Friday, August 29, 2014

Things I Love: The Ultimate Sheep Sweater

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Friends, this sweater makes me feel really, really serious.

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Big thanks to my friend Sooz, who found and bought me this fabulous sweater at Target, just because! I am a lucky, lucky person. <3

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIP: Waving Lace Redux (Part II)

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I started these replacements for my favorite pair of socks back in December as my Christmas vacation knitting. I finished the first sock really quickly, and blew past Second Sock Syndrome by casting on so I could knit them working the booth at Madrona. (I was pretty chuffed with myself at this point, which should have been a sign that something was about to go terribly, terribly wrong.) Of course, in a moment of clarity I decided that I was too hardcore for the pattern, which meant I didn't need to bring the first sock or my copy of Favorite Socks with me to Madrona after all.

Hah! Hah! How blithely and adroitly I totally screwed myself.

I knitted merrily away on them for two full days, turning a heel and picking up stitches with breaks to sell Socks That Rock and Pom Pom Quarterlies to happy knitters. By the end of the weekend, I was about to start the toe shaping when I looked at the sock and realized that I had left out 3 whole rounds of the pattern - and the mistake was barely an inch into the cuff. My bombastic self-confidence withered, I put them away: I could bear neither the idea of ripping back an entire perfectly good sock, nor the thought of leaving the damn mistake in.

And then there was this really fun period of a month or two when I misplaced the finished first sock. (I took that as a sign from the universe that I should focus on other, more important things, like ballgown.)

Then the other day, I was tidying up in my studio, and had a sudden tingly feeling, like: my sock is near. It's near, I can feel it... and I think I need to apologize.

So with a deep breath and a small glass of wine, I ripped out eight or nine tragically lovely inches of sock, steamed the crap out of the noodly yarn, and started over.

And wouldn't you know - I think we might be friends again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brainstorming: Rambouillet Garter + Lace Mini Collection

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The last few days, I've been tinkering around with designs for my little Rambouillet stashette. I came up with three different neck accessories: a long cowl, a triangular scarflette, and a semi-circular shawl. All three designs have garter stitch and lace motifs, but each has a different construction method and overall shape.

The first two swatches were relatively easy, since I'd already had the ideas for those a while ago. The third swatch (the violet one) was a little trickier; I had a vision of what it looked like in my head, but was having a hard time finding the right stitch pattern for it. In the end, using Estonian lace as inspiration, I charted out a new motif using building blocks from the stitch patterns in the back of Knitted Lace of Estonia.

These swatches aren't blocked yet - and I expect them to grow a bit, and soften into a more cohesive fabric - but I'm already really happy with them. It's funny, because in my usual knitting life, I hate swatching, but when it's for design, I sort of love it. It takes a fair bit of planning, but it's a really nice way of seeing how the yarn plays with the pattern, and often gives me insight into the construction methods and techniques needed for the design.

Plus, swatches are super little and cute, and can tell so much of a story in just a small piece of fabric!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Inspiration: Texture + Color


One of my newest fiber loves is Rambouillet: a light, crunchy wool often peppered with soft slubs. The texture of it always makes me gravitate towards subtle, almost washed-out colors - the color of a t-shirt left in the sun too long; a piece of beachglass; a flower that's started to wilt on the vine.

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These are three different Rambouillet yarns that I've collected in the last year and a half, and yesterday - sort of on a whim - I put them next to each other for the first time, and they sang. I've come to realize that my brain works well with patterns: shades that fit into the same color story; characteristic textures found across different fibers; accessories that coordinate but don't match.

In a moment, all three yarns told me what they wanted to be. Turns out all they needed was each other.

Although my life feels at a crossroads these days, I'm hoping that organizing my thoughts and plans from now until I graduate (hopefully Novemberish) will help me weedwhack the path forward.

And so, onward!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

WIP: Plumeria Socks

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This sock has actually been in progress for a while - I cast on back in February, to cheer me up while I sat around in lots of doctor's offices all month - but it wasn't until yesterday that I finally got around to photographing it. I took it as a ferry project while I took a day trip to Bainbridge Island to visit a friend. After a lunch on the patio of a nearby restaurant, we wandered around Churchmouse for an hour or so, petting yarn and quietly exclaiming things about fiber blends and color obsessions.

Every time I go to the island, I'm reminded of how much I love the place. The ferry ride over was cool and damp: the clouds hanging low over the dark green water, mist dusting the tips of the trees along the shoreline. As the island came into view, I felt a soft calm descend over me. Far away from the frantic pace of the city, it's as if I see color for the first time: the yellow of a schoolchild's windbreaker; the dirty grey of a gull's wing; the soft violet outline of land as it meets the sky. 

On the island, time expands. The excited footfalls of children gently thump across the carpeted ferry terminal floor. The open windows smell of salt and rain. Hands linger on a twist of brown wool, dry and slightly warm, as if it were still connected to the animal that bore it.

It is, in a word, magic.

Happy Thursday.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cupcakes & Madelinetosh

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A few days ago, I had to go get my phone fixed: I dropped it on a cement floor and cracked the screen not two hours after finishing my ballgown! To pass the time while it was repaired, I went to one of my lovely local yarn shops to hang out and chat with the owners and - of course - to pet some Madelinetosh. I still had a half hour to kill afterwards, so I stopped to get a cupcake and jot some ideas down. It was really lovely, and turned what was a time-consuming chore into a fun mini-date with myself!

In the days since finishing ballgown, I've found that my perspective on life has changed in a really positive way. It pushed me to accept that I am capable of far more than I thought, and that my skills and experience don't need approval from other people to be valid. And when I let myself feel confident, it makes social interactions - especially marketing or talking about my work, which I've always really struggled with - a lot more comfortable and pleasant.

It also reminded me that connecting with the world through art, experiences, friendship, and food is incredibly important to me, and I want to do more of it. So, in the last week, I've toured a Royal Canadian Navy vessel, attended an Oberlin alumni picnic, hiked to an alpine lake, worked a new teaching gig at Fiber Gallery, and run around Ballard handing out flyers for my ballgown presentation... and more plans are on the schedule for the next few weeks.

Overall, I always want to be able to look back at my life and be happy with the ways I've chosen to spend my time - and I think cupcakes and Madelinetosh are a great place to start.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

FO: Plaited Mitts

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Oh hey, remember when I used to make not-ballgown things? Me neither - but I did, and I have photographic evidence!

I started making these mitts back in fall of 2011, right around the time I started at NYFA. My hands were always cold when I walked up the street to get coffee in the morning, and I worked at a yarn shop at the time, so I figured, why not buy some squishy pink llama-cotton yarn I had been eyeing for a while and make some fingerless mitts? I remembered lusting after this pattern from when I was a really new knitter and didn't quite have the skills to make them yet, and thought that this was the perfect opportunity to give them a whirl.

So I knitted one, wasn't happy with the limp, too-big cuff, and shoved it in my WIP basket for three years. (What, cotton isn't the best choice for stretchy ribbing? I'm shocked.) A few months ago, in my efforts to finish languishing projects, I picked them back up, ripped and re-knit the ribbing, knitted the second mitt in a day or two, and voila! Fingerless mitts, just in time for summer.

Even though it took me forever, I think I'll get a lot of wear out of these. I still get cold fingers walking down Ballard Ave in the fall, so their original purpose is totally valid. High five, self!

Details are on Ravelry here.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Ballgown: Days 29-30 (Or, Adding It All Up)


30 days


15 yards of silk


64 buttons


And 250 hours


And we have achieved ballgown.


Thank you for following along with me on this journey. It's been an amazing 30 days, and I'm so glad that I was able to share it with you all. Thank you for all of your comments, support, and love this month - I appreciated your positive feedback and energy so much!

The next few days are prime rat snuggling, House-watching, pizza-eating, relaxing and knitting time. Then, onto the presentation - which is public (and free!) this next Saturday, August 9th, at 7:30 pm, at NYFA, if you're local and would like to come see my gown on a real, live person.

Happy Saturday, and happy ballgown!!!!