Friday, February 27, 2015

On Loss


These last few weeks, my heart has been full. Death as a matter of course makes us examine our own lives, to draw warm things and people nearer to our hearts. In realizing the fragility of others, we hew to patterns of comfort; we take time to stop and count each moment as a blessing. We tell ourselves that this has changed everything, though we will forget this lesson soon enough. Unthinkingly, we will return to our daily procrastinations, even while those closest to the loss cannot.

The familiar heft of that feeling sticks in my chest, though my copy of it is old and worn.

 As I stand at the outskirts of that pain, it seems unfair to feel grief when the full magnitude has only hit me in the smallest of ripples. But still, there it is: a flood of memory, and gratitude, and sadness; of anger, that the world should be upended upon two people so dearly, wonderfully kind. Of that overwhelming feeling of wanting to do, when there is nothing to be done.

And so I turn to the things that I can. To my husband, who makes tea and holds my hand without my asking. To my ratlings, who are jolly and round, and who cheer me up just by existing. To wool and words, as in my incapacity to do I can still retreat into the methodical and the generative, in the perhaps vain hope that by makeshift cloth and love, I might protect all of our hearts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

FO: Minnie Blouse

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In preparation for my Matcha blouse, I decided to make a functional muslin in some medium-weight cotton I inherited from Sparklepants' stash. I fell in love with this step of the process during ballgown, when I constructed a fully lined and finished version of the bodice before I cut into my final yardage. It gave me more confidence in my techniques, and helped me figure out some of the nitty-gritty construction details in $3/yard cotton instead of $60/yard silk.

Although this weight of cotton isn't usually suited to garment sewing, this classic print seemed in keeping with the '40s aesthetic of the blouse. It has a cute, Minnie Mouse vibe to it, without being too frilly or costumey, and the bright print keeps it from veering too far into scrubs territory.

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It just so happens that I had these buttons in my stash, bought during a trip down to the LA garment district a few years ago, as well as matching thread and interfacing left over from the fashion show in 2013. I wanted to make this entire project out of stash, and I succeeded!

Overall, I think this will become a summer wardrobe staple - the shape is very flattering, the fit is neat but comfortable, and the length is good for wearing with jeans or skirts.

Pattern: Colette Patterns Sencha
Size: Size 6 shoulders, graded to a size 2 waist (with size 6 length & waist line)

Modifications: No significant changes other than the size mods. A lot of people have commented that the neckline is a bit too high, but I didn't have a problem with it.

My measurements, for reference:
Full bust - 36.5 inches
Underbust - 29.5 inches
Usual bra size - 30DD/E
Waist - 28.5 inches

Monday, February 23, 2015

FO: Socks for a Lumberjack

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My poor Lumberjack-y companion. We've been married for a year and change, and together for over four, and still he is woefully short on knitted things. I mean, that's supposed to be the advantage of entering a legally binding commitment with a knitter, right? You might have to put up with skeins of yarn jumping out of unexpected cabinets like tribbles, but in return, they keep you decked out in sweet, sweet woolens. (It's a pretty fair trade, if you ask me.)

Until recently, I have been positively remiss in my duties as Knitter on Call. But what's this? Wham, bam, pair of custom-made socks? Hello, new bargaining chip!

Uh, Cory, why is there a stack of pink laceweight on top of my video games?

Shhhh... I knit you socks, remember?

Har. I'm the worst.

(Details on Ravelry here.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

WIP: Opaline

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Some of my most-worn knits this winter have been fingerless mitts; I wear them pretty much every day, and I find that they're great for both driving and walking around town. Although most days in Seattle, a full mitten is overkill, having just a little bit of warmth on my hands helps keep my fingers toasty. They're also a ridiculously fast project - so fast that I'm not sure why I haven't knit more of them!

I've had this Tosh Chunky in the colorway Opaline in my stash for three or four years, and a few days ago, I decided it was time to make it into mitts. I had forgotten how beautiful and squishy this yarn is - the colorway is almost iridescent, gently shifting from pale violet to glazed blues and pinks with each stitch. (Even Lumberjack commented on how pretty it is.)

The pattern is called Meg's Fingerless Mitts, from Serial Knitters out in Kirkland, although unfortunately it's not listed on Ravelry. It only took me a few hours to knit these up, and I've already given them a bath! Now I just have to be patient and let them dry before I weave in their ends and start wearing them everywhere.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Yarny Weekend at Madrona


I've started this post about four times, because I'm afraid I won't be able to get the words right and it will screw up the magic - because oh, last weekend was wonderful.

I spent Valentine's Day at the Madrona Fiber Arts market, a yearly fiber event in Tacoma that attracts hundreds of knitters, spinners, crocheters, and weavers. I've been attending for three years, and working at the Fiber Gallery booth - either setting up or working the show - for two.

In the years that I've been attending, my love for the community has grown, seemingly without bound. This time, I went with my friend Sooz and one of her friends, and along the way, I ran into people from many beloved corners of my life: customers from the shop; a few of my Issaquah Tinker buddies; dyers and designers who have long been my role models, and who I am now proud to count as friends.

Madrona is always a busy weekend - and to be perfectly honest, an exhausting one - but it always fills me up in the most wonderful ways. Here are a few of my thoughts and impressions from this year.

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 Dressing up for Madrona on Saturday really reminded me of the power of clothing as a tool for expression and connection. As I've thought about my aesthetic - in terms of both my design and my personal style - expressive is a word that I keep on returning to. As much as I'd like to say that I'm a buttoned-down aesthete with a perfect house and curated closet and tidy studio, that just... isn't true. As so many of us are, I'm a barrel of contradictions: I'm a chatty introvert, a messy neat freak, a perfectionist who appreciates screwing up sometimes. I like high heels and the color pink and putting bows on everything, but I just don't jam with precious.

And I like for my style to reflect those contradictions as much as possible; it feels the most genuine - and the most comfortable - to me.

So when I put together this outfit, I was aiming for vintage and pretty - but also approachable and easy-to-wear. I wanted it to be visual shorthand for some of the things that I really care about: quality construction, attention to detail, strength and femininity coexisting. I wanted it to be expressive.

And when I got to Madrona, it was really, really cool - because so many people came up to me and said the nicest things about my outfit, or recognized my Fluevogs, or complimented my shawl. It made me feel connected and seen, and it helped start conversations with some wonderful and engaging people who I might not have had the opportunity to talk to otherwise.

But enough about clothes - let's talk about yarn! These were a few of the vendors that captured my imagination this year.
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With yarn colorways and names inspired by literature, Canon Hand Dyes' booth was a lovely little trove of gem-hued mini-skein packs, gradient yarns, and self-striping yarns in bright, harmonious color combinations. Self-striping sock yarns were one of my first yarny loves, and it's unusual to see that style of yarn in larger gauge bases, so I was really excited to see the stripey goodness in DK and worsted weight as well as fingering weight - especially in such wonderfully evocative colorways. I only brought home one skein of yarn with me this time, and it was from this booth!

I spent quite a while in this booth, quietly dazzled by the color and presentation of this truly special yarn. Jorstad Creek specializes in local hand-dyed yarns, with bases ranging from squooshy 100% merino to unusual breeds like Icelandic and Finn. I was particularly taken with the Narfi Icelandic laceweight: jewel tones layered over the natural color of the yarn created deep, complex and luminous shades in a wonderfully lofty & tactile yarn.

A huge thank you to Kaia and Kerry of the Jorstad Creek booth for taking time out of their afternoon to talk to me about their beautiful yarn. I love learning about the process that goes into a business like this - not only the creation of yarn, but also the development of branding vision & supporting infrastructure like design and photography - and they were kind enough to share their story with me.

One of a Kind


I love buttons, and I'm always on the lookout for unexpected and beautiful ones, so I was really happy to find One of a Kind's beautiful, handmade ceramic buttons. I love that they have a wide variety of styles - abstract plant prints, classic motifs, graphic and modern novelty prints - in not only buttons, but also super-cute shawl pins and pendants. If I ever need colorful, perfectly cheeky buttons for a project, I know where to look first!


Overall, I kept it pretty low-key on my purchases this year, in keeping with my goal to tend a more thoughtful stash. I couldn't resist one skein of Canon Hand Dyes self-striping - I'm thinking for a Missoni-inspired hat design. I also got two strings of gold beads for a shawl from Bead Biz, a button from One of a Kind, and a pair of Estonian lace socks from the Haapsalu Lace Center, sponsored and supported by Nancy Bush.

I also chatted with Nancy for a few minutes about Estonian lace and design, which I really enjoyed - her design and educational work have introduced Estonian history and traditions to so many of us in the knitting community, and the graphic elements of Estonian lace are a major influence on my design work. I'm really excited to own an authentic piece of such a beautiful and unique knitwear tradition.

Okay - I think that about does it! Thank you to the organizers, teachers, vendors, and fiber enthusiasts who make Madrona such a wonderful event. And thank you all for reading.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sneak Peek

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Madrona Fiber Arts was this last weekend, and it was probably my favorite one yet. I'll be doing a wrap-up post about it on Wednesday - but in the meantime, here's a few little details from my Saturday excursion. Stay tuned! <3

Happy Monday,

Friday, February 13, 2015

FO: Fireweed

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A while back, the wonderful Kate & Rachel of Spincycle Yarns provided me with yarn support for an asymmetrical shawlette design - and it's been burning a hole in my design brain ever since. I'm always so inspired by the long, subtle color shifts of Dyed in the Wool, and I wanted to play with two contrasting colors with a delicate stripe detail and simple lace border.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the way this piece turned out - the asymmetrical detail makes it a bit unusual, and the interplay of color is organic and striking. (Kate, Rachel, and my friend Sooz all weighed in on my color choice, and I think they picked a winner!) I have found that the petite size and shape make it a good candidate for a shawl pin to keep things secure, but don't be fooled by its size - this little devil kept my neck nice and toasty while I set up the Fiber Gallery booth at Madrona Fiber Arts this week.

Side note: I'm working at the shop instead of the booth this year, but I will be at Madrona as my Muggle self on Saturday - please feel free to say hi!

Back to the shawl - Fireweed is in the pattern development stages, and will be on its way to testers soon.

More details on Ravelry here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Taking a Break


This week, I've received news of a terrible loss in the Oberlin community. I'm sure I'm only one of many alumni and students whose life this professor impacted, but even so I'm quite shaken and sad with the news. In light of this, I will be taking a short break from posting. Thanks for bearing with me, and I will plan to return sometime next week.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Deep Stash WIP: Nest Cross Stitch


A million years ago, before I was ever a knitter, I loved to cross stitch. My mom made some really beautiful cross stitch pieces as gifts when I was little - maybe four or five years old - and I used to stand over her shoulder to watch. I loved the way a larger image slowly grew out of so many tiny stitches, and as soon as I had the dexterity, I started doing my own projects. My finest achievement: a fastidiously copied photo portrait of my brother and me, translated to cross-stitch and given to my mom as a Christmas gift when I was ten. (I started my overachieving dorkiness early.)

Even now, I can see echoes of deeply rooted creative joy in it: the methodical process, the colorful & complex charts, the tedious attention to detail - decades later, all of these things still make my heart sing.


Way back in there somewhere, I picked up this piece that my mom started. I think it's been in my stash for ten or fifteen years - and even through multiple purges, this neatly folded and color-coded project (thanks, Mom!) has remained. It's a picture with four panels and a leaf border, and even though I have no idea what the finished object could be, there's something about it that I love - maybe the delicate flower motifs, or the unusual dark background?

In any case - in the tradition of overachieving dorkiness - I think I'm going to try to finish it.

Happy Monday - and happy February!