Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dispatches from Reykjavík


Late-night snack, complete with owl timer.

The door to our guest house.

Leaving to get breakfast.

Frost or snow?  No idea.

Upstairs at a cafe - perfect for people (and wool) watching.

Lots of coffee here.  Iceland, you and me are gonna get along just fine.

A statue at the top of a hill.  It was very sunny, and very windy, and absolutely freezing.

There's water almost everywhere you look.

I am so freaking glad I brought Crown Prince, as he is the warmest shawl I own.  I have been wearing him babushka-style when it gets windy, because hats fly right off my head.

Too cold - time to go buy some proper mittens.

We were totally not lost on our slightly-longer-than-anticipated walk - see, we found the big church!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Iceland Bound


I blocked the Salt Creek cowl in the nick of time, and this afternoon, Lumberjack and I are getting on a plane to Iceland!  The bags are packed, Mr. Mackie is safely with my parents, and I'm definitely not freaking out at all, really, I swear!!

Have a great couple of weeks, and hopefully I'll be able to check in while we're there!

Friday, October 26, 2012

WIP: Salt Creek Cowl

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So I mentioned my scheme for a skein of fabulous alpaca last week, and this is the work in progress!  It's another cowl, based on my Salt Creek hat pattern.  I changed the gauge for a drapier fabric, but otherwise retained a lot of elements from the original pattern.  I'm not 100% sold on the proportion of cable to garter stitch, but I'll see how it turns out after it's blocked.

This yarn, Juniper Moon Herriot, is wonderful to work with - it actually leaves my hands feeling soft and moisturized, which is usually the opposite of how they feel when I work with alpaca!  At about $20 a skein retail, it's a little on the pricey side, but I think the quality is well worth the pricetag.

Sorry to be so quiet this week - Lumberjack and I are in the process of getting our ducks in a row for the trip, so I've been cleaning, busting ass at school, running errands, and catching up with friends as Monday draws closer.  I'm not sure how busy we'll be while we're gone, so posting may be a bit sporadic for the next two weeks, but hopefully I'll return with lots of stories and pictures!

Happy Friday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Coat


Sadly, as I have mentioned before, this coat has given up the ghost.  It started looking pretty bad last winter - the lining has torn out at the armholes, one of the pockets is held on by a safety pin, and the back is getting threadbare about the shoulders.  I bought it about five years ago, and it got me through many an Ohio winter, and part of a Kansai winter too.  I love the crap out of this coat.  I love the shape (so clean and flattering!), and the zip front (so easy!), and the toggles (just enough interest!).  I am super sad to see it go.

And recently, my need for a proper coat has become acute, because a week from today, Lumberjack and I are going to Iceland for a music festival.

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So on Saturday, with T-9 days to go, Lumberjack, my mom, and I went on an excursion to find me a coat.  We went to several different place, but nothing was quite right - probably because in my mind, I was so attached to The Coat that all I wanted was a new one exactly like it.  And finally, weary and defeated by our disappointing coat quest, we were in a Banana Republic factory store as a last ditch effort.  As I looked around the back of the store near the other coats, I saw a flash of toggle on a rack of black coats tucked away near the men's section.  Curious, I went over, and there it was: my yoked, zipped, toggled, wonderful coat.  A little longer, yes, and no hood, but essentially everything I loved about The Coat was there.

It's funny, because I would never have chosen this style as my favorite if I hadn't owned my old coat for so long.  It's military-inspired and not very girly, neither of which are usually my thing.  But there is something so sharp and versatile about it.  Maybe it is the fact that it's not a very feminine look that I like it so much - it provides a nice contrast to the pink, flippy things that I wear.  Who knows.  But what I do know is that the air has started to turn here in Seattle, Iceland draws closer every day, and I will plenty warm wherever my journeys may take me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Morning

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So far, today has been a pretty quiet morning.  The weather has been rainy and cool, and in response, all I want to do is eat soup and hang out with Mackie.  This week was busy at school - I finished all of my black dress patternwork, steamed my black wool fabric, and cut out the pattern pieces.  Last night, I started construction of the dress, and when I pinned the front and back bodice pieces together to check the fit before finalizing anything, it fit absolutely perfectly.  Paradoxically, the wool gives it both a crispness and a softness - the fabric itself is pretty structured, but it has just the slightest amount of give that the treated cotton muslin doesn't.  Just another reason to love wool.

Speaking of which, I've started another shawl project.  Who's surprised?


I'm using Abstract Fiber Arts Matisse, a light fingering weight superwash BFL yarn, in the colorway Alfafa.  I'm curious to see how it blocks out, because it's just a little stiff and scratchy, and very tightly twisted.  I'm knitting another Ashton Shawlette, and scheming another Dee O'Keefe design in some Prairie.

In the last few weeks, my lack of knitting time has apparently been converted into pattern & yarn matching brilliance.  I have been sifting through Ravelry patterns hard, and finding all sorts of things to knit from stash yarn.  It's funny how this sort of thing comes in waves - I'll have weeks where I have no idea what to knit, and my stash weighs me down, but then I'll have a week like this where I'll get flashes of inspiration every two seconds and I want to Knit All The Things.

Last of all, the grey yarn is a new baby alpaca by Juniper Moon Farms.  It's worsted weight, and it is like butter.  I have a weird relationship with alpaca yarn: most of the time I'm not huge fan, but sometimes I touch an alpaca yarn and cannot live without it in my life.  Herriot was one of the latter - natural color; incredible softness; a warm, rustic wooliness that I can't resist.  I've started scheming about making a cowl out of it, based on the Salt Creek hat pattern.  We'll see how that goes.


And of course, there's Mr. Mackie!  He was being really sleepy and cute this morning, and I managed to get a few good pictures of him with his curlers still in.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WIP: Watercolor Cowl

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A few days ago, I cast on for a little cowl out of some handspun I bought during my unexpected yarn excursion this last spring.  It was about 200 yards of fingering weight, slightly self-striping 2-ply merino handspun, which I was pretty sure I wanted to make into a cowl of some sort when I bought it.

Then, I did my cowl post a while back, and the idea of knitting an Old Shale Smoke Ring by cosymakes got stuck in my head in a major way.  And then I cast on, and blinked a few times, and suddenly it was done!  I had a brief moment of doubt that I would have enough yarn to get a solid cowl - the ball I wound it into was teeny - but in the end, I finished up with ten or so yards to spare and a good-sized cowl that covers my neck and some of my chin, too.


In the last year or so, I've developed a particular soft spot for handspun yarns, especially 2-plies.  There's always something surprising about them, whether it's the combination of hues in the actual yarn, or the softness, or the way they knit up into gentle but complex colors.  This yarn had all of these things.

I don't usually go for blues or browns, much less blues and browns together, but this colorway, called Cowgirl and spun in Olympia by Sunset Fibers, captured something really beautiful to me.  And as it knit up, I delighted in the way the yarn slowly changed from an icy blue, to the color of a lake in summer, to sand, and back to ice.  All the while, it was soft and light and smooth in my fingers.  Even more than most, this skein told a story, and at the end I wished there was more.

Monday, October 15, 2012

FO: Flower Market

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So I blocked Flower Market on Thursday night of last week, and she was dry by Friday morning.  She went from about 18.5 inches at the spine, to 27 inches after blocking.

I love this yarn so much - in my opinion, Prairie is just about the perfect laceweight.  It's definitely a true laceweight in thickness, and the texture and slight sheen of the single ply is quite lovely.  That, and I've noticed that my first Prairie shawl is still looking crisp and freshly blocked, even though it was blocked about a year ago and was a store sample for several months, too!  I think this must be the superwash in the yarn - it doesn't seem to respond to heat and wet the way that a non-superwash wool does.

So, how about that final product?  Well, I loved this pattern - it was fast, well-written, and relatively easy.  Or at least, very straightforward for a seasoned lace knitter; I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a first lace project just because the motifs aren't as intuitive as, say, an Evelyn Clark shawl pattern, but I had no problems with it.

This is an unusual color for me, but I've found myself reaching for it quite a bit already.  I was talking about it with a knitting friend yesterday, and we surmised that burgundy can be treated a bit like a neutral at times, even though it is technically a color.

Also, thanks everybody for your input about the dress form!  I'm still trying to decide on a name, but I do have it narrowed down a bit.  I'll be sure to share when I figure it out!

Ravelry Page: Flower Market
Pattern: Flower Market Shawl by Allison LoCicero - gifted to me by the lovely Ethan!
Yarn: Madelinetosh Prairie in the colorway Byzantine
Yardage: Probably 600 yards of an 850-yard skein
Needles: Size 6 US Addi Turbo Lace circulars
Modifications: None!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Look What Came in the Mail!

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This morning while I was at school doing patternwork, I got a call that my dress form was being delivered today.  My mom ordered it for me only a few days ago - and notification of shipping only came in yesterday! - so I was pleasantly surprised to have it come so quickly.  Setup was super easy, and now I've got my own brand spankin' new form to start working on the garments for my collection!

I ordered a PGM Industry Pro, model 601, in a size 12.  As anybody who has worked with commercial sewing patterns can attest, off-the-rack garment sizing is very different than sewing industry sizing.  So although the size range for my line is a modern size 4-12, and I'm a pretty straight size 8 in off-the-rack clothing, the measurements of the 12 were the closest to mine.

I'm planning to use my approximate measurements for sizing across the whole collection for a few reasons.  First, my collection is designed for an hourglass shape, which tends to be very difficult to fit - hence the small size run.  Although I'd be very interested in doing larger size runs in the future, for now I'm sticking to a limited range of sizes with an 8 as the median.

And second, I would love for these garments to have a second life as pieces in my closet.  I'm shorter-waisted than the dress form by probably two inches or so, but I'm hoping that the separates in the collection will allow for some leeway in the fit.

So, now that I have a form, she needs a name!  Preferably something nerdy, and/or awesome, and/or vintage-inspired.  Inara?  Joan?  Dita?  Hmmm...

Suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WIP: Provence

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So this rather twisty mess is the Provence Cardigan, which I started back in July.  It's on two circular needles with two different balls of yarn attached, so it gets pretty tangled in my bag!  After knitting the skirt section of the cardigan, I got distracted by shawls and other, more pressing projects - as one does - and dropped it for a few months.  After the last shawl I cast on last week was giving me problems, I decided to grab a project that was already in progress.

And since then, I've knit all of the right front and a big piece of the back.  I'm hoping that I can keep the momentum going and finish it up in the next month or so, but we'll see how that goes.  I'm still really enjoying the yarn, which is Classic Elite Soft Linen.  It's got linen and alpaca in it, so it has the crispness of linen, with softness and just a touch of bounce-back (at least, more than a plant fiber!) from the alpaca.  I washed and blocked the skirt of the cardigan before continuing on to the upper bodice, and the resulting fabric is soft and drapey, so I'm really excited to see what the finished product looks like.

In other news, last night at school, I had the presentation of my lookbook, moodboard and technical board for my collection, and it went really, really well!  I felt like I had a really clear idea of who my customer is, what materials I'm using, and how I'm going to price my garments, so in the end I felt very ready to talk about it in front of a bunch of people.  Although I started off a little jittery, about a third of the way into the presentation, I finally calmed down a bit and felt much more at ease in front of the audience.  By the end I was feeling pretty great about my performance, so I was able to close on a strong note.  I usually get really stressed out and shaky during presentations, so that was a pleasant surprise!

There were three of us presenting, and we all have very different aesthetics and customer bases, so it was really interesting to see my classmates' presentations as well.  I was really proud of our class - we all worked really hard, and I think it showed.  I can't wait to see the looks walk the runway!

Storyboard class is a big hurdle in my program, so it feels great to have it done.  In celebration, this afternoon I'm going to hunker down, knit, and watch Project Runway.  Hurrah!

Monday, October 8, 2012

FO: Ephemera Lookbook, Spring Collection 2013

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Ta-da!  I picked up my lookbooks from the printer this afternoon, and they are exactly what I wanted.  My presentation is tomorrow, so I've been running around trying to get my ducks in a row.  I'm really glad I did some planning ahead and took these to the printer last Wednesday - that way I have them in hand the day before I need them, and it's one less thing to worry about.  No matter, though - my brain has resorted to stress dreams in order to both consciously and subconsciously torment me.  Last night I dreamed that I showed up to our silent auction, which is raising money for the fashion show, and didn't bother to bring the items I've collected to auction off.  Thanks for the reminder, brain!

It's kinda silly, actually, because I've already put so much work into planning this collection that presenting it is simply the last step.  But I'm stressing out about it anyways, because the collection has become my baby in the last few months, and I really want to do a good job.

So about the line: it's called Ephemera, and it's nine pieces including separates and dresses.  I named each piece after an inspiring woman in my life - some are friends of mine, some are real people whom I've never met, and some are fictional characters.  I really wanted the collection to feel like it could fit into the closets of real people, so it was fun to think about who would wear what, and why.


And as a sneak peek, here is my swatch (in prototype yarn) for the cable and lace pattern for the two cardigans.  I'm not happy with the ribbing beneath the cable, so I'm going to be swatching again soon, but I am in love with the garter stitch background and the transition from the ribbing into the diamond lace pattern.

Friday, October 5, 2012


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It's just about 1:30 on a Friday.  So far today, I've cleaned the bathroom, washed a load of laundry, gone to the printer's to check my lookbook proof, put together some important paperwork, taken pictures for this post, and surprisingly, not collapsed on the floor from sheer exhaustion and relief.  I have a headache and I haven't had a cup of coffee yet today - perhaps the two are related? - but I've been working so hard for so long, and things are finally starting to come together and it is so frigging exciting.

So what about the pictures?

Well, they are two things that I find amazingly beautiful right now.


First:  the yarn is a skein of - yep, you probably already guessed it - Prairie.  A few weeks ago when I went to Churchmouse with my friends to get some Loft for the sweaters in my line, I also came home with this beauty.  The colorway is called Spectrum, and it makes me think of galaxies and Impressionist paintings and my aunt and uncle's lake on a summer day.  I have no idea if this color works with my skin tone, but I think it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

And the second?

The other day I went up to meet Lumberjack after work, but before that I went to Blick to pick up some paper for my technical board. My technical board and lookbook are based on the same content, but my board needs to have all of my looks, ordering, sizing and color information on it, to use as a visual aid during my presentation.

Basically, I wanted a nice heavy paper that would show the true, saturated colors that I'm using for my line. I also worked really hard on the illustrations, so I wanted the layout to be really simple and pretty to look at. I had printed out the pages on regular copy paper and was disappointed with the colors, so imagine my delight when Lumberjack helped me print all nine looks out on the nicer paper, and the result was this.

The paper is Canson Infinity BFK Rives, and I would absolutely recommend it for high-quality printing. 'Cause damn. The colors are perfect. The type is crisp. The layout looks clean and professional, to toot my own horn. I have to crop a half an inch off of each side, but other than that, these are exactly how I envisioned my looks. And it feels pretty awesome.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pre-Blocking: Flower Market Shawl

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Well geez.  I blinked and all of a sudden I had finished Flower Market!  This is probably because after four or five days of very little progress, I knitted up a storm all weekend.  I knitted in the evenings while watching Arrested Development.  I knitted after finishing my articles for The Glamour Wire - which are here and here, if you want to read them.  I knitted during Thesis class, and then I cast off during Thesis class, and I felt very proud of myself.

The shawl is very crinkly right now, but it's still about 18.5" at the spine.  I'll be interested to see how big it blocks out.

I'm also feeling a little better about my stash after finishing this shawl.  In only two months, I've knit two whole large shawls, and my momentum has kept up so far.  Which is good, because I've lusting after (and occasionally buying) Prairie with reckless abandon ever since knitting this fast, addictive Ene's Shawl:


Which was now about a year ago, I think?  Man, time flies.  Anyhow, I loved Prairie's twist and hand, complex colorways, and amazing airiness so much that I've picked up a skein whenever I get a chance.  It's one of the less-common Madelinetosh yarns carried in stores, so it's a treat to find a shop fully stocked with lots of colors that I can drool all over.

In other news, yesterday I spent the whole day at school working on my lookbook for a presentation I have next week, so hopefully I'll get to share the physical copies soon!  I've learned so much about computer illustration, graphic design, and layout from working on this project, and I'm excited to have an end product.