Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Design Notebook: Minoan-Inspired Corset Dress


One of my assignments for my History of Costume class is to do two drawings a week of designs inspired by different periods in history.  I was inspired by the shapely female figure of Minoan culture, a civilization from the now-Greek island of Crete, and the beautiful fan and lily-shaped motifs from that time period.  Minoans had fitted corset-like garments that left the bust exposed completely, and I wanted to echo the shape without being too literal, so I decided to put the corset over a full-skirted dress with sheer sleeves.


Although I finished the drawing over a week ago, I finally sat down and colored it in on Sunday night.  I knew that I wanted to use some sort of turquoise, but other than that I wasn't sure what sort of color scheme to use.  I started with the corset and worked the yellow points first, then shaded the rest of the motif with a layer of bluish purple, then turquoise.  Next came the dark red edging, and finally the light fuchsia dress - a surprising color combination, but one I like.

The overall process of drawing, inking, and coloring has been surprisingly engaging for me.  I start with a general idea, and from drawing to coloring, it changes, becomes more defined and polished, and finally looks like something real at the end.  It's pretty neat.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stashbusting Goals: Socks!

For the last of the Stashbusting Lists, I present the Sock List.

Right around 2009, I knit a lot of socks.  I had a college-sanctioned mini-closet that I kept full of yarn, and one day I looked in my mini closet and realized that I had about 12 skeins of sock yarn left - which, to a normal person, sounds like a lot, but I had already knit something like 6 pairs of socks in the space of a few months.  12 skeins of sock yarn wasn't really going to cut it for much longer.

So, of course, my response was to make calculated decisions to buy more sock yarn.  Then I stopped knitting socks quite so often, but sock yarn remained great souvenir yarn, as it is inexpensive and small in volume.  So now my sock yarn stash is by far the largest part of my stash: it takes up 3 cubes of my Ikea shelving unit, it's squishy and nice, and I keep 3 skeins of it in a bowl on my coffee table because it's so pretty.  But I need more socks in my sock drawer and less sock yarn stash, so I suppose it's time for me to Knit More Socks.

Last year, I knit 3 pairs of socks (which is kind of sad), so in the interests of keeping my goals attainable, I'm taking the add-one-and-see-what-happens approach.  So four pairs of socks it is!

The 4-Pair Sock List of 2012:

SS 11 (3)   IMG_1539        
1.  Solid Socks Mystery Feb/March 2011 (rav link) by Lisa Stichweh, using 1 skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in colorway Robin's Egg (395 yards)


2.  Serab by Hunter Hammersen (rav link) from Silk Road Socks, using 1 skein Sundara Sock in colorway Cobalt over Mediterranean (350 yards)

006   IMG_0007

3.  Breaking Hearts Socks (rav link) by Cristi H. Brockway aka Turtlegirl76, using 1 skein of BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight in the colorway Waterlilies (360 yards)

greensocks    IMG_1542

4.  Go With The Flow Socks (rav link) by Evelyn Clark, from Favorite Socks (or maybe another one from Favorite Socks?), using Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Solids in colorway Dove (420 yards)

One of my biggest goals in working down these particular stash yarns is that they are all currently wound into yarn cakes and have been for a while.  Although cakes are the best for actually using, I find skeins/hanks much more visually appealing.  That, and they like to jump down off of the shelves at me.

Final yardage:  1525 yards, or .866 miles.

All sock photos (excepting green socks) copyright their designers and/or publishers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

WIP: Zelda Blouse


It's sort of silly that I actually hadn't taken a picture of this blouse-in-progress until this morning.  I started it in November or December, plugged away and finished a big chunk of it.  I've already run into a lot of really frustrating problems with the pattern, the largest of which was that there were two extra decreases added in where there should be none.  The stitch counts were still correct, so I had to look through all the projects on Ravelry and the pictures of the actual garment to puzzle out where those decreases should be removed.

The other problem was mostly my fault, but also a little bit the pattern's: there was no indication that the decreases that I had merrily been doing for the last eight inches of fabric would be changing, so that there were paired increases and decreases that would make the net change in stitch count 0.  I almost threw it against the wall in frustration when I realized that I would have to rip back 4 inches of work.


These issues ordinarily wouldn't be a problem - jump on the errata page and off you go! - but the magazine that initially published this pattern changed hands, and the errata is gone.  I don't mind doing a little thinking with my knits, but it's frustrating to have to rip out over and over because of mistakes or oversights in the pattern.

On a happier note, the yarn I'm using is wonderful.  It's Mirasol Yarns Tupa, a merino/silk blend with a lovely sheen and drape. It really is eye-searingly pink in the light, although these pictures are a little too pink/orange and not enough deep fuchsia.  Ah well.


Now I'm off to make a sandwich and go to work.  Happy Friday!

Pattern: Zelda by Joan McGowan-Michael

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Design Notebook: Painted Tile Hat

IMG_2208 IMG_2213

I've had this idea for a hat for a couple of months, inspired by two colors of Tosh Merino Light that told me they wanted to be together.  (I try to tell myself that this is totally not weird.)  The colors are called Vintage Lace and Isadora, and I love their faded, slightly romantic look when combined in colorwork.  The only thing I worry is that this will read as 6-year-old-girl's ski hat when I'm going for slightly-twee-indie-girl's slouchy hat.

I know I've seen this sort of coffee-bean-esque motif in Shetland colorwork patterns before, but I wanted to chart it out myself and see what worked best.  The two motifs I knit are slightly different: one is slightly more open in the center and echoes the diamond between the motifs very well, and the other has more solid coffee beans, but the stitch in the center muddles the overall effect.  (That stitch is necessary, I found out, if I want to avoid tacking the contrasting color over four bazillion cream stitches.  And I really, really hate tacking.)  You can probably guess which one I liked better.

I don't like the bottom railroad track band so much, but I do really like the look of the row of alternating cream and pink.  I may cast on for this hat in the next few days and see what happens.

(Apologies, as always, for the wonky drawing.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hat Challenge FO #2: Salt Creek 2.0

IMG_2177 IMG_2186 IMG_2189 IMG_2191

Last week I got a lot of knitting done: two hats in a week, to be exact.  I started this one on the first snow day and finished it in three or four days, partially because I had to rip back some of the decreases a few times.  It's sort of crazy how much this hat grows - when it was first finished, it was a squishy, wrinkly little mess, but after it soaked for fifteen minutes, it really opened up into a nice, drapey, and very soft fabric.  When it was dry, I noticed the cashmere content much more than before it was washed.  It formed a super soft halo that makes the hat really nice to wear.  Most of the time I have Lumberjack take pictures of my FOs, then I take them off and squirrel them safely away.  The other day, I kept on wearing the hat - it even sort of went with my outfit!

I just have to read over the pattern one last time, then it's off to the test knitters.  Hooray!

Pattern: Salt Creek, by me
Yarn: Anzula Cricket MCN, colorway Boysenberry
Yardage: Just about 215 yards of a 225-yard skein
Needles: Size 4 US Addi Turbo Lace 16" circulars and size 4 US Hiya Hiya DPNs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FO: Lilac Leaf Shawl

IMG_2079 - Version 2

Over the Christmas break I finished up a few languishing knits in progress, and this shawl, Lilac Leaf Shawl (rav link) from Knitted Lace of Estonia, was one of them.  I had an embarrassingly small amount of knitting left to do - about two leaf repeats and an edging - but that was enough for it to sit around in the WIP basket for months on end.


This is my second time making this shawl out of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, and both times I've ended up really happy with the end product.  The first Lilac Leaf shawl went to my host mother, and I liked making it so much that I decided to cast on for another one, this time to keep.  The pattern is very, very easy - probably the easiest pattern in Knitted Lace of Estonia.  The edgings give it just a little bit of complexity, but are very fast to knit.  I think what killed me was the endless repeats of the center lilac leaf pattern.


As with the first shawl, I knit it way longer than the pattern calls for.  The pattern says to knit the leaf repeat (each of 2 leaves) a total of 14 times, plus two more to end, making 30 leaves total.  I knit 40 leaves and used right around 900 yards of yarn, which makes me think that the pattern as written needs right around 700 yards rather than the 500 yards called for.  With this type of rectangular shawl, though, it's really easy resize for whatever yardage you have: just knit both edgings and then knit the center pattern until you're just about out of yarn.  Then graft, block, and feel mightily impressed with your ingenuity.


Another for the shawl drawer!

Pattern: Lilac Leaf Shawl by Nancy Bush, from Knitted Lace of Estonia
Needles: Size 6 US Addi Turbo Lace
Yarn: 2 balls of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, color 2419 Fandango Pink (hahah, Fandago)
Yardage: about 900 yards out of 940
Mods: Knit 40 leaves instead of 30.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stashbusting Goals: Sweater(ish Sort of Thing)s

Hokay, so.  I'm finding it really (really really) helpful to list out all of these things I'm hoping to knit this year.  So here's another list, for fun and profit!  (Although not actually profit.  Unless perhaps you count Money Not Spent On Yarn as profit.)

If you take a quick peek at my projects page on Ravelry, you'll notice that I'm not much of a sweater knitter.  I have knit a handful of sweaters and enjoyed it, but I have two major problems when it comes to knitting a sweater project: first, that despite loving clothes, I have very little idea of the type of sweater that is actually flattering to me, and second, I tend to buy in single skeins of things like laceweight or fingering weight, which translates to not that many sweater's worth of anything in my stash.

Which is not to say I have absolutely no sweater's quantities in my stash.  I do.  But they tend to be for little shells, short-sleeved numbers, and such.  I've found that once I have a sweater shape that works for me, I do wear it.  The best bets for me so far are little fitted shells, drapey vest-like layers, and big cozy sweaters.  These are the garments I actually reach for (on purpose!) when I'm wearing my hand-knits.  (On a slightly related tangent: The little vintagey mohair lace sweater that I knit as a shop sample was absurdly fun to make.  Why don't I do this more?)

I am hoping to keep my aspirations reasonable, though, by taking my measly sweater-knitting from last year and tacking on 1 extra sweater.

So, my goal is to knit 4 sweaters in 2012.

1.  Zelda by Joan McGowan-Michael, using 6 skeins Mirasol Tupa (822 yards) (In progress since November 2011)


2.  Dominique (2nd picture of Preview) by Mathew Gagny, from Knitting off the Axis, using 8 balls of Portland Tweed (960 yards) (In progress since December 2011)


3.  Rosamund's Cardigan by Andrea Pomerantz, from Interweave Knits Fall 2009, using 9 skeins of Elsbeth Lavold Chunky Al (738 yards)


4.  Bubble Pullover (rav link) by Norah Gaughan, from Knitting Nature, using 5 skeins of Cascade Lana Bambu (980 yards)

scan_797165129_1.jpg    IMG_1401

All told, that's 3,500 yards,


1.9886 miles.  (Can I just say holy crap, here?)

Two of these sweaters I already have on the needles and need to get cracking on.  The turquoise alpaca is deep, deep stash: I bought it when I was on leave from college for a year back in 2006/2007, which is only six months or so after I got really into knitting.  It's hipster alpaca - it was stash before being stash was cool.  I've had Rosamund's Cardigan queued for a long time and had begun to lose faith in my pattern choice, but then I saw a knitting friend's super cute version and my faith was restored.  The Lana Bambu is about the same color of a sweater I used to have and wore literally to death.  I brought it with me to Indonesia and wore it every day I was there, then an unfortunate washing accident rendered it fun-sized when I got home.

I'm really crossing my fingers that I can get myself motivated enough to knit me some sweaters.  Hopefully, the Lists will save the day!

All sweater images copyright their designers and/or publishers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day WIP


Another Big Snow has descended on the greater metropolitan Seattle area in the last week or so, and because of it, I've stayed at home all week.  Yesterday I watched a car try in vain to drive up the little hill you see pictured here: it kept on sliding backwards, tires spinning, and after 15 minutes of this business the poor driver limped it back to its parking space and went back inside.


On the bright side, I've gotten a ton of knitting and pattern-writing done!  The Salt Creek (rav link) pattern has been written up and is currently being vetted for errors, and as of 7 pm last night (after these pictures were taken) the knitting is finished.  I like how it looks like a sea urchin without spines when it's flopped out on the porch.


This yarn, Anzula Cricket MCN, has been a dream to work with.  It's really squooshy and lovely, although it behaves more like a DK weight than the sport-weight it advertises.  I am finding that this pattern eats yarn like crazy: so far, the gauge I've measured for the garter trellis pattern of the body is about 6 stitches per inch (pretty normal), while the row gauge is just about 11 rows per inch (yikes).  Compared to the 9 rows per inch - on the same size needle - of Little Things, that's quite a bit more yarn being used up.  I can definitely blame that on the density of garter stitch, but a side benefit is that this hat is much more substantial and warm than it would be in stockinette.


I've been working on some alternate decreases, too; the last Salt Creek I made had a double decrease in the center of 3 columns of twisted stitches, which gave it a nice line in theory, but in practice made it fold strangely at the beginning of those decreases.  I've been messing around with twisted decreases, and have come up with single decrease alternatives that maintain the same lines that I wanted for the decreases, but distort the fabric much less.  I've already ripped back the decreases once to clean up the left-leaning version of this decrease (as many knitters know, the left-leaning decrease is notoriously sloppy) and hit upon a solution I like.  With any luck I'll get the pattern out to my test knitters sometime in the next week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pattern Review: Coastal Knits

One of my favorites of the many recently released pattern books is, hands down, Coastal Knits.  I had seen and loved Hannah Fettig's light, ethereal designs before - I love her easy, elegant use of knitted fabric, and I'm pretty sure I have at least one of her patterns in my queue right now.

I was less familiar with Alana Dakos, mostly because she has released quite a few children's patterns - very cute patterns!  But, since I don't have kids, I'm an unabashedly selfish knitter, and most of my closest friends don't have kids yet either, I didn't pay much attention to her growing pattern library.  A silly oversight on my part, since a second peek at her published designs after buying and enjoying Coastal Knits revealed that she has a ton of cute hats, cowls, and accessories in addition to her children's garments.

Anyhoo - on to Coastal Knits!  These are my favorites of the bunch, which is pretty impressive considering that they comprise 5 of the 10 patterns in the entire booklet.  And these are just my very, very favorites; I would probably knit any of the patterns in this book.

Wildflower Main Pic

Wildflower Cardigan by Alana Dakos

I love this sweater.  I love the little flower details on the pockets and the little scallops at the sleeve and bottom hems (so cute!) and I like that it's a scoop neck, which makes it very wearable for me.  The three-button closure creates a nice waistline for those of us with bigger busts.  Plus it's knit in Madelinetosh Pashmina - an instant bonus for a Madtosh junkie like me!

GO 9

Gnarled Oak Cardigan by Alana Dakos

Another knock-out.  I love the motif around the neckline that adds a little bit of interest to a very classic shape.  One of my favorite vintage sweaters is a similar shape to this, and it's easy to throw over just about anything.  I also like the wooden buttons and the mossy color of the hand-dyed Pigeonroof Studios yarn she chose.  Sometimes stockinette is the best way to make a special yarn sing, and this sweater is a great example of that.

Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig

This cardigan probably looks the most like my favorite comfy sweaters, the ones that I throw over absolutely everything when I need a little extra warmth.  I like the easy shape and the deep ribbing.  I also happen to have 6 skeins of minty-green Malabrigo that would would be awesome in this pattern.  Hmmmmm.

RL 3

Rustling Leaves by Alana Dakos

I love this hat.  I love the sway in the leaves and the cheeky shape and I think it would look gorgeous in any number of yarns, both hand-dyed and commercially dyed.  I've seen a few of these hats in progress already, and I'm itching to cast on.

ss 7

Sand and Sea by Alana Dakos

This little shawlette I wasn't super sold on; at least, until I realized that it only takes about 250 yards of laceweight and 125 yards of fingering weight.  Which means that all of those little odds and ends left over from lace and sock projects can find new life.  It's a cute, functional little piece that could provide endless opportunities for mixing color and fiber with the added bonus of using up the leftover stash.   I already have two yarns in mind to try it out.

Overall, this is a beautifully photographed and laid out book that provides not only knitting patterns, but also interesting information about local dyers and charming anecdotes about the natural spaces that inspired the designers.  I think in general, I was more drawn to the sunny California-inspired pieces, simply because I grew up on the shores of the Pacific.  I have a feeling that once I see a few more of the Maine-inspired designs knit up on Ravelry - and once it starts warming up in my area - I'll warm up to them as well.  For now, Coastal Knits is going to remain a frequently paged-through addition to my library: for the knits, the natural eye-candy, and (let's be real here) for the sun-dappled photographs of California that will help keep the dreary rain of Seattle at bay.

All photographs copyright Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hat Challenge: Take 2, Now With Added List!

So, back when I first proposed my Hat Challenge way back in August, I made one big mistake: I didn't actually write down all the hats I was going to make.  I'm a person who thrives on lists.  There's this delicious satisfaction in crossing things off of lists.  They're great for future reference.  Sometimes it's hard to hold onto 6 separate ideas in your head, but it's easy on paper.  Hooray lists!

So it seems like a silly mistake to not have written a list of the hats I'm going to be making.

So for Hat Challenge! 2012, I am committing to knitting 6 hats.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1.  Little Things by Veera Välimäki, using one skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorway Tern (420 yards) Finished 1/15/12, actually used 210 yards.


2.  Salt Creek prototype 2 by me, using one skein of Anzula Cricket MCN in colorway Boysenberry (250 yards) ETA: Finished 1/23/12, used about 220 yards of 250.

IMG_0963   IMG_0821

3.  Quincy by Jared Flood, using one skein of Araucania Azapa in color 811 (140 yards)

Quincy   azapa

4.  Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure, using one skein of Madelinetosh Pashmina in colorway Chambray (360 yards) ETA: Finished 3/10/12, used about 300 yards of 360.


5.  Beaumont Tam by Jared Flood, using one skein each Fibre Company Road To China Light in colorways Peridot and Garnet (318 yards)

Beaumont Tam    IMG_1165    IMG_1170

6.  Rikke Hat by Sarah Young, using one skein Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in colorway Trodden (225 yards)


All told, that's 1,503 yards

also known as

.8540 miles.

That should keep me busy for a while!

All pattern photographs copyright their designers.