Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recap 2013

2013 was a big year!

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I cut my hair!

We moved in with Sparklepants.  <3


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On the knitting front, I finished 12 items - a lot less than usual! - and started quite a few more, which I'm hoping to finish in 2014.


Overall, 2013 was a long, difficult year, and I'm glad it's over.  It has been full of both highs and lows - the highs are among the best of my life, and the lows have been similarly extreme.  We've been dealing with some private family stuff lately as well, and trying to figure out how our new little 2-person family is going to live on a day-to-day basis, celebrate holidays, and keep growing together.

Here's to another year over and done with - Happy New Year, friends!

Monday, December 30, 2013

WIP: Waving Lace Redux

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Almost six years ago, I knit a pair of Waving Lace socks.  They are probably my favorite pair of hand-knit socks; they're a pretty color and pattern, and they go with almost everything.  They are also starting to look sad these days, which is beyond impressive, considering that they are one of my oldest pairs of surviving hand-knit socks.

The originals were knit in Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock, which has worn like iron and survived through perhaps hundreds of machine washings and dryings.  It is kind of weird, though, because none of my other Lorna's Laces pairs held up so well - one of them actually ripped after only a few wearings!


So in honor of my poor Waving Lace socks - which shall soon be donated to the ratties - I started a replacement pair in yarn I got at Knit Fit from Intrepid Otter, a talented local dyer who makes the most gorgeous tonal and self-striping sock yarns.  The yarn is called Twist! and is a 80/20 merino/nylon blend, so I expect it to hold up almost as well as its predecessor.  So far, I love working with it.  The colorway is called Mother of Dragons, which is great, because Daenerys is a gorgeous badass and so are these socks.

Hope everyone had a happy holiday season - I'm off to knit more sock!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick Post: Karaoke Party Dress

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This last Saturday, we had a karaoke party at my school, where we all ate chips and busted out our favorite songs in front of friends and total strangers alike.  I used to sing a lot in high school, so it's always really fun to do karaoke!  I haven't dressed up for a bit, I thought it would be fun to wear this dress, a little number I bought a while back that I think is either from the '30s or '40s.  It's an old-school rayon crepe, and it's wonderfully swingy and fun to wear.  I just love the softness of the dolman sleeve and slightly blousey bodice, combined with the nipped-in waist detail.  Of course, I couldn't resist adding footless tights for warmth and maximum dancing coverage, a pair of Fluevogs, and a pendant necklace - although, by the end of the night, I was running around in red sneakers!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ambition, Thy Name is Brocade

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Because I clearly don't have enough things to do already (...hahaharr), I stopped by the super cute and wonderful District Fabric in Fremont today and fell in love with this gorgeous 70/30 silk/rayon Indian brocade.  Many years ago, I found a turquoise and gold sheath dress from early '60s that fit perfectly, but had some damage.  Because I didn't sew at the time, I let it slip away, and I've deeply regretted it ever since.

Fast forward to now, and a friend mentioned that she'd love to do a New Year's dress sewalong, and I realized that I didn't have anything fancy and quick to make up in my fabric stash.  So the minute I saw this fabric, I thought - hey, I could draft a pattern for my One True Sheath Dress off my sloper and sew it up in time for New Year's!  Yeah!

Unreasonable?  Most definitely.  But what better time to make a tight, sparkly-ass dress than the holiday season?

Monday, December 9, 2013

WIP: Serab

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While many of my projects are either stalled out or secret knitting (or both, hooray!), I've also been working on more socks.  Since I finished my most recent pair of plain socks, I decided that I should get back into the patterned sock game.  First up is Serab, from Silk Road Socks, which I've had in my queue for quite a while and first attempted almost two years ago.  I decided that the Sundara sock yarn was pooling in a way I didn't like, so I ripped them out.  This time I'm using Madelinetosh Sock, which is similar to the Sundara in weight and twist, but the colors are shifting more evenly.

So far, the pattern is entertaining and good... but holy crap is it killing my hands.  For some reason, reverse stockinette and me are not friends right now, and as a result, this much progress has taken me three weeks.  I can usually finish a sock in a day or two if I'm really motivated, but these have been rather torturous.

Luckily, they are also absolutely stunning.  I'm fairly sure that they are going to be the pair of socks that finally convinces me to get a set of sock blockers - the lace pattern is lumpy both on and off the foot right now - but if the finished sock is as pretty as I think it will be, it will all be worth it.


But never mind all that.  The real reason I knit socks?  Why, to make silly puppets with, of course!

Friday, December 6, 2013

FO: Snapdragons

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Finally, I have another finished object!  Although I also have a pair of plain Socks That Rock socks and a shawl off the needles, they're waiting to go through the freezer treatment before I can block and photograph them.  In the meantime, I finished this pair of plain socks out of the Pigeonroof Studios merino/cashmere/nylon blend I got in New Haven several years ago.  I never had a boring moment knitting these socks - the yarn is soft and lovely to work with, and the gorgeous shifts of color kept my eyes and fingers moving.  Just in time, too - it got cold here in Seattle this week!

Happy Friday!

Ravelry Page: Snapdragons
Pattern: My usual plain sock
Yarn: Pigeonroof Studios 80/10/10 Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, colorway Wildflower, most of 1 skein
Yardage: ~350 yards
Needles: Size 1.5 US (2.5 mm) Knitpicks metal DPNs

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Creating Space, Part I: Minimalism, Stuff, and Reclaiming Space

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Slowly, we are rebuilding from the shitstorm that raged across our house late this October.  I've started reorganizing and putting things away, a little at a time, and the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get brighter.  The pace has been agonizingly slow, but certain places in our closets, kitchen, and studio are starting to look normal again.  Pretty, even.

One of the side effects of Beetlegate2013 is that we have had to truly sort and prioritize all of our items.  It's been a gargantuan task, but it has also been strangely freeing.  (Skirt that's in good condition but doesn't fit my style anymore?  Receipt from yarn I bought at Sock Summit in 2011?  Pairs of jeans that are old, threadbare, and too big?  Donate, trash, or use as rat bedding.)  Suddenly, life has started feeling far too short to hold onto this crap, and the looming threat of carpet beetles has given me a pressing reason to let go of things that I've been on the fence about for a while.  It's made me a lot more motivated about becoming more organized and minimalist in my belongings.

At the same time, I have some complicated feelings on minimalism, many of which are expounded upon in more depth in Graham Hill's New York Times piece on minimalism, this elegantly outlined response by Charlie Lloyd, and this Slate article by Katy Waldman integrating the two.

In short, minimalism is very often the luxury of the well-off, and unsustainable for the average person.  Minimalism relies on the ability to purchase high-quality, more expensive items less often than their cheaper, more disposable counterparts, as well as the ability to replace an as-yet unneeded item only at the moment that it becomes needed again - all of which is just not feasible for a lot of people.  At the same time, there's something powerful and deeply aesthetically appealing about consuming and owning less.

This experience has given me even more food for thought on the subject.  I think the answer for me lies somewhere in between the two extremes, probably as it tends to with most people.  I will admit to my moments of wanting to throw it all away and start over; I know that I absolutely loved dressing from a capsule wardrobe of about 15 items when I lived in Japan; I also know that I have a deep love for and inspiration from yarn, clothing, and books.  Seemingly contradictory, these things are all an integral part of how I experience my belongings on a daily basis.  The challenge will be to reevaluate how much space I want things to occupy, and how to be okay with that.


Because after all, I really do love me some yarn.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Color Correct All the Things?

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So I was working in Photoshop tonight and was able to noodle around with color correction.  Out of curiosity, I practiced by trying to fix something that has been bugging me forever - namely, the crappy colors caused by our old porch.  When I got my new coat right before we went to Iceland, Lumberjack took some photos of me wearing it on said porch, and I was never happy with the colors in those photos.  Lo and behold, all I had to do in Photoshop was tweak the Blue saturation in the Hue/Saturation adjustment menu, and out came the true black I was looking for.  Sorcery!

(Also, in general, I hated that porch, because the color of the stucco made every single color look like crap.  Blacks turned blue, oranges looked vomitous, and blues and reds were almost impossible to photograph correctly.  The whole time we lived there, I missed the clean light of the Bellevue porch, which produced clean, beautiful colors with minimal post-processing.)


Sigh.  I loved that porch.

Once I saw a glimpse of how powerful the program can be, I fell down the rabbit hole a little bit, and grabbed more photos to play with color and how it affects the look and feel of the image.  I chose another one that I was never quite happy with: a photo of my Afternoon Tea shawlette.  In order to get the shawl to about the right color using iPhoto's color correction, I had to turn the background an odd shade of orange, which made the shawl look weirdly fluorescent.  The photo looks bright and beachy, and doesn't reflect the actual colors of pretty much anything in it.

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Holy cats.  The difference is pretty intense.  Admittedly, I'm not sure which of these photos is really "better" - I think the orange/blue contrast in the original photo is interesting, but it's turning my skin orange too; in the second photo, everything - my skin, the shawl, the wall - is closer to its actual color, but now I look a little green, and the blue looks kinda gross with that washed-out brown, so obviously I didn't quite fix it.  (Damn you, shitty stucco.  You are the worst.)

Usually I do very little post-processing with my photos, mostly just in iPhoto, so doing color correction in Photoshop is a new endeavor for me.  Working on my portfolio has made me really interested in graphic design, and my aesthetic tends to lean heavily on photography, so now I'm even more curious about the nitty-gritty details of composition, color, and style.  (For example, why do certain photos within a set look "right" and others don't?  What makes an image compelling?  Is it possible to quantify a photograph's "rightness"?  What does "right" even mean, anyhow?  SO MANY QUESTIONS.)

I can't wait to fiddle around with it more!