Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP: Lehe Square Shawl


After I finished Prairie Rose last week, I needed a new project.  I have another Sockhead Hat to keep me busy in the car before class, but I needed another project to sink my teeth into, preferably one where I could use my Lazy Gauge Skillz to cast on without doing a swatch.  And I'm going to Oberlin on Thursday night, so I needed a new big project to bring with me for the weekend.

So, late Saturday night I crocheted a chain for the provisional cast-on of the Lehe Square Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia and started knitting.  For those of you keeping track at home, this is my 9th pattern from the book - I have 7 completed shawls, 1 in hibernation, and now this one.  A lot of shawls, you might say?  Why, yes - but I still have these 2 to complete and 5 more to go after that!


The yarn is a coned laceweight cashmere I bought at Avril in Kyoto, also known as Habu in the US and internationally. It's a very light yarn, and very skinny, but a pleasure to work with.  I'm using US 6 needles, which is giving a nice airy fabric so far.  I'm actually pretty excited to have another square shawl in my shawl drawer - I've worn Crown Prince so much this winter that it's starting to look a little sad!  And speaking of sad, my copy of Knitted Lace of Estonia has been looking pretty rough these days...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Outfit Post: Galileo Rules the Day

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Yesterday I didn't have class, so I had a day off to do some laundry and run out for coffee with a friend.  I went to my closet with something easy in mind, but then felt a little bored with the outfit I came up with, which was the jeans and shirt.  I put on an obi belt over the shirt, slipped on some Fluevogs, and blammo: secret agent laundry expert extraordinaire.

In other news, I had a measurements class on Saturday that taught me a few things that I didn't know about my body.  It's funny, because you really do have to get comfortable with every aspect of your body when you're designing for yourself: in order to fit everything correctly, you have to know every single measurement, even the awkward ones - there's no space to feel self-conscious about the imperfect tummy or full lower thigh measurement, because your garment flat-out won't fit right if you don't pay attention to them.

So I've found out in the last six months that I have prominent shoulderblades, my right shoulder and left hip are each higher than the other, and that I have a long waist-to-crotch measurement, which would explain why jeans almost never fit me correctly and contemporary high-waisted pants often hit just above my hipbones.  It's really interesting to learn these things and figure out what kind of fit issues they create, and how to work around and flatter them.


Anyhow, back to the outfit!

I was really excited that I had a chance to wear my super awesome Fluevog Rules Galileo boots - I totally wouldn't have pegged these as my style when I first saw them, but after trying them on I was smitten.  They really do look snazzy with a pair of skinny jeans, a feat not accomplished by any old shoe.  I used a Christmas gift card to buy them on deep discount at the January Fluevog sale, and I feel super tall and badass whenever I wear them.

Chartreuse blouse: Cut Loose
Rose obi belt: elizabethkelly on Etsy
Plum jeans: DL1961

Monday, March 26, 2012

Quick Fix: Button-Down Shirt


So I've had this little button-down shirt in my closet for about a year, and even though it fits really nicely, I often wrinkle my nose and pass it over when I'm planning outfits because of these pesky little belt loops on the waist panel.


They interrupt the continuity of the line to my eye, and on top of that, they're completely pointless: if I were to wear a belt with this blouse, it wouldn't be there.  I have a feeling it had a self-belt or black tie belt that came along with it that had been lost by the time it made it to the Goodwill where I bought it.

I also have a feeling that this is a super cheap blouse from K-Mart or the like.  But it's cute, and it fits, and it avoids the pitfalls of the usual button-down on a large-busted person like me: giant and yet still gapping in the bust, and huge through the waist.  Instead, it's trim-fitting and has lovely puff sleeves.  I got it for something like five bucks, so "almost perfect" is totally acceptable, especially when it's something I can fix so easily.


So this morning, I grabbed my stitch-ripper and went to town.  I removed the loops by cutting through the stitching on top, being careful of the stripes - they are black thread, not printed, so I had to make sure I didn't cut any of them in the process of removing the belt loops.

When they were first removed, they left little pinprick holes where the stitches had been.  However, a firm scratching with my thumbnail took them from this:


To this:


I think that with a washing to set the fibers even more, you won't even be able to tell that they were there.

And the results?





They're not dramatic, but sometimes the best tweaks aren't.  The shirt reads cleaner and less busy to me.  Up close it's a little more noticeable.

On the left, before; on the right, after.

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It took me about 15 minutes, and has taken the shirt from a closet dud to something I might actually wear.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stash Appreciation: Katia Gatsby


I'm not really a glittery kind of girl, so I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to add this yarn, Katia Gatsby, to my stash several years ago - probably at least partially that it was red!  But there's still something about it that I can't shake.  It's a classy sort of glitter, perfect as an accessory to go over a little black dress or to spice up a t-shirt and jeans.  I've been looking around Ravelry for some inspiration, but so far have come up empty.


I have about 500 yards of it, and it's about a sportweight.  I have a very specific idea of the feel I want the finished garment to have, but I have noooooo idea what that means in terms of design.  It's a rayon/nylon/metallic blend, so I think it will have quite a bit of drape, and it's super slinky - it doesn't even want to stay in the ball.

I have to start sketching for a black dress to make for school; maybe I'll design a cute little capelet or shrug to go along with it!  Oh sparkly yarn, you perplex and delight me so.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Unblocked: Prairie Rose Shawl


By the skin of my teeth.  19" at the spine before blocking, and almost all of a 437-yard skein of undyed cashmere used up.


I keep on doing this thing where I freak out about yardage for the last quarter of an entire project.  I go back and forth - will I have enough?  Will I run out, bloody and tearful, halfway through the bind off?  And unfortunately, the only way to find out is to knit along and hope that everything works out.

Usually this does not happen in any sort of merry fashion.  Usually there is wincing and gnashing of teeth and obsessively checking how much yarn I have left until the bitter end.


About halfway through the last repeat of this Prairie Rose, I realized that my yardage was looking a little skimpy.  And then the dance started:  I will have enough! and then, five minutes later, I will not have enough and I should give up and give the damn thing to the rat and find a new, more relaxing hobby, like maybe ice climbing or bear wrestling.

Because I am a mature and well-adjusted person, I threw it on the couch for a day because I was mad at it.  Two nights ago I was feeling optimistic, so I did a few rows and realized that I would almost surely be okay for yardage.  From then on, I decided that it would definitely work.


Apparently my blind faith paid off, but still - yikes.  I cast off in the car yesterday morning, and what was left was this tiny wisp, perhaps 5 yards - a little cocoon of yarn.

And thank goodness for that, because I don't even want to think about the alternative.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

FO: Onda Cowl

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I did a bunch of finishing and photographing this last weekend, including the Onda Cowl that I whipped up in a day.  It actually took longer to dry than it did to knit!  I blocked it flat with a rolled up face-towel on each side to keep it from creasing.  I really liked the scalloped shape that the cast on made, and although the bind-off didn't quite echo that shape on its own, I prodded it a little when it was wet to form the shape I wanted.  It's like two sine curves running parallel - in knitting!  I suppose that's a sign that I hang out with waaaay too many mathematicians and programmers.


Believe it or not, this is actually probably my second cowl ever.  The first was many years ago and was knit in a fit of terror-induced energy during finals one winter.  I was a little unsure about the whole idea - why wouldn't you want the whole damn scarf?! - but as I found out on Sunday when I wore this out to dinner and the record store, cowls are awesome.  Cowls kick ass.  They warm up your neck and add some color to your face, and as a bonus, they will not fall in your soup.  When you wear as many shawls and neck thingies as I do, dropping knitted crap in your soup is an issue for which you must be constantly vigilant.

Yay cowl!

Pattern: Onda Cowl by Ines Sousa, free from Manos del Uruguay
Needle: Size 9 US Addi Turbo Lace 16" circular
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica, 1 ball (138 yards), in an unknown colorway
Mods: Nope!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Don't Cook, But When I Do...

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If you ever asked any of my friends about me and cooking, you'd probably get a moment of blank stare and then a fit of laughter. I'm the kind of person prone to saying thing like, "Knitting is the limit of my domesticity," and "Cooking.......?" with an accompanying grimace.

It's not that I don't like cooking... it's just that, well, I don't like cooking.  My brain is already occupied with things like how will I get glue off of a vintage corset I'm fixing for a friend, and do I have enough cashmere to finish the last repeat of that shawl, and will I have to jump my car's battery this morning (the answer is usually yes).


Which is why it is with a sheepish heart that I tell you that Lumberjack and I cooked (gulp) the most delicious scrambled eggs I've ever eaten on Sunday morning.

We've been going to Trader Joe's for groceries for the past few weeks, which takes a little more planning than our usual grocery store, but the results so far have been delicious.  So the other day we were there, and I saw a bag of kimchi.  And I love and adore kimchi, to the point that my dorm room smelled like fermented cabbagey goodness for a straight month right around my birthday one year (sorry, old roomie!).  My Japanese host family teased me all the time because I'd get super excited when there was kimchi in our evening stew or on the side to eat with rice.  When a Korean market opened up in Oberlin my senior year, I just about died of happiness.

Store-bought kimchi isn't always the greatest, but I always hold out hope.  Sometimes it hasn't aged enough that I like it, and the vinegar hasn't yet been overcome by deep, delicious smokiness.  I have to say, I sampled some of the Trader Joe's kimchi before it went in the pan, and it was super delicious: just the right balance of tang and spiciness and crunch.  Mmm.

And the recipe we used was the kind I could get used to, which is to say that it was ridiculously, insanely, comically easy.  To whit:

Kimchi Scrambled Eggs

10-12 ounces kimchi
6 large eggs

In a glass mixing bowl, crack eggs and add a generous splash of milk.  Whisk.  Add salt to taste.

Drain kimchi in colander or strainer.  Set aside.

Heat large frying pan to about medium heat.  When pan is hot, cut small slab of butter and put in pan to prevent sticking.

When butter has melted, pour in eggs.  Mix in kimchi.  Cook as for scrambled eggs, removing from heat when eggs have reached desired texture.

Nom - with gusto!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Not-So-Still Life With Rat


I've been stalking my local Humane Society's webpage for weeks, waiting for the day that they would have a rat or two up for adoption.  A few months ago I put a shoebox in the backseat of the car and made sure the deluxe apartment cage was clean and ready for some rats to come home with me, but alas, it was not in the cards.  Ever since then I've been keeping my eyes out for a little boy rat or two who could come live with us.

And two days ago, lo and behold!  There were not one or two, but three rats at the Humane Society!


I went to check them out yesterday and came home with this little guy - I do wish he had a cagemate to keep him company, but it can be really difficult to introduce male rats to each other as adults, since he and the other two rats were all in separate cages.

Lumberjack and I have named him MacGyver, since we've been watching old episodes on Netflix.  Mac was super bouncy and inquisitive in his cage at the shelter, but he was very polite when I held him.  Right after I brought him home, I tore off a small piece of sharp cheddar cheese to share, and he sniffed it before gently taking it from me.

Om nom nom, indeed, little guy.


He is, however, a holy terror to photograph.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pattern Review: Brooklyn Tweed Spring Thaw

It feels like only yesterday that I was reviewing the last Brookyn Tweed collection, and here's another one already!

As you may remember, I loved the last collection to come out of the Brooklyn Tweed factory, and this new collection, called Spring Thaw and featuring both worsted-weight Shelter and fingering-to-sport chameleon Loft, really knocked it out of the park.  Where Wool People Volume 2 delivered on the garments, Spring Thaw is chock full of small, beautiful accessories that capture that trademark rustic-yet-romantic feel of Brooklyn Tweed.

Although I love all of Brooklyn Tweed's pattern support in general, this is the first collection that made me gasp, sigh, and deeply covet certain pieces with a passion usually reserved for Alexander McQueen gowns and hand-dyed cashmere.

Here's some favorites:

Barrington Vest by Jared Flood

I want this vest in my closet.  Right.  Now.  I love the soft, feminine shaping and the eye-catching panel down the front.  Ror some reason the shaping suggests Regency-period high-waisted gowns to me, maybe because of the styling with the pale chemise-like dress.  Either way, I like it.  I even love the colorway exactly as is.

Convoy by Jared Flood

I've been drawn to cozy cowls and sweaters lately, and this one certainly fits the bill.  I love the squishy-looking fabric and casual style, and it looks like it would look great all looped and cozy underneath a warm winter jacket.  I know this collection is for spring, but I would wear this cowl all winter long, too.

Kildare by Michele Wang

Another great cowl, this time with a little bit of interest in cables.  It seems like a great way to incorporate cables into a look without going full-aran; although I've knit an aran sweater and love it, it sometimes feels awfully bulky and literal to wear very often.  This cowl is a sweet taste of the traditional on a modern shape, and could be knit in any number of great colors.

Quill by Jared Flood

Okay, here's where I gasped.  Something about the striped version of this shawl is very compelling - I think the layered transition of those amazing heathered colors really did it for me.  Again, there's a nod to tradition - this shawl is pretty clearly modelled after Shetland Hap shawls - but the combination of neutrals in the lace pattern and thick, rich garter stitch makes me swoon.  It looks like a big, stylish blanket you could wear while walking around the city, and no one would even look at you funny.

Ravensfoot by Leila Raabe

I love me a slouchy hat, and this is a very good one.  I think this hat would look great in a variety of different yarns, particularly hand-dyes like Hazel Knits, Madelinetosh and Anzula.  Although the little bird's foot motif looks great in the textured gorgeousness of Loft, I think it's equally suited to smoother, more luminous yarns.

Overall, a great collection with patterns that could be knit from the Brooklyn Tweed yarns or any number of other lovely yarns on the market right now.  I'll definitely be picking up a few of these patterns in print the next time I get out to a shop that supports the Brooklyn Tweed line, and maybe a few as PDFs before then!

All photos copyright Jared Flood.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Repairs: Sunny Embroidered Cardigan, Before


I got this little embroidered cardigan a few weeks ago and noticed that it needed a little love upon further inspection.  It's in pretty good condition except for a few holes here and there, which I think I'm going to repair using a ply of some fingering-weight Shetland wool I have in my stash.  See, bonus of having a big stash: it's likely that you'll have the right color somewhere!


As you can see here, the ribbing has torn loose from the body of the sweater.  I'm not sure how it was constructed - it reads like a brioche on the back, but the front looks completely different, with a lot of volume and right-left movement of stitches.  It creates a really nice, fluffy fabric, but I'm a little stumped on how to duplicate it!


There's also a few little places where the embroidery needs to be tacked down, but that's a pretty easy fix.

In completely unrelated news, Lumberjack, my mom and I started looking at wedding venues last night, and I found out what I'm going to have to do to make my dress for school.  Luckily that's still over a year off, but it's nice to be making forward progress.  I've been looking at a lot of vintage dresses in books and on vintage resale sites, so I have lots of ideas swimming around in my brain... wide neckline, full skirt, lace applique... yards and yards of pale chiffon over a bright underlayer of crepe-backed satin... so much fabric, so little time in the day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WIP: Prairie Rose Shawlette


What's that you ask?  Why yes, I have started another shawl.

After finishing the Onda Cowl in a day, I reluctantly went back to this project, the Prairie Rose shawlette from The Knitter's Book of Wool, which I started knitting out of some random cashmere I got at a yarn and fabric shop's moving sale.  I saw this lone skein on the counter with a 50% off label on it, and I snapped it up.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for cashmere.


I've knit this shawl once before, and though the pattern called for 370 yards with the given number of repeats, I was just barely squeaking by (and ended up ripping back a whole repeat) with 400 yards.  This time I have 437 yards, so I'm prepared to knit until it's almost gone.  I think this yarn, a discontinued domestic brand called Cashmere America, still has some oil on it - it's pretty scratchy for a cashmere yarn.  I'm hoping that it will bloom nicely on blocking.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hat Challenge FO #3: Pashmina Sockhead Hat

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So my self-imposed Hat Challenge has actually been going really well!  This is hat #3 from the full list of 6, using both the yarns and patterns I decided on.  I like this whole list thing!

This hat was really fun to knit, due in large part to the yarn: Madelinetosh Pashmina in the colorway Chambray.  It's a very, very delicate blue, and although I wasn't sure how I'd like it since I wear a lot of greys that don't complement this color.  After wearing it with my outfit from Saturday for photos and for real with a flannel shirt today, I think it's safe to say that this hat is totally wearable.  I think it looks great with charcoal, and it's super slouchy and warm.  I will definitely be making more of these hats - actually, I already have another cast on!

Just as a warning, I was totally lazy on gauge.  After not quite getting gauge on the needles recommended for the pattern, I decided to use a size smaller for the ribbing and the recommended needles for the stockinette.  It worked out fine, and the hat fits really well.

Pattern: Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure
Yarn: Madelinetosh Pashmina in colorway Chambray
Yardage: About 300 yards of a 360-yard skein
Needles: Size 2 US (2.75 mm) Addi Turbo Lace 16" circular for ribbing, Size 2.5 US (3.0 mm) Addi Turbo Lace 16" circular for stockinette, Size 2.5 Hiya Hiya DPNs for crown
Modifications: None.  This pattern is awesome!

Friday, March 9, 2012

WIP: Onda Cowl


Yesterday I was browsing Ravelry and saw an advertisement for an adorable - and free! - little cowl pattern called the Onda Cowl, which uses one skein of Manos Del Uruguay Wool Clasica.  Wool Clasica was one of the first nice yarns I was introduced to as a new knitter, and I've always thought that it was particularly special: thick-thin, hand-dyed, with a fluffy, slightly rustic hand.  It makes an interesting textured fabric and I love the colors it comes in.


I only have about three balls of it in my stash - this one is from a friend's destash, and it doesn't have any tags but I'm pretty sure it's Manos.  I think the color is either Thistle or Heather, and it was the first yarn I thought of when I saw the cowl.  I had the right needles, so I cast on right away.  The pattern is simple but very cute, and has been going lightning fast.  I'm hoping to have a finished cowl by next week, and another project knit up from stash yarn - hooray!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Outfit Post: Kyoto Blondie

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I have a special place in my heart for this t-shirt.  It's a Marc Jacobs thermal I picked up at a school festival flea market in Japan for 500 yen, and I wore it a lot: as a layer over my pajamas in my host family's cold upstairs room, to school in the fall with jeans and a skinny belt, or to dinner in Hirakata with a wool skirt, tights, sweater, and coat as the weather got colder.  I haven't worn it as much since getting home, but every so often I think of it and have to go rummaging through my t-shirt drawer so I can wear it.

Yesterday I was just going to wear jeans, then I remembered that I had sloper class, which means fittings. My teacher likes us to wear tights to mark the natural waist when she's doing fittings, so that of course means a skirt.  And, without really realizing it, I put on an outfit bought almost entirely during my time in Japan: bow skirt, thermal, and little yellow kimono earrings I bought in Kyoto the first month I was there.  The only things I didn't get there were the tights and goldenrod Fluevogs.

Kimono Earrings

I've been thinking about a few different fashion-related housekeeping projects in my near future: sorting all of my earrings and getting rid of ones I don't wear anymore, going through my closet and giving away clothes that I don't love, and making a list of items I love and want to wear constantly so that I can make some of my own with different colors, prints, and details.  Like a turquoise version of this skirt - yes please!

Just another few things to add to the massive list of stuff I want to get done.

Blondie screenprinted thermal: Marc Jacobs, thrifted
Magenta bow skirt: Japanese brand Mew
Yellow kimono earrings: random shop in Gion
Goldenrod shoes: Fluevog Operetta Viardots
Sweater tights: Hue