Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Wrap it up

July 6, 2009

the baby, that is.

This is why I’ve been away.

Well, that’s not completely true.  It is why I haven’t had anything crafty to share, because on the rare occasions I felt like knitting, I had to work on this, since I missed the baby shower deadline and just barely got it finished for the kid’s birth.  My lack of desire to knit is no doubt linked to the lack of freedom I felt on this project.  But, all in all, it was worth it.  It was for one of my closest friends who just had her first baby, a little boy named Caleb.  I hope he’ll enjoy this blanket forever (and that it will not unravel and blatantly disclose my lazy, half-assed “technique” in weaving ends in).

The blanket is the OpArt pattern from the Fall 2008 issue of Knitty, which I thought was perfect for this particular child and mom.  My friend is a speech pathologist, very tuned into the subtle developmental stages and patterns of babies and children.  While she’s tapped into the auditory and verbal development of children, this pattern touches on their visual development:

“This pattern also appeals to the developmental process of infant vision. Babies are born color blind, and with very poor vision (about 20/400 for a normal infant at birth. They are naturally attracted to high contrast, black and white images, since these are more distinct to them. From a distance of a foot or so, a newborn will be able to distinguish only the larger stripes on the edge of the blanket, with the thinner ones fading away into a solid gray, as the baby matures, the thinner stripes will become distinct.”

The blanket is made of Be Sweet Bambino (one of my most favoritist yarns ever) in sea green and natural.  I used two size 5 circulars and 5 balls of each color–which still left me short, but I cut off the pattern 2 stripes early rather than finding 2 more balls of yarn (which can be very difficult).  The blanket seemed big enough as it is anyway.

It’s really soft, organic and I think will be quite nice to its new owner–a very adorable and mellow little baby.

election year calls for a new dress.

September 13, 2008

I have been obsessed with politics lately.  In a very bad way.  In a way that during one of the party conventions which will remain nameless I found myself screaming out my window how miserable of a human being a former mayor of New York City is.

Seriously insane.  And then a later development in the election really almost killed me…and I rediscovered the meditative, calming wonder that is knitting.  I had known that in preparation for winter I would need some mittens and so I had already decided on Norah Gaughan’s Target Wave mittens from her beautiful Knitting Nature book and some Frog Tree Merino Melange that I ordered from The Yarn Tree in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I love Norah’s book because it speaks to the same dichotomy I have in my own life–love of science (traditionally masculine) and a love of some things VERY domestic (traditionally female), and it blends the two seamlessly (pun completely intended).

The Target Wave mittens “were inspired by the look of traveling chemical waves”.

This was the first time I used Frog Tree yarn, which I decided was more than suitable to use given my social/eco conscious goal since the mission of the company is “to supply meaningful and continuous work to various artisans and non-profit groups. Purchases Made by T & C Imports helps by supporting families and their communities.  Funds from our project are used to support worthy educational causes.”  I mostly like it because they’re a non-profit cooperative.  I used the Merino Melange, which is very soft and lovely and will definitely be using it again (it’s also relatively inexpensive).

After a few days, my insanity over the political goings-on of today (which is hard to escape when you live in Washington, DC) started to thankfully dissipate.  And so the knitting frenzy subsided and I returned to sewing and accomplished an FO that I’m extremely proud of.

I’ll be wearing this to a more casual wedding I’m going to next week.  I’m very excited about it.  It’s a gorgeous, almost silk-like cotton lawn.  I’ve only started using patterns and this was my first time making my own pattern, which I modeled after some clothes I currently own.  The collar was shaped off of a shirt I own with a somewhat similar collar and the shape of the dress from another dress.   I just recently discovered the wonders of elastic and have been really into blouson shapes, so I was excited to try that out, which I think went relatively well.  I also have never done the fabric covered button thing before which I may be overly obsessed with from this point forward. It’s also got other fun details like my first try at faced hems.

The whole idea came from this J.Crew shirt.  But I wasn’t about to pay no $88 for a shirt that I can clearly make for less than $20. And even better, it’s a whole dress. I did use their pictures to guide my own creation…their zoom tool is quite handy.

There’s nothing like that feeling when you realize that there’s so much you can do for yourself…like make your own pretty dresses.

The cold is coming

August 25, 2008

and I’m ready.

This has been an unusually mild August here in DC, which may be a good thing to most…but for this lover of heat and humidity has been a little irritating.

The fall is always a little scary for me.  It’s a time where I am living under a constant cloud of the impending frigidity of winter.  And this August has felt like everything is just coming a little too fast…

Knitting has actually made this condition of fear and anxiety better by at least giving me something to look forward to — wearing all the lovely, warm sweaters I’ve knit.

So I’m ready.

with a nice sweater coat ready for fall.

It’s pattern #43 from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2007, the Diagonal Stitch Coat by Wenlan Chia.

My green goal for the year doesn’t allow me to use the Twinkle Soft Chunky that this pattern called for, so I doubled stranded Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Organic Cotton instead.  And I definitely like it better.  First, the BSA Organic Cotton (100% organic cotton) is amazingly soft and has a shine to it that is really beautiful.  So while it created a fabric that is slightly heavier than using the Twinkle wool, it’s not as fluffy and as…huge.  It’s also quite warm without being suffocating, which I often feel in some of the pieces I’ve made with the Twinkle yarn.  And lastly, while the cotton does pill, it’s not nearly as bad as the Soft Chunky, which I really hate about that yarn (it’s so lovely until I wear it a few times and then…less beautiful).  So, in conclusion, I loved the yarn and highly recommend it as a good Twinkle substitute.  Though definitely welcome suggestions for green bulky-weight yarn.

An explanation

July 29, 2008

I’ve been absent lately, which I feel requires some level of explanation. Especially since I was really good about posting before…sometimes 1 (or even 2!) a day. But now…now it’s summer. And I have new toys. So I’ll take this “opportunity” of being one of the few people who can manage to catch a really bad case of the flu in the middle of July to write something for once…

Before I reveal the new obsession of late, I also want to note that this time of year marks the one year anniversary of me and knitting. It’s been a beautiful year and our marriage was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

But exclusivity was never in the vows. So I’m seeing someone else on the side.

The Bernina Activa 230. We’re pretty much in love. My parents actually set us up. A graduate school graduation gift (a year late, but this is a pretty amazing gift, so I’ll let that slide).

I don’t think my knitting stash knows what’s going on yet, but they may have noticed that I play with them a little less since my new acquisition. And so, I’ve had the great opportunity to revisit some fabric I’ve been waiting (years!) to do something with.

Like this paper-like silk I bought in India in 2006.

And this newer splurge: a yard of Liberty of London cotton lawn.

While I’ll never divorce knitting — or even get a separation, I think a year of monogamy is generally all I can handle with an activity/profession/etc. (NOTE: Luckily “etc” doesn’t seem to apply to personal/romantic relationships with me. For me an open relationship would only work between me and my hobbies…). So, though I don’t think I’m ever done with the things I start doing seriously, like knitting, I’ve come to realize a pattern: I pick things up with intense enthusiasm, continue obsessively for about a year, and then as would be expected, I burn out.

Ultimately the result is positive. I let go for a while, but then resume my interest at a more healthy, non-obsessive level. But this eventual indecisiveness also leaves me with constantly wondering what I’m going to be when I grow up…which with this line of thinking I’ll never be. In the summer of 2006 I was working in India for a local consultancy and my boss asked me what I was going to do when I graduated (from grad school). I told him all the different options and that while I had narrowed it down I wasn’t really sure exactly what I wanted to be doing. He expressed surprise that at my age (never a nice phrase to use with anyone ever) I could still be wondering. I know things are different in India and that these decisions are made quite early, but it still hit a sore spot.

I’ve accepted this part of my character to some degree and know that my life will just always be full of change — which is just the way I like it.

So onto a new chapter of sewing with a fancy machine (which I’ve never done before). I now have the task of finding “green” fabric now, which doesn’t seem too easy to come by. I’m sure it will just require some fun discoveries.

Remember the emergency bolero?

July 12, 2008

It got done — in time even.

Last weekend I went to what I knew would be a stylish and lovely wedding in Tribeca, at the Tribeca Rooftop. I bought an interesting dress that I was relatively excited to wear given the fact that I had literally not bought a formal-ish dress since 1999 and had not worn one since 2004. In between then and now there have been a few saris and one bridesmaid dress. This was an occasion.

After I bought the dress I immediately realized I would need some sort of a cover-up since it was at night and was supposed to be outside (though it rained and it was moved inside). Given the color of the dress and some lovely silver shoes, I wanted something armor-like, quick to make since I only had about 10 days, and very lightweight since it is July afterall.

I found the Shetland Shorty from this summer’s new Knitty. With some modifications, I think it all turned out pretty top-notch.

I used Habu Textiles bamboo XS-45 in charcoal and silk stainless steel in gray for the body and the bamboo and wool stainless steel in wine for the neckline and part of the right front..
I ran out of the silk stainless with about 10 rows to go, so there’s an awkward/artistic stripe at the right shoulder…but I think it was fine. I actually wish I had had the foresight to know that would look nice so I could’ve done it on the other side for some symmetry.

Given the threadlike weight of the yarn I used, the net-like shetland lace pattern wasn’t really going to work, so I went with classic stockinette, which produced the chainmaille effect I was going for (especially with the incorporation of the stainless steel).

The fabric the yarn produced was absolutely perfect for what I wanted and was really just beautiful. The bamboo was shiny and the silvery steel gave it more dimension and an airiness. The garter stitch border using the steel was also three-dimensional in a way that “came alive” when the whole piece was done. I say that because it kind of looked ugly when I first started.

My only complaint with the whole project was picking up stitches with this yarn, weight and needle size used. It was messy. I will definitely be making other things with this yarn combination again — but I will be knitting neckbands separately and sewing them on. Thank you Phildar for letting me know that’s perfectly acceptable.

For the record, I decided as alternative fibers (steel and bamboo) they still met my “green” criteria for the year — (the wool was used sparingly and I don’t have much of an issue with silk at this point). This is despite my issues with the production of alternative fibers. I think there are better green choices, but the Habu yarns are not a bad once-in-a-while choice. Habu also has quite a few choices using vegetable and other natural dyes. Though I have not seen anything organic from them, which is more important to me.

Progress.

June 10, 2008

The idea of progress has been heavily on my mind lately. I just went to my 5 year college reunion, which is surprising in itself since college was not the positive experience I think it is for most people (high school strangely was the more positive time). Reunions I think generally leave us questioning how far we’ve come as individuals and though I pretty much left without any substantial revelations (except that there were quite a few cool, like-minded people that I wish I had known better while I was actually stuck in small city Virginia), I did come away with the reaffirmation that I have indeed grown into a far better and cooler person than the self-conscious, de-energized version of me running around college those years ago.

This reunion also got me thinking about progress of humans in general. I have the benefit of living with a vegan who is a vegan simply because he believes that by this point, with all of our physical and mental development, we humans should have progressed past the need to subjugate animals and use them primarily as commodities. Yet after a few conversations with friends at this reunion (all of whom I have nothing but the greatest respect for), I realized that maybe most people still do believe that humans are just better than animals and not only can but should exert that dominance. In fact, animals don’t have the same depth of emotion or level of consciousness to know the difference. I personally do not believe even an ounce of this, but it’s an argument that constantly comes up in the discussion of animal rights: the word animal itself denotes a something less than. It’s a living thing, yes. But it doesn’t emote like a human and our inability to understand animals as deeply conscious and cerebral creatures prevents us from believing they are worth protecting or even respecting in many instances. The question I got in drunken jest was would I kill a puppy or kill a baby. I think the real question is can we think of real situation where we would really have to do one to save the other? What I came out of this whole thought exercise was that it’s a slow progress…and we haven’t even progressed beyond the subjugation and torture of fellow human beings, whose humanity and capacity for deep emotion we should in theory be able to understand pretty well.

Even if we as a human race are only making slow progress on this front, I as an individual am making lighting fast progress on what in this context is a more frivolous topic, my current knitting project:

My meshy Phildar sweater.

The pattern is nervousing because you set up a row at the beginning, then knit your dozens of centimeters and then drop stitches….so if you screw up…it’s all over.

It all worked out for the front piece and looks pretty fantastic so far.  And the pattern has delivered in teaching me new techniques: the twisted stitch to border dropped stitches.  It really tightens the stitch and makes for some really clean edges.

The end product will not be so fast coming I fear.  But soon.

I hope my dear knitting friends aren’t too annoyed that I made you go through my rant on the progress of humanity before getting to the knitting.  Maybe you were smart and just scrolled down to the pictures.

le genius

May 31, 2008

That’s what I am.

I ordered my first French Phildar magazine, because the selections that have been translated into English are not as abundant.  And I love the new summer issue.

The thing is I speak zero French…well, I know j’mappelle Monica.  Parle vous Frances? And then I start speaking Spanish or Portuguese (badly).

But.  Thanks to this fantastic site, this article, and my own shocking genius, I translated my first French pattern for this beauty, which will be done with a lot of leftover blue-grey Rowan Purelife:

In celebration of my linguistic feat, I’ve already plotted my next project:

The catalogue is mix of 80s inspired dresses (which are cute) and huge cardigans (lots o ugliness in my opinion) and then the summery meshy stuff above.  My new-ish requirement is there have to be interesting new techniques that I haven’t done before (or know how to do) in order for me to knit it at this point.  The reason being I have enough clothes and not enough money to justify making everything I think is lovely.  I’ve also been doing a great job with my “green” yarn only challenge.  I just ordered me some Blue Sky Dyed Cotton and the new Limited Edition Malabrigo cotton, which has to last me through the next few months.

All in all, translating the pattern was much easier than I thought.  The thing is speaking knitspeak is far more important to understanding these patterns than speaking French.  In fact I’m not sure a French speaker who doesn’t speak knitting would be able to understand the pattern (like when I saw my first knitting pattern in English).  It’s just a matter of translating the abbreviations — half way through I was flying through the translation.  I only got stumped a few times, which was more a reflection of the weirdness of the pattern.  It has no shaping except for some minor decreases embedded into the stitch pattern, not even armhole shaping.  The diagram even shows 2 simple squares for the front and back.

Maybe my next challenge will be translating all the amazing Japanese patterns I know are out there.  A slightly harder task I feel…

Can’t stop, won’t stop

April 24, 2008

I bought more yarn.  Can’t even take my own stupid advice.

This is for the Cabled Capecho I mentioned last week. It’s Lorna’s Laces Green Line DK in Hope (or off-white).  I ordered it from Jimmy Beans Wool.  I wouldn’t normally plug an online retailer, but I’m pretty pleased with them.  I got the yarn yesterday…and the package was soaking wet.  The yarn was soaked and stained in some places, as was the pattern I had ordered too–ripped and soaked through.  So I called them today, told them that I got the package damaged, and they were kind of amazing.  I’m getting a new package in the mail with my order again and I don’t have to send the old stuff back.  I can try and use it or donate it or something, she said.  Amazing.  So I washed it and am hoping the stains come out…if not I think I could have some fabulous Etsy dyer dye it for me.  It’s kind of a sweet deal actually.  The most educational part is that in order to prevent the problem in the future I can ask them to wrap my orders in plastic in the special instructions.  I’m not so excited about asking for more plastic…but I couldn’t find the yarn anywhere else.

So the yarn.  It’s 100% organic merino and comes in DK and worsted weights.  It’s beautiful and so so soft. We’ll see how the capecho turns out but I foresee a lot of future projects using this lovely lovely yarn.  I high recommend it just by the feel and look.  And it’s 100% organic!

I also did recently frog the puff sleeve jacket I was sort of working on and made Teva Durham’s Steek Vest from Loop-d-Loop:

I knit this up in a few hours on Saturday morning with some of my Savannah Bulky on 15s.  It came out a little shorter than I wanted…but I was (and am) too lazy to do anything about that.  I love the design, but it’s not quite what I thought it would be.  The yarn is a little too “earthy” for me…no sheen to it, which I don’t like so much.  It’s super soft though so I think others would love it.

These days I’m working on another Norah project (slightly obsessed), the Medallion Shawl from this past winter’s Vogue Knitting.  It’ll be a Mother’s Day gift for my stepmom, so I’m currently on a 1 hexagon per day minimum rule.  I currently have 4 done.  11 more to go.  I’ll just make it just in time at this rate.

My new school dress.

April 13, 2008

This was a serious test of my patience, but now that it’s FINALLY finished, I’m so happy with it. This took me about two months, which in the scheme of things isn’t so long, but I got pretty bored with it after a while. After I finished the back and realized I had a whole other side to do I knew knitting dresses probably wasn’t for me…unless they’re the Twinkle, done-in-four-days kind (though to be honest the chunky trend may be losing the chic appeal that it first had with me).

This dress was knit with the Venetian yarn I bought while on vacation: Madil Zaffiro in color 210. It’s a lovely blend of cotton, viscose and silk. The pattern was also a blend — of made-up shaping, the Vogue minidress as deduced from Another Shopgirl‘s lovely interpretation of the pattern (since I didn’t have the magazine), and Norah Gaughan’s Anais.

I think of it as the Norah/Vogue love child.

This was definitely an experiment and it was definitely a test to see if I had learned enough skills to be able to just wing something. I’m pretty excited (and relieved) that the thing fits and that the different elements of these designs seem to work well in the romantic way I had envisioned.

(What you see here is relief. I am not stoned. I swear.)

The Anais pattern is so beautiful I think, as are just about all of Norah Gaughan’s designs. She introduces me to techniques that are so interesting and really makes these projects learning experiences, which is something I’m starting to find necessary in any new project. Her cabled capecho will be next on my list for this reason.

I can’t express how happy I am to be done with this dress and to know I can actually wear this happily!

So happy I thought I’d slide down a railing at the school across the street in celebration…

…and snag my new dress. Don’t worry, I stopped before it was a full-blown crisis.

I leave you with some more excitement:

It’s spring! The curse of winter has been lifted and my previously happy life can now resume.

Displays of Knitting Affection

April 11, 2008

Are you a knitter and proud? Yo tambien! I love this brooch, which is handmade of recycled yarn. I think it’s got the perfect level of quirk.

Etsy always delivers…I guess I meant that figuratively. But it’s nice that it does literally too.