Friday, November 30, 2012


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The last month or so has been tough on almost every front - school, life, knitting - and my blocking basket is showing it.  I've been knitting a lot, actually, but you wouldn't know it to look at the blog or my Ravelry project pages.  Because as soon as I finish something, it gets cast aside for a new project, even though it just needs those easiest last steps of blocking and photographing.

So I have 1500 yards worth of projects, just waiting.  Two shawls, two cowls.  And honestly, if we're keeping count, another two small scarves are waiting for buttons and a sweater needs blocking before I can finish the collar.  Egads.

Unfortunately, it might be like this until... well, April.  I have to have my black dress completely done by December 20th, which is a big hurdle.  But then I have to start working on my line, and take winter quarter classes, and finish up some classwork, and... well, you can see how it keeps on piling up.

I am optimistic, however: this week was majorly derailed when I caught a cold on Tuesday, so I'm hoping that next week I will be able to go to school and bust out some work (and write some blog posts with Real Content!), instead of hiding in bed for three days with my stuffed dolphin and copious amounts of Gatorade and tissue.  And maybe I can get some blocking and photographing in, too.

Onward, Friday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pattern Brainstorming: Colorwork Edition


Endpaper Mitts, ca. 2007.  Excessively small; generally disgraceful; never finished.

So the weirdest things have been going on in my knitterly brain lately.  While we were in Iceland, I found myself really enjoying all of my handknit socks, so I decided to start looking at sock patterns again, which always leads me down the Ravelry rabbit hole.  Anything can happen when you're looking for sock patterns on Ravelry:

Oh, an ad for a newish book from Cooperative Press came up while I was browsing the Hazel Knits group!  I think I've seen it before, but why not click through?  ...hey, I don't remember that cowl!

I am ashamed to say how many hours have been spent this way.

Then when we got home, I had a big stack of pattern books sitting on my desk that I was considering giving away to the library, so I sat down and looked through them again just in case I was reminded of a particular pattern I wanted to knit from any of them.

Let's just say, I did not succeed in making any decisions on giving them away.

So between these two methods of rediscovering patterns, I noticed that there were some trends in the pieces I was drawn to.  In general, I noticed that I was attracted to patterns that were challenging in some way - I used to challenge myself constantly as a knitter, but as I've gotten more experienced, I've gotten more lazy as well.  So I think I'm itching for a challenge, because why not knit something ridiculously hard while patternmaking and constructing nine original garments for my line in April?

Ha!  Ha!  Ha!

Clearly there is something wrong with me.

But anyhow - this is one of the trends that I noticed in my pattern drooling:  colorwork.

Roosimine, by Caoua Coffee.

I cannot describe the joy that sings in my heart when I imagine these socks on my feet, particularly worn with a kicky lace dress and Mary Janes.  I think I would go for a pale grey and maroon, or, if I'm being impractical, snow white with navy.  I would consider skipping the contrasting stripes and heel, but I am extremely enamored of the pattern on the side of the leg - and it's done in roositude!  Which is just about the easiest and fanciest-looking colorwork method ever!  Bah!

Fields of Flowers, by Sarah Bordelon.

I would probably change the heel on these socks - I think they're an afterthought heel, which never quite fits my heel as well as the heel flap and gusset does - but I am imagining them in pale pink and coffee brown.  I'm such a sucker for anything that makes me think of cherry blossoms!

Peacock Cowl, by Stephannie Tallent, from "California Revival Knits."

This is done in intarsia and duplicate stitch, so it would be the fiddliest thing ever, but I suddenly and desperately want to make it.  It is so tiny and fussy and detailed, and I love the combination of colors, and the motif reminds me of traditional Japanese panel paintings, and there are frigging pearl buttons down the front.  What in my closet would this cowl go with?  Nothing.  And I still want it.

Houndstooth, by Mary Scott Huff, from "The New Stranded Colorwork."

Okay, so this pattern didn't really jump out at me the first time I saw this book, but when I was paging through it again the other day, I realized how perfectly vintage it is - with just the right level of cheekiness.  Little Scotty dogs!  Houndstooth!  A little bit of waist shaping and maybe some tweaks to the sleeves, and I can imagine this being absolutely adorable with a pleated skirt and bright tights.

The Bees' Knees, by Mary Scott Huff, from The New Stranded Colorwork.

Tiny bee sweater.  That's all I've got.


Some of these aren't totally out of my wheelhouse - I have knit quite a few socks in my time - but others are basically out of left field.  Intarsia?  Pullover sweaters?  Baby stuff?  I rarely knit any of it!

But maybe that's what's making it so appealing to me right now.  I miss learning new things from projects, and I've knit enough shawls at this point that they're sorta... old hat.  I love them, and I will probably never stop knitting them, but I've been feeling a general shift in my knitting desires in the last month.  Maybe it's time to reevaluate.

...and cast on for some new projects.

All pattern photographs copyright to their designers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

WIP: Sonmi

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Yesterday I was feeling unwell and rather antsy, so I cast on for something new - a mini-scarf/buttoned cowl.  And re-cast on.  And re-cast on again, until it was exactly the way I wanted it.  And then this morning, I finished off with some garter stitch and played with a crocheted edging until it was exactly the way I wanted it.  I used every single possible inch of a 100 yard skein of Yarnarchy handspun in the Cherry Blossoms colorway, bought at the last Seattle Urban Craft Uprising.  In the last year or so, I've started to get really obsessed with handspun, so it's nice to have it actually get knit up from my stash!

For some reason, from the moment I cast on, I was thinking of Sonmi 451 from Cloud Atlas - I saw the movie a few weeks ago, and am currently reading the book.  At first, I couldn't figure out why I would associate such a soft color and texture with a character who lives in glossy, dystopian view of the future.  Then I remembered this.

Which got me thinking about the film again, and how they used Sonmi's clothes as a way to subtly echo the shifts in her character.  At the beginning, she works as a waitress in a cafe in Neo Seoul, where the uniforms are tight, shiny, and regulated by the corporation that runs the cafe.  When she is freed, her clothes become more fluid and soft, and although they are provided to her by the man who helped her escape, they communicate her character's introspection, curiosity, and kindness much more accurately than her uniform ever could.

And when I think of it that way, this association makes much more sense.


The mini-scarf/cowl is currently blocking in my yarn room - now I just need some extremely excellent buttons to go along with it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

WIP: Alfalfa

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I picked up my second Ashton Shawlette - knit in Abstract Fibers Matisse - again this morning, after it has languished for almost a month unloved.  It's really rainy and gloomy today in Seattle, and although I was planning to make it over to the school to work on some projects, I'm having a hard time wanting to take off my pajamas.

Knitting in between loads of laundry totally counts as productivity, right?

In general, knitting has been on the backburner ever since we got back from our trip.  I did get out to my knitgroup last Friday, which was really nice - I missed those ladies while I was away! - but after getting home from school most nights, I've been so pooped that even knitting garter stitch sounds like a chore.

I have, however, had an active Imagined Knitting Life!  I've been thinking about socks a lot, because I brought a whole bunch of hand-knit socks with me to Iceland, and they were really pleasant to wear in such chilly weather.

Maybe it's time to take another shot at knitting All The Socks from this book?


Friday, November 16, 2012

Stash: Blue, Blue, Blue, Pink.

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Lately I've caught a blue bug.  Shortly before we left for Iceland, I went out to a Hazel Knits trunk show with a friend, and ended up buying two very different skeins of Artisan Sock.  There were lots of other colors that were beautiful, and perhaps more representative of what I wear in everyday life, but for some reason a light blue and a cherry-blossom pink streaked with grey were the colors that sang to me that day.

The pink was no surprise - I have a well-documented obsession with pinks, particularly warm, floral pinks - but the light blue came out of left field.  My friend and I proceeded to happily discuss the merits of light blue.  And ever since, I have been much more aware of blues; where before, I might pass over a sky in favor of a berry, now I am finding myself attracted to the quiet beauty of blues - the color of the inside of a glacier, the sky in Reykjavík at dawn, a cat's eye.

And in general, I am feeling this dichotomy of things: pink is my comfort, my tried-and-true, my beloved.  Blue is a new friend, a hobby that I've just started practicing.  Pink is knitting with my friends in Issaquah.  Blue is learning to tailor a pocket, or drafting my first circle skirt.  Both are equally pleasant, but blue has a hint of excitement and anxiety, where pink is less exciting, but made of unconditional love.  And I am trying to make time in my life for both.

(For the curious, the yarn is, clockwise from top left: Madelinetosh Prairie in Baltic; Madelinetosh DK in Bloomsbury; Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Serenity; Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Pink Purl.)

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

FO: Salt Creek Cowl Two!

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So this cowl is, both happily and sadly, no longer in my possession.  I knit it while we were in Iceland. I had this extremely unreasonable idea that I was going to knit three of these cowls during our trip, to put in the auction this past Saturday.  And well... let's just say that didn't happen.

I mostly knit this cowl in our guest house, under dim incandescent bulbs, or in the murky half-light of bars and restaurants.  So imagine my surprise when, around three am on one of those many sleepless mornings, I turned over the freshly blocked and dried cowl and saw - horror of horrors - a neatly twisted stitch smack in the middle of one of those wide columns of garter stitch.

I was too spaced out to have an aneurysm.  Instead, I shuffled into the bedroom and got my sewing scissors and tapestry needle, snipped the stitch, and repaired it with a length of extra yarn.  You couldn't even tell on the finished cowl, which I was pretty proud of - or at least, would have been proud of had my brain been able to form proud thoughts at the time.

It went at the auction, along with the grey Salt Creek Cowl and three yarny baskets I put together.  I was really happy that somebody else liked my cowl enough to buy it, but I was also a little bummed, because I sorta wanted to keep it.  Oh well - I can make myself another!

Pattern: Salt Creek Cowl, by me (working on a pattern!)
Ravelry Project Page: Salt Creek Cowl Two
Yarn: Cascade Pure Alpaca
Yardage: Almost all of a 220 yard skein
Needles: Size 8 US (5.0 mm) Addi Turbo Lace 16" circular needle - 24" would probably work too, in a pinch

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kickstarter: 9th Annual NYFA Student-Run Fashion Show

Disclaimer: Shameless School Promotion!

This last weekend was New York Fashion Academy's silent auction, which is benefitting our annual student-run fashion show in April.  We had some awesome donations from local businesses and individual donors, including The Tea Cozy yarn shop in Ballard, Two Little Indians jewelry, Smith's yarn shop and Bead Paradise in Oberlin, and women from the amazing and generous Issaquah Tinkers group that I knit with on Fridays.

Thanks to our generous donors and the hard work of my fellow senior classmates, we surpassed our goal of $2,000 for the evening.

But our work isn't done yet.

It costs about $10,000 to put on the show - this is for essential things like fire insurance, lights, sound, setup and takedown, and chair and equipment rentals.  We're a small school with a small student body, and our goal for this year is to raise as much of that $10,000 as we possibly can.  We have several reasons for this goal: we want to put on the best damn fashion show in Seattle; we want to take responsibility for the financial backing of this show; and we want to set a great example for the students that will come after us.

So, to that end, there is currently a Kickstarter in progress, closing on December 7th, to raise another $3,000 for the show.  There is a video with some of my fellow designers and more information about what the money will go towards, as well as on donation levels and prizes (yay prizes!).  

You can donate anywhere between $1 and as much as you want, and we appreciate every single donation, big and small.  This fashion show couldn't happen without the support we've received from our local community, and we are incredibly grateful for your contributions.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Images credit Andy Dopieralski and Erin Weathers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

International Yarn Shop Review: Storkurinn - Reykjavík

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Although we got back from Iceland last Friday, I wanted to do a post about an adorable local yarn shop we found in 101 Reykjavík, the district where we were staying.  It's called Storkurinn, and it has a great selection of yarns including Icelandic Lopi yarns, Rowan, Malabrigo, Debbie Bliss, Skacel's Schoppel line (of Zauberball fame), and Artesano.  There was also a wall of quilting fabrics, a wall of notions and needles, and a wall of books with lots of Rowan and Debbie Bliss pattern support, as well as a good selection of more well-known English language titles.  Overall, the atmosphere of the store was very quiet and pleasant, and I roamed the shop happily petting yarn for close to an hour between our two trips.

My favorite wall in the place, quite predictably, was the wall in the second and third photos, which had a whole lot of colors of BC Garn's Jaipur Silk Fino, which comes in a range of amazing jewel tones.  Not gonna lie - I ended up buying one more skein when we went back the day before we left.

It's funny how knitters around the world understand each other - as I was getting ready to take these pictures, I asked a woman in front of My Favorite Wall if she would mind stepping back for a moment so I could grab a few pictures.  She smiled knowingly and joked, "Of course, you must get good photos of the yarn!"

Yarn obsession appreciation knows no language or cultural barriers.


So if you're ever in Reykjavík and have a few moments to spare, I'd highly recommend checking out Storkurinn!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Of Mice and Yarn

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These are the fruits of our first local yarn shop trip in Reykjavík - two skeins of gorgeous silk laceweight in an icy blue, and these three little wooden mouse buttons.  Sometimes I swear I'm still a six year old girl, because certain types of cute - usually small rodents and fish - make my brain start squeaking and flapping its arms up and down with excitement.

We've had a rather quiet last couple of days.  I haven't been sleeping well, and Tuesday the insomnia finally turned into my first migraine ever.  (Note to self: in the future, bring NSAIDs to foreign countries!)  That's not to say we haven't been having a good time, however: we made it out to some awesome local yarn and fabric shops (details to come!) and ate some great Thai food, I drooled over some amazing shoes, and we stayed up to watch the US election results early Wednesday morning - the results weren't called until 6 a.m. Icelandic time!

We're going back to the US tomorrow afternoon, and although we've had a great time, I'm also very ready to sleep like a normal human being in my own bed, cuddle with Mr. Mackie, and get back to work at school.  I have been soothing my growing homesickness with pictures of my favorite tiny person:


And luckily, I will be seeing his face in person tomorrow.  Yay!

Saturday, November 3, 2012








The light here does funny things.  I've been waking early every morning, stirred by some internal sense of the time of day halfway around the world.  Rising out of bed to pad along the cold wood floors, arms folded, the light outside blue and eerie.

The wind is bitterly cold, and so strong that yesterday, we barely left the guest house except to eat - reports say it hit 150 mph.  Someone took a video of the wind whipping the sea up over the cars along the waterfront, and I feel a little better about staying inside, warm and dry.

But there's a kind of magic here.  Every country I've been to has its quirks: the ghosts in the groves in Bali; the quiet nods between strangers in Kansai; and here, something harder to pinpoint.  In the early morning, the whole city is quiet, and the sky glows blue while the incandescents of insomniacs shine a warm yellow-orange.  Our upstairs neighbors' feet creak across the floor in the early morning, and occasionally we hear music.  It feels like there are secrets everywhere.