Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FO Post: Salt Creek Hat


Introducing Salt Creek!  A lightly cabled, just-barely slouchy men's hat that's perfect for the coffee-drinking, flannel-wearing guy in your life.  This is my first time writing a pattern, so it may take another month or so before I get a presentable draft ready for publishing, but I'm pretty excited with how it turned out.  I may be putting out a call for test knitters soon as well - stay tuned!


Remember how I had that whole song-and-dance about never knitting hats?



As part of the grant I received from Oberlin's Creativity and Leadership Fund, I proposed that I would design paired men's and women's accessory patterns, but focus particularly on the style and wearability of the men's knits.  Although there are some really fabulous designers who offer knits for men, the pool of available designs just isn't as big as the one for women.  Which makes sense, since a large percentage of knitters are women knitting for themselves - I know I am!

But I've also had those times when a male friend asks me for a knit with a particular "feel" to it without necessarily knowing whether that means cables or colorworks, or I want to make something nice-looking (and yet manly) as a gift, and I come up with nothing that quite works.*  I think it would be awesome if knitters both like me and radically different than me had a crapton of stylish men's knits from which to choose from, and if those things were both wearable and interesting to knit.

And to that end, I really hope that Salt Creek fills that desire for others as much as it did for me.


And also: thanks, Lumberjack, for being patient with me in situations such as this.

Me: Let's move you out to the mud, I think there's more light out there.  Now crouch down.
Lumberjack: My knees don't bend that way.
Me: Hang on... oops... okay, you'll be fine.
Lumberjack: Why is there no pizza?

(I did not include the crouchy pictures.  Sometimes I think I'm more of a photographer than I actually am.)

*Also, because it will totally bug me if I don't say something about it: I am grossly, grossly generalizing here.  As a recent Oberlin graduate I desperately want to complicate the shit out of this whole Gendering Knits thing, and how it's sort of silly to label a lace beret as a "Women's Knit" and a cabled one as a "Men's Knit" because hello, that's dumb.  Lace is awesome, and it's only our cultural marking of lace that makes it feminine, not anything about its actual intrinsic properties.  But, since I live within a culture that operates under the assumption of a gender binary, I have to simplify it down to "Knits That Are Culturally Accepted as Masculine" and "Knits That Are Culturally Accepted as Feminine", ergo, Men's Knits and Women's Knits.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hat! Challenge! Part 1: #09 Eyelet Cap in Buffalo Gals


First up in the Hat Challenge is this Cathy Carron pattern, #09 Eyelet Cap from the Fall 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting.  (It always throws me off, how generic Vogue pattern names can be.  "Eyelet cap" doesn't exactly stick in your mind.)  This will be my hat pattern for September.  I love how simple and slouchy it is, and I can easily imagine a hat like this being coveted by knitters and non-knitters alike.


As for the yarn, I'll be using this gorgeous 50/50 bison/alpaca blend from Buffalo Gals.  The yarn is called "Homage to the New World", which more than makes up for the hat's boring name!  I got this yarn at The Swift Stitch in Santa Cruz, California.  I grabbed this yarn in particular because.  OMG.  It is so freaking soft.  The shop is a very cute LYS with friendly employees and a fabulous selection of sock yarn and luxury fibers, great samples, and a comfy couch for the non-knitting friend or significant other to chill while you wait.  It has a loft above the shop, so there are wooden stairs between the cash register and shelving that create a little corner of sock yarn.  There's also a great bakery right next door, as well as a little vintage shop in one of the other buildings in the complex.

Now, to swatch!

Next up: Hat Challenge Project #2.  So many hats queued, so little time...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FO Post: Triinu Scarf


Triinu is done, at long last!  I had such a fun time with the last few hours of this project.  The two edgings are very simple, but they really make the yarn shine.  This scarf is so soft and light.


Yesterday I stayed home from work to work on finishing up a hat I'm designing, which is now blocking in my studio.  It was really nice to have a relaxed day at home, and I got a lot done on the knitting/blogging front.  Working 40 hours a weeks has seriously cut down on my time for those two things, so it felt sort of decadent to take pictures of FOs, update Ravelry, finish my hat, and write blog posts for the majority of the day!


On a different note, Tuesday night we had a bit of a scare: Lumberjack and I were driving home, only to be cut off by two big fire engines heading past us towards our apartment complex.  When we got there, all of the roads in the complex were lined with fire engines, cop cars, ambulances.  Turns out it was a little overkill, and that a small kitchen fire had been contained two buildings down from ours.  Still nice to know that police and fire respond so quickly to even small events.


Annnd because I am who I am, I couldn't resist a few silly pictures with Triinu.  I haz a bonnet!

Pattern: Triinu Scarf, by Nancy Bush, from Knitted Lace of Estonia
Yarn: Artyarns Cashmere 1, most of a 510-yard skein
Needles: Size 4 US Addi Turbo Lace
Modifications:  I added two extra repeats of the center pattern.  Otherwise, none.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FO Post: Silk Thermal


Once upon a time, I bought two skeins of Claudia Handpainted Silk Lace and the pattern for a silk t-shirt, thinking that it would be an awesome idea to knit an entire fitted silk sweater on size 1 needles.  (Cue nervous laughter and facial tics here.) That was 2009.  I technically finished this sweater in late 2010 while I was in Japan, but it sat in my basket for a long time for three reasons:


First, I just didn't like the color I chose.  It was the only color the store had two skeins of at the time, and I was so eager to give the project a shot that I bought them and tried to forget the fact that pale blue and yellow aren't exactly staple colors in my wardrobe.  Last weekend, I finally dyed the damn thing.  I was much happier with the overall color, but sadly the second problem was not alleviated, as explained below.

Second, this colorway that the unfortunate side effect of pooling in giant navy blue patches square in the center of my short rows, ie, my boobs.  You can see a little bit of the target-boob action going on especially in the picture above.  In a sweater this fitted, in this tiny a yarn, there was absolutely no freaking way I was going to get away with leaving out short-rows, because my bust measurement is too much bigger than my waist measurement to reasonably make up the difference in two inches of sweater without the help of short rows.

If I had chosen a solid colorway, this problem would not have occurred.  Le sigh.

Third, I knit the sleeves exactly as recommended, and I hate how tight they are.  The fit of the body is excellent, although if I were to wear it with jeans, I'd want it to be three or four inches longer.  In the case of the sleeves, though, I do not need to walk around feeling self-conscious about how my arms look like little blue sausages.  End of story.


The second and third problems are really a dealbreaker when it comes to wearing this sweater out of the house.  Which is a shame, because it fits really well in many other ways, it's soft and comfy as hell, and I love the overall color.


So, all in all, kind of a total failure in the wearability department.  Except - except! - that it will make a spectacular thermal for chilly winter nights in the apartment, or early-morning hikes, or pajamas for backpacking.  Silk always strikes me as a funny fiber - in my head, I usually lump it with natural, non-animal fibers in terms of its drape and memory, but it doesn't really fit in with those, either.  Unlike cotton, it's incredibly warm - there's a reason you can buy fancy silk long underwear, and I imagine its warmth was a big reason for its popularity as stockings for royalty in their drafty castles.

Two years in the making and not quite right in a lot of ways, but I'm still glad I finished this project.  It was my first time inserting short rows into a project, my first experience using silk laceweight, and my first time making a turned hem, which in my opinion is a gorgeous, polished way to finish off a piece of knitting.

Oh well.  Knit and learn.

Pattern: Warm Me Up, a leaflet from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns
Yarn: 1.3 skeins of Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace, about 1400 yards in total
Needles: Size 1 US Addi Turbos
Modifications: Short rows in the bust, shortening the shoulders after casting off the neckline in the back.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I put my brainstorming hat on...


Porom, fall 2008

So in the past few weeks, I've been sifting through photos to put up on my Ravelry stash page.  During this process, I've come to a few realizations:

One: I have made precious few hats, and even fewer if you count hats for myself, in my five-year tenure as a knitter who works on projects between an hour and four hours every day.  What's up with that?


Alkene hat, fall 2008

Two: the hats that I do make are almost always on a total whim.  The above hat, I knit right before an organic chemistry exam, using some scraps of Malabrigo and the idea of putting interlocking alkenes all around the brim of the hat.  (Okay, so I totally doodled in class.  A lot.)

Other times, I have some yarn that I want to use up, so I cast on without swatching and finish the hat in less than a week.  Such is the case with both Porom and the two hats below.


Five Dollar Hat - legal name Vine and Leaf Beret, January 2010

Three: I have a ton of hats queued.  I know exactly what yarns I would use, and I have a whole list of patterns that I think are super cute.  So why the hell haven't I knit them yet?!


Pink corduroy hat aka Blume hat, summer 2010

Four: I make the same damn face in all of my hat pictures.  Hahahah.

What to make of all of this business?  Well, I've been thinking.  I've been feeling like I'm in a bit of a knitting rut lately - only making lace and sometimes a random sweater or pair of socks.  I'd like to challenge myself to go outside my comfort zone, because that's when I feel like I learn the most, and have the most fun.

Conclusion:  I'm going to put together all those super cute patterns and awesome yarn and make myself a Hat Club à la Yarn Harlot's Self-Imposed Sock Club.  I'm thinking a hat a month until December.  That's four hats, which I definitely have the yarn for in my stash already.  Can I do it?


(I'm also scheming that there should be something in it for you guys for sticking with me.  Hee hee hee.  Details to follow!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Outfit Post: Lace and Boots


On Saturday, the Lumberjack, the brother and I went for a little expedition.  I needed to open a bank account in the city, so we all piled into the car and went for an adventure.  After we were finished, we decided to go look for giant stuffed pigs at the Sanrio store.  After that, the boys wanted to go to the game store, and I wanted to check out Free People.


This dress is one of their summer offerings.  It's a little bit blousey on top, with puffed sleeves, a slightly A-line skirt (with a little bit of tulle peeking out at the bottom!!) and a spectacular color.  I saw it and fell deeply in love.


I wore it out Sunday to visit with an old friend, and found it to be another perfect weekend dress.  Gotta have those, you know.

In general, I thought I wasn't much for the Free People aesthetic.  But I actually find it sort of reminiscent of many of the styles I saw in Japan last year: romantic colors and materials, styling soft pieces with tough or rustic accessories, feminine, drapey and flattering cuts.  All of these things I like.


Oh Free People.  You can free me any day of the week.

Earring: Tasi
Belt: from thrifted dress
Combat boots: J Shoes

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stash Appreciation: Creatively Dyed Woodbrook


This is, I think, the yarny equivalent of a bikini shot.  The yarn?  Creatively Dyed Woodbrook, a super squishy worsted weight yarn I picked up at the Great Lakes Fiber Festival this last June.  I love the color, a perfect vintage coral; it's a color I would like to have as close to my face as possible.  Haven't decided yet what it will be, but it's a pretty big skein (250 yards!) that could probably make a slouchy hat or a fitted hat and short handwarmers.

In other news, my Lumberjacky photographer is out in San Francisco this week, and I've got a schedule full of appointments and interviews, so I'll be a bit sparse on the posting front.  Hope everybody is having a happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

WIP: Toya Pakeh Scarf


On Saturday, my family had a party over at my apartment complex to celebrate my graduation from Oberlin and my (now slightly less new) apartment.  Among those in attendance: my preschool teacher, my piano teacher, an aunt I hadn't seen in four years, and two of my friends from middle school.  It was seriously cool to have so many of the people who have loved and supported me over the years in the same place, and it was a great excuse to get together with those I had fallen out of touch with while in college.

After the main party, a few of my friends stayed on, and we drank cider, played Apples to Apples, and probably kept the neighbors up too late.  I didn't have anything simple to knit, so I grabbed this handspun from Oberlin and cast on for this super simple basketweave scarf.


This is probably the seventh or eighth one of these scarves I've ever made.  The first one - my first project ever, actually - is the Lumberjack's, and hangs in my front closet.  We didn't talk for about five years, but he kept the damn thing the whole time, and wore it, and washed it carefully; it's Wool-ease, but it's held up very nicely.


This colorway in particularly reminds me of the clear waters off the coasts of Nusa Penida, the Indonesian island where I went on a Winter Term trip about two years ago.  This yarn was originally going to become legwarmers, since I actually needed legwarmers in Ohio, but since I've moved back to warmer, drippier climes, I decided that it would be much better as a scarf.

I think I may also write up a short recipe for this scarf.  It's a nice little stashbuster for about 350 yards of worsted weight, whether a simple wool or precious handspun, and makes a long, cozy scarf that's interesting to knit but not too fancy for the dudes.  (This one, though, is all mine.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stash Appreciation: Knitting Notions Classic Merino Superwash


This gorgeous colorway of Knitting Notions's superwash sock yarn, called Apple Green, is a skein that I picked up during last year's Great Lakes Fiber Festival down in Wooster.  I think it's destined to become one of Cookie A's off-the-grid socks, probably Pointelle (rav link).  I love the way she combined the diagonal travelling motifs and the lacy elements, and I think the light tonal variation of this yarn would make the pattern pop.

Plus, I really need to make an effort to be a product knitter for a while - another pair of socks bit the dust yesterday!  Now, to let go of my ridiculous inability to finish anything that isn't just right, or get distracted by shiny Estonian lace.  Right now my sock drawer could really use a boost.


And, luckily these stash photos are getting double usage: as I may or may not have already mentioned, I've begun the process of photographing and cataloging all of my yarn stash on Ravelry.

I'll say that again to let it sink in, for my own benefit.

All of my stash.  All of my stash.  All of my stash.  All of my stash.

That is... a lot of yarn, guys.

Holy cheeseballs, I think I need a paper bag to hyperventilate into.

Pointelle photo copyright Laura Kicey

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WIP: Leaf and Nupp Shawl


Because I can't keep my needles empty of Estonian lace for even an hour, right after I cast off Triinu, I cast on for another shawl.  Friends, this has become a truly epic endeavor: I'm going to knit every shawl in Knitted Lace of Estonia.  There's fourteen patterns, and I've knit six of them.  Of those six, I've knit a few twice, and Miralda four times.  I also have a few languishing in my UFO basket.


This one in particular is a little spicier than the others.  Lilac Leaf is probably the simplest of the nuppy shawls, with only an edging of nupps and a plain lace-patterned body.  Leaf and Nupp, on the other hand, laughs in the face of simplicity.


If you'll excuse me for a moment, the shawl would like to share a freestyle poem.




annnnnd I'm out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

WIP: Pre-Blocking Triinu Scarf


So I cast on this Triinu Scarf, another pattern from Knitted Lace of Estonia, back in late April.  I worked on it pretty religiously for a few weeks, and then travelling, commissions, and moving happened and it got shoved into a project bag until I could properly devote enough time to figuring out how many repeats I wanted to do.  I had one skein of Artyarns Cashmere 1, which is about 510 yards.  I wanted to use up as much yarn as possible, but still leave enough yarn for repairs, should I need to do them.


It was also a different construction method than I've used for any of my other Estonian lace projects: this time, I used a crochet cast-on and picked up the live stitches to complete the scarf.  In the others that I've done, I knit the edging first, then the body of the scarf, then broke the yarn, cast on a second edging and grafted it on.  This one had I knit the edging last, cast off with yarn doubled, and used live stitches to knit the other edging.  I have to say, I really liked this method - I've had a load of trouble with the grafting part of the edging before, particularly with cashmere.  This yarn is really soft, but it's a single and felts to whatever it touches - including cotton!  I had a tough time even getting the crochet to pull out without sticking to the yarn, which means that making a mistake while grafting is really, really hard to fix.


I blocked it last night, so I'll be sharing how it turned out soon!  The finished size was about 54 inches, and I did a total of 31 repeats of the center chart, increased a smidge from the recommended 29 repeats.  I blocked my Peacock Tail and Leaf at the same time, so I might take some proper pictures of that one too. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stash Appreciation: Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Lace


My first day at Sock Summit, I got to go to the marketplace preview.  I really wanted to check out the Sanguine Gryphon booth, since I've seen so many beautiful skeins on the blogs I read.  By the time I got there, though, the booth was insane - the line was probably thirty people long, and there were even more people in the booth looking at the yarn.  I went in briefly, but since Lumberjack was waiting for me outside I didn't want to wait in line for too long.  Instead, I moved on to other shops, and ended up finding more Sanguine Gryphon at Knit Purl, one of the local yarn shops in Portland.


They didn't have Skinny Bugga, which is one of the yarns what I was interested in buying, but they did have a bunch of gorgeous colors of Gaia Lace.  I hadn't heard much about it before, but the moment I touched it I knew I had to try a skein.  It's a cashmere/silk blend like most of my Jade Sapphire stash, but Gaia is smoother and less crunchy than a lot of silk blends.  Plus the color is fantastic: it's mostly a warm lilac color, but there are little shots of copper throughout.


I think this skein is destined to become a Brandywine Shawl (rav link here).  One of my coworkers is working on a Brandywine, and I saw a few really pretty versions at Sock Summit.  Time for me to get out of my Miralda/Swallowtail rut and expand my shawl-knitting repertoire!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Outfit Post: I Think I'm A Beer Wench


I got this black corduroy dirndl-style dress back in January, when the Lumberjack and I first got in to Oberlin.  A very, very long time ago I posted about a corduroy shirtdress on Etsy that I loved, and when I found this (albeit slightly different) one and it fit not only properly but perfectly, I snapped it up.  I think it cost about $12, and from what I can tell it was handmade.  I wore it once in Oberlin, but one of the seams at the back came undone and I had to take it out of rotation for a while.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago I stitched it back up and I've been itching to wear it since.


The overall outfit, with the poofy sleeves and the fitted bodice, makes me look like I'm slinging ale in a little Bavarian hamlet.  All the better to sling yarn in, right?

Black dress: thrifted corduroy dirndl
Red blouse: BCBG Max Azria, thrifted
Shoes: Fluevog Operetta Viardot
Kimono earrings: shop in the Gion district of Kyoto

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WIP Post: Anthro-Inspired Scarflette


I haven't blogged this one yet, despite its being in existence for over two months, because I thought it would be more of an instant gratification project.  Turns out I was wrong, as shinier lace and sweater projects have cast it into the shadows.  I recently picked it up again so I could finish something - anything - but the straight knitting part is driving me nutty.  This is in large part due to the pattern, which is sort of sketchily written and forgot integral information like how long to make the neck part of the scarflette.  I realize that most people can just infer that, but it was weird to finish the shaping at the little petal, establish the wider straight part of the neck, and have the next direction tell me to k2tog all the way across the row.  Ah well - free pattern, cute result.  I can't complain.


The yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage, a worsted weight yarn with a lot of bounce.  I love working with it and would definitely consider it for my next worsted weight sweater.  Also, this pink is the exact shade of sakura flowers in the spring.  Now I just need to finish the damn thing...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stash Appreciation: Plucky Knitter MCN Worsted


I'm back from Sock Summit with a metric crapload of yarn and a lot of new ideas.  I took classes with Nancy Bush, Cookie A, and Franklin.  They were all great teachers in entirely different ways: Nancy Bush has a wealth of knowledge about traditional knitting techniques and was incredibly patient and clear in her instructions; Cookie A is super friendly, a total math whiz, and generous in sharing her brilliant ideas and the process behind her creativity; Franklin is humble and funny, and great at explaining the finer points of photography in a way that is approachable and easy to understand.  I feel really lucky to have learned from all of them, and it was really cool to see such diversity in their skills and passions.

I also really appreciated that each of them said something about creativity that really resonated with me.  From Nancy Bush, I learned that you becomes an expert at something by pursuing it steadfastly and accepting the help of others.  From Cookie A, that there's a time for planning, but that playing with what's in front of you is equally important.  From Franklin, that even if you feel like a reclusive weirdo, that you are okay and good; that certain brains have a harder time filtering information in large and intense sensory situations, and there's nothing wrong with that.

A confession, though: I have a hard time being around so many people and so many amazing things at once.  I loved seeing so many knits in the wild, and I really enjoyed interacting with other knitters.  But I'm not going to lie and say that I had the most amazing time ever in the world, because I almost cried on the train back to the hotel on the first night of classes.  It made me miss my knitting friends in Oberlin terribly, and it made me feel lost and faceless in a sea of strangers, and it made me realize that I need to be less nervous and critical of myself when interacting with other people.  So although overall the experience was awesome, it also brought up some of my social quirks that were frustrating to deal with in the midst of so much good energy and so many happy people.


On a happier note, and did I mention the yarn?  This is the covetable Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted MCN in the colorway Sticky Toffee.  I'm not sure what it's going to be yet, but I was enticed by the depth and warmth of this burnt orange.  I was going through my stash a bit ago and noticed that I have very few single skeins of worsted or DK weight yarns, so I really tried to pick up some heavier weights along with my normal fingering and laceweights.  I also tended heavily towards warm colors - peachy pinks and red-purples, deep reds, and rich oranges.  I was able to pick up some long sought-after brands that I've heard of but never seen in person: SweetGeorgia, Sanguine Gryphon, and the Plucky Knitter, among others.  I've never seen so much incredible yarn and color in the same place before.