I'd better start knitting some new socks, then.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Project Planning: Lehe Square Shawl


Lately I've been trying to make an effort to keep more projects on the needles.  Usually, I'm pretty monogamous to one piece at a time, but in the past six months or so it's been a problem.  I'll cast on for something, work at it until it's done, and then realize I don't have anything else to work on.  It's ok when I have the time to think about and cast on for something new, but when I'm busy it means that I just don't knit.


Since I'm working on Miraldette, I'm in my knitting happy place - but I still want to be there when I cast off!  So I wound a new skein of Prism lace in colorway Fog - 1360 yards of what feels like cobweb weight - to cast on for the Lehe Square Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia.  It's only shown folded over in the book, but the finished versions I've seen on Ravelry are really beautiful.  It doesn't fit in so well with the rest of the be-nupped beauties from the book, but I'm hoping that a slightly variegated yarn will really help it shine.

Now all I have to do is motivate myself to do the provisional cast-on!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Project: Miraldette


After several months of a pretty severe knitting slump, I've found love again.


The yarn: Jade Sapphire 2-Ply silk/cashmere blend in colorway Hydrangea, bought in Half Moon Bay while yarn touring northern California with my mom.


The pattern: Miralda's Triangular Shawl, from Knitted Lace of Estonia.  Perhaps one of the most beautiful patterns ever committed to paper.

Knit during in-between moments amidst coffee, translating, and working the desk at the student union.



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Outfit Post: January 19th


9 am.  Wake up.  Grumble profusely about waking up.

9:15 am.  Put together outfit.  Decide that schoolgirl vibe is present but within acceptable limits.

9:30 am.  Eat Pop-tarts while checking email.

9:45 am.  Leave for Slow Train cafe.

10 am.  Acquire coffee.  Acquire comfy couch seat.  Translate until brains dribble out ears.

11:52 am.  Realize that am supposed to meet friend for lunch in eight minutes.  Decide that there's definitely enough time to finish translating sentence.

12:03 pm.  Realize that I am already late as scrambling to get to restaurant in heels and badly shoveled sidewalks.

12:08 pm.  Lunch!  Nomnomnom.  Chat with friend about life.

12:45 pm.  Decide that there is definitely enough time for a trip to the yarn store with friend.  Pet yarn.

1:10 pm.  Stop by weaving Winter Term project, which is a million looms set up at FAVA.

1:45 pm.  Walk to language building.  Chat with East Asian Studies receptionist and receive very nice comment about GPA.

1:50 pm.  Meet with translation project advisor.  Start to calm down about how much work I still have to do.

2:20 pm.  Awkwardly take pictures of outfit in Science Center.  Get embarrassed whenever someone passes by, as they are obviously judging me.

4 pm.  Return to room.  Get really excited about writing a blog post.

4:01 pm.  Forget about blog post and start tagging faces on my new shiny version of iPhoto.

4:30 pm.  Oops.  Hi there!


Skirt: Pendleton wool pleated skirt, found at Stella
Blue striped button-down: The Gap
Red vest: hand-knit, Back-To-School U-Neck Vest from Fitted Knits, Cascade 220
Crochet beaded necklaces: Ginko Gallery
Boots: Miz Mooz
Badassery:  All mine.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Outfits: January

I got back to Oberlin a little more than a week ago.  To get here, my friend and I took Amtrak from Seattle to Chicago, then to Elyria, which is the closest train station to Oberlin.  It ended up being a more exciting trip than we had bargained for: we missed our first train and rescheduled for a second, then I got pinkeye and we had to skip our layover in Chicago.  When we got to Elyria, it was 5 am and there were six inches of snow on the ground and counting.  The train station itself is a platform in the middle of nowhere, and every taxi company in the area either charged a buttload extra money to come to Lorain County, or the proprietor was asleep and did not sound happy to hear from us.  We thankfully ended up getting a ride from one of my friends.


Luckily, since then, I've been able to move into my new room, get settled, and start to work on my winter term project.  On Monday, Ratsy's was having a sale, so I popped in to see what she had gotten in since I left.


I usually don't like polyester so much, but I couldn't resist the shape and color of this little dress!  It was really freaking cold when I got these pictures.  You can't see my giant cashmere coat draped over the railing, but it was definitely needed.

Dress: Thrifted '70s 
White long-sleeved tee: Nordstrom BP
Belt: Thrifted
Necklace: Costume jewelry from my grandmother
Boots: Miz Mooz


I wore this to work yesterday.  I've been working a lot of hours, which trips up the translation work a little since I'm incapable of getting actual schoolwork done while I'm on the job.  We're allowed to do homework, but I'm really particular about where I work on things that require my brain.


It hasn't snowed in probably four days, which means that I get to wear whatever shoes I want!  Usually in the winter, I'm confined to a gigantic pair of hiking boots that go with approximately nothing in my wardrobe.


Pants: Liz Claiborne, thrifted
Turquoise pumps: also Liz Claiborne, thrifted
Purple Belt: thrifted
Hat: from Japanese department store
Blazer: New York & Company
Pink bow socks: Tutuanna, in Japan
Tunic: Jude


I've also started swatching something new.  My knitting mojo has been a little lackluster as of late, but I'm hoping to start a bunch of projects soon so that I always have something to work on.  This is Silky Wool to make the Honeycomb Vest from Knitty, which I've been pining to make ever since I saw Mintyfresh's gorgeous version.


I swatched on US 4s, but I think I'm going to have to go down a needle size.  Not looking forward to purling through the back loop on US 3s, but luckily the honeycomb pattern is easy on both sides, and comprises most of the vest patterning.  I also cast on for a new Miralda in delicious hyacinth-colored Jade Sapphire silk/cashmere to replace the one I lost in Japan. Pictures of that to come!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet my Jackalope!

My brother got me a stuffed jackalope for Christmas, and he took to my yarn famously.  He did get a little carried away in the end, though.

Here he is playing nicely with some Handmaiden Camelspin.

 But now he's getting a little more personal.  Down, boy!

Give a jackalope a cookie... (or some Rainy City Fibers, Madelinetosh, and SHELTER)

And he may end up covered in yarn.  (Manos del Uruguay lace, Prism handpainted laceweight, Madtosh sock, and Madtosh lace.)

Any ideas for jackalope names?

I'm thinking Rupert.
yarn gif by