Archive for December, 2007

I Can Make That

December 28, 2007

Part of why I’m excited about my newfound knitting skills is that I can at least try and make many of the things I love that are available in stores I refuse to shop in because of political/social practices (like Anthropologie*) or that are made in China (like some stuff I reluctantly love at JCrew).

The Twinkle knits are an example of the former and the following is something I’m pretty sure I can make without a pattern from the latter:

I figure I should start simple with my experimentation given that I’m relatively new to knitting. But this seems to just be a long sweater…with some buttoned on waist strap things…

I used to go through stores with overpriced clothes and brag to myself about how I could sew those things myself…it’s nice to be able to do it with knitwear now too.

*note…just in case someone was wondering, the owner of Anthro/Urban Outfitters financially supports extremely right-wing causes…meaning that shopping there is indirectly supporting those things as well…which is sad because I did love that store…did.


We Can Do It?

December 26, 2007

I saw this parked across the street this morning. A maid service car…”Maid to Clean”.

I find this usage of the “We Can Do It” imagery, a symbol of women’s liberation, to be really just wrong.

Finished! Fad Classic

December 26, 2007

This was another relatively quick knit (though I guess not compared to the Twinkle knits). I really love how it turned out. This is probably the most wearable thing I’ve knitted yet and I’m actually really excited to wear it. It’s a little bigger than I would like, but I think that may be ok.

The pattern was really interesting–worked in one piece from the top down. The lack of seams is great, because I suck at seaming. Unfortunately there’s a lot of picking up stitches. Which I also suck at. But I think it turned out ok on this one.


PatternFad Classic, by Wendy Bernard
Size – 32
Yarn – Cascade Sierra, 3 skeins
Mods – None

Onto the Phildar cardigan (#13 from this winter’s issue)…I’m almost done with the back, but I’m now wishing I had done the front pieces and the back together instead of seaming all the pieces. I guess practice makes perfect.


December 21, 2007

Things have been very exciting lately. My new Phildar catalogues arrived today!! Meaning the orange cardigan in this Winter’s catalogue is my next project, but it will be the black cardigan I’ve really been needing lately.

About 5 more knitting-related deliveries are expected.

Someday Classic Elite will have more soft chunky and my order of French Grey will arrive in my recycling bin…(Reggie, my postman is amazing and leaves our packages in the recycling bin with a little note slipped under the door so we don’t have to go to the post office to get our packages)

I also just discovered Etsy. I’m late on this I think, but I have 3 packages on the way as a result of this newfound addiction, such as…

Some lovely stitch markers and lovely needle case.

I love this handmade/vintage revolution. It’s such a great idea to have this marketplace for unique things made by actual humans…ones not in a sweatshop or something equally dehumanizing. It also makes sticking to my no-buying-anything-made-in-China rule much easier–though I should say I’ve strayed a few times…Twinkle yarn is made in China…boo.
People always ask why I do this…
Is it the human rights violations?
Is it the lack of environmental standards?
Is it the fact that because of lax US standards we get the stuff from China that the EU rejects? You know…all that stuff with lead in it (like candy and lipstick)?
I always think this is a funny line of questioning. As though I’m supposed to pick one but be alright with the other truths.
They all pretty much suck. So I try to not support it.
I haven’t cut out buying US products made in developing countries altogether, but that may be a next step. The thing is the Chinese share of imports into the US is astonishingly high and overwhelmingly the largest (at least for consumer goods).

In other news, the Fad Classic vest is almost complete and looks fantastic so far…hopefully it fits.
The yarn used was not made in China. We can all rest easy now.

Numchuck skills, bow hunting skills…

December 10, 2007

Yes, I have skills. New skills. The Italian tubular cast-on! I found a great tutorial here.
I didn’t even know there were all these different ways to cast on.
But I love this method. It was a little hard to get used to, but I’m now using it for a new project I’m starting. More Twinkle, of course.
I’m doing to Balthazar vest, but with Rowan Bamboo Soft (in Beaver) and Kidsilk Haze (in Majestic) on size 7 and 5 needles.
I’m attempting to convert the pattern from a super chunky gauge to a 5 stitch per inch gauge. I just calculated what each stitch and row in the pattern should equal in the bamboo gauge and am then multiplying the pattern stitches and rows accordingly. I’m hoping it’ll work and will be an interesting experiment. I also hear that this pattern is especially vague so maybe that’s a good thing since I’ll have to make some things up as I go anyway.
I love the yarn and the colorway…and think it may be a little more wearable for me than all the chunky stuff in Twinkle.
Though I have been inspired by other projects on Ravelry to begin the Twinkle Shopping Tunic. Apparently Classic Elite is out of the soft chunky, so I’m waiting for an order I placed to come in sometime in the next month so I can begin. I’ve been into muted colors, so I’m doing this one in the french grey.

I’m still working on the Fad Classic vest, which after all the Twinkle knits seems SO slow going.
I’ve been having some trouble working with the yarn (Cascade Sierra), especially during some K2T right after a cast on (like for the neck lines). But I think the pattern is so interesting, especially the fact that it’s knit completely seamlessly–which is great for me since seaming is definitely not one of my stronger skills.
But all in all it’s looking really good. The color is a lemonade-y pale yellow and I can already envision its contribution to my wardrobe.

Knitting While Feminist

December 6, 2007

I just read an interview with Nora Gaughan the other day that I unfortunately now can’t find where she discusses her feelings about having studied the hard sciences yet choosing knitting as a career. She touches on this issue of feeling uncertain or even guilty for choosing a traditionally feminine career path and the pressure of having to choose a field where women are traditionally underrepresented (such as biology).

It’s an interesting problem that I completely identify with. Feminism (to me) is supposed to be about choice, about eliminating socially constructed gender roles. Yet I personally feel this pressure to be respected by taking on what are supposed to be male roles and by rejecting things that are traditionally assigned to females. The thing is it just puts women into a different constrained box, instead of opening up all the choices possible (not that men don’t have similar gender constraints…). Not to mention the belittlement of those “feminine” activities, which can often be huge accomplishments.

It’s the loss of choice. Like the mommy wars–where now we have women fighting with each other over each other’s choices (which in that case I think is more of an unwillingness on both ends to accept these choices have trade-offs, but that’s another discussion).

The reality of it is that things like knitting and sewing represent the things I most respect in anyone: cultivating a truly technical skill and creating beautiful and inherently useful things with one’s own hands. I think both of those things transcend gender and are just accepted as human efforts worthy of admiration because they engender so many honorable qualities: diligence, patience, and hopefully some talent…

Maybe that’s why I’ve been able to embrace them so fully…despite my warped sense of feminism.

Possible new projects…

December 6, 2007

Although I have a bunch of vests on the horizon, I have some other possibilities in mind.

Particularly these 2 that I can’t decide between, one from Blue Sky Alpacas and one from Vogue’s 25th Anniversary Magazine

I can’t decide…
Which should I do??

Finished! Diamond Scarf

December 5, 2007

Biking through all the falling ice was nothing, as I was toasty warm, wrapped in my soft Diamond Scarf.

That’s my catalogue caption for another FO from a few weeks ago. I made it after using the leftover yarn from my Best Friend Cardigan to make this and the aspen hat for a friend. I ended up loving them both and had just enough yarn to make the scarf for myself. I wasn’t sure about it at first. I thought the size 35 (!) needles would make it so holy that it would be strange looking or not really that warm. Both are quite untrue. The pattern is so lovely and after some steam blocking it really looked nice and defined.

And it’s so cozy and warm.  We had our first snow in DC today.

I do want to say that after living in NYC for the past two years I forgot what babies Washingtonians (mostly the DC suburbanites) are about the snow. People couldn’t make it to meetings, there were alerts and alarms and warnings, yet even now, at 6pm there remains to be any actual accumulation on the streets. Maybe in the suburbs there’s an inch.

All I know is I’m not going to work tomorrow. I could break my neck in all that snow.

Finished! Twinkle Biker Vest

December 4, 2007

This was another quick knit…about a week and half even with several rip-outs and re-dos.
There are a few screw-ups, but I don’t think they’re that noticeable, so overall I love it.
The pattern says to pick up 140 stitches around the edges for the garter stitch border, which caused me the most trouble. First I didn’t pick up enough stitches so it turned into a balloon-like piece. So I ripped it out and picked up more….it was not longer a balloon, but my picking up of stitches was a little messy so again I ripped it out and redid it. It looks much better, but picking up stitches and seaming fabric that isn’t in simple stockinette seem to be my biggest weaknesses.
I do really like the lace pattern and I love the fit.
Onto the other vests in my queue.

This last statement is interestingly enough quite the annoyance to my “roommate.” It seems knitting has diverted my obsession away from him…”you’d rather be knitting,” he says just every once in a while.
But I don’t feel guilty.
If only he knew the meditative satisfaction, the visual and tactile stimulation.
Ah, yes.
But I think involving him may mollify his frustrations. He’s becoming my photographer and perhaps with time he’ll embrace this role and attack it with artful intent.

Finished! Best Friend Cardigan

December 3, 2007

I’ve been pretty anxious to post about some stuff I’ve actually finished. It’s like a virtual trophy case…and it’s so nice to have trophies I’m happy with! and I have to say, I love Twinkle for this reason. I had never made anything complicated, just scarves and hats and when I discovered this book (which was one those moments of realization when you know the obsession will now take over your life because it’s just too good…) I jumped on the Best Friend Cardigan. I finished it in about 4 days in early November and save some issues with setting the sleeves in (mainly making the seams look seamless, which never happened), it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be and it turned out pretty damn good…I mean, it’s chunky. And therefore I look chunky. But it’s like my first baby…I’ll love her no matter what she does to me. Plus, the soft chunky is just beautiful (as is the color, urchin).

I feel like this is a cheesy Twinkle testimonial, but Wenlan is right (in her intro to the book)…now I feel like I can knit anything!
No really…it’s a nice feeling to be able to examine things in stores and know how they were put together–and feel like I could do it just as well myself. Hey, I’m as good as some factory in China.

One more note, for the small size, this only took 2 1/2 – 3 skeins of the soft chunky, though the pattern called for 4. But I think this follows the consensus with Twinkle patterns…they seem to take less than the pattern calls for. I was pretty excited to learn from Knitlit that the Shopping Tunic only takes 3 skeins….rather than 7.

In other news, the Biker Vest is almost finished…I had some trouble picking up all the stitches around the edges for the garter stitch border and had to rip it out a couple of times. But I think this time may be it.